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For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011920.cfm

This Sunday we begin what is known as “Ordinary Time” in our Church year.   This designation is not meant to diminish the importance of this time of year, but rather to distinguish it from the seasons of Advent and Christmas, which we just concluded, and the seasons of Lent and Easter.   At the conclusion of the Easter season, “Ordinary Time” will begin again, and will continue through the summer and fall months.   

Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John.   In this Gospel John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and says:  “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”   And while John initially says that he did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Gospel concludes with his clear statement:  “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”    I suspect the reason John didn’t recognize Jesus was that he knew him as his cousin.  Eventually, though, he came to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.   Familiarity can sometimes blind us to seeing something beyond the familiar.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It is from that section of Isaiah known as the Servant Songs.  In the section we read today Isaiah speaks about his call to be a prophet.   He is clear that God will work through him “to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel.”  

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.   In it Paul identifies himself, and greets the people of Corinth with the words:  “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”   

Questions for Discussion/Reflection:

1.  Has familiarity with a person or a situation ever blinded you to the presence and/or grace of God?
2.   Have you ever recognized God’s presence and grace only in retrospect?  
3.   Why do you think Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with the words:  “Grace and peace?”   

From our seats in the pews of The Basilica, we can make a difference around the world. Each year, our parish community helps a global mission cause. This weekend, Meghan Meros, Associate Director of the Franciscan Mission Service (FMS), joins us to raise awareness and financial support for their ministries. This Catholic, 501(c)(3) nonprofit relies on the prayers and financial support of parishes like ours to serve communities in South America, the Caribbean, and here in US. 

How will your donations help FMS around the globe? FMS focuses on making a difference through sustainable agriculture, and prison ministries. Here are just a few examples. 

FMS ministers accompany communities to create organic in-home gardens and provide healthy food for families. The parish of Santa Vera Cruz and the rural Santa Rosa de Lima community used sustainable agriculture techniques the FMS team learned at regional workshops to improve the soil quality and production of the parish garden. They went from growing a single crop of potatoes one year to growing a variety of healthy vegetables the next. Produce is sold to parishioners twice a week. Food waste is fed to the worm bed to produce hummus and other organic matter used for mulch. 

About 10 women work alongside the parish team in the parish garden, and in the women’s family gardens. Together as a community, they plant, harvest, and share meals. Their gardens have doubled in productivity. Healthy food is now available in an area lacking water, sanitation systems, quality education, and reliable transportation. People in this area face constant marginalization based on race, class, and culture.

In the prisons, FMS ministers affirm the dignity of all. One minister works at seven prisons around Cochabamba, Bolivia. For context, those incarcerated in Bolivia, lose their freedom and must pay for their cells and food. Often, children are sent to prison with their mothers. Many women end up in prison for stealing just to provide for their families. 

Awaiting trial is a lengthy process, and those incarcerated make crafts and goods to earn funds to pay for food and their cells. FMS ministers assist by selling their goods at market, and helping obtain raw materials to make shoes, cards, and other saleable crafts. FMS works with about 200 artisans, carpenters, and shoemakers. Forming friendships is as important as the crafts sold. These ministers help affirm the prisoners’ dignity as human beings. 

Another minister visits with about 20 women imprisoned in Cochabamba. They have formed friendships, and share in Bible study. The ministers recognize the women’s need for meaningful work and assist with their desire to gain skills to so they can find employment upon their release from prison. Some of the imprisoned women knit for an ethical manufacturing company while others learn how to do hair in the prison salon.

Each of us is called to consider what we can do for our brothers and sisters around the world. One way we can engage is simple - by giving donations and our prayers, we can support the Franciscan Mission Service and their work around the globe. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011220.cfm  

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.   Since Jesus’ Baptism took place when he was an adult, it may seem odd to celebrate his baptism so soon after we have celebrated his birth.  The fact is, though, that other than the various infancy narratives and the story of the finding of Jesus in the temple, there are no stories of Jesus’ years before his Baptism and the beginning of his public ministry.    When you stop and think about it, however, there is a certain “rightness” to this.    While it would be interesting to know about Jesus’ life before he began his public ministry, his mission and his ministry are far more important to us because they brought about our salvation.   

Our Gospel this weekend is Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Baptism.   Matthew is the only evangelist to include the verse that tells us that when Jesus came to John for Baptism, “John tried to prevent him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me.”   Most scripture scholars agree that John didn’t want to baptize Jesus because he did not see Jesus as a sinner in need of Baptism.  And while we believe that Jesus was without sin, we also believe that his baptism marked the beginning of his public ministry.  (As Christians, it is our belief that Baptism takes away original sin.  We also believe, though, that Baptism begins our life in Christ, and as importantly that it empowers us to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus.)  We are told that after Jesus was baptized, a voice came from the heavens saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”   We believe that the Spirit is also given to us at our Baptism, and that we are all beloved children of God.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It is taken from the section of Isaiah known as the “Servant Songs.”   The servant is the chosen one of the Lord, and the song describes the characteristics and mission of the servant.   We see the “servant songs” as prefiguring Jesus.  In the section for this weekend we read:  “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit;” 

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Acts of the Apostles.   In it Peter describes the mission of Jesus and reminds us that “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is given to all the baptized.   What is the Holy Spirit empowering you to do?   
  2. If it is true that God shows no partiality, why bother with Baptism?
  3. Do you see yourself as a Beloved Son or Daughter of God?  
Responding to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is one of The Basilica's strategic areas of focus. 
 
