Monday, February 14, 2005

Back into the swing of things.

It's been a week since the primi returned home to Loyola House, and I'm finally starting to get my bearings back. Our daily routine (the ordo, in the parlance of Catholic religious life) is different from the one we followed in the fall. We still get up at 7 am most days for morning prayer or Mass, but our commitments outside the house are basically limited to teaching for forty minutes a day at La Salette. Each of us teaches at a different time, and with my slot at 12:20 pm I have most of the morning free. (Incidentally, after a few days of observation I'll be doing my first day of actual teaching tomorrow, so wish me luck.) The last few days have also been devoted to individual prayer and discernment regarding our short experiments; I have a good sense of where I'll be going, but I won't announce my assignment here until it's official. Beyond that, I have a new house job - librarian! - which is both enjoyable and demanding enough that I've gotten into the habit of putting in an hour or two of work a day on it even though we're officially only obliged to do house jobs on Saturday mornings. As a general matter, our schedule is lighter and more flexible than it was before the Long Retreat, giving us ample time to get readjusted and try to integrate the graces of the Exercises into the daily lives we lead in this "Fifth Week."

Winding down this post, a couple random asides should assure any worried readers that Novitiate Notes' pop culture apostolate is alive and well. The first aside relates to world cinema, a pet interest I share with fellow novice Jake Martin. God only knows why, but this afternoon I suddenly found myself wondering, "Hey, what ever happened to Louis Jourdan?" Jourdan, as you may remember (or more likely have forgotten), was an international star of the '50's, '60's and '70's who (in common with many other familiar though obscure character actors) got typecast early in his career and went on to play essentially the same role over and over again. In Jourdan's case, that role was of a suave and courtly though often somewhat shady European aristocrat. (As I write this, I find myself wondering whether Jourdan was in any sense a prototype for Christopher Walken's recurring SNL character The Continental.) I suspect that most movie viewers of my generation would recognize Jourdan, if at all, as a scenery-chewing Bond villain (he played Kamal Khan in Octopussy) or as the mutant-creating Dr. Anton Arcane from the Swamp Thing movies. To be honest, I myself thought of the aforementioned films first when Jourdan's name popped into my head, and only after that did I rack my brain to remember the other movies he was in earlier in his career, which is kinda sad given that Jourdan would probably rather be remembered for his roles in '50's flicks like Gigi and Three Coins in the Fountain.

The second aside, even more of a non sequitur than the first, involves a song I had stuck in my head today. Of all things, I found myself humming the theme from Scarecrow and Mrs. King. For the backstory on this, consult these old blog entries by Jon and myself. The really remarkable thing about this isn't the song itself (though it is, I must admit, a catchy little number) but how long ago it seems that I last wrote about it here. Memories can work in a strange way: events that occurred a mere three months ago in the novitiate now seem like ancient history, while things I did before I entered - trips I took this past summer, for example - seem very recent. Though these comments stem from a chance recollection I had today, the memory puzzle I'm referring to is one I pondered much during the Long Retreat and continue to wonder about. If any readers have any insight on the topic, feel free to share them. As I wrote above, this aside is something of a non sequitur, but if it gets you thinking about the role of memory in your own experience I'll feel like I've done my job. AMDG.


At February 15, 2005 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for continuing your blog. I enjoy checking in periodically.

Thanks again for your post on the examen of conscience. I am hopeful that you would do a similar post on the Long Retreat.

As I understand it, a lay version of the Long Retreat can be done over a longer period and can be quite fruitful. Do you have any comment on that (or other lay Ignatian retreats)?

Again, many thanks.

At February 15, 2005 9:47 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thanks for the comments - I probably won't be giving a complete report on the Long Retreat, because it's a little hard for me to summarize the experience. However, I'm sure some of the graces I felt will pop up from time to time in some my posts - when I report on what I'll be doing for Short Experiment, for example, I'm going to have to talk about aspects of the Retreat because my ideas for the experiment came out of prayer experiences I had during the Spiritual Exercises.

On doing the Exercises over a long period, I can say that it's done very frequently - it's called a "19th Annotation Retreat," after the note that St. Ignatius wrote providing for the possibility of making the Exercises in daily life over a period of several months. I've known various people who've made the Exercises this way and all reported that it was a spiritually nourishing experience. In light of your comment I think I might do a post on 19th Annotation retreats sometime in the next few days with links to more info on the topic.


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