Archives: October 2014

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.   
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110214.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate The Commemoration of All Souls.  This Feast is always celebrated on November 2nd,  and this week it displaces the celebration of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. On this day we remember and pray for our deceased relatives and friends, but also for all those who have died marked with the sign of faith.   

Our readings for this feast remind us that our God is a God of life and love, and that God wants to share God’s life and love with us not just in this world, but in the life to come.   This is the clear message of Jesus in our Gospel today.   “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father,  that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him, may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.”  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Wisdom.   Although this Book was written about one hundred years before the time of Christ, it clearly reflects a belief in some kind of eternal life. The opening lines of today’s reading speak clearly of this belief:  “The souls of the just are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them.   They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead, and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us utter destruction. But they are in peace.”  

Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In this reading, Paul is clear about our belief in the resurrection of the dead.  “For if we have grown into union with him (Christ) through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.  What helps you to believe in eternal life?   
2.  How would you explain eternal life to someone who didn’t believe in it?  
3.  Do you believe people can lose the opportunity to enjoy eternal life? 

Walking through the streets of Paris last week I could not but notice the many signs of Halloween in the window displays. As I asked a friend about this she mentioned how important Halloween had become in Europe and she admitted to decorating her daycare center for Halloween as well. “The children love the carved pumpkins, the masks, the ghosts, and the candy,” she explained. Apparently there even is a Halloween parade in my hometown and children have taken up trick-or-treating. Not missing a beat I asked her what she was planning to do for All Saints and All Souls Day. She was a bit taken aback as she confessed that, in fact she had no plans.

The world, it seems has been turned upside down. Today, Halloween has clearly overshadowed All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Whereas, growing up in Belgium we did not even know about Halloween. Our undivided attention was given to celebrating All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, two of my favorite days on the liturgical calendar..

On All Saints Day the entire family gathered at our parish church for a solemn liturgy celebrating all the Saints. Then it was off to my grandmother’s house for a day of festive leisure culminating is a sumptuous dinner. The highpoint of the afternoon was the simple play the children put together for the adults, illustrating the life of our favorite saints. My favorite Saints were the ones depicted with the child Jesus. So, I often played Saint Joseph, Saint Anthony and Saint Christopher, carrying the child Jesus (one of my cousin’s dolls) on my shoulders or in my arms, across the improvised stage.

All Souls Day was marked by a certain sober solemnity as we remembered all those who had died. After Mass we walked to the cemetery to place flowers on the tombs of our ancestors and to pray for them as well as for ourselves. The dinner that day was fine, but not nearly as festive as the day before. The stories around the dinner table were about the great or funny things our deceased ancestors did.

Thus these two days which are very intimately connected allowed us to tell the story of our beloved saints as well as the stories of our beloved ancestors while we looked at their portraits and paintings which were interspersed with images of the saints fastidiously collected by my grandmother. Though I did not realize it at the time celebrating these two feasts, the church and my family instilled in me that we are all part of the Body of Christ because all of us are one in Him, saint and sinner alike by virtue of our baptism.

As we rejoice in the Icons of the Saints placed in the Sanctuary this month, let us celebrate all the Saints, those who have gone before us, those who live among us and those yet to be born. As we write the names of our loved ones in the Book of Remembrance and place their photos on the side-altars let us celebrate their lives and remember that all of us are one. And as we celebrate Vespers for All Souls, let us pray that all of us may meet again before the Heavenly Throne at the end of time.

So, dare I ask? What are your plans for All Saints’ and All Soul’s Day? 

JustFaith Begins Phase 1

The 2014-15 year of JustFaith has begun.

JustFaith is a powerful exploration of social issues and social justice.  It examines topics through the lens of Catholic social teaching and a structured curriculum that incorporates texts, videos, speakers, and immersion experiences. 

This year, we have 15 group members and have met twice in Phase 1, which is focused on Compassion and The Option for the Poor. Some insights that have surfaced include that compassion is not only about kindness and helping others. It is not about a position of advantage where you get to choose who you help and when you help and then you get to go home.

It is so much more.

It is “suffering with” the other and standing with the other as Jesus did. Compassion is not as much about helping other people as it is about the beauty you discover in the other person and what you learn from their wisdom. Check out the TED talk we heard on compassion by Krista Tippett below.

