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Archives: April 2017
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050717.cfm
I would guess that for most of us the words “sheep” and “shepherds,” evoke idyllic images of meadows, flowing waters and pleasant tranquility. The reality is, though, that sheep are not the cleanest of animals and they certainly aren’t very intelligent. And, at the time of Jesus, shepherds were not well paid and shepherding definitely was not an important job. In fact, shepherds were often looked on with suspicion, and were not accorded a great deal of respect. Despite this, in the Old Testament, the images of sheep and shepherds were often used to describe God’s relationship with his people. Jesus too, often used this image to describe his relationship to his disciples. This is certainly true this weekend as we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Easter. Each year in our three year cycle of readings, we always read from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel on this weekend, and we always hear of sheep and shepherds.
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus reminds us of four important things. 1. The sheep “hear the voice of the shepherd.” 2. The “shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” 3. The shepherd “walks ahead of them and the sheep follow him.” 4. “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
In our first reading this Sunday, we continue to read from Peter’s speech on the first Pentecost. In the section we read today, Peter challenges his hearers to “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children.” The last sentence is important. It reminds us that God’s promise of salvation is universal and timeless.
For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the First Letter of Peter. In the section we read today, Peter reminds us that Jesus is our model in any sufferings. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- In today’s world, do the images of sheep and shepherds still work to help us understand our relationship with God?
- What helps you to hear the voice of the shepherd?
- Why do some people better seem to bear “suffering” better than others?
The Basilica of Saint Mary proudly releases BASILICA Magazine, Spring 2017: A Revolution of Love and Tenderness.
Thank you to the volunteer Magazine team for their dedication creating this issue.
Cecilia Hofmeister, Melissa Streit, Carol Evans, Rita Nagan, Elyse Rethlake
Inside this issue
A Revolution of Love and Tenderness:
Embracing the Pope’s Message
by Johan M.J. van Parys
A Revolution of Love and Tenderness:
In Our Community
by Janice Andersen
Living the Pope’s Message: In Our Homes
by Paula Kaempffer
The Power of the Pulpit: 500 Years Later —
Luther in Our Time
by Johan M.J. van Parys
Reflecting The Basilica: Photographer Michael Jensen
by Michael Jensen
Celebrating the Conclusion of the Year of Mercy:
From Minneapolis…to Rome
by Eileen Bock
Meet Our New Development Officers: Supporting
The Basilica and The Basilica Landmark
by Mae Desaire
Space Needed: It’s a Good Problem — Seek the
Well-Being of the City
by Peggy Jennings
Accessible and Welcoming to All: Improving Access
to Our Historic Church
by Emily Carlson Hjelm
Revealing the Story: Visiting the Artist’s Studio
by Kathy Dhaemers
Meet Our New Presiders: Weekends at The Basilica
by Melissa Streit
A Passion for Art, Architecture, and Giving: Meet The
Donors behind the St. Anthony Chapel Renovation
by Monica Stuart
The award-winning BASILICA magazine is sponsored by The Basilica Landmark, a 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is the preservation and restoration of the historic Basilica of Saint Mary and it campus. BASILICA is published twice a year (spring and fall) with a circulation of 20,000.
For advertising information please contact Peggy Jennings.
Showing vulnerability builds bonds and grows trust. While our culture tends to deem it a weakness, experts frequently site it as the “key” to close relationships and a sign of strength.
I joined the staff fresh out of college in 2001. I was not Catholic, and knew very little about Catholic traditions, but I thought helping with the Block Party sounded like a great opportunity.
It wasn’t long before I realized this wasn’t going to be a typical “job” and The Basilica wasn’t a typical church community. Months after my first Block Party, as I was putting away the last of the supplies, I remember walking into the office and seeing a group of staff members huddled around a television. It was September 11, 2001, and the second plane just had hit the World Trade Center. By the afternoon, the staff had planned a community prayer service, where thousands would come together to mourn. It was then I discovered the extraordinary depth of compassion and engagement in our community, and I knew The Basilica would be more than just a job.
Sixteen years later, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to witness the collaboration of thousands of diverse members, in times of grief and joy. The broad spectrum of perspectives and backgrounds combines with the common threads that unite us to create a beautiful tapestry. It is a community led by creative and intelligent hearts and minds.
