Archives: March 2016

Join the Pack!

More than 200 volunteers needed to help feed hungry children in North Minneapolis

Volunteers of all ages are invited to join our assembly line to pack snack packs for hungry children attending the Summer SLAM (Science, Language, Arts, and Math) program at our sister parish, the Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis. These food packs will help bridge hunger gaps over the summer break, especially for those who rely on lunches at school throughout the year.

These one-hour volunteer shifts will also include placemat decorating, a fun activity for even the youngest volunteer. Logistics and coordination volunteers are also needed. Please register for a time slot after your preferred Mass time. This event is sponsored by The Basilica’s St. Vincent de Paul ministry and Hands on Twin Cities.

 

Photo of Divine Mercy Icon

Divine Mercy

A few years ago, one of our parishioners asked if he might donate an image of the Divine Mercy to The Basilica. Not entirely sure what he had in mind I was a bit hesitant. In the end, his persistence and my reluctance paid off and we now have a beautiful Icon of The Divine Mercy by Deb Korluka, our Basilica Iconographer.

This Icon usually hangs in the St. Joseph Chapel but during the Easter Season it hangs from the Pulpit in the Basilica.

The Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis caused me to ponder the mystery of mercy a little further. I was delighted to have the opportunity to be in Rome for the opening of the Holy Year on December 8, 2015. When, at the end of Mass he opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica all of us gathered in St. Peter’s Square burst out in applause. And what a joy to see so many people pass through our Holy Doors when we opened them.

 Recently I preached a mission on mercy in a California parish. I reluctantly accepted never having preached a mission. In the end, the experience turned out to be a gift from God. Not only did this commitment force me to think even more deeply about mercy I had to speak about it in a compelling way.

What I discovered is that our common use of the word mercy does not do the complexity and depth of God’s mercy justice. Hebrew, Greek and Latin do a better job of it. The Hebrew Bible uses two words for mercy: hesed and rachamim. Hesed is the kind of mercy that is strong, committed and steadfast. Rachamim which has the same root as rechem or womb conveys gentleness, love and compassion. The Greek word for mercy, eleos is related to elaion meaning oil thus suggesting that mercy is poured out like oil and has the healing qualities of oil.  The Latin word for mercy, misericordia means broken heart. It suggests that God is broken hearted about our failings and wants nothing more than to help.

Every day of the year, especially on Sundays we celebrate the richness of God’s mercy most especially as it was revealed to us in Jesus Christ. He embodies God’s enduring love and limitless mercy for us. It is this image of the merciful Jesus that is depicted in the Divine Mercy Icon.

 As we contemplate this Icon during the Year of Mercy let us give thanks for the mercy God has shown us. And in turn let us show mercy to one another. Mercy given and mercy received, that ought to be the motto of all Christians.

The Cross adorned with Yellow Roses

Learning to Let Go

The Easter season has always been a highlight for me in my faith but this year is a bit different. It seems a little weird to be talking about Lent but that is where it all began for me.  Usually when Lent rolls around, I often think of things I could “give up” but mostly, I think about things I can do extra, like more time in prayer. But the past few years I have begun Lent asking God to show me what God wanted of me and what God wanted me to learn and how to grow spiritually. Well, I might have to stop this practice as each of the last few years, God has very actively led me where God wanted me to be and had me learn exactly what I needed to learn! This has not been easy because, you see, I have this will to do things my way and not have anything or anyone interfere with my “plan for living.” And each Lent I have asked myself, “Is this the way for me to go through Lent?” It would be so much easier for me to just give up soda or fast longer and give more alms. Don’t get me wrong…I am not saying these things aren’t good Lenten practices. All I am saying is that for me this is what God has led me to do. 

As I traveled through my own Lenten journey, I was also joined with our RCIA catechumens and candidates. This is always something special for me as they draw their strength from the various scriptures and share their insights into the stories of Jesus and his encounters with many different people in the gospels. They feel supported and loved by our community through your prayers and notes to them, which leaves me feeling inspired on my Lenten journey, too.

