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Archives: June 2017
Since the season of Lent came to a close a few short months ago, I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on our call to peace as Catholics, especially with all of the unrest that has filled our world in the past months. Lent was a wonderful time to reflect on our faith and actively called us to re-center our lives around the Gospel. The reality is that this reflection is something we could be doing throughout the whole liturgical year instead of limiting it to a few months.
Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days being called away from his message of peace and love towards domination, doubt, and despair. Through his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled his message. Time and time again, we are called by the Gospel to be fountains of peace and to “love our enemies.” In Matthew 5:9, we are called to a new identity, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called children of God.”
Creating peace with our very lives is possible. Although it is easier said than done; it goes against the grain and, therefore, is something that requires work and discipline. Some ways we might make our lives more peace-filled is through meditation on the words of the Gospels, being mindful of the presence of God within us, and breathing in deeply of the Holy Spirit. Being conscious of the peace and serenity within us as we encounter Jesus in another person is one of the more powerful ways of spreading that peace.
Along with creating peace, there is a great need for silence if we are to hear God’s voice. You might commit to some quiet time with God as you bask in the sunlight of summer. Life sometimes slows down a bit in the summer and that can allow us extra time to enjoy God’s presence and peace. Through holy solitude we are able to refocus our life amidst the noisiness of our world and to respond to our call to peace and non-violence just as Jesus responded with love, forgiveness, and peace through his death on the cross.
One of the most powerful channels for peace is, of course, the Eucharist. By showing up each week, we are reminded again and again what it truly means to live as Jesus did: to forgive those who have wronged you, to love where no love is felt, and to bring peace in the midst of conflict wherever you are called to be. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “In the end what matters is not how good we are but how good God is. Not how much we love God, but how much God loves us. And loves us whoever we are, whatever we’ve done or failed to do, whatever we believe or can’t.” We are all made in the image of God and through that we reach for the peace which only God can give.
Peace be with you during these summer months
For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070217.cfm
Many years ago when I was in college, one of the books I had to read for a class was “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In the book Bonhoeffer argued that in many ways Christianity had become secularized, accommodating the demands of following Jesus to the requirements of society. In doing this, he argued, the Gospel had been cheapened, and following Christ had become easy and without pain. And while following Christ doesn’t mean that our lives will be full of difficulty and pain, Bonhoeffer argued that there will be times when being a disciple asks something of us that we may not want to do. There is a cost to discipleship.
I thought of Bonhoeffer’s book when I read our Gospel for this Sunday. In the opening lines of that Gospel Jesus is clear that being his disciple means loving him above all, and then taking up our cross and following him. Jesus is also clear in the second half of today’s Gospel, that while following him may involve some pain or difficulty, we will also be rewarded. Jesus does not promise, though, that the reward will occur in this life.
Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the second Book of Kings. We are told that whenever Elisha came to the town of Shunem, a woman of that town offered him hospitality. Because of her kindness and hospitality Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi if he could do something for her. His servant told him that she had no son, and her husband was getting on in years. Elisha then promised the woman: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”
For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In the section we read today Paul reminds us: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? ………. so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you experienced a “cost” in following Christ?
- Like the Shunemite woman, it would be nice if we were rewarded in this life for our good acts. Unfortunately, most often that is not the case. What helps you believe that we will see the reward of our goodness in the life to come?
- What does it mean to live in the “newness” of Christ’s life?
The Sixth Annual Mental Health All Parish Blessing and Ice Cream Social
Sunday, June 25, Following 9:30 and 11:30am Masses, West Lawn
It was an idea that came at the end of a Mental Health Committee meeting six years ago: let’s end the programming year with a blessing of the entire parish for good mental health and then celebrate with ice cream on the West Lawn.
The committee had been working for six years prior mostly providing educational workshops for the parish and community. New people had joined the committee and they were interested in providing social opportunities as well as educational ones. People with a mental illness often feel limited in participating in social gatherings so this event, joyfully combining prayer, social interaction, and ice cream fit the bill. So this weekend, after the congregation stands for a blessing for others’ and their own mental health, they will exit the church and be greeted by servers with flavor after flavor of ice cream and sorbet as well as resource tables with representatives from mental health agencies and organizations in the Twin Cities.
This truly demonstrates the role of the Church in assisting those affected by mental health issues. As stated by Franciscan Sister Mary Fran Reichenberger, the Church’s role is “The creation of an environment of safety and welcome, offering the spirituality and traditions that give the sense of well-being and of being cared for. Churches can be a place of friendship and understanding.” See you this weekend on the West Lawn for ice cream and making new friends.
Mental health organizations will have resource tables and information available. For more information about the Mental Health Ministry, contact Janet at 612.317.3508.
It seems to me that in our world today there are often two competing visions of “Christianity.” On the one hand there are those who see Christianity as a set of beliefs and rules that believers are expected to accept and adhere to in order to live a good and righteous life, and so be fit for heaven (this is known as orthodoxy). On the other hand there are those who see Christianity simply as a loving way of life, in which we are called to live in common care and concern for one another (this is often referred to as ortho-praxy).
I think both of these visions, in and of themselves, are incomplete. It is not enough simply to give allegiance to a set of beliefs and rules. Somehow what we believe must have an impact on and find expression in the way we live. Likewise, while it is good and important to manifest a loving way of life, our lives must be grounded in faith, and in a set of beliefs. Without this anchor, it is too easy for a “loving way of life” to become whatever suits one’s fancy at a given moment in time.
Now certainly the above is not a new issue. It has been around since the beginning of the Church. In the letter of Saint James we read: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone may say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (James 2: 15-18).
When we talk about a vision for Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular we need a both/and, not an either/or approach. It is too simple to profess a set of beliefs without giving witness to those beliefs in the way we live. I have encountered too many people who were steadfast in the profession of their beliefs, but who were cranky, judgmental, and in some cases, downright mean. On the other hand, I have also encountered people who identified themselves as Christians, and who lived good and loving lives, but who, when pressed, couldn’t tell you exactly what they believed and/or why their beliefs made a difference in the way they lived.
Both orthodoxy and ortho-praxy are good, important, and necessary. We need to remember, though, that they go together. They are inseparable from one another. Whenever we overemphasize one, or worse, pit them against one another, we are going down a dangerous path. Jesus knew this. I think that is why, when he was asked which was the greatest commandment, he gave two and yoked them together. Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular require that we believe and profess our faith, and then give witness to it through our words and actions. This is what Jesus asks of and expects from all of us.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062517.cfm
This weekend we celebrate the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. (Ordinary Time is that time between the major seasons of our Church year --- Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.) In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus instructs “the twelve” about their mission and ministry. There are three things to note in this Gospel. 1. Three times Jesus tells the twelve not to be afraid. 2. Rather, they are to be bold in their witness and fearless in their preaching. 3. For “even the hairs of your head are counted.”
Jesus knew that his disciples would face stiff resistance and even persecution as they sought to continue his mission and ministry. Given this, he wanted to be honest with them in regard to what was to come, while at the same time assuring them, that they would not be alone as they went forth. God would be with them
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. In the section we read today, Jeremiah has been imprisoned and beaten. He hears “the whisperings of many; “Terror on every side! Denounce! Let us denounce him” And yet, even in this terrible situation Jeremiah is able to say: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.”
In both our Gospel and our first Reading we are reminded that God never promised us a trouble free life of ease and comfort. God did promise, though, that He would be with us in the midst of our trials and sufferings.
Our second reading today is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In the section we read today Paul reminds us that although sin is a part of our world, “how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you experienced God’s grace in the face of difficulties or trials?
- During difficulties, has there been a time when --- only in retrospect --- that you were able to see God’s grace in your life?
- Where are you called to give witness to God in your life?
Thank you to the patrons, guests and volunteers who made the 2017 Basilica Landmark Ball a success.
Through your generosity, the Ball raised a gross amount of more than $345,000, which will help us fulfill The Basilica Landmark's mission is to preserve, restore, and advance the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations.
The Fund-A-Need program brought in a record $120,000 to use towards making The Basilica campus and grounds more accessible. These projects starting this summer.
Click here to view the event photos. Thank you to our photographers, Elyse Rethlake and Barbara Broten, for donating their time and talent and capturing this special evening!
In just a few short weeks I will celebrate my 10th Basilica Block Party. In 2007 when I started as a wide-eyed Block Party intern I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was completely out of my depths. I had never even attended a Block Party and had no idea what to expect when the gates opened that first night.
Fast forward to today and even after all these years it still hasn’t lost its charm. It is still my absolute favorite event of the summer.
Over the years I have made countless friends by working on this event. I even met my now husband five years ago when working together on the Block Party committee.
