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In recent years disagreements and divisions among people have been magnified and amplified. This is undoubtedly due to the indiscriminate use of social media, the politization and depreciation of the media, and a general penchant for the sensational. It seems to no longer shock anyone when politicians and pundits hurl insults and lies at one another. And the most popular criterion for truth seems to be whether something supports one’s own version of reality.
To experience this in the world of politics and business is upsetting enough. It is even more disturbing to see this happen among people of faith, even people of the same faith, and most disturbingly, among people in our own church. Though this phenomenon is nothing new, tragically it seems to have gotten worse in recent years. Whatever happened to: “You will recognize them by their love for one another?”
When Jesus had washed the feet of his disciples, an extraordinary gesture of humility and service, he left his Disciples with a new commandment: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” He went on to say that “this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34-35)
If Christians are to be recognized by their love for one another, then maybe we are not doing the best of jobs. And the value of humility exercised by Jesus when washing his disciples’ feet also seems to have been lost. Maybe it is time that we learn what it truly means to wash one another’s feet; to bend down before one another and to “do what Jesus did.”
When I first moved to the United States, I was given a sticker with four letters on it: WWJD. It was explained to me that these letters stood for “What Would Jesus Do.” I found it a bit silly and simplistic at first, yet over the years I have come to see the value of it, especially after someone sarcastically suggested it stood for “What Would Johan Do.”
This is indeed a simple question, yet it is, at the same time, a very profound question. If all of us Christians asked ourselves “What Would Jesus Do” before speaking and acting, maybe we would not be in the situation we are in today. We might be less selfish, less self-centered and more concerned with the fate of others. We might be less judgmental and more open to dialogue with others. We might be more courageous and speak out against injustice and discrimination. We might even be more caring and loving, a trait indicative of Jesus’ disciples. Of course, this will require that we put Jesus before ourselves.
John the Baptist, who as we know took holiness very seriously said: “He (Jesus) must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30) This was probably not a very popular stance in John’s time, neither is it in our time. After all, who wants to decrease? And yet, as Christians we are called to do just that, so that Christ may increase in each one of us, in the Church and in society.
Decreasing is an act of humility which is not easy for anyone, including myself, but it is what Jesus asks of all of us. As we prepare ourselves for Lent, maybe we take on John’s motto to decrease, so Christ may increase; maybe we commit to asking ourselves “What Would Jesus Do?” before we speak or act; and maybe we can foster greater love among us, for it is by our love for one another that we will be recognized as followers of Jesus.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Wednesday, February 9 (not able to record)
From the Pastor
With this column, I would like to update you regarding several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Christmas at The Basilica: While Christmas was once again very different this year because of the pandemic, there were also many blessings associated with it. Our staff did an excellent job of making our Christmas celebrations safe, meaningful, and reverent. They helped with live streaming the Masses, and they also assisted in various liturgical ministries. I am very grateful to them, and to those volunteers, who made this year’s Christmas celebrations so special. As pastor of The Basilica, I have much to be proud of and even more to be grateful for this year.
2. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank all those who made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this past fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge, no matter the size, is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community.
Thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support of our parish.
3. Lent: Having just finished the Christmas season, it is hard to believe that Lent is coming, but Ash Wednesday this year is Wednesday March 2nd. As a child I never really appreciated Lent. As I have grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for me, and for all of us. During this special season I invite and encourage you to look at your calendar and to plan on participating virtually or in-person in the services and activities that will be offered at The Basilica. Visit our web site at mary.org for a list of our Lenten activities and services.
4. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2022 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 5 and 6. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services, and programs within our Archdiocese. Now obviously, many people are concerned that contributions to the Archdiocese will be used for purposes they did not intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This was done, to ensure that all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal. I support it financially and I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services, and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information in pews or learn more at csafspm.org.
5. A new Parish Trustee: A few months ago, Kathy Noecker, who has served as one of our parish trustees for the past six plus years informed me of her decision to retire from this position at the end of her current term. While I was saddened by her decision, I also respected her desire to take a step back to enjoy retirement and time with her new grandchild.
After prayer and reflection, I asked Susan Link if she would be willing to accept an appointment as one of our parish trustees, and she agreed. Tom Paul is our other parish trustee. I am extremely grateful to Kathy for her years of service and to Susan for her willingness to take on this responsibility. They have been and will continue to be blessings for our parish.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the role of parish trustees, let me briefly explain. In our Archdiocese, each parish is an individual corporation. Two members of each parish join the pastor, the Vicar General and the Archbishop as officers of the corporate board. In addition to their responsibilities as members of the corporate board, the trustees are members of the Parish Council and Finance Committee. They also sit on the Board of Directors for The Basilica Landmark.
