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Archives: March 2020
Pastor's Column April/May
[This column was written prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.]
For Fr. Bauer's most recent message visit: Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Connected.
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Connect Desk: In case you missed it, in addition to our Hospitality and Information Desk in the lower level, we now have a new “Connect Desk” near the Hennepin Avenue interior doors of The Basilica. The idea behind this desk is to make it as easy as possible for people to connect with The Basilica. Whether an individual wants to become a member, volunteer, or just wants some basic information, the person at the Connect Desk should be able to respond to any queries quickly, easily, and personally. It is our hope that the Connect Desk will help facilitate people’s “connecting” with The Basilica easily and simply.
2. An Update on Current Parish Initiatives: A little over 10 years ago I co-chaired a Task Force on planning for our Archdiocese. One of the things that became clear to me when I co-chaired this Task Force was that as pastor, I needed to keep an eye on the future, and not focus exclusively on the present. Fortunately, I also realized that looking to the future was a task that would need the keen eyes of many people in addition to myself. Given this, I am pleased to report that in the last several months, due to the hard work of many of our parishioners, we have developed a new five year Strategic Plan (Our Parish, Our Future). Further, for the past few months we have been working with a Change Management Consultant 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.
Additionally, in consultation with our Parish Council, The Basilica Landmark Board established a Master Planning Committee to work with HGA Architects and their team to develop a Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. The Plan is very comprehensive and includes recommendations to support a broad vision for the campus, as well as solutions to identify 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 likely project groupings and the included detail will allow The Basilica flexibility in defining the 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 as well as the interests, budget and giving capacity of our Parishioners and donors.
In conjunction with the Master Plan, The Basilica Landmark Board also approved funding to hire the firm of Bentz, Whaley, Flessner to conduct a Feasibility Study to help determine the fundraising capacity of any potential Capital Campaign that would be 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. Easter Giving and Our Parish Finances: At the present time, we are holding our own financially, but the extra income we receive at Easter is a great help to our budget. For this reason, I invite you to be generous to The Basilica at Easter. Also, a big THANK YOU to all those who so generously support our Basilica parish. Your financial support makes it possible for us to continue to offer the programs, ministries, and services that are the hallmark of our parish.
4. 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. As I have mentioned previously, 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 on our website mary.org/synod. You can anticipate hearing more about the synod in the weeks and months ahead.
5. The 2020 Catholic Services Appeal: This yearly appeal helps support many of the ministries, services, and programs within our Archdiocese. I am fully aware that many people are concerned that contributions to the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA), 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. 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.
6. 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.
I also invite people to take the Civilize It pledge of:
2. Clarity and
and to pray for civility in our conversations. Let our Basilica community know you are taking the Civilize It pledge at mary.org/civilizeit.
7. Second Collections: While no one likes special collections, it is heartening to report that the people of The Basilica have been very generous to the last special collections here:
- On the weekend of November 30 and December 1, $9,525 was collected for our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.
- On the weekend of January 11 and 12, $9,768 was collected for our visiting Missionary from the Franciscan Mission Service.
On the weekend of January 25 and 26, $7,528 was collected to help defer the cost of heating The Basilica during the cold winter months.
The contributions to these collections testify to the generosity of the people of The Basilica. Please know of my gratitude and prayer for your generous and caring response.
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.
Each year on Palm Sunday we read one of the accounts of the Passion of Jesus Christ. This year we read Matthew’s account. While the accounts of Jesus’ passion share much in common, each one has some unique elements. In this regard, Matthew’s Gospel contains a more detailed account of the betrayal of Judas and his tragic end. Another element unique to Matthew is the request of the Chief priests and Pharisees that Pilot help them make sure Jesus’ disciples do not steal Jesus’ body and then later claim that he had been raised from the dead. Also, since Matthew wrote for a primarily Jewish audience, he was writing to convince them that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophets’ promise of a Messiah.
Perhaps the most important element that is unique to Matthew, though, occurs when Pilot asked the crowd about the fate of Jesus. Specifically Matthew adds the verse that Jesus’ blood “should be upon us and on our children” (Mt. 27.25). Unfortunately through the centuries this verse (and others) have been used to suggest that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. This idea was definitively rejected by the Second Vatican Council in its document: “Nostra Aetate,” and more recently by Pope Benedict XVI in his book: “Jesus of Nazareth – Part II.”
