Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Miracles in Bucktown

Amidst the nonstop bad news in the world, it is sometimes good to think about good things. Here is a good thing: St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Chicago. It is in Bucktown. Take the Armitage exit off the Kennedy, and turn south on Hermitage. Look for the really big church. I sometimes teach in the evenings in Chicago, and I like to go sit at the church before class. Neat things about the parish: it is beautiful, an old-fashioned Polish church that was in danger of being torn down a few years back until Opus Dei came to town and was given the place. They have confessions every day for long periods of time, and Mass is always reverent and obedient, with good homilies.

Here's another neat thing: if you sit there for a few hours in the afternoon like I do, you can hide yourself in a corner of the huge main church and watch what happens. People drop in all day! Not just old people, either. Young people come in, stop for a few minutes, pray, get in line for confession, and light candles. Sometimes whole familes come in, complete with mother, father, and four or five little one. I love to watch the people come in and imagine what their stories are. Kierkegaard says we can never know if our neighbor might be a knight of faith, but I choose to believe that all of these people are knights. Maybe this is what happens:

Perhaps some of them are lapsed Catholics, and haven't been to confession in years. Maybe they have some free time at lunch on a Thursday, and decide, for no particular reason, to stop in and see the beautiful Church. Lo and behold, Christ is being adored that day! "Well, maybe I'll just stop for a few minutes and say a prayer or two." Then look, off to the side: there are people in line. "My goodness, I haven't been to confession since I was confirmed. Should I get in line? Oh, if I think about it too long I'll never do it. Better just go in." "I can't believe I did it! And I feel great! Why did I stay away so long?"

Did you ever watch people come out of the confessional? If so, you have just witnessed a miracle. It is very important to realize just what happens. We often complain that the age of miracles is over; wouldn't it have been great to see the Red Sea part, or the sick be healed, or the dead arise? Well, if you hang around St. Mary of the Angels, you witness miracles every day. St. Josemaria Escriva writes the following: If we had a strong and living faith, if we were bold in making Christ known to others, we would see with our own eyes miracles such as those that took place in the times of the Apostles.

Today too blind men, who had lost the ability to look up to heaven and contemplate the wondeful works of God, recover their sight. Lame and crippled men, who were bound by their passions and whose hearts had forgotten love, recover their freedom. Deaf men, who did not want to know God, are given back their hearing. Dumb men, whose tongues were bound because they did not want to acknowledge their defeats, begin tot alk. And dead men, in whom sin had destroyed life, come to life again.

St. Mary of the Angels is one place where miracles happen every day. Just go there and you'll see them.

No comments: