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Archives: June 2015
It has been an eventful week in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. While we recognize there are still many unanswered questions in regards to the resignations and appointment of our apostolic administrator, the Archdiocese has provided parishes with a question and answer document to try and answer some of your questions. Please find this document below or in the back of church after Mass.
The Reardon Rectory continues to be updated as construction moves forward.
The third floor is coming along nicely as the south side offices and dining room are almost completely taped and sanded; painting is expected to start later this week. On the north side, the demolition has been completed and the ductwork should be installed within the next couple of days. The kitchen has been re-framed and the lights are currently being installed.
Demolition of the second floor will start this week and we are expected to have a few rather loud days as the tile must be removed from the bathrooms.
The fourth floor is currently being framed and the drywalling is expected to be finished by the week's end.
A few weeks ago I was doing some cleaning at my cabin and had the radio on in the background. At one point the theme song from Mission Impossible came on. As I listened I was transported back in time as I remembered watching the show when I was growing up. (Yes, I know there have been several movies based on “Mission Impossible,” but I still like the old television show the best.) I especially liked the words that introduced each episode “Your mission, should you chose to accept it is….” I like the well defined purpose and the clarity of knowing exactly what was expected and what needed to be done. There are many times when I long for that same kind of clarity in regard to God’s will in my life. It would be great if God would clearly tell me, “John, your mission should you chose to accept it is….”
Unfortunately, more often than I care to admit, when I am trying to discern God’s will or what God would have me do in a particular situation, I am much like a boat without a rudder.
I pray, but my prayer is often directionless and without focus. I want clarity and direction, and worse I want it now. In my efforts to get God to tell me what God wants me to do, I am impatient almost to the point of demanding. I don’t like it when I get this way, and I suspect God isn’t too happy with me either.
When I encounter these times in my life, one of the things that is helpful for me is to remember and take to heart a prayer that Thomas Merton wrote many years ago. I have kept this prayer in my Breviary since I was ordained. And on times too numerous to mention I have found it very comforting. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Discerning God’s will for us, or what God would have us do in a particular situation is not always easy. It can be frustrating, time consuming, and even a little annoying. It would be much easier if God simply told us, “Your mission should you chose to accept it is….” Unfortunately, if God were that direct, it would negate our free will. And our free will is one of the things that defines us as human beings and separates us from other creatures.
And so, at those times when I struggle with discerning God’s will, I take heart and find consolation in the prayer of Thomas Merton. The way I figure it, if one of the premier spiritual writers of the 20th century had trouble discerning God’s will, I should probably cut myself a little slack when I experience the same difficulty. I also take comfort in the knowledge that God will never call me to a mission that is impossible, because with God’s grace all things are possible.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and past it into your browser.
Our Gospel this Sunday is the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm at sea. We are told that Jesus was in boat with his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee and “a violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.” Jesus was asleep in the stern so the disciples woke him and said: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, ‘Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?’”
I suspect that most of us can identify with this Gospel. We may not have been caught in a storm at sea, but certainly there have been storms that have raged in our lives. It could be a relationship that has ended badly; the loss of a job; the death of a loved one; a health crisis; the list could go on and on. At these times, like the disciples, we can be tempted to ask: “Do you not care that we are perishing?” The thing is, though, at these times, Jesus is with us, just as he was with the disciples in the boat. Their fear, however, prevented them from understanding that even in the midst of the storm, they were not alone. Jesus was with them. And just as Jesus was with his disciples, so too Jesus is with us in the storms of our lives.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Job. In the section we read today God addressed Job out of the storm and reminded him that it was God who set limits to the sea and stilled the waves. Like Job, we too need to be reminded on a regular basis that God is in charge even, and perhaps especially, when we don’t understand God’s will and ways.
For our second reading this weekend we read a section of the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. Paul reminds us that “whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away, behold new things have come.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Has there been a “storm” in your life when you wondered if God cared whether or not you perished?
