Archives: February 2021

Windows_noon Mass video

Noon Mass

In our weekly art video series Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, veers off a bit to discuss a symbol rather than a work of art and shares an edition of "Symbols that Surround Us."
On Wednesday we begin our forty day long Lenten journey in preparation of the celebration of the Paschal Mystery: the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In this episode, Johan discusses the Biblical and liturgical roots in the custom of imposing ashes on Ash Wednesday.
In years past, teens in our Basilica Youth Engaged in Service (or YES) group would gather the Sunday evening before Ash Wednesday to make the soups, and members of our Parish Council and Finance Committee would serve the Ash Wednesday meal.
This year, unfortunately, we will not host our soup supper event due to COVID-19. To honor our soup supper tradition, in this video we present three new vegetarian soup recipes made by members of our staff. Our guest judges, including Fr. Bauer, will award a Golden Ladle to the soup chosen as their favorite.
These soup recipes, plus some favorites from years past, are available at, should you want to make a delicious Basilica soup at home this year for your Ash Wednesday.
This year, you are invited to Mass with the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday, February 17. In-person Masses are at 7am, 12 noon and 5:30pm. Pre-registration for in-person attendance at the noon and 5:30pm Masses opens on Monday at (Guests attending the 7am Mass can register at the east church door by Cowley Center. Guests at all other masses enter at the ground level west doors.)
We will livestream the 12 noon and 5:30pm Masses on and Facebook. For those who livestream Mass, we will also distribute ashes outside on 17th Street for 30 minutes after the noon and 5:30pm Masses. Those receiving ashes outside may stay in their cars.
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Noon Mass

Virtual Soup Supper Recipes

Ash Wednesday Soup Supper Tradition

In years past, teens in our Basilica Youth Engaged in Service, or YES, group would make soup together the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, and members of our Parish Council and Finance Committee leadership groups would serve.

Here are three new vegetarian soup recipes submitted by members of The Basilica staff, plus a few popular recipes from years past.

Soups Made by Basilica Staff

Carrot Tarragon Soup (submitted by Mark Wyss)
5 large carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
64 oz vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2tsp dried tarragon
1tbsp lemon juice

Remove tops of carrots, peel, and slice into large even slices; set aside. Heat a large pot and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The oil should ripple across the surface. Reduce heat to medium. Add the chopped onion and stir until translucent. Add the garlic. Stir mixture for a minute, then add 32oz vegetable stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper and lastly carrots. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, simmer for 20-25min or until a fork easily pierces carrots. Remove bay leaves and set aside. In small batches, add carrot and liquid mixture to a blender and purée for a minute or so. Pour the purée through a sieve into the pot. With a spatula or back of spoon, force purée through to ensure a smooth soup. Repeat as needed. Add additional stock by half cup measurements to adjust the thickness of the soup, then add lemon juice, tarragon, and bay leaves. Add salt and/or pepper, if needed. Cook for 15min at low heat, stirring occasionally.

Potato-Cheddar Soup With Quick-Pickled Jalapeños (submitted by Holly Dockendorf, from a NYT Cooking recipe by Melissa Clark)
2 jalapeños
2 limes, halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
Large pinch of granulated sugar or a drop of honey
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large Spanish or white onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp chili powder, plus more for garnish
2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups grated Cheddar (8 ounces), plus more for garnish
1 cup half-and-half, or use 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream
3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
Chopped cilantro, for serving

Thinly slice the jalapeños, discarding the seeds if you like. Put slices in a bowl and squeeze in enough lime juice to cover them. Add a pinch each of salt and sugar. Let sit at room temperature while you make the soup. (The jalapeños can be prepared up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator; they get softer and more pickle-y as they sit.) In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery and a large pinch of salt, and sauté until lightly golden and soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add potatoes, broth and 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are very tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Using an immersion blender or transferring the soup to a regular blender in batches, purée the soup, adding some water as needed to thin it out. (The soup can be as thick or brothy as you like.) Return the soup to the pot if you removed it and reduce heat to medium-low. Add cheese and half-and-half, and cook at a very gentle simmer, stirring, until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top each bowl with pickled jalapeños, plus a drizzle of their pickling liquid and a pinch of chili powder, along with scallions, cilantro and more Cheddar.

