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Archives: September 2016
In this “Year of Mercy,” we are called to choose love first. Active love, not passive. Personally, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a time in my life when this concept has been easier to claim and admire but harder to live. Love? Yes. I’m on board. How can you argue against choosing love? It seems the hard part is living this calling in our full everyday lives. We live in a time when we feel like we have all the information at the tip of our fingers but instead of feeling enlightened, we are burdened by our realities. Perhaps this is why the knowledge that comes with age makes it difficult not just to choose love, but to even see it through these realities. Each day, when we read the headlines or face our own challenges, it can be really easy to become angry, jealous and bitter.
I find myself easily distracted, both by this busy life but also the heartache that surrounds us. I watch friends work tirelessly to give their families every opportunity they can afford but still come up short as they struggle to make ends meet. My heart breaks knowing of the inequity and the startling acts of violence that plague parts of our city. And as a parent, I’m terrified as school shootings are no longer shocking and we hear constant stories of children abused or abandoned. Day in and day out, Basilica staff members see the need as temperatures drop and our doorbells ring more often from those in need.
Yet in this grey area, and because of this, we must be active in choosing love. Our world needs it. When you witness those around you choosing to lead a lifestyle inspired by love, it creates ripples and inspires others to do the same. I see this everyday at The Basilica. Love is choosing to live a life of gratitude over anything else. It’s choosing charity over fear, giving of ourselves even when it’s hard, knowing that the fulfillment will make a difference.
I’ve seen this at The Basilica when a staff member shares their own lunch, a book or even some tissues with someone waiting outside as they make their way into the office. It’s the beauty of the human spirit when we see one another rise to the occasion, choosing love helping a stranger in need instead of passing by, or dropping everything to be there when a friend faces a loss. This is a lifestyle of generosity, and choosing active love.
This fall, The Basilica will ask you to participate in our Financial Stewardship campaign. This is an invitation for choosing active love as your gifts ensure that every day, our community will create justice and spread love through Basilica ministries that serve the unemployed, the grieving, the homebound, those dealing with mental illness, and those who simply need a caring, compassionate, listening ear.
We can do so much when everyone takes part. At The Basilica, stewardship pledges provide 81% of our operating budget. Every time we gather for Mass, send volunteers out with meals, gather children for religious education, and support families in times of grief or joy, someone’s gifts have made it possible. And each time these ministries or programs happen, love is spread throughout our community. And this love has ripple effects, and can make a difference as we face the real challenges we see each day.
I hope you will consider a 2017 pledge today, and be a part in this beautiful cycle of choosing love. You can pledge online, fill out a pledge form and mail it in, or bring it to Mass next weekend. You may also contact Stephanie Bielmas for answers to any questions you may have about supporting The Basilica.
Generosity truly is an act of faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100216.cfm
Our Gospel this Sunday comes in two sections. In the first section the disciples ask Jesus to “Increase our Faith.” Jesus told them: “If you have faith the size of a mustard see, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” In the second section of the Gospel Jesus, used the imagery of a servant and master to remind us that: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obligated to do.’” Both of these sections deserve comment.
For those who have never seen a mustard seed, it is indeed a very small seed. Several years ago at another parish we gave out mustard seeds at the beginning of summer and invited parishioners to plant them and bring them back at the end of summer to see how big they had grown. The seeds were so small that volunteers who taped them to 3 X 5 index cards complained that they nearly went blind doing so. At the end of the summer, though, the seeds had grown into large plants. Jesus used the image of the mustard seed to remind us that if we had faith even the size of a very small mustard seed, great things could happen.
Jesus was also clear that God is not obligated to do things for us, or to give us heaven. God has established us in this world out of love for us, and God has given us charge over it. Our task, our obligation is to respond in love to God and do what God has commanded. If we do this, then God will respond to us in love, not out of obligation. Being a faithful disciple does not obligate God to do things for us. God does all that God does out of love for us.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk. In it the prophet laments God’s silence in the face of violence, ruin, misery, strife and discord. God responded clearly and forthrightly. “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint, if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” This reminds us that God is working even when we are not aware of it. We are called to wait patiently and in trust. This is part of what faith is all about.
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy. In it Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that we are called to persevere in faith in the face of adversity “with the strength that comes from God.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- What does having faith mean to you?
- How do you persevere in faith in the face of adversity or hardship?
