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Archives: April 2018
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
“I love you:” three simple words, but words that can carry many meanings. Saying “I love you” to a spouse has one meaning, another when said to an offspring, still another when said to a friend or acquaintance. In our Gospel for this Sunday we hear Jesus say: “……… I also love you.” To understand what Jesus means by these words we need to read the five words that precede them: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” The Father’s love for Jesus and Jesus’ love for the Father is not a romantic love (Eros) or the love of one friend for another (Philios), but rather an intense, absolute, and unwavering love (Agape).
Jesus’ love for us is not dependent on our ability to recognize and respond to it, nor is conditioned on our acceptance of it. Rather, Jesus loves us as we are, simply because we are. As importantly, Jesus loves us with the same love with which the Father loves him. It is an intense, absolute and unwavering love. Because of Jesus’ love for us, we are chosen and invited to be his friends, and called to love one another.
Of course, we always have the choice whether or not to accept Jesus’ love for us. The question is, though, why wouldn’t we accept it?
Our first reading for this weekend from the Acts of the Apostles shares the theme of the Gospel. In that reading we hear Peter proclaim: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
Our second reading for this weekend elaborates on this theme as St. John reminds us that we are called and “to love one another because love is of God.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Perhaps I am deliberately naïve, but it seems to me that Jesus is eminently clear that God loves us. Yet many people see and/or speak of God as vengeful or wrathful. Why do you think this is?
- If we truly believe that God shows no partiality, why do some people try to restrict God’s love?
- What prevents us from loving one another?
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).
We live in a world rife with uncertainty, fear and disorder. It seems that every day we wake up to another crisis—humanitarian, political, or environmental. How do we as Catholics live out our faith amidst this chaos?
Since the beginning of this Parish Council year, your parish leaders and representatives have been struggling with this very question. How will The Basilica of Saint Mary serve its parishioners and those in our community who are most vulnerable?
An issue that has been heavy on our hearts and minds is immigration. For more than a decade, the US immigration debate has been dominated by the legislative battle over comprehensive immigration reform. Recently, the debate has shifted to the scope of the President’s discretion on how to enforce the law, who to target, and mechanisms for remaining in this country.
“According to the US Department of Homeland Security, from the start of January through the end of September, the number of immigrants seized in the interior of the country rather than at the border—many of them wrenched from their families and communities—increased by 42% compared to the same period in 2016. Immigration arrests of people with no criminal convictions nearly tripled compared to approximately the same time in 2016” (Human Rights Watch 12/5/17). Beyond the politics, our faith directs us to focus on the principles of the responsibilities and rights of people.
In the Old Testament, God tells us to have special care for outsiders: “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lv. 19:33-34).
The New Testament tells Matthew’s story of Joseph and Mary’s escape to Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill their infant. Jesus himself lived as a refugee because his native land was not safe.
Jesus reiterates the Old Testament command to love and care for the stranger: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).
At the end of World War II, Europe faced an unprecedented migration of millions of people seeking safety. In response, Pope Pius XII wrote Exsul Familia (The Emigre Family), placing the Church squarely on the side of those seeking a better life by fleeing their homes (USCCB).
The US Sanctuary movement began in the early 1980s to provide safety for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. Since then the movement has grown across the country and today over 30 congregations in the Twin Cities, suburbs, and greater Minnesota have committed to being either a Sanctuary or Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. Their commitment includes safety, advocacy, financial, physical, and spiritual support.
For years, The Basilica has partnered with Ascension, our largely immigrant, sister-parish. We also provide aid and immigration counseling to anyone who comes to our doors. This fall, a group of Basilica parishioners (including myself) traveled to Tucson, AZ, where the Sanctuary movement began and to the US/Mexico Border to learn more about real people facing deportation.
The Parish Council has had many conversations about formally joining the other downtown congregations as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. We plan to hold information sessions for parishioners to learn more about the Sanctuary Movement and to ask questions about how declaring ourselves a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation could impact The Basilica. I hope that you will join us for these important conversations. Please watch for announcements on dates and times.
