Archives: February 2019

These past few weeks I have had so many intense conversations with people about where they are in regard to their faith life. These conversations have been so rich and diverse and filled with wonderful stories of how God has interacted in their lives.

One such encounter was with a friend who is my age and who has gone through several tragedies in her life, the latest being the loss of a child. She told me she prayed and prayed for God to do something and heal her daughter; it did not happen and her child died a slow painful death. She was truly grateful for all those who were involved in her daughter’s illness from doctors to family members and friends. She was also grateful for her faith community that surrounded her but the one she had the problem with was God. She felt that God wants nothing to do with our lives and has just left us on earth to fend for ourselves. I tried to suggest to her that God works through doctors and the community that surrounded her with care and concern but she would have none of it. She said that they were responsible for all that, not God. It left me wondering about doubt and what we can learn from it. It also made me remember that sometimes it is easier to blame God than to just see it as part of life. 

There is pain and suffering throughout everyone’s life. That is a very real part of life. Just listen to the news some evening and you will hear about the suffering of many. It seems so unfair and cruel for these things to happen to us. In our anger and loss it is so much easier to blame someone than to face the reality of what happened. I believe this response is part of the process of grieving and the stages of dying. 

Acceptance of a loved one’s suffering or death comes much later on as we go through denial, blame and anger in the mourning process. We experience various kinds of loss—loss of control, loss of companionship, loss of a loved one, loss of trust and sometimes loss of faith. If we feel like we have lost our faith in God that can leave us feeling terribly alone and without hope.

All of these things that we may experience are very normal in the life of a Christian. Just because we have come to the point of thinking that we have lost our faith in God, doesn’t mean we really have. Being filled with doubt is common in many of the lives of the saints. Doubt can be an unforeseen gift…it takes us to the place of re-evaluating our relationship with God. In the darkness of doubt we can be confronted with either despair or hope…two very opposite places to be. Whenever I have come to this place in my life, I find it impossible to pray. Do I really believe that God answers our prayers? 

Perhaps, the reason we pray is not because God needs it but because we do. Praying for ourselves or someone else really is about teaching us to get out of ourselves and think about someone else. It’s about turning our hearts towards loving someone else as much as we love ourselves. I need my faith community around me. Sometimes in the darkness it is my faith community that prays when I cannot. This is the power of community and being part of the Body of Christ. This is the reason why I can’t leave and I choose to stay.

Multi-generational families committed to service 

“FOR everything there is a season,” wrote Qoheleth, whose teachings were recorded in Ecclesiastes long before The Byrds added a catchy refrain in the Sixties. A time to reap, to sow, to laugh, to cry, to dance, to heal, to embrace, and more. There is a time and place to everything under the heaven. Some Basilica families have spent many times and seasons at The Basilica, purposely weaving the parish into their lives multi-generationally.

 

Full article:

https://www.mary.org/sites/default/files/assets/files/3030-3049-carrying-basilica-tradition.pdf 

From the Fall 2018 issue of the BASILICA magazine. 

 

BASILICA Magazine 150 Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.mary.org/magazinefall2018

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/030319.cfm 


Parables were a favorite teaching device for Jesus.   In essence parables are simply short stories or sayings that are meant to convey a deeper meaning.   They try to tell us something about God, about our relationship with God, or about how we are to live.   In our Gospel this Sunday we find several brief parables:  “Can a blind person guide a blind person?   No disciple is superior to the teacher.  Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  A good tree does not bear rotten fruit.  For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes.”   Taken together these parables/sayings remind us that those who seek to guide others, must take care that their own house is in order before they undertake the task of guiding someone else.   

Clearly the message of these parables/sayings is one that needs to be heard today --- perhaps most especially by those in leadership positions in our church.   In the recent history of our church we have seen many priests and bishops who sought to guide others, while not “practicing what they preached.”  Because of this we should not be surprised that people have left of Church.   For this we need to hold people accountable.   As a consequence of this those in leadership positions must re-learn that they need to preach first to themselves before they presume to preach to others.  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach.  We don’t often read from this book, but the section we read today shares the message of the Gospel.   “When a sieve is shaken the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks.   As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just.”  

