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Pope Francis concluded his penitential pilgrimage to Canada in late July and both the pictures and stories of his encounters with Indigenous Canadians were moving. Also moving, were Francis’s numerous heartfelt apologies which acknowledged with candor and anguish, the devastating harm that had occurred to so many children who suffered abuse, alienation, sickness, death, and cultural genocide. More than 60% of the residential schools in Canada were Catholic and the pope did not shirk from the colonizing harm that has devastated lives and families, resulting in generational harm that still manifests to this day.
During the pope’s pilgrimage, it was evident to me how closely aligned his journey was to the goals of restorative justice (RJ). Restorative justice is historically rooted in the Indigenous practices of First Nation peoples of North America and New Zealand who, centuries ago, gathered in a peace circle in response to harm that had occurred in their communities. Restorative justice is a gift of wisdom and healing emanating from the rich Indigenous cultures, which has borne fruit broadly. Beginning in the 1970s and now today, restorative justice and has become a world-wide movement, effectively utilized across various disciplines and professions in response to harm. RJ has become a global movement due to its effectiveness at healing harm and restoring relationships, because it includes multiple relevant stakeholders, and because it is highly adaptable to various circumstances.
Restorative justice asks three fundamental questions: who was harmed; what was the nature of the harm; and how can the harm be repaired? One of the challenges with RJ is overcoming the significant knowledge gap surrounding it—many people either don’t know what RJ is, its proven effectiveness, or disregard it as ethereal or new-age. One of the reasons RJ is so effective is because it engages the particular needs of victim-survivors and their desire for healing and wholeness. It also promotes accountability because those who have perpetrated harm, if they take place in the process, come to a better sense of the effects of the harm they caused. Over the last several years, I moved from an initial skeptic of RJ to an ardent supporter, as I have taken part in numerous restorative justice processes in response to the harm of clergy abuse and leadership failures in the Catholic Church. The Spirit of God, which works for the healing and restoration of humanity, has been consistently manifest through the RJ sessions in which I have taken part.
Which brings me back to Pope Francis’s pilgrimage to Canada. This pilgrimage was consistent with principles and goals of RJ because his journey acknowledged the significant harm that had occurred to Indigenous people, expressed sincere contrition and sorrow for the devastating acts of abuse and cultural genocide, and included robust dialogue with victim-survivors and leaders about how this harm could best be healed. In fact, the request for the pope to visit Canada to offer an apology came out of a 2015 truth and reconciliation process, which listed several recommendations aimed at healing and restoration. While the wounds and the effects of this deep trauma will continue to be carried by victim-survivors, a step forward for the good of humanity was taken in Canada this summer and serves as a beacon for others who seek justice and healing.
As we continue our collective journey as a parish community and the call to meet the needs of our own wounded community in the Twin Cities, I have been moved by witnessing the dynamism of restorative justice and Catholicism —and the shared goals of promoting greater dignity, justice, and healing within the Church and broader society.
Worshippers will continue to hear from the Gospel of Luke throughout late summer and fall at Sunday Masses. In a Bible study on Luke offered earlier this year at Our Lady of Lourdes, Fr. Daniel Griffith introduces the Gospel and presents information about the author, the genre of writing, prominent themes, and other keys to understanding the great storyteller and evangelist that we know as St. Luke.
Today a guest fell ill at the 9:30 Mass. Fr. Griffith ended his homily abruptly as the guest received medical attention while an ambulance arrived. We are very happy that the man who fell ill is recovering well. Fr. Griffith offers the text of his homily for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
“Store Up Riches In What Matter To God”
Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2022
Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, MN
Fr. Daniel Griffith, Pastor
Yesterday, I was watching a golf tournament that was being held at Brandon Dunes on the Oregon coast. The players stopped for a bit when the fog rolled in, in part, because it was wreaking havoc on their “range finders” – the devices that shoot the yardage to the green. And then, the fog was gone, in a less than a minute.
In today’s first reading, we meet Qoheleth whose name signifies a teacher or sage. When he speaks of “hebel” or vanity he speaks of something like vapor or mist – it is short lived, insubstantial, ethereal, not unlike the fog on the Oregon coast. His “vanity of vanity” phrase – employing the superlative convincingly drives the point: all things are like this – things of this world – they are passing away – they don’t last. And yet, we put so much time and energy into things of this world: possessions, wealth, and yes – power and honor.
The main theme in all three readings today is quite clear and yet we continue to struggle with a preoccupation with things of this world. In the gospel today Jesus is continuing his way to Jerusalem and his message and teaching takes on an increasingly sharp edge – the prophet has emerged as Jerusalem gets closer. In response to a request to get involved in a dispute over family inheritance, Jesus quickly turns the page – “take care to guard against all greed – one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
One of the most important Greek words in today’s gospel is pleonexia – a type of greed that manifests itself in a desire for more and more, motivated by a false security in possessions. Luke, the great storyteller, presents a figure known by scholars as the “rich fool” as an admonition of Jesus to seek that which truly lasts and to place our security in God. Interestingly, this story is only found in Luke. The key to the story is that the rich man’s quest for security – wrongly placed in possessions – evaporates like mist as his life is demanded of him, having failed to store up riches in what matters to God.
A preeminent scholar of Luke – aptly named – Luke Timothy Johnson – had this this correlative comment to offer about today’s passage; “It is out of deep fear that the acquisitive instinct grows monstrous. Life seems so frail and contingent that many possessions are required to secure it, even though the possessions are frailer still than the life.”
We know of course that wealth itself is not sinful, but attachment to wealth, greed, and the failure to place our security in God, or to simply take God out of the equation as the rich fool does, ends in destruction and emptiness.
The passage from Luke and indeed all the readings today are robustly relevant to our modern day. Many seek security and even happiness in what they have and what they achieve or accomplish – but both are fleeting and tenuous. According to St. Paul in today’s second reading, this was also a problem for the Colossians. Paul says – you have been baptized, seek what is above and put to death what is earthly – seek God’s divine life and grace. This is where true security and happiness are found, and yet we seem hard pressed to learn this valuable lesson.
The desire to amass more and more is how our wold is ordered – the market, constant production, the economy – often stealthily destructive to good ends. This feverish pursuit takes our gaze away from the divine horizon and eternity and keeps us in a trap – it keeps us wanting but not finding true fulfillment. This constant churning for more and more, while many go without, does great damage to our souls, to the poor, and to the dignity and sustainability of our created world. It’s not storage “barns” that we are building but storage “units” – they are omnipresent in our modern day – and point to the same false security in possessions.
So, what is the way out the trap? And by the way – I am not taking shots or throwing stones. I like nice things too – I drive a nice car, live in a nice home, and after Mass and fellowship today, will travel to Wisconsin to a cabin I own for rest and relaxation. These readings today are as relevant to me as anyone in this Basilica today.
The way out of this trap is the good news that was shared last week and will be shared next week too – it is the good news of a good and gracious God who desires our good and happiness and indeed eternal life for all of us. This is a God who would not hand us a snake when we ask for a fish and invites us to knock and to seek good things. This God, our God, invites us to place our trust and security in him and store up treasures in what maters to God. This is the only true path to happiness and peace for all of us.
It is also the right prescription and path for our parish at this time of transition and possibility – to place ourselves and this beautiful and historic community of faith completely into the hands of our loving Father. From this foundation of trust and security in the one who made us and desires our good and flourishing, renewal and a vibrant future await all of us. True riches in God is the only path forward for those who believe.
From the Pastor
Welcome Fr. Daniel Griffith
Fr. Daniel shares his faith and background in this column.
Known and Loved by God is a Truth of All Biographies
The story of God’s deep and abiding love is the greatest love story ever told: it encompasses the wonder of creation; the gift of Jesus Christ—his passion, death, and resurrection; the gift of the Spirit and the life of the Church; and our friends the saints, including Mary, the Mother of God, our patron saint. What wondrous love is this. As a pastor, I think getting in touch with and integrating the truth of God’s personal love for each one of us is a key to living dynamic discipleship.
Psychologists will tell you that one of the most important aspects of emotional and psychological health is to feel known and loved by others—friends, family, and certainly by one’s spouse. I would dare say that even more important for us as spiritual beings is that we have a firm conviction that we are known and loved by a good and gracious God. You will hear me preach and communicate much about God’s love during my time in service of our community because I think knowledge of God’s personal and tender love cannot be overstated in terms of its importance to our lives of faith. Whether people are aware or not of God’s divine love, it is a truth of all our biographies, because without this love, none of us would be here.
