Hello September, which means once again our Novitiate house for the British, Dutch, Flemish and Irish Provinces of the Society of Jesus receives a new group of novices (note that Lithuanian novices are now going to Germany). Hello to Adam, Damien, Erik, John, Luke and Pascal. But it also means farewell to those who have completed the two year noviceship, taken their vows and are heading off to their further training. Good luck to Auremas, Bastiaan, Mantas, Mark and Richard in the various corners of the earth to which they are heading off next.
For those that follow this Manresa Amigos blog alongside the daily news cycle, there seems little need to repeat much of what has been said about the start of Novitiate in other good blogs. Here’s one about the daily regime, another about the Triduum (three day – why use an English word when a fancy Latin one will do) retreat which marks the end of our First Probation. Two novices also describe their thoughts about arriving here and here .
Here too is a blog about the vows day itself, one about the experience for a novice of leading up to that, and some wise words about the implications of those vows from a previous Novice Master.
However, though the pattern of early novitiate life is quite similar year to year (and has been since the sixteenth century…), things were very slightly different this year in that new novices arrived three weeks earlier than usual. Having typically arrived before vows day into the hustle and bustle of people leaving and many guests, this year we arrived just before the other members of the novitiate community headed off for their annual holiday in Barmouth. So our two weeks of first probation were alone in the community with our other resident Jesuits.
The change seems to have been a success. It gave us time to reflect on the new life in which we’d landed ourselves, not worrying that we weren’t as cool and collected as the second years appeared, and crucially time to become friends as a group. It returns too in some ways to a period earlier in Jesuit history when First Probation would have been much more clearly delineated from the novitiate proper. We also weren’t quite as panicked by all the new names and faces when vows day arrived.
The first few weeks over, it’s time to crack on with the rest of the year.