- God had to remind Job that God was in charge even when Job didn’t understand God’s will and ways. Has there been a time when you have needed to be reminded that God was in charge?
- What does it mean to be in a new creation in Christ?
In my hometown, Memorial Day signals the start of summer. This year, my mom and I went to the town cemetery to put flowers on our family members’ graves, and on Monday we gathered with the whole town at the courthouse for an Avenue of Flags dedicated to deceased veterans.
It’s a beautiful memorial and draws hundreds of people who come together to remember their loved ones. With over 1,000 U.S. flags whipping in the wind, a sea of people in lawn chairs listen to the reading of each veterans’ name and mourn with families who have come to dedicate the flags of those who died in the past year. It’s simple, solemn and celebratory.
Often this remembrance is the first time spent outside seeing friends and neighbors, experiencing the sun, the breeze, and the joy of summer.
What does the start of summer mean to you? At The Basilica, our parish community explores Personal Stewardship in June and July. I invite you to consider how you care for yourself in mind, body and spirit. Sometimes I find that friends and family concentrate and worry about everyone but themselves. Summer somehow gives us permission to take it a little easier...to go for a walk, smell the roses, or contemplate the feel of the sun after a very long winter.
The questions of how we care for ourselves and how we re-charge and re-energize probably have unique answers for each of us. For some it’s enjoying sweet fresh fruit and garden-grown vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Others head outdoors for biking, fishing, playing sports, or going for a swim at the lake. Many take summer vacations to break away from routines and the responsibilities of home, work, or both.
As you consider the importance of Personal Stewardship, I encourage you to remember the words of Saint Teresa of Avila—“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours....” She challenged us to live our faith and reminded us that it’s our job to do Christ’s work on earth. How can we possibly answer this call unless we first commit to take care of ourselves in mind, body and spirit?
There are many ways to embrace Personal Stewardship. Just commit to do one thing to renew and recharge yourself this summer. The key is actively, consciously making choices that contribute to your well-being. Consider the nice weather an opportunity to get outside for fun and exercise. Take a stroll through the neighborhood or around the lake. Play tennis or golf. Work in the garden. Go for a bike ride. Summer gives us so many possibilities to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. Or take advantage of the great fresh food offered at your local grocery store or neighborhood farmers market. As we move through summer, see what looks good at the farmers market and experiment with cooking up healthy and nutritious offerings.
Think about focusing on your prayer life. Worship with us weekly or visit The Basilica in the quiet of the day for contemplation and reflection. Consider Centering Prayer, a spiritual practice of quieting the mind and meditating in silence. It’s offered twice weekly on Wednesdays from 7:30 – 8:00am, and Fridays from 10:00 – 11:00am in the Bride’s Room located on the Basilica’s ground level. You’ll meet with a small group to discuss a book and then practice Centering Prayer for 20 minutes. Walk the labyrinth on The Basilica’s west lawn, or attend the Mental Health Blessing at all our June 27 and 28 liturgies.
Please explore Personal Stewardship in June and July and take time to consider the importance of caring for yourself in mind, body and spirit this summer. You’ll find lots of ideas at www.mary.org/personalstewardship.
Construction continues to plow through on the Reardon Rectory this week, with the third floor receiving most of the attention. Remodeling on the south end is coming to an end as the tile is being installed in the bathroom, and the dining room and offices are being sheetrocked and taped. Demolition of the north end of the third floor is complete and the ductwork will be installed soon.
The demolition of the southwest end of the second floor will also begin later this week, with reinforcements put in below on the first floor to ensure safety. Stay tuned for more construction updates on our beloved Reardon Rectory through August.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
This Sunday we return to what is known in our Church as ordinary time. Ordinary time is that time between the major seasons in our Church year. We will continue in Ordinary time until November 29th which is the first Sunday of Advent.
