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Archives: February 2020
Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate
A non-partisan call to focus on the dignity of all people, even those with whom we disagree, and to put faith in action.
Pledge to root your political viewpoints in the Gospel and a well formed conscience, which involves prayer, conversation, study and listening. Stand up for your convictions and speak out when you witness language that disparages others' dignity, while also listening and seeking to understand others’ experiences.
We invite you to join Catholics throughout the United States and model love for our neighbors by pledging to Civilize It and committing to civility, clarity, and compassion in 2020.
Let our Basilica community know you are taking the Civilize It pledge.
Take the pledge at: CivilizeIt.org
As a community we will work together to honor human dignity through civil conversation.
Working previously in college campus ministry, and now with young adults, I have to be engaged with social media, at least to some degree. Usually, it’s a helpful way to invite others into The Basilica, and Basilica Young Adult (BYA) community, but I have to admit it has been a while since I have been on Catholic Twitter. Not Twitter as a whole, just Catholic Twitter. I used to follow a variety of Catholics on Twitter, to keep up on what was happening in the Church and get various perspectives on different issues. After several weeks of seeing the vitriol, name calling, and almost complete lack of charity for one another, it was time to stop following those accounts. (The rest of Twitter isn’t much better, but Christians are called to love their neighbor, so it is especially troubling to see this behavior from people of faith).
This weekend, we are grateful to have Dr. William Doherty from the University of Minnesota here to present on how we can have difficult political conversations with those who disagree with us. This presentation will lead into a series of workshops in March where we can learn more practical skills in how we engage others. We also are encouraging all interested to take the Civilize It pledge from our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to engage others with civility, clarity, and compassion during this 2020 election year—visit mary.org/civilizeit for more information and the link to the pledge form at Civilizeit.org. There is a similar ecumenical effort shared by a number of Christian denominations called Golden Rule 2020, inviting all Christians to engage each other with love.
It strikes me as a little sad that we have to take a pledge to be civil to each other; if we really believe in one God who created all of us out of love, we would treat each other with some level of respect. However, until the Kingdom of God is fully realized, I suppose we will need occasional reminders, myself included. I read an article recently by a priest who shared the saying, “You will know they are Christians by their love, and you will know they are Catholics by their fights.” This priest intimated that this was well known; I was startled by it. I had never heard that before, and if that is how people engage the Catholic community in their daily encounters, it is no wonder people are tempted to disengage from the Church.
One of the places where I find hope in this community is in the various events I attend with young adults. The young adults I have encountered here, and throughout the Archdiocese, come with diverse ideas involving political issues, and how they engage with, and live out their faith. Certainly I have seen disagreements, but more often than not, everyone is respectful, and comes away with greater understanding, if not agreement. Hopefully we can be an example of a faith community that always practices civility, clarity, and compassion with each other and beyond.
Follow the link below or copy and paste it into your browser for this weekend’s readings.
In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you…………………..” Later Jesus says again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you…………................”
Now there are some people who have suggested and continue to suggest that in these words Jesus was seeking to abolish the law the scribes and Pharisees held so dear. I don’t believe this was the case. Rather I think Jesus was calling his disciples to a deeper commitment to the law and an entirely new way of living. Jesus is clear about this at the end of this weekend’s Gospel when he said: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” These words remind us very forcibly that as followers of Jesus our lives are to be substantially different from those of non-believers. Certainly we don’t always do this well, but that does not mean that we can ever stop trying.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Leviticus. It shares the theme of the Gospel. Specifically God told Moses to tell the whole Israelite community: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge again any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In the section we read this weekend Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us): “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Why is it so hard at times to love our neighbor?
2. What helps you let go of hurt and resentment, and forgive?
3. What do you think Paul meant when he said we are Temples of God?
There is both a long form and short form of our Gospel this Sunday. The remarks below are based on the short form of the Gospel. For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021620.cfm
I suspect we have all encountered people who could be described as “holier than thou.” This oft used phrase paints a picture of an individual whose words and actions suggest an attitude of religious superiority and/or self righteousness. Such were the scribes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus. They were not necessarily bad people. The problem was they thought that by knowing and following the law to the letter, they were models of holiness and righteousness. The difficulty with this was that they had allowed the following of the law to become an end in itself and not a means by which they could grow in and develop their relationship with God. That is why Jesus’ opening words in our Gospel today are important: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus then goes on to challenge those who would be his disciples to go beyond the law in their words and actions. This continues to be our challenge. We may not have born false witness or harmed a neighbor, but have we truly tried to love our neighbor as our self. Following the letter of the law is far easier than giving witness to the law by the witness of our lives.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach. In the section we read today the author reminds us of the importance of following God’s commandments. The commandments, though, are given to help us live justly and uprightly. Following them is not an end in itself.
