Thursday, September 16, 2010

Faithing on Sabbatical

I have made a conscious effort to make my sabbatical experience a personal pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is not to any one place. The focus is on the Body of Christ as glimpsed from the rich tapestry of churches and faith traditions in Chicago. So I am attending as many different ethnic and faith tradition churches as possible.
I also want to have not only an ecumenical experience but an interfaith experience. To that end I hope to also attend Buddhist and Hindu Temples, a mosque and synagogues.

I follow the model of Brother Francis. He did a dance of being in the world, of being a brother and servant to all creatures. He also removed himself from the world so he could speak with and more importantly listen to God. To that end I have established my “home church” St. Mary of the Lake Parish. This is where I attend daily mass. It is a five minute walk from Emmaus Ministries. It has long ties to Uptown and to me. When I worked at the Hazel-Wilson Home in the mid-70s Sister Gloriana Bednarski also worked there. She lived at the convent of St. Mary of the Lake Parish.

The church is not the biggest church in the area. It is however beautiful. The tower can be seen from the L station or simply walking down Sheridan Road. It is a multi-ethnic church. Congregants come from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. There are also African-Americans and Euro-American members. It is a congregation of rich and poor, of many languages and many forms of dress.

Outside of St. Mary of the Lake Parish

The inside is beautiful. I find myself following the columns up to the ceiling. The frescoes, statuary, and molding are breath-taking. Still, it is the silence, the tranquility and the presence that keeps me coming back

Inside SMOL

SMOL Alter

The church has a number of shrines that are visited throughout the day. The visitors touch the shrines as they pray. Others go into the chapel to pray. The statuary extends to the outside of the church. The contrast between light and darkness, between quiet and activity reflects a place that is home to both public/corporate prayer and individual time with God.

St. Mary of the Lake Parish Chapel

It is a good place to call home.

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