Archives: October 2016

The Basilica of Saint Mary is honored to announce the Schola Cantorum, The Basilica’s chamber choir, has been invited by the Vatican to perform with the Sistine Chapel Choir at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the Closing Mass of the Holy Year Mercy celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday, November 20, The Solemnity of Christ the King.  

The Basilica Schola Cantorum will also sing during the Saturday, November 19 Mass in which Pope Francis will create 17 new Cardinals. Teri Larson, Director of Music has been asked to conduct the rehearsal with the Sistine Chapel Choir and the massed choir piece, Pilgrims’ Hymn by Stephen Paulus with 300 American singers to be performed at the Masses.

Join us for the Schola’s “bon voyage” concert entitled “Welcome Love” prior to their departure for Rome. The performance will feature the works of Anne Kilstofte, Francis Poulenc, Daniel Gawthrop, Abbie Betinis, and Alice Parker, among others.

The Schola Cantorum 
Bon Voyage Concert
Sunday, November 6, 2:00pm

I don’t know if I am the only one for whom it is true, but I am positively dangerous when it comes to using super glue. When I attempted to use it a few weeks ago the task seemed relatively simple. I was at my cabin and had forgotten to bring my reading glasses with me. I found an old pair of glasses, but the plastic nose guard had fallen off and needed to be glued back on. I found a tube of super glue in my junk drawer, read the instructions, and followed them precisely. I painstakingly cleaned the surface areas that were to be glued together. I next made a small hole in the top of the dispenser with a pin, and then I attempted to squeeze a small drop of the glue onto the bridge of the glasses where the plastic nose guard would be positioned. It was at this point that things began to go awry. 

Inadvertently, I squeezed out an extra drop of super glue, which landed on the kitchen counter. While I was able to quickly wipe it off with my hand, when I did so I hit the tube of super glue, which fell to the floor. As I picked up the tube of super glue, I must have squeezed it again because another few droplets oozed out. At this point my cell phone rang and startled me so that I dropped the plastic piece for the glasses which fell and stuck to my pants. As I reached for it, I discovered that my fingers had begun to adhere together. Realizing this was not a good thing, I pulled the plastic piece off my pants and turned on the hot water faucet in the sink. 

While waiting for the hot water to make its appearance, I discovered that the plastic piece was now adhering to my fingers. I reached for the soap and began to work the fingers of my hand with hot soapy water. My fingers soon came apart, but as they came apart the plastic piece also came loose. It popped up in the air, and although I made two valiant attempts to catch it, it slipped out of my soapy hand, and as you can probably guess, went right down the drain as if drawn by a magnet. Realizing that retrieval was not likely, I finished washing my hands and turned my attention back to the tube of super glue. Unfortunately, it had adhered to the kitchen counter. With a scrub brush and hot soap and water it took me about ten minutes to remove the tube and the super glue that had leaked out of it, from the counter. That evening I used the glasses, sans the plastic nose guard. The metal piece made an indentation on my nose that looked like someone had taken a divot out of my nose. Fortunately, it eventually disappeared, but not until mid-afternoon the next day. 

As I reflected on this experience later, I was struck by the idea that, at least in my life, super glue and sin have a lot in common. When I am using super glue, things that I never intended to stick together suddenly have bonded and become a single entity. In a similar way, often times without being aware of it, and certainly without intending it, I have discovered that sin has adhered itself to an area of my life. These moments of discovery are not pleasant and definitely not something of which I am proud. They remind me, though, how easy it is for sin to become a part of my life without my even realizing it is happening. Sin, like super glue forms a strong bond in certain areas of my life. And like my experience with super glue, once I am stuck in sin, it is not all that easy to get unstuck. I suspect something similar is true for most of us. Few of us intentionally set out to give sin a safe haven in our lives. What happens, though, is that sin begins to insinuate itself into our lives, and soon we discover that we are stuck. 

While it is difficult to live with the fact that sin has attached itself to our lives, there is some good news in this. You see, unlike things bound together with super glue, the hold that sin has on us can be easily broken by the power of God’s grace offered to us most generously and most particularly in the Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The power of God’s grace is no match for the hold that sin has on us. God’s grace breaks the hold of sin and restores us to right relationship with God. 

