Archives: July 2015

Not expecting it to be so, this summer has been all over the map with regards to events taking place one after another. It felt like there was breaking news every other day around weather issues throughout the country, terrorist attacks around the world, the ramping up of the upcoming election year, and then there has been so much happening in our worldwide church as well as in our local church. Often I felt myself wanting to withdraw from the ugliness of the news, to crawl back into my personal space or run away to a desert island without any technology whatsoever. To disengage from everyone and everything around me would have been a luxury. 

I found myself fighting off depression and hopelessness some days. And some days I cried out to God, “What is happening in YOUR world?” And God turned right around and asked, “What is happening in YOURS?”

A friend and I had a conversation the other evening about how difficult life can be, wondering how to maneuver through it gracefully, tactfully, and with hope and faith. She stated that the world is very dark and, without faith and hope, the darkness remains. She was lamenting the fact that her growth in spirituality and Christian action was too slow as far as she was concerned. She wondered if she would ever “get it.” I hated to admit it but I, too, have wondered that myself many times. I would like the path to holiness to be straight and on target but that is so not the case. Many twists and turns have always been in the way, or so it seemed. 

It has taken me many years to appreciate all those things that have sidetracked me on my journey. To realize that those very things are the journey itself. Every experience, every person, every event has become my life. They have all come together to help create the person I am today. It is my story and it is unique. Just as yours is. And only by God’s intimate grace, have I come to know God in my story and recognized God in your stories as well. That’s how it works. We live out our story and become immersed in everyone else’s story. And that’s where we find God…in each other’s stories. 

So, to reflect on God’s question to me, “What is happening in Yours?” puts a new spin on this situation. In other words, what am I doing about the poverty, oppression, tragedies, hopelessness, and faithlessness around me? How am I bringing God into our world to make a difference? What have I done for the ones who are in need around me? Was I present to each and every person I met this day? Did I live well today? How have I detached from this world and all its false idols? Do I have any regrets about my day? What would I do differently and better the next time? Have I been selfless today? Have I died to self in some small way today? 

There is a quotation I found somewhere a while back. I wish I could give credit to someone for it but I am not sure who is the author.  “Live in such a way that those who know you, but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you.”

I found this quotation to be very profound and a definite call in my own life. The truth is I cannot live like this on my own. It is only through the Holy Spirit that I am able to try to achieve this. But I have seen God do powerful things with or without me. It does go smoother, I think, if I cooperate with God’s grace. But knowing myself, I don’t always go with the flow. And God knows that about me too. I am grateful that God is patient and understanding because I am a slow learner.

So we come upon another year of beginnings as we move into the season of dying and death—Fall. The season that is so necessary before we can ever get to resurrection. This challenge lies before all of us to live with a difference for others who need God so desperately in our world today. 

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080215.cfm

Our Gospels for the next couple of Sunday’s are taken from that section of John’s Gospel known as the Bread of Life discourse.   Our Gospel today immediately follows the story of the feeding of the 5,000.   The crowd has sought out Jesus and, upon finding him, Jesus says to them: “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”    They then asked Jesus “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?”  Jesus didn’t respond to their desire for a sign, but instead invited them to have faith in him as the one sent from God.  He tells them:  “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”   

Often times we ask God for “signs” of God’s love and care for us.   Like the people in our Gospel today, though, we seek the signs we want and not the signs God has given us.  The challenge for us is to look through the eyes of faith and see the signs of God’s love and care that exist all around us.  

In our first reading this Sunday, from the Book of Exodus, the Israelites grumble against Moses and Aaron: “Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our flesh pots and ate our fill of bread!”   Similar to the feeding of the 5,000, God sends the Israelites “manna” to eat.  When they question about it, Moses tells them:  “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”   

Our second reading this Sunday is again taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians.   In the section we read this Sunday,  Paul urges the Ephesians to “put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. Have you ever asked God for a sign only to discover later that you missed a sign that was already present?
  2. Have you ever grumbled against God when things didn’t go the way you wanted?
  3. What does it mean for you to put on the new self created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth?   

There are many opportunities to share your voice here at The Basilica. Auditions are beginning rehearsals are quickly approaching. Check out the information below.

CHORAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE YOUNG SINGER

  • Cherub Choir
    • PreK-K. This choir meets Wednesdays from 5:30-6:00pm, in The Basilica School Choir Room. Tuition is $50 per child per season.
  • Children’s Choir
    • Grades 1-3. This choir meets Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00pm in The Basilica School Choir Room. Tuition is $50 per child per season. Children learn proper singing technique, liturgical participation, and sing for Mass approximately every other month. Space is limited.  Contact: Pat Arasim at prarasim@gmail.com.

CHORAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE OLDER ELEMENTARY SINGER

  • Cathedral Choristers: Grades 4-8 (or unchanged voice). This choir meets Wednesdays from 5:45-7:00pm in the St. Cecilia Room. Requirement: voice check. Tuition is $55 per season. 
    • Cathedral Choristers sing for Mass approximately twice a month and at Christmas and Easter. Space is limited. Visit www.mary.org for more information, or contact Teri Larson at 612.317.3426 or tlarson@mary.org.

BASILICA CATHEDRAL CHOIR AUDITIONS
SATURDAYS, AUGUST 8, 15, 22, 9:00AM-2:00PM
The Cathedral Choir rehearses on Wednesday nights, sings Sunday at 9:30am Mass and on high holy days. Requirements for audition: prepared aria or art song, sight-reading, vocal range check. Special appointments outside of the assigned dates may be available. Contact Teri Larson at 612.317.3426 or tlarson@mary.org.

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES
Consider singing or playing an instrument in one of our many contemporary music ministry ensembles. 

  • Mundus—Contemporary and World Music ensemble
  • Juventus—Youth ensemble grades 8 and up
  • Contemporary Musicians Ensemble

Visit www.mary.org or contact Walter Tambor at 612.317.3506 or wtambor@mary.org.

ANNOUNCING SCHOLA CANTORUM AUDITIONS
Schola Cantorum is a semi-professional group, employed by The Basilica to sing vespers during Advent, Christmas, Lent, and other assigned liturgies. Audition requirements are a prepared aria/art song, sight-reading and pitch recognition. Please provide a resume. Auditions are by appointment on Saturday, August 8 from 9:00-10:00am and 11:30am-12:30pm and August 22, 9:00-10:00am and 11:30am-2:00pm. Please call Teri Larson at 612.317.3426.to schedule an audition time. 

 

EHEARSALS AND PERFORMANCES
Please mark your calendars. Here are the dates of the first rehearsals for the new program year and the first date choirs return to sing on scheduled Sundays.

  • Cathedral Choristers
    • Rehearse: Wednesday, September 2, 5:45-7:00pm
    • Perform: Sunday, September 9, 9:30am
  • Cathedral Choir
    • Rehearse: Wednesday, September 2, 7:00-9:00pm
    • Perform: Sunday, September 12, 9:30am
  • Mundus
    • Rehearse: Tuesday, September 8, 7:00-9:00pm
    • Perform: Sunday, September 13, 11:30am
  • Cherubs
    • Rehearse: Wednesday, September 9, 5:30-6:00pm
  • Children’s Choir
    • Rehearse: Wednesday, September 9, 6:00-7:00pm
  • Juventus
    • Rehearse: Wednesday, September, 9, 7:15-8:30pm
    • Perform: Sunday, September 27, 4:30pm

God Is With Us

In July 2013, Pope Francis gave a homily highlighting three “simple” attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy. Recognizing that difficulties are present in the life of every individual and all communities, we are invited to kindle these three attitudes in life.

Hopefulness: “In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life… I would like to say forcefully: always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! The ‘dragon,’ evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope!”  
We are invited and challenged to identify the ways we are drawn away from trust and hope, and to let go of our need for control. There are times in each of our lives that we become discouraged. There are experiences that challenge us all. Let us recognize these experiences and moments, and remember that we do not have to deal with them alone. God gives us what and who we need, when we need it. God is with us.

Openness to being surprised by God: “Anyone who is a man or woman of hope…knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and surprises us….But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God!” 

We are invited and challenged to find ways to continually draw nearer to our God, to nurture and deepen our relationship with God as individuals and as a community. Once again, we are asked to let go of our need for control—to yield to the ever present goodness of God. Ultimately, we are asked to accept the incredible reality that we are God’s beloved, and God cares deeply for us. 
The simplicity of this request belies the challenge often experienced in living it out. It is amazing how many ways we find to doubt our own goodness or the goodness of another. There seems like endless ways we build walls between ourselves and God, between ourselves and our neighbor. So often, we place our trust in material and worldly powers—actively creating facades of protection that separate our selves from God’s reconciling and healing love. God is with us, and will surprise us—if we trust and open our eyes to see. 

