Archives: July 2020

Noon Mass July 31

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A Powerful Reflection

A few weeks ago Fr. Tim Backous, OSB, who helped out on weekends at The Basilica several years ago, sent me a copy of a talk on racism that Abbot John Klassen gave at a conference of the monks of St. John’s Abby. I have been trying to write something on this topic for a while now with little success. I was so impressed with Abbot John’s talk, though, that I asked his permission to share a portion of it via this newsletter. He willingly gave permission, but with the caveat that I be clear that one of the sources for his talk was Fr. Bryan Massingale. I told him I would be pleased to do that. Below then is a portion of the talk Abbot John gave to the monks of St. John’s Abby on July 7, 2020. While this talk was given specifically to the monks, I believe it has meaning for all of us. 

Father Bryan Massingale, a distinguished black faculty member at Fordham University, has written a powerful reflection on the challenge that faces the white community at this time. He makes some concrete suggestions for moving forward which serves as a template for the following reflections. 

First, we need to understand the difference between being uncomfortable and being threatened. There is no way to tell the truth about race in this country without white people becoming uncomfortable. Because the plain truth is that if it were up to people of color, racism would have been resolved, over and done, a long time ago. The only reason for racism's persistence is that white people continue to benefit from it, and we benefit from it, whether we know it or not. This truth makes my head and heart hurt. 

What to do next? At first, nothing. Sit in the discomfort this hard truth brings. It needs to be agonizing. Let it move me to tears, to anger, to guilt, to frustration, to embarrassment. For what? For my ignorance. For my lack of understanding of the underlying issues that black and Latino people face every day. On any given day, at any given hour, their right to be on this good earth can be challenged. Because only when a critical mass of white people are outraged, grieved and pained over the status quo — only when white people become upset enough to declare, "This cannot and will not be!" — only then will real change begin to become a possibility. 

Second, we need to admit our ignorance and do something about it. We need to understand that there is a lot about our history and about life that we're going to have to unlearn. And learn over. We have all been taught an incomplete version of America that masks our terrible racial history. As white Americans we do not have an accurate sense of the long tail of damage that slavery did to our nation. The impact of the Jim Crow laws that neutralized black efforts to become active citizens in our democracy. We probably know very little of the terror of lynching. For a 30-year period from 1885-1915, on average every third day a black person was brutally and savagely and publicly murdered by white mobs. At present, black and brown people experience law enforcement as the latest version of this reign of terror. 

Third, are there creative things we can do as a community that allow for learning on a deep existential level? Are there ways to invite our whole campus into this powerful moment and see it as a graced time for conversion toward Gospel justice and the inclusiveness of the reign of God? As a community we are profoundly related to alums and friends, so many of whom have been deeply moved by the events of the past five weeks. They look to us not so much for answers as for moral leadership, for the affirmation that our country needs to deliver on its promise of freedom to all of its citizens and to those who come to our doors. 

Fourth, we need to be aware of the expression of racist attitudes in members of our community. When we encounter these expressions, we may not be silent. If there was ever a time and a place for fraternal correction, this is surely it. Sometimes we may be too patient, too tolerant and dismiss a comment as insensitive or ignorant when in fact, it is just racist, and is extremely harmful in a community where we are working every day to be inclusive. 

Finally, we need to pray the psalms in fresh and imaginative way. The psalms are filled with lament, with the voices of men and women who are being crushed every day, people who have nowhere to turn. True, racism is a political issue and a social divide. But at its deepest level, racism is a sickness of the soul. It is a profound warping of the human spirit that enables human beings to create communities of callous indifference toward their darker sisters and brothers. As historian Paul Wachtel succinctly declares in his book Race in the Mind of America, The real meaning of race comes down largely to this: Is this someone I should care about?" Our Catholic and Benedictine monastic tradition have powerful responses to these questions and strong spiritual resources to support reflection and action. They also have the ethical foundation on which to stand. Let there be no question: this is an urgent time, a decisive moment, and we may not let it slip away.” 