- What would you say to someone who feels God is silent in the face of their prayer?
Fr. Tim Power, a founder of Pax Christi Catholic Community passed on September 21. Fr. Power was ordained a Catholic priest in May of 1966 and spent most of his ministry serving parishes in the Twin Cities area including The Basilica.
All are welcome to remember and celebrate Tim’s life. Visitation will be 2:00-7:00pm on Tuesday, September 27, at Pax Christi Catholic Community, 12100 Pioneer Trail, Eden Prairie, MN; vigil prayer at 6:30pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 4:00pm on Wednesday, September 28, at Pax Christi Catholic Community. Burial at Pleasant Hill Cemetery immediately following Mass. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Bridging or Pax Christi Pastoral Care Fund.
I wish God would be clear about what He wants me to do. These words were spoken by a friend of mine a few months ago when I was talking with him about a decision he needed to make. He went on to say that he had been praying and praying for guidance and direction and nothing was happening. He was feeling more than a bit frustrated. I knew there wasn’t anything I could say that would be very helpful, so instead I gave him a prayer by the late Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin entitled "Patient Trust." It begins with the words: Above all, trust in the slow work of God. I have used this prayer in my own life at times too numerous to mention. It has helped me to continue to move forward when clarity has been lacking, and I am feeling frustrated and confused.
I think clarity is something all of us have longed for at one time or another. It would be great if God gave us a clear set of expectations and directions for what we are to do in specific situations, instead of the generic: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Now certainly we also have the 10 commandments, but they tell us more what we aren’t supposed to do, rather then what we are supposed to do. Many times, though, and in various circumstances, the direction we should take or the decision we should make isn’t at all evident and we are left feeling confused, and praying for clarity.
Now, clearly knowing what we should do in specific situations would be much easier if we were faced with a choice between a bad thing and a good thing. Too often, however, our choices are between doing this good thing, or that good thing, or another good thing. In these instances clarity from God would certainly be welcome and would make our lives much easier. Why then, doesn’t God give us the clarity we often long for, especially when we are praying for this clarity with great sincerity?
I believe the reason God doesn’t give clear and specific direction to us despite our sincere and heartfelt prayers has to do with our free will. One of God’s great gifts to us is our free will. This gift allows us to make our own decisions and to set our own course in life. If we didn’t have free will, if God simply told us what to do, we would be automatons.
Our free will, though, allows us to make are own decisions both good and bad. Free will is one of the things that defines us as humans and sets us apart from the other creatures on our planet.
Does the above mean that we are left rudderless and on our own in regard to any guidance and direction from God as to how we are to live? Absolutely not. God is always offering us God’s grace. God does this, though, in subtle and gentle ways so as not to overwhelm us and negate our free will. And so, when we pray for clarity and guidance we need to trust that God’s hand is guiding us. Certainly it is not always easy to trust in the slow work of God. I am convinced, though, that it is the way that will ultimately bring us the clarity we seek.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092516.cfm
The Story of Lazarus and the rich man in this Sunday’s Gospel is very well known. Lazarus was a poor man “covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.” When he died “he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.” The rich man likewise died and “from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far-off and Lazarus at this side. And he cried out ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am suffering in torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad, …………Moreover between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’” The rich man tried to convince Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them, but Abraham replied: “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.”
I think there are three things this Gospel tells us. 1. It wasn’t that the rich man refused Lazarus’ request for assistance. Rather, even though he knew Lazarus by name, he didn’t notice Lazarus’ need. 2. The rich man thought only of himself. It never occurred to him to share his wealth with those who were less fortunate. 3. The rich man was in the netherworld, because of the choices he made in this life. In a similar way our choices in this life determine where we will spend eternal life. There are no “do overs” or second chances once we have died.
Our first reading this Sunday shares the theme of the Gospel. Speaking in God’s name the prophet Amos excoriates those who were indifferent to the needy. “Woe to the complacent in Zion! …………… Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.”
We continue to read from the first Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy for our second reading this Sunday. In the section we read this weekend, Paul encourages Timothy to “Compete well for the faith.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you come to realize after the fact that you failed to notice someone in need?
- Have you ever regretted some of the choices you have made that were selfish or self serving?
- How does one compete well for the faith?
The Basilica is pleased to welcome Randall Richard Rogers’ art exhibit through October 24. Rogers is a local artist specializing in large-scale graphite drawings. On Sunday September 18, drawings by Rogers will be showcased in the Teresa of Calcutta Hall. There will be a reception at 1:00pm and an artist’s talk following at 1:30pm.