Living in joy: “If we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new life that Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts, and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy…If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will ‘lighten up’ with a joy that spreads to everyone around us.” 
We are invited and challenged to accept the profound gift of God’s love in our day-to-day life and embrace joy. As a spiritual discipline, joy is a powerful attitude that goes beyond the familiar experience of being happy. Our faith is full of sacred stories of people who have experienced deep trials and tribulations, yet emit joy. We may know people in our lives who have many struggles and hardships, yet radiate a deep joy. The joy appears to come from someplace deep—beyond the realities we can see. It is not simply a happiness. Perhaps we have had glimpses of this in our lives, as well. Once again, we are invited to let go of control—finding ways to choose joy, and let go of fear, resentment, or an attitude of competitive scarcity.

Our invitation and our challenge is to live a faithful life that puts our hope in God, recognizes the daily gifts of God’s love, and thereby finding joy amid the realities of everyday life. 

What do you need to grow in these three simple, yet profound, attitudes? How does The Basilica community support you in your growth? How do you support others? As we live as people of God, rooting our hopes and expectations in our faith, let us focus our lives on these attitudes and grow in love together. 

 

The Basilica of Saint Mary aspires to be a home of spiritual nourishment, a beacon of hope, and an advocate of change. It takes the participation of all our parishioners, visitors, and friends to make this aspiration a reality.

But sometimes, we physical barriers make it difficult to actively participated in an organization, helping toward that aspiration can prove difficult.

Therefore, in order to continue to invite of visitors into full participation in our liturgies and services, we are working hard to break down the most common barriers.

Starting this summer, The Basilica has increased its number of listening/hearing devices from 17 to 24.

You may ask an usher for assistance on obtaining a listening device. 

In order to continue to provide this service to our community, we kindly ask that the devices are returned after each service. Devices can be given to any usher on your way out of the church.

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072615.cfm 

Our Gospel this Sunday is the story of the feeding of the 5,000.   Perhaps because this is one of the few incidents that is recorded in all four Gospels, the story is very familiar.   We are told that Jesus was concerned about feeding the large crowd that had been following him.  He asked Philip:  “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”  Philip answered him:  ‘Two hundred days wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.’”  Andrew then said to him: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many.”   Jesus had the crowds recline, then he took the loaves and fishes gave thanks and distributed them to the crowd and “when they had their fill, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’  So they collected them and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.”  

There are at least three things that are worth noting in this Gospel.  1.  Jesus starts with what is at hand.   He could have performed this miracle without using the boy’s bread and fish, but he chose to use the five barley loaves and two fish that were at hand.   2.  The disciples “discounted” the loaves and fish.  “But what good are these for so many.”  3.  There was an abundance left over: “twelve wicker baskets” were filled with the fragments that were left over.    Taken together I think these things remind us that when God works in our lives/world he can and does work with what is at hand --- even though to us it might not seem like much --- and produce abundant results.  

Our first reading this Sunday God shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it, God, working through the prophet Elisha, feeds a multitude of people with twenty barley loaves.  “For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’ And  when they had eaten, there was some left over as the Lord had said.” 

We continue to read from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians for a second reading this Sunday.  In the section we read this Sunday Paul urges the Ephesians “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. How often to you ask God to do something for you, instead of asking God to help you do something?
  2. Have you ever felt God working in your life and producing abundant results?  
  3. What does it mean for you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received?  

Three weeks ago I was in Belgium for a Mass celebrated on the one year anniversary of my beloved auntie’s passing. As I was not able to attend her funeral I was grateful to be with my family for this Mass. My auntie was quite extra-ordinary. As is somewhat the norm in my family she was an incredibly strong willed woman. And though it might sound cliché, she really did things her own way.

By the grace of God I spent some time with her mere weeks before her unexpected death. No-one would have ever guessed her to be 80 when seeing the two of us dancing the night away at my niece’s wedding. She rode her bike every day. She attended choir rehearsal every week. She loved to travel. And most importantly she loved her faith and was quite outspoken about it, ruffling feathers on more than one occasion. That is how I remember her: a beautiful, intelligent, sweet troublemaker.