Our second reading today is taken from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.   In the section we read today Paul reminds us to be steadfast in faith, so our labor will not be in vain.  “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Can you remember an instance when your words/actions were not consistent with your faith?
  2. Has there been a time when your faith has been tested in regard tribulations you have had to face? 
  3. How does one devote themselves to the work of the Lord? 
     

As the snow gently falls outside my office window it is hard to imagine that come July 12 and 13 the snow on the east lawn will be replaced by concert goers, vendors, and back by popular demand the silent disco as our community celebrates the 25th anniversary Basilica Block Party. 

In an era when new festivals pop-up weekly and just as many never make it to year two—25 years is a true accomplishment. This accomplishment is only possible because of some very visionary thinking—an incredible group of staff and volunteers both past and present, as well as all of you. The Basilica parish that has embraced this summer tradition for the last quarter century. 

To celebrate, please join us as our community celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Basilica Block Party with a little pre-party on Sunday, June 2!  After all of our Sunday Masses, you will have your one and only chance to buy fee-free tickets to this year’s block party, exclusive volunteer openings only for parish members, fun giveaways, and a chance to walk down memory lane with some of our favorite ad campaigns, t-shirts, and photos from years gone by.

Personally, this will be my 12th Basilica Block Party, something I could never have imagined when I started as a wide-eyed Block Party intern in 2007. Fast forward to today and even after all these year it is still hasn’t lost its charm. It is still my absolute favorite event of the summer.

Over the years I have 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 than 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 bands 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 our St. Vincent de Paul ministry to help our neighbors in need.

I hope you will join us on July 12 and 13 for 2019 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 Kacey Musgraves, Jason Mraz, Semisonic, CHVRCHES, Dawes, HANSON, The Jayhawks, Metric, Anderson East, JOHNYSWIM, Flora Cash, Ruston Kelly, Lissie, and Yam Haus for two nights of amazing music.

Check out the the The Basilica Block Party's website for ticket information.

 

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/022419.cfm


“Now, listen because I’m only going to say this once.”  Growing up with four brothers and two sisters, these words were frequently on my mother’s lips.   I was reminded of them when I read the opening words of our Gospel today.  “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘To you who hear, I say,’”   

In our Gospel for this Sunday Jesus tells his disciples that they are to live and act in ways that set them apart from others.   Jesus tells his disciples: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you………. Give to everyone who asks of you…………Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful……….. Stop judging and you will not be judged……….. Give and gifts will be given to you.”    

Jesus’ words remind us clearly that for his followers God is the standard for our words and actions.  We are called to treat others as God has treated us, by loving and caring for them, being merciful and by not judging.   Certainly we don’t always do this.  Yet Jesus is clear.   As God has loved and cared for us, and shown us God’s mercy in so many ways, so we are called to do this for one another.  This is not just a suggestion or a recommendation.  It is a command given to all those who seek to follow Jesus Christ. 

Our first reading this Sunday is from the first Book of Samuel.    In the section we read today we heard, that King Saul, consumed by jealousy of David, was seeking to kill him. In a reversal, though, David  has a chance to kill Saul.  He refused to do it, though, thus demonstrating God’s mercy and compassion.  

In our second reading this Sunday from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, Paul reminds us that “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, (Adam) we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.”  (Jesus)   


Questions for reflection/discussion:

  1. Jesus told us to “love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.”  Why do we find this so difficult? 
  2. Jesus also said:  “Give and gifts will be given to you.”  When have you experienced this in your life?
  3. Where have you seen others bearing the “image” of the heavenly one?  (Jesus Christ)

Over the past few years, The Basilica of Saint Mary has prayerfully been developing a parish-wide, faith filled-response to racism. Rooted in our Catholic Faith, this effort will create a safe place for discovery and discernment, ritualizing respectful dialogue. It will provide multi-faceted learning experiences that include sharing stories/relationship building, art and media, speakers, workshops, and working with community organizations. It will be sustained over time, seeking to propel transformation and change individually and collectively.

