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

Praise as the day decline

by Gianluca Severin

As evening falls, if we are not attending the apostolate, we gather to celebrate Vespers, the evening prayer of the Christian community.

We pray for our families, for our friends, for our confreres, for the people we meet on our journey so that the memory keeps our affection alive. We pray with our community, with our confreres everywhere in the world, with those in joy and with those in difficulty. We pray with those who pray alone, with those who, in the solitude and silence of a crowded and chaotic world, whisper the words of their heart. We pray with those who do not know how to pray, with those who cannot find the words, with those who fear opening their souls, with those who fear that their cry will fall on deaf ears or that it will be received with judgment and condemnation. We pray with those who do not pray, with those who do not feel like it, with those who do not have time, with those who do not find something to thank or to plead for, nor hope that someone will listen to their gratitude or plea.

Our prayer blends with the thousand voices of the human family, with the praises and pleas, joys and sorrows, anger and peace, desires and fears that animate the hearts of men.

In praying we use words that Christ, that prophets and saints, that common people used before us, uniting ours to their voice, their feeling, their living, their meeting the Lord; in praying we perceive the echo of everyone’s voices in ours, and ours resound in those of Christ and those of Christ in us.

The prayer of each one merges and intertwines with the prayer of all; in the psalms, canticles and hymns, I find the words to express the stirrings of heart that I share with that psalmist trusting in God of thousands of years ago. I am not the only to seek, I am not the only to feel, I am not the only to love: the words of others, of the ancient ones, of the distant ones, remind me that I am not alone. That image, that expression, that experience give shape and light to my inner life.

In praying I infuse in ancient words the very current and concrete meaning of my life, that unique beat of my heart. In those words I tell my life, I read my past, I see traces for my future. Just as a thousand sparks spring from the same flint, a thousand lives ignite from the same Word.

The whole life, with its succession of days and nights, of actions and thoughts, of words and silences, with praise for the beauty of life, with respect for the mystery of truth of every creature and person, with loving service to God and to men is prayer, sacred and precious.

As evening falls, in communion with all men and women, we gather to celebrate the prayer of God’s people.


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