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Archives: August 2019
The new 150 Faces of The Basilica exhibit features photographs and stories of parishioners from the Immaculate Conception Church and The Basilica, 1868 through 2018: Broadway stars, police officers, businessmen and women, federal agents, nuns and immigrants. Come meet them all!
Through September 30
John XXIII Gallery and Teresa of Calcutta Hall, Lower Level
What is a parish without its parishioners?
October 4, 1868 marked the first Mass by Fr. James McGolrick, our first rector, in the first church building, the Shed Church attachment to the Immaculate Conception school, at the corner of 3rd Street N. and 3rd Avenue N. in Minneapolis.
For the last year we have celebrated our sesquicentennial with concerts and special Masses and service opportunities. To wrap up the year, we are celebrating some of the people who have made up the heart of this parish for the last 150 years: About half of them in August, the other half for September.
It is a somewhat random sample. It hopefully gives a taste of the diverse talents and experiences of our parishioners over the years.
I would love to hear your story as well – or the story of your family here! If you would like to share it with the Basilica Archives and the next generations of parishioners, please let me know.
In just over a week, our son will begin kindergarten. How can this be when he was just born yesterday? He has been in pre-school, so the transition to kindergarten will not be a shock to any of us, but it does mean a new school, new teachers, meeting new children who will (and won’t) become his friends, and letting go of what was known in his old school. He won’t see Scotty, Charlotte, or Joey anymore, and for a five year old there is some sadness that comes with that. My daily prayer is that he listens to his teachers (better than at home!), makes some good friends, and is anything other than the “mean kid” in his class.
Many of us are going through changes at this time of year. It can be parents who are sending little ones off to school for the first time. Some are getting older children ready for middle school or high school, with all of the anxiety and excitement that comes with that. Some parents will soon be loading up their cars and traveling with young adults beginning college, making one more trip to Target and/or the campus bookstore to make sure they’ve done all they can to help their son and daughter with a major transition. They might be new “empty nesters,” having to adjust to the reality of not seeing their children and being in a quieter home. In all of these situations, we do what we can but have to let go, knowing that once the children are on the bus, dropped off, or we drive away from campus, we have to let go and entrust them to God’s loving care.
For others, transitions can happen when one retires, and beyond trying to figure out what to do with extra time, a sense of identity can be lost when we don’t have a career anymore. Transitions come when a loved one’s (or our own) health deteriorates, and we know that things won’t ever be the same again. Of course, when a spouse, child, or loved one dies, we face those transitions too, often with grief, anger and confusion, and fear of not knowing what will come next. On a national level, we are wrestling with how to welcome those who come to our borders: transitioning from the often harsh realities of violence and corruption in their home countries; looking for a new start with their families.
A priest I know well told me many times that “God is faithful…God is faithful…God is faithful.” He told me that as we were waiting for our son to be born, going through the adoption process, not knowing exactly how it would all work out. It can be a helpful reminder for us, a simple truth that we can hold on to. It’s also a call to be faithful, to God and to each other. We know “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and so we can be faithful in our call to love our neighbors through all of life’s transitions, large and small.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082519.cfm
This Sunday we celebrate the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus is asked an important question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” In one form or another, this question has been asked by people of every generation.
Based on Revelations 7:1-8, those who take a fundamentalist/literalist approach to scriptures, argue that the number of those who will be saved is one hundred forty-four thousand. It is interesting, though, that in our Gospel for this Sunday Jesus does not answer this question. Instead Jesus told a parable about the people seeking admittance after the master of the house has locked the door. They are told “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers.” And at the end of the Gospel Jesus says: “And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”
While on the surface Jesus words in our Gospel may seem confusing, I think they tell us three important things about salvation. 1. They remind us that it is foolishness to try to determine or limit the number of people who will be saved. 2. They tell us that salvation is not automatic, and not based simply on familiarity with Jesus. 3. They suggest that salvation is not something we achieve/merit, but rather it is God’s gift.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The opening sentence is significant: “Thus says the Lord: I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.” These words are clear that salvation is not limited to a chosen few. God’s salvific will is universal.
Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter to the Hebrews. In it the author admonishes: “do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him.” Apparently, some early Christians had begun to lose their enthusiasm for the faith and had grown lax. This passage reminds them that: “for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines.”
Questions for Discussion/Reflection:
- There seems to be an endless curiosity about the “number” of people who will be saved. Why do you think this is?
- If salvation is God’s gift, what do we need to do to accept that gift?
- It is interesting that discipline and discipleship share the same root. What kind of discipline is expected of disciples?
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
What happened? I suspect that might be the question on some people’s minds when they read/hear the opening sentence of this Sunday’s Gospel. “Jesus said to his disciples; “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” Jesus goes on to say: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” He then speaks of the divisions that will result because of him. When we hear these words I suspect many of us wonder what happened? Why the change of tone. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we heard Jesus tell us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves?
To understand this Sunday’s Gospel we need to remember that in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is always on his way to Jerusalem. And it is in Jerusalem that Jesus will face his passion and death. Chapter 12 is the halfway point in Luke’s Gospel so Jesus is starting to prepare his disciples for these events. Jesus is not suggesting that his disciples seek out conflicts and division. Rather he is trying to help us understand that following him might at times put us at odds with or even separate us from others. Discipleship is not always easy and at times it may even cause division.
Our first reading this Sunday, from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, shares the theme of the Gospel. The princes of the people said to King Zedekiah: “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city and all the people by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.” Clearly Jeremiah’s words as a prophet had put him at odds with the princes, and because of this they sought his death.
For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the letter to the Hebrews. In the section we red this weekend the author exhorts the people: “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Has there every been a time when you have seen someone give witness to their beliefs even though it has set them at odds with others?
2. Has there been a time when your beliefs as a Christian have set you apart from others?
3. What burdens/sins to you need to rid yourself of in order to “persevere in running the race that lies before us?”
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
This Sunday we celebrate the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our Gospel and our first reading this weekend focus on the need for preparedness. In the Gospel Jesus tells his disciples that they are to be “like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” Those who are prepared will be well rewarded for their master will “gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.” While this last sentence clearly is an exaggeration, the point is important. Those who are prepared for the master’s coming will be rewarded. While it would be nice to know the precise day and hour when the master will return, this information is not and will not be available to us. So instead of wasting our time and efforts trying to determine when the end will come and the master will appear, it is far preferable simply to be prepared. This doesn’t mean that we have to be “spiritual insomniacs.” Rather we are called to live our lives in such a way that we will be ready whenever the master comes.
Our first reading this Sunday shares the theme of preparedness --- not for the master’s coming, but for the Passover --- when the Jews were led out of Egypt. The opening sentence of this reading, though, seems to suggest that this night was known beforehand: “The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.” This sentence is not meant to suggest that they knew the exact date, rather that they were sure of their eventual deliverance.
The opening sentence of our second reading this Sunday is one of my favorite scripture quotes. “Brothers and Sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seem.” This is an eloquent description of faith, and a reminder that faith is about things beyond our senses and outside of our logic and rational explanations.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. How does one be prepared for the master’s coming?
2. How would you describe faith?
3. When have you “known” something by faith?
Mary, Untier of Knots
New icon commissioned for the 150th anniversary
As Catholics, we’re familiar with sacred art. We have the privilege of a rich history of paintings and sculptures that reflect our many stories. You may have had a chance to experience one of these art mediums – iconography – during the beautiful and mystical Icon Festival he Basilica has held every November since 1995.
Iconography is a stylized art form depicting persons in their transfigured – rather than human – state. For centuries, icons have served as vehicles of prayer and helped bring a fullness to our faith. They are purposely two dimensional so that we, as the onlookers, create the third dimension as we are drawn in and given the opportunity to experience grace.
Moving closer to God through iconography is something which artist Debra Korluka understands well. “During my formative years,” she shares, “icons brought me joy and contemplation and transported me into a world where the laws of existence were far more harmonious than in our temporal world. The images spoke to me about this: everything visible assumes an invisible dimension, everything created assumes an uncreated perspective. Everything mundane becomes deeply mystical and timeless.”
Years of creating icons depicting the lives of the saints have taught Debra that “growth and wisdom experienced through suffering opens us to the source of life and love.” Her work flows into her everyday life as she “seeks the face of Christ in every individual I encounter.”
In Debra’s studio, while chant music plays softly in the background, natural light filters in and illuminates years of her Byzantine iconography work. Laid out on a table as a work in progress is a new icon, “Mary Untier of Knots,” which has been commissioned by The Basilica as part of the parish’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Fr. Bauer explains this icon’s history: “The devotion to this icon has existed for centuries. It is not based on an apparition of Mary. Rather it finds its origins in a meditation of St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, who was martyred in 202. He wrote about how Adam and Eve tied the knot of human disgrace for the human race by disobeying God, while Mary undid it by saying yes to God and becoming the Mother of Jesus.
This icon offers a relevant perspective for us today. “We all have knots in our lives,” Fr. Bauer reflects. “Knots of alienation, addiction, discord, hurt, fears, a lack of respect, or the absence of peace or harmony. Through veneration of this icon, we hope to invite people to invoke the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin as we seek her assistance in untying those knots that hold us bound and keep us moving forward in our relationship with God.”
What a beautiful reminder of our relationship with and need for God; to acknowledge that as humans we can’t help but have discord or pain, yet we strive through prayer and God’s mercy to continually undo them.
While The Basilica commissioned Debra to create this icon, her artistic licensure doesn’t play a role in the piece the way it would in other art forms. Rather, her work adheres to the traditions that have been handed down over centuries in the Byzantine icon style. It’s the Holy Spirit guiding her brush. Debra parallels creating icons to the first verse of Genesis. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” She further describes her process as “contemplating an image for an icon is a movement of being ‘without form’ to the ‘being of Light.’ The beginnings of an icon gradually develop in the hands of the artist through many stages before becoming a clear and luminous image.’”
When you have the opportunity to gaze upon this icon, or any other, allow yourself to be immersed and to contemplate your emotional response. Be absorbed into the image and the silent Word of God. Quiet yourself in prayer and open yourself up to evoke communication with the Divine.
While icons offer a chance to experience contemplation and grace, Debra also gently reminds us that “every person is created in God’s image and is desired by God to be a living icon through our lives of faith.” In that respect, we are intrinsically woven together. We are both invited into and invited to become icons.
Elyse Rethlake is a parishioner and a volunteer BASILICA photographer.
This article was published in the spring edition of BASILICA magazine.