Archives: November 2018

Our Spiritual Growth

A few months ago, in an email exchange with another priest, he mentioned that he and his siblings had been busy helping their parents pack up their house as they prepared to sell it and move to a senior living facility. For those of you who have gone through this experience, you know that it is bittersweet. On the one hand it can be very sad because it marks the end of something important—not just the sale of a house, but the sale of a home. On the other hand, it is also a time of gratitude as you remember all the good times and the wonderful experiences that took place there. Those memories are precious gifts that help soften the sadness that these endings often bring.

One of my friend’s emails contained an attachment. It was a picture of the pencil marks indicating his height and that of his brothers and sisters at various times as they were growing up. In this case their growth was measured on the inside of their father’s closet. My friend noted particularly the time when he passed his older brother in height (an achievement that time had obviously not diminished). As I looked at the picture, it brought back memories of a wall in the house where I grew up where the growth of my brothers and sisters (and later, nieces and nephews) was recorded. That house was sold many years ago and unfortunately, unlike my friend, I wasn’t smart enough to take a picture of the wall before it was sold. I suspect the new owner’s have long since painted over our wall of growth. 

As I was thinking about this experience, it struck me that in each of our lives there are various ways we measure our growth or aging. Marks on a wall are one way, but it could also be measured by a widening waist line or a receding hairline, or wrinkles. Now, while we have lots of specific ways of measuring and recording our physical growth, there isn’t any instrument or tool (at least to my knowledge) that can measure our spiritual growth. And yet, I would wager that most of us are growing spiritually. 

In reflecting on this, it occurred to me that while there may not be any external way of measuring our spiritual growth, there may be some other markers that could be helpful. Specifically, in regard to our spiritual growth, I think we need to take the long view. We need to ask ourselves on a regular basis: Am I a better person today than I was a year ago or ten years ago? Do I feel closer to God now than I did in the past? Can I identify occasions when I have experienced God’s presence in new and/or different places? Have I been surprised to discover God’s grace in unexpected ways? If we can say yes to any of these things then I think we are growing spiritually. 

While we may not be able to measure our spiritual growth with marks on a wall, I do believe that it nonetheless does occur. We need only take some time to reflect on our life, so that we might discover that perhaps unbeknownst to us we have indeed been growing in our spiritual life, and, as importantly, that God is always inviting us to enter even more deeply into our relationship with God. 

A few years ago I was in Rome for Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. I went to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Afterwards I waited for Pope Francis to appear at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace for the traditional Sunday Angelus. I noticed that St. Peter’s Square was unusually crowded and that there were great numbers of children.

After a brief greeting Pope Francis asked everyone present to raise their Bambinelli for a blessing. Ever since Saint Pope Paul VI started the Blessing of the Bambinelli in 1969 every pope after him has continued the tradition. To my great delight the people around me took a baby Jesus out of their pocket or purse and lifted it up so Pope Francis could bless it. I wish I had brought one of mine.

Nativities or crèches are very popular in Italy and all around the world. The popularity of this tradition is often credited to St. Francis.  In 1223, anxious to return the focus of the Christmas festivities to Jesus he built his own life size nativity in a cave in Greccio near Assisi. It is believed that he modeled his nativity after a manger he had seen in Bethlehem. It is not clear if he found a live infant or used a carved image of a baby. Either way, he placed the baby Jesus on a bed of hay between an ox and a donkey.

According to his biographer, Thomas of Celano, word of this went out to the people of the town who arrived carrying torches and candles. One of the friars began celebrating Mass. Thomas of Celano wrote that St. Francis “stood before the manger…overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness…”

For Saint Francis, the baby Jesus in the manger was intended to recall the hardships Jesus suffered even as an infant. In this early suffering Francis saw a foreshadowing of the hardships Jesus was to suffer as an adult. Thus St. Francis shows us a Jesus who became truly human, sharing our suffering and pain and ultimately our death.

On December 16, 2018 which is Gaudete Sunday or the third Sunday of Advent we invite you to bring the Baby Jesus from your home nativity. Like Pope Francis does in Rome we will bless these Bambinelli at the end of the 9:30am and 11:30am Mass.

As we behold the baby Jesus in our nativities at home or around The Basilica, may we like Saint Francis be “overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness” because we know that we are gazing upon the image of the one who through his life, death and resurrection showed us the path to salvation.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120218.cfm     

This weekend we begin the season of Advent and a new liturgical year.   We are on a three year cycle for our Sunday readings, and each cycle features a different Gospel.  This is year C so we read Luke’s Gospel.  (We read Matthew’s Gospel in year A and Mark’s Gospel in year B.  We read John’s Gospel primarily during the Easter season and to supplement Mark’s Gospel, which is the shortest Gospel.)   

