milestone of 70 years in the Society of Jesus is not for everyone. I reached it
last year, almost without realizing it.
I can say that the Lord has been great to me. He took me from a rather “bourgeois”
life to one that was almost always “in the street.” In the notorious alleyways
of the “Quartieri Spagnoli” of Naples, I discovered a degraded
humanity: young people without family support who lived to the rhythm of
robbery, prostitution and prison. Gathered together in a housing community, I
tried to give many of them affection, understanding, the support that I was
capable of. I rediscovered within myself the paternal dimension, important for
true love. And also the therapeutic community, one of the first in Italy,
always in contact with people who have lost their dignity and their life.
But the Lord
showed me still another path: the missionary dimension. Albania was opening up
to freedom, after so many years of oppression by a ferocious and merciless
dictatorship. From the age of 60 to 80, I worked to rebuild the fabric of faith
in the country. And then, back in Italy, I spent time in the confessional in
the ministry of reconciliation.
The Covid took
this last apostolic activity away from me: and at first I found myself a little
lost, but then I discovered that the Lord was giving me the gift of a last
period of my life, no less important than the previous ones. The Lord Jesus
said to me: “Until now you have been running your own boat. Now you have to
stop rowing and you have to let yourself be led to where I want you to go...”
the meaning of my own limitations, weakness, illness. All is gift, all is
grace. I live serenely, waiting for the day when I will be called. I perceive
as never before the deep meaning of “Sume et suscipe”, “Take, Lord,
receive” this very central prayer that our father Ignatius left us. I abandon
myself in the arms of my Lord, trusting in his mercy.
I am surrounded by the affection of my
companions to whom I try to transmit the meaning of the Ignatian “Magis”. I pray not only “for the Church and for
the Society,” an expression used in the Society's catalogues for those who have
reached this stage, but I pray for the whole world, for all the people who have
accompanied me in this wonderful adventure that has been my life!