Everyone called her Maddy. Her full name, however was Mary Magdalene. When I first learned her full name I was surprised that any mother would name her daughter after a notorious prostitute, albeit a repentant one. Being a nosy teenager I bluntly asked her about her name. She simply suggested I research the life of Mary of Magdala beyond what I was taught to believe.

I quickly discovered two schools of thought about Mary of Magdala. The churches in the East have always honored her as a great follower of Jesus and refer to her as the Apostle to the Apostles. The churches in the West have traditionally portrayed her as a repentant sinner. And to my youthful surprise both schools claimed biblical proof for their position.

The churches in the East base their belief on several important scriptural passages. Mary of Magdala stayed by Jesus even as he was dying on the cross (Matthew 27:55–56; Mark 15:40–41; John 19:25). She was also present when he was laid in the tomb (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47). Even more importantly, she was the first (John 20:1–10) or at least among the first (Matthew 28:1–8; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12) to arrive at the empty tomb. And, she was the first (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:14–18) or at least among the first (Matthew 28:9) to meet the risen Christ. Finally, it was Mary of Magdala who announced the resurrection to the apostles (John 20: 18).

The churches in the West have based their traditional understanding on four other Gospel passages. The unnamed sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet was said to be Mary of Magdala (Luke 7:36–50). She was also thought to be the unnamed adulteress who was saved by Jesus from stoning (John 8:3–11). The other two passages do name her and mention that she was healed by Jesus of seven demons (Luke 8:1–3 and Mark 16:9). These demons were believed to be the seven deadly sins, with lust being one of them. Though none of these theological conjectures are supported by current biblical scholarship, they sealed the fate of Mary of Magdala as a repentant sinner for centuries. Today, the churches in the West have joined those in the East in celebrating Mary of Magdala as a woman of strong faith, first witness to the resurrection and Apostle to the Apostles.

This week we celebrate the feast of Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles and with her we celebrate all the women who make up our church. Most especially those who ruffle the occasional feather as they carry on in the tradition of Mary of Magdala as the Apostle to the Apostles.

After my research I sat down with my aunt to share my findings. She smiled and simply said “good.” I knew exactly what she meant.

 

A while back, I started praying the rosary again. Now, I never really abandoned the rosary, I just didn’t pray it on a regular basis. What got me started again, though, was my driving. Recently, I noticed that when I was driving, my irritation with other drivers had begun to move more toward anger. When I realized this, I decided I needed to do something about it. I tried turning off the radio and reciting some scripture verses, but after a few minutes, I found my attention wandering, and I was right back to criticizing other drivers. So, I decided to go back to the tried and true and started saying the rosary. And lo and behold, it has helped.

Now I’d like to tell you that my irritation level while driving has been reduced to zero, but that hasn’t happened. I still get irritated with other drivers, but when that happens I say the next Hail Mary for whatever driver irritated me. And when I do that, I can feel my irritation slipping away.

There is something about the cadence of the rosary that is soothing to my mind and my soul. I don’t have to think, I just have to let the Hail Mary’s, Glory Be’s, and Our Father’s carry me. As the beads slip gently through my fingers and I feel the soft weight of the rosary in my hand, I experience a definite comfort and a sense of peace. What is especially appealing about the rosary for me, though, is its portability. You can pray the rosary anywhere and at any time. And if push comes to shove, and you don’t have a rosary handy, you can always use your fingers to count the Hail Mary’s. The only problem I have is that I get the Joyful, Glorious and the Luminous mysteries confused. So, for now, I am using just the Sorrowful mysteries.

Now, like most forms of prayer, the rosary has some strong advocates and promoters, as well as some critics. My grandmother Degnan was a great advocate of the rosary. She prayed the rosary daily for her grandchildren. And if we were experiencing any difficulties, she doubled her efforts on our behalf. I know I was the recipient of untold decades of the rosary during my college years. As an added bonus—from my grandmother’s perspective—the rosary was a great non-medicinal aid to sleep. She would start a rosary when she went to bed, and invariably she would fall asleep with the rosary in her hand. And if she woke up in the night, as she often did, she would pick up saying the rosary right where she left off.

The rosary is a great form of prayer for some people, but I realize it is not for everyone. The important thing, though, is not how we pray, but that we pray. Prayer helps us to lift our minds and hearts to God and open ourselves to God’s will and work in our lives. Prayer can comfort us, challenge us, guide us, inspire us, enlighten us, and empower us. It can help decrease our stress levels, reduce our tension, and—while driving—can even calm our irritation or anger.

