You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Religious Bucket List in Chicago, Part 3: St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church

I label what my Woman and I have been doing lately as "church shopping," but it really isn't. I think of church shopping as that sometimes frantic search for a spiritual home. It's stressful. When we do it, even before I step into a church, I'm judging it-- it's too far away, I don't like their politics, the architecture is ugly. Whatever. I'll own that I've done that. And that's not to say that sometimes those things aren't valid. But it's stressful. At least part of me really wants every church to be the one where my soul belongs, so my needy self is arguing with my judge-y self and it's hard to just settle down and breathe.

This, however, is not church shopping for us. It's a pilgrimage-- a journey to sacred spaces. That's how my Woman and I ended up at St. Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Church in Bucktown. We didn't need to agree with their politics or even truly feel welcomed for it to be sacred to us. It was such a release. Usually, when I'm in a Catholic church, I can't relax-- I'm worried about being "outed" as gay or Episcopalian or I'm too busy fussing about their politics. But for Christmas Eve midnight Mass in St. Mary's, I just relaxed. It was wonderful.

The church was beautiful, the Mass was actually at midnight, the music was wonderful and the people-watching was great too. We sang several great Christmas hymns, including one in Spanish that was apparently a classic and I loved. It wasn't a super high Mass or anything, but it was quite traditional and in that elegant, historic building, it was easy to envision being a part of "the Communion of Saints," as we say in the Apostles' Creed. A girl could get used to that.


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