St. Peter’s in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois

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The geography of Chicago is anchored by Lake Michigan on the east. Pioneer urban planner Daniel Burnham conceived a city with an entirely open lakefront, and so Chicago has miles and miles of beaches backed by the tall shoulders of buildings, which cast their shadows onto the water as the sun sets every evening.

IMG_2061A few blocks inland, megalithic towers create narrow canyons and form the center of the city, known as “the Loop”. The Loop is the aggregated ring and central hub of elevated rail lines (the “El”) leading into the city like spokes on a wheel — the Red line running generally north-south; the Green running from Hyde Park in the south to the Loop and then due West out to Oak Park; the Orange to Midway; the Blue to O’Hare; the Brown to Lincoln Park.

If you are “in the Loop”, you are in the geographical (and economic) center of Chicago. And, the only Catholic Church “in the Loop” is not the famous Holy Name Cathedral, nor historically Irish Old St. Pat’s, nor St. Michael’s in Old Town, nor Our Lady of the Angels (mercifully preserved by Opus Dei), nor the EF-pioneering St. John Cantius, but only St. Peter’s in Loop, one of the most interesting and beautiful churches in Chicago, if not the United States.

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Apart from the stained glass adorning its south-facing facade behind the massive rose marble crucifix overlooking Madison Street, St. Peter’s is a windowless edifice, sandwiched between two taller buildings on its east and west. In place of windows, the designers of this building installed sort of false-frame shadowboxes, within which you find a series of scenes sculpted in white marble — primarily depicting moments from the life of St. Francis of Assisi (a relic of whom is housed in a side alcove) — illuminated from behind. These scenes are captivating and unusual, bright and yet monochrome.

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IMG_2057The church also houses a fine reproduction of Michaelangelo’s Pieta, as well as a statute of St. Anthony of Padua and child Jesus (and a reliquary housing relics of the Saint), and rows of confessionals. Staffed by Franciscans, St. Peter’s in the Loop offers confession Monday through Saturday, all day, and seven masses every weekday. It is refreshing and lovely to see people attending mass during their lunch hours, or visiting the church to go to confession before or after work.

On the level below the church is a well-appointed book store offering a wide array of goods. During my last visit, I noticed a lot of sale items and markdowns on prices that were fairly reasonable even before being discounted. It would be a great place for the traveling Catholic to stop and purchase gifts or souvenirs for loved ones, with the added bonus of having the strong likelihood that you might stumble upon a Franciscan to oblige you by blessing your items.

IMG_2058When I lived and worked in Chicago, I found St. Peter’s to be a wonderful comfort, because I could stop there on my way to or from the courthouse for a few moments of prayer. Out on the street, hundreds and people pass by every few minutes, the sounds of traffic (and, in the summer, road construction) are blaring, but as soon as the multi-ton bronze doors close behind you, the cool air of stone and incense pass over you, and suddenly the sacred is in sight.

In your pilgrimages, St. Peter’s in Loop is a worthy place to visit while in Chicago.

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A Week Ago We Went to the Pacific Ocean…..

And all I caught was a terrific summer cold. My immune system is still in combat mode. But that’s life. A cold is a great reminder of our tremendous olfactory faculties.

It was a great trip to this same campsite on the Northern California coast where I’ve been going for nearly 30 years. We were blessed to have Fr. A with us for one night. We enjoyed some great beer, and as a slight alternative to traditional camping cuisine, the first night I made New England Clam Chowder, with fresh clams, and sourdough bread, which is a big favorite in our family.

Proper Quartermaster Provisioning

Proper Quartermaster Provisioning

The Hike

The Hike

The Vista

The Vista

"Beach Art" - Unknown

“Beach Art” – Unknown

Tidepools

Tidepools

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Preparations under way for Holy Mass

Preparations under way for Holy Mass

Huzzah to Bishop-Elect Robert Barron…..

The only downside to his appointment as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the vacancy created at Mundelein Seminary. Bishop-elect Barron is one of the very few “celebrity” priests who I really, tremendously admire. His video series, Catholicism, is one of the masterpieces of the New Evangelization. He will be (I expect) a Courageous Bishop. Pray for him!

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In Case You’ve Been Hiding Under a Rock…..

Planned Parenthood must be reeling over the “investigative videos” from the Center for Medical Progress that show two of their abortionist admins engaged in the trade of human body parts. If you could stream closed-circuit video from the security cameras of Hell itself,  you’d likely find a lot of stuff less depraved that this.

But for the record, by posting this I do not condone or accept the dishonesty involved in procuring this footage. Lying has consequences, even when it is employed to achieve certain laudable ends. Only time will tell the consequences here, but you can bet that Planned Parenthood won’t let it be forgotten; in fact, it’s the only defense they have. A fruit of the poisonous tree.

Regarding truth-telling, the Eighth Commandments forbids “bearing false witness”. Speaking affirmatively, we as Catholics are called to bear witness to the Truth, and the Church teaches that “In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ he came as the ‘light of the world,’ he is the Truth.” (CCC 2466).

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Review: BaoFeng UV-5R+

I read somewhere that the Chinese government started electronics company BaoFeng to sell radios and electronics at prices at or near cost solely to disrupt sales for Japanese makers.

