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Changing Hearts,  Changing Minds,  Recognizing Christ  

The Basilica of Saint Mary announces the commissioning of Homeless Jesus sculpture

The Basilica of Saint Mary has recently commissioned a Timothy P. Schmalz Homeless Jesus bronze sculpture. The sculpture of a life-size Christ figure shrouded in a blanket on a park bench will take several months to create. Schmalz’s Homeless Jesus is an internationally recognized symbol of compassion and awareness for the homeless with sculptures located in major cities throughout the world. 

The meaning of the Homeless Jesus sculpture is to truly change hearts and minds towards people in need. The sculpture is designed to challenge and inspire each of us to be more compassionate and charitable and to see Jesus in each person we meet, and to take action to help end homelessness locally and around the world. The sculpture will be a vibrant piece in The Basilica’s sacred art collection.

We are currently working with our landscape architects to prepare the installation space on The Basilica campus. This sculpture has been funded by a select group of anonymous donors who are passionate about art and The Basilica community.

Leading up to the arrival of the sculpture The Basilica will engage the community with educational presentations addressing the issues of homelessness. We look forward to sharing with our community the installation and dedication of the sculpture on November 19, the World Day of the Poor, designated by Pope Francis. 

 

You should defend those who cannot help themselves. Yes, speak up for the poor and needy and see that they get justice. Proverbs 31:8 

 

More information about the sculpture-Q&A

 

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070917.cfm   

When I was growing up in Anoka, above the sanctuary in old St. Stephen’s Church were the words:  “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”   As a small child I remember reading those words week after week and thinking “What a wonderful God we must have who will give us rest when we are weary.”   As an adult I have come to know the truth of those words on occasions too numerous to mention.  When we are weary or feeling burdened, God gives us the grace we need to carry on and not to give up or give in.  

In our Gospel this weekend, though, not only does Jesus offer us rest in our weariness, he also invites us to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ……………….. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   According to Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, a yoke is a wooden bar or frame by which two animals are joined at the heads or necks for working together.  What this suggests to me that when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us it means that he will work with us to help us carry what ever burden we are called to carry.   I find this thought very comforting.  

Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah.   In it Zechariah prophesized that the King will return to Jerusalem and that the “warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.”   We believe this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus who is meek and humble of heart.   

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.   In it we are reminded that “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. Have you ever felt Christ giving you rest?   How would you describe the experience?
  2. Can you recall a time when you have taken on Christ’s yoke?  Did you feel Christ’s grace helping you to carry a burden? 
  3. When have you felt the Spirit dwelling in you?  
World Day of Peace_Dove

Peace Be With You

Since the season of Lent came to a close a few short months ago, I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on our call to peace as Catholics, especially with all of the unrest that has filled our world in the past months. Lent was a wonderful time to reflect on our faith and actively called us to re-center our lives around the Gospel. The reality is that this reflection is something we could be doing throughout the whole liturgical year instead of limiting it to a few months. 

Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days being called away from his message of peace and love towards domination, doubt, and despair. Through his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled his message. Time and time again, we are called by the Gospel to be fountains of peace and to “love our enemies.” In Matthew 5:9, we are called to a new identity, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called children of God.”

Creating peace with our very lives is possible. Although it is easier said than done; it goes against the grain and, therefore, is something that requires work and discipline. Some ways we might make our lives more peace-filled is through meditation on the words of the Gospels, being mindful of the presence of God within us, and breathing in deeply of the Holy Spirit. Being conscious of the peace and serenity within us as we encounter Jesus in another person is one of the more powerful ways of spreading that peace. 

Along with creating peace, there is a great need for silence if we are to hear God’s voice. You might commit to some quiet time with God as you bask in the sunlight of summer. Life sometimes slows down a bit in the summer and that can allow us extra time to enjoy God’s presence and peace. Through holy solitude we are able to refocus our life amidst the noisiness of our world and to respond to our call to peace and non-violence just as Jesus responded with love, forgiveness, and peace through his death on the cross.

One of the most powerful channels for peace is, of course, the Eucharist. By showing up each week, we are reminded again and again what it truly means to live as Jesus did: to forgive those who have wronged you, to love where no love is felt, and to bring peace in the midst of conflict wherever you are called to be. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “In the end what matters is not how good we are but how good God is. Not how much we love God, but how much God loves us. And loves us whoever we are, whatever we’ve done or failed to do, whatever we believe or can’t.” We are all made in the image of God and through that we reach for the peace which only God can give. 

Peace be with you during these summer months

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070217.cfm 

Many years ago when I was in college, one of the books I had to read for a class was “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   In the book Bonhoeffer argued that in many ways Christianity had become secularized, accommodating the demands of following Jesus to the requirements of society. In doing this, he argued, the Gospel had been cheapened, and following Christ had become easy and without pain.  And while following Christ doesn’t mean that our lives will be full of difficulty and pain, Bonhoeffer argued that there will be times when being a disciple asks something of us that we may not want to do.   There is a cost to discipleship.    