Feel free to reach out to me or any other Parish Council members with questions. Visit mary.org/parishcouncil for a list of contacts.
Parish Council Chair
The Basilica of Saint Mary
JANUARY 28, 2018
This summer and fall scaffolding will go up and tuck-pointing will begin on the brick surrounding The Basilica’s dome. Tuck-pointing, or repointing as the process is now better known, involves renewing the external part of masonry mortar joints. Over time, weather and decay cause voids in the joints between bricks, allowing the undesirable entrance of water. As we know all too well at The Basilica, water entering through these voids can cause significant damage.
You might be thinking, “Didn’t we just repoint?” And the simple answer is yes, in 2016 we repointed the bell towers, and in 2017 work was done on the sides and front of the building.
Others may be wondering, “how often are we going to need to repoint?” What we know now is that to keep the water out we must work on sections of the building every year as part of our ongoing maintenance. We have plans to repoint sections of the church from 2018-2022. And, like many historic buildings and churches in Europe have found, by the time all sections have been repointed it might be time to start back on one of the sections that was repointed earlier.
Repointing is not a glamourous project, but it is so very important to keep The Basilica free of water, which we know is essential for all current and future restoration projects. It is a project at the very heart of The Basilica Landmark’s mission, which is to preserve, restore, and advance the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations.
An ongoing project like this can seem daunting. But after more than a decade as a staff member, I have seen first hand this community’s passion and support to keep The Basilica of Saint Mary standing strong as a beautiful architectural landmark and as a building of hope for all those that walk through our doors.
In 2009 we started what is now The Basilica Landmark Annual Fund. Our goal was to raise $30,000, which at the heart of the recession seemed like an impossible task. However, due to incredible community support, we raised more than $40,000 the very first year, and last year we raised nearly $300,000.
In the past decade, The Basilica Landmark has invested more than $11 million in our campus facilities. In 2018, with your help, we will ensure the stability, accessibility, and functionality of our beloved Basilica building by repointing the church dome, rebuilding the south Basilica school entrance, and upgrading our church sound system and lighting.
Our century old building stands magnificently in the Minneapolis skyline, but requires constant care to endure for generations to come. Help preserve our shelter with a gift to The Basilica Landmark Annual Fund. Contact Stephanie Bielmas for more information.
Your donation ensures that the building of hope can continue to serve as a haven for all who come.
BASILICA LANDMARK BALL: ILLUMINO
SATURDAY, MAY 5, 5:00-11:30PM
SOLAR ARTS BUILDING
Join us for an evening celebrating the Building of Hope at the Solar Arts Building in NE Minneapolis with dinner, dancing, and fantastic giving opportunities benefitting The Basilica Landmark. To purchase tickets, visit thebasilicalandmark.org. For questions or sponsorship opportunities, contact Holly Dockendorf.
Three parishes in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis are participating in a parish pilot program on restorative justice and healing in response to the clergy sexual abuse. Janine Geske will lead two forums on this topic on Sunday, April 29. Justice Geske is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and Marquette Law School Professor who has led conversations on restorative justice at the Vatican and throughout the world.
Justice Geske will be joined by Doctor Mark Umbreit, Director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota.
The sessions will take place at two locations: St. Joseph the Worker, hosted by Father Mike Sullivan, and Our Lady of Lourdes, hosted by Father Dan Griffith. Everyone is welcome.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser.