Our Gospel this Sunday contains two parables about the Kingdom of God. The first is the parable of the seed that is scattered on the land, and it sprouts and grows without our knowing how. The second is the parable of the mustard seed which “is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants……………”
Both of these parables remind us that just as we don’t make the seed sprout and grow by our efforts, so to the coming of the kingdom of God is God’s work. It will occur according to God’s will and on God’s timeline. There is nothing we can do to make God’s kingdom come. Rather, our task and challenge is simply to be open to the inbreaking of the kingdom of God in our lives.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. In the section we read today God --- through this prophecy of Ezekiel --- offers hope to the Jews who are in captivity in Babylon. “I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit and become a majestic cedar.” For the Jews this prophecy offered the hope that one day they would be restored to the Promised Land God had promised them.
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In the section we read today Paul reminds the Corinthians that “we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you ever been surprised to discover after the fact that God had been working in your life?
- The prophecy of Ezekiel offered hope to the Jews during the Babylonian captivity. When have you felt someone offering hope to you?
- What does it mean to you to walk by faith?
As part of a recent capital campaign, Basilica of Saint Mary parishioners raised $700,000 for the development and construction of a new affordable housing unit in North Minneapolis.
CommonBond Communities, the organization responsible for raising the additional funds for the project and the development and management of the building, partnered with the Basilica to make this a reality.
After breaking ground in 2012, CommonBond Communities is proud to announce the grand opening of the new Broadway Crescent location with an open house on June 9 from 4:00-6:00pm. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearly 150 people gathered at the Basilica of Saint Mary with their bikes, rollerblades, wheelchairs, strollers and other personal, wheeled transportation for the Blessing of the Wheels May 31.
The blessing was to offer prayers for a safe year on the road as well as remember all those who have been hurt or killed while using their wheels.
At a consistory on Saturday, February 14, Pope Francis created 20 new Cardinals from around the globe. On Sunday, February 15, Pope Francis presided at Mass with these new Cardinals. As part of his homily at that Mass, Pope Francis addressed the 20 new cardinals in the words below.
Dear new Cardinals, my brothers, as we look to Jesus and our Mother, I urge you to serve the Church in such a way that Christians—edified by our witness—will not be tempted to turn to Jesus without turning to the outcast, to become a closed caste with nothing authentically ecclesial about it. I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is marginalized, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith, or say that they are atheists; to see the Lord in who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper—whether in body or soul—who encounters discrimination! We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalized! May we always have before us the image of Saint Francis, who was unafraid to embrace the leper and to accept every kind of outcast. Truly, dear brothers, the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered and is revealed!
I was and continue to be amazed at the clarity and breadth of Pope Francis’ vision for our church. He is clear that because no one is beyond the reach of God’s love, so too no one can be beyond the reach of our Church. For Pope Francis, reaching out to the marginalized, the outcast, the excluded is not just a good thing to do, it is essential and fundamental to our Church.
Now clearly, we have not done this well. At times people have sought to restructure the Catholic Church into what they see as a far smaller, simpler and more spiritual entity. I think this is not just unfortunate, but also and more importantly it fails to follow the example of Jesus. In the Gospels, Jesus was always reaching out to those that others referred to as “tax collectors and sinners”—to the people on the margins. And we know that these tax collectors and sinners not only became his followers, but also eventually became those who would continue the mission and ministry of Jesus and bring his message to the world.
Clearly it is safer and simpler and it certainly takes less effort to try to restrict our Church’s mission only to those who are already “in the corral,” so to speak. I believe, though, that Pope Francis’ has laid before us a profound and exciting challenge. And challenges can be scary. Our Church, and particularly The Basilica, though, will more clearly be the church of Christ when we strive to reach out to the marginalized, the outcast, the excluded. We don’t have to go far to do this, these people are all around us. They are our relatives and friends, our neighbors and co-workers. They are all those who—for whatever reason—feel at a distance from God’s love. Our call and challenge are to welcome and invite them into our community, and share with them the inclusive, universal and unending love of God made visible in Jesus Christ and given expression in our care and concern.