On February 2, 2022, the Day of Consecrated Life, the Holy Father addressed his homily especially to the religious. At that time, I was doing the Month of Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and I listened to the thoughts of the homily indirectly through our novice master. What aspects of this homily should I, as a novice, pay more attention to? What came to my heart from the words of the Holy Father?
I, a young novice, am supposed to represent the new generation. I am supposed to bring the impetus, and the courage to look to the future. I’m not afraid of big changes and I like to search for the meaning of everything and question what doesn’t seem right. The novitiate of the Society of Jesus is a secular institution, built on hundreds of years of tradition, but that doesn’t mean a young man like me can’t find his place in this community. According to Pope Francis, “nowadays the temptation to go back, for security, out of fear, in order to preserve the faith or the charism of the founder… is a temptation. The temptation to go back and preserve “traditions” with rigidity. Let’s get this into our head: rigidity is a perversion, and beneath every form of rigidity there are grave problems.” I fully agree with these words of Pope Francis that call us to avoid any kind of rigidity and at the same time I know that this can only be accomplished with meekness, humility é patience, which, to be honest, I don’t always succeed.
In Ignatian language, an important expression is the discernment of spirits. Pope Francis, a Jesuit, poses the question for our life in this way: “who mostly moves us? Is it the Holy Spirit, or the spirit of this world?” It is interesting that here in my novitiate life, the spirit of the world can easily enter. For example, when we complain.
We Hungarians sometimes like to complain. My concern is that this also becomes an element of my religious life, and I have to be on guard against this risk. The Holy Father also confirmed that “it is sad to see religious who are bitter: closed up in complaining about things that never go right”. I am sure that bitterness is part of the spirit of the world and not part of the call of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Pope Francis, “if consecrated men and women lack words that bless God and other people, if they lack joy, if their enthusiasm fails, if their fraternal life is only a chore, if amazement is lacking, that is not the fault of someone or something else. The real reason is that our arms no longer embrace Jesus.” And what sense would religious life have if we did not hold Jesus in our arms?
My God, help us so that the Holy Spirit can truly permeate our days and our communities more and more! Grant that we may always remain close to You, from where we can look at our lives.