Perhaps most importantly (from my perspective) they also serve as “wisdom figures” and “truth tellers.” Because of the sensitivity and/or confidentiality of some issues, I look to the parish trustees for prudent counsel, wise insights, and the unvarnished truth. In my years as pastor of The Basilica, and in my previous pastorates, the trustees with whom I have worked have been great blessings for me and the parishes I have served. I am confident that this will continue to be the case with Susan Link as our new trustee.
6. Parish Life During the Pandemic: I suspect most of us thought the pandemic would be over by now and things would have returned to normal. Unfortunately, with the new Omicron variant it seems like normal—whatever that new normal might be —is still not on the horizon.
While we have resumed many activities on our campus, many are being done virtually and some are being done hybrid. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, this will continue to be the case. We will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. And we will also continue to look for new ways to/opportunities to celebrate the life of our parish community.
What is clear to me is that we miss the many opportunities to gather and celebrate our faith. We miss praying and worshipping together and the chance to give witness to our faith through our community activities. When we are able to gather again as we used to—and I believe we will—it is my hope and sincere prayer that church will have a renewed and deeper meaning for all of us.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
January 22nd marked the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. Legalized as a private act, abortion remains a very public and divisive issue. I understand that as a celibate male, my concerns and questions in regard to abortion can be easily dismissed by those who advocate abortion. I hope, though, that those who espouse a pro-abortion position would be open to dialoguing about some of the issues surrounding abortion. Below are five for your consideration.
1. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled a woman’s choice to have an abortion outweighed the states concern for prenatal life-up until the point of viability, which in 1973 was deemed 28 weeks. Since that time, however, there have been significant advances in medical science. Children have been born as young as 21 weeks of pregnancy. I believe we can’t ignore this fact. Why are we using outdated medical information regarding viability? This doesn’t make sense to me, and we need to talk about it.
2. We need to continue to look for ways we can support women and men who are experiencing a problematic pregnancy and/or who are concerned about having the necessary resources to raise a child. As people who are pro-life, it is not enough for us simply to be opposed to abortion. We also need to be concerned about the issues of health care and nutrition for infants. We need to be concerned about paid parental leave, childhood education and food security. And we need to be concerned about safe housing for children and families. We need to talk with those who support the choice of abortion about how we, as individuals and as a society, can protect and enhance life not just in the womb, but after birth as well.
3. Many times when people who are pro-abortion talk about this issue, they use words like “safe” “legal” and “rare.” The use of the word “rare” has always concerned me. It suggests one of two things. Either people are using that word as a cynical concession to those who are opposed to abortion, or deep down they recognize that there is something improper and/or wrong about the procedure. In the case of the former, people who are pro-abortion need to fess up and acknowledge that they use the word “rare” as a verbal contrivance and not in any meaningful way. In the latter case, when they use the word “rare” they must realize that at root there is something wrong with the practice of abortion. In either case, we need to talk about it.
4. Likewise, polls continually indicate that people believe too many abortions are occurring. We need to talk with each other about how we can reduce the number of abortions. A woman should never feel that she must choose between her well-being and her unborn child’s life. We need to provide concrete, specific and practical services and programs to help women and men in problematic pregnancies. While our Church, and particularly our Archdiocese, have done much in this area, imagine how much more could be done if we worked with those who advocate a pro-abortion position. Let’s talk about this.
5. We need to tone down the rhetoric and eliminate the inflammatory language that increasingly has been part of the discussion of the issue of abortion. I think those of us in the pro-life camp need to take the lead in doing this. It is too easy for people to dismiss our position on the basis of our often volatile language. We need to invite people into dialogue, to make our case and demonstrate the moral rightness of our position. In this regard, I believe we are far more apt to convince people than we are to coerce them. Using language that is simple, direct, non-inflammatory, and open to dialogue is a step in this direction.
The above are my suggestions as to how, on the 49th anniversary of Roe v Wade, we might proceed. I believe that if we are ever to come to a resolution in regard to the issue of abortion, this can only occur when we change the way, the manner, and the form in which we talk about this issue and seek new ways and means to engage each other in dialogue. As people committed to life, I think we need to be in the forefront of this activity. I believe that ultimately it is only in this way that we can help others come to understand the value, dignity and worth of every human life.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Happy new year! I pray that this new year is a healthy, safe and productive one for all of us.
As we begin 2022, I’m writing to ask your consideration of three New Year’s resolutions as a member of our Basilica community.
1. Share gratitude for each other. The last two years have presented significant challenges for all members of our community. This pandemic has required us to stretch ourselves when we are already stretched thin, to keep showing up even when the going is tough, and often to be apart from those we hold dear. Despite these challenges, the spirit of our parish remains strong: We have been able to gather for beautiful liturgies — and even more members of our community gained critical access to Mass via our new live-streaming program; We’ve come together for meaningful programs and events; provided support to those in need; advocated for change in our community; implemented a strategic plan….and so much more.
