You are here
Archives: July 2022
Today a guest fell ill at the 9:30 Mass. Fr. Griffith ended his homily abruptly as the guest received medical attention while an ambulance arrived. We are very happy that the man who fell ill is recovering well. Fr. Griffith offers the text of his homily for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
“Store Up Riches In What Matter To God”
Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2022
Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, MN
Fr. Daniel Griffith, Pastor
Yesterday, I was watching a golf tournament that was being held at Brandon Dunes on the Oregon coast. The players stopped for a bit when the fog rolled in, in part, because it was wreaking havoc on their “range finders” – the devices that shoot the yardage to the green. And then, the fog was gone, in a less than a minute.
In today’s first reading, we meet Qoheleth whose name signifies a teacher or sage. When he speaks of “hebel” or vanity he speaks of something like vapor or mist – it is short lived, insubstantial, ethereal, not unlike the fog on the Oregon coast. His “vanity of vanity” phrase – employing the superlative convincingly drives the point: all things are like this – things of this world – they are passing away – they don’t last. And yet, we put so much time and energy into things of this world: possessions, wealth, and yes – power and honor.
The main theme in all three readings today is quite clear and yet we continue to struggle with a preoccupation with things of this world. In the gospel today Jesus is continuing his way to Jerusalem and his message and teaching takes on an increasingly sharp edge – the prophet has emerged as Jerusalem gets closer. In response to a request to get involved in a dispute over family inheritance, Jesus quickly turns the page – “take care to guard against all greed – one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
One of the most important Greek words in today’s gospel is pleonexia – a type of greed that manifests itself in a desire for more and more, motivated by a false security in possessions. Luke, the great storyteller, presents a figure known by scholars as the “rich fool” as an admonition of Jesus to seek that which truly lasts and to place our security in God. Interestingly, this story is only found in Luke. The key to the story is that the rich man’s quest for security – wrongly placed in possessions – evaporates like mist as his life is demanded of him, having failed to store up riches in what matters to God.
A preeminent scholar of Luke – aptly named – Luke Timothy Johnson – had this this correlative comment to offer about today’s passage; “It is out of deep fear that the acquisitive instinct grows monstrous. Life seems so frail and contingent that many possessions are required to secure it, even though the possessions are frailer still than the life.”
We know of course that wealth itself is not sinful, but attachment to wealth, greed, and the failure to place our security in God, or to simply take God out of the equation as the rich fool does, ends in destruction and emptiness.
The passage from Luke and indeed all the readings today are robustly relevant to our modern day. Many seek security and even happiness in what they have and what they achieve or accomplish – but both are fleeting and tenuous. According to St. Paul in today’s second reading, this was also a problem for the Colossians. Paul says – you have been baptized, seek what is above and put to death what is earthly – seek God’s divine life and grace. This is where true security and happiness are found, and yet we seem hard pressed to learn this valuable lesson.
The desire to amass more and more is how our wold is ordered – the market, constant production, the economy – often stealthily destructive to good ends. This feverish pursuit takes our gaze away from the divine horizon and eternity and keeps us in a trap – it keeps us wanting but not finding true fulfillment. This constant churning for more and more, while many go without, does great damage to our souls, to the poor, and to the dignity and sustainability of our created world. It’s not storage “barns” that we are building but storage “units” – they are omnipresent in our modern day – and point to the same false security in possessions.
So, what is the way out the trap? And by the way – I am not taking shots or throwing stones. I like nice things too – I drive a nice car, live in a nice home, and after Mass and fellowship today, will travel to Wisconsin to a cabin I own for rest and relaxation. These readings today are as relevant to me as anyone in this Basilica today.
The way out of this trap is the good news that was shared last week and will be shared next week too – it is the good news of a good and gracious God who desires our good and happiness and indeed eternal life for all of us. This is a God who would not hand us a snake when we ask for a fish and invites us to knock and to seek good things. This God, our God, invites us to place our trust and security in him and store up treasures in what maters to God. This is the only true path to happiness and peace for all of us.
It is also the right prescription and path for our parish at this time of transition and possibility – to place ourselves and this beautiful and historic community of faith completely into the hands of our loving Father. From this foundation of trust and security in the one who made us and desires our good and flourishing, renewal and a vibrant future await all of us. True riches in God is the only path forward for those who believe.
From the Pastor
Welcome Fr. Daniel Griffith
Fr. Daniel shares his faith and background in this column.
Known and Loved by God is a Truth of All Biographies
The story of God’s deep and abiding love is the greatest love story ever told: it encompasses the wonder of creation; the gift of Jesus Christ—his passion, death, and resurrection; the gift of the Spirit and the life of the Church; and our friends the saints, including Mary, the Mother of God, our patron saint. What wondrous love is this. As a pastor, I think getting in touch with and integrating the truth of God’s personal love for each one of us is a key to living dynamic discipleship.
