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Archives: March 2018
Several years ago I was part of a question and answer session with high school students concerning what we believe about the last things, e.g. heaven, hell, and purgatory. At one point one of the participants asked me how I knew that heaven and hell existed. Now, I’m not sure if they asked this question out of interest, or to see if they could trip me up. In either case, if their reaction was any barometer, I think they were genuinely surprised when I replied that I didn’t really know that heaven and hell existed; rather I believed they existed.
Pressed to clarify the difference between knowledge and belief, I explained that knowledge is based on personal experience, while belief is based on the witness or testimony of others. For example, I know that New York City exists because I have been there. I believe that Miami exists, not because I have been there, but because of the testimony of others who have been there.
Now in making the above distinction, I don’t mean to suggest that those things which we are cognizant of because of our belief are any less real than those things we know because we have experienced them personally. Belief and knowledge are often twin sources of inspiration, motivation, guidance, and hope for our lives. Belief is not a poor substitute for knowledge. It has its own unique place in our lives. It has importance and value for our lives, and because of this it cannot be ignored or denied.
Particularly with regard to matters of faith, I think belief is as important as knowledge. In fact, our beliefs can be as challenging and reassuring as the knowledge which comes from our experience. For example, my belief in heaven is a source of real assurance for me as I live my life, just as my belief in hell is likewise a real source of motivation for me as I live my life.
In terms of God, I know that God exists because I have experienced God’s presence and grace in my life. My knowledge of God is based on personal experience. I say this because in my life I have experienced God as loving Father, redeeming Son, and inspiring Spirit. In regard to heaven and hell, however, since, I have not yet died and experienced either of them, my belief in them is based on the testimony of others—very specifically, the testimony of Jesus Christ.
For it was Jesus who told us: “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will have eternal life.”
As we celebrate the great Feast of Easter today, my prayer for all of us is that we might come to experience and know the presence of the risen Lord Jesus in our lives, so that our belief in Jesus’ promise of eternal life might give us courage and hope for our lives.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040118.cfm
There are several readings that can be used for the Mass of the Easter Vigil, as well as the various Masses on Easter Day in the morning/afternoon. The readings above are those that are designated for the Mass on Easter morning.
While the various Gospel accounts of the resurrection may vary somewhat in detail there are some common elements. 1. No one witnessed the actual event of the Resurrection; 2. Those who found the empty tomb were amazed and confused; 3. Ultimately the lives of those who encountered the resurrected Christ were fundamentally and irrevocably changed.
In John’s Gospel (the last Gospel to be written) Mary Magdalene discovered the empty tomb, but did not enter. This differs from Mark’s Gospel (the first Gospel to be written) where Mary Magdalene not only discovered the empty tomb, she entered it and encountered an angel who told her that Jesus had been raised. She was then told to go and tell this to Jesus’ disciples and Peter. Why this discrepancy? Well it is possible they simply represent two differing memories. It might also be possible, though, that by the time John’s Gospel was written Peter’s leadership role in the early church had been established and as a result John thought it fitting to accord him the privilege of being the first to enter the empty tomb. Regardless of who first entered the empty tomb, the results as noted above, are the same: their lives were transformed by the resurrection of Jesus.
Our first reading for Easter is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. In it Peter addressed the household of Cornelius. He is clear that Jesus has been raised from the dead and he and the other apostles have been “commissioned to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.”
In the second reading for Easter, taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians, Paul reminds us that: “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Why do you think there were no witnesses to the Jesus’ actual resurrection?
- What is different in your life because of Jesus’ resurrection?
- What is your image of eternal life?
The Basilica of Saint Mary welcomes all to celebrate Holy Week and Easter, March 29 through April 1, 2018. The vibrant beauty and tradition at The Basilica will draw over 5,000 people for the sacred celebrations.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to celebrate Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion in one of the most iconic cathedrals in our country. This had been on my liturgical bucket list for a long time. I was not disappointed. It was an experience Egeria—a 4th century French nun who glowingly wrote about liturgical celebrations in Jerusalem—would have written about had she lived in our times.