Our second reading this Sunday is once again taken from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. It reminds us of God’s mysterious and hidden wisdom. It closes with the wonderful promise: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Has there been a time when you have followed the letter of the law, but have stopped at that point?
2. Do you think your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees?
3. What do you think God has prepared for those who love him?
Last Sunday, I had a wonderful conversation with a new parishioner. She recently moved to Minneapolis and quickly found a church home at The Basilica. She mentioned that she had been very much involved in her home parish. “Surely,” she said “you don’t need any more people to help out with the liturgy. Everything is done so beautifully.” I quickly retorted that despite the fact that our liturgy is celebrated so well, we always need more people and suggested she consider how she might best serve her new home parish.
One of the things that attracted me to The Basilica 25 years ago was the fact that our community cares so deeply about our liturgy. I noticed that when I visited for my interview in May of 1995. Surely, I was impressed with the very talented and committed staff and parishioners who interviewed me. But what really struck me was the way our community celebrates the liturgy. In it I saw and continue to see the embodiment of the liturgical dreams of the Second Vatican Council.
In a speech shortly after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI remarked that up until the Second Vatican Council it had been sufficient for lay people to merely be present at Mass. The Second Vatican Council changed this fundamentally. “Before,” he said “being there was enough; now attention and activity are required. Before everyone could doze or chatter, now “all must listen and pray.”
The primary way in which all of us are called to participate is by fully, actively, and consciously engaging in the liturgical actions. We cannot be passive attendees; rather we are to be active participants. So, we stand and sit and kneel. We respond in word and song. And we engage in the occasional prayerful silence.
Another way of participating actively in the liturgy is by responding to our individual calling to become a liturgical minister, celebrating the corresponding talents God has given us. You may have the gift to lead the community in prayer and therefore you may be called to ordination. You may be gifted with musical talents and thus are called to lead the community in song. You may have the talent of public speech and therefore you may be called to proclaim the Word of God. Your love for the Eucharist may be a sign that you are called to become an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Your welcoming personality and generous smile may be a gift that is to be used as a minister of hospitality/usher.
Signing up for liturgical ministry at The Basilica is very easy: just go to
mary.org/liturgicalministry. Or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Travis Salisbury. Travis is our coordinator of liturgical celebrations who will be more than happy to help you discern which ministry works best for you. And as I told our new parishioner last Sunday, “don’t ask what the liturgy can do for you. Ask what you can do for the liturgy!”
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Campus Master Plan: Beginning in January of 2018 a Campus Space Planning Committee began working to establish a vision for our campus to prepare us for the next 100 years of service to our Church and our city. Last fall this group completed its work in providing a vision, and establishing a set of priorities to ensure our buildings and campus serve both our current needs and the needs of future generations at The Basilica and in the community.
As a next step, we selected a team of individuals and organizations to translate that vision into a more specific Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. To work with members of our parish, we searched for an architectural firm that could work as a team with urban planners, historical preservationists, and landscape architects. Through a process which included “Requests for Qualifications” and “Requests for Proposals,” we identified interested experts from across the country. Eventually three teams were interviewed in person, and ultimately it was recommended to The Basilica Landmark Board that the Architectural firm HGA and their team be hired to develop a Master Plan for our Basilica Campus. The Basilica Landmark Board approved the funding of this recommendation and we began negotiations for a contract with HGA.
Next a small Master Planning Committee was formed to work with HGA and their team in the development of the Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. This Committee met for the past six months to develop a Master Plan for our campus, which included some specific issues, e.g. accessibility, music, parking, meeting/social space, and our liturgical space. As the details become finalized we hope to share the results of the work of this committee in the coming months.
The Plan is very comprehensive and includes recommendations to support the broad vision for the campus and solutions to all identified needs to better perform our day to day ministries and works. The Plan did not filter against a budget or a financial target to ensure we addressed all opportunities. The Master Plan included 15 “groupings” of work and expense to reflect potential projects or campaigns for The Basilica to consider. These are representative of likely project groupings, and the included detail allows The Basilica flexibility in defining scope of each project we pursue in the coming years.
The detail in the Master Plan will be used as a starting point and will help guide us as we begin the work to determine the appropriate scope and phases of implementing the Master Plan. These project priority decisions will be reflective of the needs of our Parish community and reflect the interests, budget and giving capacity of our Parishioners and donors.
2. Feasibility Study: As I have mentioned previously, The Landmark Board also approved funding to hire the firm of Bentz Whaley Flessner to conduct a feasibility study to help determine fund raising capacity for a potential Capital Campaign needed to implement elements of the newly developed Master Plan.