Also, and most importantly, God has very clearly been showing me where in my life I needed to clean out the closets of my soul. I knew there were some things that needed rearranging, but God wanted me to clean them out to make more room for God’s love in my life. What a gift this awareness has been. It is not easy letting go of some of these things, like my will or my selfishness or my pride. And they will undoubtedly still pop back up in my life, and sometimes, everyday. But at least I am more aware of when they do and I pray that God will continue to increase my awareness.

This “letting go” has allowed me to be more aware of the needs of others, especially, others’ need for mercy. After all, this year is the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis.  And today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. There are some days that have been better than others. It seems that when I am less open to this process, the more I am faced with instances where my heart needs to grow bigger and my pride needs to lessen quite a bit. And then there are those days in which my faith falls short and I need a bigger God because the things I have done or not done have limited God’s love and mercy in my life. 

At the end of this long journey of Lent comes the moment of resurrection. We are graced because we know the ending to Lent. We know that death is not final. We know the power and strength of the resurrection. And we can rest and delight in the joy of Jesus truly risen within our hearts.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040316.cfm

Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Although our first and second readings for this Sunday follow our three year cycle of readings, the Gospel is always Jn. 20: 19-31 --- the story of Thomas.  

I have always felt a great deal of sympathy for poor Thomas.   He didn’t believe the other disciples when they told him that Jesus had been raised from the dead and had appeared to them.  As a result, forever after he was known as “doubting” Thomas.   Now I don’t know that I can completely restore Thomas’ reputation, but I’d like to offer two thoughts in his defense.   First, it seems to me that the other disciples couldn’t have been very effective witnesses if they couldn’t convince Thomas that they had encountered the risen Lord.  Certainly the idea of someone rising from the dead was unprecedented, but the disciples couldn’t have been very persuasive if they couldn’t convince Thomas --- a man who had been in their company for three years --- that Jesus had been raised from the dead.   Second, I don’t know that doubt is such a bad thing.   In fact, I think doubt is an ingredient of faith.  I say this because you can’t have doubt if you don’t have (at least some) faith.   More importantly, though, out of Thomas’ doubt came the first statement of Easter faith:  “My Lord and my God.”  

Our first reading today is taken from the Acts of the Apostles.  It recounts the beginnings of the apostles’ ministry, which was a continuation of Jesus’ mission and ministry.  In this reading we are told “Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women were added to them.”  

Our second reading today is taken from the Book of Revelation.   We will be reading from this book for the next five weeks.  It is important to remember that the Book of Revelation is “apocalyptic” literature.  It is not meant to be taken literally.  Rather, apocalyptic literature is filled with vivid imagery and symbolic language.   It was written during a time of trial or distress and it was meant to encourage and offer hope in the face of trials and suffering.  It also reminded people to remain firm in their faith.   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Do you think doubt is a bad thing?
  2. Have you ever tried to convince someone of something only to have them doubt you?  Did they ever come to believe you?  
  3. If you encountered someone who read the Book of Revelation literally, what would you say to them?  

On Holy Thursday, March 24, Pope Francis formally named Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda as the new leader of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. 

Archbishop-Designate Hebda has been serving as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese since June 15, 2015. During that time, he has also been serving the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, as Coadjutor Archbishop, and was scheduled to replace Archbishop John J. Myers when he is expected to retire in July.

The son of Bernard and the late Helen Clark Hebda, the Archbishop-Designate Hebda was born on September 3, 1959 in Pittsburgh, PA. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1989 in St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. His Episcopal ordination took place on December 1, 2009. 

In addition to serving the Archdioceses of Newark and Saint Paul and Minneapolis, he was Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan and has served at the Vatican and in parishes in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Archbishop-Designate Hebda’s Installation Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. An evening prayer service will be held at The Basilica on Thursday, May 12 at 7:00pm in The Basilica.

To learn more about this exciting announcement, please visit www.TheCatholicSpirit.com/newabp and www.archspm.org/newabp.

Holy Saturday is one of my favorite days. I like to arrive at The Basilica before the hustle and bustle of the Easter preparations begins. The cross we venerated the night before is still laid out on purple pillows, covered with rose petals strewn from the dome. The air is heavy with the smell of incense and the aroma of scented oil. And above all, everything is perfectly still. This silence is not a dead silence, rather it is a silence filled with the promise of new life.  It is a silence rich with anticipation and hope.

