. . . is where I am, after the 500-mile drive from Georgetown earlier today. Everything was fine while we were gone, and I’ve already washed a load of laundry and cooked two pounds of bacon.
But I’ll back up just a bit to this morning, when we arrived on campus to attend the All Class Farewell Mass, which is always held in Gaston Hall.
Gaston Hall IS Georgetown to me. It’s an ornate room that continues to impress me as much as it did the first time I saw it in 1985. When I’m there, I think of all the other times I was there–for six (I think) Reunion masses now, but also for at least one Mass of the Holy Spirit, for Cherry Tree Massacre, for hypnotist Tom DeLuca, for the mandatory viewing of The Exorcist during Freshman Orientation, and more formal occasions that I no longer recall. But it’s also always new to me, because it so richly detailed that I discover more every time I visit.
From the motto of the Jesuits emblazoned behind the stage to the many sayings of famous wise men that adorn the walls to the seals of all the Jesuit Universities from across the world, it’s a feast for the eyes and the mind. It is a joy to be in the room, and more of a joy to attend Mass there, especially with John, who was not Catholic when he attended Georgetown and certainly attributes his openness to becoming one to his experience of the Jesuits.
The Eucharist is the source and the summit of all that we do as Catholics, and the Reunion Mass is the summit of the weekend for me. I worry sometimes at the naysayers who proclaim Georgetown is not “Catholic enough,” until I come back and see and feel how very Catholic it is. Father Kevin O’Brien (a classmate of John’s), who had earlier given the lecture on the Church in the 21st century, was the celebrant, and a few other Jesuits joined in, among them Father Bill McFadden, who was my first theology professor and of whom I was absolutely terrified. Jack DeGioia, the first lay President of the university, gave a reflection after Communion.
President DeGioia recalled a Gospel of a few weeks prior and reminded us that we are to be living stones, building a spiritual house, out in the world. He said he wished that the most recent graduates could be with us so that they could see the profound impact their Georgetown experience will have on their futures. When Father O’Brien dismissed us, reminding us that the word “Mass” derives from the Latin for sending forth, we were filled with the sense of mission that Georgetown attempts to inspire in its students.
We enjoyed a very nice brunch afterwards under the tent on Copley Lawn, and after a last-minute bathroom break to prepare for the long drive home, we spent our last few moments sitting right outside one of the doors to the Healy Building. The year I graduated–Georgetown’s Bicentennial Year–a mosaic of the University Seal was installed in front of this door. Apparently it has become a Georgetown tradition not to step on the seal, and you could tell the students and more recent (than me!) alums by whether they skirted the seal or walked across it. It was sweet to hear one young guy explaining to his preschooler that “we never, ever step on it.”
And then it was time to start for home . . . grateful for the weekend, and even more grateful for our Georgetown years.