My final weekend at Loyola House.
Returning to Berkley today after a couple weeks away in Chicago, Omena and Clarkston, I received an unwelcome surprise: a summons for jury duty. Don't get my wrong - I regard jury duty as a high civic obligation, and under other circumstances I'd be happy to receive the notice. In this case, however, the Oakland County Jury Clerk asked me to report for duty on the last day of August - at which point I'll be a few days into my first semester of philosophy studies at Fordham. A call to the county courthouse revealed that I would be relieved of my obligation so long as I could provide documentary evidence of my imminent move to New York. Though I had little difficulty gathering the necessary documents, the task took up most of an afternoon that I had hoped would be devoted to packing for next week's move. As a result, I anticipate a busy night of packing and an even busier day tomorrow as my Bronx-bound companions and I begin the task of loading the U-Haul truck that will take our meager temporal goods to New York. Your prayers for this endeavor are earnestly appreciated.
Omena was fun. The Traverse City Film Festival is in its second year, and though many of the films I wanted to see were sold out I made it to three showings - I saw A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, both offered as part of a Stanley Kubrick retrospective, as well as the acclaimed and controversial Palestinian drama Paradise Now. This past Sunday I and a couple other Jesuits attended Mass at the Carmelite Monastery of the Infant Jesus of Prague in Traverse City, which seems a bit stricter than the two or three other Discalced Carmelite communities I've encountered in the past. Though I expected the cloistered nuns at the monastery to remain in their private oratory during the Mass, I also presumed they'd be visible through the grille at some point during the liturgy - during communion, for example. This was not to be the case; in Traverse City, the Carmelites are heard but apparently never seen. The nuns sang throughout the Mass, but they did so from within an oratory with a window small enough that they could see out but no one else could see in. This presented an interesting contrast with my experiences at Santa Clara - where I was able to enjoy a friendly chat with a couple of the sisters in the sacristy after Mass - and in Cusco, where I briefly glimpsed a Carmelite in full habit opening and closing the monastery door. For what it's worth, I'm glad I had a chance to see something of the Carmelite presence in Northern Michigan, even if I didn't actually see any Carmelites.
(Addendum, 10/24/06: I've noticed that a lot of visitors have come to this page through Google searches for Mass times at the Carmelite Monastery in Traverse City. Therefore, as a public service I'm posting those times, with the caution that I am not responsible for any changes in schedule that may have been adopted since my visit. As of August 2006, the Carmelite Monastery in Traverse City had Mass on Sundays at 7.30 am and weekdays at 6.50 am. To be on the safe side, readers thinking of going to Mass with the Carmelites should call the monastery at (231) 946-4960 to confirm these times.)
My retreat at Colombiere was pretty low-key. The focus of the three days was to prepare spiritually for the experience of making first vows this coming Sunday. I suppose I'm as ready as I'm going to be to take vows, though I don't know exactly how I'll feel until I'm actually kneeling on the floor of Gesu Church reading the vow formula that I carefully wrote out by hand last night. As the hours before the ceremony become fewer, I feel a sense of increasing excitement regarding the commitment I'm about to make and the challenges that lie ahead. At the same time, I also feel a bit apprehensive about all the tasks I need to complete over the next few days. Professing perpetual vows of chastity, poverty and obedience is, to put it simply, a big deal. In ways banal and concrete, preparing to move from Detroit to New York is also a big deal, as is the prospect of being a full-time student again after two years out of school. My prayer for the next few days is that God will give me and my brother novices the strength to do all that we must do. More than ever, your prayerful support is needed and appreciated. AMDG.