Archives: November 2014

Today we begin a new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. This magical season which prepares us for the celebration of Christmas provides us with a great opportunity to pause and evaluate our lives. New beginnings always afford us new chances. I, for one am fond of new chances. They are a gift to all of us.

The English word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus Domini, meaning the Coming of the Lord. Most of us understand this to mean Jesus’ presence with us at Christmas as we commemorate and celebrate his birth. The full meaning of Adventus Domini, however embraces Jesus’ birth 2000 years ago; his presence with us today as well as his return at the end of time. Advent thus becomes a time of preparation not only for the celebration of Jesus’ birth 2000 years ago. It also is a time when we become more aware of Jesus’ presence in our lives today. And it is a time during which we prepare for his Second Coming.

When we sing Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, Come, we not only pray for his presence in our midst at Christmas, but we also pray for his Second Coming and for the hastening of the end of time. This is a rather awesome concept: to pray for the end of time. As Christians we believe that when Christ returns he will inaugurate the completion of the Messianic Times, when according to the prophet Isaiah “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;” when “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;” when “there shall be no more ruin on all my holy Mountain;” when “the steppe and the parched land…will bloom with abundant flowers.”

Advent is that season when we are invited to dream of that perfect world without death, diseases or disasters; a world where all God’s children and all of creation exist together in perfect harmony. Advent is also the season during which we commit ourselves to making this harmonious world a bit more possible.

So, let’s sing Maranatha with full voice and let’s act in ways that will hasten the arrival of that perfect world.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

The Basilica offices will be closed in observance of Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014:

  • Eucharist will be celebrated at 8:30am in the main church.  
  • An Interfaith Thanksgiving Service will take place at Temple Israel (2324 Emerson Ave S, Minneapolis) at 10:00am.  The Reverend Dr. Jim Gertmenian of Plymouth Congregational Church will preside.

Friday, November 28, 2014:

  • Eucharist will be celebrated in the Saint Joseph Chapel at 7:00am and 12:00nn.
  • Volunteers will ready the church for Advent.

The Basilica Staff would like to wish you all a blessed and thankful holiday.

We are coming again to Advent, when we wait with great anticipation for the coming of the Lord, and Christmas, where we celebrate Emmanuel – God with us.

At The Basilica during Christmas, the scent of evergreen fills the air, gold ribbon glitters in midnight candlelight and flowers adorn this holy place.

We ask your help in creating a sacred space where joy dances in the eyes of young and old, where memories of loved ones past and present are evoked and well up in our hearts, where Christ – God with Us – dwells. 

Help enhance the beauty of the church this Christmas with a gift of Christmas flowers. Tribute gifts received by December 12 will be listed in the Christmas leaflet.

Visit this link for more information.

Our Call to Welcome Refugees

The plight of refugees is one that should strike a chord with us as Catholics and as Minnesotans. After all, as Catholics we should understand the hardships of exile and persecution, for Christ and the Holy Family were persecuted and exiled from Jerusalem.

Our state of Minnesota is home to over 70,000 refugees from across the world, and that number is growing every year. Just this year, 268 individuals have arrived in Minnesota. It may seem odd that Minneapolis, with its harsh winters, is a popular location for refugee resettlement, but its strong advocate organizations and extensive social benefits make our city a great place for starting a new life. In fact, the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis is the most diverse neighborhood in the United States, with over 100 ethnic groups represented.

However, the refugee community often remains fragmented from the greater Twin Cities community. Understanding the hardships of those who have faced persecution in other countries and have sought refuge in the Twin Cities strengthens the bonds of our diverse and thriving community.

A refugee is someone who has fled persecution in their home country for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and because of that fear seeks refuge in another country. Refugees do not choose where they will be located; they are assigned to a city by the U.S. government. Minneapolis, however, is a popular destination for assignment because of its strong network of volunteer agencies that help with resettlement. For that reason, Minneapolis has the largest Somali community in the United States and the largest Hmong community outside of Laos. There are also large Ethiopian, Cambodian, Bhutanese, Liberian and Vietnamese communities here.

Such a diverse community helps make the Twin Cities a true proverbial melting pot of citizens. Unfortunately, families that have sought refuge in Minneapolis struggle with a host of issues in integrating into our community. Language is often a visceral and difficult obstacle. To make matters more difficult, the current economic climate makes it difficult to find jobs, especially because skills and degrees often do not transfer to the United States. A recent study found two Iraqi refugees in Ohio with engineering degrees that were sweeping floors.

The Twin Cities’ volunteer agencies work hard to make this transition easier. Local organizations connect refugees with English as a Second Language courses, set up social security applications, find and furnish housing, and help access medical care, among other efforts. But there are limits to funding and opportunities.

As Catholics in the Twin Cities, it is imperative that we understand the hardships of the refugees in our community and strive to lessen them. Volunteer agencies can work hard, but we are called as a Catholic community to continue to make the Twin Cities welcoming and integrated.