As your new pastor, I would like to share a little bit about my own story as we get to know one another on our journey of faith. I look forward to hearing your stories as well in the coming weeks and months ahead. I was born and raised in northeastern Wisconsin, the Fox River Valley—the youngest of nine children, in what could be described as a loving and raucous Irish Catholic family. My father Bill is still alive and when he was recently in the Twin Cities, he received a first class tour of The Basilica by our beloved Dr. Johan Van Parys. My mother Susan passed away ten years ago and was a wonderful mother and wife. As a woman of deep Catholic faith, mom was a light to all of her family, including me, her priest son.
I first felt a call to priesthood when I was eight years old. I told my dad that I wanted to be a priest and used to play Mass with my best friend Kevin. As the years passed, the call became more distant and less realistic—I always had a hard time believing I was holy enough to be a priest—God calls us anyway. Growing up, I played a number of sports including football, basketball, tennis, and golf. I attended the University of St. Thomas in 1989. As the youngest and because my parents were in a different financial situation, I was afforded a privilege that my other siblings had not been—to attend private college. Of course, as siblings do, they remind me of this from time to time.
At St. Thomas I majored in Political Science and minored in Theology—as much I liked Poly Sci, it was theology that began to win my heart. The call to priesthood did not go away, but I was still not ready to say yes. I attended William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul in 1994 which provided the gift of a legal education and some wonderful friends, who remain good friends to this day. God was not done with me in terms of the call to priesthood. When I saw that there were a couple of priest-lawyers serving in the Archdiocese, I thought to myself, wow, maybe it is possible to live this life as a priest—maybe this is God’s call for my life. After a year of intensive discernment and the application process, I entered the St. Paul Seminary in 1998. While no one feels called to seminary—for those who are called to priesthood, seminary provides further opportunity for discernment and the necessary formation and education to serve God’s people in priestly service. It also provided another opportunity to establish life-long friendships.
Since my ordination in 2002, I have served in a variety of assignments, including as an associate pastor at All Saints in Lakeville, as pastor of St. Peter in North St. Paul, and most recently, as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis. In December of 2011, I was appointed to the University of St. Thomas School of Law faculty where I continue to teach in the areas of Catholic social teaching, jurisprudence, and restorative justice. My work at UST Law has been a great gift – I have enjoyed teaching, the interaction with students and colleagues, and leading our new Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH). I am heartened that I will be able to remain at the law school in conjunction with my ministry at The Basilica and look forward to the shared values and programming opportunities, epically in the area of advocacy for justice and healing.
Perhaps some of my most challenging work as a priest was in the role of delegate for safe environment at a time when our archdiocese was in crisis— reeling from self-inflicted wounds from the failure to protect children and vulnerable adults. It was fraught time for many in our local church, but for me was also a time of growth. Our archdiocese is in a much different and healthier place than 2013-2014, as we have become a national leader both in the area of safe environment and now in restorative justice. I am heartened that the arc of my priestly ministry has moved decidedly to the area of restorative justice and healing. I hope this work in this area has helped me become a better priest and pastor—more compassionate and more attentive to the needs of those who are suffering.
The call to the serve as pastor of The Basilica is humbling. I have long admired this community in so many ways and have enjoyed getting to know staff and parish leaders over the last number of months. I have been impressed with those I have met and what I see. I thank Fr. Bauer for facilitating a very good transition and wish Fr. John well in his pastorate at Our Lady of Lourdes. My role in the coming months is to listen, learn, and meet as many people as I can so I can serve well our community going forward. I am excited for this work of walking with our community, discerning God’s call, and going out to our broader community to announce the good news of God’s love.
Finally, what do I like to do for fun?—travel, reading, cooking, walking, music, spending time with friends, spending time at a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin, and golf. And as I confessed on my first weekend at The Basilica, yes not only am I a lawyer, but I am also a Green Bay Packers fan. I know that this presents two strikes against me in some of your eyes, so hopefully I can overcome these deficiencies by being a really good pastor.
Fr. Griffith’s Installation
Saturday, August 13, 5:00pm
Join us for Fr. Griffith’s Installation Weekend.
Installation Mass with Archbishop Hebda
Reception following Mass
Sunday, August 14
Receptions following 9:30 and 11:30am Masses
Welcome, from The Basilica of Saint Mary!
I’m honored to walk with you on our shared journey of faith.
How is it that St. Paul who had once been the greatest persecutor of the early Church, became its most passionate defender and advocate? The answer is simple in one respect - he was converted in and through Jesus Christ. His life was transformed by dying and rising with Christ and thus Paul was compelled to share this good news with all whom he encountered. Ultimately, Paul was transformed by a personal and life-transforming encounter with Jesus - such that he saw the false road he was walking, and a new path opened up before him. How could Paul not share God’s transformative love with a waiting world?
