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Fasting, Praying and Acting during the Sixth Week of Lent

“Love your Neighbor as Yourself.” (Mk. 12:31)

“Building Bridges that Foster a Culture of Caring.” Pope Francis

In his message on the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2021 Pope Francis invited all people to “make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, in acknowledging our profound interconnection, build bridges that foster a culture of encounter.”

He went on to say that “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts.”

He summarized his hopes on immigration by stating that “if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider “we” can come about.”

During Holy Week, we invite you to: mend your heart by fasting from Individualism and Exclusion; bend your knees while engaging in Visio Divina on the Passion of Christ; and lend your hand through acts of courage.

 

  • Mending our Heart by Fasting from Individualism and Exclusion
  • Putting ourselves first as an individual and even as a nation is rather popular these days, here and abroad. Individualism and nationalism are celebrated by many, also by some Christians even though both are antithetical to Christianity.
  • Christianity is rooted in Jesus’ willingness to give his life for others. This is as far removed from individualism and nationalism as one can possibly imagine. Followers of Jesus are called to do the same. In the words of St. Francis: “…it is in giving that we receive…and in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
  • Lent is the perfect time to practice fasting from putting ourselves first by putting the needs of others before our own. The end goal is to embody in our own lives the sacrificial life of Jesus.

 

  • Bending our Knees by engaging in Visio Divina on the Passion of Christ
  • As we try to live out our Christian calling Holy Week is the perfect time yto meditate on the Passion of Jesus. One way of doing that is through Visio Divina or Divine Seeing. This is an intentional and prayerful contemplation of an image of the crucifixion. The objective is to allow God to speak through the art in a most profound way.
  • As you prepare for Visio Divina select an image of the crucifixion.
  1. Visio: Spend some time contemplating the art you selected. What is it you see? If you are using a figurative representation, ask yourself who and what is represented in the image. If non-figurative, consider the shapes, the forms, and the colors. Feel free to write down any words that come to mind.
  2. Meditatio: Let your imagination dialogue with what you see. There is always more to an image than what the eyes behold. Is a deeper story forming in your imagination? Are you experiencing any specific feelings or emotions? Again, feel free to write down any words that come to mind.
  3. Oratio: Formulate a prayer response. This can be a prayer of gratitude, or it might be a prayer of intercessions. Feel free to use the words you have written down in step 1 or 2.
  4. Contemplatio: Let go of all words and to quietly rest in prayer. Give yourself over to God who will mold you in prayer.
  5. Actio: did any action come to mind you might take after

 

  • Lending our Hands through Acts of Courage
  • The Joy of Christianity gives us the courage to speak and act on behalf of those in need without any fear as we strive for a better world, the kind of world God has dreamt for us.
  • This week as we contemplate the suffering of Christ, let us think about the many injustices and concerns that plague our world and ask ourselves how we can make a difference in terms of racial justice, adequate housing, mental health funding, the care for the unborn, health insurance for all, immigrants and asylum seekers, the death penalty, endless cycles of poverty, gun violence…
  • As the world is experiencing yet another mass migration as the result of the war in Ukraine let’s learn about ways to engage with The Basilica Immigrant Support Ministry at www.mary.org/immigration or with the Minnesota Interfaith Coalition on Immigration at https://mnicom.org/

 

And please remember to be patient with yourself and others.  Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.

 

At The Basilica of Saint Mary, the ministries of St. Vincent de Paul are varied and many. All seek to build relationships, respond to basic needs, and advocate for dignity for all.

Our work is as basic as ensuring our neighbors who are homeless have a bathroom available, and as complex as establishing long-term mentoring relationships. We are completing our eighth year mentoring Minneapolis College students who experience homelessness or generational poverty. We assist Basilica parishioners who are struggling and families in the broader community who reach out to The Basilica seeking life-saving assistance.

Most recently, we are supporting refugee families from Afghanistan. We provided furniture, food, clothing, household items and rent assistance. Our Basilica volunteer "Circle of Welcome Teams" develop relationships with the families, helping them as they acclimate to life in America.

A recurring gift to St. Vincent de Paul makes outreach like this possible. Your partnership is crucial and offers hope to those who need it most. To make a gift commitment, please visit mary.org/svdpgive. If you have questions about how to make your gift, please contact Nicole at 612.317.3472.

 

 

 

Fasting, Praying and Acting during the Fifth Week of Lent

“Be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)

Living in Solidarity with Those who are Poor.” Pope Francis

 

In 2017 Pope Francis inaugurated the first World Day of the Poor to be held every year on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

During his homily on the most recent World Day of the Poor marked on November 14, 2021, the pope decried the poverty into which people are often forced, “victims of injustice and the inequality of a throwaway society that hurries past without seeing them and without scruple abandons them to their fate.”