As prescribed we gathered in “another place” for the first part of the liturgy. Then, we processed to the cathedral commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. On our way we walked by several large cardboard boxes. Blinded by the beauty of the day, I had not noticed these until I nearly tripped over a man who crawled out of one of them. Apparently, the procession drew his attention, maybe even woke him up. He looked me square in the face and I shuddered under his intense gaze. Pushed forward by those behind me, we made a quick circle around him and continued on our splendid liturgical way.
When we entered the cathedral, the true quality of the liturgy was revealed. The Cardinal Archbishop himself was presiding flanked by auxiliary bishops and a throng of priests. The service was marked by exquisite music, beautiful vestments, countless candles, billowing incense… in sum, a liturgist’s delight. And yet, it was the man crawling out of the box who stuck with me.
His gaze haunted me throughout Holy Week. It was he I saw as I washed the feet of an elderly man and offered Holy Communion to a young woman on Holy Thursday. It was he I saw in the child who knelt down to kiss the wood of the cross on Good Friday. And it was he I saw in the many people who were baptized and confirmed on Holy Saturday. In all of these faces gathered for worship I saw one face, the face of the man living on the street. Then I realized his gaze forced the question: “Who do you say that I am?” And I wondered who it was I really saw?
During Holy Week, I customarily visualize the last days in the life of Jesus. I imagine Jesus walking down the streets of Jerusalem to the Hosanna’s on Palm Sunday and to the yelling of “crucify him” on Good Friday. I imagine him washing feet and sharing bread. I imagine him dying on the cross and rising from the dead. This truly helps me with my meditation on the mystery of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Every year, I leaf through my art books to be inspired by a different image of Jesus. That particular year, I was inspired not by art but by the dirty, bearded, and unkempt face of the man who crawled out of the box to visualize Jesus. And I realized that it is in the face of others that we recognize the true face of the one who is the Wholly Other.
As we prepare to celebrate the holiest of weeks, let us remember to recognize Christ in one another, most especially in those we unexpectedly encounter as we almost trip over them.
Blessed Holy Week!
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Each year on Palm Sunday we read an account of Jesus’ passion from one of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). This year we read from the Gospel of Mark. In place of the customary introduction to the Gospel: “A reading from the Holy Gospel according to ………..” the passion is introduced with the stark: “The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to ……….” This change may seem slight or even trivial, but it reminds us of the significance of the story we are about to hear and which will unfold for us during Holy Week.
Mark’s account of the passion is the shortest of all four Gospels. At the same time, some scripture scholars claim that Mark’s account of the passion emphasizes the humanity of Jesus the best. It is not that Mark forgets the divinity of Jesus; rather Mark doesn’t try to “dress up” the emotions Jesus --- and others --- were feeling.
While we are all familiar with the story of Jesus’ passion, reading (or hearing) it in its entirety can help us appreciate anew, and hopefully at a deeper level the suffering Jesus’ endured for our sake.
The first and second readings for Palm Sunday remain the same every year. The first reading is taken from that part of Isaiah known as the “songs of the suffering servant.” From the earliest days of the Church, Christians have seen these songs as referring to Christ, the suffering servant par excellence.
The second reading for Palm Sunday is taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is in the form of a hymn and it speaks of Jesus’ journey from heaven to earth and back to heaven. Its simple eloquence reminds us that Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” for us. And because of this, “every knee shall bend in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord………..”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- I suspect that for many people the “cross” is more ornamentation than symbol of Christ’s suffering and death. Do you agree or disagree?
- What part of Jesus’ passion and death is most disturbing for you?
- Can you think of a time when you “emptied” yourself for another?
Parishioners are invited to nominate excellent candidates to represent Christian Life and Learning to the Parish Council by April 6.
Parish Council members serve as an advisory group to the Pastor and assist with strategic planning, creation of effective communication structures, policies and procedures, and educating parishioners about biblical stewardship.
Learn more about Parish Council.
The Catholic Church is a centuries old, hierarchical organization that can sometimes feel very exclusive. As “regular” parishioners we see Priests, Nuns, Bishops, and Cardinals as the leaders and decision makers in our church.
