Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus


Who really remains?

by Alessandro Cocozza

In Spielberg’s movie “The Terminal”, the protagonist is stuck in an airport terminal due a problem with documentation and he cannot return home nor leave the airport. He is forced to live for a certain period in the terminal. He finds himself dealing with people who frequent the place just for a few hours, or who only work there, but don’t live there like him. He will get used to finding friendships and his normality in a place like that. Apart from the surreal situation of the film, in these past weeks even our tranquil novitiate seemed to me a place of passage. Certainly not like a terminal, but it has become a place of passage for different languages, cultures and stories. After the first vows of our companions and their departure, part of the novitiate left for Rome. With them there have been laughs, difficulties and friendships born in the past two years. At the time of farewell by the van loaded with their luggage I realized that the novitiate is also a place of important departures. Not just because of the large number of suitcases which took up all the available space. I mean because of the quantity of experiences lived. Our companions who left for Rome had two very rich years behind them.

A week later we found ourselves with the novices of the new year gazing upon the port of Genoa in the October sun. It was a clear day, and we could see the whole coastline from our seats. At that moment I saw the novitiate in a different way to usual, as it had not happened to me for a while. A place of new experiences, a new home, a harbour in which to dock. These days make me reflect on the novitiate as the land of those who leave and those who arrive. The place where you land and take off. In fact, there are those who leave and those who remain. In the light of that sun I looked at my companions, now novices of the second year, we who remain. Then I looked at our new brothers. I thought that the exchange begins like this, on the one hand the new energies and life stories that come from outside, on the other our small but significant experience of the novitiate to be passed on. In this way, even we who remain are transformed.

However, something is missing from the novitiate. In fact, a few days ago, looking at the table with all the new community gathered, I wondered: it is true that we remained, but in the end who really remains in the novitiate? The answer was clear. Our formators, each with his own role, each with his own story. A bit like the character of the film, they live in a place that would seem to be only one of passage. They are those who in this precious time help us to shape our life. I think back to how many times each one has added their own contribution to the novitiate, from the chaos of the kitchen to the silence of the month of spiritual exercises. It is they who try to give consistency to every new beginning in this house. If I look at our changes this year, I recognize it. Even with their life spent here in the novitiate they give us witness to something. This seemed to me a more than valid reason for which to be grateful. To be grateful for those who remain to allow others to leave.

Advent: what am I waiting for?

by Fr. Agostino Caletti – Novice Master

Advent time, or a time of waiting and hope. Which? In what? In whom? Our faith speaks to us about the Incarnation, of the coming of Jesus, of his life, Passion and death. And then about the resurrection, which in Christ is already reality and will be also so for us. But why is it so important to go back to the roots of our faith?

Advent is linked to waiting: but what an annoying and tiring word it is! Better to think about today, which at least assures me something. The password is instant gratification, a bad interpretation of seize the moment, which becomes “take advantage of everything you can take advantage of, because what you leave out is lost”. But where is personal freedom then? Where is the possibility of choice? In reality it is an illusory freedom, which makes you feel without limits, but deep down keeps us prisoners, because it “obliges” us in a way to always seek gratification, without which life seems too difficult to live. This not knowing how to wait often makes us live on the surface and the waiting coincides with the project of being in continuous movement, a restlessness not of those who clearly know what they want, but of those who flee because they are afraid also of being with themselves, those without a destination if not one which is occasional and linked to the moment. Erik Fromm emphasizes that our culture tends to create individuals who no longer have courage and no longer dare to live in an exciting and intense way. We are educated to aspire to safety as the sole purpose of life. But we can only obtain this at the price of complete conformity and resignation. From this point of view security is the opposite of joy, since joy comes from a life lived intensely.

We need to rediscover the positive value of waiting, as a taste for life, or the taste for reaching a goal; the taste for planning, at this time, which is my time, there will not be another, this is the ‘today’ of God for us.

And so what does Advent have to do with it? It is an opportunity to do a little interior cleaning: sometimes the heart is too crowded and loses sight of what is central. Sometimes we need to put things in order, in the sense of making clear again the direction in which I am moving. In short, it is an opportunity to ask myself where I find myself today.

Not only: it is the rediscovering in me of a desire for a life fully lived, beyond the discouragements, the fatigue and the inevitable “it will not change anything”. It is true that we can no longer assume that the desire for fullness is called God, but certainly in the heart of each of us there is the great aspiration to a fullness of life. Advent helps us to rediscover the true expectations, that are deeper than our life, placing trust not in easy solutions, but in the Word of God which became a concrete existence in the person of Jesus.


Fr. Agostino Caletti S.J.


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