My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homecoming: Emotions, a Gratitude List, and my Mission

This past weekend, October 5-7, was Homecoming.  This was probably the 10th time I've been back to campus since Graduation, and I thought I'd dealt with the emotions.  I thought I was ready to go back and visit, and be "okay" with the fact that I was just visiting.  I thought my resolution of August 16 (see "Grateful for Life-Lessons Learned at Christendom") would be enough to tide me over.

But emotions exploded at Homecoming.  There were reasons, some of them beyond my control; but, let me say, when I left campus Sunday afternoon, I did not want to leave.  There was the sense of being back on campus but of not belonging--it's a painful feeling--warring with that resolution I'd made in August, plus random other things.

I took my camera, but didn't use it much; I took lots of pictures of the Shenandoah River from Dr. Carroll's grave behind Coeli, and a few pictures at the dance; but that's it.

However, I am not allowed to regret anything from Homecoming, (see "Grateful for Life-Lessons Learned at Christendom").  I am not going to regret the fact that I didn't get a picture either Graduation Weekend or Homecoming Weekend with my freshman and sophomore roommate, who's entering the Poor Clare Monastery sometime in the next six or so months.  I am not going to regret the fact that I didn't use my camera more to take pictures of my friends.

So, once again, instead of a list of regrets (which could be a lot longer, trust me) here's a Gratitude List for Homecoming Weekend:
  • I'm grateful that I got to go to 7:30 Mass on Saturday, and thus was able to pray for all those who went on our beloved History Professor's Old Rag climb, since I wasn't able to go myself.
  • I'm grateful that I had some nice quiet time over by Dr. Carroll's grave.
The grave of the founder of Christendom College was my "hidey-hole" and "thinking-spot" last semester; and it's still one of my favorite spots to visit when I'm on campus.  Some people might think that morbid of me; but a grave is a quiet place for thinking, praying, or, last semester, studying.  I've come to appreciate more the Church's doctrine of the Communion of Saints, of the fact that we, the Church Militant on earth, can intercede for and pray for the souls of the faithful departed, the souls in Purgatory--that these prayers are not wasted, even if the soul for whom we pray has already entered heaven--and that the suffering souls in Purgatory, in turn, can pray for us, their "militant" (still fighting) brothers and sisters on earth.

So, when I first arrive at the grave, I pray for the repose of his soul: "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen."

I also pray to him.  While it hasn't been defined that the Souls in Purgatory can pray for us, and from what I can find on the 'Net, it seems to have been a controversial subject, with Aquinas denying that they can pray for us, and Bellarmine asserting that they can, I figure a prayer or two to Dr. Carroll can't hurt.  After all, prayer is never wasted, right?

(picture shamelessly stolen from Facebook)
Truth Exists.
The Incarnation Happened.
"You have done a great work for the Church"--Pope John Paul II

I wandered down towards the second bench, which gives a clearer view of the Shenandoah and is also impossible to see from the hill behind Coeli.

I look at these hills, and my mind goes back to the Psalm-verse: "I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me. My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 120:1-2).  And the thought of that Psalm-verse turns my mind to other prayers, to other petitions that I need to place before Him Who "made heaven and earth," Who made my puny self, and without Whose loving care I would not exist.

Back at the bench right next to Dr. Carroll's grave, I sat down and used the wonderful zoom that my camera has.  I thought about the things that had already happened in the 12+ hours I'd been on campus, and prayed.  I prayed for the chance to see a couple very dear friends, I prayed that the weekend would be peaceful, I prayed for my friends and professors and for the success of our beloved History Professor's Old Rag Climb.

I inherited my Dad's love of nature photography (he likes photographs of creeks and rivers; I like creeks, rivers, sunrises, sunsets, and hills; but on Saturday, there was only the river).

(I tried to get a nice zoomed-in shot of the river without power lines, but no such luck.)

(I like this view of the grass in the river.)

The Rest of my Gratitude List:
  • I'm grateful for time spent with friends, going out to lunch and to dinner with some of my best friends from Freshman Year;
  • I'm grateful for the Homecoming Dance, even though dances never live up to expectations (hence, the point of having no expectations);
  • I'm grateful that I saw some very dear friends and professors at the Dr. Warren H. Carroll Alumni Reception, and I must admit that I enjoyed the beer than an Awesome History Professor bought me;
  • I'm grateful that I escaped the Dance before inconvenient emotions overwhelmed me;
  • I'm grateful for Sunday Mass, for the brilliant idea of my former roommies (an underclassman) that my friends and I should hang out and talk in their room, before we all went our separate ways.
I don't know when I'll be back.  I'm in Manassas now, and my roommate and I don't have a car; so the chances of me going back to campus are slim.  And a part of me hopes that it will be a very long time before I go back; because the more I go back, it seems the harder it is to leave.  Yes, I want to see all of my underclassmen friends, but I need to gain some distance and some perspective so that I can go back to campus and honestly accept the fact that I'm only visiting.

It's called "Homecoming," "coming" [back] "home."  So my inner gut feeling that Christendom College is my home isn't weird.  And yet, I still get the uneasy feeling that I don't really "belong."  I no longer have a room in the dorms; campus is swarming with freshmen whom I don't know (I've met some of them, though, and they're nice people); and when I do go back, I always know that it's only a visit: I'm not going back for good.  I'm not going back for another four years of studying, hanging out with friends, praying, and sleeping.  I'm only visiting.

A friend told me I'll always belong (which, according to him, also means that I'll always be a target for his napkin-balls in St. Lawrence Commons); but at the same time, I know I have to move on.  I have to take the strength and the courage that I have gained from the love of my friends and professors at Christendom, and strengthened by their love--which is but a dim reflection of the Love of God--I have to move on.  I can't hide in the "Christendom Bubble" for the rest of my life, even though that Bubble is the only solid thing that I've had in my life for the past four years.  My friends and professors are still there for me, still backing me 100%; and strengthened by their love, their support, their prayers, and the strength that they show in their own lives, I can move on.  I can survive this post-college life, with the grace of God, and strengthened by the Sacraments, and prayer--my own, and my friends'.

Christendom College will always be home; but it can't be the place where I hide in order to avoid the mission--my mission--of Instaurare Omnia in Christo, of going out To Restore All Things in Christ.

Summary of Homecoming Weekend 2012:
  • Dr. Carroll's grave is still the best place on campus for quiet thinking and praying.  Next time I'm on campus, if I say I'm going for a walk, that's where I'm headed.
  • Spending time with friends is good, as long as I don't get trapped into walking down "memory lane" and reminiscing about the "good old days" of Freshman Year.
  • Dances were never the most fun events, even if that was my own fault for skulking in corners with my arms crossed.
  • Sunday Mass at Christendom is still the most beautiful thing ever.
As I continue my job-hunt, I pray that God will give me the strength and the grace to live up to my mission as a graduate of Christendom College: to go into the world To Restore All Things in Christ.

Instaurare omnia in Christo!

God Love y'all!

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