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Reflection of Fr. Gaetano Piccolo S.J. I love asking questions, but I never expected to receive answers. I am a curious person by nature. The first, "significant" question I asked was when I turned 14.  My curiosity was aroused by the generous witness of 4 nuns struggling with a large group of urchins in Naples: "how do you become a Christian?", I asked. "Through spiritual direction" Mother Superior replied, and she recommended Fr. Rotelli who accompanied me through a program which he gave me: “prayer and service”. I spent a long time discerning, sometimes even refusing to carry on. It was the poverty in my neighbourhood where together with other young people I committed myself to give service that gave rise to another question: "what if the Lord really asked me to become a priest"? Philosophy was a privileged place where I practiced this art of questioning. After graduation, I entered the novitiate, a privileged time to grow in my personal relationship with God. Then Regency in Albania was a precious experience of opening up to love. Then again I was in Naples for  theology, "incarnate" theology that originates from the questions, this time posed by people, on the street, in the parish, at parties, at lunches, in group meetings. Thus a void was opened that only Christ, the word made flesh, was able to fill. Sometimes this void raises its head again ... but the promise persists. Currently I live in Rome, where I teach at the Pontifical Gregorian University, devoting myself above all to examining the relationship between words and things, language that brings order and discovering that not everything can be explained in words.  There are three questions that are looming within me during this time: How can freer information channels be established? It is increasingly evident that the method of communicating important news is strongly marked by political agendas. It is difficult to find information that is free of any hidden agendas and free to give criticism. The way news is broadcasted seems to affirm government actions. This makes me reflect on how reality is presented, but also on the citizen's right to obtain objective information. As Jesuits we should have the strength to denounce this mechanism and try to generate new ways. When is the right moment to announce the Good News? I have the impression that the right moment to announce the Good News is no longer during adolescence. The Gospel speaks to those who have experienced failure, who have been hurt; it addresses people who have sought answers and experienced disappointment. Adolescents no longer experience these life challenges. Adolescents instead are still fully self-centred, giving free reign to their emotions, and pampered to the point of not being able to become aware of the hardship of life. This leads me to think that the favourable moment to proclaim the Good News is when people are older in age. Perhaps it is necessary to turn to those groups of adults, individuals or young families, who carry a significant existential baggage and are reflecting on their future. How can this vital attitude towards discernment be encouraged? After having explored this topic above all on a theoretical level and through my spiritual work, I am also trying to address it through my academic research, on the philosophical level. In fact, I think that discernment is based on the very nature of reality. It is how reality is constituted, in metaphysical terms, that is man inevitably requires discernment to find his real self.  Traits of uncertainty, complexity and of humanity can be found within reality: elements that should not only be spoken about but should lead towards a choice. Indeed, decision-making is the fundamental and vital attitude of human existence Gaetano Piccolo, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University, has online a the blog "Rigantur mentes" https://cajetanusparvus.com/
How to reread the experience of the epidemic in the light of Laudato Si’? To keep together health, culture, society, economy; to enhance connections between different areas in view of a “transversal” understanding, able to keep the pieces together: this is Integral Ecology. Certainly not an issue to be reduced to the theme of the environment. "We still have a very twentieth-century mentality, with knowledge organized in closed sectors," said Fr. Mauro Bossi, who spoke in Trento last July 31 at Villa Sant'Ignazio. "The 2030 agenda has changed the paradigm, thinking about development in an integrated way. What the '900 has done with ideas, it has also realized with things: a hospital, as a container of care, a school, as a container of education, an  office, as a work container. The epidemic  has made us understand that containers can no longer function independently but must function as communicating vessels. It has also made some tensions evident: Center-periphery: the regions most affected by Covid19 are the centers of an unbalanced country system, where productive activities, services, institutions are disproportionately concentrated. Living at the center of an unbalanced system is no one's interest. The center needs to be related to the peripheries. Medicine-territory: the hospital cannot cope without an efficient territorial medicine. The healthcare assisted residences where we put the elderly to protect them, have become a place where they have died. Work-private life: all the opportunities and inconveniences of smart working have emerged, however, allowing to relativize the office container, no longer as the only way to work, and questioning the heavy dichotomy between work and private life for which one in three women in Italy abandons work, after maternity. We have a great opportunity: to rethink times and spaces of work. School-didactics at a distance: dramatic social distances have emerged but also possibilities. The “classroom container” is not the only possible way to learn. This is the form of contemporary