As the work of the Campus Space Planning, Master Plan Development, Feasibility Study and potential Capital Campaign have broad implications for our Parish we have been actively engaged with The Basilica Landmark Board, Parish Council, and Finance Committee to ensure our leaders are informed and appropriately involved in providing guidance and approval.
3. Our Parish Finances: A big THANK YOU to all those who so generously supported our Basilica parish at Christmas and through year-end giving. Your financial support makes it possible for us to continue to offer the programs, ministries, and services that are the hallmark of our parish.
I want to thank 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. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support.
4. Change Management Consultant: As I have mentioned previously, several months ago our parish our Parish Council and Finance Committee approved funding to hire a Change Management Consultant, to help us as we seek to implement our new strategic plan.
Most recently our parish staff and a small Task Force have been working with the Change Management Consultant to help us develop an “assessment tool” to help us identify those ministries, services, and programs, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community and need to continue, as well as those that need to change or end. Our new Strategic Plan has provided the foundation to guide our decision making process and prioritization.
It is both good and important periodically for parishes to take a step back and review the various programs and ministries that are part of their parish operation to make sure they are still filling a need, or whether they to be modified, or ended so that new or emerging needs can be addressed. The Change Management Consultant is helping us take a careful and considered look at all that we do here at The Basilica. We hope to finish this work sometime in early spring.
5. Archdiocesan Synod: On the weekend of January 18 and 19 members of our Parish Synod Committee spoke at all the Masses on the upcoming Archdiocesan Synod. A synod is a formal representative assembly designed to help a bishop in shepherding of the local Church. It is Archbishop Hebda’s hope that over the next two years, the synod process will involve every parish and draw on the gifts that have been bestowed in such abundance on the people of this Archdiocese to discern and establish clear pastoral priorities in a way that will both promote greater unity in our Archdiocese and lead us to a more vigorous proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. In doing so, it will help Archbishop Hebda discern, through a consultative process, the pastoral priorities of our local Church today—and into the near future.
The synod process began this past fall and continues during the winter and spring with prayer and listening events. After these events, in the summer of 2020, Archbishop Hebda will announce the topics that will shape the synod. In autumn of 2020 and winter of 2021 there will be a parish and deanery consultation process. On Pentecost weekend May 21-22, 2021 there will be a synod assembly. Delegates to this assembly will be invited from across the archdiocese and will meet to discern synod topics and vote on recommendations for the Archbishop. The Feast of Christ the King (November 21, 2021) is the anticipated publication of pastoral letter from Archbishop Hebda addressing the synod’s topics with a pastoral plan to shape the following 5-10 years.
I believe the synod process brings with it much promise for the future of our Archdiocese. It will only be successful, though, if people pray, participate, and honestly share their concerns, questions and hopes for our Archdiocese. To this end —since I first informed you of the synod—we have established a parish synod ambassador team who will work to solicit feedback from our parishioners and keep everyone informed as the synod process moves forward. There is a link to this group as well as information on the listening session at mary.org/synod. You can anticipate hearing more about the synod in the weeks and months ahead.
6. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2020 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 1 and 2. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services and programs within our Archdiocese. Now I realize many people are concerned that contributions to the Catholic Services Appeal will be used for purposes they didn’t intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This was done, to insure that all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services, and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal; I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information in pews, or learn more at csafspm.org.
7. Recent Maintenance Projects: In addition to several smaller maintenance projects this summer, there were also two major maintenance projects. We replaced the carpeting in the lower level of the church. If you have not been in the lower level of The Basilica recently I would encourage you to stop down and see the new carpeting. Replacing the old carpeting and updating the hospitality area with an expanded area of terrazzo was one of our major maintenance projects this summer. I know I come from a biased perspective, but I think it turned out quite well.
The other major maintenance project this summer/fall was rebuilding the south façade of our parish school building. While the brickwork is done a couple months ago, the Terra Cotta needed to finish the job was delayed. It finally arrived a few weeks ago and has been installed. If you haven’t seen the rebuilt south facade of the school, I invite you to stop and view it after church some weekend. I think it turned out exceptionally well.
8. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate: The Bishops of the United States have launched a year-long initiative that invites Catholics to model civility, love for neighbor, and respectful dialogue. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate will ask Catholics to pledge civility, clarity, and compassion in their families, communities, and parishes, and call on others to do the same.
The initiative is built on the recognition that every person—even, and perhaps especially, those with whom we disagree—is a beloved child of God who possesses inherent dignity. Civilize It is an invitation to imitate the example of Jesus in our daily lives in our encounters with one another through civil dialogue.
