Weekly Musings

I vividly remember coming to The Basilica with my son one Saturday evening for a Mass of Anticipation in early December. An unseasonably cold day brought an unexpected snow storm – the heavy, wet and slushy snow that local meteorologists sometimes call a “wintery mix” that can chill one to the bone.  We parked in the parking ramp and were exiting the stairwell doors along 16th Street when we saw a gentleman shuffling along 16th Street toward Loring Park pushing everything he owned in a shopping cart. 

He was underdressed and obviously unprepared for the weather, which was only going to get colder as the evening wore on. I reached into my purse for some cash, approached him, gave him the money and said that I hoped he could get a warm meal somewhere indoors. His whole face lit up and seeing his excited reaction gave me great joy as well.

The interaction also prompted a valuable conversation with my son about needs and wants. He was then nine years old and the season of Christmas giving was fast approaching. He, like many children (and adults!), had a list of gifts he was hoping to receive. This experience prompted an invitation to empathetically compare his list of “needs” to the possible list of needs the man would make.

This weekend, as the Gospel instructs us “if anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35), we ask for your generosity to our St. Vincent de Paul ministries to provide assistance to people in our community that are the most vulnerable and in need. Your gift, no matter the size, helps our Basilica serve people in our community every single day. 100% of your gift goes directly to those in need. 

During these days of COVID-19, increased unemployment and unrest, our efforts are more important than ever. Our ministry supports people without permanent shelter, parishioner families who are impacted financially due to the ongoing pandemic, and families in North Minneapolis who are struggling. 

Thank you in advance for your participation in our second collection and for your commitment to the well-being of our neighbors in need.

You can make your gift online at mary.org/svdpgive or by check with St. Vincent de Paul noted in the memo line.


Homeless Jesus Summer

Noon Mass

Several weeks ago the first reading for Mass one day was the story of Moses meeting with God in a tent during the Israelites’ time in the dessert. “The tent, which was called the meeting tent, Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp. Anyone who wished to consult the LORD would go to this meeting tent outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand at the entrance of their own tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses” (Exodus 33.7-8). This “tent” was a visible sign to the people of God’s promise that God would be with them on their journey. It was the regular place where Moses would meet God. 

Now, as I reflected on this passage, there were a couple of things in particular that struck me. The first was that going to the tent to consult with God was a regular discipline for Moses. He didn’t have an idea one day just to pitch a tent, and see what happened. And his going to the tent was not an occasional occurrence. Rather, he had a regular place and a regular habit of meeting with God. It was in the tent that Moses spent time with God. 

Second, it is also important to notice that Moses erected the tent “outside the camp.” It was not in the middle of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but outside the camp. It was a special place where one thing and one thing only happened: Moses met God. And as Moses walked into the tent, the heavens opened and a pillar of cloud descended to rest on the entrance. 

I think this passage tells us something important about how we are to pray. It reminds us that just as Moses had a regular time and place where he met God, so too you and I need a regular time and place for prayer. Now in saying this I want to be clear. We can pray anywhere. But I believe a regular time and place for prayer can be a big help to our prayer life. In the years since I have been ordained, wherever I have lived, I’ve always had a special place (or at least a special chair) for prayer, and I try not to do anything else in that space. There is something about walking into that space, or sitting in a particular chair, that helps me prepare for and enter into prayer. 

In addition to a regular place for prayer—away from distractions and interruptions—a regular time for prayer is also very helpful. When I was first ordained, while I prayed morning prayer prior to Mass, I tried to reserve an hour or so for prayer in the late afternoon before dinner and evening meetings. This worked for a while, but I found that often this time got interrupted and/or abbreviated by other pressing (?) matters. About twenty years ago I decided that I need to switch my prayer time to the morning—and I am not a morning person. It was the only way, though, that I could spend some interrupted time with God in prayer. 

Walking with God in the midst of all of life is important, but to draw closer to God in order to “hear” the voice of God speaking to our hearts, minds, and souls, we need those special times and places when we can withdraw from the hustle and bustle of the world and spend uninterrupted time alone with God.

It is our abiding belief that God dwells with us—that God abides with us. We need to work, though, to make this truth a reality in our lives and not just a belief. The challenge for us is not to let ourselves think: “Wouldn’t it have been great to be like Moses and meet with God in the tent of meeting?” The reality is that we can meet God each day in our prayer. If we can realize this amazing gift, we can live in intimacy with God each day, and the world will see the promises of our God lived out through us. 


Noon Mass

Although the seasons are changing and you are wondering where summer went, it may also perpetually feel like March 2020. Time may feel like rapid movement and, at the same time, a pure standstill. How is 2022 only four months away? Maybe we are getting a glimpse of God’s time, which is not measured by our conventional standards of hours, days, weeks, or years. This could be a call to observe Kairos more and transform our thoughts about time. No matter how you feel about time right now, it is an important opportunity to (re)connect with what grounds us. 

The past 18 months have been daunting and overwhelming in Minneapolis. And it may still feel that way. Or has always felt that way. But as the hymn goes, “no storm can shake my inmost calm while to that rock I’m clinging.” For me, The Basilica has been that rock especially in the last year and a half. From livestreamed Masses to safe in-person gatherings to celebrate the Eucharist to programming in- and outside the church’s walls, The Basilica is the home I need to ground myself in God’s love. 

For me at first, as an introvert, the idea of staying home a lot was welcome news. I would not be distracted by conversations at work or feel the need to be “on” at social gatherings. But as time passed and the uncertainty of how long this would last crept in, the idea of community strengthened for me. I longed to be around those who still have a sense of hope despite the darkness that surrounded us. Worshipping and listening to the Word which would sustain us. Struggle together as a community to make sense of what our role is currently and how we advance the common good. The Basilica has continued to offer these opportunities through such trying times. In the medium that is safest for you. 

Beyond the beautiful Masses, exciting programs are happening and need your gifts and talents: faith formation, RCIA, Access and Inclusion Ministry, mentoring Minneapolis College students, liturgical ministry, and more. The more we come together as one body, the more we experience God’s love and Christ in one another. This is especially needed as our communities rebuild and reconnect.

Maybe you feel excluded or hesitant due to health concerns regarding the ongoing pandemic. The Basilica has made every effort to keep us, and especially the most vulnerable, safe. Building and technological upgrades, hygiene protocols, and other protective measures ensure the common good during extraordinary times. And if you still feel uncomfortable, let them know how to improve. 

If you find yourself shaken due to the extra storms since 2020, fear not. How can you keep from singing when The Basilica of St. Mary is your rock? You are welcome to refresh and renew your spirit while reconnecting at The Basilica. 

We are happy you are here.


Aara Johnson

Parish Council, Vice Chair
The Basilica of Saint Mary