thought: to understand connections between things, the intelligence of connections, as exposed in chapter 4 of Laudato Si’. The invitation is to look at our private life for the missing ones that open new possibilities of thought and planning. And, in the light of connections, to re-understand solidarity. The invitation to globalize it comes from Pope Francis, and to rethink it in an integral way. During the lockdown, we understood that solidarity can also pass through social distancing. It requires to protect public institutions. To understand this type of solidarity requires a cultural shift, an ascesis for each organization to go beyond immediacy, with respect to what it does. It is also a great challenge for the Church. In order to make the oratory and the center for the poor work,  a dialogue with institutions and professional expertise are necessary. It’s an important kairos to get rid of the illusion that things are right because we do them. It’s time for a conversion of mentality: not even the Church is a leak-proof container. There is a framework of social relations without which it can no longer conceive itself. Integral ecology is a method for reading reality (chapter 4), but also an experiential and spiritual process (chapter 6), both personal and communitarian: as the two lungs of Laudato Si’. Which spirituality is best suited for us to experience this process? A proposal in 3 stages follows: A spirituality capable of contemplation. The term  recurs 27 times in the document, and relates to the concrete world, the whole world, as a beauty wounded by unjust systems. To contemplate means to look profoundly at reality, letting ourselves be touched by it as it is and becoming aware of how the world resounds in us, in view of a personal transformation, in the sign of compassion. It means to renounce the overall control, to renounce having  a ready explanation for everything. To accept to let oneself be surprised and challenged. A spirituality capable of inhabiting complexity, where some, once important, categories are now outdated: profit/no profit, technology and nature, economy and ethics, market and gratuity, work time and free time. “Pillars of the past” that today fade into grey areas. How to understand what is authentic from what is not? Go deeper, discern. In some Catholics there is a need to draw boundaries to protect their identity. With Laudato Si’ we have entered into this conversation, let us continue with humility, willing to learn, without raising fences. A spirituality capable of making beautiful choices: to do good things (ethics), to make them beautiful (aesthetics), to know how to tell them (narrative). Often these levels are separated. Today marketing, the online world, are the places where the criteria of beauty are formed, just as the narratives that become meaningful for people. Even these worlds must be listened to without fear and prejudice to grasp what they have to tell us. Today the ethics of the environment must know how to use a language that also involves the body, gives pleasure, mobilizes imagination, and is challenging not only at the level of thought but also in the depths. Laudato Si’ asks for ecological conversion. There is a word in the New Testament, metanoia, which means: to change mentality. Today being ecological is not adding a new content to the many duties we have, but rather a transformation process that will be all the more effective the more it involves all the dimensions of our person.
Art workshops, spiritual trekking, bible camps are among the many initiatives which have taken place this summer for young people despite the limitations imposed by covid19. About 80 young people have been welcomed from July to August at Selva di Val Gardena. A protocol drawn up by professionals permitted 18 young people to stay at the Capriolo. Each were guaranteed a single room with bath facilities.  Thus, although the numbers were lower than usual, the initiative was not cancelled despite the emergency, offering the possibility for young people to make an evaluation of this particular time and for renewal. The program “beauty will save the world”, which took place between 19 and 25 July, included music, art, poetry, and theatre workshops led by professionals.  Another three-week program between 19 July and 15 August was based on the subject “starting all over again: from me, from you, from us”. This program which will be repeated for various groups provides in-depth studies on “by me”, with a psychological input, “by you”, having a reflection on prayer and reading of the rules of discernment and finally “by us”, giving a broader view of society. Some excursions and moments of sharing completed the program. “This year too, these initiatives were made possible thanks to the gratuitous availability of speakers and collaborators” Lavelli highlighted. Some Jesuits organised spiritual trekking for young people between the age of  20 and 30 in collaboration with the Journeys of Life Association.  Another activity consisted of a 5-day tour in Val Maira with reflections on Laudato Si, sharing insights, biblical reflections, contrasting lifestyles and good practices.  Another event took place in a camp at Malga Giuggia in Val Breguzzo, Trento, with the theme "What are you willing to live for. The initiative "100 fins, sea and the Bible in Ragusa", was a program for reading Scripture and for common life. In Val di Fiemme the theme of the program was "The Journey of the Pensive Christ". Finally, “The Miners' Journey” is scheduled in Sardinia from 29 August to 6 September and in October the “Trek a Scampia”, a program of exploration and personal experience with the social realities of the neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples. In San Giacomo d'Entracque, Cuneo 3 biblical camps were organised in August, a course in Frosinone and a study camp in Greece with the theme "at the origins of Christianity" starting from 30 August, till 5 September and led by the Living Stones Team.