In talking about this initiative, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development emphasized the importance of Civilize It in the context of the current divisive climate:
“Conversation in the public square is all too often filled with personal attacks and words that assume the worst about those with whom we disagree. We are in need of healing in our families, communities, and country. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate is a call for Catholics to honor the human dignity of each person they encounter, whether it is online, at the dinner table, or in the pews next to them. I invite all Catholics to participate in Civilize It. In doing so, they can bear witness to a better way, approach conversations with civility, clarity, and compassion, and invite others to do the same.” You can find out more about Civilize It at CivilizeIt.org.
On Sunday, February 16 at 11:00am Bill Dougherty from Better Angels will speak in the lower level of The Basilica about the work of Better Angels. At the end of his talk we will invite people to take the Civilize It pledge of: 1. Civility; 2. Clarity; and 3. Compassion, and to pray for civility in our conversations. hose who are interested will also be invited to commit to the three additional three more workshops with Better Angels: March 7, 21, and 28. These will be skills workshops to delve deeper into the concepts Bill will address in his talk that day.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
At the heart of my faith is the unbending and abiding belief that each and every person is a beloved son and daughter of God. Now certainly my words and actions don’t always give witness to this belief. The sad fact is that at times I live and act in ways that seem to deny this core belief. And yet, this does not diminish what for me is the most basic fact of our existence: every human being is beloved and sacred in God’s eyes.
From my perspective the above belief needs to be applied consistently and without exception. From the unborn life in the womb, to the refugee at our border, to the homeless person on the street, to the inmate on death row, to the person suffering the ravages of a slow and painful death: all life is sacred. If we start down the road of arguing that life only has meaning and value that we assign to it, we can easily come to the conclusion that some lives are more important, more significant, or valuable than others. Frankly this idea frightens me. God is the author and sustainer of life. Life has value not because of anything we do, accomplish or possess, but rather because we are created in the image and likeness of God.
This past January marked the 47th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion. Legalized as a private act, abortion continues to be a divisive, emotionally charged, and very public issue. I believe those who identify themselves as pro-choice in regard to abortion either do not understand or refuse to acknowledge the sacredness of life, especially and most particularly, life in the womb. By the same token, those of us who identify ourselves as pro-life give the lie to this position when we fail to acknowledge and appreciate the sacredness of the woman considering an abortion, as well as those who identify themselves as being pro-choice.
If we are truly pro-life I believe we cannot disrespect, or worse condemn, those who are considering an abortion or who support abortion rights. Rather, we need to look at them as God does and treat them with care, concern, respect and love. Where we have failed to do this, we need to offer our most sincere and humble apologies. And we must recommit ourselves to have reverence for all life.
As pro-life people, our challenge and goal is to preserve, protect and enhance life at all stages of development, and in all its manifestations. Whenever the opportunity arises and whenever the occasion presents itself, we must freely and unapologetically speak of the value and dignity of every human life. And we must call people to respect the fragile, gracious and wondrous gift of life. In doing this, though, we must never forget our obligation to love and respect even those who don’t share our position, and not seek to demonize or condemn them.
As Catholics, as Christians, as people who are pro-life we must respect those with whom we disagree, and strive to see in them the image of God. If we cannot demonstrate our respect and reverence for life with those with whom we disagree, then our pro-life rhetoric rings hollow. For whenever we fail to respect life—any life—we fail to appreciate both the tremendous gift that life is, as well as the One who gave us that gift. It is not always easy to give voice and witness to our pro-life beliefs, but we need to remember that our God is always offering us the grace we need to do this.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
“Pass the salt, please.” How often do we use those words in a given week? I suspect that even those who are trying to cut down on their salt intake still use these words a fair amount of the time. Salt is perhaps the most common seasoning. It is an inexpensive way to give zest and flavor to whatever it is added.
In our Gospel today for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells his disciples that they are “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” In these familiar words Jesus reminds his disciples that they are to live in such a way as to have an impact on the world around them. Jesus is clear. No one “lights a lamp and then puts it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where is gives light to all in the house.” But we aren’t to be “salt” and “light” so that others will think highly of us. Rather we are to be salt and light so that people “may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly father.”
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In it Isaiah exhorts the people to “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light will shine forth like the dawn.” Clearly being a “light” requires some concrete and specific actions, not just good thoughts.
Our second reading this Sunday again comes from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In it Paul tells the people of Corinth that he “did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom …….... so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom, but on the power of God.”
Questions for discussion/reflection:
1. When have you been salt or light to those around you?
2. When has someone been salt or light to you?
3. When has your faith been encouraged not by someone’s words, but by someone’s actions?