A few years ago, I was in a spiritual direction session with a wise Jesuit priest who explained that there are three stages of Christian discipleship, the last of which is to become, like St. Paul, a fool for Christ. He intimated that I was not there yet - I had no illusions - and I suspect most of us have not reached this last stage of discipleship. St. Paul models often in Scripture a deep and abiding spiritual freedom - a non-attachment to things of this world and a pervasive desire for only one thing - to discern and do the will of God.
In the figure of St. Paul and all the great saints there is a dynamism that opens up to new life - God’s love results in conversion and spiritual freedom as both these gifts provide for the restorative work God intends to accomplish through his disciples. This is our story too and great potential exists when divine love overflows onto spiritual freedom and restoration. This would seem to be the only path forward for Catholics in our modern world and a needed light for our world.
In this present moment - in a parish amidst the transition of pastors, in a Twin Cities community searching for greater justice and peace, and in a nation beleaguered by division and uncertainty, God’s perennial call is personal, transformative, and grace-filled. I am personally thankful to God for his call to serve this amazing community of faith at the Basilica, to all of you for your commitment and faith, and to the great saints, including our patron - Mary, the Mother of God, for showing us that, springing from God’s divine love, spiritual freedom and restoration are indeed possible.
Many years ago, Sister Peter, the nun who taught me in first grade at St. Stephen’s School in Anoka, MN, learned that I had been ordained a priest. For several years thereafter until her death, I would receive a Christmas card from her every year. Of course, she was a teacher until the end. I say this because each card contained a short story or a prayer with the important words underlined. The short story below was one of my favorites. It reminded me of how blessed I am and have been. I hope it does the same for you.
Everything is Relative
They huddled inside the storm door—two children in old coats.
“Got any aluminum cans, Lady?”
I was very busy. I wanted to say no, until I looked at their feet. Thin little shoes, sopped with sleet. “Come in and sit by the fire, and I’ll make you a cup of cocoa.” There was no conversation. Their soggy shoes left marks on the clean hearthstone.
Cocoa and cake would fortify them against the chill outside. After serving them, I went back to the kitchen and started on my household budget, as they sat enjoying the warmth.
After a few minutes, the silence in the front room struck through to me. I looked in. The girl held her empty cup in her hands, looking at it. The boy asked in a flat voice: “Lady, are you rich?”
“Am I rich: Mercy no.” I looked at my shabby slipcovers.
The girl put her cup back in its saucer carefully. “Your cups match your saucers.” Her voice was old with a hunger that was not of the stomach.
They left then, holding their small sack of cans. They hadn’t said thank you. They didn’t have to. They had done more that that. Plain blue pottery cups and saucers—but they matched. I tested the potatoes and stirred the gravy. Potatoes and brown gravy, a roof over my head, my husband with a good steady job—these things matched too.
I moved the chairs back from the fire and tided the living room. The muddy prints of small shoes were still on the hearth. I let them be.
I want them there in case I forget how rich I am.
At the end of the story Sister Peter had appended the following words: “Perhaps we are all a little better off than we think we are. It doesn’t hurt to want something more, but it is just as important to appreciate what we have and recognize how very rich and how very blessed we are.”
Thanks for being the Light of Christ and an occasion of God’s grace for me these past fifteen years. For this I have been blessed. Because of it, I am truly rich.
Fr. John M. Bauer
Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary. I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to do well.
Today, I would like to talk about three things with you. First, I wanted to mention once again that as we re-open and renew our various ministries, services, and programs here at The Basilica, we are in need of volunteers to help us with this.
In our weekly newsletter/worship aid we have created a space listing the various areas where we need volunteers. This list is also available on our parish website. If it has been a while since you have volunteered, or if you are looking for a way to get involved, please check out these various volunteer positions.
Second, as always, I want to thank you for your ongoing financial support of our Basilica community. Your financial support, especially during the past couple of years has been especially important. Please know of my gratitude for your past support and for whatever financial support you are able to offer in the future.
Finally, I wanted to thank you for your support and care these past 15 years. I have been blessed in ways too numerous to count these past 15 years. Thank you for being a part of these blessings.
In addition to the blessings I have enjoyed, I will also take with me many fond memories of my time here. Please know of my great gratitude for the blessings and memories I will take with me.
As we continue the transition to a new pastor, I want to let you know of my ongoing prayers for our community. The Basilica is indeed a very special place--made so by our parishioners and staff.