I thought of Bonhoeffer’s book when I read our Gospel for this Sunday.   In the opening lines of that Gospel Jesus is clear that being his disciple means loving him above all, and then taking up our cross and following him.   Jesus is also clear in the second half of today’s Gospel, that while following him may involve some pain or difficulty, we will also be rewarded.  Jesus does not promise, though, that the reward will occur in this life.    

Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the second Book of Kings.   We are told that whenever Elisha came to the town of Shunem, a woman of that town offered him hospitality. Because of her kindness and hospitality Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi if he could do something for her.  His servant told him that she had no son, and her husband was getting on in years.   Elisha then promised the woman: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”   

For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In the section we read today Paul reminds us:  “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? ………. so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you experienced a “cost” in following Christ?
  2. Like the Shunemite woman, it would be nice if we were rewarded in this life for our good acts. Unfortunately, most often that is not the case.    What helps you believe that we will see the reward of our goodness in the life to come?  
  3. What does it mean to live in the “newness” of Christ’s life?  

The Sixth Annual Mental Health All Parish Blessing and Ice Cream Social 
Sunday, June 25, Following 9:30 and 11:30am Masses, West Lawn  

It was an idea that came at the end of a Mental Health Committee meeting six years ago: let’s end the programming year with a blessing of the entire parish for good mental health and then celebrate with ice cream on the West Lawn. 

The committee had been working for six years prior mostly providing educational workshops for the parish and community. New people had joined the committee and they were interested in providing social opportunities as well as educational ones. People with a mental illness often feel limited in participating in social gatherings so this event, joyfully combining prayer, social interaction, and ice cream fit the bill. So this weekend, after the congregation stands for a blessing for others’ and their own mental health, they will exit the church and be greeted by servers with flavor after flavor of ice cream and sorbet as well as resource tables with representatives from mental health agencies and organizations in the Twin Cities. 

This truly demonstrates the role of the Church in assisting those affected by mental health issues. As stated by Franciscan Sister Mary Fran Reichenberger, the Church’s role is “The creation of an environment of safety and welcome, offering the spirituality and traditions that give the sense of well-being and of being cared for. Churches can be a place of friendship and understanding.” See you this weekend on the West Lawn for ice cream and making new friends.

 

Mental health organizations will have resource tables and information available. For more information about the Mental Health Ministry, contact Janet at 612.317.3508.

 

Faith and Action

It seems to me that in our world today there are often two competing visions of “Christianity.” On the one hand there are those who see Christianity as a set of beliefs and rules that believers are expected to accept and adhere to in order to live a good and righteous life, and so be fit for heaven (this is known as orthodoxy). On the other hand there are those who see Christianity simply as a loving way of life, in which we are called to live in common care and concern for one another (this is often referred to as ortho-praxy). 

I think both of these visions, in and of themselves, are incomplete. It is not enough simply to give allegiance to a set of beliefs and rules. Somehow what we believe must have an impact on and find expression in the way we live. Likewise, while it is good and important to manifest a loving way of life, our lives must be grounded in faith, and in a set of beliefs. Without this anchor, it is too easy for a “loving way of life” to become whatever suits one’s fancy at a given moment in time. 

Now certainly the above is not a new issue. It has been around since the beginning of the Church. In the letter of Saint James we read: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone may say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (James 2: 15-18).

When we talk about a vision for Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular we need a both/and, not an either/or approach. It is too simple to profess a set of beliefs without giving witness to those beliefs in the way we live. I have encountered too many people who were steadfast in the profession of their beliefs, but who were cranky, judgmental, and in some cases, downright mean. On the other hand, I have also encountered people who identified themselves as Christians, and who lived good and loving lives, but who, when pressed, couldn’t tell you exactly what they believed and/or why their beliefs made a difference in the way they lived. 

Both orthodoxy and ortho-praxy are good, important, and necessary. We need to remember, though, that they go together. They are inseparable from one another. Whenever we overemphasize one, or worse, pit them against one another, we are going down a dangerous path. Jesus knew this. I think that is why, when he was asked which was the greatest commandment, he gave two and yoked them together. Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular require that we believe and profess our faith, and then give witness to it through our words and actions. This is what Jesus asks of and expects from all of us. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062517.cfm

This weekend we celebrate the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  (Ordinary Time is that time between the major seasons of our Church year --- Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.)  In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus instructs “the twelve” about their mission and ministry.   There are three things to note in this Gospel.  1.  Three times Jesus tells the twelve not to be afraid.  2. Rather, they are to be bold in their witness and fearless in their preaching. 3. For “even the hairs of your head are counted.”      

