I recently returned to the church - not just to the religion, but to the actual brick and mortar church of my childhood. It's something I had been thinking about doing for more than a year.
I left the church many years ago, and although I had occasionally tried to return to it, too many things had changed and I felt like a stranger there. The Mass was different. The Latin was gone, taking with it all the beautiful words I'd loved as a child, words like "Kyria," "Benedictus," and "In Nomine Patris," words that had flowed down from the altar and made me feel intimately connected to the ritual.
And although I returned to the church of my childhood (which my daughter calls my Catholic-Baptist Church because there are a lot of “Amens” during the service), and although it does not have the Latin I loved, what it does have is an extraordinary amount of music and a choir that can raise the roof to the heavens.
But because that particular church is almost an hour away from my home, I can’t always attend it. Lately, I have been attending a variety of Catholic churches as well as one Baptist church for a memorial service. Once I even took my ten-year old-granddaughter, Chloe, and my five-year-old great-granddaughter, Aubrey, (both of whom behaved beautifully) to church. For a moment as I watched them braid the hymnal ribbons, I found myself wondering, why am I here? and answering myself immediately, knowing I was there because I felt loved and comforted there.
But if there is another reason that I go to church, it is because, at the end of every Mass, the priest lifts his hand, gives the congregation his blessing, and tells us all to go in peace. Which makes me wonder why no one else ever so easily gives us their blessing. But then again perhaps when we say: Have a good day, we are giving to one another, if not an actual blessing, a wish for each of us to go in peace.
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