Sin and super glue do have a lot in common in my life. The major difference between them, though, is that in regard to sin we are never left on our own. God’s grace is there with us and for us, and if we allow it, it will help us become unstuck. Now if someone would only come up with something that would do the same thing with super glue, I would truly be a happy person.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/103016.cfm  

In our Gospel this Sunday we read the familiar story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector, but more importantly the chief tax collector and therefore a very wealthy man.   Since taxes were no more popular at the time of Jesus than they are today, Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, would have been held in low esteem, if not contempt, by the people of that time.  When it came to Jesus, though, Zacchaeus was not concerned about people’s opinion of him.   We are told that “he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.”  

When Jesus came to the spot where Zacchaeus was, he said:  “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”   People began to grumble at this, but Zacchaeus “stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.'"  Clearly the encounter with Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Wisdom.   It shares the theme of the Gospel in that it reminds people that:  “you (Lord) have mercy on all, because you can do all things, and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent…………………Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O Lord.”    The message of both the first reading and the Gospel is clear.  God wants the sinner to be saved and will give ample opportunity for people to turn away from their sins and back to God. 

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the second Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.    In the section we read today, Paul prays for the Thessalonians (and us) that “our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith…………”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Zacchaeus was unwilling to let his short stature keep him from Jesus.  What keeps you from Jesus?
  2. The encounter with Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life.  What changes might you need to make in your life in order for you to follow Jesus more closely?
  3. I love the image of God making us worthy of God’s calling, but how does God do this? 

Thanks to The Basilica Landmark, the St. Anthony Chapel is being restored. Like the Narthex and Sacristy, it’s completion will provide another preview of a church interior restoration. To learn more, visit thebasilicalandmark.org.

St. Anthony Chapel Restoration
Photo provided by: 
Leah Fogelberg
St. Anthony Chapel Restoration
Photo provided by: 
Leah Fogelberg

My fiancé and I are getting married at the end of this month. We couldn’t be more excited, but along with the excitement comes a fair amount of stress. There is the laundry list of decisions to make from flowers and photographers to meal choices and reception sites. Add in our families’ priorities of who should be invited and what they feel is nonnegotiable and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. 

Thankfully, when it came to picking where we would be married, the decision was simple, The Basilica. Yes it is a beautiful building, but more importantly it is our spiritual home. It is the place that we can go on Sunday feeling overwhelmed and leave feeling renewed. It is a place that over this past year has reminded me of what is truly important and that list does not include flowers and photographers. It is a community we are proud to be part of and proud to support. 

In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” We have experienced these words first hand at The Basilica.

For the past nine years I have seen on a daily basis what the generosity and mercy of this community makes possible each and every day.

As a parish member I have experienced the “less cold” on a Sunday evening in January when the temperatures are frigid outside but the church is filled with warmth and light. But I have also felt this on a hot summer day when my fiancé and I light a candle for a family member who is having medical issues.

I have seen the “more just” lived out as a staff member when my colleagues tirelessly provide comfort for those experiencing loss and sadness, through our grief ministry. Or our volunteers spend hours counseling individuals in our employment ministry for weeks and months until they have found jobs. 

I have felt the mercy and love of The Basilica community as a soon-to-be Basilica bride: from the support and counsel my fiancé and I have received from the learning office in our marriage prep to the liturgy team who has worked with us to ensure we have a beautiful faith-filled ceremony; as well as all the well wishes we have received from fellow parish members and volunteers that we have met from being part of this vibrant community.
These moments and so many more are not possible without each and every financial stewardship pledge we receive. With stewardship, as with mercy, a little bit goes a long way. Every time we live out our faith, meeting our neighbors with mercy, understanding and compassion, we radiate ripples of God’s love far beyond our doors. Sharing our blessings is where it all begins.

I hope you will consider a 2017 pledge today. 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. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102316.cfm  

In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus addressed a parable to "those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”  The parable begins:  “two men who went up to the temple to pray:  one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.”  The Pharisee with head unbowed prayed in this fashion:  ‘I give you thanks, O God, that I am not like the rest of men --- grasping, crooked, adulterous --- or even like this tax collector.   I fast twice a week.  I pay tithes on all I possess.’”    The tax collector, though, “kept his distance, not even daring to raise his eyes to heaven.  All he did was beat his breast and say, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’”  

The difference between these two people in terms of their prayer is striking.   The Pharisee was not so much praying as he was giving a report on his “supposed” goodness.  The tax collector, though, had a clear since of his own sinfulness and his need for God’s mercy.   His prayer was honest and heartfelt.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Sirach.   It shares the theme of our Gospel in regard to prayer.   It is clear that “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds, it does not rest till it reaches its goal.”   

