In a little while I'll be leaving for Convent, Louisiana and a Jesuit retreat house called "Manresa on the Mississippi." I'll be leading about 110 men in a retreat that begins this evening and ends on Sunday afternoon when I'll fly back to Milwaukee. During the course of the weekend I'll be giving 11 half hour talks designed to lead the retreatants through the "Spiritual Exercises" of St. Ignatius.
The Jesuits came to a former college in 1931 to begin this retreat center. I'll be giving the talks in this conference room. Unlike other Jesuit retreat houses up the Mississippi River--White House in St. Louis and Demontreville near St. Paul--Manresa does not have an optional recreation period when talking is permitted after dinner. From start to finish the retreat is silent. On the cover of their retreat manual is a quote from a man named Louis Yarrut:
"THE HOUSE OF SILENCE AND SACRED SOD,
WHERE NOBODY SPEAKS TO ANYBODY,
AND EVERYBODY SPEAKS TO GOD."
Lest anyone become jealous that I am leaving frigid Milwaukee where it was 4 below zero this morning, the weather forecast for the next two days in Convent includes a freeze warning. It's going to dip into the upper 20's at night. I'm sure the retreatants will blame me for bringing the cold, but before they can, I'm going to thank them for their Southern Hospitality--helping me to feel at home with the freezing weather.