Weekly Musings

Exterior west winter

Noon Masses January 2-6

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.

 

Monday, January 2 - No Mass - Staff Holiday

Tuesday, January 3

Wednesday, January 4 - No Mass due to snow closure 

Thursday, January 5 - Requiem Mass celebrated for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 

Friday, January 6 

 

 

baldacchino Mary

Mother of the Church

On January 1, the Octave or eighth day of Christmas we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This feast which can be traced back at least to the 7th C. was replaced by the Feast of the Solemnity of the Circumcision of Christ in the 13th C. Saint Pope Paul VI replaced the Feast of the Solemnity of the Circumcision of Christ with the more ancient feast of Mary, Mother of God.

Mary is known by many titles often evoking her role in Salvation history such as Queen of Heaven, her virtues such as Mother of Good Counsel, or referencing her apparitions such as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The oldest and most foundational title for Mary is Μητερ or Mother as found in Scripture. The oldest theological title is that of Θεοτοκος (Theotokos), Bearer of God or Mother of God.

Although the latter title is very common and perfectly accepted today it was not so from the beginning. This title likely was first used around the year 200 and became widely accepted by about the year 300, give or take some decades. At first, it seems to have been used for its poetic beauty without giving much thought to its theological implications. But as the title became more popular its theological significance was carefully studied and discussed.

In essence, two opposing positions developed. The first argued in favor of the title insisting that in Jesus, God became human thus Mary became the Mother of God. The opposing position disputed the title arguing that God who is eternal could not be born and thus the title of Mother of God made no sense.

Trying to reconcile both camps Archbishop Nestorius who became the Patriarch of Constantinople in 428 offered an alternative. Rather than Θεοτοκος (Theotokos) he suggested the use of the title of Χριστοτόκος (Christotokos) or Christ bearer, Mother of Christ.

The matter was discussed at the Council of Ephesus which Emperor Theodosius II called in 431 at the insistence of Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria and Pope Celestine of Rome. The Council affirmed the title of Theotokos, condemned and deposed Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople and sent him into exile. And ever since, Mary has been known as the Mother of God.

Since those early theological debates, Mary has been honored with many other titles. Just think of her titles in The Litany of the Virgin Mary, also known as the Litany of Loretto. This Litany was officially approved by Pope Sixtus V but predates this official recognition. Since its inception more titles have been added by successive popes, even until today. Since becoming Pope, Pope Francis has added three new titles to the Litany of Loretto: “Mater Misericordiae” or Mother of Mercy; “Mater Spei” or Mother of Hope; and “Solacium Imigrantium” or Solace of Migrants.

These many titles honor Mary and all her many virtues but the one title that is the foundation for them all is undoubtedly the title of Theotokos.

Mary, Mother of God, and Mother of the Church, pray for us.

 

 

 

Christmas Season 2022-2023: God is with us!

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

 

The Christmas Season begins on the evening of December 24 and runs through Monday, January 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

On January 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Because January 1 falls on a Sunday, The Feast of the Holy Family which is usually celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year will be celebrated on Friday, December 30.

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is usually celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany but when Epiphany falls on January 7 or 8. Baptism of the Lord is celebrated the next day, which is Monday, January 9 this year.

This year, the Christmas season ends on January 9, 2023.

 

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Mary is known by many titles often evoking her role in Salvation history such as Queen of Heaven; celebrating her virtues such as Mother of Good Counsel; or referencing her apparitions such as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The oldest and most foundational title for Mary is Μητερ or Mother as found in Scripture. The oldest theological title is that of Θεοτοκος (Theotokos), Bearer of God or Mother of God.

Although the latter title is very common and perfectly accepted today it was not so from the beginning. This title likely was first used around the year 200 and became widely accepted by about the year 300, give or take some decades. At first, it seems to have been used for its poetic beauty without giving much thought to its theological implications. But as the title became more popular its theological significance was carefully studied and discussed.

