Archives: November 2015

The Basilica of Saint Mary kicked off its 21st Annual Icon Festival during Mass November 1 at the Basilica. Icons are borrowed from various locations throughout the Twin Cities and displayed in the sanctuary during the month of November. For more details about the Icon Festival, visit us here

  • Cross and candles enter the Basilica.
    Photo provided by: 
    Stacy Glaus
    The cross and candles enter the Basilica, leading the Icon procession Nov. 1, 2015.
  • Volunteers wait in the narthex of the Basilica before the Icon procession.
    Photo provided by: 
    Stacy Glaus
    Volunteers wait in the narthex of the Basilica before the Icon procession Nov. 1, 2015.
  • Photo provided by: 
    Kim Vrudny
    Icons adorn the altar during the Icon Festival, Nov. 1, 2015.
  • Photo provided by: 
    Stacy Glaus
    Icons are carried in during Mass Nov. 1 marking the beginning of the 21st annual Icon Festival.

This September, my dad lost a friend to cancer. Of his three closest friends, only one, Gene, is still living. But Gene deals with serious physical and mental challenges after a stroke two years ago. My dad turned 62 at the end of the month, and it isn’t easy seeing him endure sadness as he said “good-bye” to each one who passed too young. As we all inevitably get older, the numerical definition of “young” seems to increase.

It makes me appreciate my parents. And also appreciate time. Ten years ago, I did not give a second thought to clocking 60 or even 70 hours in the office in a given week. I did not worry about what weekend might be ideal for a visit to the family farm in South Dakota. We made it to Mass most Sundays, deciding in a pinch between the 11:30, 4:30, or 6:30 options. We stayed up late, and slept in on the weekends. Then we had kids. 

Even without that change, life got busy and there is always great pressure on the calendar. As I watch my youngest grow, I see that these moments are fleeting. Time has become increasingly precious and I now understand that time is the most generous gift we can give.

When I consider this idea, it makes me that much more grateful for what I’ve witnessed as a staff member at The Basilica over the past 15 years. 

I’ve seen worshippers giving their precious weekend time, receiving so much as they give their evening, morning, or afternoon to The Basilica. Thousands come together to sing, pray, and break bread each and every week. This makes for a beautiful collective experience, inspiring and preparing us for the week ahead and their participation shapes The Basilica community with its beautiful diversity.

I also witness our Basilica staff invest themselves, and generously share their time and talents, lending to The Basilica experience. Your Basilica is supported by a staff that does not “punch a clock.” I have seen them sacrificially share their talents and time to ensure all that we love about The Basilica continues to grow. 

In a quick glimpse, I have witnessed volunteers giving their time without hesitation. Specifically, I have seen a block party committee member sorting trash from recycling from the inside of the dumpster. I have seen the chair of The Basilica Landmark gala vacuuming the undercroft to ensure it was presentable for morning donuts after 7:30am Mass. I have seen leadership as our board planned for the next ten years of our organization. I have seen employment coaches come to the door week after week to meet with a new client to help them find a solid job. I have seen a room full of volunteers stuff envelopes, address and stamp letters to invite parishioners to support our parish. I have seen teachers smile as they welcome a room full of 3-year-olds to Good Shepherd faith formation.

And I am one staff member. Just imagine the collective impact across all ministries and departments!

We need this commitment, and we also need the commitment of our parishioners to share their financial gifts. Again this fall, we ask you to consider making a financial stewardship pledge to The Basilica to ensure that the good work The Basilica does in our community continues to save and change lives. These good works come to life in the ministry of our volunteers and staff. 

Your prayerful generosity will help us show love and acceptance to all who come to our doors. All of this time given by each of you creates all we love about The Basilica. If how we spend our time reflects our values, you have shown you care deeply about The Basilica. Thank you for all you give—your time and your financial gifts. Blessings have flourished through your generosity, and those blessings will continue to impact those in our community for years to come.

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

Our Gospel this weekend comes in two sections.  In the first section Jesus criticized the scribes “who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.  They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers.”   

The second part of today’s Gospel is the story of the “widow’s mite.”   A “poor widow put in two small coins, worth a few cents.   Jesus praised her because the others “contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”   Many years ago I heard a speaker use this parable as an example of the difference between “justice” and “love.”   He said “justice” is when we share from our surplus; “love” is when we share from our substance.   I’ve never forgotten what he said.  I still struggle to give from my substance and not just from my surplus.  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the first Book of Kings.  It is the story of Elijah the prophet visiting the town of Zarephath.   He asked a widow to bring him a cup of water and some bread to eat.  She replied that she only had a “handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug.”   Elijah told her not to worry, and then made a promise in the name of the “Lord, the God of Israel, that the jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”  As a result the widow and her son were able to “eat for a year.”  

We continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews in our second reading this Sunday. In the section we read this Sunday, we are reminded that “Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”   

Questions for reflection/discussion:

  1. The scribes weren’t the first, nor were they the last, to use religion as a pretext for their sometimes corrupt actions.   What can we do to prevent this? 
  2. I’ve met a few people who remind me of the widow in today’s Gospel, but only a few.  Why is it so hard for us to give from our “poverty?”  
  3. How would you explain Christ “dying for our sins” to a non-Christian?