The initiative on racism coincides with implementation of the new Basilica Strategic Plan. This new plan calls us to promote inclusivity as an institution—addressing cultural and religious divides. We are called to support and welcome those who have been marginalized and seek interventions in the systems that perpetuate marginalization. 

To fulfill these goals, we are beginning a partnership with the Penumbra Theatre. Penumbra Theater is the largest and among the oldest African American theatre companies in the country. They produce artistically excellent, thought-provoking, and socially responsible drama that illuminates the depth and breadth of the black experience. 

The partnership with Penumbra Theatre will begin this Lent. It will carry over several years, gradually folding in more and more of our parish community. Penumbra will customize each workshop to fit the unique needs of The Basilica. Its programming is rigorous and immersive. Together, we are grateful for the opportunity to build deep, ongoing relationships. 

The Penumbra RACE Workshop invites precipitants to Learn, Reflect and Act. Learn: Explore how race, gender, class and other identify markers shape our opportunities, success, safety and circumstances. Reflect: Become aware of how our intersectional identities determine how we see the world and how the world sees us. Act: Practice intervening in oppressive behaviors as they happen. 

Look for ways to get involved in the Basilica/Penumbra partnership. For more information contact Janice.

 

My youngest brother has a mean streak. He also can be incredibly kind and generous. He has helped me with my estate planning and in fact is the executor of my estate when I die. He and his wife and children also helped me move several months ago. They did a great job cleaning and packing. It was in the packing, though, that I noticed his mean streak. He kept asking me when the last time I had used something was. Then throughout the cleaning and packing process he would make periodic trips to the dumpster with trash bags that I didn’t remember filling. Much to my chagrin, however, I can’t say that I’ve missed anything. 
 
My brother also had my name for Christmas this year and one of the things on my list was a couple of new cookie sheets. As I was putting them away he demanded that I produce my old cookie sheet, which to be honest definitely had seen better days. He promptly took it and deposited it in the garbage. Now I can’t prove it, but I’m almost positive he threw out several other items while I wasn’t looking. 
 
Now, I know my brother isn’t really being mean, and he knows that while I am not a hoarder, I do have trouble letting go of things. I like to think I’m sentimental, but my brother is the youngest in our family, and for the first several years of his life everything he had was a “hand me down.” From this perspective, I suspect things lose their sentimentality after you’re the fourth or fifth person to possess or use them. Given this, my brother doesn’t have a problem purging things that aren’t being used or that have survived their usefulness. And while I did do some purging in my recent move, I know that there is a lot more purging that I need to do.
 
Not only do I need to do some purging of physical “stuff,” though, but I think there is also some emotional “stuff” that I could easily purge and do without. I suspect this is true for all of us. In my experience, most if not all of us hold on to some anger, resentment, and old wounds. We also carry around bad memories, hurt feelings and painful experiences we aren’t able to forgive. In most cases it’s not that we deliberately intend to hold on to these things, it’s just that we don’t know how, or simply aren’t able to purge them.
 
In the above situations it would be great if someone could just rummage through our past bad experiences and resentments and simply put them in an emotional dumpster. Unfortunately, this is a task we have to do ourselves. And yet, we really aren’t alone in it. If we invite God into our lives, if we let God’s grace find a home in our lives and hearts, God’s grace can help us to let go of—to purge—those negative things that in many cases hold us hostage and keep us from moving forward spiritually and emotionally.
 