Psychologists will tell you that one of the most important aspects of emotional and psychological health is to feel known and loved by others—friends, family, and certainly by one’s spouse. I would dare say that even more important for us as spiritual beings is that we have a firm conviction that we are known and loved by a good and gracious God. You will hear me preach and communicate much about God’s love during my time in service of our community because I think knowledge of God’s personal and tender love cannot be overstated in terms of its importance to our lives of faith. Whether people are aware or not of God’s divine love, it is a truth of all our biographies, because without this love, none of us would be here.
As your new pastor, I would like to share a little bit about my own story as we get to know one another on our journey of faith. I look forward to hearing your stories as well in the coming weeks and months ahead. I was born and raised in northeastern Wisconsin, the Fox River Valley—the youngest of nine children, in what could be described as a loving and raucous Irish Catholic family. My father Bill is still alive and when he was recently in the Twin Cities, he received a first class tour of The Basilica by our beloved Dr. Johan Van Parys. My mother Susan passed away ten years ago and was a wonderful mother and wife. As a woman of deep Catholic faith, mom was a light to all of her family, including me, her priest son.
I first felt a call to priesthood when I was eight years old. I told my dad that I wanted to be a priest and used to play Mass with my best friend Kevin. As the years passed, the call became more distant and less realistic—I always had a hard time believing I was holy enough to be a priest—God calls us anyway. Growing up, I played a number of sports including football, basketball, tennis, and golf. I attended the University of St. Thomas in 1989. As the youngest and because my parents were in a different financial situation, I was afforded a privilege that my other siblings had not been—to attend private college. Of course, as siblings do, they remind me of this from time to time.
At St. Thomas I majored in Political Science and minored in Theology—as much I liked Poly Sci, it was theology that began to win my heart. The call to priesthood did not go away, but I was still not ready to say yes. I attended William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul in 1994 which provided the gift of a legal education and some wonderful friends, who remain good friends to this day. God was not done with me in terms of the call to priesthood. When I saw that there were a couple of priest-lawyers serving in the Archdiocese, I thought to myself, wow, maybe it is possible to live this life as a priest—maybe this is God’s call for my life. After a year of intensive discernment and the application process, I entered the St. Paul Seminary in 1998. While no one feels called to seminary—for those who are called to priesthood, seminary provides further opportunity for discernment and the necessary formation and education to serve God’s people in priestly service. It also provided another opportunity to establish life-long friendships.
Since my ordination in 2002, I have served in a variety of assignments, including as an associate pastor at All Saints in Lakeville, as pastor of St. Peter in North St. Paul, and most recently, as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis. In December of 2011, I was appointed to the University of St. Thomas School of Law faculty where I continue to teach in the areas of Catholic social teaching, jurisprudence, and restorative justice. My work at UST Law has been a great gift – I have enjoyed teaching, the interaction with students and colleagues, and leading our new Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH). I am heartened that I will be able to remain at the law school in conjunction with my ministry at The Basilica and look forward to the shared values and programming opportunities, epically in the area of advocacy for justice and healing.
Perhaps some of my most challenging work as a priest was in the role of delegate for safe environment at a time when our archdiocese was in crisis— reeling from self-inflicted wounds from the failure to protect children and vulnerable adults. It was fraught time for many in our local church, but for me was also a time of growth. Our archdiocese is in a much different and healthier place than 2013-2014, as we have become a national leader both in the area of safe environment and now in restorative justice. I am heartened that the arc of my priestly ministry has moved decidedly to the area of restorative justice and healing. I hope this work in this area has helped me become a better priest and pastor—more compassionate and more attentive to the needs of those who are suffering.
The call to the serve as pastor of The Basilica is humbling. I have long admired this community in so many ways and have enjoyed getting to know staff and parish leaders over the last number of months. I have been impressed with those I have met and what I see. I thank Fr. Bauer for facilitating a very good transition and wish Fr. John well in his pastorate at Our Lady of Lourdes. My role in the coming months is to listen, learn, and meet as many people as I can so I can serve well our community going forward. I am excited for this work of walking with our community, discerning God’s call, and going out to our broader community to announce the good news of God’s love.
Finally, what do I like to do for fun?—travel, reading, cooking, walking, music, spending time with friends, spending time at a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin, and golf. And as I confessed on my first weekend at The Basilica, yes not only am I a lawyer, but I am also a Green Bay Packers fan. I know that this presents two strikes against me in some of your eyes, so hopefully I can overcome these deficiencies by being a really good pastor.
Fr. Griffith’s Installation
Saturday, August 13, 5:00pm
Join us for Fr. Griffith’s Installation Weekend.
Installation Mass with Archbishop Hebda
Reception following Mass
Sunday, August 14
Receptions following 9:30 and 11:30am Masses
Before Covid hit, The Basilica St. Vincent de Paul Ministry began strategically evaluating our ministries and listening to the needs of the community. Grounding ourselves in prayer and intentionally discerning direction, we have come out of the pandemic with a new model of ministry for Saturdays at The Basilica. While we continue to provide services and resources during weekday SVdP Ministry, we are beginning a new chapter on Saturdays. We would love your participation!
