“How are you doing with the changing economy here in San Francisco?” I asked them. “We are holding our own,” John said with a smile. Maria looked through their storefront window to our church, just across Geary Boulevard. She could see through the open doors into the nave, and on darker days just about see our bright altar warmly illuminated. “I am so happy that the church is open all day,” she said. “I can pray right from here, even when it’s very busy. I feel like I’m in God’s house, right here at the cash register.”
It’s a bit risky to keep a church open all day in the city, especially when the neighbors are not in the habit of stopping in to pray. I get discouraged sometimes when I see no one or perhaps only one lone person praying inside. But how many, like Maria, are led to pray just because God’s house is open to them? How many, passing on the street, glance into the sanctuary with a look of recognition, at least for an instant? Certainly Maria is happy. I’m glad Pope Francis urged us last year to get the church doors open and keep the light on, if only for John and Maria at the corner grocery.