The Basilica staff works tirelessly to inspire, educate, and promote social justice. They dedicate themselves to creating environments to inspire adults in liturgies and children in faith formation. They work passionately for social justice, and serve strangers who knock at the Rectory door. I love seeing the feasts they create for eyes, ears, and hearts in music and art. Their work is done generously with love and grace, giving back from the talents they were given.
I’ve enjoyed the privilege of getting to know people who choose to support our community. In our time together, a common theme usually emerges: gratitude. People share their personal stories, reflecting on their lives and work, taking little credit for their success. They return to the idea of giving generously, because they had been given so much. Their humility is inspiring.
I have also met many members of our community who are in need, unafraid to show imperfections, who have courageously chosen to share their experiences. I believe these vulnerabilities are the reason our parish continues to grow and brings our community closer together. Even in their struggles, many people still return to gratitude, asking how they can give back to The Basilica.
When I reflect on my time as a staff member at The Basilica, undoubtedly, I know it is the members, staff, and volunteers that unite to make it so special. Unafraid to show vulnerability, this community pours itself into passion.
Your generosity makes all of the good that happens at The Basilica possible. I’m grateful for the wonderful support I’ve witnessed and I hope you will continue to support the parish, our outreach ministries, and The Basilica Landmark. I invite you to continue your support of The Basilica Landmark through our annual fund and The Basilica Landmark Ball. This year’s Fund-A-Need is designated to improving the accessibility of the historic structure. The project encompasses exterior and interior improvements, including adding automatic door openers to the center east doors, to make The Basilica accessible, and ensuring our community is welcoming to all.
As my time as a Basilica staff member comes to an end this spring, I leave my position knowing my heart is forever changed. I’m so grateful to have spent such a formative time of my life as a staff member, and look forward to continuing to share this Basilica journey with my family as a parish member in the years to come.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/043017.cfm
Our Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of the season of Easter is the familiar and beautiful story of two of Jesus’ disciples encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. We are told that these disciples were on their way to Emmaus “conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” As they walked along, Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.” As they approached the village Jesus gave the impression that he was going further, but they urged him: “Stay with us……” Jesus then ate with them and as he took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.” They then said to each other: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us.” Later, they recounted to the other disciples what had happened, and “how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
I believe the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is really the story of every Christian. There are times as we journey through life when we are completely oblivious to Christ’s presence with us. Then we read or hear a scripture passage, or we come to the table of the Lord, and we discover anew Christ’s abiding presence and realize that he had been with us all along, though we failed to recognize his presence.
Our first reading this Sunday is again taken from the Acts of the Apostles. It describes the early Christian community. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
Our second reading this weekend is from the first Letter of Saint Peter. Most likely this letter was written to Christians who were experiencing some unspecified trials. It reminded them that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection: “although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Has there been a time when --- in retrospect --- you realize Christ had been with you, even though you didn’t recognize it at the time?
- We believe that the Eucharist is the preeminent way that Christ is present to us. We also believe, though, that he is present when we read the scriptures. Additionally, we know that he is present where two or three are gathered in his name? Where else have you experienced Christ abiding presence?
- We know that the life of the early Christian community, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, didn’t last very long. Why do you think that is?
The Basilica Landmark has announced a funding initiative to make accessibility improvements to historic The Basilica of Saint Mary. The Basilica continually strives to make the church and campus facilities accessible and welcoming to all parishioners and visitors. The Basilica’s Disability Awareness Committee has identified and addressed opportunities to make The Basilica free of barriers to prayer and involvement since 2005.
Every year the Basilica Landmark Ball supports a specific project. This year’s Fund-A-Need is designated to improving the accessibility of the historic structure. The project encompasses adding automatic openers to many of the restroom doors and the exterior bronze center east doors, weighing over 300 pounds each.
The Ball’s Chair, Jackie Millea, AIA, ASID, is especially passionate about improving accessibility from her personal family experience. Jackie believes, “Accessibility is not about calling out a disability. It’s about creating an environment that allows people to be autonomous—having the dignity to do things on their own.”
