Fr. Bauer's Blog

 

Basilica Community,

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

Today I have four things I would like to mention. First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for your ongoing financial support for The Basilica. Your financial support enables us to continue to offer the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. As your pastor, I want to thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know it is greatly appreciated.

Second, I want to let you know about a couple of capital improvement projects that will be taking place this summer at The Basilica. The first is that we will once again be tuck pointing the western exterior walls of The Basilica. This will probably be an on-going project for the next few years, as we remove the old mortar from between the stones and replace it with new mortar. The new mortar will help keep water from penetrating into the interior of The Basilica. 

The second major project will be the water proofing of the basement rooms in our school building. Water penetration has been an issue in the school basement for several years. We hope our work this summer will finally solve this problem. Both of these projects are being funded by The Basilica Landmark

Third, as I’m recording this greeting, there are news reports that Governor Walz will announce the relaxation of some of the current restrictions for public activities. We will certainly review any revisions to the guidelines for public activities. At this time, however, we anticipate maintaining our check-in protocols for the foreseeable future. 

If you are planning to attend any liturgies at The Basilica in the next few weeks, we ask you to pre-register via our website, and enter through the doors on the ground level on the western side of The Basilica. Pre-registration makes the check-in process much faster. Additionally, in the unlikely event that someone who attended one of our liturgies, is diagnosed with the Covid virus, we will be able to contact people and inform you of this. As always, if you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join them via our livestream. 

Finally, I invite you to join us for Zoom Coffee and Conversation next Wednesday at 9:00am. Michael Reinhardt, one of our parishioners will join us. Michael will be ordained a priest for our Archdiocese on Saturday May 29 and will say his first Mass here at The Basilica on Sunday May 33. He will share his faith journey with us from becoming a Catholic to his decision to enter the seminary. You can find the link for this Zoom conversation on our website. 

Let me close today in prayer. 
 

 

Loving God we ask you:

Help us: That we might be grateful for what we have, and not focus on what we don’t have or have lost.

Strengthen us: That we might not feel discouraged or overwhelmed. 

Embrace us: That we might know your loving presence within us, around us and among us. 

Walk with us: That we might bring your love and carry your light into our world.

Stay with us: That we might know your peace and consolation. 

Complete us: That we might come to know the fullness of your love in eternal life. 

We ask all of this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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Basilica dome cupola and cross

The Grace of God

A couple of weeks ago I invited a friend, who had recently retired, to join me for a celebratory lunch. (Both of us have been vaccinated. So we decided it would be safe to venture out for lunch. It was the first public outing for both of us in over a year.) As I was walking into the restaurant I suddenly realized that I had left my wallet sitting on my desk. When I got to the table, I immediately asked my friend if he had any cash or credit cards with him, because even though I had invited him for lunch, I wasn’t going to be any help in actually paying for lunch. He jokingly reminded me that he had just retired and was on a fixed income. Nevertheless, he thought he could manage to pay for lunch. I apologized profusely and assured him that I would send him a check as soon as I got back to the office.

The above incident was yet another embarrassing moment in my life. But then again I have had so many embarrassing moments in my life, I have learned to live with them and eventually to laugh at them—sometimes years and years later.

I think we all experience embarrassing moments in our lives. There are times when we misspeak, act in an inappropriate manner, times when we don’t respond as we should, or forget something important (like a wallet). For me, the most embarrassing moments in my life occur when I very publicly and very obviously don’t act as a follower of Jesus. It could be a flash of irritation, a poorly timed comment, or a failed attempt at humor. Whenever those times occur I cringe both externally and internally. Additionally, I renew my resolve to try harder to be a better person and a better Christian.

One of the things that has helped me to cope with the above is realizing that I am not the only individual who has this problem. In fact, even St. Paul struggled with it. In the letter to the Romans we read: “I cannot even understand my own actions. I do not do what I want to do, but what I hate….What happens is that I do, not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend.” (Rom. 7. 15 & 19)

Speaking or acting in ways that are contrary to being a Christian seems to be pervasive in the life of Christians. Fortunately, we know and believe that the grace of God is stronger than any sin.  And so I trust that the God who created me understands me better than I understand myself. I also believe that in God’s grace and because of God’s love my sins are forgiven and my many embarrassing (and public) moments forgotten.  