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071915.cfm 

In our Gospel last Sunday Jesus sent his disciples out two by two to preach and heal in this name.  In this Sunday’s Gospel we are told that when they returned: “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  He said to them ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’”   Unfortunately the crowds discovered where they were going and “arrived at the place before them.”    When Jesus saw the vast crowd “his heart was moved with pity for them for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  

Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, knew that his disciples were tried after their missionary journey.  He also knew they probably needed to debrief and to talk about what had happened.  He responded to this need by telling them to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”   In a similar way, when we are tired and overwhelmed Jesus still invites us to come away to a deserted place and rest with him.  Unfortunately, too often we fail to respond to Jesus’ invitation and thus don’t find the rest and refreshment he wants to give us.  

Our first reading this Sunday from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, promises to care for his people: “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord.”   

In our second reading this Sunday from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, Paul reminds us that Christ came to establish peace and to end divisions and hostility. “For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 

  1. Many people find retreats or days of reflection places where they have experienced rest and refreshment in Christ?  When and/or where have you found rest and refreshment in Christ? 
  2. Have you experienced Christ, the Good Shepherd, caring for you?  
  3. Where do you need to experience Christ’s peace in your life?   

As prime travel season is upon us, I am reminded of a trip I took many years ago to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Santiago is Spanish for Saint James, one of the 12 disciples. Compostella is a derivation of the Latin: Campus Stellae or ‘field of stars.’ The origin of the name for Santiago de Compostella goes back to the middle ages. Legend has it that after his death, the disciples of St. James brought his body to Spain for burial. When the location of his burial site was lost to history, some shepherds noticed strange lights or stars in a field. Upon further investigation they discovered that the stars pointed to the place of burial of St. James. A church was erected over his tomb. As the news of the miraculous discovery and the many miracles worked there spread throughout Europe, Santiago de Compostella quickly became an important place of pilgrimage and the original church was replaced with the current monumental Cathedral. 

During the Middle Ages, people made their way to Compostella from all over Europe. Dozens quickly became hundreds and hundreds became thousands. Pilgrims came from Italy, France, Northern Europe and the British Isles. Soon, paths were formed like walking trails in forests. Those paths became the official route to take and refuges and churches were built along the road. These were mostly tended by religious communities who provided pilgrims with food, water, rest, and spiritual care if needed.

A pilgrim coming from Great Britain started out by walking to the crossing at Dover. Once in France, he or she picked up the French pilgrims’ way, which went to the French-Spanish border in the Pyrenees. There the pilgrim connected with the Spanish portion of the route. These pilgrimages could take many months depending on one’s place of departure. Regardless of its length, the journey was never easy. Bad weather, hunger, sickness, and burglary were all part of the course. It took extraordinary dedication or even an ecclesiastical obligation such as a penance for committed sins to go on this kind of pilgrimage.

Today the pilgrimage is popular, again. True pilgrims still walk to Santiago. And though the circumstances are better, bad weather, occasional hunger, thirst, sleeplessness, illness, and even burglary make the journey very real. Less dedicated pilgrims may take to riding a horse or a bike, driving a car, riding in a bus or even taking the plane. I am sad to say that we took the easy route and rode in a luxury coach. Yet regardless of one’s mode of transportation, everyone’s goal is to make it to Compostella—the Field of Stars. 

This pilgrimage is a metaphor for our entire Christian journey. Some of us get to Compostella, the place of light, with the speed of an airplane, maybe even sitting in first class seats. Others take a slower, yet still direct route to Compostella. And some are rather circuitous about their journey. They may start in England, make it to France, take a detour through Italy and finally arrive at the gates of Compostella.
Similarly, our journey to oneness with Christ may take a long time and a less than direct path. Others take a more direct and quicker route. We all make this journey on our own terms and according to our own spiritual compass, though we share the same goal: getting to the field of stars; touching the light; becoming one with Christ. 

Most of us will never make the trip to Compostella, but many of us have our own Compostella, our own field of stars, our own place of pilgrimage. For Minnesotans this is often a favorite place by a lake or in the woods where we can find rest and peace and reconnect with God and one another. Should you find yourself there on a rainy day and wanting to watch a movie I recommend “The Way.” This film tells the story of Santiago de Compostella beautifully. It also speaks to the journey each one of us is taking. May this summer’s journey bring renewal of body, mind, and soul to all of us.

 

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