Friday, January 09, 2009

The Long Retreat.

Every January, a diverse group that includes Jesuit novices from several U.S. provinces as well as other interested parties gathers at Gonzaga Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts to make the full thirty-day version of the Spiritual Exercises, an experience that takes a little more than a month when one adds several days of preparation and debriefing before and after the retreat as well as a couple of 'break days' (that is, days on which the silence and seclusion of the retreat are interrupted and retreatants are allowed to speak to one another and to leave the environs of the retreat house) at different points during the retreat. I made the Spiritual Exercises in Gloucester over the month of January 2005, in a group that included twenty-six novices, two religious sisters, two laywomen and a diocesan seminarian. I took the above photo of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean on a morning late in the retreat, when my spiritual director asked me to get up early and watch the sunrise as a way of meditating on the Resurrection of Christ. I have never been much of a morning person, and that day remains one of the very few in my life when I've actually witnessed a sunrise.

The group making the Long Retreat this year at Gloucester includes eighteen Jesuit novices and several other retreatants, including Catholic chemist and blogger Michelle Francl. I'm a regular reader of Michelle's blog Quantum Theology, and Michelle regularly reads and comments on this blog as well. I'll be praying for all who are making the Exercises in Gloucester this month, and I particularly look forward to reading Michelle's reflections on the experience - she has already posted some reflections about the lead-up to the Exercises, and I'm sure she'll have more to say after the retreat (even though I've found that there's a lot that you just can't say about having made the Long Retreat). If you're so inclined, I hope that you'll join me in praying for this year's crop of Long Retreatants. AMDG.


At 1/10/2009 2:40 PM, Blogger Joseph Fromm said...

Dear Joe,

Your comment,

"Even though I've found that there's a lot that you just can't say about having made the Long Retreat"

points to exactly why a long retreat is made.



At 2/04/2009 9:01 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

We appreciate the prayers deeply. The Long Retreat ended this afternoon - or at least it now moves forward into the rest of our lives.

Written from the fireplace room at Gloucester -

Michelle + novices

At 2/04/2009 10:30 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...


Thanks for the message - you're right about the way the Long Retreat moving into "ordinary" life; I think Bill O'Malley was right about life after the Exercises being the "Fifth Week" of the retreat.

Give my best to the novices and the rest of the retreatants - pax et bonum,

Joe K


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