Heaven on Villa

Fr Charlie McCoy, CSC at Ordination

Fr. Charlie McCoy, C.S.C, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Portland, has checked in with his post for this month, and as always, it is beautiful, moving reflection. If you have ever wonder what heaven is like, you will get some answers today …

The first Villa Maria hall Mass in late August is always one of my favorite nights of the year. We celebrate Mass together on Tuesday, so most students already have had each of their classes just once; all of those anxious first impressions are completed, but plenty of expectation and anticipation remain. Of course, since it’s just the first week, folks aren’t feeling exhausted or overwhelmed yet by heavy workloads, so we’ve all got a lot of energy.

The congregation includes many freshmen, most of whose faces I’ve begun to recognize, but whose names I haven’t really begun to learn. Amid them appear upperclassmen, who embody that spirit of reunion and that knowing appreciation that come with renewing a sacred tradition. And since this is Villa, and our guys are very friendly and social, they also invite their friends from other halls and off-campus houses – unexpected, but welcome, additions to the Villa Hall Mass.
This year’s opening liturgy included all of these blessings and more. Our little chapel was packed with 55 people; the lack of chairs and the extra-long handshake of peace were welcome problems. One of our hall’s seniors had taken the initiative to form what could actually be called a choir (the first one in existence since my time in Villa!). The campus ministry staff had supplied our chapel with nicer cruets and a new altar cloth, so our worship had a little fresher, more beautiful feel.
From its very origins, the Church has proclaimed that the Mass embodies Heaven on earth; and so, our life as a congregation before God and with Christ is supposed to provide a foretaste of our life in Eternity. I think for most us, this idea is a beautiful ideal, but not something we can easily experience or even imagine, in part because Heaven itself is so mysterious. Lord willing that we make it Heaven, what will our life be like? Let me dare to take some guesses.
The anxiety of the complete unknown must be ended, but an infinity of expectation and anticipation remain. We won’t be exhausted or overwhelmed by life’s burdens, but filled with the energy of the Spirit. We’ll encounter those we don’t yet know, and still we’ll somehow recognize them, because we’ll already be one in the Lord. We’ll experience the joy of reunion with those who preceded us in death. And, in all honesty, we’ll probably see some members there who are unexpected – but now no less welcome – citizens of the New Jerusalem. Although unconstrained by time or space, we’ll have some sense of how “packed” it is, and how “long” it takes to greet one another. Together we’ll hear the music of the Word and behold the beauty of God’s face. Why do I think this is what Heaven will be like? Because that’s what it was like at Villa last Tuesday.

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