The Basilica’s session of JustFaith began in October and will run through May on Wednesday evenings. For more information for future programming, contact BillDeb or Leah

 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 has been proclaimed Basilica of Saint Mary Employment Ministry Day  in the State of Minnesota.  Our Employment Ministry has worked tirelessly to serve over 5,000 in job transition during the past 25 years.  This is indeed an honor.  Read the full proclamation here: Basilica of Saint Mary Employment Ministry Day, Tuesday, October 21

Coming Together as Community

Growing up in a small town, everyone knew each other. In church, school or life in general, everyone was involved or things simply didn’t happen. When I left after college, I found myself with a new job in a new town and made my way to the local Catholic Church for Mass. It was a large community—much bigger than I was used to. People rushed in and out on Sundays and I came and went too and never really connected. No one seemed to notice me. No one asked me to get involved. It felt strange to feel lonely in the midst of all those people at Mass. I didn't feel like I belonged. 

As I’ve grown older, I realized that most often all you have to do is put your hand up and say ‘I'm interested’ or ‘I'd like to get involved.’ In most organizations, volunteers are desperately needed and you can find a place, and that’s definitely true here at The Basilica. But fresh out of college as a young adult, I was waiting to be asked.

At The Basilica, my sincere hope is that your experience is one of welcome and feeling a strong sense of belonging. For long-time parishioners, I hope we see our important role in welcoming newcomers, in greeting the strangers in our midst, and inviting others to get involved. 

As parish members, it’s our job to make everyone, guests and members alike, feel welcome and part of our community. We can’t function as a healthy, welcoming community without your active involvement. We need you to come together regularly in prayer and worship. We need your help as ministers and parish leaders to serve others in our parish and our city. We need your ongoing financial support to sustain the work of our parish community.

Why do I feel at home at The Basilica of Saint Mary? In some ways, it’s very different than where I grew up. It’s such a large, impressive building, and it houses a huge parish community—about 6,500 households with  over 12,000 people—our church is bigger than where I grew up. 

But big as it is, The Basilica also feels warm and inviting. In my earliest days at The Basilica, I was asked to help with hospitality after Mass. Back then we brewed the coffee in the back of the church while mass was winding to a close. After Mass people hung around in church to visit and catch up. Next I was asked to help blow up helium balloons for an event. Small ways of getting involved, but each time I helped, I met people and got to know them. Soon I was seeing familiar friendly faces whenever I went to church. Being part of a group felt good to me. In small ways, I knew I was making a difference and preparing the way for others. 

Belonging to a parish community, we are each asked to take part. That starts with coming together as a community for worship. It happens when we greet a stranger or welcome a new volunteer into ministry. It happens when we pray for the ill or grieving. It happens when we teach our children about their faith, when we sing or serve at Mass, mow the lawn, or shovel the snow. 

It happens when we make a financial commitment to sustain our parish ministries and the day-to-day work of our church community. I hope you will join me and make a pledged financial commitment to support our ministries and the ongoing work of our parish in 2015. 

When we come together as a community, we share common experiences like roots in our Catholic faith, and we share our differences too. When we worship and work side by side, we learn from each other’s journeys and experiences as we come together to live our faith every day. 

 

The Basilica of Saint Mary along with the Minnesota Catholic Conference, and the University of Saint Thomas Center for Catholic Studies presents Inequality of All Oct. 23, at 6:00 p.m. here.

Inequality for All is a 2013 documentary film that explores economic inequality and the widening income gap in the U.S. 

The film will be followed by a foundational talk on Catholic Social Teaching led by Dr. Robert Kennedy and Dr. Michael Naughton, both professors with the Department of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

Inequality for All explores the meaning of a good society and role of the widening income gap plays in our nation’s economic health.  The film also won the 2013 Special Jury Prize for Achievement in Filmmaking from the Sundance Film Festival. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102614.cfm

In our Gospel this Sunday, like our Gospel last Sunday, we once again see two groups --- who would not have been considered allies --- come to Jesus with a question.   In this case the Pharisees and the Sadducees, come to Jesus and one of them “a scholar of the law” asked Jesus: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  Now this would not have been all that unusual a question.   There were over 600 precepts or commandments in Judaism, and Rabbis and Teachers were often asked by their followers to offer some kind of order to them.   The scholar of the law must have been at least somewhat surprised at Jesus’ answer.   For Jesus didn’t give just one commandment, but two.   “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   

In linking these two commandments Jesus is clear.  We cannot say we love the God we do not see, if we do not love the neighbor we do see.   Love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand.   And as the old song has it: You can’t have one without the other. 