In our second reading for this weekend, we continue to read from the second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy.   In it Paul writes very personally about feeling abandoned by those who whose support he had anticipated.   He also is clear, though, about his trust in God: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.  To Him be glory forever and ever.  Amen.” 


Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. I don’t think any of us would deliberately pay as the Pharisee did in our Gospel for this weekend.  (Few of us are that grandiose.)   I also don’t think that many of us pray as the tax collector did.  (Few of us are that honest.)   How do you approach God in prayer?
  2. How do you know when God has heard your prayer?
  3. Even though he felt abandoned, Paul was sure of God’s presence and grace.  Have you ever experienced God’s grace at a time when you have felt abandoned or betrayed.?    

In this year of Mercy, the Basilica decided to accept Pope Francis’ call to welcome refugees into our community and joined forces with Lutheran Social Services (LSS) to co-sponsor a refugee family. Last December we held a second collection to raise funds for the effort and our generous community donated enough money to support not only one but three refugee families.  It was an overwhelming response and we were truly blessed and inspired by the generosity of the community.  The refugee committee, composed of approximately 40 Basilica members, quickly got to work to prepare for the arrival of the first family, who arrived safely in February 2016.  Now, almost a full year into our efforts, the committee wanted to share how the funds have been used and the impact it has had on the families we’ve supported.

When co-sponsoring a family, the Basilica provides both financial and mentoring support to the family.  From a financial perspective, the primary way the Basilica helps the family is by paying their rent for the first six months.  When a refugee family comes to the United States, their housing is not subsidized and they are responsible for paying for their own housing.  Coming from a foreign country, many refugees struggle with English at first and it can be difficult to find a job with so many things to work through, especially in their first few months here.  During that time the family is trying to set up basic needs such as registering with the appropriate government offices, obtaining identification cards, getting their children enrolled in school and attending English as a second language classes.  Through the Basilica’s donation of the rent for the first six months, the family has some time to get things in order, search for work and save some money for future needs.  In addition to helping the family with rent, the Basilica also supports the family by providing basic clothing and household supplies.  Each family’s needs are different and varies somewhat based on their culture however, some common items that are provided are winter clothing for the parents and children and some household items such as a used vacuum cleaner, computer and television set to help the family adapt to their new life.

The second way the Basilica provides support to our refugee family is through a mentor team.  The key role of the mentor team is to help the family get acclimated to their new culture and to make sure the family knows that someone cares about their wellbeing.  The mentor team is made up of four parishioners who meet with the family about once a week, helping with various items.  These activities vary from family to family but some common themes have been helping the adults prepare their resume and fill out job applications, taking the family to the grocery store so they can buy food, helping the family budget for expenses, teaching the family how to navigate the bus system, and helping them obtain library cards at their local library.  The mentors also go on fun outings with the family taking them to places such as Como zoo and other local parks to expose them to the great things in our community. 

Thank you to everyone that has supported our efforts to co-sponsor a refugee family in this year of mercy.  The families are grateful to the Basilica community for our support and encouragement along their journey.  If you would be interested in learning more about the refugee committee and how you can get involved, please visit the Just Living blog at mary.org or contact Tracy Droessler at tracy.droessler@gmail.com.

Their Song Goes Out Concert-Saturday, October 15, 8:00pm 

"Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News!" -- Psalm 117

Join us for performances by The Basilica Cathedral Choir, The Basilica Brass and Organist, Christopher Stroh. Free and open to the public.

This is the concluding concert of The Basilica of Saint Mary’s 65th Anniversary Organ Concert Series.

All are invited to a festive concluding concert to The Basilica's year-long series celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Solemn Dedication of The Basilica’s “Centennial” organ on this date in 1950.

The Basilica Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Teri Larson, The Basilica Brass, and Basilica Organist Christopher Stroh will present “Their Song Goes Out,” a concert of musical offering in praise and thanksgiving to God through anthems, hymns, and music for brass and organ.

Featured composers include César Franck, Giovanni Gabrieli, Herbert Howells, Kenneth Jennings, Felix Mendelssohn, Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, Stephen Paulus, and Richard Proulx.    

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to join in singing great festival hymns led with the combined musical forces of brass, choir, and organ.

On the weekend that Mother Teresa was canonized by Pope Francis, I was listening to report on the radio it while I was getting ready to come to Church. As part of the report, an individual, who was critical of Mother Teresa being named a saint, was interviewed. In his comments he criticized Mother Teresa for what he termed her overly dogmatic views regarding abortion and other church teachings. As I listened I was incredulous that this individual would criticize Mother Teresa’s canonization because she believed in and adhered to our church’s teachings. It seems to me that in addition to living a virtuous and holy life, another important part of being named a saint in the Catholic Church is believing in our Church’s teachings. Since canonization is a specifically Catholic act, it would make no sense at all for our Church to canonize someone who didn’t believe in our Church’s teaching.