He went on to say that “unless our hope translates into decisions and concrete gestures of concern, justice, solidarity and care for our common home, the sufferings of the poor will not be relieved, the economy of waste that forces them to live on the margins will not be converted, their expectations will not blossom anew.”

He concluded by encouraging all people to improve the world by “breaking bread with the hungry, working for justice, lifting up the poor and restoring their dignity.”

 

During this Fifth Week of Lent, we invite you to: mend your heart by fasting from greed; bend your knees while engage in praying the Stations of the Cross; and Lend your hand by embracing generosity.

  • Mending our Hearts: Fasting from Greed
  • All of us, to some extent suffer from greediness. Greediness is the tendency to hold on, to claim or to demand something or even someone just for ourselves.
  • Fasting from greed is more difficult than fasting from meat or sweets. Ridding ourselves of this sinful desire requires a complete change of attitude which does not happen in a day or even a week. This is a difficult task which requires commitment and tenacity.
  • As Christians we are to live as Jesus lived. His generosity, even unto death knew no bounds. Let us contemplate and emulate Jesus’ generosity this week as we rid ourselves slowly of our greediness.

 

  • Bending our Knees: Praying the Station of the Cross
  • Praying the Stations of the Cross is an ancient Christian devotion which invites us to meditate on the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. A history of this devotion is offered in our series Art that Surrounds Us: https://www.mary.org/blog/202102/art-surrounds-us-stations-cross#.YDU4dNhKiJA.  
  • On Fridays of Lent, we pray the Stations of the Cross in The Basilica at 5:30pm. You can join us in person or via livestream. Each Friday we pray a different version of the Stations of the Cross using new texts and images.
  • If you would like to pray the Stations of the Cross at home you can use the weekly recorded livestream or you can find a narrated slideshow of our Scriptural Stations at https://vimeo.com/403088034.

 

  • Lending our Hands: Embracing Generosity
  • During Lent we give thanks for Jesus’ willingness to die for us on the cross. This act of ultimate generosity has deep sacrificial meaning and great theological implications for all of us. Not only are we saved by Jesus’ self-sacrifice, but we are also called to make sacrifices in turn.
  • On the fifth Sunday of Lent, we have a second collection for our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. This is our opportunity to be generous to the programs our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry supports and the people it serves. We can also volunteer in our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry at The Basilica. You can find more information here: https://www.mary.org/ministries-education/charity-service#.YhFFgujMJPY
  • One of our strategic directions at The Basilica is to work toward ending homelessness. You can learn about the realities of homeless in our community and ways to advocate and get involved by visiting the following websites:

 

And please remember to be patient with yourself and others.  Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian stamina. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.

 

 

Archbishop Bernard Hebda invites the faithful of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, priests, deacons, consecrated women and men and all people of good will to join him and Bishop Joseph Williams for a special Holy Hour and Consecration. The event will occur simultaneously with Pope Francis’ prayer for peace, and consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which will take place during the Celebration of Penance at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

 

View the Act of Consecration prayer in English and in Spanish
 

From the consecration prayer by Pope Francis:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, hear our prayer.
Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.
Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths to reconciliation.
Queen of Heaven, restore God's peace to the world.
Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge and teach us forgiveness.
Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.
Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and love.
Queen of the Human Family, show people the path to fraternity.
Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

 

 

Let us pray for the people in Ukraine,

and in all war zones of the world,

for those who have fled the dread of violence

and have been deprived of their homes,

for all women and men who stand up with their lives

to ward off evil and to protect the weak and the persecuted.

 

Almighty and eternal God,

you have compassion for the lowly and the poor,

but you throw down oppressors.

As you guided Israel out of slavery in Egypt,

so in our days save all victims of war and violence.

Change the hearts of evildoers,

and let peace be victorious.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Fasting, Praying and Acting during the Fourth Week of Lent
 
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
“The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy.”
 
The fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Laetare Sunday. This name is based on the first word of the introit or entrance chant for Mass that day which invites us to rejoice always.
 
Lætare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ.
 
Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.
 
From the very beginning of his pontificate Pope Francis has spoken against fear and anger and has emphasized the importance of joy and gratitude.
 
Profound Joy, rooted in the assurance of God’s love for us and our salvation in Jesus Christ is one of the main themes discussed by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of Gospel promulgated in 2013, the first year of his pontificate.
 
He put it more succinctly and poignantly in a homily Pope Francis preached on May 23, 2016 as he stated that “the Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that - even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life - is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us."
 
During this fourth week of Lent let’s mend our heart by fasting from fear and anger; bend our knees by praying Morning and evening Prayer; and lend our hands through acts of kindness and gratitude.
 