This new opportunity of SVdP Ministry on Saturday mornings unites a strong invitation by Pope Francis and an articulated need in our community.
A Clear Invitation
Pope Francis continually calls us to reach out to others in a “culture of encounter.” He invites us to meet people, engage in dialogue, and create relationships. More specifically, he encourages us to engage with people who are different from us: we are challenged to listen, respect, and build bridges.
An Articulated Community Need
Our parishioner leaders met with people who have utilized Basilica SVdP services, those with lived experience of homelessness, and people who work in partner non-profits in Minneapolis. We listened for unmet needs that could be addressed during 90 minutes on Saturday mornings at The Basilica. A strong message came through: While there are a lot of services provided in the community, a deep unmet need includes helping people feel connected. So often, people feel isolated. Some who experience homelessness spoke of being around all day with being “seen” or without meaningful conversation.
After much prayer and conversation, we began a new Saturday SVdP program in Spring 2022.
- We invite The Basilica parishioners to participate not as a “volunteer” who engages in a transactional service with people in need. Rather, you are invited to come and participate side-by-side with others in the community: Those who slept outside last night. Those who stayed at a shelter. Those whose housing is vulnerable. Those whose housing is secure—all coming together, side-by-side, to share values, struggles, and fears—to learn from one another and be enriched by different perspectives.
- The morning is intentionally structured to ensure respect for all. As we engage with no judgement, we see the inherent dignity in the other and recognize the similarity of our lives.
- The time begins with a shared breakfast and moves into a facilitated session on personal development, wellness, and healing through things like mediation, art, journaling, physical movement.
This new ministry creates a culture of encounter. Some comments of those who participate show the impact of the time together:
- A Basilica parishioner shared she was nervous to come—not knowing what to expect. But she was deeply moved and was grateful she came. She shared she felt so connected to everyone and left full of hope.
- A man who had slept at a shelter the night before shared he was unsure what the morning was about. He was grateful for the breakfast and considered leaving—but he stayed. He revealed he was so glad he stayed—feeling hopeful even among his challenges. He felt God’s presence in the group and in himself. Today would be a good day, he said.
It is easy to slip into focusing on what divides us, rather than what binds us together. Our new St. Vincent de Paul Ministry seeks to offer a simple yet profound opportunity to look beyond fear, indifference, or simply distance. Let us grow in love of one another.
Call the Christina Life office for more information or to get involved in Side-by-Side Saturdays or any SVdP Ministry.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
If you are interested in getting involved in our Basilica community, here is an amazing opportunity to get involved with both our Basilica community, as well as the greater Minneapolis community. We would love to have you involved in this amazing opportunity!
Faith into Action with
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
8:30am to 3:30pm each day
Sign up at basilica.tchabitat.volunteerhub.com
A partnership with The Basilica and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity began in 1996 and this year marks our 26th year hosting a Basilica build week. Last year alone, 818 families partnered with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, including 77 families who bought homes of their own. Our parish community joyfully worked on one of those homes, after taking a year off due to COVID-19.
Please consider volunteering for our Basilica build week, August 1-5, 2022. We need you! Our Basilica team is working on a new construction this year at 41st Street and Standish Ave near Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis. We still need volunteers – especially on the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday shifts. Meals/snacks are provided and all skill levels (or, if you’re like me, lack-of-skill levels) are welcomed.
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer FAQs
· Unfortunately, split shifts are not possible.
· Dress for the weather in clothes that can get dirty, with closed toe/heel shoes.
· You may want to bring a refillable water bottle and sunscreen.
· Please bring work gloves.
Julia Buege Freeman, The Basilica’s Coordinator of Outreach, reflected on over a quarter century of partnership saying, “affordable housing is so critical to the health of our community, and our volunteers find it rewarding to be involved in building affordable, well-constructed, quality housing for families. In these homes, kids can grow and flourish in stable housing; the research proves the lasting impacts!”
If you have questions about being part of this vital ministry, please contact Julia.
Our Basilica Community: Moving forward in hope
About the Cover: Sprinkle of Life, by Charles Caldwell, on display at The Basilica September 1 -October 30.
Inside this issue
by Elyse Rethlake
A New Parish Trustee
by Mae Desaire
by Katelin Richter Davis
by Fr. Daniel Griffith
Welcome New Basilica staff members
by Melissa Streit
Introduction by Rachel Newman Hogness
by Wendy Cichanski Caduff
The 2022 Landmark SPARK
Back in full color
Thank you to the dedicated team of volunteers who work to create this publication.
The award-winning BASILICA magazine is sponsored by The Basilica Landmark, a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to preserve, restore, and advance the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations.
Each issue includes in-depth features about the people, art, history, and spirituality that make The Basilica a vibrant community.
BASILICA is published twice a year with a circulation of 15,000.
For advertising information please contact Carla Piazza Marchio.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.