In response to the Drake Shelter fire, please consider the following opportunities to help those in need.
 

Volunteer

  1. Volunteer to support and care for families that are homeless staying at The Basilica through the week of January 19. To volunteer, contact Julia.
  2. Volunteer at the Mulit Agency Resource Center (MARC) the Red Cross is setting up for families displaced by the fire. To volunteer, go to www.1stcov.org/volunteer
  3. Advocate for more shelter and affordable housing in our community. Visit the information table in the Lower Level of The Basilica after Mass January 19 to fill out a postcard to send to the Minneapolis City Council.
 
Drake shelter fire card
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Financial donations can be given directly to the following response organizations:
 
 
 

The Promise of Eternal Life

During this past Advent, I got up one Sunday morning around 4:00am to pray and get ready for the day. (Since I am not a morning person, my rule is that I need to get up three hours before I have to talk.) After a cup of coffee (half decaf – half regular), I settled in to pray Morning Prayer. After I prayed the psalms and canticle, and reflected on the reading, I started to read the intercessions. The first three were fine, but when I read the fourth one I was somewhat taken aback. I thought it said: “You are praised throughout the ages; in your mercy help us to live devoutly and temporarily in this life, as we wait in joyful hope for the revelation of your glory.” I read it again, and then again. The third time through, I realized the word was temperately, not temporarily. I had to laugh at myself for my malapropism, as I realized I wasn’t as awake/alert as I thought I was. 

Later that evening, I reflected a bit on my inadvertent substitution of temporarily for temperately. It dawned on me that perhaps there was a message for me in my malapropism. As I continued to reflect it occurred to me how easy it is for me to focus almost exclusively on what is right in front of me and forget that this life is not the end, that there is more. Our existence in this world is not all there is. It is temporary. At every Mass in the embolism the priest says after the Our Father we are reminded that “we live in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” These words call us to remember and believe that as good and blessed as this world is, it is temporary. There is something more. There is the promise and hope of eternal life. 

Now certainly it is our sure and certain hope that our faith offers us the promise of eternal life. At times, though, it is easy to let this belief fade into the background, as we focus our time and attention exclusively on this world. For the vast majority of us, I don’t think this is intentional. Rather, sometimes the tasks and challenges of this world not only distract us, but can engulf us and cause us to lose focus of what ultimately matters. At these times, it is good to remember that while this world offers us many blessings, ultimately it is temporary and transitory. Our final destination is heaven. 

As Christians, we are called to live devoutly and temperately in this life. We do this because we realize that this life is temporarily, and that ultimately we hope to share eternal life with our God. The hope of heaven should both challenge and incentivize us to live in such a way in this temporary and passing life, so that we never lose our focus on the life to come. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/010520.cfm 
 
For several years I have gotten together with a group of friends during the month of January for a “mini” retreat at a cabin in northern Wisconsin.   One of the things that amazes me anew each year is the clarity and brightness of the stars at night.   When you get away from the illumination of the lights of the cities, the stars seem to shine with brighter clarity and brilliance.  I suspect this is an experience we all have had.   
 
This memory came back to me as I looked at our readings this weekend for the Solemnity of the Epiphany.   Our Gospel this weekend is the familiar story of the visit of the Magi (who were Gentiles) to the new born Christ child.   This story, which is found only in the Gospel of Matthew, reminds us that Christ was born as savior of all people, no exceptions, no exclusions, no restrictions.   
 
As we read this Gospel, it is interesting to note the details that are not included in it, but have been added over the years.   The Magi have been promoted to Kings.   We have identified their number as three.  And we have even given them names.   
 
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.    It is a description of the city of Jerusalem that awaits the returning exiles.  It reminds them that “upon you the Lord shines and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance.”   
 
The second reading for this weekend is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.  It reinforces the message of the Gospel and reminds us that “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise of Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”   
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
 
  1. The revelation of a star guided the Magi.  When have you ever received a revelation that guided you in your life?
  2. If Jesus is the savior of all people, what would you say to those people who want to limit the number of those who will be saved?
  3. What do you need to do to let the light of Christ shine in you that you might lead others to Christ?   

We are so grateful for your financial support throughout the year. As we approach the end of 2019, please consider making a special Christmas gift to The Basilica.