Over 5000 families helped by the San Giuseppe Moscati Foundation In Naples, in via San Sebastiano 48, the activity of the San Giuseppe Moscati anti-usury foundation has now resumed after the summer break. This organisation was established in 1991 thanks to the commitment of Fr Massimo Rastrelli, parish priest at the Gesù Nuovo in Naples. Listening to the many sufferings of his people instilled within him the need to raise the awareness of the parish community, then to the determination to field an adequate response to this sad phenomenon. Thus, by obtaining financial help from banks, by applying for state funding and through charity, the Foundation now has a rotary fund of 12 million euros, 10 million for prevention and over 2 million for battling usury. “The pandemic has highlighted what had already existed for some time”  president Amedeo Scaramella, President of the Foundation explains, “through the loss of jobs and the closure of commercial establishments, this bubble has been inflated. It is unconceivable what difficulties people found themselves in until a few years ago.”   First time poor people, single-income families who were discharged from work or ending up unemployed and without any aid from the state, are among those most exposed to the risk of falling into the hands of loan sharks. On Tuesdays, volunteers receive candidates, listen to their need and carry out discreet checks. The next day, a committee examines the case and submits a recommendation to the Board of Directors. The Council meets on Thursdays and decides whether to support the loan application and decides also on the loan amount to be granted. One must keep in mind the order of request and its urgency, the number of family members, the gravity of the reason for indebtedness, the individual’s sense of responsibility, the assessment of the debt situation, the capacity of loan repayment taking into account that irregular income, salaries and / or pensions are directed towards the repayment of the usury. "We involve the family" Scaramella explains, " in order to address the case to a family member who has a minimum income willing to help the relative in difficulty.” Over 100 banking, financial and legal professionals work and collaborate within the Foundation.  They are all volunteers who give their service free of charge. No less than two and a half million euros are paid each year without any obligation to report those who overcharge loan interest. The commitment of Fr. Rastrelli was instrumental in the promulgation of the law on the prevention of usury. The Jesuit died in 2018, but his work continues and grows. Today there are 31 "centres" in Italy, each with its own legal status, represented by a "National Council". More than 5 thousand families, out of 12 thousand applications, are given assistance by the centre of Naples, which is strongly involved in education and prevention activities. The Foundation is part of the Jesuit Social Network which since 2004 has established a network of the 39 social activities promoted by the Society of Jesus in Italy.    