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) famously wrote: “…if anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead.” This affirmation belies the fact that not everyone accepted the title of Theotokos.

To settle the matter Emperor Theodosius II called the Council of Ephesus in 431 at the insistence of Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria and Pope Celestine of Rome. The Council solemnly affirmed the title of Theotokos, and ever since, Mary has been known as the Mother of God. 

 

What to do in the Domestic Church:

 

The oldest known prayer to Mary:

 

Although we are all most familiar with the Hail Mary and the Rosary, the oldest known prayer to the Blessed Mother is known by it’s Latin title as Sub tuum praesidium. The prayer is believed to have originated in Egypt in the third Century.

 

It would be very fitting to pray this prayer at home on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

 

To your protection we flee, O Theotokos,

do not despise our prayers in our need,

but deliver us from all dangers,

Glorious and blessed Virgin.

   (3rd C. Egypt)

 

 

A Quick Glance at the Readings for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God for your personal reflection

 

From the First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD bless you and keep you!  
The LORD let his face shine upon you,

and be gracious to you! 

 

From the Second Reading: Galatians 4: 4-7

You are no longer a slave but a child [of God],  
and if a child [of God] then also an heir, through God.

 

From the Gospel: Luke 2: 16-21

And Mary kept all these things,  
reflecting on them in her heart.

 

This Week at The Basilica of Saint Mary

 

Sunday Eucharist

We will have the usual schedule of Masses on the weekend of December 31 and January 1.

Saturday: 5:00pm

Sunday: 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 5:00pm

 

Sunday Vespers:

On Sunday, January 1 at 3:00pm Mirandola will sing Gregorian Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in The Basilica Choir Stalls.

 

On Sunday, January 8 at 3:00pm The Basilica Schola Cantorum will sing Vespers for the Solemnity of the Epiphany in The Basilica Choir Stalls.

 

We livestream Sunday Vespers.

 

The next Vespers will be on the first Sunday of Lent, February 26.

 

Weekday Eucharist

We celebrate Mass in the St. Joseph Chapel, Monday through Friday at 7:00am and at Noon. The noon Mass is livestreamed.

 

Please note that on Monday, January 2 we will only have a 7:00am Mass. The Basilica offices will be closed.

 

Morning Prayer:

On Thursday we gather in the Basilica Choir Stalls at 9:15am for the celebration of Morning Prayer. This is a simple but beautiful way to begin your day.

 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

A priest is available in the St. Joseph Chapel for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation each Saturday between 9:00-10:00am. Please mark your calendars for

 

Exhibits

Please be sure to visit The Basilica’s principle Nativity behind the high altar as well as a selection of nativities from The Basilica collection which you can find in The Basilica as well as in the undercroft.

 

And please remember that Christmas is not a day but a season!

The world around us wants us to start celebrating Christmas to soon and wants us to stop celebrating too soon. The proper celebration of Christmas does not start until the Eve of December 24 and does not end till Baptism of the Lord. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I, for one will continue to enjoy my Christmas tree and many nativities at home and will listen to Christmas Carols till January 9.

 

Parish Listening Sessions: Voices of the Parish

Fr. Daniel Griffith and members of the Parish Council want to hear what is on your mind and in your heart regarding The Basilica and the broader Catholic Church.

  • What fills your heart and breaks your heart about the Catholic Church and your Catholic faith?
  • What are the strengths of The Basilica in meeting your spiritual needs?
  • What are the ways in which The Basilica can improve in serving you and your families on your journey of faith?
  • What other  questions should be asked—questions relevant to your faith journey?

Join an upcoming listening session with Fr. Daniel Griffith.

Please register for one of these sessions to add your voice to the conversation. 

  • Sunday, January 29, 2023, 1:00pm, following 11:30am Mass   Register
  • Tuesday, January 31, 5:30-7:00pm – Zoom Session   Register
  • Saturday, February 11, 9:00-10:30am   Register
  • Sunday, February 12, 11:00am, following 9:30am Mass   Register

 

 

christmas altar

Noon Masses December 26-30

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.