Letting go of things, either physical things or emotional baggage, is not easy. Fortunately there are people who can help us purge some of our physical items. (I suspect my youngest brother might be available.) And God is there to help us let go of the emotional baggage we carry. The key in both cases is to invite them in and let them do what they are good at. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/021719.cfm 

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes.   The more familiar version of the Beatitudes is found in Matthew’s Gospel. (Mt. 5:1-12a)   Luke’s version of the Beatitudes differs from Matthew’s in three distinct ways.   1. Luke’s account takes place on a “stretch of level ground,” not on a mountain.  2.  Luke’s Beatitudes are not spiritualized as are Matthew’s, e.g. in Luke the “poor” and “hungry” are blessed, not the “poor in spirit” and those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”   3. Finally, Luke’s version contains four “blessings,” but also four “woes.”  

Luke’s Beatitudes remind us that true blessings come to those who know their need for God and rely on God rather than themselves.   They also suggest that when we seek to be fulfilled by earthly things, and place our confidence and hope in these things, we can anticipate “woe” for ultimately these things cannot satisfy us and cannot offer us eternal salvation. 

Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.   It shares both the theme and structure of the Gospel.  It reminds us that “cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,” and “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” 

In our second reading for this Sunday we continue to read from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.   The section we read today, is a simple, yet eloquent statement by Paul about our belief in eternal life.   Paul says clearly:  “If Christ is preached as raised form the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?” ……………….. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.”   
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you experienced God’s blessings in your life?
  2. When have you relied on yourself and not placed your trust in God?
  3. What does the promise of eternal life mean to you?  

Our Homeless Jesus sculpture has received quite a bit of media attention recently. Apparently the press learned  that an ambulance had been dispatched to The Basilica thinking that a person was sleeping on the bench. This story did not surprise me. I have personally witnessed first responders getting out of an ambulance ready to help the person on the bench, only to realize that it was a sculpture. I watched them use their phones to take some pictures, maybe to alert their colleagues.

The artist, Timothy Schmalz intentionally created a very realistic sculpture which he hoped would push us to face the persistent problem of homelessness. As I write this letter it is -28 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in these temperatures some people will have no choice but to spend the night outside.

I know that not everyone loves our Homeless Jesus. Some people think we should not represent the resurrected Jesus in the image of a homeless person. However, by depicting Jesus as a homeless person or more importantly, being asked to see Jesus in homeless people we simply illustrate the message of Matthew 25: ““Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Others have argued that the money spent on the Homeless Jesus should have been used to alleviate the suffering of those in need. The Basilica has a very strong commitment to helping all those in need. Our approach is two-pronged: alleviation and education. Thus, on the one hand we offer direct help to those in need and we work to change systems that cause and perpetuate poverty and inequality.  On the other hand we are also intent on changing people’s heart and mind so that they too might be moved to help those in need. And that is exactly what the Homeless Jesus intends to do:  change people’s heart and mind.

The sculpture is not so much about the bronze Jesus it represents, but rather about the suffering person in whom we ought to recognize Jesus. Many of us are a bit more like Peter than like Mary. Peter courageously declared to Jesus that he would never leave him, and yet he denied knowing Jesus after his arrest and he ran away when Jesus was crucified. By contract without making grandiose statements, Mary, the Mother of Jesus together with Mary of Magdala and John the Beloved stayed with him. They were not able to prevent his death but they stayed with him even as he was dying on the cross.

We received Homeless Jesus last November. Since then we have seen people quietly sitting on the bench next to him with their hands placed on his pierced feet. We have found flowers and a lit candle left beside him. And just a few weeks ago as the winter was setting in, someone lovingly covered him with a red blanket. It is our hope that the Homeless Jesus will move us to similar and even greater acts of kindness not just to the sculpture but more importantly to the people it represents.

 

Join Basilica Reads this Lent. As a parish we will read Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job by Kerry Weber.


The book is available at local and online book sellers. Books will be available to purchase at Ash Wednesday Soup Supper. A limited number of scholarship books are available. Watch for discussion group options soon.

Contact Janice for more information or a scholarship book.

 

Mercy in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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