For Matthew, Jesus’ death is the result of living a life of forgiving love, and teaching others to follow his way of forgiveness. The question for us is whether we, like Peter, will be able to accept the forgiveness, that Jesus offers, or whether we will be like Judas and not be able to accept that forgiveness.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from that section of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah known as the “Suffering Servant Songs.” We see these words as prefiguring the suffering and death of Christ.
Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. It is a hymn to Christ’s divinity. In it he holds up Jesus as one who “became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And “because of this God greatly exalted him……….”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Believe it or not, I once had someone complain about reading the passion on Palm Sunday. They didn’t like it because it was such a “downer.” Why is it important to read the passion on this day?
2. Why is it so hard for us to believe that because of Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven? Or perhaps the question really is: why is it so hard for us to accept this forgiveness?
3. What part of the passion narrative strikes you most deeply?
This weekend, The Basilica was planning to hold our annual St. Vincent de Paul pledge drive. Once a year, The Basilica invites our community to learn about, pledge financial support, and become part of the important work of our St. Vincent de Paul ministry. We had brochures created, letters written, stories gathered, speakers identified, volunteers signed up. We were ready!
Yet, today we are being challenged to reconsider what it means to “be ready.” A new reality asks; how are we identifying, preparing, and responding to the unique needs of this day?
As we learn how to live with COVID-19, and as we seek to make decisions respecting and upholding the common good, new questions arise—new paradigms are developed—new fears are unmasked—new hopes are uncovered—and new responses are called for.
The core of our Basilica St. Vincent de Paul Ministry are relationships. Its mission is “To develop community by providing services to our guests and by working to help all fulfill their potential.” In practice, we know all benefit and experience transformation through these relationships: staff, volunteers, and those we serve. All are touched and changed in our work.
I see and hear the harsh realities of life under COVID-19 through my work at The Basilica. People are suffering. Those who were most vulnerable are more isolated and in greater need than before. Programs that serve have been suspended. People who felt secure are now insecure. The health risks are real, especially for the most vulnerable. The economics of the pandemic are unfathomable—and hitting many people hard today.
As we walk through Lent 2020, the experience of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on Good Friday has become my guiding prayer. Jesus went with some of his disciples to pray. He was distressed and troubled. In his sorrow, he separated himself and fell to the ground. Three times he prayed that his burden would be removed. Yet, he yielded to the will of his Father. He grieved and struggled, and ultimately accepted what he had to do. We know how this story ends—with resurrection and the promise of new life. Yet it was a hard and painful journey.
To get ready, Jesus went away to pray. He brought along companions. He was honest about his fears and courageous in his actions. Ultimately, he stood up and modeled a commitment to forgiveness, love, self-sacrifice and justice.
As we live into the unimaginable reality of live-streamed Masses and closed-down cities, we are invited to reflect deeply on how we get ready. We are challenged to let go of preconceived needs and expectations, and surrender parts of our life that sustained us in the past.
This Lent, as we walk through this pandemic together, we are challenged to find new ways to nurture and build relationships. We are inspired by the courage of first responders, the selflessness of grocery store workers, and the goodness of people who reach out “virtually” to check in and support another. Let us not forget those suffering around us. Though often invisible, we need one another.
Find Volunteer Opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic mary.org/volunteer.
Pope Francis invites everyone to join him on Friday, March 27 in prayer for the end to the coronavirus pandemic and for a special Urbi et Orbi blessing for the City and for the World. The prayer and blessing will be broadcast by Vatican News at 12:00pmCDT.
Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Connected.
A message from Fr. John Bauer, Pastor
I hope you and your families are staying well. As you know, we have suspended all public Masses and gatherings; however we are still connecting via conference call, Facebook, and Zoom.
We are also posting Stations of the Cross and Vespers. Many people have let us know how much they appreciate having access to these Basilica services.
Please let us know if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions to better serve you.
We know this is a challenging time financially for everyone. If you are able to continue to support The Basilica financially, we thank you. You may make a gift online at mary.org/donate.
If you find yourself needing financial support, we invite you to connect with our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.
Together, we will get though these challenging times. The threat of the Coronavirus has forced us to acknowledge that we need each other. As a community of faith we need to look after each other, to care for each other, to respond to the needs of each other, and perhaps most importantly to pray for each other.
