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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Where are the tools?

by Filippo Carlomagno

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

A testimony from isolation

by Guglielmo Scocco

Since May 11 I have been isolated as the only one in the community still positive for the dear old virus, which has been my companion for almost three months now.

If some time ago they had told me that I would be in my room for a month almost without contact with the outside world and that I would have survived, I would have taken them for crazy. This condition is unnatural to me, it does not reflect my inclinations, my being a social animal – more animal than social – and yet it is giving me peace. In this condition that I would never have chosen for myself, like many of the things that have done me most good in life, I am finding peace. A peace that comes from the depths, that is not the result of a thousand calculations or efforts to obtain it, that is not sought but waited for, and perhaps this is its secret. Within the emptying of the four walls, after a first moment of ordinary and due madness, one begins to listen. One begins to listen. One begins to listen to oneself, deeply. Not because listening is beautiful or comforting or idyllic or surreal or romantic – none of the above – but because nothing else can be done. When we are forced into our isolation cell, whether it is that of a monastery, a prison or the house in which we live, our barriers collapse. My limit becomes apparent to me, my strength becomes weakness, my facade melts away, I have no more excuses, no more distractions and, above all, no more expectations. I am alone with myself. My deepest desires, often hidden by the desires of others about me, which I adopt without belonging to me, return to the surface. I have no more excuses, I no longer have another on which to project my efforts and my lies: I am in deep and true contact with myself, and that is all. Good riddance! A liberation from one’s superego, from having to be, from appearance: everything is transformed and becomes truth. And the truth makes us free, as someone said. In the most flat and deafening and empty calm that we often and willingly escape, miraculously, we discover new noises and sensations, which we had never heard before, because we had not allowed ourselves to. Precisely that place of apparent loneliness and abyss and aridity and desolation that I have fled like a murderer all my life, is giving me a new life, a life that does not need to feel like living – raising the bar more and more as in a sense of perennial revenge and frustration – because it already lives, and lives in peace. How many times have I fled before a poor man who begged for my love and my presence behind his outstretched hand? How many times have I fled in front of a brother or sister who behind a word of anger towards me hid a deep need for love? How many times, even today, do I continue to flee in front of this sense of emptiness that clings to my heart? And here I say to you: do not be afraid! We are no longer afraid to listen to this emptiness, to inhabit it, we will discover that it bothers us because it asks us to overcome ourselves, our insane habits, it asks us to listen to ourselves, to let out our weaknesses and frailties without fear, because we all have them. Don’t pretend that you don’t have them, as everyone else does, only to look like righteous people in the eyes of the world: you will be unjust in the eyes of love, of that love according to which we will be – and we are already – judged. How much more beautiful it is to live with an open heart, without the anxiety and fear of having to hide one’s limits!

Guglielmo Scocco, first year novice

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