Heaven on Earth

When I think of heaven, I picture an on-going communion with family and friends in the constant presence of God. While admittedly a simplistic and perhaps incomplete view, I am simplistic and incomplete myself, and my imagination though somewhat over-active at times could never fully comprehend eternity, so this simple view works for me. A more theological interpretation is to share in the eternal relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, though distinct in personhood, because of their love and connectedness, singular in Being. Heaven then is the out of place, out of time inclusion in the very love life of God. It is where all of us have our family reunion with our Father, mother, Brother and all of our brothers and sisters. What a joy it will be, to be with those we love and who love us, and to be surrounded by God’s eternal love. Unfortunately, we have to get through this temporal existence first in order to experience it; right? WRONG. There are times and places where because we are so close to fulfilling God’s plan for us that heaven virtually “touches down” on earth, time and location are suspended, and we get a foretaste of what we have in store for us through the love and mercy of God.

The Valley Forge Convention Center on Sunday September 14th was one of those heaven on earth experiences. The Waterford Ballroom was clearly filled not only with family and friends, but the very presence of God was clearly evident as well. Two hundred people filled the room, including people that could not stay for the event but showed up for a quick visit. There was music, dancing, smiling, laughing, great food and drink, and even a few tears. Representatives came from all over Pennsylvania and New Jersey to celebrate and support Catie and she could not have been more thrilled. We began the day not knowing if she would be able to attend the event as she awoke Sunday morning with her first real bout of nausea in a month. She recovered enough for us to make the trek to Pottstown where we shared mass with the Brady’s and the congregation at St. Aloysius. We then had some downtime with the Toscano’s in our old neighborhood and Catie was able to get a few hours of sleep. When we arrived at the convention center, we were in awe at all of the elaborate care that the Brady family and their small army of volunteers had lavished on the setting. From the tables to the stage to the banner to the pictures of Catie placed around the room and flashing on two massive screens, we knew instantly that we were in for a blessed evening. Ryan had pulled out all of the stops in setting up the ballroom. Kathleen and Emily who had envisioned the event and then made it come to life stunned us with the details. Matthew and Joseph, looking dapper, handled much of the work that their sisters foisted upon them, while Randy MCd the event in his best Bob Barker, Price is Right/Miss America impression. Regina and Rich, I can only imagine how proud you must be. Thank you!

Once the event began and people began arriving, it became a trip through Catie’s life as former teachers, friends, relatives, friends of relatives, families she has gone on retreat with, and people she had never met all demonstrated their support with their presence. At times it became overwhelming for her, but mostly, she just smiled that Catie smile, engaged in conversation with them and then moved on. She and I danced the first dance together and she laughed heartily as I dipped her and her hat fell off revealing her beautiful head. For those of you in attendance, I was never in danger of dropping her, but she is getting heavier, (or I am getting weaker). We enjoyed a wonderful meal, made even more special because Catie ate and enjoyed it, danced for hours, shared some words of prayer and thanks, and danced some more. When the dust settled and we arrived back in Mechanicsburg, it was close to 11pm, and Christine let the kids sleep in Monday morning, prompting the state truancy officer to phone the house, (when as a family you represent 5% of the school’s enrollment, they notice).

We could not have experienced heaven on earth without all of you, and we thank you. We know that Catie’s very presence in our lives is a blessing, and we get to hold our “angel” each day. We pray that each of you have moments where heaven touches down in your life as well. Thank you for making our picture of heaven that much more vivid.

God bless you all,

Christine, Kevin Maggie, Max, Catie, Mia, Molly, and M.E.

PS – check out the new photos on www.catiesstory.com of the event, and while you are there, please visit her on her guestbook.

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