Bathing in the early morning light that pierces through the stained glass windows and dances on the receptive limestone walls I sit for but a few moments and let my mind wonder, inevitably guided by an icon and a homily which is sometimes ascribed to Pope Gregory the Great .

The icon depicts the risen Christ who broke the doors of hell with his victorious cross and opened the gates to paradise. Beneath his feet the dead are slowly coming to life. Most prominent among them are Adam and Eve, the first among the dead. Jesus, the new Adam holds on to the hand of the old Adam and prepares to lead him out of Hell. Adam in turn reaches for Eve’s hand and brings her along. And everyone else in Hell reaches for Adam and Eve. Thus all those who were asleep in death now are brought to new life.

According to the author of the ancient homily, Jesus said to Adam: “for you are in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.” The old Adam and the new Adam have once again united. That was the ultimate mission of Jesus: “God became human so that humans might become like God” as so many ancient bishops wrote. This uniting of heaven and earth, of God and humans is the essence of the Easter message. We are all one because God became one of us so we might become like God. And God unites us all no matter who we are or where we are and invites all of us to be more like God.

Those who are imprisoned by poverty, addiction and prejudice are invited to break free. Those who promote the darkness of racism, sexism, religious extremism are challenged to a change of heart and to come into the light. And ultimately those who are asleep in death are called to new life. This resurrection challenge the risen Christ places before all of us on Easter is not an easy task but it is what we are asked to do as Christians: we are called to break barriers, to set people free, and ultimately to celebrate and protect all life.

The silence on Holy Saturday is short lived as our many volunteers and   those who will receive the Easter Sacrament start to arrive.  If Holy Saturday is my favorite day, the talk I share with those who will join the church during the Easter Vigil is my favorite talk of the year. These women and men have been on a very intentional journey for months and sometimes much longer. They have prayed, studied, and shared many things with one another. And now they are ready. Their faith and commitment, their hope for the future and their love for God and one another embody what Christ asks of us today: to believe in Him and to imitate Him. Their excitement is exhilarating. Being with them reminds me of an ancient hymn used on Easter Sunday when those who were baptized the night before enter into the church:

These are the lambs, newly baptized,

Who proclaim the glad tidings: Alleluia

Recently come to the waters,

And full of God’s light and splendor. Alleluia, Alleluia.

May God’s light and splendor which shines so brightly in the new members of our community invigorate all of us so we can go forth from our Easter celebrations with a new resolve to be the much needed light for the world. Thus we will become like God as God has ordained for us for God is in us and we are in God.

Blessed Easter to all.

For many years now at the conclusion of Lent on Good Friday, we have held a Tenebrae Service. We have also invited one of the Rabbis from Temple Israel to join us for this service. The reason for this is that in the history of our Church, Christians have been especially cruel to Jews, often blaming them for the death of Jesus. If not actively encouraging this erroneous belief, the Catholic Church often kept silent in the face of it. This attitude continued until the church Fathers of the Second Vatican Council produced a document called Nostra Aetate (in our age), which dealt with the relationship between Catholics and other religions. One of the most important statements in the document is the declaration that “the Jews” are not to be blamed for the death of Jesus. On the contrary, Christians are to respect Jews as their elders in the faith. They are one ones with whom God entered into the Abrahamic Covenant in which we share. 

Given the above, we invite a rabbi from Temple Israel to speak to us on this most sacred day in our Christian liturgical calendar so that we might emphasize that Jews and Christians both claim Abraham as our father in the faith and both of us enjoy a covenant with God. We differ greatly in our faith, but we are profoundly united in that we all worship the Creator of the Universe. 

At the Tenebrae service each year we also take up a collection. The proceeds from this collection help fund the interfaith efforts and activities of the Downtown Clergy and Congregations.       

If you've never attended a service at The Basilica between Palm Sunday and Easter, we encourage you to get to know each service and why you'll want to attend each one.

Planning your arrival
Throughout Holy Week, traffic on 17th Street will flow North only to ease congestion and provide more space for those parking on the street. Please watch for pedestrians crossing and use slower speeds on this road.