Thai Coconut Soup (submitted by Melissa Streit)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion sliced
2 garlic cloves chopped
3 quarter-inch slices slice fresh ginger
1 lemongrass stalk pounded  and cut into 2-inch long pieces
1-2 tsp red thai chili paste, depending on spice level desired
4 cups vegetable broth
1 pkg frozen peeled raw shrimp, if desired
8 oz. portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 c raw rice noodles
1-2 tsp fish sauce, as you prefer
1 can coconut milk

Lime wedges
Green onions, sliced
Fresh jalapeño, either green or red, sliced
Cilantro leaves, fresh

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chili paste, ginger, and half the lemongrass and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain and return broth to your pot; add remaining lemongrass, shrimp, mushrooms, and rice noodles. Simmer until shrimp is cooked through, then remove the lemongrass stalk and add fish sauce and coconut milk. Stir to combine and serve immediately, with the garnishes

Popular Soups from Past Soup Supper Events at The Basilica

Chunky Vegan Potato Soup
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 medium carrots, cut into chunks
8 cups vegetable stock
3 pounds baking potatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Stir in the onions, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Peel and dice the potatoes. Stir in the carrots, stock, potatoes, and thyme, then bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very soft and starting to fall apart, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Corn and Sweet Potato Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chile, seeded and finely chopped
7 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp ground cumin
1 medium sweet potato, diced
Half a red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 lb corn kernels
Salt and pepper
Lime wedges, to serve

Keep the oil and fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and chili and fry for another 2 minutes. In the same pan, add 1 1/4 cups of the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the cumin with a little stock to form a paste and stir into the soup. Add the diced sweet potato, stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Season and stir again. Add the pepper, corn and remaining stock to simmer for 10 minutes. Process half of the soup until smooth and then stir into the chunky soup. Season and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Cuban Black Bean Soup
2 cups (14 oz) dry black beans
2 bay leaves

For the Sofrito 
3/4 cup (6 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2  large white onions, chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tbsp dried cumin
Sea salt

1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 red onion finely diced, for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Pick over the beans, discarding any grit or misshapen beans. Rinse well, place in a large bowl, and add water to cover generously. Let soak for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. (Alternatively, for a quick soak, so bring the beans and water to a rapid simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.) Drain the beans and place in a large pot with the bay leaves and 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding hot water if the beans become exposed, until tender, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, to make the sofrito, in a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the bell peppers and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the white onions and saute until tender and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the sofrito and sugar into the beans and simmer until the flavors are combined, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the one tablespoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons dry sherry. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with vinegar, dry sherry, and salt. Serve the soup warm, ladled into bowls and garnished with the red onion and cilantro. 

Hearty Slow Cooker Lentil Chili
1 cup dry green lentils
2 cups water
1 large sweet onion
1 jalapeño
2 red or green peppers
2 (15 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 (15 oz)  can pinto beans
1 (15 oz)  can dark red kidney beans
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 cup medium salsa
Garnishes: vegan sour cream, cilantro, fresh tomato, avocado

Chop onion and red/green peppers. Drain and rinse the pinto and dark red kidney beans. Remove the ribs and seeds of the jalapeño and mince. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker in order listed above on the ingredient list, starting with the lentils. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low 8-10 hours. Leave the chili on the warm setting of your slow cooker until ready to serve, or chill and freeze in portions. Garnish with your favorite toppings.




Lenten banners hung above sanctuary

Lent is an Invitation

This coming week, on Wednesday February 17, we mark Ash Wednesday and thus begins our annual Lenten journey. The symbolic act commonly associated with Ash Wednesday is the Imposition of Ashes. And although Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, many people flock to our churches to receive ashes.

The custom of imposing ashes on Ash Wednesday has Biblical roots. Job, for instance used ashes as a sign of repentance: “Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). The Gospels of Matthew and Luke, too, describe the use of ashes as a sign of repentance. In the description of the sending of the 72, Jesus instructs them to kick the sand of their sandals if they are not welcomed in a given city, and to warn them the Kingdom is at hand. Then Jesus compares the fate of these cities with that of the sinful cities of Tyre and Sidon saying that “if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:21).