Rogers works from a home studio and explores human and personal themes of Self-Discovery, Shame, Hope, Touch, and more. The graphite drawings offer the viewing two distinct experiences. From a distance, the drawings appear almost photographic, but upon closer look, an intimate sensation comes from the complexity and truth of each individual work. Rogers’ technique begins with a grid drawing and hours of complex and intricate strokes and outlines.
One of the core elements of our Basilica community is the mission and work of our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. In many ways, each member of our parish community is part of St. Vincent de Paul at The Basilica. Whether you volunteer, donate money, pray for the ministry, or simply live the mission in your caring response to our neighbors who are suffering—you are part of our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. We are all Vincentians.
Vincent de Paul faced challenges we can relate to. His life brought him both success and privilege. Yet he also experienced doubt and darkness. He came to intimately know we find Christ in the suffering and poor. He knew the joy and challenge of life choices that bring us toward Christ. Indeed, Vincentian spiritually invites us to see those who suffer as our teachers and mentors. Vincentians believe true religion is found among those who are often excluded—as we attend to their needs, they inspire us and evangelize us.
Vincent de Paul articulates five virtues that help us live the Gospel:
This is the virtue St. Vincent loved most. “It is my gospel,” he says. Hear how St. Vincent describes simplicity: “Jesus, the Lord, expects us to have the simplicity of a dove. This means giving a straightforward opinion about things in the way we honestly see them, without needless reservations. It also means doing things without any double-dealing or manipulation, our intention being focused solely on God.”
The Gospels teach the kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit. Provocatively: God resists the proud and raises up the humble. Vincent reminds us to stand before God humbly in our daily prayer, and have the attitude of a servant. Humility is understood as standing in awe and wonder. It is a stance where we can learn from everyone.
Meekness is often construed as weakness. Yet Jesus challenges—the meek will inherit the earth and find joy. St. Vincent takes this to heart and teaches that meekness develops as warmth, approachability, openness, deep respect for the person of others. Vincent tells us that he was irritable by nature. Continually, he implores God to change his heart: “Grant me a kindly and benign spirit…”
Surrender and Willing to Sacrifice
Jesus calls us to follow him even unto death. He asks us to die to sin daily. St. Vincent challenges us to be faithful to our duties of serving those who suffer—to the point we prefer them when they conflict with other more pleasurable things.
Vincent loved, with a burning love. “Let us beg God to enkindle in our hearts a desire to serve him…” We are called to persevere as servants of those who suffer—remembering always we are cooperating in the work of the Spirit. We must strive to live a balanced life, so that we might have the energy that nourishes zeal.
Together, we strive to grow in faith and live boldly the Gospel of love. We are all Vincentians.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091816.cfm
In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus tells the parable of the steward who was reported to his master “for squandering his property.” The master’s decision to dismiss the steward for his mismanagement would not have been surprising to the original hearers of parable. Being a steward was an important and prestigious position. An individual who failed to properly discharge the duties of this position deserved to be fired. The steward’s response to his impending termination was very interesting. He knew he was in a tough spot, so he “called in his master’s debtors one by one,” and reduced the amount they each owed his master. The parable ends with the enigmatic statement: “And the master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently.”
What are we to make of this parable? Was Jesus praising or endorsing the steward’s acts? I don’t think so. Rather, Jesus was commending the steward’s ingenuity, his resourcefulness in responding to a very difficult situation. The steward acted decisively and cleverly to assure a future for himself. The point of the parable, then, is that if the steward, who couldn’t have been all the smart to begin with (after all he squandered his master’s property) could act decisively and resolutely to ensure his earthly future, shouldn’t we as followers of Jesus act just as decisively and just as resolutely to ensure our eternal future.
The first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Amos. In this reading the Lord ominously promises never to forget those “who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!”
The second reading this Sunday is taken from the first Letter of St. Paul to Timothy. In this reading Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that prayer is to be an integral part of our lives: “in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- While I understand that this Sunday’s parable is encouraging us to be decisive and resolute in ensuring our eternal future, I’m not sure how to do this on a day to day basis. How do you see this played out in your life
- I am a bit unnerved at the message of the first reading that God will not forget those who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land. This doesn’t seem to square with our belief that God is love. How do you reconcile these two ideas?