I have never been much of a gardener. Keeping a couple of house plants alive is about as much as I can handle. I do appreciate, though, those who create beautiful flower gardens and those who grace our tables with fresh fruits and vegetables. I suspect it not only takes an interest, but also a special set of skills to create and cultivate a garden. Now I mention this because the image of a garden is evident in our Gospel today as Jesus tells us: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”
Friends of mine who are gardeners tell me that if a plant is to produce beautiful flowers or abundant fruit, a certain amount of pruning is necessary. I suspect this is why Jesus told us that his Father “takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” In addition to pruning, though, if a plant is to bear fruit it must also receive the proper nutrients. Jesus reminded us of this when he went on to say: “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
We continue to read from the Acts of the Apostles for our first reading today. Today’s section is the wonderful story of how Paul (Saul), who had previously persecuted the early Christians, tried to join the disciples. We are told that they “Were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.” Finally “Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord……”
Our second reading today is from the first Letter of Saint John. In the section we read today, John reminds us that we are to “love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- What do you need to allow God to prune in your life in order to become a better Christian?
- When have you been suspicious of someone’s words or actions only to discover that they were acting in good faith and with charity?
- How and/or where do you need to love in deed and truth?
- The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He doesn’t run away when he sees the wolf coming.
- The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and they know him.
- The Good Shepherd is the shepherd of “all” the sheep, not just the ones that belong to his fold.
- The Good Shepherd does all that he does freely and out of love.
- Even though many people have not had any experience with sheep, they find the image of the Good Shepherd very comforting. Why do you think that is?
- The priest sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, particularly in the United States, has revealed clearly that many priests and bishops are not the shepherds we would want or hope for. Despite this, many people still look to the church and its leaders for guidance/support/leadership. Why is this?
- What do you think it means that we shall be like God?
Sunday, April 15
- Children’s and Cherub choirs for 11:30am Mass
- Children’s and Youth Ministry
- MN Sinfonia Concert
Saturday, April 14
The Archdiocesan Confirmation scheduled for April 14 has been cancelled. Participating churches will be rescheduled and questions should be directed directly to the individual parishes.
St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Ministry is cancelled for Saturday morning, April 14.
The Engaged Couples Retreat from 1pm - 5pm has been cancelled. The Marriage office will be forthcoming with alternatives.
The Downtown Festival rehearsal at Westminster Presbyterian Church to take place on Saturday morning, April 14 has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 15 at 5pm. It will still take place at Westminster.
One of the values we strive to live every day at The Basilica is compassion. Our faith invites us to become aware of our brokenness—from this place of humility we share hospitality, love, acceptance, and care. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes it is hard. We wrestle with the “right” thing to do, and often feel unprepared to address the complex issues of our day.
One issue that can present complexity is immigration. Yet, Pope Francis calls us to simplicity—focusing on the people in front of us each day. He invites us to see the situation of immigrants and refugees in our midst as “undoubtedly a ‘sign of the times’ … Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.”
What compassionate thing does our faith call us to do right now, with the people right here, today?
In response to this question, over the past eight months, Basilica leadership has prayerfully discussed becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. What does this mean for our community?
A Sanctuary Supporting Congregation takes seriously the call to compassion. It declares that all people have dignity and deserve respect. It declares we will care for and offer God’s healing love to all people, regardless of who they are. It declares that The Basilica community welcomes all people who are in need of compassion—finding solidarity and unity rather than judgment or division.
In practice, this declaration articulates what we already seek to do every day as a parish community. Without regard to worthiness, The Basilica provides spiritual, emotional, and physical support to our community in need. We provide food, clothing, and housing assistance, as well as advocacy support and prayer for those who are the most vulnerable. As a community we give and we receive in gratitude for all God has given us.
The Basilica community supports families who have arrived in Minnesota as refugees. We support families who have risked their lives to flee war and persecution as they seek asylum in Minnesota. So, too, we build relationships with and respond to the needs of those who have deep fear of deportation. Indeed, Pope Francis calls us to “defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.”
In declaring The Basilica as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation we are not taking a political stance. We are simply finding Christ in our brothers and sisters and responding with compassion.
In declaring The Basilica as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation we are not pushing the limits and declaring the parish as a Sanctuary Congregation. A Sanctuary Congregation provides space to live for individuals and families in immediate danger of deportation. This role has challenges that go beyond what The Basilica can do. The Basilica is not moving toward becoming a Sanctuary Congregation.