Jesus knew that his disciples would face stiff resistance and even persecution as they sought to continue his mission and ministry.   Given this, he wanted to be honest with them in regard to what was to come, while at the same time assuring them, that they would not be alone as they went forth.  God would be with them 

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.  In the section we read today, Jeremiah has been imprisoned and beaten.   He hears “the whisperings of many; “Terror on every side!  Denounce! Let us denounce him”   And yet, even in this terrible situation Jeremiah is able to say:  “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.  In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.”   

In both our Gospel and our first Reading we are reminded that God never promised us a trouble free life of ease and comfort.   God did promise, though, that He would be with us in the midst of our trials and sufferings.  

Our second reading today is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In the section we read today Paul reminds us that although sin is a part of our world, “how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. When have you experienced God’s grace in the face of difficulties or trials?
  2. During difficulties, has there been a time when --- only in retrospect --- that you were able to see God’s grace in your life? 
  3. Where are you called to give witness to God in your life? 

Thank you to the patrons, guests and volunteers who made the 2017 Basilica Landmark Ball a success. 

Through your generosity, the Ball raised a gross amount of more than $345,000, which will help us fulfill The Basilica Landmark's mission is to preserve, restore, and advance the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations.

The Fund-A-Need program brought in a record $120,000 to use towards making The Basilica campus and grounds more accessible. These projects  starting this summer.

 

Click here to view the event photos. Thank you to our photographers, Elyse Rethlake and Barbara Broten, for donating their time and talent and capturing this special evening! 

 

 

Landmark Ball 2017_group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In just a few short weeks I will celebrate my 10th Basilica Block Party. In 2007 when I started as a wide-eyed Block Party intern I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was completely out of my depths. I had never even attended a Block Party and had no idea what to expect when the gates opened that first night.

Fast forward to today and even after all these years it still hasn’t lost its charm. It is still my absolute favorite event of the summer.

Over the years I have made countless friends by working on this event. I even met my now husband five years ago when working together on the Block Party committee.

The dedication and work everyone puts into this event is unparalleled. It is truly a collaborative effort, each person playing an important role in executing this summer tradition: from the 1,600 volunteers that do everything from scan your ticket on the way in to the green team, who picks up and makes sure every last bottle is recycled into the early morning hours long after you leave for the evening, to the staff and committees that plan for almost a full year to ensure a safe and successful event. Not to mention our partners and sponsors that we couldn’t do the event without.

Over the years I have also gotten to see some pretty amazing concerts and been exposed to bands that I would otherwise never have taken the time to see. In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a warm summer night in Minnesota then to be outside listening to live music with The Basilica as your backdrop.

It still gives me chills looking from our beloved Basilica back to the band rocking out on stage with a sea of people in-between enjoying what so many have worked so hard to put together. It is an incredible event and this year once again promises to be a great weekend of fun and music benefiting the efforts of The Basilica Landmark’s mission to preserve, protect, and restore The Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations and St. Vincent de Paul to help our neighbors in need.

I hope you will join us on July 7 and 8 for 2017 Cities 97 Basilica Block Party to celebrate this summer tradition with great food, good friends, and tasty beverages. And don’t forget the unbelievable bands including Brandi Carlile, WALK THE MOON, The Shins, AWOLNATION, NEEDTOBREATHE, Gavin DeGraw, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Walk Off The Earth, and many more!

Check out our Basilica Block Party website for ticket information.

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061817.cfm 

Many years ago when I was growing up, my mother decided she would bake bread and rolls for our family rather then purchase them at the store.   This practice stopped when my youngest brother was born.  I think with 7 children, one of them being a new born, something had to give.  For a few years, though, it was great to wake up to the smell of fresh bread a couple times a week.  Even as a child, I knew that making bread was a way for my mother to express her love for us.    Given this, it wasn’t difficult at all for me to understand that the Eucharist --- the Bread of Life --- was an expression of Christ’s love for us.   

I mention the above because this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.    This feast celebrates our belief, as Catholics, that in the Eucharist Jesus Christ is really and truly present.    We offer no proof for this belief.  There is no rational explanation for it.  There is no way to logically reason to it.  For us it is a matter of faith.   And, as we read in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”  (Heb. 11.1) 

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells the people:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”   In these words we believe Jesus has promised to be with his people in the Eucharist that we celebrate and share in his name.   Further, we believe that in the Eucharist not only do we share in Christ’s life in this world, but also we are given the promise of eternal life.

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the book of Deuteronomy.  In it Moses reminded the people not to forget the Lord their God who “fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.”  We see manna as prefiguring the Eucharist.

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.  In it Paul reminded the people of Corinth that “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. How was the Eucharist explained to you as a child?   How do you understand it now?   
  2. How would you explain the Eucharist to someone who does not come from a Christian background? 
  3. What is your strongest memory of receiving the Eucharist? 

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