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Thursday, December 8 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
Friday, December 9
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love…Let us love one another.” 1 John 4: 7,8
During Advent, we reflect on and anticipate God’s incredible love for us. God, manifesting love as a small, vulnerable child. Christ, reaching out to the marginalized and broken, modeling radical love. Spirit, present in every facet of our lives. We know, through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, our daily life is not separate from our faith. Our whole life—every thought and action—can bring love into our world.
During Advent, we embrace a journey to learn and grow in love each and every day. In small and big ways, in everything we do, think, or say we are challenged to know and live love. Indeed, we are invited to be part of a revolution of love and tenderness—transforming the world through love.
There are three facets of life to consider as we grow in love. They are all crucial and all connect. Like ripples, they affect one another. We are called to grow in love attentive to our internal, individual, and institutional life.
Internal: What is going on in our heart and mind, as we live each day? Our prayers continually call us to reflect on and become aware of the state of our heart. The psalmist cries out, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Are there ways we have become consumed with hatred or fear? Have we been hurt, and do we seek retribution? Have we become overwhelmed or numb to the suffering in our world? We are invited to bring these to prayer and find healing, comfort, and strength. God calls us to renewal and peace. Let us open our hearts to this call.
Individual: The way we interact—person to person— reveals the individual facet of our life. Whatever condition we find our heart, we are called to reach out and engage with compassion. Seeking spiritual progress, not perfection—and always considering one’s safety and care—our faith challenges us: If we are afraid, can we find a way to be kind? If we find ourselves consumed with hatred, is there a way to be humane? If we are hurt and alienated, can our faith give us strength to find a place to engage? Our actions matter. Jesus reminds us, “All will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35.
Institutional: Our lives don’t end with one-on-one interactions. We are part of systems and organizations. Our lives are shaped by policies and laws. Pope Francis states, “A good Catholic meddles in politics.” In his provocative way, he affirms this “is one of the highest forms of love, because it is in the service of the common good.” We share a responsibility for the way our institutions are organized. We are challenged to consider ways to impact society with love—ensuring all develop to their full potential. Collectively, we must consider how love can influence our family, church, neighborhood, city, country, and world. This is not easy work, but it is crucial work.
Together, we attend to all these facets of our lives. As a community, we sponsor refugee families, accompany the grieving, assist the unemployed, protect the marginalized, and serve those in need. Let us share, celebrate, and bless our community by our honest journey toward love and peace.
A group composed of scholars, psychologists, clergy, restorative justice experts and victim-survivors of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis has developed a set of proposals that encourage the use of restorative justice as a means to help heal victim-survivors and the broader Church.
The proposals are the result of a two-year study supported by an initiative created by the University of Notre Dame’s Office of the President as part of the Notre Dame Forum, ‘“Rebuild My Church’: Crisis and Response,” to fund research projects that address issues emerging from the crisis. The proposals have been forwarded for consideration to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A cross-section of 25 experts met in 2021 and 2022 at Notre Dame and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, respectively, to examine whether lessons for the Church could be found in the restorative justice traditions of Indigenous peoples and the efforts of nations such as South Africa, Rwanda and Canada.
Used in a variety of settings, restorative justice focuses on reestablishing right relationship among all people wounded by unjust actions by holding offenders — be they criminals, governmental leaders or others — accountable, while empowering victims to actively participate in the process.
In addition to the proposals that were developed, the participants agreed that significant wounds remain and that the teachings of Jesus call all Catholics to promote holistic justice and healing.
“We exhort Church leaders to listen humbly to the voices of victim-survivors, including those abused as adults who have not been sufficiently included in the conversation, to understand their specific needs for healing and wholeness,” Notre Dame political science professor Daniel Philpott said. “Restorative justice is rooted in the Gospel and animated by the holistic and unifying power of the Eucharist, significantly at a time when the U.S. bishops have called for a Eucharistic Revival.”
The proposals are as follows:
- Create a national center with experts and practitioners to equip the broader Church in restorative justice, particularly healing circles, to accompany those who have been directly and peripherally harmed by abuse.
- Establish a national healing garden as a permanent site of healing, prayer and accompaniment for victim-survivors of clergy sex abuse and for the broader Church.
- Institute an annual day of prayer and penance for healing and reconciliation for victim-survivors of clergy abuse and for broader healing in the Church.
- Initiate trauma-informed training for clergy, seminarians, lay ministers, lay leaders and parish communities to communicate the realities and effects of trauma in order to compassionately accompany victim-survivors.
“We believe these proposals reflect a synodal Church, which is called to listen to, accompany and heal the broken-hearted, in addition to being a witness to the broader culture, which suffers from similar wounds,” Philpott said. “We understand that for many, further measures are needed such as concrete steps toward greater accountability, due process for the accused and pathways to healing for those rightfully removed from ministry.
