Fr. Bauer's Blog

 

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

Last week we opened The Basilica for weekday Mass at noon, and had the first public Mass at The Basilica since mid-March. Speaking for myself, it was absolutely wonderful to have people at Mass again. The Eucharist is a community event, and it was nice to once again have a community with whom I could celebrate and share the Eucharist.

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 at 1:00pm the day before the Mass you want to attend. 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 are 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.

Last night, at a Zoom meeting with our parish leadership, we discussed opening The Basilica for a Sunday Mass. While people greatly appreciate our live-streaming efforts, we recognized that there is also a desire for people to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist is central to our lives as Christians.

Given this, the decision was made that beginning Sunday, August 2, The Basilica will be open for one public Mass on Sunday 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 11:30 Mass. To help explain these protocols we have prepared a brief video which is available on our website.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I realize that to some these protocols 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 hope that you would not register to attend Mass at this time.

As I have also mentioned previously, if you would like further information about these 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.

For those, who are not able to attend Mass, I want to reiterate that, going forward, we will continue to livestream daily Mass as well as our 9:30 Mass on Sunday and our various liturgies and services.

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.

 


Loving God, we come to you full of anxiety about what may happen in the coming days and weeks. Shower us with the peace Jesus promised to his disciples. In this time of uncertainty and epidemic, wake us up to the reminder that we are not alone.

Even as we are asked to keep our distance from others, help us to find ways to reach out to those who need our support. We pray especially for those whose incomes and livelihoods are threatened. We pray especially for the children who will miss meals; for those already isolated, lonely and scared; for those who can not be with a loved one; and for all caregivers.

Loving God, give them your peace, and through our efforts ensure they have what they need.

Sustain, strengthen and protect all of us. Bless us as we seek to offer compassionate care and to show courage in the face of risk.
Remind us, each time we wash our hands, that in our baptism you call us to let go of our fears and live in joy, peace, and hope.

Amen.

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Basilica Community,

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

Yesterday, we had the first public Mass at The Basilica since mid-March. Speaking for myself, it was absolutely wonderful to have people at Mass again.

The Eucharist is a community event, and it was nice to once again have a community with whom I could celebrate and share the Eucharist.

Using our new equipment, our staff livestreamed Mass. For their first time, I think it went very well. I ask your patience, though, as our staff takes on this responsibility. No doubt, mistakes will be made, but please bear with us.

I 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, the day before the Mass you want to attend. 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.

To help explain these protocols we have prepared a brief video which will be available on our website.

I realize these protocols may seem excessive to some, 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 hope that you would not register to attend Mass at this time.

As I have mentioned previously, if you would like further information about these 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.

For those, who are not able to attend Mass, I also want to reassure you that, going forward, we will continue to livestream our various liturgies and services.

Once we are up and running for daily Mass, and have worked out any kinks in our protocols, we hope to open The Basilica for a public Sunday Mass. We hope to this beginning the first part of August. I will be discussing this with our Parish leadership at a Zoom meeting next week, and will let you know the outcome of that discussion.

As I close today, I ask for your prayers for our staff, our parish leadership, our parish, and our community, that we might be open to the guidance of God’s good Spirit during these challenging times.

 

Lord, Jesus, your light rises in our darkness and assures us that you are present with us and that your powerful closeness to us transforms our fear into hope.

May we join with our Holy Father, Francis, in spreading a "contagion" of hope "from heart to heart".

Protect all your selfless servants who continue to serve the needs of the most vulnerable by both hands and heart.

Give our elected leaders wisdom of heart in decision-making that the common good of our human family may be achieved and the gift of each person's human dignity respected.

May the fire of love, faith and hope burn within our hearts so that we may give witness to the mystery of your resurrected life among us and within us. Amen.

 

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Preparing to reopen for weekday Mass

 

 

Basilica Community,

I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times. I also hope you had a safe and happy 4th of July weekend.

Today I would like to speak with you about our plans to gradually reopen The Basilica for public worship. At this point, while we have encountered some technical issues in setting up our new livestreaming equipment, we still hope to begin inviting people to attend our Noon daily Mass beginning Wednesday, July 15.

In regard to daily Mass, 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 hope that you would not register to attend Mass at this time.

If you do wish to attend one of these daily Masses you will need to preregister the day before. You can do this on our website, the day before the Mass you want to attend. 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 at 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. To help explain these protocols we have prepared a brief video which will be available on our website.

I realize these protocols may seem excessive to some, 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 would like further information about these 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.