In declaring The Basilica as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation The Basilica would continue doing what we already do for those coming to our doors for support. Yet, the declaration highlights our willingness to embrace the unconditional compassion of Christ and the depth of our solidarity with those in need. It connects us to the greater reconciling work of Christ in the community.
The Basilica Parish Council invites you to a Listening Session on Sunday, April 15, to discuss what this could mean for us individually and as a parish community. Let us come together and prayerfully reflect on this call. For more information, call Janice at 612.317.3477.
Director of Christian Life
The Basilica of Saint Mary
SANCTUARY SUPPORTING CONGREGATION: LISTENING SESSIONS
SUNDAY, APRIL 15, AFTER 7:30, 9:30, 11:30AM AND 4:30PM MASSES
SAINTS AMBROSE/TERESA, GROUND LEVEL
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Our Gospel this weekend begins just as the two disciples who had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus join their fellow disciples and recount “what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known t them in the breaking of the bread.” We are told that as they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” The disciples were “startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.” Jesus calmed them by showing them his hands and feet and by asking for something to eat. He then went on to “open their minds to understand the Scriptures.” The Gospel concludes with Jesus’ words: “You are witnesses of these things.”
What are we to take away from this Gospel? I’d like to suggest there are at least three things that are three important lessons from this Gospel. 1. Jesus wants his disciples (and us) to know “peace.” In this case, peace isn’t just the absence of conflict or fear; rather it is the deep peace that comes from the knowledge that God is with us. 2. The scriptures are important for understanding that in his suffering and death Jesus was fulfilling what had been prophesized about the messiah. 3. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not a private matter. We are all called to be witnesses of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
In our first reading this weekend, Peter speaks boldly and directly to the people. He reminds them that while they had “acted out of ignorance,” they had put to death the “author of life.” But God “raised him from the dead……………….Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be wiped away.”
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint John. In it John reminds us that Jesus Christ is the “expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. When have you experienced the “peace” of Christ?
2. How have the scriptures helped you to understand God’s presence and action in your life?
3. The word “expiation” has several synonyms. (I know because I looked it up.) What does this word mean to you?
When I give talks about the liturgy I am often asked why we do what we do. I give three answers to that question: 1. So that we may become what we believe. 2. So that we may be all on fire with the love of God. 3. So that we may truly encounter the Paschal Mystery.
As for the third I always quote my great mentor the late Mark Searle. When he was diagnosed with cancer he said: “I have lived the Paschal Mystery long enough not to forsake it or doubt it when it becomes most real.” We celebrate the liturgy so that when any one of us encounters a life threatening disease we may have the deep faith Mark had and say with him: “I have lived the Paschal Mystery long enough not to forsake it or doubt it when it becomes most real.”
That day has come for me.
On Monday of Holy Week I was told I had a tumor in my abdomen. Further tests revealed that I have metastatic seminoma. Currently it is staged at 2C. This week I will undergo more tests. If all goes as planned I will start chemo on Monday April 16. The treatment calls for 12 weeks of chemo. One week of daily 5 hour doses followed by two weeks of recuperation. This cycle is administered four times. The doctors are cautiously optimistic that this regimen will cure the cancer.
Holy Week was a new experience for me. The mysteries we celebrate during Holy Week became very real. Being the celebrant for Stations of the Cross and speaking to those joining the church at the Easter Vigil were very profound experiences. Singing the exulted and the Easter Alleluia moved me to my core. We are an Easter people. We are a people of hope.
We have set up a Caring Bridge page so you can journey with me these next few months. www.caringbridge.org/visit/johanvanparys
I know it will not be easy but I find great strength in the knowledge of God’s love and mercy and your prayers and concern. It is my hope to come out of this experience a better person and a stronger Christian.
And BTW (By The Way), if you want to know more about why we do what we do, you will have to come to my next lecture on the liturgy or read Ask Johan in our Basilica Magazine.