I believe that the timing of Mother Teresa’s canonization was fortuitous and probably not accidental. I say this because for many years now, our Church has designated October as Respect Life Month. During this month particularly, we are called to remember and give witness to our belief that because God is the author and source of life, all life is sacred. Our task—our challenge—is to seek to promote and enhance life at every moment and in every circumstance. Certainly this was something Mother Teresa did through the witness of her life.

Now in seeking to give witness to our belief in the sanctity of life I believe there are certain things about which we need to absolutely clear and unyielding. Six things come to mind.

  1. We need to be clear that there are not different categories or gradations of life—some that are more deserving of our respect than others. We need to be as respectful of the unborn life in the womb, as we are of the life that is being supported by machines. All life is sacred. There are not different levels of respect that we accord to the different stages or manifestations of life.
  2. Our respect for life is not based on what we are, or what we have, or what we are able to accomplish. Rather, our respect for life is rooted in our belief that we are made in the image and likeness of our God. The sacred image we bear exists from the moment of our conception. It cannot diminish with age. Created in the image and likeness of our God, and infused with a soul that seeks to know and love God, all human life is sacred and is to be respected.
  3. Our respect for life does not allow us to be disrespectful toward those with whom we disagree or those who do not share our beliefs. Rather our respect for life calls us to treat with dignity even those who actively oppose our beliefs. We cannot claim to respect life if we disparage those who don’t share our beliefs. And most certainly we cannot claim to be pro-life if we use inappropriate or inflammatory language, or worse, engage in acts of violence. The Bishops of the United States stated this clearly in a document they issued several years ago entitled: “Living the Gospel of Life.” In that document they said: “Our witness to respect for life shines most brightly when we demand respect for each other and every human life, including the lives of those who fail to show that respect for others.”
  4. Our respect for life calls us to seek dialogue and communication with those with whom we disagree. I am convinced that we are far more apt to convince people of the rightness of our beliefs through our words and actions than we are to coerce them to accept those beliefs. Through communication that is open, honest, and respectful, I believe we can engage people in dialogue, and they will come to see the wisdom of our words and understand the rightness of our position.
  5. Our respect for life does not allow us to sit in judgment on those individuals who have had, or who have participated in an abortion, or people who have shown disregard for life in any way, particularly in end of life decisions. As people who are pro-life, one of the things we must always remember is that judgment is God’s work, not ours. Where we have made judgments about others, we need to offer our profound and deepest apologies.
  6. Finally our respect for life calls us to invite and welcome back to our communities those who feel estranged from our Church or from God because they have made choices that were not respectful of life. Our task—our challenge—as Christians is not to make judgments about the worthiness of others to be at Church, but to do our best to make sure we are worthy to be there. To those who feel estranged from our Church or from God because they have made choices that were not respectful of life, we need to say clearly that we want and need them to come home—without exception or distinction, without reserve or hesitation, we need to invite them to come home. God’s love and grace await them.

Human life is indeed a precious gift from a loving God. Our task as followers of Jesus is to show our reverence and respect for life in all we do. To the extent we fail to do this, we fail to give witness to our respect for life. To the extent we do it well—like St. Teresa of Kolkata—we truly live up to our call as people created in the image and likeness of God.

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101616.cfm 

In our Gospel this Sunday we read the parable of the unjust judge.  This parable is unique to Luke.   It is introduced with the words:  “Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always.”   He then tells the story of a widow who continually comes to an unjust judge demanding her rights.    Eventually the judge thought:  “While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.”    

Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the Book of Exodus.   It tells the story of a battle between the forces of Amalek and those of Israel.   During the battle: “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.”   So “Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so this hands remained steady till sunset.”  

The Gospel and the first reading together remind us of two essential elements of prayer:  1. persistence; and 2. the support of others.   At times it is easy to become discouraged in prayer.   The support of others, though, can help us persevere in prayer. 

In our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy.   In it Paul urges Timothy to “proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”    


Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Has there been a time when you have been discouraged in prayer?  What helped you to persist? 
  2. When have others been helpful to you in your spiritual life?
  3. Are you persistent in prayer whether it is convenient or inconvenient?   

Pages