 

 

Basilica Community,

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

Today I have four things I would like to mention. First, as I’ve mentioned before, while some of the restrictions for public worship have been relaxed, the mask mandate and social distancing guideline of six feet are still in place. Given this, we anticipate maintaining our check-in protocols for the foreseeable future.

If you are planning to attend any liturgies at The Basilica in the next few weeks, we ask you to pre-register via our website. Pre-registration helps us anticipate the number of attendees and makes the check-in process much faster. 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.

The second thing I want to mention is that I am happy to report that in addition to the Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization units which have been installed in the Church, and the Saint Cecilia room, we will be installing additional units in the meeting rooms of the Rectory and Cowley Center. These units purify the air of viruses including COVID-19, as well as allergens and mold. This technology is already being used at places like the Mayo Clinic, local schools, and museums. It will be a tremendous help in ensuring the safety and well being of all those who come to The Basilica.

Third, on a very happy note, I want to let you know that one of our parishioners, Michael Reinhardt, will be ordained a priest of our Archdiocese on Saturday, May 29th at the Cathedral in St. Paul. He will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at the 9:30am Mass at The Basilica on Sunday, May 30th. I ask your prayers for Michael and the other men who will be ordained that day.

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.

 

God of all,
we cry out to you for help.
In your mercy, hear our prayer.

Protect us, Lord, and be with us
especially those of us most vulnerable
at this time.

Move us to reach out in love
to our neighbors near and far.
May that the humble may be exalted,
the hungry filled with good things.

Grant us the courage
not to rush back to our old ways,
but to rebuild our world together,
creating foundations of justice,
with equality and peace for all.

Amen.

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Basilica Community,

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

Today I have four things I would like to mention. First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for their generous financial support of our parish on Easter. Your ongoing financial support enables us to continue to offer the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. As your pastor, I want to thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know it is greatly appreciated.

Second, while Governor Walz has relaxed some of the restrictions for public worship, the mask mandate and social distancing guideline of six feet is still in place. Given this, we anticipate maintaining our check-in protocols for the foreseeable future. If you are planning to attend any liturgies at The Basilica, we ask you to pre-register via our website, and enter through the doors on the ground level on the western side of The Basilica.

Preregistration helps us anticipate the number of attendees and makes the check-in process much faster. If you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you to continue to join us via our livestream.

The third thing I want to mention is that a few weeks ago we began the 2021 Catholic Services Appeal. The CSA is an independent foundation. The money raised through the CSA helps fund many ministries throughout our Archdiocese. I strongly support the CSA and I invite you to make a pledge of support as well.

Finally, on a very happy note, Archbishop Hebda blessed our new Umbrellino at the 9:30am Mass on Easter. The Umbrellino is one of the symbols of a Basilica. Our old Umbrellino had served us well for many years, but it had deteriorated over the years and several tears had begun to appear in the fabric. The cost of our new Umbrellino was funded by a private donor. I invite you to join us for Coffee and Conversation next Wednesday at 9:30am when Johan Van Parys will join us to talk about the Umbrellino and its symbolism.

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.

 

God of all,
we cry out to you for help.
In your mercy, hear our prayer.

Protect us, Lord, and be with us
especially those most vulnerable
during this coronavirus crisis.

Move us to reach out in love
to our neighbors near and far.
So that the humble may be exalted,
the hungry filled with good things.

Grant us the courage
not to rush back to our old ways,
but to rebuild our world together,
creating foundations of justice,
with equality and peace for all.

Amen.

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Back in January some friends offered me the use of their cabin near Alexandria for a few days of R & R. Given everything that has gone on this past year, I jumped at the chance to spend some time by myself. And so, I rearranged a couple of meetings, let people know where I was going, and headed to Alexandria. As I was driving to Alexandria, I found my anticipation growing with each mile. Unfortunately, just past St. Cloud my car suddenly lost power. Fortunately, I was right at an exit ramp so I coasted up the ramp and pulled over to the side of the road. 

Now I don’t know much about cars, but I suspected that losing power was not a good sign. I called AAA and they said a tow truck would be there within an hour. I told them I wasn’t going any where. And fortunately, while I didn’t have power, the engine was still running, so I was able to wait in a warm car while I used my phone to check the internet for a dealership in St. Cloud to which my car could be towed. When I found one, I called and told them my tale of woe. The woman I talked with said that it was probably the transmission, but they would need to check it out to be sure. 