In our Gospel this weekend, Luke speaks about the end times.  This type of literature is known as apocalyptic literature.  Usually it was written to people who were suffering persecution.  It uses very vivid, symbolic language to offer people hope during this time of persecution.  It reminded them that despite the sufferings of the present, all eventually would be well.   It also cautioned people not to lose heart but to stay true to God.  This is the message of today’s Gospel.  “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”   

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.   The section we read this weekend offers hope to the people of Israel during a time of when they were being threatened by outside forces.  The words of Jeremiah remind them that God will be true to God’s covenant and the promises God made to their ancestors.  “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah ……………….In those days, Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.”  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In the section we read this weekend, Paul prays that the Lord will make the Thessalonians  “increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Why are so many people fascinated with the end times?   
  2. What gives you hope and/or confidence that God will be true to his promises?
  3. What do you think Paul means when he prays that people’s hearts will be strengthened? 
FROM THE PASTOR
 
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
 
1. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank to all those who have made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge—no matter the size—is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community. 
 
In regard to our parish finances, as I write this column we are behind in our anticipated income at this point in our fiscal year. Our finance committee monitors our income and expenses closely so that, if it becomes necessary, we can make the appropriate decisions about balancing our parish budget. 
 
I am hopeful that with our collections at Christmas and with year-end giving we will be back on track with our projected income. Thank you to all of those who support our Basilica community financially. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support. 
 
2. Advent and Christmas Events/Activities at The Basilica: As we move into the Season of Advent and Christmas, there are several events/activities at The Basilica which you are invited to attend. 
 
  • On Sunday, December 9 we will hold our annual Global Fair Trade Market from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Great gifts will be available from local vendors, just in time for Christmas giving. 
  • Taizé prayer, with the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, will be celebrated in the lower level of The Basilica on Tuesday, December 11 at 5:30pm.
  • On Sunday, December 16 our Cathedral Choristers, Children’s Choir, Cherubs, and Juventus as well as the children of the Learning Program will present Room for Christmas by Mark Burrows. The musical combines original songs and familiar carols from around the world to tell the story of the Incarnation. The musical will be presented in the lower level of The Basilica after the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses.
  • The Basilica will also be hosting Messiah on Thursday, December 20 at 7:30pm and Friday, December 21 at 8:00pm. For more information about these performances visit thespco.org. To reserve your ticket for the December 21 performance contact Holly Dockendorf at hdockendorf@mary.org. 
  • Finally, we hope you will plan on joining us for one of our Masses on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Our Mass schedule is available on our website.
 
3. Sanctuary Supporting Congregation: As I have mentioned previously, one of the values we strive to live every day at The Basilica is compassion. As such, we become aware of our shared brokenness, and we deeply respect all of God’s people and gratefully welcome all as Christ as we share hospitality, love, acceptance and care. We are a community serving the needs of people in our community. Every day we provide basic tangible and physical resources such as sandwiches, clothing, toiletries, shoes, bus cards, help with I.D. cards and assistance with transportation.
 
A few months ago our parish leadership made the decision that The Basilica would become a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. In becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation, we would continue to do what we currently do for those who come to our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry, many of them from Ascension, our sister parish in north Minneapolis. We would also continue our advocacy work and our prayerful support particularly for those who are on the margins and in need. The difference would be that we would be named as part of a network of congregations that are committed to supporting this work.
 
Now admittedly, in today’s world, the word “Sanctuary” may come with a lot of baggage. It may be helpful to note, though, that it shares the same root as the Latin word: “Sanctus,” which means holy. Jesus has told us that “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do for me.” Additionally, on his trip to Colombia this past September Pope Francis called on Catholics to “promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants and those who suffer violence and human trafficking,” Responding without judgement to the needs of those who come to our doors is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus Christ. 
 
Becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation is very different form being a Sanctuary Congregation. Being a Sanctuary Congregation requires additional commitments that could put The Basilica at some legal risk. As your pastor, I cannot do that in this circumstance. This is why our leadership has been carefully evaluating Sanctuary Supporting Congregations, which have significantly fewer commitments and would serve as a way to continue to compassionately serve a community in need and as an outcome of living our faith. 
 
I would encourage anyone who has questions or concerns about this issue to take them to prayer. If after praying about them, you would like to share them with me or with a member of our parish council, you can contact us through our parish website. As we continue to discuss this important issue we will need your thoughts and your prayers to do what is right for our Parish and to follow our faith calling.
 