 

Monday, December 26 - No Mass

Tuesday, December 27

Wednesday, December 28

Thursday, December 29

Friday, December 30 - No Mass 

 

 

Christmas Season 2022-2023: God is with us!

Christmas: The Word was made flesh!

 

The Christmas Season begins on the evening of December 24 and runs through Monday, January 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Because January 1 falls on a Sunday, The Feast of the Holy Family which is usually celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year will be celebrated on Friday, December 30. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is usually celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany but because Epiphany is so late in January (January 7 or 8) Baptism of the Lord will be celebrated on Monday, January 9.

 

What to do in the Domestic Church:

 

The Manger

Already by the 5th C. the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome featured a chapel with a representation of the scene of Jesus’ birth as described in the Gospels and visualized by artists. It was not until the 12th C. when Saint Francis promoted the use of the manger that its popularity grew dramatically. From the 12thC. on crib-making became widespread throughout Europe.

 

Today, Christmas scenes known as mangers or crèches, are displayed in churches and homes throughout the world. In most cases these crèches beautifully reflect the race and ethnicity of the people who created them.

 

The Christmas Tree

The earliest reports of decorated trees date back to ancient Roman times when small trees were decorated with pieces of polished metal during the winter festival of Saturnalia to honor Saturn, the god of agriculture. During the Middle Ages, Adam and Eve were commemorated with mystical plays on December 24 and an evergreen was decorated with apples to symbolize the tree of Paradise. In Germany this tree came to be know as Christbaum or Christ tree which eventually became the Christmas tree. By the nineteenth century the Christmas tree had become ubiquitous in the Western Hemisphere.

 

Whether it is placed outside or inside the church, a Christmas tree is a wonderful symbol of the tree of life, the tree of paradise. It brings joy to people’s hearts as they indulge in feelings of nostalgia from childhood memories. At the same time, it invites people to look toward the fu­ture when the promise of eternal life will be fulfilled.

 

 

A Blessing of your Manger

The leader begins with the sign of the cross.

 

 

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, we pause to bless this manger.

The practice of erecting mangers was encouraged by St. Francis as a way to draw attention to the message of Christmas.

 

 

 

A Quick Glance at the Gospel Readings for Christmas

There are four different sets of readings for the celebration of Christmas. We have a set of readings for Mass on Christmas Eve, Mass during the night, Mass at Dawn on Christmas Day and Mass during Christmas Day.

 

The Gospel for Mass on Christmas Eve: Matthew 1: 18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.

 

The Gospel for Mass during the Night: Luke 2: 1-4

While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child, 
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, 
because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

The Gospel for Mass at dawn on Christmas Day: Luke 2: 15-20

Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God 
for all they had heard and seen, 
just as it had been told to them.

 

The Gospel for Mass during the day on Christmas: John 1: 1-18

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

 

This Week at The Basilica of Saint Mary

 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

 

Saturday, december 24

2:00pm:*         Vigil Eucharist 

Organ, Cantor, Cathedral Choristers, Children’s Choir and Cherubs

5:00pm:*         Vigil Eucharist 

Mundus & Juventus                                      

7:30pm:          Vigil Eucharist  

Piano, Cantor, Violin, Trumpet

10:30pm:        Prelude Music for Christmas

Organ, Harp, Flute

11:00pm:        Choral Music for Christmas

The Basilica Cathedral Choir, Organ, Harp, Flute                                                                           

11:30pm         Vigil of Lights 

The Basilica Cathedral Choir, Organ

Midnight:*       Solemn Eucharist 

The Basilica Cathedral Choir, Organ, Brass, Harp 

 

Sunday, december 25

7:30am           Eucharist at Dawn  

                        Organ, Cantor, Violin, Soprano Soloist

9:30am:*         Solemn Eucharist    

The Basilica Cathedral Choir, Organ, Brass, Strings 

11:30am:        Solemn Eucharist    

The Basilica Cathedral Choir, Organ, Brass, Strings 

5:00pm:          Eucharist                   

Christmas music from around the world

Sunday Vespers:

 

There will be no Vespers on Christmas Day.