Mending our Hearts by Fasting from Fear and Anger
  • Fear and anger are omnipresent in our world today. Many people thrive on these sentiments, and some even promote them. Fear and anger rather than joy and happiness have become the hallmark and detriment of our society.
  • This week let’s resist the powers that tell us to be fearful or to hate and let’s embrace the gospel values of joy and gratitude. 
  • Practicing gratitude and joy, while choosing to fast from ingratitude and sadness is not only physically healthy but mentally, emotionally and spiritually enriching.  And after all, this is our only possible response to the mystery of God becoming one of us so that we may become more like God.
 
Bending our Knees while Praying Morning and Evening Prayer
  • Early Christians, based on their Jewish heritage marked sunrise, midday and sunset with prayer, giving thanks to God for the many gifts they received.
  • Ever since, Christians have done the same, sometimes in very simple and informal ways. Other times in highly structured and elaborate ways.
  • Let’s continue this great tradition by intentionally marking Morning and Evening with prayer, either individual or with family. You may also consider joining us at The Basilica for morning prayer on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:15am or evening prayer on Sunday at 3:00pm.
 
Lending our Hands through Noticing and Savoring Blessings and Expressing Gratitude
  • Let’s open our eyes and hearts to the good things in our life. Granted, there are many reasons to be sad and weep for our world. But maybe this week we can focus on all the reasons we should be grateful and allow ourselves to celebrate the many blessings bestowed on us.
  • Once we have become more attune to the many blessings of everyday life, we can learn to savor them. When we become aware of a specific blessing in our life let’s relish the moment and allow for a deep sense of gratitude to take hold.
  • The next step is to give expression to our gratitude. Let’s express heartfelt gratitude to our family, our friends, our God. This is not about mere pleasantries of politeness, rather this is about genuine appreciation. Profound gratitude may even inspire us to act with kindness and thoughtfulness or to return a favor. 
 
And please remember to be patient with yourself and others.  Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.
 
 

This Lent, some parish members are sharing their Lenten practices and stories with us. Laura Madsen, whose husband Jim passed away last year, shares her experiences with our grief ministry, and how she’s approaching this Lent and the one year anniversary of his death.

Join the Journey!  Bend your knees, mend your heart, and lend your hands.”

The Third Week of Lent

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28

 

In a response to the killing of George Floyd Pope Francis powerfully stated during his general audience of June 3, 2020, that “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.”

 

And in a tweet dated March 21, 2021, he said: “Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting. Instances of racism continue to shame us, for they show that our supposed social progress is not as real or definitive as we think.”

 

These are just two of many instances in which Pope Francis has spoken out against racism calling it sinful and evil behavior not becoming of the followers of Christ.

 

During the third week of Lent let us mend our heart by fasting from privilege and comfort; bend our knees by praying the Sorrowful Mysteries; and lend our hands as we strive for justice and equity for all.

 

  • Mending our Heart by Fasting from Privilege and Comfort
    • Most of us do not see ourselves as racists. We have BIPOC friends. We are careful in the language we use. We support BIPOC owned businesses. And yet we quietly support the status quo of white privilege.
    • It is difficult and hard work to face the reality that our institutions and even our church are stained by racial prejudice and discrimination.
    • During this week of Lent let’s fast from the comfort of our place of privilege and let’s honestly face the harsh reality of racism that permeates most everything we do.

 

  • Bending our Knees while Praying the Sorrowful Mysteries
    • Though white herself, Janet McKenzie has delved deep into the sin of racism and through her art confronts this evil. Her painting “sanctuary” is a striking rendition of Mary and Jesus as a Black mother with a teenage boy.
    • Like Mary, many BIPOC mothers have lost their young sons to violence, sometimes even state sanctioned violence.
    • During this week let’s pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary (https://www.mary.org/liturgical-celebrations/devotions/rosary#.YhK3POjMJD9)  as we meditate on the suffering of Mary and Jesus and all victimized Mothers and Sons.
  • Lending our Hands as we Strive for Justice and Equity for All:
  • Grounded in the Gospel and Catholic social teaching, Pax Christi USA strives to be the “peace of Christ” in the world today.
    You can learn about their anti-racism movement by visiting: https://paxchristiusa.org/racial-justice/

 

  • You can learn about the work of The Basilica Equity-Diversity-Inclusivity Initiative at www.mary.org/edi. There you will find the Basilica EDI Position Statement as well as suggestions for ways you can get involved in this important work.

 

  • The Basilica staff is reading Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad.  The book is broken up into four weeks, with each week offering a short daily reading and some reflection questions.  Consider reading/discussing this book with family, friends, or neighbors.

 

  • Mark your calendar for Basilica Seven Fates: Racial Healing Stations on May 22 at 1:00pm in The Basilica.  This evocative and devotional prayer service invites us to meditate on the inequities caused by racism through sacred art, music, lived experience and prayer.

 

And please remember to be patient with yourself and others.  Lent is not an endurance test or a time to prove our Christian stamina. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So pace yourselves. Give yourself and others some space. And above all be forgiving.

 

 

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