I also want to reassure you, that when we reopen The Basilica for public worship, we will continue to livestream our liturgies and services. Once we are up and running for daily Mass, and have worked out any kinks in our protocols, we hope to open The Basilica for public Sunday Mass. We hope to this beginning the first part of August.

Once we have reopened The Basilica for Sunday Mass, one Sunday a month we will also celebrate the sacrament of baptism for infants, and the Sacrament of Confirmation for those adults who were a part of our R.C.I.A program this past year. Later this summer we will also discuss how to celebrate First Communion and Confirmation with our elementary and high school students.

As I close today, I ask for your prayers for our staff, our parish leadership, our parish, and our community, that we might be open to the guidance of God’s good Spirit during these challenging times.

 

A Prayer for Our Uncertain Times
All Mighty God,
May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
And during this time when we may not be able to physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.

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My mother was an equal opportunity disciplinarian. By this I mean that my mother dealt out discipline fairly, swiftly, and judiciously. One time when I was growing up, my mother took me and my older brother with her to run some errands. At one point during our errand running my older brother—probably more out of boredom than malice—gave me a shove. I responded by calling him a name. My mother responded by telling my older brother that if he pushed me again a spanking awaited him when we got home. She responded to me by telling me never to call someone a name, and that if I continued this practice, I could anticipate that my mouth would be washed out with a bar of soap. She then told both of us that there would be no dessert for either of us that night. With my mother discipline was swift, sure, and just. I learned a valuable lesson that day many years ago. You don’t call people names. 

This memory came back to me recently as I was thinking about all that has gone on and continues to go on in our city with the death of George Floyd, as well as all that is going on in our country and our world with COVID-19. It is clear that given the current situation, “stressful” doesn’t begin to describe the upheaval in our community and our world, as well as the turmoil in our individual lives at this time. Unfortunately, contributing to this uproar and turmoil are some—particularly some in leadership positions who should know better—who are resorting to finger pointing and name calling. 

We need to be honest and clear. Name calling and finger pointing are never appropriate. And we need to call each other—and especially our leaders—to accountability when we/they do this. In a speech in October of 2017 former President George W. Bush alluded to this issue when he said: “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions—forgetting the image of God we should see in each other." 

We are all created in God’s image and likeness. We are all beloved sons and daughters of God. When we fail to remember this, when we point fingers and call names, we are failing to see the image of God in one another. I just wish my mother were alive to give those who do this a good talking to, and threaten to wash out their mouths with soap if they continue this practice. Alternatively, though, perhaps if God sent us all to bed without dessert for a few nights, perhaps we might remember and take seriously the most basic fact of our existence: we are all beloved children of God. 

 

 

Basilica Community,

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

As I mentioned last week, our parish leadership has approved The Basilica’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. This plan has been posted to our website if you would like to read it. This plan will continue to be reviewed and adjusted as new information becomes available as the pandemic evolves.

I am grateful to Terri Ashmore, our Managing Director, our Staff Directors, Tom Paul and Kathy Noecker our Parish Trustees, and Dr. Deirdre Palmer, The Basilica Landmark’s representative to our Parish Council, for the time and effort they put into this document. Their work is a blessing for our parish. Additionally, our parish leadership approved a proposal to gradually reopen The Basilica for public worship.

When we reopen The Basilica for public worship, however, we will continue to livestream our various liturgies and services. The equipment we needed to livestream has arrived and will be installed within the next week or so. Once the equipment is installed, our staff will be trained to operate it.

Once this has happened, we will start to open The Basilica for daily Mass at Noon. We anticipate this will take place in mid-July. Within the next couple of weeks, I will give a progress report to our parish leadership in regard to how this is working.

Hopefully at that time, we can determine a timeline for reopening The Basilica on a limited basis for weekend Masses. Once we have reopened The Basilica for Sunday Mass, on one Sunday a month we will also celebrate the sacrament of baptism for infants, and the Sacrament of Confirmation for those adults who were a part of our R.C.I.A. program this past year. Later this summer we will also discuss how to celebrate First Communion and Confirmation with our elementary and high school students.

I realize these decisions may disappoint some, 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 would like further information about this plan, 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, since next week leads into the 4th of July weekend, we won’t have our usual coffee and conversation on Wednesday morning. I also won’t be posting a message next week. Coffee and Conversation and a new message will be back the week of July 5th.

 

Almighty and eternal God,
our refuge in every danger,
to whom we turn in our distress;
in faith we pray
look with compassion on the afflicted,
grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners,
healing to the sick, peace to the dying,
strength to healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders
and the courage to reach out to all in love,
so that together we may give glory to your holy name.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
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 would like to update you in regard to the outcome of a meeting last evening of our parish leadership.

