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Peace Be With You

Seventy high school teens file into the main church; we walk down the aisle silently and reverently and take a seat as close to the altar as we can. As some of the teens walk they are bouncing and smiling in anticipation and excitement, other teens are walking lightly and their eyes shine in the dim light, and very few teens trudge in with a blank look spread across their face. We all take our seats in the pews and sit silent as we bow our heads to pray or just sit calmly.
I look around, my boyfriend sits on my right, my best friend sits on my left, and all around me are my other friends whom I hold so dear to my heart. There is no talking or whispering, everything is as silent as a graveyard. I lean forward so that my elbows are on my knees and I stare at the black tile floor that has been walked on by thousands of people each week. Music begins to play silently, a guitar and a male voice rise through the silence in perfect harmony and the sound twists through the church as if a breeze carried the notes.
The church is large, sometimes it is a little intimidating, but tonight it is warm and welcoming and peaceful. The sinking sun shines through the stain glass windows as the church is bathed in a rainbow, the altar is covered in the whitest and most fine cloth, the crucifix has a dim light shining on it so that I am just barely able to see Jesus’ face, and the teens sit on the brown cushioned pews and feel at home. Then we all kneel, for Jesus’ body is being presented to us in the monstrance. To some people who walk into our church and behold this sight it seems strange that we are kneeling before a piece of bread that is perched in a pure gold vessel but this bread is the Body of Jesus Christ that has been blessed and transformed through the Consecration of the Mass. As we kneel, our form of prayer called Adoration begins.
At first no one moves, everything is statue still and silent as we all begin to realize that Jesus is here in our presence. Some of my friends move to sit on the floor in front of the altar so that they are closer to Jesus, others remain kneeling or sitting and some of my other friends stand and pray over people. I do not move, I stare at my hands and feel scared and restless, the church seems to loom about me in its largeness, but even through the fear the whole church seems to creak, “Stay, you are always welcome here, child.” And it gives me some comfort, I remain staring at my hands and a tear slowly trickles down my cheek. “Marie, it’s okay. I’m here.” My friends are there for me, they reach their hands out to let them rest on my shoulders, my head, my legs, my arms, and my hands, soon prayer is coursing through my veins. The church seems to become a little brighter as we all pray.
I cry and tremble and pray, and my friends never leave my side, they continue to sit and pray and comfort me. Slowly my heart feels more whole and I feel loved, but my mind is still going in carousel circles and memories wrap me in their arms try to make me a prisoner. The church is almost silent, not a sound is made besides a few sniffles from a runny nose and the guitar that is gently strummed in the background. The crucifix stands near the strong back wall of the church and trees sway outside of the stain glass window in the dark starry night.
For two hours the church is silent, it no longer creaks, and it watches individuals praying and it watches groups of people praying together and it watches a group of people praying over a troubled girl. The church finally lets out a sigh as the time for Adoration to end draws near, it is a sigh that says, “Children you are welcome in this home, find your peace in me through Christ.”
The groups break up and return to their seats and kneel, the music becomes louder as we sing “Genitori, Genitoque, compare sit laudatio, salus honor, virtus quoque, sit et benedictio. Procedentis ab utroque, laus et jubilatio” in a rising voice of God’s children. I listen and in these Latin words that sing of the Lamb of God I find peace. The church seems to shrink in size as Jesus is put away again, but it still stands strong and firm as the house of God.
All seventy teens file out of the church and onto the plaza, and slowly we trickle into the parking lot to return home. Now no one walks sullenly and no one bounces, everyone is at peace and we hug each other lovingly as we say our goodbyes. I sit on a rock and wait for my dad to come pick me up, I look up at the church which had been so frightening and luminous when I first walked through her doors, but as I looked at her she was beautiful and warm and welcoming and a symbol of peace. My heart and my mind were no longer troubled and even as I returned to the outside world to face life again I was at peace.



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