Donate now online

 

In order to receive tax-deduction credit for 2019, checks must be postmarked by Tuesday, December 31. Online gifts need to be received by midnight on December 31. The Basilica offices are closed on December 31 and  January 1.
 

If you need assistance with a year-end gift:

December 26-30: contact Char Myhre

December 31: call Audra Johnson at 612.328.3486 (cell). 

World Day of Peace_Dove

Peace as a Journey of Hope

As we approach the year 2020, it seems important to stop and reflect on life. How is it going? Am I living the way I yearn to live—loving my God and my neighbor? Are we, as a society, organizing ourselves as Jesus directed—respecting the dignity of all, making decisions for the common good, offering special consideration to those who are most vulnerable?

I take seriously the call of our faith to participate in the pubic arena: In prayer, informed about current events and formed in faith, I seek to engage—to transform society in light of the Gospel of love. 

Yet, it is hard not to become weary. 

Each year, on January 1st, our Pope offers a message to celebrate World Day of Peace. Speaking to the deepest need of our shared humanity, he addresses realities of the day, through the lens of faith. 

In this year’s World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis offers profound hope, even as he articulates the broken and divided world in which we live. His message describes peace as a journey to be undertaken in a spirit of dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion. 

Pope Francis affirms that our lives are deeply damaged when we are subjected to conflict, violence or hate in any form. Personally, we are wounded. Collectively we are scarred. “Our human community bears, in its memory and its flesh, the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts….The terrible trials of internal and international conflicts…have enduring effects on the body and soul of humanity.”

Pope Francis describes a cycle of fear and division we are all subject to. “War…often begins with the inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of aggrandizement and domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other.” 

This cycle of fear and destruction can be self-perpetuating. “Mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace.”

Pope Francis asks, “How do we undertake a journey of peace and mutual respect? How do we break the unhealthy mentality of threats and fears? How do we break the current dynamic of distrust?”

To frame these questions, Pope Francis states: Peace is a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial. “Hope is the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable.”

We must identify and overcome our fears. We must shatter the culture of conflict through encounters with diversity. We must pray and repent of our own failures, finding healing and wholeness.

As we journey through these transformations, we will find hope. We will send ripples of compassion into our community. Together, we will find courage to speak boldly, in love, to power.

“The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for.” 

Just in time to move into 2020, we are reminded of God’s incredible love, forgiveness and steadfast presence. Pope Francis prays, “May the God of peace bless us and come to our aid.”

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122919.cfm  

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.   Our Gospel this Sunday occurs just after the visit of the Magi to the new born Christ child.   We are told that “When the Magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him’”    Joseph did as he was told and “took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.”    They remained in Egypt until Herod died.    

This Gospel and the one we read on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, tell us almost all of what we know about St. Joseph.   While the information is scant, it is clear that Joseph was a man of great faith who was open to God’s will in his life even though he may not always have understood that will.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach.   It was chosen because it and our second reading this Sunday from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, talk about the virtues of family life.   In Sirach we read:  “God sets a father in honor over his child, a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.”   And in St. Paul’s letter we read:  “Put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love,”

Clearly all three readings this Sunday extol the values of family and the virtues we are called to display as followers of Jesus Christ. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Families today come in all shapes and sizes.   What do you think defines a family?  
  2. I have a friend who has several children, now all adults.   When her children were growing she used to quip that “Of course, it was easy for Mary and Joseph to be the Holy Family.  They only had one child, and he was perfect.”    What makes a family holy?  
  3. What is the biggest obstacle to families being holy? 

Plan to celebrate this joyous time of year at The Basilica of Saint Mary. The music, liturgy, and community create a special Christmas experience for all who pass through our doors. 

Please plan accordingly for parking and accessibility.  There is ample free parking in the lot under I-94 and in the MCTC ramp. 

Christmas Vigil  

Tuesday, December 24
3:00pm  Vigil Eucharist organ, cantor, Cathedral Choristers, Children’s Choir and Cherubs, oboe*
              
Celebrant: Archbishop Bernard Hebda
5:30pm  Vigil Eucharist Mundus & Juventus
8:00pm  Vigil Eucharist piano, cantor, flute, cello

Christmas Midnight  
ASL Interpreted beginning with Choral Music at 11:00PM

10:30pm  Prelude Music for Christmas harp
11:00pm  Meditation Music  Cathedral Choir, organ, harp, flute
11:30pm  Vigil of Lights organ, Cathedral Choir
Midnight  Solemn Eucharist organ, Cathedral Choir, brass, harp                                               

Christmas Day
Wednesday, December 25
7:30am  Eucharist at Dawn organ, cantor, violin
9:30am  ASL Interpreted
             
Solemn Eucharist organ, choir, brass, strings,
              
Celebrant: Archbishop Bernard Hebda                   

Noon      Solemn Eucharist organ, choir, brass, strings
4:30pm   Festive Eucharist music from around the world

 

*The Archbishop has given permission to celebrate the Vigil Masses starting at 3:00pm.

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