While those ministries hold special auspices as a result of graces given at ordination, we as lay (non-ordained) members also have a distinct and very real role in the spreading of the Gospel as a result of our Baptism. The Church teaches that laypeople are absolutely equal to those in ordained and religious life. The laity is how the world encounters Christ and the Church encounters the world.
We all have increasingly busy lives; careers, school, dating, children, aging parents, and the regular burdens of everyday life. We take one hour out of our week on Saturday or Sunday for God, and then go about our business.
If you are like me, sometimes my mind wanders during mass (Sorry, Fr. Bauer) to things like:
- “Gosh, the plaster is looking really bad up on the arches”
- “I wonder how the archdiocesan bankruptcy is going”
- “They’re taking up another collection for the heating? Don’t they have a budget?”
- “I feel like I don’t have any way of making any real change within our Church”
In moments like this, I think of a quote from former President Barak Obama:
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
Back in the spring of 2013 I was finishing graduate school when I heard about upcoming Parish council elections. I had been involved in The Basilica Voices for Justice but as I thought about it, I decided that I wanted to take on something more, to have a larger platform to represent the young adults of our Parish. I decided to run as a representative for Liturgy.
Parish Council members serve as an advisory group to the Pastor and assist with planning, communication, policies and procedures, and education of parishioners. We are sensitive to the needs, ambitions and desires of The Basilica community to fulfill its mission—we are your representatives, your voice.
This year, the Parish Council is embarking on the creation of a 5-year strategic plan as well as engaging a Liturgical Design Consultant for a whole-campus evaluation. This is a very exciting time as we work to propel our parish into success in the future.
Our Parish Council is composed of:
- 6 elected members including 2 representatives for Learning, Christian Life, and Liturgy
- 3 appointed "at large" members,
- Appointed representatives from the Finance and Development Committees,
- 4 ex-officio members
The deadline for Parish Council nominations is April 6. There is an online application here. You may nominate yourself or someone you think would thrive in one of the positions.
Parish Council is not the only way to get involved at The Basilica. There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities—one-time events, and long-term engagements. This thriving, robust parish is not solely run by Father Bauer—he needs teams of people to make our mission happen.
In the words of the Catechism (CCC 899): “Lay believers are in the front line of Church life. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church.”
YOU ARE THE CHURCH.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” This request was made to Philip by “Some Greeks” at the beginning of this Sunday’s Gospel. After learning of their request Jesus didn’t respond directly. Instead he said: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” He then went on to talk about the hour which was coming, and this being the purpose for which he came. He then prayed: “Father, glorify you name.” We are then told that a voice came from heaven saying: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” Jesus then told the people: “This voice did not come for my sake, but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself”
Now given the above, this Gospel would seem to be a bit disjointed, without a logical progression of thought. The thread that ties this passage together, though, is found in the question posed by the Greeks: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Often times in the scriptures, people want to “see” Jesus. They are comfortable seeing him from a distance. Jesus, though, is clear he doesn’t want people to stay at a distance from him. He wants them to follow him. And if they chose to follow him, he also wants them to come to know him. Jesus is also clear, though, that knowing him won’t guarantee a life of ease, or a life free of difficulties or trials. Rather his followers are to give up their way, and follow his way. In this regard, in our Gospel today Jesus is clear; “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. In it God tells the people that because their forbearers broke the old covenant, He will make a “new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” The terms of the covenant are stated clearly. “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
In our second reading this Sunday the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds the people that Jesus, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. The request of the Greeks: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” suggests to me that often we want to stay at a distance from Jesus. As a friend of mine puts it: “at times we more admire than strive to imitate Jesus.” Do you agree or disagree?
2. In the first reading God told the people of Israel that He was making a new covenant with them. What does the word “covenant” mean to you?
3. What does it mean for you to “obey” Jesus?
Health care providers and trainees, churches, and others are being forced to participate in abortions or provide coverage for it in their health care plans. Federal conscience laws prohibit such coercion, but these laws continue to be violated—mostly because they don’t provide victims with the ability to defend their rights in court.
The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644, S. 301) would address loopholes in current laws and provide victims with the right to sue in court. Congress will decide soon (most likely during the week of March 12) whether to include the Conscience Protection Act in must-pass government funding legislation. humanlifeaction.org
- Pray that Congress enacts the CPA, and activate prayer warriors, chains, and groups.