Our parish leadership approved The Basilica’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. This plan will be posted to our parish website within the next few days. We have been working on this plan for several weeks; modifying and refining it as information has became available. This plan will continue to be adjusted to meet our parish needs as the pandemic evolves.

I am grateful to Terri Ashmore, our Managing Director, our Staff Directors, Tom Paul and Kathy Noecker our Parish Trustees, and Dr. Deirdre Palmer, The Basilica Landmark’s representative to our Parish Council, for the time and effort they put into this document. Their work is a blessing for our parish.

Additionally, at our meeting last evening, our parish leadership approved a proposal to gradually reopen The Basilica for public worship. This plan will begin as soon as we have installed the new equipment we have purchased to allow our staff to livestream our services. We anticipate this will take place in mid-July.

Once the livestreaming equipment is installed and operational, we will start to open The Basilica for daily Mass at Noon. Additionally, one Sunday a month we will celebrate the sacrament of baptism for infants, and the Sacrament of Confirmation for those adults who were a part of our R.C.I.A program this past year.

In the next couple of weeks I will be meeting with members of our staff to establish the procedures we will need to put in place to make this happen as smoothly as possible. Later this summer we will also discuss how to celebrate First Communion and Confirmation with our elementary and high school students.

At the end of July, I will give a progress report to our parish leadership in regard to how all of this is working. At that time, we also hope to discuss the reopening of The Basilica on a limited basis for weekend Masses.

I realize these decisions may disappoint some, but out of 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 interested in talking about these decisions, I invite you to join me next Wednesday at 9:00am for our Zoom Coffee and Conversation or next Wednesday at 5:30pm for a Zoom conversation with me.

 

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Amen

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Basilica Community,

Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary. I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during this challenging time.

Today, I would like to update you briefly in regard to some of the things that happening at The Basilica.

I would like to begin, though, with a word of thanks to all those whose ongoing financial support helps us to continue the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. Please know of my great gratitude for your generosity. However, as I have mentioned previously, if you find yourself needing financial support, we invite you to connect with our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry.

The second thing I wanted to mention is that while we have ordered the equipment we need so that our staff can begin to livestream our liturgies that equipment unfortunately is on back order. Given this, until the equipment arrives and our staff can take on this responsibility, we will continue to pay to have our liturgies livestreamed.

The third thing I wanted to mention is that even though The Basilica is not open, we continue to meet, and to offer many activities via Zoom. I am enormously grateful to our staff and volunteers who make these this possible. I invite you to check our website to see all that is going on here.

I also want to mention, though, that if you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, please let us know. We may not be able to implement all your suggestions, or respond to all your questions and concerns, but we will do our very best. In this regard, I wanted to mention that last Sunday we had our first Vespers for Solace and Peace. We prayed for those impacted by COVID-19, as well as those who are victims of racism, violence, and injustice.

Going forward, we will continue to celebrate Vespers for Solace and Peace on the first Sunday of each month at 5:30pm. These services will be livestreamed and I invite you to join us.

Finally, as I have mentioned previously, our parish leadership will be meeting next week to discuss whether it is time to begin to reopen The Basilica. I ask for your prayers as we prepare to discuss this issue. Our primary concern is to make sure that when we reopen we can provide an environment that is safe and secure for all who come to The Basilica.

 

 

O Christ Jesus
When all is darkness
And we feel our weakness and helplessness,
Give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your Love and Your Strength.
Help me to have perfect trust
In Your protecting love
And strengthening power,
So that nothing may frighten or worry us,
For, living close to You,
We shall see Your Hand,
Your Purpose, Your Will through all things.
Amen

 

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With the Coronavirus wreaking havoc in our lives and our world, and causing untold pain and suffering, I was reminded of an essay a friend of mine sent me a few months ago entitled: “The Purpose of Suffering.” Now since I find “suffering” to be among the great mysteries of faith, I was interested in what the author had to say. Frankly and bluntly, I found most of what the author wrote to be pious pablum, but I was stunned when I came upon the sentence: “You can rest assured that God has some greater purpose in mind for you, and that His plan can only be accomplished in the school of affliction and suffering.” This is simply and patently absurd. 

