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To those who have just joined our Jesuit novitiates in Europe.

November 5th is the European day of Prayer for Jesuit vocations. Here, Conference President John Dardis shares some reflections for our new novices. 

Dear friends and companions

By now you have arrived in the Novitiate, unpacked your case and you are adjusting to a new way of living.  You are probably getting up at more regular hours than before. You are being introduced to Ignatian prayer and being helped to deepen it. You are meeting new companions and learning how to live in community with people who are quite different from yourself.

You have joined the Society at a time of new beginnings: a new Father General in Rome; a sense of excitement in the Society around the world as we look at new frontiers and how to tackle them.

The Jesuit mission is wonderful but can also seem a bit overwhelming – so many challenges, so many inspiring people who have gone before us, all those Jesuit saints and martyrs  But all of those men are just like you - ordinary people with ordinary struggles and concerns. It was God who made them great. Their lives testify that even in frailty the mission can be brought forward. “We hold the treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7).  It is often in and through our frailty that the Lord works. As we experience the Lord’s loving  and merciful gaze in our daily prayer, we learn to be compassionate to ourselves and to others, to be and to bring Good News. The Pope’s motto ‘miserando atque eligendo’ expresses entirely this idea. In the end, it is not about us, it is about God, it is God’s mission. He is leading it.

So, do not be afraid, be open, share with one another and let the Lord reach out to you and to your heart. We are invited to build relations of depth, to be open with each other, even concerning difficult issues. An amazing gift and a core element of Jesuit formation and Jesuit life is transparency.  In that way we let our vulnerabilities become our strengths and we make true the phrase of St Paul “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10)

You will be sent on different missions – “experiments” – during your time as novices.  You will learn a lot about yourself and about others.  You will live out of your comfort zone. You will be challenged to grow, to change, to deepen.  All of that is positive – even if sometimes not easy. It is a journey with the Lord Jesus who never abandons us. 

Rely on the help of your friends and the prayers and support of others. And be assured of my own prayers and the prayers of 4,000 other Jesuits around Europe who have heard the same call and who are answering it day after day, sometimes in situations of great danger, sometimes in the ordinary call of the everyday, always desiring to love and serve in all things. 

With best wishes

 

John Dardis SJ
CEP President

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