The Basilica Landmark Board of Directors invites the community to support our effort to make The Basilica more accessible. It is important that the physical building reflect our message of hospitality and inclusivity to everyone.
The Basilica Landmark Ball
Saturday, May 20, 2017 at US Bank Stadium
The signature fundraising event features creative cuisine, specialty cocktails, and fantastic giving opportunities to support The Basilica Landmark.
To purchase tickets or make a gift to support the accessibility Fund-A-Need initiative visit www.thebasilicalandmark.org
In the year 2000 Saint John Paul II designated the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. He did this at the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish visionary whose mission it was to proclaim God’s mercy toward every human being. Two years later, during his last visit to Poland in 2002, he said: “How much the world is in need of the mercy of God today!” He then entrusted the world to Divine Mercy expressing his “burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love…may reach all the inhabitants of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.”
As I was writing these words I learned that two Coptic Churches in Egypt were bombed during Palm Sunday services. The extremists of DAESH claimed responsibility. As is the case with the bombings we learn about almost every day, the death toll, physical harm and spiritual suffering were staggering.
Unable to continue my writing I went into our St. Joseph Chapel where our beautiful Icon of the Divine Mercy resides. I walked up to the Icon and looked Jesus square in the face and waited. I waited for an answer to all the evil in our world. Yet, Jesus remained silent. Somewhat frustrated I left the chapel. As I returned to my office the link to a homily by Pope Francis popped up on my phone. One passage caught my eye: “Jesus does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs... No. He is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own… Jesus is in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.” Feeling duly chastised by the Pope and grateful for Jesus’ unexpected answer to my questions I returned to my column on Divine Mercy.
Jesus, who is known as the Divine Mercy is the very incarnation of God’s mercy. In Jesus, God embodied mercy as he went about forgiving sins, healing the sick, siding with the outcast. By these very actions Jesus affirmed that God’s mercy is present in the world, even and most especially in those places where God’s mercy seems lacking.
The specifics of God’s mercy have been described in many different ways. The three languages that are important in the history of the Bible: Hebrew, Greek and Latin offer slightly different insights.
- 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 is derived from miserari, "to pity", and cor, "heart". It suggests that our loving God is moved to compassion.
God’s mercy thus is strong and steadfast, loving and compassionate, healing and soothing. These are the divine qualities of mercy that are to be ours also since we are to be the embodiment of Gods mercy in our time. Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of God must be evident and everyone should find an oasis of mercy there.
As we contemplate our beautiful Icon of the Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday and as we look one another in the eye, friend and stranger alike, let us give thanks for the mercy God has shown us. And in turn let us show mercy to one another for the world indeed is in dire need of mercy, both human and divine. Mercy given and mercy received, that is the motto of all Christians.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Each year on the Second Sunday of Easter we read the story of Thomas ----- and his doubt. Now to be honest, I have always felt a great deal of sympathy for Thomas and have become somewhat of an apologist for him. Very specifically, I think Thomas got a bad deal in being stuck with the epithet “doubting” Thomas. I say this for three reasons. First, I think Thomas’ doubt really centered on the credibility of the other disciples. Stop and think about it. The other disciples couldn’t have been very effective witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection if they couldn’t convince Thomas --- whom they had been with for three years --- that Jesus had truly been raised from the dead. Second, I wonder if the other disciples might not have asked for the same proof Thomas did if Jesus hadn’t shown them “his hands and his side” when he first appeared to them. Finally, notice that it was Thomas who was the first disciple to put it all together and to give words to Easter faith: “My Lord and my God!” Given these things, while Thomas may not have been a model of faith, I think it is a bit harsh that for centuries he has had to bear the nickname: “doubting” Thomas.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. Our first reading will be taken from the Acts of the Apostles throughout the Easter season. It is a description (perhaps a bit idealized) of the life of the earliest Christian community. The early disciples were dedicated to prayer, study and community living. They also “devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking break in their homes.” These last few words are an obvious reference to the Eucharist.
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Peter. In it Peter reminds his audience that because of Jesus Christ, they have an inheritance in heaven which is kept for them “although now for a little while you may have to suffer though various trials………..."