Luke Olson is a Basilica parishioner, choir member, and member of the Global Stewardship team. Luke graduated from the U of MN Law School, was recently married, and has joined the firm of Dorsey and Whitney in Minneapolis.


For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.

This Sunday, as we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, we also celebrate the beginning of a new liturgical year.   The focus of the season of Advent is on the two comings of Christ --- the first at his birth and the second at the end of time.   The promise fulfilled and the promise of what is yet to come are both part of our Advent celebrations.  

Our Gospel for this first Sunday of Advent is from Mark.   In the section we read this Sunday, Jesus tells his disciples:  “Be watchful! Stay Alert! You do not know when the time will come.”   This might seem like a call to be spiritual insomniacs or to always be on the alert.   Jesus, though, follows these words with a parable about a man traveling abroad who takes care that his house is properly cared for and guarded while he is away.  This parable reminds us that if we are diligent and prepared, we will be ready to meet the Lord whenever and in whatever manner he comes.   

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It shares the theme of the Gospel.  It is a prayer for God to reveal God’s the Israelites who are being held in captivity in Babylon.  Isaiah also prays that the people would be properly disposed for God’s revelation.  “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in all our ways!”  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.  In the section we read today, Paul gives thanks for the gifts of God that have been manifested in the Church at Corinth.   “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.  What helps you to be prepared to meet Christ?
2.  In retrospect have you ever realized that you missed recognizing the presence of Christ?
3.  Where have you seen the grace of God at work in your life?  

After Spanish merchants and missionaries delivered the Gospel and Catholicism to Vietnam in the 14th century, and superseding many centuries of political struggles, Our Lady of Lavang remains a powerful and graceful intercessor, and a help to suffering Christians.

Just before the turn of the 19th century, in hopes of fleeing government installed persecution but aware of the realities of death and martyrdom, a group of faithful Vietnamese Catholics hid themselves in a dense and dangerous jungle, where they were met with disease, hunger, beasts and terrible weather. In their suffering, these Catholics continued praying, most memorably, a rosary, each evening, with the powerful hope that faith would save them.

To their joyful surprise, Our Blessed Mother appeared to them during their prayer, clothed in light and traditional Vietnamese garments, accompanied by two angels and carrying her child Son, Our Lord. To those gathered in awe, Our Lady of Lavang spoke, instructing them to boil leaves as a remedy to their ailments. What’s more, she promised that to any and all who prayed on that spot, their prayers would be heard and answered. Not long after her hope-giving visit, many anti-Catholic restrictions were lifted, the hidden returned to their homes and the news of the Blessed Mother’s visit spread.

Much like how this apparition site began and remains as a place of refuge, worship, and peace, we too here at The Basilica also strive to create a community of such character. For this reason, our namesake parish protects and gives hope to those who suffer in religious, physical and desperate ways, and we house a likeness of Our Lady so we remember her and those she helps.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I find it easy to prioritize The Basilica community on my “thankful for” list. When people consider the “things” they are most grateful for, “things” rarely end up on the top of the list. Instead, it is health, family, faith, friends, and community.

I’ve heard time and time again of the gratitude felt for The Basilica community. Those most inclined to share this appreciation are the ones who have moved away, or find it no longer possible to be involved with The Basilica parish.

I’ve witnessed the sadness of those who have moved away as they search for a “Basilica” experience in a new city. It is possible to take for granted what is at your fingertips. I’m reminded of the special gift of The Basilica when I read the visitor comments from our guestbook, including:

  • “Beautiful church, amazing worship”
  • “As beautiful a church as any I’ve seen in Europe”
  • “The parishioners were so very welcoming!”
  • “Thank you for allowing us to visit and pray here! May God bless the parishioners.”
  • “Thank you for opening the doors to such a blessed and calm, beautiful place,”

What we experience here isn’t easy to find, or replicate.

This unique Basilica experience is created by a diverse and rich depth of opportunities. From the grand, yet warm and inviting space we have to worship, to the way we roll up our sleeves as volunteers, to the service to our neighbors who need help—these are only a few things that make what we have here so unique and special.

When you think about your abundance and the joy you feel from the gifts you have received, how do you prioritize? What do your belongings mean to you?  

Belonging to this parish is one of the greatest gifts I have received as an adult. This belonging is one of my greatest “belongings.” When I joined, I not only joined the parish, but I joined the Catholic faith. And it was a transformative experience. Today, this belonging has evolved into our “village” to raise our family. It provides a home for our faith and brings our faith home each Sunday.  

To say I’m grateful would put it mildly. There is no value that can be placed on this community that gives so much, to so many people. When you give to The Basilica, you feed the lives and hearts of thousands of people who are inspired by the liturgies, connected through the social gatherings, and enlightened by the learning opportunities.

This “belonging” of thousands of members and visitors likely has an exponential impact in our broader community as we strive to live out stewardship in our every day.