“We offer our proposals after much prayer and dialogue, with hope and openness to the Holy Spirit’s guidance on our shared journey of faith.”
Taking recommendations from the broader group, seven participants developed the proposals. In addition to Philpott, they are:
- Rev. Thomas Berg, professor of moral theology, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie
- Mary Glowaski, assistant to the bishop in pastoral care, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana
- Rev. Daniel Griffith, the Wenger Family Fellow of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law; pastor and rector, Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis
- Michael Hoffman, Archdiocese of Chicago advocate for healing and prevention; former president of Prevent Child Abuse, Illinois; victim-survivor of clergy abuse
- Susan Mulheron, chancellor for canonical affairs, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
- Emily Ransom, assistant professor of English, Holy Cross College, Notre Dame; victim-survivor of clergy abuse
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
Tuesday, November 29 Communion Service
My early years in Minneapolis were not always easy as I greatly missed my family in Belgium and my friends at Notre Dame. Christmas time was particularly difficult. I was very glad that my late parents came to Minneapolis for my first Christmas here in 1995 and my dear friend, the late Fr. André Laurier joined me in 1998. My parents had the pleasure of lots of cold and snow which they had not experienced before. And Fr. André taught me an important lesson which I treasure to this day.
André arrived the Friday before Christmas. On Saturday, we spent the day decorating the Christmas tree. It was a lovely robust and fragrant blue spruce. Carefully unpacking each ornament, I told its story. Many stories resonated with André as he knew the Belgian people and places I was talking about. When we were all finished, we went into the kitchen to prepare dinner. From the kitchen, a terrific noise called us back to the living room where we found the tree on the floor surrounded by shattered glass. André quietly cleaned up, carefully gathering the surviving ornaments while collecting the pieces of those that shattered. I was very upset. Those Christmas ornaments were a tangible reminder of so many cherished memories and of so much love. I excused myself and spent some quiet time in my room. When I finally re-emerged, I found the tree back in place, the surviving ornaments ready to be hung, and the table set for dinner. We had a quiet dinner that night and we talked of all things Belgian.
The next day, when I returned home from Sunday liturgies, I found the tree decorated with the surviving ornaments and some new ones ready to be hung. Cleverly, André had bought some clear glass ornaments which he filled with the remnants of the broken ornaments.
Later that day, as we sat down to admire the tree, André mused that perhaps the many memories had proven too much for the tree and that maybe it was time to let go of some old memories in order to make room for new ones.“ It is not that you have to let go completely” he said, “you can hold on to bits and pieces, but you need to make room for more.” And so, I did! I let go of the old and I welcomed the new.
The season of Advent invites us to let go of all that we unnecessarily cling to, to take stock of our spiritual life, and to approach the future with joy and anticipation, discovering the potential for beauty in that which seems broken, unimportant or insignificant.
Our world often seems on the brink of collapse with relentless wars; global warming; divisive rhetoric; fear mongering… There is so much brokenness and such division. Yet, as Christians we are called to continue to see the potential for beauty and to work toward it. After all, God did not come to us as an imperial ruler but rather as a vulnerable baby. He was not born in a palace but in a stable to a family on the move. He did not live in Rome but in a small country occupied by the Romans.
In the words of Pope Francis given at the Mass for the sixth World Day of the Poor on November 13: “a disciple of the Lord should not yield to resignation or give in to discouragement, even in the most difficult situations, for our God is the God of resurrection and hope, who always raises up. With Him we can lift up our gaze and begin anew.”
I am looking forward to preparing my home for Christmas, this year. It will again be adorned with many ornaments. Some of them are old, reminding me of my family in Belgium, but most of them are new, bearing the memories of my travels, my friends, and my Basilica life. And, still to this day, I treasure the clear glass ornaments filled with the bits and pieces of old and treasured memories for they continue to teach me to let go and to look for the potential of beauty even in the most broken times and places.
This Advent, rather than resigning ourselves or losing hope, let us look for the potential of all that is beautiful and good in the brokenness of our world and our hearts and thus help to build the world which God has imagined for us.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
Thursday, November 24 - Thanksgiving Day Mass 8:30am (no Noon Mass)
Friday, November 25 - No Mass
Recently, you may have seen construction lifts and workers inside and outside of The Basilica. First, some good news – the copper roof on the Dome is in good condition, and while there is still moisture in the stone walls, most of it is from leaking that happened years ago.
