Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Glow from St. Peter's Church in the Chicago Loop


Thousands of commuters and shoppers will walk right past St. Peter's in downtown Chicago on these last few days before Christmas. For many there is a little more cheer in the air as they anticipate Christmas. For commuters who will cut the week short with vacation, the cheer may be palpable!

If you are not tuned into the spiritual aura of St. Peter's, you might walk by it a thousand times without hardly noticing it. The street front that most people see is composed of solid stone and three imposing doors that are set back. If you are walking on the sidewalk right in front of the church, you are too close to see the stone Crucifix above the doors and the recessed stained glass windows behind it. But if you happen to be on the south side of the street across from St. Peter's at just the right time in the evening, the stained glass glows. The colored images provide a warm radiant light that beckons--reflecting the faith of the church, its visitors, and the Franciscans who serve there with a special kindness.

For many Catholics in Chicago, St. Peter's holds a special place in their family history--a quiet place where they stopped to pray with parents or grandparents. A place for a weekday mass or a quiet confession. For some, St. Peter's serves as their parish church--a church they know like an old friend. Others of a different faith may simply see St. Peter's as a proof that even in the busiest, noisiest of places, people can tune out the world and tune into a higher power.

A few months ago, St. Peter's hosted a presentation by Patrick McCaskey who wrote Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, a book that we published at Sporting Chance Press. Patrick talked about his grandfather, George "Papa Bear" Halas, and the faith that was handed down to the heirs of the Bears Football Club. That faith is more important than the financial rights and responsibilities of an NFL franchise.

When Patrick speaks, people love to hear how someone as successful as him, can be so devout in his faith. In today's world it's unexpected, like that stained glass window that shines from the inside of St. Peter's and casts a warm glow out onto the street.

At Sporting Chance Press, we hope you have a chance to visit your "St. Peter's," whatever it is called and wherever it might be this holiday season. Merry Christmas.