The dedication and work everyone puts into this event is unparalleled. It is truly a collaborative effort, each person playing an important role in executing this summer tradition: from the 1,600 volunteers that do everything from scan your ticket on the way in to the green team, who picks up and makes sure every last bottle is recycled into the early morning hours long after you leave for the evening, to the staff and committees that plan for almost a full year to ensure a safe and successful event. Not to mention our partners and sponsors that we couldn’t do the event without.
Over the years I have also gotten to see some pretty amazing concerts and been exposed to bands that I would otherwise never have taken the time to see. In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a warm summer night in Minnesota then to be outside listening to live music with The Basilica as your backdrop.
It still gives me chills looking from our beloved Basilica back to the band rocking out on stage with a sea of people in-between enjoying what so many have worked so hard to put together. It is an incredible event and this year once again promises to be a great weekend of fun and music benefiting the efforts of The Basilica Landmark’s mission to preserve, protect, and restore The Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations and St. Vincent de Paul to help our neighbors in need.
I hope you will join us on July 7 and 8 for 2017 Cities 97 Basilica Block Party to celebrate this summer tradition with great food, good friends, and tasty beverages. And don’t forget the unbelievable bands including Brandi Carlile, WALK THE MOON, The Shins, AWOLNATION, NEEDTOBREATHE, Gavin DeGraw, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Walk Off The Earth, and many more!
Check out our Basilica Block Party website for ticket information.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061817.cfm
Many years ago when I was growing up, my mother decided she would bake bread and rolls for our family rather then purchase them at the store. This practice stopped when my youngest brother was born. I think with 7 children, one of them being a new born, something had to give. For a few years, though, it was great to wake up to the smell of fresh bread a couple times a week. Even as a child, I knew that making bread was a way for my mother to express her love for us. Given this, it wasn’t difficult at all for me to understand that the Eucharist --- the Bread of Life --- was an expression of Christ’s love for us.
I mention the above because this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This feast celebrates our belief, as Catholics, that in the Eucharist Jesus Christ is really and truly present. We offer no proof for this belief. There is no rational explanation for it. There is no way to logically reason to it. For us it is a matter of faith. And, as we read in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11.1)
In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells the people: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” In these words we believe Jesus has promised to be with his people in the Eucharist that we celebrate and share in his name. Further, we believe that in the Eucharist not only do we share in Christ’s life in this world, but also we are given the promise of eternal life.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the book of Deuteronomy. In it Moses reminded the people not to forget the Lord their God who “fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.” We see manna as prefiguring the Eucharist.
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. In it Paul reminded the people of Corinth that “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- How was the Eucharist explained to you as a child? How do you understand it now?
- How would you explain the Eucharist to someone who does not come from a Christian background?
- What is your strongest memory of receiving the Eucharist?
A few months ago I got together for dinner with a friend. During our dinner conversation he told me that on a recent trip to the East coast, he had seen GOD’S truck on the highway. Since I am not one to be easily taken in, I asked him what he meant. He said that while he was driving to the East Coast to visit some relatives and friends, in the distance ahead he saw a truck with the word G O D written in large letters across its back doors. He went on to say that as he got closer to the truck he realized that it wasn’t really GOD’S truck after all. Rather it was a truck with very large lettering that announced: Guaranteed Overnight Delivery. As he told this story we both had a good laugh. I then suggested that he get his eyes checked relatively soon.
As I reflected on my friend’s encounter with GOD’S truck, it occurred to me that perhaps there was a message in this experience. Specifically, it struck me that for most of us when we pray to God we often expect “Guaranteed Overnight Delivery” in response to our prayers. We expect God to hear our prayers, to understand the wisdom, goodness, and unselfishness behind them, and then to respond to them completely, swiftly, and preferably overnight. The reality is, though, that God doesn’t operate according to our timeline and/or agenda.
Certainly this can be frustrating and it can cause people to wonder why many times their best and most unselfish prayers go unanswered. In some cases people can begin to wonder if they aren’t saying the right prayers, or if they aren’t praying hard enough, or if they just aren’t holy enough. Sadly, for some people, it can even cause them to give up on prayer all together.
The reality is, though, that it is fairly presumptuous of us to expect that God’s response to our prayers should take the form of “Guaranteed Overnight Delivery.” God is not under any obligation to respond to our prayers according to our timeline and in exactly the manner we want. This doesn’t mean, though, that God doesn’t respond to our prayers.