As always, I would like to close today with a prayer.
Lord God, help us never forget all that you have done and continue to do for us.
Strengthen and sustain us with the hope you offer us and with the countless blessings you have given us.
Help us to strive to recognize your presence in our lives and to be open to your grace.
Through the witness of our lives, may your love be made known and experienced by those we encounter, those we serve, and those we love.
We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
News and Resources
Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary. I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.
Today, I would like to talk with you about three things. First, I wanted to mention once again that as we re-open and renew our various ministries, services, and programs here at the Basilica, we are in need of many volunteers to help us with this.
In our weekly newsletter/worship aid we have created a space listing the various areas where we need volunteers. This list is also available on our parish website. If it has been a while since you have volunteered, or if you are looking for a way to get involved, please check out these various volunteer positions. Any time you give volunteer to help at the Basilica will be greatly appreciated.
Secondly, I wanted to say just a few words about the transition process and change of pastors. While change can be difficult, Fr. Griffith and I have tried to be very intentional in this transition process. Both of us have had the opportunity to meet with the leadership and staff of our new parishes. And these meetings have gone very well.
I think I can speak for Fr. Griffith in saying that while we both will be very sad to leave our current parish, we are both very excited about our new assignments. As we continue to transition to a new pastor, I want you to know of my ongoing prayers for our community. The Basilica is indeed a very special place—made so by our parishioners and staff. As we move forward, I ask you to please remember to keep Fr. Griffith and me in your prayers.
Finally, I want to thank you once again for your ongoing financial support of our Basilica community. Your financial support of our community makes it possible for us to continue to offer the many ministries, services, and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. Please know your ongoing financial support is both needed and greatly appreciated.
As always, I would like to close today with a prayer.
God of Love,
You are with us in every transition and change.
As we enter into this new era with excitement and even some anxiety,
we recall your deep compassion, presence, and abounding love.
We thank you for the gifts, talents and skills with which you have blessed us.
We thank you for the experiences that have brought us to this moment.
We thank you for the work of others that gives breadth and depth to our own work.
Be with us as we move forward, rejoicing with you and supporting one another.
We ask this in your Holy Name
At the end of February, I wrote a column for this newsletter, lamenting the fact that so many people have difficulty saying they were sorry. My comments were triggered by Pope Emeritus Benedict’s failure to acknowledge any personal wrongdoing regarding four specific cases of clergy sexual abuse that occurred while he was Archbishop of Munich. I suspect that his advisors told him that for legal reasons, or more likely because he was the retired pope, he should not acknowledge any wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. I lamented his failure to apologize because I thought an apology would have sent a powerful message to Catholics, and to people everywhere, that sin and failure are a part of each of our lives, and that we all need to seek forgiveness and healing when we have hurt others by our words and actions (or inactions.)
Given the above, you can imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago Pope Francis issued a historic apology. Speaking to a delegation of Indigenous people from Canada, he said he was asking for God's forgiveness for the Catholic Church's role in running a system of Canadian boarding schools where Native children were, in many cases, taken from their homes and abused. Specifically, the Pope said: “All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.” WOW!!! For a Pope to issue such an apology is nothing short of stunning. More importantly, going forward it hopefully will serve as a model for all the priests and bishops of our Church.
Far too often when the leaders of our church have responded to the issue of abuse they have done so with denials, reluctance, half-heartedly, or with qualifying statements of regret or sadness. Seldom, though, have there by clear cut, unqualified apologies. The sad fact is that until Pope Francis I cannot remember anyone in leadership in our church uttering the simple words. I am sorry. I ask pardon.
In issuing an apology Pope Francis has clearly indicated that the Church and its leaders can no longer pretend that they didn’t/do not make mistakes, and that there is never a need for them to apologize. The fact is, we all make mistakes; the leaders of our church are no exception to this. And because we all make mistakes, we all need to learn to say and mean the words: I am sorry. I ask pardon.
I am very mindful that Jesus, who was like us, in all things but sin, has modeled for us that reconciliation and peace are to be the hallmarks of our lives as Christians. In order to be reconciled and at peace with others, however, we sometimes (and even often) need to say I am sorry; I was wrong. These words might not spring immediately from our lips; and we may not say them well or often, but that does not change the fact that seeking and offering forgiveness are part and parcel of our lives as followers of Jesus. Inspired by the recent example of Pope Francis, and empowered by God’s grace, may we never tire of or be afraid to say: I am sorry. I was wrong.