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. What would you say to someone who had doubts about the resurrection?
2. Why is it hard for us to live as the early Christians did in the first reading?
3. While I wholeheartedly believe that because of Jesus we have an inheritance in heaven, I don’t know that this is always comforting to someone who is suffering trials now. Is this an issue for you?
The Basilica welcomes all to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. The beauty and tradition at The Basilica will draw over 5,000 people for the sacred celebrations.
The most important days of Holy week, known as the Sacred Triduum, begins with Holy Thursday on April 13 and continues with Good Friday April 14, Holy Saturday April 15, and Easter Sunday April 16.
The experience of death and resurrection is universal. It occurs in every person and every community. Sometimes the “deaths” we experience are real and actual. More often, though, the “deaths” we experience aren’t actual deaths; rather they are death-like experiences, e.g. the loss of a job; the end of a relationship; the experience of physical limitations; the loss of a sense of security or belonging. In either case, though, they are painful, difficult to bear, and often take time to move through.
Sometimes the deaths we experience just happen. They aren’t our fault. We still need to acknowledge them, though, mourn them, and then begin anew. On the other hand, sometimes the deaths we experience are our fault. We screw up and a mess ensues. In that case, we need to acknowledge our fault, repent, dust ourselves off, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and try to fix what we messed up.
What happens, though, when we don’t think we have it in us to try to begin anew after a death-like experience? What do we do when we can’t easily fix things or make them better? In these cases, we need to honestly acknowledge our situation, accept the fact that there will be times when there is no good explanation as to why something happened, and move forward in faith.
How, though, do we move forward in faith after an experience that feels like death? Well, I believe we start with prayer. In and through our prayer we can experience God’s presence and love. In and through our prayer we can discover that we are not alone, that God is with us. And in and through our prayer we can open ourselves to God’s healing and strengthening grace. Now in saying this, we need to be clear that prayer may not change the situation, but it can and does change us. It can help us see things from a different perspective or in a new way.
Once we have experienced God’s grace then we need to
- hang on (coping & hoping)
- and continue to believe that a new dawn will come eventually—even when or even though it may not be the dawn we were planning on.
The Feast of Easter calls us to remember that our God is always offering us new life and hope in the midst of the sadness, sorrows, hurts, disappointments, trials, and pains we experience—the actual deaths, as well as the “little deaths” of this life. This new life enables us to continue when the way seems dark and uncertain. It allows us to live with the loss of our dreams. It gives us the ability to accept our human frailties and weaknesses and those of others. And it helps us to believe that after each death, the dawning of a new and glorious morning will occur. In essence this is the Paschal Mystery—that because of Jesus Christ—out of death comes new life and new hope. This is the message; this is the hope of Easter.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041617.cfm
As a child, Easter meant only one thing: the end of Lent and a return to eating candy and other sweets. (Giving up sweets was the Lenten activity of “forced” choice in our family.) As I grown older, and especially now as an adult, I have come to appreciate Easter --- not just as the end of Lent --- but as much more. It is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, his promise to abide with us always and his offer of eternal life to believers.
At the Mass of the Easter Vigil and at the Masses on Easter morning we always read one of the accounts of the finding of the empty tomb. In this regard, it is important to note that while all four Gospels, tell the story of the finding of the empty tomb and recount various resurrection appearances of Jesus, there are no accounts of the actual resurrection in any of the Gospels. The reason for this is that the resurrection is a divine event. It is not something that can be taken in by our human senses or consciousness. It is something believers experience only at the time of death when we come to know fully the promise and gift of eternal life.
The readings listed above are for the Mass on Easter Sunday morning. The first reading is a part of a speech by Peter. It is a brief synopsis of Jesus’ ministry and his ultimate death and resurrection. Peter reminds the people that: “He (Jesus) commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.” The second reading reminds us that: “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” Finally, the Gospel contains the account of the finding of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala. We are told that: “she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and told them………...” They in turn ran to tomb and found it empty just as Mary had said.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- What helps you to believe in or hinders your belief in the resurrection?
- Where do you see evidence of Christ’s resurrection in the world --- in your community --- in your life?
- Why do some people have difficulty believing in the resurrection and the promise of eternal life?