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Exodus.  In the section we read this weekend the people are warned that they are not to mistreat or oppress aliens, widows or orphans.  These groups were among the weakest and most vulnerable, and God was clear that the mistreatment of them would bring dire consequences. While not explicitly a call to love your neighbor, it is clear that the people are called to care for those who are less fortunate.   

Our second reading this weekend is from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians. Paul congratulates the Thessalonians for imitating him and the Lord, and thus spreading the faith.  “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth.”    

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.  How do you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind?   
2.  It is easy to love our neighbor in the abstract, but how do we do this in concrete and practical ways?   
3.  How can we lead others to Christ, by the witness of our lives?   

During the month of November we remember all those who have gone before us. We begin this month of Remembrance with solemn Evening Prayer for all our beloved dead. If you wish to include names of the faithful departed, please call or submit names online by October 29.   You are invited to join The Basilica of Saint Mary Parish for Vespers in remembrance of all the beloved dead of our community on Sunday, November 2nd at 3pm in the Church. In this Vespers celebration, we are reminded that our family members and friends are with God and that we will be reunited with them.  

Try as we might to prevent it, every now and again during one of our Masses someone will put leaflets or flyers on the windshields of cars in our parking lots. Now this hasn’t happened recently, but with elections around the corner, it wouldn’t surprise me if it did. I think two things need to be said in regard to these leaflets and flyers.

First, I am convinced that the people who leaflet cars during Mass do so out of a sense of commitment to their cause or candidate. From a certain perspective, this is commendable. It reminds us that we have the right to participate in the political process on all levels. The problem is that someone could infer that because the leafleting occurred on Basilica property, that The Basilica was endorsing a particular cause, or candidate for that cause. In this regard, we need to be clear. While The Basilica—like all Catholic Churches—has the right and the responsibility to commend and endorse positions on moral issues, it cannot, has not, and will not endorse a particular candidate for any political office at any level, even if that candidate espouses our values and moral principles.  

Walking the line between clearly stating our moral principles and beliefs, and appearing to endorse a particular candidate, can be very difficult. On the one hand, our Church has a fundamental commitment to stand for justice. This commitment demands that the Church, as an institution, just like its individual members, must involve itself in fashioning and maintaining the common good. However, a distinction needs to be made as to how this is done. One way is to get involved in advocating for particular issues, e.g. respect for life, housing, jobs, economic issues. Another option is to support particular candidates or political parties. Individual Christians may do either or both. The Church as an institution may only do the first. The Church needs to remain apart from partisan politics in order that it can speak more clearly, freely and in an unbiased manner for fundamental moral values.  

While I think we do a good job of this at The Basilica, we need to be honest that at times the Catholic Church in the United States has failed in this regard. At times we have all heard U.S. priests and bishops become so strident about an issue at election time that it seems they are endorsing a particular candidate or party. We need to remember, though, that for the Church, values are what is most important and what is at stake. Endorsing particular candidates or a particular party limits our Church’s ability to speak with authority to all the issues. The Church needs to refrain from partisan politics in order to speak more effectively and from the perspective of justice, to all the issues. 

I’m hoping that no one leaflets any cars at The Basilica during this election season. But in case it happens, please know this was not done with our permission. If it does happen, though, may it spur all of us to participate in the electoral process and give witness to our beliefs and values by voting.

The Basilica of Saint Mary Cathedral Choir was notified Oct. 14 of their selection to sing at the 11:30am Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral on June 7 in Paris, France.

The performance will be a part of the choir's summer tour to France.

"I am absolutely thrilled to have the choir selected to sing at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris," said Teri Larson, Cathedral Choir director. "This is a huge honor."

Any choir requesting to sing at the Cathedral must complete an extensive auditioning process, to include sending a recording of a performance and complete biographies of both the choir and director(s). 

"Last time the choir sang in this space was for a 5:00pm Saturday vigil mass," added Larson. This time, the choir was selected for the Sunday service meaning, "we will be heard by thousands, as well as broadcast all over the world."

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the most well-known church buildings in the world and serves as the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Paris.

For more information about the Cathedral Choir, visit their website here

 

The Basilica Cathedral Choir Spring 2014
Photo provided by: 
Michael Jensen

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