of being in Colorado for the marriage of two friends from college. It was wonderful to participate in the day which the Lord had given them and celebrate with their friends and family. One of the great parts for me was seeing some of my other close friends from college that I had not seen in a long time. Some of them are starting families now and have children or are expecting themselves. Some I had not seen in a couple of years, so catching up and seeing what the Lord has been doing in their lives was beautiful.
However, as in all situations of travel, our time together came swiftly to an end. It is in times and places like this that I remember an account of C.S. Lewis from Sheldon Vanauken in his book A Severe Mercy. They are leaving one another's acquaintance most likely for the last time and Lewis yelled out "Christians never say goodbye!"
I think this statement has a lot to tell us for many phases of life.
Many of us have situations where people have moved through our lives over long or short periods of time. Think about how many of us can name a best friends from 3rd or 4th grade. We are probably not as close with that person now and might not ever know where that person is in this life, but that person had an impact on us. More closely even are the people who came later in life in high school, college or beyond that we formed a deep bond with and then family or work or life pulled them or you to a different location. Maybe through the gift of technology you can keep up with this person, or follow them on social media and see what they are up to from time to time. But there is of course something missing when you are not face to face with someone. Some of these friends we may never see again in this life. Every one of us has had a person close to us who has passed away or maybe was taken by some tragedy. Our faith offers us some great consolation in the face of this difficult reality though!
Jesus Christ showed us that there is life after death! He is ruler of all time and space, and for those who believe in Him, death is not the end but a beginning. We MUST hold on to this truth! So when I think about C.S. Lewis shouting those words, it brings me great joy. I think about the beauty of heaven when I will be reunited with those friends and family who had gone before me. It always seems like people say that they wish they had more time with a loved one when they are gone, and that is true! Now know that you will have an eternity to spend with them if you follow the God of the Universe's plan for your life! I am very much looking forward to that.
We can also have a foretaste of that communion here on earth! Every time you or I head to mass, we are entering into a time and space outside of our understanding of time and space. We participate mystically at mass with every other sacrifice of the mass that has ever happened and ever will happen. We are at the last supper and at the last mass that will ever be celebrated. When the bread and wine are consecrated Jesus Christ in the fullness of time and perfection is truly present. He who was and is and is to come. This is not some party trick but a reality that we must be in awe of. It is not just those in the church building that sit at the altar but all the heavenly hosts and the faithful believers in all time.
I have a great friend who is currently in his formation to become a priest in the S.O.L.T community (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity). He currently has no access to internet or phones, but he can write letters, so we have been communicating for a while this way. At the end of his letters he writes "I will see you in the eucharist". This is not some compliment on my part that Christ in the eucharist somehow reminds him of me, but he writes with the belief that when he is participating in mass we are there together because it is the same God there as is in our adoration chapel and is consecrated in our church multiple times a day. This is one of the many reasons why I go to mass. I may not see my friend for a long while or even ever again, but I do not need to say goodbye, because I live in the hope of the resurrection. I live in the joy that our God comes to us every day in bread and wine and makes present His true self for all times and places. I know that our prayers are joined together and the same God is made present to us at ever mass. And I live in the truth that all the faithful, heavenly hosts and saints of heaven are joined together in their praise of the Most High God at the table of the altar forever and ever.
This is our faith. This is the truth. This is what you and I believe. May we live according to that belief.