When the tow truck arrived, the driver informed me that a tow to the dealership was a little further than what AAA would pay for, and I would have to pay the difference. I thought to myself: “This is going to be expensive.” When I asked what he thought it would cost, he replied: “About 4 dollars.” (Actually it ended up being $4.30.) I told him I thought I could handle that. 

When we got to the dealership, I related my tale of driving to Alexandria and suddenly losing power. The woman at the customer service desk reiterated that it was probably the transmission and then said that since it was 4:00 pm, they wouldn’t be able to look at my car until the morning. I asked if they had a car I could rent, and she said: “No, but we can give you a loaner.” The loaner turned out to be the same model as mine, but seven years newer. (My car is ten years old.) I transferred things from my car to the loaner and two hours later was back on the road to Alexandria. 

With the assistance of Siri, I found my way to my friends’ cabin with no further trouble. As I settled in front of the fireplace to pray evening prayer, I reflected on my day. Certainly having my transmission go out was going to be expensive, but as I prayed I realized that there were many blessings in the experience. When it happened I was near an exit ramp and not somewhere out in hinterland, without cell phone reception. The engine kept running, so I was able to wait in a warm car. The tow into town only cost me $4.00. I got a free loaner car. And I got to my destination only two hours later than I had planned. 

Now, certainly not every bad experience comes with blessings, but as I reflected on this particular experience, it struck me that it was a good lesson for me that in all the experiences of my life (both good and bad), I need to look for the blessings; rather than just whine and complain when things don’t go as I want them to. 

Today as we celebrate the great Feast of Easter, let us be mindful of all the many blessings we enjoy in our lives. And let us be particularly mindful of the blessing of eternal life offered to us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And let us pray that we might always remember that even in the bad things that sometimes happen, God is with us and always offering us God’s good grace, and never ceasing to enfold us in God’s love—in ways large and small. Sometimes it can cost as little as $4.00 to be reminded of this.

 

 

Basilica Community,

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

Today I have four things I would like to mention. First, while Governor Walz has relaxed some of the restrictions for public worship, the mask mandate and social distancing guideline of six feet is still in place. Given this, we anticipate maintaining our check-in protocols for the foreseeable future. So, if you are planning to attend any liturgies at The Basilica in the next few weeks, we ask you to pre-register via our website, and enter through the doors on the ground level on the western side of The Basilica.

Pre-registration helps us anticipate the number of attendees and makes the check-in process much faster. You can find a list of our liturgies for Holy Week and Easter on our website. If you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our Holy Week liturgies, we invite you join them via our livestream.

The second thing I would like to mention is that if you are not able to join us in person for Mass on Palm Sunday or Easter, we will distribute communion after the 9:30am and 11:30am Masses these days. As in the past, we ask you to stop in front of the rectory to receive a palm or prayer card, and then drive to the front of the school to receive communion.

The third thing I want to mention is that a few weeks ago we began the 2021 Catholic Services Appeal. The CSA is an independent foundation. The money raised through the CSA helps fund many ministries throughout our Archdiocese. I strongly support the CSA and I invite you to make a pledge of support as well.

While I am on the subject of giving, I want to thank you for your financial support of our parish and like to invite your continued financial support for The Basilica this Easter. Your financial support enables us to continue to offer the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. I thank you in advance for your generosity.

Finally, on a very happy note, I want to let you know that one of our parishioners, Michael Reinhardt, will be ordained a priest of our Archdiocese on Saturday, May 29 at the Cathedral in St. Paul. He will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at the 9:30am Mass at Basilica on Sunday, May 30. I ask your prayers for Michael and the other men who will be ordained that day.

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, we pray for your love and compassion to abound as we walk through this challenging time.

We ask for wisdom for those who must make decisions with widespread consequences.

We pray for those who are suffering from illness or pain and all who are caring for them.

We ask for protection for the elderly and vulnerable.
We pray for misinformation to be curbed that fear may take no hold in hearts and minds.

And as we exercise the good sense that you in your mercy provide, may we also approach each day in faith and peace, trusting in your goodness and love.

We ask all this through Christ our Lord.

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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, just a reminder that during the Season of Lent, in addition to our usual Sunday and weekday liturgies, we also have Stations of the Cross on the Fridays of Lent and Vespers at 3:00pm on the Sundays. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:15 you are invited to join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer. 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. 

