For the first time in five years, I attended Christmas Mass this morning, at the church I had been going to ever since my family moved back to this country in 1998. I was a little apprehensive at first, as it had been a long time since I had set foot in that church, and I didn’t even know if the priest I had come to know as a friend and teacher would still be there, or if he would still remember me. But I saw this as a first step towards that road I had taken but strayed from so long ago, so I went anyway.
And it was as if I had never left. The prayers and Scripture readings, the hymns, the familiarity of the church itself, even the deep drone of the priest who, praise God, is still there, brought back a feeling I had long forgotten: the feeling of knowing that amidst all the happiness and strife, the one constant was the fact that in the House of God, all was at peace, and no one was alone. It started to remind me of why I had chosen this path in the first place, and it told me that, regardless of my own troubles, in a world and an age where peace has become such a rarity, the last thing I should do now was to turn my back on what I had believed in, and learn to embrace it all over again.
When Mass was over, I went up to the priest and said, in the informal and familiar way I had adopted with him since I was fifteen, “Hello, Father.”
He turned to me automatically and was about to say something, and paused. After a few seconds, he smiled and said, “It’s like time never passed at all, isn’t it?”