Because most moisture is being kept out, the ceiling plaster in The Basilica is starting to dry out. The not so good news – after years and years of moisture damage, the Basilica’s ceiling plaster is crumbling. As it dries, it has started to fall in large chunks. To protect Mass goers and visitors, a number of short-term measures have been put in place. White netting has been installed in Church by our contractor, Mortenson, and will remain in place during Advent and Christmas. In early January, the workers will be back. Using lifts and scaffolding in the Church, they will assess the moisture issues and damage to the ceiling plaster. As an immediate fix, they will knock down any loose crumbling areas of plaster. What is learned from the plaster assessment will help shape plans for a future interior restoration of the Church.
The construction lifts and scaffolding will allow access to the upper stained-glass windows and to the interior stone walls that have also suffered moisture damage. Due to age, we know that the leading in The Basilica’s beautiful stained-glass windows will need repairs and restoration – but we don’t now how severe the issues are. During early 2023, using these same lifts and scaffolding, restoration experts will gather information to inform plans for future work to restore the stained-glass windows. They will also evaluate a variety of methods for cleaning the interior stone walls. As you may know, the Basilica was heated by coal for years. The stone we experience as grey, has been discolored and is in need of cleaning. All the information gathered will help form the basis for a future and long anticipated restoration of The Basilica’s interior.
All of these projects have been funded by The Basilica Landmark. They have also funded a study of the moisture, humidity and temperatures inside The Basilica will also take place over the next year through the change of seasons. This study includes 42 wireless sensers and a moisture monitoring system that have just been installed in Church. Readings will be taken over the next year and the data gathered will help us create plans to care for The Basilica and steward it for future generations.
There are some areas of The Basilica that may require a structural analysis where cracking of the stone is becoming visible, and there is evidence that some exterior stones are shifting. Other areas continue to be problems for bringing moisture into the building, like the Basilica’s bell towers. These towers have copper floors that were installed in 1991 – but they are now over 30 years old, showing wear and allowing water intrusion. Plans include installation of a rubber roofing material to keep the moisture out.
It’s important to remember that we have to continue to let the interior of The Basilica dry out before any restoration efforts can begin. We anticipate that this will take several years.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
The Catholic Church recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis—a centrist who masterfully challenges the extremes of the Church to avoid unhelpful reductions – has exhorted Catholics to eschew “worldly progressivism and backward-looking traditionalism.” Both of these movements to the extremes, embraced often by the most vocal Catholics, contradict the true nature of the Church, which is at the same time, both traditional and progressive. The Church, which is called to adhere to tradition, is also called to follow the Spirit which leads the Church to reform, to greater freedom, and to new ways of following the call of Christ to spread and live the good news. A Catholic Church freely and fully alive, embraces the future with both humility and confidence, knowing that the Lord is always out front leading us where God bids us to follow.
Here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Church leaders, particularly Archbishop Hebda, has exhorted our local Church to follow the Spirit and to listen to the voices, dreams, and concerns of Catholics, as we discern what God is calling us to, consistent with our mandate to announce the saving love and mercy of God. There has been significant planning, dialogue, prayer, and now preparation that has marked our synodal process as a local Church in the Archdiocese. Attendant to this call, all Catholics are called to freely take up the Lord’s invitation to give testimony to what, and more importantly, in whom we believe. At Mass for the Thursday of the 31st Sunday in ordinary time, we hear the fiery words of St. Paul who calls us all to seek the supreme good of knowing Jesus Christ. So, how do we know Christ? W. Through Scripture, the sacraments, the natural world, one another, and always in the poor and marginalized.
Pope Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have embraced the synodal way—a way of humility that listens, learns, serves, and accompanies all on our journey of faith. The predominant image of the Church at Vatican II was the People of God on a pilgrim journey of faith. This image continues to resonate powerfully with Catholics as we walk together on our journey of faith—a journey that humbly follows the path laid out before us by God. Soon, Archbishop Hebda will promulgate a new pastoral letter which will mark both the process of fruitful listening to God’s people, and which will set a course for our future as a local Church. I look forward with anticipation and eagerness to Archbishop Hebda’s pastoral vision, borne of dialogue, accompaniment, and openness to God’s liberating Spirit.
At The Basilica of Saint Mary, consistent with the vision and values of our local archdiocesan synod and also consistent with the synodal way inaugurated by Pope Francis, I plan to initiate listening sessions and opportunities for dialogue with parishioners and friends. Our parish council has expressed support and eagerness to help me put this together. As a new pastor, I would like to know what are on the minds and in the hearts of all of you. I would like to know what fills your heart about being Catholic and what are the challenges you face in living out your Catholic faith. In addition, I would like to hear from you about the strengths of our Basilica community and ways in which we could better meet your spiritual needs and accompany you on your journey of faith. A synodal Church is one that is open to the Holy Spirit—a synodal Church is a Church that listens, accompanies, and heals. I look forward to these opportunities to enter into dialogue and share our common hopes and dreams as we continue our journey of faith together at The Basilica.