Johan's Blog

Who is my neighbor?

This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us of the two most important commandments which summarize Jesus’ teachings: love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor like yourself. 
 
Most of us embrace this, at least to a point. The important question is, who do we believe to be our neighbor? Sure, it is easy to love those we interact with on a daily basis and those we are comfortable with. It is, however, clear that Jesus does not want us to stop there, neither does the Church. 
 
Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus clarifies who our neighbor is. Our neighbor is the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the poor person. This reading also makes it quite clear how God feels about failure to do so. God’s punishment for those who oppress a stranger, wrong a widow or orphan, or extort a poor neighbor is quite simple: “I will kill you with the sword.” Even if we do not take this literally, the message is clear: this kind of behavior is unacceptable to God.
 
The biggest temptation and greatest danger to Christianity is the ease with which we water down its meaning and white-wash its message. History clearly teaches how this has led to the abuse and high jacking of Christianity by outside interests. History also confirms how Christians at times have been manipulated to support ideologies that are paradoxical to Christianity. 
 
A very poignant example is the Holocaust. The holocaust is the antithesis of the first and second commandment. The Holocaust was able to happen because people were made to believe that Jews, Roma, people with disabilities, and homosexuals are not our neighbor. This very thought still supports the discrimination of these and many other people, even today. 
 
Another horrific example is the justification and support of slavery by Christians which led to unconscionable atrocities in this and many other countries. The erroneous and evil thought that allowed slavery to exist is still reverberating in the deeply rooted sin of racism that rears it ugly head over and over again in our society and in our institutions. 
If we are indeed followers of Christ we are to love ALL people as our neighbors and we are to love them as ourselves. That is exactly what Christ asks us to do. 
 
Our mission as Christians is to protect and support unborn children, but also those children who have been born. Our mission is to make sure all children have access to education. Our mission is to make sure everyone has housing, clothing, food. Our mission is to eradicate all discrimination and to work for justice and equality for all regardless of race, gender, creed or way of life. Our mission is to welcome the stranger rather than to put them in cages or to build walls to keep them out. Our mission is to provide healthcare for everyone especially those suffering due to COVID 19 during this current pandemic. Our mission is to make sure that our planet is safe from human exploitation and destruction and is preserved for future generations. Our mission is to end and prevent wars. Our mission is to abolish the death penalty. 
 
In sum, our mission as Christians is to love our neighbor; every neighbor; all neighbors, without exception, no matter how different they are from us, for it is what God commands us to do, no more, no less. That is true Christianity.
 

 

 

Come together in prayer for the election. 

It is always important for people of faith to vote. As Christians, we are called to participate in public life and to contribute to the common good.
 

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every Life.”
Pope Francis – On the Death of George Floyd, June 3, 2020

 
As we approach Election Day 2020, it is most important for us to make this journey in prayer. We know that the elections are very important for the future of our country so we invite you to join us in asking God for guidance as we journey toward November 3.
 
Please join us for a Novena of prayer before the Elections and an Octave of prayer following the elections.
  • A Novena from the Latin novem meaning nine, is a series of nine prayers over the course of nine consecutive days or week. It can be a time of preparation for the celebration of the feast of a saint. It can also lead up to an important event or be occasioned by a grave need.
     
  • An Octave, from the Latin octo meaning eight is a series of eight days of prayers either preceding or following an important celebration such as Christmas or Easter. 
     
The results of the election will give some cause for celebrations, others will perhaps struggle.  We invite you to join us in asking God that we may overcome our difference and together build the kind of world God has in mind for us. Let us, together, create a revolution of love and tenderness. 
 
“Each of us by virtue of our baptism, is called to be an active presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit.” 
Pope Francis – Angelus on October 18, 2020
 
If you would like to receive an email reminder each day starting October 25, please sign up here
 

Day One
A Prayer for Justice and Peace 
St. Martin de Porres, Advocate for Justice and Peace, Pray for Us!

Day Two
A Prayer for Unity and Harmony
St. Francis, Promotor of Harmony and Peace, Pray for Us!

Day Three
For the Preservation and Protection of Our World 
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Guardian of the Land, Pray for Us!

Day Four
For all children in our world
St. Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus, Pray for Us!

Day Five
For immigrants, migrants and asylum seekers 
(St. Frances Cabrini)

Day Six
For those who suffer due to COVID19 or any other illness 
(St. Teresa of Calcutta)

Day Seven
For those who are unemployed and under-employed 
(St. Cajetan)

Day Eight
For all candidates for elected office 
St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians, pray for us.

Day Nine
For all people in our nation 
Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us.

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. In this week's installment, Johan is in our chapel dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux. Her life and writings inspire us all to be everyday saints, doing small things with great love. May we aspire to become members of the host of little saints, contributing to God's love and spreading God's love throughout our world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. In this week's installment, Johan discusses our painting of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, as the month of October is dedicated to the rosary. Our painting is a replica of an Italian painting in the Chapel of Saint Catherine at Santa Sabina in Rome. Santa Sabina was donated to the Order of Preachers, commonly known as Domincans, in the 13th Century.

 

 

 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. In this week's installment, Johan discusses our serigraph of Saint Francis and the Wolf by John August Swanson in honor of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4. "Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures!"

 

 

 

 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. In this week's installment, we explore this original painting of Saint Jerome, in honor of his feast day on September 30, by local artist Leo Winstead. Johan also describes different artistic influences and historical elements in the painting.

 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. In this week's installment, we go up, up, up to see the tuckpointing efforts on the church's western facade. Johan also shares information about our past restoration and renovation efforts to preserve our magnificent building. We are deeply grateful to The Basilica Landmark donors, who honor the history and plan for the future of The Basilica.
 
(Apologies for the background noise in this week’s episode. Work never stops at The Basilica!)
 
 
 
 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. This week's installment, in honor of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, features information about our processional Icon Cross, created by our iconographer Deb Korluka.

 

 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. This week's installment is the second in a series on our beloved church building. He focuses on elements of the church interior including the ancient architectural design of a basilica, the various types of stone, the altar, the baldacchino, the entablature statues of eleven apostles and Saint Paul, and the crucifixion scene.

 

 

 

In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection. This week's installment begins a series on our beloved church building, and the people who made the building possible. On August 15, 1915, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, The Basilica of Saint Mary was solemnly dedicated. Each year since we have celebrated this dedication and now we know it as Basilica Day.

 

 

 

Pages