When you support The Basilica financially, you give The Basilica vital funding for essentials like heat, lights, music, and ministries. But even more importantly, pledging gives us the opportunity to express our gratitude. If you haven’t yet made a commitment for 2015, I hope you will consider a pledge today. Pledge forms are available in the pews, or you can pledge online. Thank you for your consideration and for being a part of this community that gives so much.


The Basilica of Saint Mary invites you to Grill the Presenters: The Burden of Truth on Monday, November 24 at 7:00pm at Breck School.

Grill the Presenters is part of an ongoing series presented by the Minneapolis Multi-Fatih Network.

The MMN is committed to promoting all religious communities and affiliations in the downtown senior clergy network equally, within and outside of the existing network. 

The Voices of Faith Events, MMN's flagship program, features Ted-talk style speaking events. These events focus on honest appraisals of the religious tradition of the speakers, with a casual, personal and sometimes self-critiquing perspective that will be very relatable to those feeling that organized religion may not speak to them entirely.

Grill the Presenters: The Burden of Truth
Photo provided by: 
Minneapolis Multi-Faith Network

Last Sunday, November 9 we celebrated the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran as well as the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then I have been pondering the meaning of these two celebrations happening on the same day. Their coinciding seemed fortuitous the more I thought about it.

The Lateran Basilica was built after the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in the early 4th C. It was dedicated as the Cathedral Church of Rome by Pope Sylvester I on November 9, 324. As such it is the mother church not only of all Catholics in Rome but even of all Catholics throughout the world. A small Latin inscription on the Lateran’s façade affirms that the “Most Holy Lateran Church, is mother and head of all the churches in the city and the world.” The world-wide observance of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica is a celebration of our unity as Catholics gathered around the successor of Peter, Pope Francis. Thus the Lateran Basilica, the Pope’s Cathedral stands as a permanent reminder of our unity.

By contrast, the Berlin Wall represented division. After World War II Germany was divided between the former Soviet Union on the one hand and Great Britain, France and The United States on the other hand. This division between West Germany and East Germany became starker as time passed. On August 12, 1961 the East German Communist leadership ordered that a barrier be built in order to prevent Berliners to cross between East Berlin and West Berlin. For almost three decades this wall symbolized the divisions between the West and the East Block countries. On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan  famously challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" On November 9, 1989 Berliners from both sides took matters in their own hands and started tearing down the wall with their bare hands, in effect re-uniting Germany.

Since that great day on which unity triumphed many new walls, either physical or figurative have been erected throughout the world. The human race seems more divided than ever as race, creed, economics, education, gender, sexuality, and so much more sets us apart from one another. Even within the Catholic Church we have managed to build walls and depending on whether you pass one litmus test or another you are either in or you are out.

I am reminded of a recent photo someone took of my siblings and myself. Though there is a striking resemblance between all of us, there are also great differences. Like most families we are bound together by blood but are very diverse in most everything we do, we believe, we hope and strive for. Never-the-less, we stick together, if not celebrating, at least appreciating or sometimes just tolerating one another’s difference. Our families are a micro-cosmos of the macro-cosmos which is the human race. There are many similarities between all of us and there are many differences, yet we stick together and learn how to celebrate not only our similarities but also our differences.

Thus, taking President Regan’s words to a new level let’s tear down the walls that separate us on so many levels. And let’s imitate Pope Francis, our Pontifex Maximus or Great Bridge Builder and start building bridges from person to person, from community to community until one day all of us, no matter who we are will feel welcomed by everyone else so Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one” finally come true.

A fortuitous coincidence of celebrations, indeed.

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.  This Feast closes the current liturgical year.  Next Sunday we begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent.  The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925.   Seeing the devastation caused by World War I, Pius established this Feast as a way to remind people that Christ is Lord of both heaven and earth.  Initially this Feast was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but when the Roman Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar in 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year.  

Our Gospel this Sunday is the last judgment scene from Matthew’s Gospel.  We are told that “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.  And he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”   Those on the right were told they would “inherit the kingdom prepared or you from the foundation of the world”  because when they offered food, drink, welcome, clothing, and care to those in need, they did it for the Lord. Those on the left were sent off to eternal punishment because “what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”  

An element common to both groups is their surprise:  “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?”   This reminds us that we are called to serve those in need not only because they are in need, but also because we recognize Christ in them. Perhaps more importantly, though, we are called to respond to those in need because our salvation depends on it.  We don’t get to pick and choose who is worthy of our charity and love.   

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.   Ezekiel reminds us that the Lord God is our Shepherd and he will “look after and  tend his flock,” but he will also “judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.”     

Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Paul is clear about the necessity of Christ. “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.”    

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.    Have you ever recognized Christ in one of your least brothers or sisters? 
2.    When have you failed to respond to the needs of one of your least brothers or sisters?
3.    How are people brought to life in Christ?