The second thing I want to mention is that after the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses on Palm Sunday you are invited to come to The Basilica to receive a palm and Holy Communion. We ask you to stop at the rectory to receive the palm and then drive to the front of the school to receive communion. In regard to the other liturgies of Holy Week, I will have more information  in a couple of weeks. 

The third thing I want to mention is that a couple of weeks ago we began the 2021 Catholic Services Appeal. The CSA is an independent foundation. The money raised through the CSA helps fund many programs, services and ministries throughout our Archdiocese. I strongly support the CSA and I invite you to make a pledge of support as well. 

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, we ask you…

If we are ill, strengthen us.

If we are tired, fortify our spirits.

If we are anxious, help us to remember your abiding presence with us. 

Don't let fear cause us to overlook the needs of others more vulnerable than ourselves.

Fix our eyes on You and our hearts on your grace.
Help us always to hold fast to the good, and to strive to see the good in others.

Give us generous hearts, resilient love, and enduring hope.  

In Jesus we make our prayer,

The one who suffered, died and was raised to new life,

In whom we trust these days and all days,

Amen.

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
MARCH/APRIL/MAY 2021
Liturgy Department p. 4
Learning Department p. 6
Christian Life Department p. 8
Development Department p. 10
St. Vincent de Paul Financial p. 12
  Update
Sacred Art News: 
  Angels Unawares                  p. 13
Parish Council Nomination form p. 14
 
 
 

FROM THE PASTOR

With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Christmas at The Basilica: While Christmas was very different this year because of the pandemic, there were also many blessings associated with it. Our staff did a great job of adapting, adjusting, and pivoting to help make our Christmas celebrations safe, meaningful, and reverent. They registered and checked people in for our Masses, they helped with livestreaming the Masses, and they also assisted in various liturgical ministries. I am very grateful to them—and to those volunteers—who made this year’s Christmas celebrations so special. As pastor of The Basilica, I have much to be proud of and even more to be grateful for this year. 
2. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank all those who made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this past fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge—no matter the size—is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries, and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community. 
In regard to our parish finances, I especially want to thank all those who contributed financially to The Basilica this past year and particularly at Christmas. Your generosity helped us surpass our income goal for December, which is a very important month for us. Thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support of our parish. 
3. Lent: As a child I never really appreciated Lent. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for me, and for all of us. During this special season I invite and encourage you to look at your calendar and to plan on participating virtually or in-person in the services and activities that will be offered at The Basilica. Visit mary.org for a list of our Lenten activities and services. 
4. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2021 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 20 and 21. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services, and programs within our Archdiocese. Now obviously, many people are concerned that contributions to the Archdiocese 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 (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal. I support it financially and I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services, and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information at csafspm.org.
5. Maintenance Update: This summer and fall we undertook some major tuck-pointing on the western exterior walls of The Basilica. Fortunately, this work was able to be completed before the cold weather set in. This tuck-pointing will help seal the exterior of The Basilica from water infiltration. Given the age of The Basilica, we anticipate that tuck-pointing some part of the exterior of our beautiful Basilica will be an annual maintenance item. We are blessed in that The Basilica Landmark paid for this work. 
Speaking of water, we had a minor flood on Christmas Day in the lower level of The Basilica. A sprinkler head broke in the St. Vincent de Paul storage room in the lower level of the church and the flooring and several items in the storage room as well as the carpeting in the Teresa of Calcutta Hall were saturated with water. Fortunately, we were able to turn off the water and get a company to dry vacuum the carpet and get dehumidifiers set up. Things were going well until a week later the tubing on the coffee maker in the lower level sprung a leak and the carpet was once again saturated. The same company returned to dry vacuum the carpet and set up dehumidifiers. The good news in this situation is that because of the pandemic no activities were scheduled for the lower level, and most of the cost of the repairs will be covered by our insurance. 
6. Parish Life during the Pandemic: While most of our activities, services, and ministries are being conducted virtually, we continue to ask the question of when, how, and where, we can resume some of these activities on campus. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, we are making decisions on a case by case basis. We also continue to look for new opportunities/ways to celebrate the life of our parish community. 
Clearly, we all miss the opportunities to gather and celebrate our faith. We miss gathering with others, worshipping, and praying together. We also miss the opportunities to give witness to that faith through our community activities. When we gather again as we used to—and I believe we will—it is my hope and sincere prayer that church will have a renewed meaning for all of us.
7. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Initiative: In 2016, after the death of Philando Castile, The Basilica recognized a need to address the important issue of racism in our parish, in our lives, and in society. As we began this work, we partnered with Penumbra Theatre and Sarah Bellamy, Penumbra’s Artistic Director. Through small group conversations and workshops with staff and parishioners, Sarah created a strategic and comprehensive report for The Basilica. 
After this report was presented, it was recommended to our parish leadership that a EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Leadership Team comprised of parishioners be established. This team began meeting in September 2020. With guidance by Sarah Bellamy, they are working on parish-wide goals, strategies, etc. within The Basilica and the larger community.
One of the first things this group did was to develop a Basilica EDI Position Statement, which would set a foundation and a direction for the work of this team. This position statement describes: 
The Why – What does our faith say? What are the conditions of our community? What does the gospel say to cause us to speak out? 
The What – What does The Basilica claim; what are the beliefs of The Basilica as it relates to equity, diversity, and inclusion?
And the future state – What do we hope for the future; how do we at The Basilica see our role and the role of The Basilica, both within the parish community and within our neighborhood, city, and state?
This Position Statement was presented at the January meetings of our Parish Finance Committee and Parish Council.
As a next step the team will work with Sarah Bellamy to begin the work of identifying goals. The visioning sessions will be held early in 2021. We expect to have a draft of goals by April/May 2021. In addition, Sarah Bellamy will work with staff to develop focused curriculum for The Basilica to address identified needs. If you have any questions about this initiative, or if you are interested in working on this issue, please contact Janice Andersen at jandersen@mary.org. 
8. Live Streaming Masses: As I hope you are aware, now that our livestreaming equipment has been permanently installed, we are able to open our Sunday 9:30am Mass for people to attend. As with the 11:30am and 4:30pm Masses, we do ask people to register to attend the 9:30am Mass in the unlikely event that we need to do some contact tracing. You can register for Mass via our website or by calling the parish office if you don’t have access to a computer. At this point, we anticipate continuing with our limited weekend Mass schedule at least until Easter. We will evaluate this during Lent to see if any changes need to be made.
At the present time, members of our parish staff cover the livestreaming of our 9:30am Sunday Mass, and our noon daily Mass. Going forward, though, we will be inviting and recruiting volunteers to help with this new ministry. If this new volunteer ministry has some interest to you, or you know someone who might be good at it, please contact Travis Salisbury at tsalisbury@mary.org. 


Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary

Lenten banners hung above sanctuary

God Created Us for Service

Several years ago a friend of mine went through an unplanned job and resultant life transition. We kept in communication during his transition period via phone calls and emails. In one of our conversations he said: “John, I’ve been praying and trying to discern God’s plan for my life, but I’m not getting any clarity.” In response I told him that I wasn’t convinced that God had a specific plan for each of our lives, as that would negate our free will. And our free will is one of God’s great gifts to us—and more than occasionally—something that gets us (or at least me) into trouble.

If God had a specific plan for each of our lives, if we didn’t have our free will, we would be nothing more than automatons. Now in saying this, there is a need for great clarity, while I don’t believe God has a specific plan for each of us, I do believe that God has a “general” plan for all of us. The old Baltimore Catechism stated this well when it indicated that: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Our free will allows us to make the choice for God in our each of our lives. Unfortunately, our free will also allows us to choose things other than God. Without free will, we would have no choice, but to love God in all God’s magnificence and glory. Free will is a great gift, but it also comes with great responsibility. Because of it even small decisions can have significant consequences.

Now the above having been said, I also believe that there are times when God does call us to a specific service. Cardinal John Henry Newman stated this well back in 1848: “God knows me and calls me by my name….God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.” These words of Cardinal Newman remind us that we are not created without a purpose.

I do believe we are called to some specific service—even though we may never know what that purpose or service is. Perhaps the service God is calling someone to be good husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, friend, neighbor, or co-worker. Perhaps it is simply to invite others to come to know Jesus by the witness of our lives. This service can be accomplished in a variety of ways. And at different times, this service may take a variety of forms. Being called to a specific service or purpose by God, though, is not the same as God having a specific plan for our lives. A specific service is not the same as a specific plan.

Like Cardinal Newman, we may never know the service God has committed to us in our individual lives. But with prayer and our free will—and even though we might not know it—we will accomplish that service.

 

 

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.

Amen.

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