- Do you believe you have an obligation to pray for others --- even people you don’t know, or worse that you don’t like?
Our building is big and our parish is large. It might feel overwhelming to know how to connect. It’s easy to come to Mass and leave without really getting to know anyone. Some parishioners have shared that they just don’t know how to get involved, or who to call. Are you wondering how to find your way in our parish?
Please know, there is a place for you at the Basilica and we’d love to help you make connections within our parish community. Your involvement and engagement make it possible for The Basilica to carry out its mission and to seek the well-being of the city.
Many people tell us once they got involved as a volunteer, they started to meet people and see them at church. Their initial involvement led to exploring other interests and opportunities, and making new friends. Some described it as a “snowball” effect. Once they got involved, it wasn’t long before The Basilica started to feel like their spiritual home.
The first step? Simply let us know you might be interested in getting involved:
- Contact Ashley Wyatt, our Volunteer Coordinator or if you know what you’d like to do, reach out directly to our staff.
- Check out ways to get involved online at mary.org/volunteer, or pickup a newsletter at church. You can look for current openings that fit your schedule, interests and availability.
If you want to get involved, but aren’t sure what you’d like to try, consider meeting with a volunteer from our Gifts Leadership Team. Their volunteer commitment is to meet with new members and help connect them to opportunities to get involved. You’ll get to know another parishioner, and learn more about the many ways to get involved tailored to your interests and availability.
Want to volunteer for a one time activity? Events and activities come up all year. You don’t have to make an ongoing commitment. We’ll advertise one time opportunities, like decorating for Advent and Christmas, the Parish Picnic, Basilica Block Party, Community Service Sundays and more. All you have to do is sign up when you are free to help. One time events are a great way to meet new people, and for families or groups of friends who want to volunteer together.
Coming to Mass on the weekend, and want to include volunteering in one trip? It takes hundreds of people to make our Liturgies happen. Often, commitments are once a month and happen at Mass or after. You’ll serve with a wonderful team of people and training is provided. Whether it’s helping greet people as they arrive at Mass, serving as a Eucharistic Minister, or helping serve donuts and coffee after Mass, there’s a place for you.
Consider joining one of our many Outreach Ministries, Refugee Committee or delivering Meals on Wheels. We need people to teach our children and adults about their faith, greet visitors at the Rectory, or join a choir. One volunteer team cooks and serves Sunday brunch monthly for our new members. Music lovers enjoy serving as concert ushers. Other volunteers take photos, write articles, and help with graphic design. Groups of volunteers help garden and mow the lawn.
All these opportunities and many more are critical to carrying our mission in the city. Just let us know your interests, and we’ll work with you to help find a fit for your availability, gifts and skills.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091116.cfm
It seems to be part of the human experience that at times we misplace or lose things. And losing something can be an annoying, and sometimes even a traumatic experience. In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus tells two familiar parables about people who have lost things --- a shepherd who has lost one of his sheep and a woman who has lost a coin. In the first case the shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep, and goes in the search of the one that has wondered away. In the second case, the woman lights a lamp and sweeps the house in a diligent search for her lost coin. And in both cases once the lost has been found a celebration ensues.
What are we to make of these parables? If we are honest, we need to admit that on the surface it makes no sense at all to leave ninety-nine perfectly good sheep and go in search of one that wondered away. It also seems odd to expend so much time and energy looking for one lost coin. The thing we need to remember about parables, though, is that they are meant to tell us something about God or something about our relationship with God. From this perspective these parables remind us that we are so important to God that if we wonder or stray, God doesn’t simply wait for us to come back. Rather God comes looking for us. God seeks us out. And when we allow ourselves to be found by God, it is cause for celebration.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Exodus. It is the story of the Israelites turning away from God and worshiping a golden calf. God says to Moses: “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.” In response, Moses acknowledged that the Israelites had strayed, but reminded God of the promise God had made to Abraham. As a result, “…… the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.”
Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy. In the section we read this Sunday, Paul, while acknowledging his sinfulness, also recalls God’s salvific will. “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Can you recall a time when you were lost? What do you remember about the experience?
- If you can remember what it was like to be lost, and then read these parables from that perspective, does that make a difference in regard to how you understand these parables?
- When have you found something that had been lost? What do you remember about the experience? What does that tell you about God finding us when we are lost?