This sense of community has been so important during this time of separation. I am grateful for you, our Basilica community. In particular I want to express gratitude for The Basilica staff, and encourage you to do the same! They have made everything possible, and it is a testament to their resilience, dedication and adaptability. Please take a moment to thank a staff member when you see them at Mass, to drop a comment in the livestream chat, or to send a note of gratitude at mary.org/staff.
2. Protect those most vulnerable among us. The ever-shifting landscape of the pandemic requires us all to pitch in to protect those most vulnerable among us. Once again this requires us to mask up at Mass. When attending Basilica services or events in-person, please wear your mask not only to aid The Basilica in its compliance with public safety requirements, but also as an expression of care for those most vulnerable in our community. It is our mission to be a home of spiritual nourishment — and masking up helps all members of our community feel safe so they can come home to The Basilica.
3. Pledge your support. This January, I hope you’ll make a new year’s resolution to support The Basilica Fund with a monthly recurring donation. These donations sustain our mission, allow us to provide critical support to those in need, and maintain our wonderful professional staff who make our mission and vision come to life. Recurring donations are one of the most effective ways to support The Basilica because they are reliable, and during this tumultuous time, allow The Basilica to forecast with greater certainty. Because monthly recurring gifts continue indefinitely until you cancel, they are also one of the most reliable new year’s resolutions one could make! (I feel very confident my monthly recurring gift will outlast my new daily workout routine…)
Please take action now to support the community and work you care about. If you already support The Basilica with a recurring gift, please consider an increased monthly amount. Your support is vital, and gifts of all sizes make a difference! Join me in making this new year’s resolution by initiating your gift at mary.org/give before January 31.
Katelin Richter Davis
Chair, Parish Council
The Basilica of Saint Mary
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Monday, January 17: Office closed; no livestreamed Mass
Up until a few years ago, many of us upon hearing the word Synod would perhaps remember hearing that word from, church history perhaps. Then in 2019, out of Rome from Pope Francis, out of our Archdiocese from Archbishop Hebda, we began hearing much about “Synod.” Synod listening sessions were held and plans made, only to be upended as most everything was, by COVID-19.
As most of us are aware, the next part of the Synod was held through six sessions, in most every parish community, in the fall of 2021.
So, what happened?
What did we learn?
And what are we going to do with that knowledge?
The Basilica surveyed participants halfway through the process and following the conclusion of the sessions. Additionally, we compiled the data from the session questionnaires for our Basilica community. Data from the session questionnaires will, at an unspecified date, be available from the Archdiocese as well, letting us understand the thoughts and experiences of other communities. Following is a condensed report of information from The Basilica’s experience.
Individuals: The participant group was a diverse group; ages ranged from 20’s to 80’s of married and single, mixed gender, newly Catholic to cradle Catholic. Some people thoroughly enjoyed the process, the videos, and prayers while others were so irritated, they opted out of the main video and recorded prayer portion after the second session.
It was reported that we very much value gathering in small groups to learn from, about and with each other. There is a need to learn to pray, in multiple ways, including with our children both in church and at home. Parents request age-appropriate resources for living our faith and integrating it into daily life. Social media should be expanded to allow virtual communities of people to connect beyond Sunday liturgy. The Basilica as a spiritual home is important.
Archdiocese: There was an overall disappointment for the participants with the topics and process selected by the Archdiocese for the Synod sessions. Of the topics addressed in the videos, the following three ranked highly: There should be an increase in ecumenical events. Retreats and events to gather the greater church should be planned.
Efforts should be made to ensure a true welcome, that is culturally sensitive and values diversity. Of more concern to the participants for our greater church and omitted from the list of topics were, the shortage of ordained ministers, systems of injustice in our institutional church that need to be addressed and the church’s involvement in racism and sexual abuse scandals.
Basilica Community: Highly valued: Radical hospitality as a sign of the visible presence of Christ. Highly encouraged: a commitment to participation in vigils and public demonstrations for justice, listening to and including young people in decision making, an increased empowerment of lay leadership, a significant effort to recruit BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) for positions of leadership, recognizing the importance of connecting Jesus’ teaching with actions of justice and works of service, creating small group ministry, and improving digital communication to appeal to younger age groups.
Also, important to continue to promote were, Liturgy, Service, and the Arts, continue keeping Mass, Reconciliation, and other liturgies available, continue making volunteer ministry a part of parish culture. Overall, there is a tremendous pride for the priorities and mission of The Basilica community.