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Archives: September 2020
Many of us mourn the changes, big and small, to our everyday life due to COVID-19. We yearn for a return to “normal” and wonder if that is even possible, much less when. We long for our familiar routines, hugs with friends and family, a return to school, work, and serving, and much more. Many grieve the passing of a loved one. The past few months have altered who we are, both individually and collectively.
In times of change and turmoil, one constant is that God is with us and we are able to share all of these feelings and worries with our loving God. The other constant is our faith community.
While we have had to adapt, The Basilica is the same in many ways. We offer sandwiches, coffee, and a warm greeting to our neighbors in need. We have beautiful liturgies and insightful homilies, with options for in-person and livestream attendance. We share a variety of prayer services online and offer in-person reconciliation. We celebrate music and sacred art in a variety of forms and origins. We commence another year of religious education for our children and youth, plus an updated, flexible RCIA process to accommodate the needs and timing of our candidates. We accompany the unemployed/underemployed, the grieving, and those struggling with the burdens of life. We are offering thought-provoking programming on faithful citizenship, immigration, mental health, and more. We will even offer a drive-up opportunity to get your fall pumpkins, brought directly to your car.
One of my roles during COVID-19 is to manage the brief check-in and health screening process for guests on campus. I’ve been moved by people’s support, patience, and graciousness as we adapt to a new way of coming to The Basilica—thank you. Many have expressed gratitude for the extra steps we take to welcome you back safely.
It’s been an honor to meet more parish members and visitors, and to hear your stories. People have been visibly moved by the experience of physically returning to their beloved Basilica. Pre-registered Mass visitors from out-of-state are awed by seeing our beautiful building for the first time. We even welcomed a koala stuffed animal (wearing its own custom face mask!), carried by a young girl wearing her Sunday best.
As our times of uncertainty linger, we invite you to engage with your spiritual home, with your Basilica. We proudly continue to be a place of worship, a place of refuge, and a place of peace—seeking the well-being of our city and world.
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, in honor of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, features information about our processional Icon Cross, created by our iconographer Deb Korluka.
“It shouldn't be that easy.” Those are the very words an individual spoke several years just after I prayed the words of absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “It shouldn't be that easy.”
On the one hand this person was right, of course. From our human perspective, the forgiveness of our sins shouldn't be that easy. We are used to working hard, paying our way, earning our keep. Given this, it only makes sense that we should “do” something to merit the forgiveness of our sins. As humans, we take it for granted that you don't get something for nothing. And isn’t this as it should be? After all, wasn't it St. Paul who said that “those who don't work shouldn't eat?” (2 Thessalonians chapter 3:10) Shouldn't we have to do something in order for God to forgive our sins?
The answer, of course, is yes. But in order to understand what we have to do, we need to look at things from God's perspective, not from our human perspective. From God's perspective, the forgiveness of our sins is dependent on nothing more—but also nothing less—than our sorrow for our sins. If we are truly sorry for our sins, if it is our will and desire that we try to sin no more, then that is all God asks of us. In return, God offers us forgiveness and the grace we need to rise from our sins to try again to live as God's sons and daughters.
Does this mean that once our sins have been forgiven God expects us never to sin again. Of course it doesn’t. God made us and God knows us—personally and intimately. As a result, God also knows that despite our best efforts we will continue to sin and fail. But—and this is the important part—there is no sin too great as to be beyond the power of God's grace. In fact the only barrier to the forgiveness of our sins is the hardness of our hearts, and/or our inability to accept the forgiveness that is offered to us.
When we come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and openly, honestly, and trustingly confess our sins, our sins are really and truly forgiven. It shouldn't be that easy—but because of Jesus Christ, it is.
I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these very challenging times.
As I mentioned previously, at the present time almost everything we are doing, with the exception of the celebration of the sacraments, is being done virtually. And we anticipate that this will continue for the foreseeable future.
However, given our success in regard to opening The Basilica for daily and Sunday Masses, it makes sense that we explore whether or not we can resume other activities on our campus. In this regard, yesterday we resumed our 7:00am Monday through Friday Mass. You don’t have to pre-register for this Mass, but you will need to register onsite prior to Mass.
One of the ministries we have resumed is the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confessions will be heard in the chapel from 9:00 to 10:00am. Our protocol for this is posted on our website under the sacraments tab, or you can call the liturgy office for information.
We have also begun to consider resuming some activities on our campus on a case by case basis. Our standard will be ensuring the safety, security, and well being of the participants or attendees. When there are activities on our campus, we will use the same protocols we currently use to check people in for the celebration of daily and Sunday Mass, and weddings and funerals. We will ask for a list of attendees and their contact information ahead of time, in the unlikely event that we need to do contact tracing.
One of the activities that definitely is not taking place virtually is the ongoing maintenance of our beautiful Basilica. This week we began some masonry restoration work on the west exterior wall of The Basilica above the doors near the Mary Garden. This work is needed to seal the mortar and prevent further water damage. As part of this project, we will also install an additional 10-15 moisture monitors in the church interior, and evaluate next steps for moisture testing and work needed to continue to dry out the church interior. We are very blessed and fortunate that this work is being paid for by The Basilica Landmark.
As always, 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.
Finally, as I have mentioned previously, 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 and restrictions from the city of Minneapolis or the state. I will alert you as soon as possible, should either of these things occur.
Thank you for your continued prayers and your financial support. Please know they are appreciated more than you know.
God of life,
you have promised to be with us always,
Help us to be aware of your presence in these difficult days.
clarity in our minds,
strength in our work and discernment,
rest as we sleep,
peace in our minds and hearts.
Be with those
who need your help
and help us to do share your love our families, our friends, neighbors, our co-workers, and all those we encounter.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Zoom: Beyond the Political Din
Saturdays, September 19 & October 10, 9:00-10:30am
Tuesday, September 29, 6:30-8:00pm
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