On Sunday, January 1, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God Mirandola will sing Gregorian Vespers at 3:00pm.

On Sunday, January 8, the Solemnity of the Epiphany The Basilica Schola Cantorum will sing Vespers at 3:00pm.

 

Weekday Eucharist

We celebrate Mass in the St. Joseph Chapel, Monday through Friday at 7:00am and at Noon. The noon Mass is livestreamed.

Please note that there will be no Masses on December 26 as The Basilica will be closed.

 

Morning Prayer:

On Thursdays we gather in the Basilica Choir Stalls at 9:15am for the celebration of Morning Prayer. This is a simple but beautiful way to begin your day.

 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

A priest is available in the St. Joseph Chapel for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation each Saturday between 9:00-10:00am.

 

Exhibits

The Nativity Scenes from our Basilica collection are now on exhibit in The Basilica and in the Undercroft.

We will continue to post one of the nativities in my personal collection on Facebook throughout the Christmas Season.

 

And please remember to be pace yourself!

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

 

Our Basilica YES teen group is collecting new hats, scarves, mittens, and socks for our St. Vincent de Paul ministry. Please bring your donation to The Basilica this Christmas. Let’s help our neighbors in need stay warm this winter. Wrapped bins are located near the church entrance.

 

wrapped bin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Christ, the Light of the World

When we think of Christmas, there are many images and symbols that flood to mind, but no symbol is more prominent to the meaning of Christmas than light. Light has been equated with God from the beginning of the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis and light as a symbol is seen throughout the Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament. Jesus Christ, the incarnate son of God, is known by many titles, but no title is more important at Christmas than Jesus Christ—the Light of the World. In our ancient Nicene Creed we profess our belief in Christ who is described as begotten of the Father—God from God, light from light.

In our celebration of Christmas, the symbol of light predominates—from our celebration of Mass to our cultural celebration of Christmas with family and friends. In the first reading from Christmas Mass we hear the prophet Isaiah speak these words: “[t]he people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” In the prologue of John’s Gospel heard on Christmas Day, the evangelist writes: “what came to be through him was life and this life was the light of the human race and the darkness has not overcome it.” Here, in this moving passage from St. John, we see why the virtue of hope is connected with the Christmas story. In Jesus Christ, God manifests his light to the world and we are emboldened by the promise that the darkness will not overcome the light. In Christ, God’s eternal light is manifest and triumphant and this truth is indeed a source of hope for Christians.

There are three particular ways that the Incarnation of God in Christ is a source of light. First, as we hear in the Nicene Creed, the light of God is revealed in life itself and its attendant dignity. God’s light is seen in the gift of human life because we are created in the image and likeness of God. What is more, God restores and redeems human life through the Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas and through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection which we celebrate during Holy Week and Easter. Second, the light of God is seen as overcoming the darkness of ignorance and untruth. The Christmas story is extraordinary because it’s true! In the Incarnation, we witness the truth of God’s redeeming love and the truth of his way—the way of discipleship, which we are called to follow. God’s truth—manifested in both Scripture and Tradition—lights our path as we seek to live as faithful disciples in the world. Finally, in the Incarnation, God’s light triumphs over the darkness of sin as God unfolds in Christ his plan of reconciling love.

As said above, light is seen throughout our religious and cultural celebration of Christmas. Whether it is the lighting of the Advent wreath that symbolizes the coming of the light or the lighting of Christmas trees throughout the world, light is synonymous with Christmas. Think too of the comfort and warmth of a fire during the holiday season as friends and family gather around to share love and fellowship. In November, I was watching the Vikings game which was on national television and was pleasantly surprised that the broadcast included images of The Basilica beautifully lit up at night. Such is the power of light and it is no surprise that this symbol is so closely associated with the presence of God. One of the things that has been clear to me since beginning my service as pastor in July is that The Basilica is a place of light! If you are a visitor or friend, wherever you are on your journey of faith, I invite you to come and experience the light of The Basilica of Saint Mary.