The liturgical custom of sprinkling ashes which is also penitential in nature originates in the Order of Penitents established during the fourth c. This Order or group of people consisted of those Christians who had committed grave sins and had been admitted into the order by the bishop. The Order of Penitents predates the Sacrament of Reconciliation and was the only recourse Christians had to salvation after they broke their baptismal promises. The rite of admission to the Order of Penitents which happened at the beginning of Lent involved the imposition of ashes by the bishop. When this order was superseded by the Sacrament of Reconciliation the imposition of ashes was retained and expanded. Recognizing that all are sinners in need of repentance all Christians started to present themselves for the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday.

The earliest mention of the existence of Ash Wednesday, known as Dies Cinerum or the Day of Ashes dates back to the 10th century. It is believed that the custom itself was observed as early as the eight century. 

The imposition of ashes still has a penitential character, even today. With this public act, we indicate that we are in need of forgiveness and that we are committing ourselves to 40 days of fasting, prayer, and charity in preparation of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum.

The ashes used on Ash Wednesday come from the palms used during the previous year’s celebration of Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion. In the Middle Ages these palms were burned during elaborate ceremonies. Today, this is done in a more simple manner.

In the United States, ashes are usually placed on the forehead in the shape of the cross. In other countries such as Italy they are sprinkled on the crown of a penitent’s head. This is actually the proper way of doing this as the ritual for the Imposition if Ashes calls for the minister to “place ashes on the head” of the people. During the Pandemic, which prevents us from signing the forehead with ashes, we will sprinkle ashes on the crown of people’s head, though not as generously as in Europe. We will just use a pinch.

While imposing the ashes, the minister can use one of two formulas. The second option, which is the more ancient of the two, is inspired by the words God spoke when expelling Adam and Eve from Paradise thus subjecting them to death: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). This option simply reminds us of our sinful nature yet does not invite us to do anything about it.

The first and more recent option is taken from the first chapter of Mark: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  After the death of John, Jesus began his public ministry announcing the Kingdom of God inviting people to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” These words spoken by Jesus and repeated by the minister are a clear invitation to action. Knowing that we are sinners, we are called to repent and to live according to the Gospel. Or in the words of the Prophet Joel in the First Reading on Ash Wednesday, Lent is an invitation to “return to God with all your heart.” 

May this Lenten Season and the entire Paschal Cycle be a blessing for all of us.



Basilica Community,

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

Today I have three things I would like to mention. First, next Wednesday February 17, is Ash Wednesday. We will have three Masses at 7:00am, Noon, and 5:30pm. The Noon and 5:30pm Masses will be livestreamed and ashes will be offered at each of these Masses.

Due to the pandemic, we won’t be making the sign of the cross with ashes on people’s foreheads. Instead we will drop a few ashes on the crown of each person’s head. This is the custom in much of Europe and it was suggested by our Liturgy Office as a way to distribute ashes this year. After the Noon and 5:30pm Masses ashes will also be offered to those who want to come to The Basilica.

The process will be the same as we have in the past. People will drive up 17th Street, stop at the rectory to receive a prayer card, and then drive to the front of the school to receive ashes. Given the logistics of offering ashes to people in their cars, we will use Q-tips to offer these ashes. Certainly none of this is ideal, but we want to do everything we can to ensure people’s safety and security.

The second thing I want to mention is that after the 9:30am Mass on the First Sunday of Lent, February 21st, we will once again distribute communion to those who want to come to The Basilica after livestreaming Mass at 9:30am. As on Ash Wednesday, we ask you to stop at the rectory to receive a prayer card and then drive to the front of the school to receive communion.

The third thing I want to mention is that, as is clearly evident, Lent will be very different this year. If you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join via our livestream. Also on our website you will be able to find suggestions for celebrating Lent and Holy Week at home this year.

Finally, as always, if you have questions or concerns about anything that is happening at the Basilica, please contact me at the parish office or send me an email. My contact information is available on our parish website.

Let me close today in prayer.


Loving God, Your desire is for our wholeness and well being.
We hold in tenderness and prayer the collective suffering of our world at this time.
We grieve precious lives lost and vulnerable lives threatened.
We ache for ourselves and our neighbors, standing before an uncertain future.
We pray: may love, not fear, go viral.
Inspire our leaders to discern and choose wisely, aligned with the common good.
Help us to practice social distancing and reveal to us new and creative ways to come together in spirit and in solidarity.
Call us to profound trust in your faithful presence,
You, the God who does not abandon.


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