GESUITI noviziato
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus

Gaetano Pappagone


“Would they be French?”

by Filippo Carlomagno

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

Coronavirus and community in good Company

by Raul Petru Ciocani


Few of us can compare a period like this to experiences we have already lived. I spent almost two months without being able to leave the novitiate and this is the longest period I have ever had in my life without going out. Living in community is already a exceptional experience in itself, which I had never experienced before, and now, adding these restrictions, there is the risk of discouragement. In reality I am living this period very well, I have not yet found moments of boredom, indeed I have the opportunity to discover many aspects, and I will tell you why.

In addition to the comfort that accompanies me now, the feelings that pass through my heart in this time are truly varied: uncertainty, compassion with those who suffer and die from coronavirus, and also the fear for my family that is about 1200 km from Genoa, in the western part of Romania, where there are still not many infections. Talking to my grandmother who lives with my parents, I was surprised and impressed by the courage and strength with which she is going through this period. Having already experienced the Second World War, the communist occupation, the deportation of family members to work camps, she is very aware of the reality of this pandemic that we are facing with little courage and patience, because we no longer trust and no longer know in who we need to trust. This is one of the points that makes me think a lot: Can our faith really help us in such critical moments of our life? The answer is yes, but we have to find out. As those who find out during important events of their lives, such as migration, war, addictions, diseases, depression, loneliness and entrust themselves to God and put their destiny in his hands. Here, the current situation stimulates me to think about all this, about the shortcomings and weaknesses that we have and that we do not want to accept and face.

Now I’m going to explain to you why the rest of the time I still haven’t found the moments to get bored. Community life leads me to discover many aspects, which until now I did not know about myself, especially through personal relationships with companions and the community activity in which we are immersed. All of this keeps us very busy most of the time. Starting with the fact that every day I have several people to talk to during meals (friends with whom to share their experiences, daily joys, difficulties, etc.), moments of prayer together, everyday community liturgy but also the passing of the time having fun, playing football, volleyball, ping pong, etc. All this forms a lifestyle, the community one, where, as in a family, you cannot think only of yourself, but you also have the responsibility of the others.

These things represent the community life that we are living in this period of great difficulty for the whole world. The community is what made it much easier for us to go through this time, assimilating all the positive aspects it brings. Personally I live this dimension as a help to my vocation, which is to follow the Lord with the vows that I choose to make in the Society of Jesus.

Raul Ciocani, novice of the first year


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