4. 150th Anniversary of our Parish: This year our parish celebrates its Sesquicentennial. 150 years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Minneapolis. The first Mass was celebrated on October 4, 1868. (When the parish outgrew its original site, seven lots were donated at 16th Street and Hennepin Avenue in 1904. The cornerstone of The Basilica, which was initially known as the Pro Cathedral, was laid in 1908, and the first Mass was celebrated in The Basilica on May 31, 1914.)
 
We kicked-off a year long celebration of our 150th anniversary on Sunday, September 30. Archbishop Hebda presided at the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses that day.
 
Throughout the coming year there will be a variety of events, activities and exhibits to celebrate our Sesquicentennial as a parish. I invite you to attend as many of these as you are able as we celebrate 150 years of faith.
 
 Two events in particular I would like to note are a reunion for all couples who were married at The Basilica. This Marriage Reunion will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2019. There will also be a School Reunion for former students of The Basilica School. This reunion will take place September 7, 2019. 
 
5. Updating our Parish Strategic Plan: As I have mentioned in previous bulletins, several months ago we received approval from our Finance Committee and Parish Council to engage the services of the MacCallum Ross company to help us begin the process of developing a new strategic plan for our parish. (Our previous plan carried us through spring of 2018.) 
 
The reason we engage in strategic planning is simple. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29.18). If we don’t consciously and prayerfully plan for our future, we are at risk of drifting into a future not of our choosing and certainly not of our making. 
 
I am pleased to report that at the October meeting of our Parish Council our new Strategic Plan was approved. Our new Strategic Plan retains our core Vision, Mission, and Values, and builds on, instead of replacing, the previous strategic plan. There are three Strategic Areas of Focus in our new Plan: 
 
Art: move, inspire, and transform individuals and communities through excellence in the arts and creative practices.
 
Inclusivity: build a culture where people feel valued, welcome, integrated, and included.
 
Homelessness: respond to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
 
This plan will serve as a road map to guide and direct our efforts for the next three to five years. Our efforts will help us identify those ministries, programs, services, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community. If you would like to review a copy of our new Strategic Plan, please call the parish office. 
 
6. Special Collections: While no one is fond of special collections, it is heartening for me to report that the people of The Basilica have been very generous to the last few special collections here at The Basilica. 
 
  • On the weekend of June 17 and 18, $9,679 was contributed to help defray the cost of air conditioning The Basilica during the hot summer months. 
  • On the weekend of July 28 and 29, $10,835 was contributed to help fund our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. 
  • On the weekend of September 15 and 16, $9,514 was contributed to help fund our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. 
 
The contributions to these collections testify to the generosity of the people of The Basilica. Please know of my gratitude for your generous response to these collections. 
 
7. Campus Space Planning: As I mentioned previously, a few months ago The Basilica Landmark approved funding for the hiring of a liturgical space planning consultant. Fr. Gil Sunghera S.J. was hired and has been working with our Campus Space Planning Committee to build a vision for our campus spaces that will help us welcome the community and our guests. Fr. Gil is on staff at the University of Detroit Mercy and works with their School of Architecture. 
 
Some of the important issues/concerns that will need to be considered are accessibility, making The Basilica and its campus more open and welcoming, and renovating and updating the interior of The Basilica. 
 
This process of developing a master plan for The Basilica and its campus continues as I write this column. It will also occur concurrently with the development of our new strategic plan. We will share more information about this important work as we move forward. 
 
8. The Basilica App is Now Available: To get the App you go to the App Store and download MyParish. Once you download it, you search for Basilica of Saint Mary. The App was launched to the parish beginning on November 4. The App has message notification and group messaging features that we will be expanding soon. It is our hope that the App will help us keep in touch with people and make it easier for people to find out everything that is happening at The Basilica. 
 
 
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
 
 
 
 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/112518.cfm 

This coming Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  This Feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925.   Seeing the devastation caused by World War I, Pius established this Feast as a way to remind people that Christ is Lord of both heaven and earth.  Initially this Feast was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but when the Roman Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar in 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year.  (The new liturgical year always begins with the Fist Sunday of Advent.)    

Our readings this Sunday have an apocalyptic tone.  As I have said previously, apocalyptic writing is very stylized.   It uses vivid imagery and dramatic language, as well as visionary and prophetic images to make its point.  Apocalyptic language was used in times of trail or difficulty to assure people that despite the suffering of the present moment, God was with them and ultimately would triumph.   Apocalyptic literature is not meant to be taken literally.

Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John.  It is the scene of Jesus before Pilate.   Pilate asks Jesus:  “Are you the King of the Jews?”   Jesus reminds Pilate and us that “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”   While ostensibly Pilate is in charge of this encounter, from John’s perspective (and ours) Jesus is the one who is in control.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel.   It is part of Daniel’s vision in which he saw “one like a Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” to be present to the “Ancient One.”   We would see this language as prefiguring Christ.   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Revelation.  It is a hymn of praise for Christ.   “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who had made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. We aren’t big on royalty in the United States.  How would you explain Christ the King to an unbeliever?   
  2. What would you say to someone who takes a literal approach to apocalyptic literature?     
  3. What are the hallmarks of one who tries to live as a member of the Kingdom of God?  

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

SECOND WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
18 November 2018

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

 

[complete letter]

http://www.pcpne.va/content/pcpne/en/attivita/gmdp/2018/messaggio.html

 

On this World Day, we are asked to fulfil the words of the Psalm: “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied” (Ps 22:26). We know that in the Temple of Jerusalem, after the rites of sacrifice, a banquet was held. It was this experience that, in many dioceses last year, enriched the celebration of the first World Day of the Poor. Many people encountered the warmth of a home, the joy of a festive meal and the solidarity of those who wished to sit together at table in simplicity and fraternity. I would like this year’s, and all future World Days, to be celebrated in a spirit of joy at the rediscovery of our capacity for togetherness. Praying together as a community and sharing a meal on Sunday is an experience that brings us back to the earliest Christian community, described by the evangelist Luke in all its primitive simplicity: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers… And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:42.44-45).

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/111818.cfm    

 

It seems that every few years someone predicts that the world will end on a specific date, or in a particular year.   So far all of these predictions have been wrong, but that hasn’t stopped people from continuing to predict the end of the world. 

 

In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus talks about the end times.  He said: “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the starts will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”   This imagery is vivid and stark.  It reminds us that the end times will come and there will be a summation of the world and a time of judgment. 

 

It is important to remember, though, that at the end of this Gospel Jesus also says:  "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”    These words remind us that while we do believe that the world will one day come to an end, we shouldn’t spend our time wondering and worrying about when it will occur.  Rather, we should live our lives in such a way that we will be prepared whenever it comes. 

 

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel.   It too speaks of the end times.  It also is hopeful, though.  For the closing verse of today’s reading says:  “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” 

 

For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews.   Today’s selection contrasts the Jewish priests of the Old Testament with Jesus Christ:  “But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God:”

 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Why do you think people continue to predict the end of the world?
  2. If you knew the world was going to end at a certain point in the future, what would you do differently?  
  3. If you would do something differently if you knew the end of the world was coming, why aren’t you doing that now?    

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church 

Wednesday, November 14, 6:00pm-9:00pm 

We will offer our highest prayer for people who have been harmed by clergy abuse.

This Mass for Justice, Healing and Peace will be followed by a program on Restorative Justice, and an introduction to Healing Circles.

Mass 6:00pm

Healing Circles 7:00pm

 

Evening for Justice, Healing and Peace

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church 

Hofstede Hall 

One Lourdes Place, Minneapolis, MN 55414

www.ourladyoflourdesmn.com

 

 

Vouchers for two hours of free parking in the Riverplace parking ramp on 2nd Street SE by the church will be available.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/111118.cfm 

Our Gospel this weekend opens with Jesus sitting opposite the temple treasury.   He watched as people put money in the treasury.  In fact, “Many rich people put in large sums.”   Then “a poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’”   

It is easy to be generous when we have a surplus.  As Christians, though, the challenge for us is to give from our hearts, not from our surplus.   We are called to share generously --- whether it be our money, our time, our possessions, our care and concern, whatever it might be --- we are called to share simply because we are able to do so.   As followers of Jesus we are to share our blessings because we recognize that we have been blessed.   

Our first reading this weekend from the first Book of Kings shares the theme of the Gospel.  We are told that Elijah went to the home of a widow in the town of Zarephath.   He asked her for a cup of water and a bit of bread.  She told him that she had “only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug.”   Elijah told her not to worry to “make a little cake and bring it to me……………For the Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’”   As a result of her generosity in sharing what little she had, “She was able to eat for a year and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry.”    

We continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews in our second reading this weekend.   It reminds us “so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. Can you recall a time when you shared/gave more than you had anticipated?   What motivated you to do this?
  2. Why does sharing seem to be easier for some people than for others? 
  3. How would you describe salvation to someone who comes from a non-Christian background?