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Archives: February 2020
Music can be defined as “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” I have lived each day of my life surrounded by music. Whether it was listening to my parent’s record collection, participating in my school’s theater department, playing the piano, or hearing the church choir every Sunday at Mass. This passion for music grew as I explored concerts and events beyond my immediate community. It was not long until I discovered the state’s longest running music festival, the Cities 97.1 Basilica Block Party. In 2012, I was one of the lucky block partiers to attend these (very!) sold out nights of music, which marked my first ever festival.
What astounded me most was the incredible feeling of community and welcome that was found throughout the campus and grounds. As my first introduction to The Basilica of Saint Mary, it was apparent the volunteers and committee members shared a passion in creating a space to celebrate outdoor music, summertime, and their love for The Basilica parish and building. As I have come to know these dedicated groups, it is clear their drive and passion for the Block Party is stronger than ever. Whether it be through attending, serving on the committee, or volunteering, it all begins within our parish community.
The 26th annual Cities 97.1 Basilica Block Party will take place on July 10 and 11 on our beautiful Basilica campus. I am really excited about the variety and energy that this eclectic lineup brings to this year’s event. After celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2019, we are stepping into the next evolution of The Basilica Block Party. I wonder if anyone could have predicted the trajectory and reach of the Block Party at its inception in 1995. Founded 26 years ago in hopes of raising funds for emergency roof repairs, the event has grown in attendance and become a staple summer event in the Twin Cities.
Since that fateful weekend in 2012, I have served two internships in the Development department, began my post-collegiate career as the Events and Communications Assistant, and finally landed as the Special Events Coordinator. There are moments I wish I could tell my 2012 Block Party self to look around and soak it in, not knowing the best was yet to come. As I enter my sixth Basilica Block Party season as a staff member, I feel a refreshed excitement for the organization’s future. Each year brings new opportunities, new fans, and a new energy to our campus and community. I am certain the 2020 Cities 97.1 Basilica Block Party will be the best yet.
Tickets, bands, and volunteer opportunities at basilicablockparty.org.
"We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern." Pope Francis, 9/16/13
As Catholics, we bring the richness of our faith to the public square. We draw from both faith and reason as we seek to affirm the dignity of the human person and the common good of all. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers us a document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, to guide us as we seek to exercise our rights and duties as citizens.
Everyone is called to participate in public life and contribute to the common good.
Consider participating in two ways:
Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m
Precinct caucuses are meetings run by all Minnesota’s political parties. They are the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates, and set goals and values. Find your caucus and learn how to get involved at https://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/
Minnesota Presidential Primary
Tuesday, March 3
In 2016, legislation was passed establishing a presidential nomination primary—the first in Minnesota for decades. Two major parties have submitted candidates for the ballot. A voter’s choice of party ballot will be recorded and is private data. Vote in this important Presidential Primary on Super Tuesday.
For questions and to learn where to vote, go to https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/presidential-primary/
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
This weekend we begin the season of Lent. Now as you may have heard me say previously, when I was growing up I used to look forward to Lent with all the excitement of a trip to the Dentist. (My apologies to the dentists in our congregation.) As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for our Church, as well as for me personally. It is a time to step back from the usual activities of life and focus on our relationship with God. We do this through the primary activities of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. In our prayer we attend to God. Through our fasting we deny ourselves what we want to discover what we really need. And in our almsgiving, we offer from our surplus, to those who have little or nothing.
Each year on the first Sunday of Lent we read one of the accounts of the Temptation of Christ in the desert. This year we read from the Gospel of Matthew. The basic details of the temptation are the same in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In these Gospels Jesus faces three temptations: The temptation to take care of his own needs (turn stones into loaves of bread); the temptation to a grandiose display of power (throw yourself down from the parapet of the temple); and finally the temptation to worldly power and might (all the kingdoms of the world I shall give you, if you only worship me). We all face similar temptations in our lives --- certainly not to the extent that Jesus did --- but temptations that are similar in kind, if not strength and intensity. Jesus has shown us, though, that God’s grace is sufficient to resist these temptations.
In our first reading this weekend we read the scriptural account of the temptation of Adam and Eve. It serves as a counterpoint to the Gospel. Unlike Adam and Even, Jesus does not succumb to temptation.
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. It follows the theme of the Gospel and first reading and reminds us that “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. We all face temptations in our lives. Now certainly the temptations we face aren’t nearly as intense or as powerful as those faced by Jesus. Would you agree, though, that in one way or another we all face temptations similar to those faced by Jesus?
2. Christians did not invent temptation. We do believe, though, that we have found the remedy for temptation in Jesus Christ. When has God’s grace helped you to resist temptation?
3. Why do some people seem better able to resist temptation than others?
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!”
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?