Lorenzo loves to fly up high. Since 1995 he is an airline pilot, now experienced and in responsibility. During his flights he loves to take pictures of the horizons that he can see above the clouds and post them in rotation on his whatsapp profile. Married, 3 children. An experience with the “Movement of family love” at a certain stage interrupted. "I felt I was lacking times of encounter with the Lord. I was looking for retreats, pilgrimages for couples or families but I had not found any. I had discovered their importance in the movement. Then too many distractions had taken me further and further away: work, family, various commitments with the consequent change in our family relationships, both as husband and father. Then a vacation in Selva di Val Gardena and a meeting with the Jesuits. A few months  later, at the parish I found one of them, who had come for a training meeting with parents of the scout group, of which my children are part. So I gradually learn about Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. I felt a strong urge to rediscover that daily relationship with the Lord that I was missing. I searched the web for more information. I discovered the different ways to experience them: as singles, couples, families, consecrated persons. Family management did not allow us to experience them at first as a couple. My wife, understanding this strong desire of mine, encouraged me to experience them individually. My work often takes me away. Taking 6 days off for this experience would have led me to stay further away, with a consequent sense of guilt. In December I had a long 4 days shift:  I decided to give it up and make those days into parental leave. I added one day of vacation and one of childbirth leave. Villa San Giuseppe in Bologna is a fairly isolated structure with plenty outdoor space, for times of silence and peace. Accommodation is organized and very well cared for. I discovered there that we would remain in silence. I did not know and I was pleasantly impressed to be able to do without all the noises that distracted me every day. In the morning, in the Chapel, the meeting for Lauds. Everyone expressed their resonance on a word or a sentiment or what Scripture suggested. In a hall our guide then introduced us to moments of prayer: 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. I realized we were very different people gathered together: businessmen, couples, singles, priests, parish priests, nuns, consecrated persons. All together along the same path, along which each one walks in his or her uniqueness. At first there were perplexities and doubts, even my own. Then, always in silence, on the following days I met new looks, new gestures. The days literally flew by while I saw once again what the Lord had done for me, even when I did not know Him. I come from a disordered and distant life. I realized that He was always there waiting for me. I saw Him looking over  me, His outstretched hand, always welcoming and patient even after mistakes and falls. The moment I finally met His look and welcomed His hand, my life changed. And this new look I brought home, a merciful look, that I felt on me and that He has on everyone. I also wanted my look to be the same. I remember that every person I met was wonderful to me. Every person pure, despite his mistakes. I would suggest everyone to make this experience: couples who cannot participate together, can join individually; and then I recommend it to young people. Without fear, especially at the beginning, in order to be able fly higher in this great adventure.  
A ten-year journey, full of educational as well as formative experiences, led Michael Debono, 32, to ordination. Michael met the Society at St. Aloysius’ College which was the school he attended since he was 10 years of age. "I was fascinated by the Jesuits’ way of celebrating Mass, of explaining the Bible, by their practical spiritual life and the attention directed towards the poor. He became aware of his vocation to serve at the age of 13. Then he continued studying mathematics and physics at the University of Malta. His emotions, the role of his family, his dreams and fears the day after his ordination were all recounted by the young Jesuit priest. You cannot enter into any deep relationship without giving the other person time, and this is what prayer did for me in my relationship with God. The constant support of a spiritual director was also very helpful. God’s Timing I was meant to be ordained earlier this year, but all plans were put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the confirmation that I was going to be ordained came only a couple of weeks beforehand! Thankfully, I had my eight-day retreat just before my Ordination and that prepared me well for this moment. My first calling at the age of 13 Many years ago, when I was still about thirteen years old, I felt the strong desire to serve God’s people, and the image of the Good Shepherd always stayed with me from the very beginning. In fact, it was the image that I had chosen for my original Ordination invitation cards earlier this year. This desire remained strong in me. I can never replace Christ, the only Good Shepherd, but my hope is that I will be the channel through which people will get closer to God. My Feelings on the Day of the Ordination I could hardly believe that the day had finally arrived. I was excited, but also a little bit fearful at the prospect of being a channel for God’s love and the responsibility of it all. But I strongly felt God’s words “I will be with you”, and that gave me a lot of peace. My Family My mother has repeatedly shown me the joy and satisfaction that one of her children has chosen this path. She told me that with each rite during the ordination she kept asking herself, “is this really my son? It is a great grace from God.” I know that I can count on her prayers for this mission and the inevitable difficulties that will present themself. My other family members, young and old, were very excited. In His Heart An image that keeps coming back to me is the moment when we went up to the altar, when I and four other deacons looked across at the other five, and our eyes met and we all shared a moment of joy and relief that we had actually made it. Desires and Dreams for the Future I have a deep desire to be really present for people, to be like the Good Shepherd in today’s world which is so full of challenges. I look forward to being able to bring people closer to God through the sacrament of reconciliation. When we look around us it is so easy to feel a sense of helplessness. But even the Apostles were fearful at first, closed in a room, and yet they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they went out and started proclaiming the Good News about Jesus Christ. But I feel I can do my little part to change the world. All of us, not just as priests but as Christians, can do our part, trusting in the Lord and be joyful knowing that, through Him, we are redeemed children of God! I hope that with my joy and with my work I will be able to get people closer to God and maybe, hopefully, help to make the world a better place, even if just a little. As Mother Theresa used to say about their work with the poor, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Michael Debono S.J.