Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
Dove vanno gli attrezzi?


Where are the tools?

20 Oct 2019

Where are the tools is the most frequent question in the first weeks here in the Novitiate.
For the new entries the orientation in the house is the first big challenge. To face it we need some tools, which are useful for the work that is needed to do.
It is the same experience that we live in becoming familiar, even and especially in spiritual life, with the way of proceeding of Company of Jesus. Which are the tools to grow?
Whether it is a garden or a person, they are in the relationship, with yourself, with others and with God, and you learn to live this relationship in everyday life.

Where are the tools?
Everything in its own time, like for the time for pruning you need scissors, to clean the garden from leaves the broom, to hoe the ground the hoe, as for the diverse moment of the day there are different manners and ways to “live” a relationship. It’s the life that you go through in the community, that you try to live in the most appropriate manner possible to the way of proceeding of the Company, as the ignatian sources, the constitutions and the recommendations of the general congregation teach us, under the direction of our superiors.
All in good time, at each time of the day his sense and his work.
And how do you use it?
We must look at each other, share experiences, see how the community moves to discern what is the orientation of our life.
Ask and give your availability.
Asking teaches to understand the possibilities offered by the other and the need to reach out to him to grow-up. Give your availability in a listening without judgment, careful to receive, in the disposition to welcome, learning how make space and understanding the things that really are worth. “Having dismissed all judgment, we must keep our minds ready and willing” as St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual exercises.

But there are different tools, although similar ones, what can I use them for and when?
Everything has a time, sometimes the rush to understand can be a bad counselor, curiosity brings fruit if shared freely and the answers can be various: from understanding to suspension. It is not always necessary to have everything clear if you don’t have the strength or the experience to use a certain instrument.
In this way for example we prepare ourselves for the month of Ignatian Exercises , you can be interested, you can ask, but then there are things that must be lived, and the suspension helps to include also the desire that you have of that thing … “Not so much to know sated, but to feel and taste things internally”, to experience them as St. Ignatius says.

And then once done?
Review the effort made, see the work done, repeat it if necessary to deepen it.
Thus a form of gratitude born for the time received that gives energy and strengthens for the new effort that comes with the new day. And at the same time experience is accumulated, which helps to sharpen the gaze, to be more receptive and to growup in “discernment”.
And then where do I put them?
Everything in its place.
The great art of discernment serves precisely to learn to put in order, in the inner life as into the external life.

In fact, as cardinal Martini said: “Without our realizing it, life is disturbed, fragmented, worn out. So it need to put back in order the pieces of our time, of our body, of our heart. We all need it, and we all have to do it, not just once in a lifetime, but every day”.
Just as it is done in everyday life, once everything is tidied up, you discover that there is always a new job to be done and then you have to go back to the tools, and then put them back, with a wealth of experience always renewed.

Filippo Carlomagno, novice of second year

When prayer becomes…preparing breakfast

by Alessandro Di Mauro

During novitiate life it happens, on a rotating basis, that we have to prepare breakfast for everyone before starting individual morning prayer. In such cases, one of us needs to wake up a little earlier than the others to be able to reconcile preparation time and meditation time. I have sometimes wondered if it is really necessary for us to be present when doing this service or if there is a deeper reason for doing it.

For some time now, when the alarm clock rings in the morning, I often feel, in my heart, the desire to meet the Lord during my personal prayer and in the Eucharistic celebration that we live daily. I have, however, realised that even when I have to anticipate the alarm clock for breakfast, the desire does not change and it almost seems to me that this also enters into the dynamic of meeting Him.  A question then arises for me: is it possible that even the act of preparing breakfast for everyone is somehow part of a form of prayer? To answer this question, I immediately ask myself another: what is the meaning of Christian prayer? I believe that prayer is an encounter with the Lord to deepen more and more the communion of life with Him. As St Teresa of Avila used to say, it is the moment when I meet the Beloved. On the other hand, if we read the Gospels, Jesus himself often stopped to pray alone in the intimacy of dialogue with the Father, so much so that it triggered the Apostles’ desire to understand how to pray: ‘Lord teach us how to pray’. What needs prompted them to make this request? Certainly the example of Jesus must have been a driving force: as the Master prays, it is good that we also pray; but I believe, first and foremost, they had the desire to experience the same encounter as Jesus with God the Father. In prayer, therefore, two freedoms meet, that of the believer who seeks the Lord and that of God who has the desire to be heard by those who pray to him. This is also the reason why it is, often, complicated to pray, because on the one hand there is a supernatural dynamic, whereby prayer is a gift from God, for which one’s heart must be prepared; on the other hand it is a human encounter that takes place in ordinary life, a challenge to recognise God’s voice that is often covered by the din of everyday life.

But back to breakfast! What does this have to do with its preparation? Nothing, if one approaches preparation thinking that the purpose is to have some milk, coffee and tea ready on time. But if one lives this operation savouring every single moment of it – from picking up the coffee pots to preparing them, to hearing the whistle of the coffee ready and enjoying the heat that the vapours give off when it is poured into the thermos – thinking that this gesture will be of help to the brethren, to those whom the Lord has placed beside him, something changes. By living the preparation in this way, even these gestures can become an encounter with God the Father, for whom I recognise in the other a brother for whom it is well worth losing half an hour of sleep.


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