Parking
There are plenty of places to park but we encourage you to plan for extra time to find parking. 

Holy Thursday - Good Friday
Free parking
Free parking is available on 17th Street on both sides of this one-way street. Parking may also be available in the lots to the west and north of The Basilica school and on the north side of Laurel Ave. 

Free parking is also available for all evening services during Holy Week in the parking lot under the freeway. Please note: all spots marked "24 Hour Reserved" or "Reserved" are reserved for nearby businesses and residents, not guests to The Basilica. 

Handicapped Parking
Available in the Cowley lot off 16th Street and throughout The Basilica campus, as marked. Please display your permit.

Pay-to-Park

o    Minneapolis Community & Technical College Ramp (east side of church, entrance located off Laurel Ave) 
      o  $5.00 for all-day parking; accepts credit cards

Holy Saturday - Easter Sunday

Free parking
o    Free parking is available on 17th Street. This street will be available for one-way, northbound traffic only beginning on Good Friday, March 25 through Easter Sunday, March 27. 
o    Parking may also be available in the lots to the west and north of The Basilica school.
o    Parking lot under the freeway (west side of church, entrance located off 17th Street) 
o    Minneapolis Community & Technical College Ramp (east side of church, entrance located off Laurel Ave) 

Handicapped Parking
Available in the Cowley lot off 16th Street and throughout The Basilica campus, as marked. Please display your permit.

Click on the icons on this interactive map to see exact details on parking locations and costs.

Did you remember to pick up and fill a coin bank to support our St. Vincent de Paul Outreach ministry during this Lenten season? If so, don't forget to return them to The Basilica on Holy Thursday. If you forget, simply drop off your bank to any usher who will place it into the collection.

If you were unable to get a bank but would still like a chance to donate, you can make a pledge to help those most in need in our city.

Five days a week at The Basilica, more than 70 St. Vincent de Paul Outreach volunteers welcome people from our neighborhood. They carry out this ministry by visiting with people and listening to their concerns and needs. We offer help in many ways, and when we can’t assist financially, these volunteers offer a listening ear, a warm welcome, and help connecting people to community resources. 

If you'd like to get involved, visit our volunteer section to learn more about how you can help us seek the well-being of this city to which we have been called to serve.

During the season of Lent we priests often help hear confessions at penance services in our respective parishes. Since I usually help at several different services, I sometimes find it expedient simply to leave my alb and stole in my car, rather than carrying them back and forth to the sacristy. While this is convenient, there is a drawback to it. Specifically, I discovered that by taking my alb to all those penance services and by keeping it in my car, and by sometimes dropping it in the parking lot on my way into a church, and by occasionally placing my shoulder bag and sundry other items on top of it, my alb easily becomes soiled and stained. As a result, one of my Lenten rituals is that sometime toward the end of Lent, I always wash my alb. I have discovered with a little bleach, my alb is restored to it pristine white color.   

Now I mention the above not only because a nice clean alb is not only a good way to end Lent, but it is also a good metaphor for me for Easter. You see, as Christians, we look to the season of Lent as a time for us to acknowledge our sins and failures and to recommit ourselves to the life of Christ that we took on through our baptism. My soiled alb always serves as a good reminder to me of my failures to live and act as a follower of Jesus. It speaks to me in a very real way of my need for Lent. Each year when I pull my nice clean alb from the washer, I am reminded of the new life Christ won for us through his death and resurrection, that is freely given to us, and that we celebrate on this great feast of Easter.  

At times it is easy for us to forget how important—how necessary—Easter is. Given this, we need to be reminded that not only does Easter celebrate Christ’s resurrection, but also it celebrates the fact that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the promise and offer of eternal life has been given to all believers.  

Truly the gift of eternal life is a wondrous and glorious gift. It is worthy of our most heartfelt thanks, and our most glorious celebration. As we gather today on the great feast of Easter my prayer is that our celebration might be an opportunity for us to remember how important this feast is, that it might be a time for us to celebrate anew our faith in Jesus Christ, and that it might be the occasion for us to renew our hope in the promise of eternal life, which has been offered to all believers.  

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