AUGUST 2, 2020


The Basilica is our spiritual home—a place of welcome. We want each person who enters The Basilica to feel safe. The Basilica will follow all state health and safety guidelines. You will see new practices and policies when you return. e policies will continue to change as we monitor the offcial guidelines.




Basilica Community,

I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.

As I mentioned last week, beginning this Sunday, The Basilica will be open for Sunday Mass at 11:30am. This Mass will be low key, with just an organ or piano and a cantor. Initially, we will limit the number of attendees at this Mass to 50, but hope to grow this number in the weeks ahead.

We will also continue to livestream our 9:30am Mass, with more robust music and singing ensembles. Unfortunately at this time the 9:30am Mass won’t be open to the public.

The same protocols and registration that we currently use for those attending daily Mass will apply to those who want to attend the 11:30am Mass. To help explain these protocols we have prepared a brief video which is available on our website.

If you wish to attend one of these daily Masses you will need to pre-register the day before. You can do this on our website beginning Saturday at 12:30pm. Registration will close when we reach 50 attendees, or at 8:00am on Sunday morning. If you do not have a computer, you can also call the parish office.

When you register, you will need to provide contact information, in the unlikely event that we need to do some contact tracing.

When you arrive for Mass you will need to wear a face mask and be checked in by a member of our staff. The check-in point is the accessible doors on the East side of The Basilica, between The Basilica and Cowley Center. After being checked in you will then be shown to a seat. We ask that you continue to wear your facemask, and remain in that seat until the Mass has ended. Communion will be distributed after the Mass has ended.

While people have been very appreciative of our livestreaming efforts, I recognize that there is also a desire for people to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist is central to our lives as Christians. And speaking personally, it will be wonderful to have people at Mass again. The Eucharist is a community event, and it will be nice to once again have a community with whom I could celebrate and share the Eucharist.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I realize that to some the protocols we have developed may seem excessive, but in an abundance of caution and with a concern for the common good, as your pastor, I am convinced that at this time, this is the best way to proceed.

If you are over the age of 65, or if you have some health issues, or if you fall into a vulnerable category for some reason, I would encourage you not register to attend Mass at this time. If you would like further information about our protocols or if you have questions or concerns, please contact me at the parish office or send me an email. My contact information is available on our parish website.

Additionally, in the event that there is an outbreak of COVID-19 traceable to The Basilica, we will need to reconsider the decision to open The Basilica for public worship. Also if there is a surge in cases of the coronavirus, we will follow any directives/restrictions from the city of Minneapolis or the State. I will alert as soon as possible, should either of these things occur.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please know they are appreciated more than you know.



Gracious God, we celebrate you, our heavenly Father.
We thank you for being our provider and protector.
When sickness and disease threaten, you are our healer.
In times of distress and trouble, you are our deliverer.

Loving God, nurses, doctors and all on the frontlines, we lift them to you.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandmeic, we are all hurting
and don’t know what to do.
We pray that you will heal our hurting hearts, Lord, your creation renew;
We are depending on you God, we know you are faithful and true.

God of power and might, the whole world is at your command.
God of love and mercy, our lives are in your hands.
God of justice and truth bless your people, heal our lives and lands.
God of nations, languages, tribes and peoples and tongues,
Fulfill in us your divine purpose and perfect plans.
In Jesus’ name we pray.

Rev. Denise Smith-Lewis, Moravian Church, Antigua

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Safely Celebrating Mass
Beginning Sunday, August 2, The Basilica will be open for public Mass at 11:30am. Initially, we will limit the number of attendees to 50.

We want each person who enters The Basilica to feel safe. The Basilica will follow all state health and safety guidelines. 

You will see new practices and policies when you return. The policies will continue to change as we monitor the official guidelines.


Pre-registration for Mass is required. 


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We will continue to livestream Mass Monday - Friday at noon and Sunday at 9:30am 

Livestream or Facebook live at




In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. This week's installment features our riveting Homeless Jesus sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz and installed outdoors along Hennepin Avenue.



Homeless Jesus Summer










Homeless Jesus Dedication_schola
Photo provided by: 
Mae Desaire
Homeless Jesus dedication 2017
















Our Lady of Good Counsel

Noon Mass July 27