More times than I can count I have realized (most often in retrospect) that God had responded to my prayers, but in ways I hadn’t imagined or in ways I hadn’t been open to at the time. Often times too, instead of doing things for me, I have discovered that God has given me the strength, the courage, ability, and the grace to do something I had been praying and asking God to do.
God never promised Guaranteed Overnight Delivery in response to our prayers. If we can pray with open hearts and minds, though, and if we can trust and believe that God does indeed hear and respond to our prayers, we will discover that God has responded to our prayers. This response may not occur in the way we had wanted or hoped, but most certainly in the way we need.
Visitors to the studio and gallery of Sister Mary Ann Osborne, SSND are surrounded by stories carved in wood or printed on paper. There stories are taken from Scripture and inspired by feast days such as the Annunciation, Epiphany and Pentecost. They draw viewers in and invite them to discover their own stories.
The work of Sister Mary Ann is also inspired by conversations, writings and music, old and new. Her art at times comments on local and international events, peace and justice issues and acts of nature, like the tornado that devastated her home town of Saint Peter, MN, in 1998.
Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) has been a major influence on Sister Mary Ann's work. The art she created for With Passion, her 2015 exhibition at The Basilica, was inspired by quotes from Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger and Pope Francis. An exhibition she conceived for Saint Paul Monastery in Saint Paul, MN a few years ago was entitled Love Cannot Wait. Sister Mary Ann borrowed this title from1882 writings by Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger. An imagined diary of the foundress accompanies the art. The work is now rotated monthly in a space near the Monastery's Good Counsel chapel.
Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger' influence on Sr. Mary Ann actually goes back to the very beginning of her art making as her first carvings (1985) were created to honor the SSND foundress on the occasion of her beatification. At that time Sister Mary Ann had taken only two summer workshops in wood carving, for a total of three weeks. After thirteen years of teaching in elementary schools in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa, Sister Mary Ann felt her future had a different path. She loved the students and enjoyed teaching but she felt called to teach in a new way. She was given permission to study and work as an apprentice with a wood carver in Faribault, MN. The original agreement was for one year, then followed by a second year. By 1988 she was a full-time artist, with her first studio space at Our Lady of Good Counsel. A couple years later she pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Metropolitan State University and studied for six months with Franciscan Sister Sigmunda May in Stuttgart, Germany.
The artist spends most of her days working in her sunny studio, a former laundry where she moved in 2004. Sometimes she will sketch ideas on paper, but she prefers to start with the wood, carving soon after some initial drawing directly on the surface. She usually begins with the faces. When studying with Sister Sigmunda she was encouraged to follow her heart, listen to God and let the characteristics of the wood guide her process. For carvings she typically uses kiln dried wood, bass or linden. The embellishments she adds to her wood sculptures often have their own stories. She has repurposed arches and copper from buildings under renovation. And people often drop off items they think she may be able to use; parts of a beautiful broken vase, pieces of glass or silver, or small logs from a beaver dam. Eventually these items find their way into a piece of art.
Sister Mary Ann has admired and been inspired by other artists including her teacher Sister Sigmunda May, Corita Kent, Henry Moore, Joseph O'Connell, Ernst Barlach and Käthe Kollwitz. Her work can be found around the world in churches, schools, hospitals and homes. In addition to wood carving, she does woodcut prints and works with glass.
The Basilica selected her piece One Breath from our art collection to visually represent the Revolution of Love and Tenderness initiatives this year. The piece of art was selected given its heart shape reference embracing the people of the world with love and tenderness and will be displayed in The Basilica throughout the year. Sister Mary Ann shares the meaning as, “Through the spirit we must work together sharing love and tenderness, to make the world a better place. All it takes is one breath of God in our direction.”
It is good to keep in mind that Love Cannot Wait has been the directional statement for the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the past five years. The statement commits this international congregation of women religious to embrace dialogue as a way of life that leads to new discoveries about themselves and others, and to conversion, reconciliation and healing. It is a call to change lives and the world. Sr. Mary Ann does this beautifully through her art.
Sister Mary Ann’s studio is located in Florian Hall at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mankato. She welcomes visitors. sistermaryannosborne.com
By Kathy Dhaemers, Associate Director of Sacred Arts
Published BASILICA Magazine Spring 2017, A Revolution of Love and Tenderness