Now certainly good can come out of suffering. To suggest, however, that God causes suffering to create some good is simply wrong. We don’t know why suffering exists. It is a mystery of faith why some good and holy people experience pain and suffering in their lives. We can’t explain why innocent people sometimes suffer, or why people who do bad things sometimes don’t experience the consequences of their actions and at times even seem to live lives of ease and comfort. Given this, we need to be honest and admit that we just don’t know the reason suffering exists. 

What we do know, though, is important. In the midst of pain and suffering we know and believe that God is with us and that God is offering us God’s good grace. Grace is who God is, and grace can be found, perhaps most especially, in the depths of pain and suffering. If we pray and are open to God, we can discover grace arising from the worst kind of pain, and from the great depths of terrible suffering. God doesn't cause suffering and pain, but God is there with us in the midst of suffering and pain. 

In his book, Night, Eli Weisel told the story of witnessing the hanging of a young Dutch boy for collaborating with the Nazis. For more than an hour the child in the noose stayed there struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony. Weisel said; “And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was red, his eyes not yet glazed. Behind me I heard a man asking ‘Where is God now?’ And I heard a voice within me answer him: ‘Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows….”

I think Weisel’s insight is important. While God does not cause and does not prevent our suffering, God is with us and for us in all of our pain and suffering. We need to remember this—most especially at this time—on this Easter day. Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that pain, suffering, trials, and even death, will not have the final word, God will. And God’s word is life—life in abundance. God abides with us always, wanting to share God’s life with us. And in our prayer—if we are open to it—we will find God gently enfolding us in God’s love and strengthening us with God’s grace. 

Certainly suffering can reveal to us a greater purpose or provide a deeper insight. To suggest, though, that God causes suffering so that an individual can come to understand some greater purpose demeans God and suggests that God is capricious, and at times down right mean. I can’t believe in this kind of God. If people want to continue to suggest that God causes suffering for some noble purpose, I’d suggest that God sue for defamation of character. 

 

Today, I join my prayer with the family and friends of George Floyd as they gather to mourn his loss and celebrate his life. I also join my voice to their call for an end to the evil and sin of racism that permeates our society and our institutions. And with them I call for justice for George. 
 
Yesterday, Pope Francis spoke powerfully about what has been happening in MN over the past 10 days. Addressing Minnesotans and all Americans during his general audience he said: “I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd,” he continued “we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
 
As I pray for justice and peace, truth and reconciliation in our land and in the entire world I also commit myself to work for justice, peace, and reconciliation for all.

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

 

Basilica Community,

I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during this challenging time. Today, I would like to update you in regard to three areas of our parish life.

First as many of you may have heard, early last Thursday morning, someone broke into The Basilica. A couple of bottles of flammable fluid were thrown onto the pews. Two pews and the wooden floor beneath them were damaged, but the fire did not spread to the surrounding area.

In response to this break-in, we have increased our security patrols by United Protective Agency. Additionally our volunteer security committee will continue to monitor our security situation and will be advising us about further measures we can take.

While this has been a very sad experience, no one was injured and the damage was very minimal. I ask for your prayers for The Basilica as well as for those who perpetrated this act.

The second thing I wanted to mention is that beginning Sunday and on the first Sunday of the month for the foreseeable future, we will livestream vespers for Solace and Peace. This evening prayer will be offered for all those who are impacted in any way by COVID-19. Particularly at this time, though, it will also offer us an opportunity to pray for George Floyd and for justice and healing in our community.

In this regard, there is also information on our website with a list of resources and groups you can partner with to help those people and neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the recent difficulties.

At the end of our Vespers service we will light candles in one of our Marian Shrines. We invite you to send your intentions to mary.org/candles. We will offer prayers to our loving God as we light these candles.

Finally, as I mentioned last week, our parish leadership has recommended that we not re-open The Basilica for public worship at this time. We will review this decision at our next meeting on June 17 and then every two weeks thereafter.

I know this decision will disappoint some, but, as your Pastor, I want you to know that I firmly believe it is the right decision at this time. And I want to remind you that the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is suspended. Certainly this is a painful time for all of us. With all that is going on in our world and in our city, it is good for us to pause and pray, and to look for ways, as individuals and as a parish, that we can bring justice, reconciliation, and peace to our community.

We need to do this, because our commitment to the common good calls us to be both good Catholics and good citizens. And we are challenged to do this so that The Basilica might continue to be a beacon of hope on the Minneapolis skyline.

 

Pope Francis: Prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith

Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.

Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.

Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

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Parish Council Election: Vote by June 5

Zoom: Coffee and Conversation June 6, 9:00am

Livestream: Sunday Prayer for Solace and Peace June 7, 5:30pm

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