In The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything (http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/5326/the-jesuit-guide-to-almost-everything), James Martin SJ gives a fantastic insight to Ignatian Spirituality and how it can benefit everyone’s life, Jesuits and non-Jesuits alike. Interestingly though, he also mentions the wonderful advice he was given about the novitiate that he says would have been incredibly beneficial to have known whilst he was there:
1. It is not heaven.
Quite simply put, it is not perfect. No where on earth is. It is best to see the novitiate, or any other place for that matter, has having both positives and negatives. It is not an idyllic place, but somewhere that will test those entering on how to see it as just that not heaven. As Paul, the Director of Novices, tells us, if we find the novitiate not taxing or challenging then something is clearly wrong.
2. You’re not God.
People will do things that you cannot control. Nor is it best to be trying to control what they do or how they do it. Every afternoon and evening we each have to do an examen prayer (http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen) where we look at where God was present throughout the day. For me, it is often in the actions and characteristics of the people around me where I have found this. Therefore, trying to somehow undo other people’s individual tendencies would just be pointless. This rule also helps the one above. It is simply just best to get on with it and enjoy the company of those around. Admittedly, it’s a lot easier said than done and if anyone knows how to accomplish this, please give me a shout.
3. Don’t be an ass.
Couldn’t put it better myself.
There we go, 3 (hopefully) easy things to remember about life in the Jesuit novitiate.