Intention: We pray that Congress will include the Conscience Protection Act in the Fiscal Year 2018 funding bill.
- Call and email your U.S. senators and representatives and forward the action alert to others. Members of Congress can be reached by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121.
From Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz:
"Increasing and fierce attacks on conscience rights regarding abortion cry out for an immediate remedy. Nurses and other health care providers and institutions are being forced to choose between participating in abortions or leaving health care altogether. Churches and pro-life Americans are being forced to provide coverage for elective abortions—including late-term abortions—in their health care plans. Opponents and supporters of abortion should be able to agree that no one should be forced to participate in abortion. Congress must remedy this problem by enacting the Conscience Protection Act now as part of the FY 2018 funding bill.
We call on all the faithful to pray and to act by emailing and calling Congress in the coming week especially on Monday, March 12 with the message that enacting the Conscience Protection Act is urgently needed to protect Americans from being forced to violate their deeply held convictions about respect for human life. Your calls and emails to your Members of Congress really do make a difference, so please act now to protect conscience rights!"
Racism is not merely one sin among many; it is a radical evil that divides the human family and denies the new creation of a redeemed world. To struggle against it demands an equally radical transformation, in our own minds and hearts as well as in the structure of our society.” Brothers and Sisters To Us, USCCB, 1979
During the summer of 2016, the Twin Cities experienced a wave of protests and unrest after the shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer in St. Anthony, MN. The upheaval throughout the Twin Cities was in direct response to the deep and longstanding effects of racism in our state. Uncovered and exposed were the inequalities and injustices behind virtually every statistic of Minnesota’s quality of life: including our state’s education gap, income disparity, homeownership, and violent crime.
- On April 29, 2016, the Pioneer Press reported “Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the nation—gaps that have widened over the past five decades and that soon may create a statewide economic crisis. U.S. Census data show most Minnesota families of color now have median incomes about half those of their white neighbors.”
- On August 18, 2017, the Pioneer Press reported “Minnesota schools have grown more segregated and the state’s nation-leading academic achievement gap refuses to close.
- Black Students: Reading proficiency, 33% and Math proficiency, 28%
- White Students: Reading proficiency, 69% and Math proficiency, 68%
- Headline in the Star Tribune on August 17, 2017 read, “Already-low homeownership rates of Twin Cities minorities fall further,” with 75% whites and only 23% blacks owning homes.
- A report in August 2017 from the Minneapolis Police Department that covers the period 2009 to 2014 states, while blacks made up 18.6% of the population in Minneapolis, 79% of victims of homicide are black.
During the summer and fall of 2016, The Basilica leadership intentionally engaged in reflection and self-examination: How was The Basilica living faithfully by actively confronting issues of racism and being a force of racial reconciliation in the community? Strikingly, we discovered that, while The Basilica is engaged in the community in many ways, we are not living up to our mission in this area.
In the fall of 2016, The Basilica Parish Council unanimously voted to support a parish-wide, sustained effort to address the issue of racism. In February 2017, a Basilica team met for the first time—a team to help shape a parish wide initiative for racial reconciliation.
The team began slowly, prayerfully discerning direction, sharing stories, and developing trust. This Lent, The Basilica officially launched Imago Dei: The Basilica Initiative for Racial Reconciliation. Imago Dei—the Image of God. Rooted in the absolute belief that all humans beings are created in the image of God, The Basilica will devote itself to this effort by praying for empowerment to overcome this radical evil in our lives and communities, by learning about institutionalized racism and its insidious presence in our Church and society, by engaging across lines of difference, and by advocating for social change.
The Basilica of Saint Mary is dedicated to the eradication of racism, and seeks to become a community of racial reconciliation. Look for ways to engage in this important work. This is the work of our time. For more information, contact Janice.
IMAGO DEI: INITIATIVE FOR RACIAL RECONCILIATION PRACTICING RECONCILIATION
SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 11:00AM-12:30PM
SAINTS AMBROSE/TERESA, GROUND LEVEL
Please join us for the last session in this series and hear first hand from Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson about the power of forgiveness.