51VC0e3tGjLI’ve had the BaoFeng UV-5R+ for a couple of years now, and while I’ve fiddled with it a bit, I’ve never had occasion to really use it for anything. I just added it to my modest collection of items for when/if the SHTF.

This weekend we went camping, and the boys have a pair of inexpensive MidLand radios, with 21 channels. But the BaoFeng doesn’t do just walkie bands, it also does shortwave (you can even connect a more powerful antenna) and FM bands, and the menu system (while a bit clunky now that we’re all accustomed to using smart phones) offers a wide array of options and features. I’ve used it to scan LEO/fire/emergency bands, and I’ve managed to tune some shortwave frequencies too.

I googled the manual for the boys’ Midland radios so I could tune the frequencies for the channels, and voila, my BaoFeng is a glorified walkie talkie, with better range and reception. Mrs. Q took the kids down to the beach, while we’re a mile or two up the shore fishing, and we’re still in touch. The rechargeable battery lasted the entire weekend without a charge, and the radio includes an LED lamp (solid, or blinking) that provided another light source for getting around in the dark.

The boys loved using call signs and talking in code, and since we also had to take two cars to schlep all of our stuff (and the two dogs) it was great to communicate back and forth and coordinate things like bathroom stops.

Overall, it’s a well-built, sturdy little unit, and a bargain at the current price. My grandfather was a career radio operator for the selective service, and I loved going into his radio room and playing with his CB. I was lucky, because no other grandkids got to even sit down there. He would never have believed that the day would come that a person could purchase a digital shortwave TRANSMITTER for less than $31 from a Chinese company.

I still remember the way it smelled when his radio equipment was warm and running, with the dust and hot vacuum tubes. I was never allowed to touch the HAM stuff, but I loved watching him get on the radio and rattle of callsigns and tap out Morse code faster than the Western Union. Remember the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars? Those radio transmissions sounded eerily similar to what would come through on his radios, with the slightly strident vocal distortion. The sound engineer for LucasFilm must have run the dialogue through a HAM radio. 

I can imagine that with a few UV-5R+’s (or similar, there are a range of different units) in our community, we’d have a backup method for communicating if phone/cell networks ever go down.

Leaders of this Age: Where are your Successors? And Finally, who cares?

Christian Martyrs of Rome, pray for us.

Christian Martyrs of Rome, pray for us.

The Catholic Church is on the wrong side of History. Those who remain under her shelter are Obstinate Fools, who prefer their Hate to the promises of the Age.

This narrative — along with evermore strident charges of bigotry ennobled by the mantle of constitutionality — is widely expected to deliver the silence of remaining dissent, or at the very least a new calm to the “marketplace of ideas”.

The Crucifix, along with the triregnum and crossed keys, are nothing more than anachronistic flags of another (hateful, hypocritical) confederacy. It is promised that whatever follows is so that all this hate can be swallowed up by rainbows. Then (and only then) will true peace prevail.

St. Stephen, pray for us.

St. Stephen, pray for us.

It matters not, say the benevolent, that never before in the history of human civilization has there been a definition for marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Take note: it is entirely possible, simple fools, to recast objective and fundamental reality. In fact, this is required so that #LoveWins.

Can we be very surprised by any of this? After all, it was Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus, “What is Truth?” and by this expression he showed himself to be a partaker in the same invincible ignorance suffered today. It was Pilate who first personified the notion that Truth is fungible, unascertainable, or relative.

Aggravating such ignorance is that the Question is never in earnest, but rather (mostly) rhetorical, offered as terms of surrender to one’s fallen nature. It is almost as though the worst offenders know their own idiocy, but are already too burned (or burdened) by acedia to do anything other than submit to the demands of the crowd. We might even feel justified in righteous indignation — because it is all so dumb, but that too is part of the Mystery of the freedom God gives us.

Sts. Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Barbara and Cecilia, pray for us!

Sts. Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Barbara and Cecilia, pray for us!

Do not be tempted to forget that the Word is yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our Lord says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake” — He is, at this moment in history, speaking to us. Do not discount the supreme Gift of such a blessing! Rich is the reward for those blessed by the Lord!

In Fr. Robert Barron’s book Catholicism, he quotes the late Francis Cardinal George concerning the appearance of the cardinals on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica in April of 2005 following the announcement of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. According to Barron, “the news cameras caught the remarkably pensive expression on the face” of Cardinal George, and when reporters asked him later what he was thinking, George responded:

“I was gazing over toward the Circus Maximus, toward the Palatine Hill where the Roman Emperors once resided and reigned and looked down upon the persecution of Christians, and I thought, ‘Where are their successors? Where is the successor of Caesar Augustus? Where is the successor of Marcus Aurelius? And finally, who cares? But if you want to see the successor of Peter, he is right next to me, smiling and waving at the crowds.’ “

St. Sebastian, pray for us.

St. Sebastian, pray for us.

Joyfully walking with Jesus means that we can follow the Cardinal’s example and accept that many will call us bigots, and worse. They will tell us we hate whilst spewing their own invective. Spit on our priests. Troll our blogs. Vandalize our churches. Disrupt our liturgies. Remove us from secular public life. We can and must love those who do these things. We can and must forgive them as Jesus forgives us. Everything to follow has already happened countless times before — and He told us not to worry about it. 

Meanwhile, to the Leaders of this Age, where are your successors, and finally, who cares?