Our newest Icon at The Basilica is Mary Untier of Knots. I would like to close today with a prayer to Mary, modeled after a prayer of Pope Francis.
Holy Mother of God and our Mother, to you who untie with a motherly heart the knots in our lives, we pray to you to receive into your hands all those impacted by the Coronavirus.
Through your intercession and your example deliver us from all evil. Untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that free from sin may find God in all things, may have our hearts placed in him, and my serve God always in our brothers and sisters. Amen.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
“Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” These words from our Gospel this Sunday were spoken by Martha in response to the death of her brother Lazarus. I would like to suggest, though, that they represent the feeling (if not the actual words) of many of us when we encounter difficulties. It is very easy to think that because we live a good life, because we pray and go to church regularly, that bad things shouldn’t happen to us. The reality is, though, that sometimes bad things happen to good people. We don’t know why this is. We just know that it does happen. More importantly, though, we know that even when bad things happen, God is with us. God suffers with us in our pain. God rejoices with us in our happiness. And God grieves with us in the face of death. I say this because in our Gospel for this weekend we are told that when they brought Jesus to the tomb of Lazarus he “wept.”
In this Sunday’s Gospel, it is also important to note that while Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead, it is important to note that this was a resuscitation --- a return to this life. While it pre-figures the resurrection, the difference is not just one of degree, but of kind. The resurrected life, is not just this life forever and ever. Rather it is a sharing in the very life of our God. We don’t know what the resurrected life will be like, but we do know and believe that in the resurrection we will be happy forever with our God.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet during the Babylonian captivity. This reading opens with the words: “Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.” These words should not be taken as a prophecy of the Resurrection, (At the time of Ezekiel the Jewish people did not have a firm belief in an afterlife.) but rather as a promise of restoration, e.g. eventually the Jews would be brought back to the land of Israel.
Our second reading this Sunday is again taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In it we are reminded that “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Is it easy or difficult for you to believe in Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of eternal life?
2. What helps you or what stands in the way of believing in eternal life?
3. How do you know when God’s Spirit is dwelling in you?
The Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Holy Saturday – Easter Sunday) is my most cherished time of the entire liturgical year. This was instilled in me from a young age as the celebration of the Sacred Triduum was an essential part of my family’s religious experience.
I fondly remember being one of the twelve who had their feet washed on Holy Thursday, the year I was confirmed. Even then I had a real sense that this small gesture embodies the essence of what it means to be a Christian. And being a lover of processions, how could I ever forget the solemn procession with the Blessed Sacrament.
At 3:00pm on Good Friday my grandmother gathered our family and everyone who worked in her shoe factory for prayer. I don’t remember what she said but I remember the gravity of the moment. At night, we walked the Stations of the Cross which were set up throughout the city. I will never forget the silent and solemn cadence of the movement and the music.
Holy Saturday, known to us as Silent Saturday, was a very quiet day. We spoke in hushed voices and tried not to disturb anyone from their prayerful ponderings and hopeful anticipation. At night, we all participated in the great Easter Vigil. Though our Easter Fire at The Basilica is much more impressive than the one we had at home, I still remember standing around it and experiencing the light shining in the darkness. From the very first time I heard the Exsultet sung I wished that one day I would sing it myself.
Easter Sunday was a most holy day which we spent in church around the table of the Lord and then around the banquet table in my grandmother’s home.
Though I realize things are very different today, all these memories will come flashing back when we celebrate this year’s Triduum.
Below are some suggestions for a fruitful celebration of the Paschal Mystery today.
- If at all possible take the Triduum off from work and make it a short retreat.
- Carve out time for personal prayer.
- Try to participate in all our Triduum liturgies. You can find a list in the Newsletter and online.
- When participating in the liturgies do so with full heart, mind, and soul.
- Bring your family to the liturgies. We engage in so many beautiful symbolic actions which speak to the liturgical imagination even of the youngest.
- If you are not able to be present, please join us in prayer.
- Be sure to pray for those who will be joining the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. They are our Easter gift to the Church.
The beautiful liturgies of Holy Week are prepared with great care. Our staff and so many volunteers worked very hard to assure that everyone has a profound experience of the Mystery of our Salvation. Please join us so you may be refreshed and renewed in your faith.
Blessed Holy Week!