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

Gaetano Pappagone


“Would they be French?”

06 Jul 2019

A group of us novices, for one of my usual jokes Pietro looks at me and laughs, and showing us a group of tourists, he tells me: “imagine if they hear us!”.
But I had tried to understand what they were saying and, for having heard the French accent, I justify me by saying: “but they are French!”.

Humor is part of our everyday life, just think that if the adjective “witty”, in italian “spritoso”, comes from “Spirit”, and for those who is living a spiritual life it can only be a familiar attitude.
Also K. Rahner, reflecting on irony, said: “God laughs, says the Scripture. And, with that, he states that even the tiniest pure smile, which comes from no matter where, from a heart righteous, in front of any idiocy of this world, reflects an image and a ray of God. It is a trace of God whose smile shows that, after all, everything is good in the end”.

The humorous attitude serves to relativize, to look critically at positivity and negativity of the adventures of life, brings with it a sense of proportion, and to take lightly and with elasticity yourself and others.
“In a word, he knows how to live within contradictions and it is considered as lubricant or as an abrasive that unlocks rigidity and closures, it is a tension relief valve and, finally, it is a liberating experience” using the words of the Barnabita father, Gentili.

You can experience how irony and a sense of humor are an attitude that helps, rather, I would say, it teaches us to transcend all that is not God, continuing to live it in the experience of God, finding meaning in the circumstances that you are living.
It therefore helps to see all the situations that surround us and to contemplate in it the profound umanity and creatureliness and consequently arousing a attitude of love and compassion,by participation, in the world and in the history we live.

“This look of tenderness and indulgence gives us grace – because it is a true grace – to laugh on ourselves: at our failures, at our broken dreams, at our missed flights. The Christian who has a sense of humor, when he clashes with disillusionment, understands and smiles: he understands his limitations and smiles at the collapse of his illusions. If on the one hand humor, as sense of the relative and of the limit, it leads to detachment from itself and is established in humility, by another it is an invitation to trust, rather to audacity “(from the Editorial of Civiltà Cattolica Year 137, vol III, Quaderno 3265 – 5 July 1986, Humor and Christian life).

In the end, even St. Ignatius looking at his story and telling it in the Autobiography, looking to the pilgrim he was, he could not hold back jokes or ironic reflections on situations he lived. And it is not even difficult to notice a certain irony, charged at the same time of an incredible depth of his personal and spiritual experience, in the advice: “Pray as if everything depended on God, work as if everything depended on you”.
And because “the smiling mouth reveals what man is” (Sir 19:27), for us this attitude of irony and hilarity is also witness and symbol of the experience of God that we do.

Then a few days after that joke, always with a small group of novices around Genoa, I said another on joke, and this time, maybe they even heard a group of boys that was just behind us, and looking at us we asked ourselves: “would they be French too?”

Filippo Carlomagno, first year Novice

All in the field…for a full life!

by Daniele Angiuli

Community life is like a big soccer game. That’s the image that flashed through my mind while playing on the field with my teammates, amidst the running and the shortness of breath, the falls and the sweat. Each in his own position and at the same time in close relationship with the others: those in attack, ready to run toward the goal and score for the team; those in midfield to retrieve balls and act as “bridges” between players; those in defense to prevent opponents from advancing; those in goal to catch the ball and avoid the net.

There is no one role more eminent than another but all are necessary for the success of the game, just as in the community everyone is important and everyone can contribute. It is essential that each person does his part without declining to others, knowing, however, that he can count on the help of teammates. All called, as Luciano Ligabue says in “Una vita da mediano,”” to cover certain areas, to play generous” to be “there in the middle” of life.

I believe that in the field the only valid personal pronoun subject is “We.” Even in community life it is necessary to move from the ‘individualism of the “I” to the communion of the “we,” to think and act in the plural as Pope Francis often reminds us. If every player on the field started to go it alone, to run like a loose cannon, he would fail in his goal and even if he managed to score a goal, he would not achieve the real “goal”: teamwork, full communion with his teammates. So too in community life in the novitiate: it is necessary to look beyond the tip of one’s nose, to notice who is beside us, his need, to have the courage to step back and pass the ball to the other, always for the true good of all.

Every team has its own coach: he is responsible for preparation and game strategies. He is the first one who cheers for his team, trusts each person and insists that they give their best, according to their abilities. I like to think of the figure of Jesus as the real coach, as Carlo Nesti had already guessed in his book “My Coach’s Name is Jesus.” He encourages, spurs, believes, hopes in each of us and in the work of the whole team; he wants our “joy to be full” (Jn. 15:11).

It is difficult at times to live according to the demanding proposal of this great Coach, but not impossible. We need to put ourselves in the school of the Gospel, which prepares us to be athletes as the apostle Paul tells us: “Do you not know that in the stadium races all run, but only one wins the prize? You also run so as to conquer it! However, every athlete is disciplined in everything; they do so in order to obtain a crown that withers away, we, on the other hand, one that lasts forever. ”  (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

By living on “Jesus’ team,” our community, like every Christian community, will truly experience, in the midst of difficulties, the taste of a full existence, the flavor of true communion.


Leave a comment
Close notification

GesuitiNetwork - Cookie Policy

This website uses cookies to improve our services and your user experience. By continuing your navigation without changing your browser settings, you agree to receive cookies from our website. For more information visit this page.