Given the importance of light in our story of faith, it is critical that Christian disciples commit to becoming and living as people of light. The darkness of ignorance and sin continue to be experienced throughout the world. Thus, it is essential that people of faith respond with the light of faith, the light of truth, the light of hope, and the light of love. This only happens when we respond to God’s invitation to enter deeply into the mystery of the incarnate son of God—Jesus Christ. When we enter into deep fellowship and friendship with Christ, God’s light begins to shine brightly through us and once again the ancient promise of Christmas is fulfilled: “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is the great mystery we celebrate at Christmas: the Incarnation of God—Jesus Christ, the light of the World!

 

Merry Christmas,

Fr. Daniel Griffith

 

 

I am a mom to two young children. Two beautiful children, ages 8 and 4, a boy and a girl. I became a mom not at all how I imagined or pictured for myself. After over two decades of waiting, longing, trying, and grief therapy, I finally opened myself up to the possibility of adoption. And within nine months of starting the adoption process, our son was placed in my arms. My husband and I were in the delivery room for both of our children’s births, and I had the privilege of cutting the umbilical cord for both of our children. I later reflected on how symbolic that necessary medical act was.

We keep open relationships with both of our children’s birth moms. Open can mean different things to various adoptive families. For us, it looks like this: They, along with their families, were at their baptisms and have never missed a birthday party. We have them over to our house every couple of months for visits. We send them school pictures, cards or facetime on holidays, and updates after well-child visits or school conferences. We let them know if they’ve been sick for a few days or have been diagnosed with something. In short, we try to keep them in the loop.

We here at The Basilica hope that you keep your faith family in the loop too when things are going on in your life. Sadly, we sometimes don’t know one of our parishioners has been in hospice or journeying with illness until death has come, or perhaps until death is very near. We always think what more we could have done had we known.

Fr. Daniel, Fr. Joe and I would like to encourage you to let someone here know when a life challenge presents itself—separation, divorce, financial hardship, health—so we can walk with you and perhaps offer prayer support or professional referrals. If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with a serious health issue, don’t keep us in the dark. We’d like to talk with you about various options for pastoral care.

One is the Sacrament of Anointing, a beautiful sacrament of healing that can be celebrated more than once. Long ago it was called Extreme Unction or Last Rites and reserved for the deathbed—but no more! It is now celebrated at the onset of a serious physical or mental health condition, before surgery, in old age, or when one desires healing and God’s grace through the Holy Spirit. A priest will lay hands on the person’s head and pray over them, and then anoint the person’s forehead and palms with the oil of the sick, a holy oil blessed by the bishop. Through the ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal and it is the whole church who commends those who are sick to Christ, our Healer. We have confidence that even if physical healing does not result, one’s suffering is united with Christ’s and the Holy Spirit gives that person gifts of strength, faith, peace, and courage for what lies ahead. This Sacrament can be requested individually when needed, or celebrated communally when offered at our Saturday evening Mass.

By knowing that you are ill and desiring of pastoral care, we can also talk with you about other forms of spiritual care: a blessed prayer shawl, a visit by the Threshold Singers when hospice begins—singing songs of peace and comfort, names included on the Prayer Line or Prayers of the Faithful, Eucharist brought by an Emmaus Homebound Communion Minister, or a trained listener to listen deeply to your varying emotions, questions, or stories through the Emmaus Listening Ministry.

Like my family whose world got much bigger because of open adoption, we are in charge but we don’t go it alone. May the same be true for any of you journeying with illness: you are in charge but you don’t have to go it alone. Bring your Basilica faith family along.

 

Wendy Cichanski Caduff
Coordinator of Caring Ministries
The Basilica of Saint Mary

 

 

 

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