Weekly Musings

Basilica choir stalls, angel with stained glass window

Noon Mass

As Christians, the season of Easter is a time to celebrate new life. We recognize a call to embrace reconciling, forgiving and healing love—in our own hearts and in our interactions with others. This love transforms our individual lives, as well as our community and society.
 
This is our call, yet we fall short: as individuals and as a community, we fail. 
 
One of the ways our failure is manifested is racial injustice. The shocking public murder of George Floyd focused a light on Minnesota, exposing the realities of racial inequity so often ignored or hidden. National and international media told the story: 
 
  • While Minnesota is often ranked one of the best places to live, it has some of the highest racial disparities in the nation: income inequality, education achievement, poverty rate, home ownership, unemployment and incarceration rates—all tragic gaps between white and black Minnesotans. (NPR, June 2, 2020)
 
These facts represent systems that are complicaed. But this Easter, we have another story to hear—a story of racial injustice right here at The Basilica. Just as ignored and hidden, it eats away at the dignity of our brothers and sisters.
 
A few days after Easter I received a call from a Basilica parishioner who is a black woman. She shared a painful experience she had on Easter Sunday. She gave me permission to share it, as it is an important teachable moment—a chance to shine the light on racial realities within our own Basilica community. 
 
  • With an opportunity to celebrate Easter Sunday Liturgy in-person, our sister followed pandemic protocols and pre-registered. Sitting in her assigned seat, she was quietly praying before the Liturgy began—excited to be at The Basilica for the first time in over a year. An usher came down the aisle and proceeded to seat a white woman in the same pew—socially distanced. The white woman looked at the black woman, and refused to sit down. She demanded a different seat. This white woman would not sit near the black woman. 
 
The parishioner who shared this experience was hurt, disappointed, and angry.  This was not The Basilica she longed for. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated experience. After many conversations with people of color in our Basilica community, I have come to learn that many have personal stories of being called out, kept out, excluded or omitted at The Basilica, at some point. While they all share their love for The Basilica and the Basilica community, this is their reality. 
 
It is important for us—especially those of us who are white Basilica parishioners—to know these experiences happen. They are not just in the past, not just isolated, not just happening “out there.” 
 
When we hear these stories, we get uncomfortable. We are invited to embrace this discomfort, acknowledge the hurt and pain, and work together so we can always respond with compassion and clarity, when faced with racial injustice. We are called to be Easter people; people of reconciling, forgiving and healing love
 
On Pentecost Sunday, The Basilica will share a parish-wide Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity (EDI) Position Statement. This Statement will guide the work of The Basilica community in the area of equity, diversity and inclusivity over the next few years.
 
Look for ways to get involved in The Basilica Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity initiative. Together, with guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit, we will work to eliminate racism within the parish and the broader community—choosing not to be neutral in the face of injustice.  Contact Janice for ways to get involved or for more information. 
 

For more information visit mary.org/edi.

 

Noon Mass Dome

Noon Mass

Windows_noon Mass video

Noon Mass

Last year we were gifted a new bronze sculpture by Peter Walker, entitled Pity of War. You can find this striking image near the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is a maquette for a much larger sculpture that is yet to be cast.

Peter Walker is a British artist who works in many different media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, light and sound installations, etc. His works can be found in cities throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. LuxMuralis, e.g. one of his light and sound installations was at the Cathedral of Saint Paul last December.

Peter Walker is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He is artist-in-Residence at Lichfield Cathedral. Pity of War was conceived to join the memorials for different causes scattered among some 25,000 trees in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire in Great Britain. 

Pity of War is intended to honor the millions of nameless and voiceless and forgotten victims of war and human atrocities whose lives were upended against their will. The sculpture honors those bereaved by loss of loved ones, of their home or property; those who were forced to flea and now live in refugee camps or were forced to move to lands other than their own where they are more or less welcome; those who are suffering from post-traumatic distress and lifelong disabilities.

Pity of War depicts the head of a young child. Her eyes are strikingly bound and her mouth is shown shockingly silenced by abstraction and even by the removal of certain features such as her mouth and ears. Without words the image commands attention and draws the beholder into the narrative.

In Peter’s words, Pity of War is “not only about the past, but about the present and the future. It is both a commemoration and a challenge.” Since we received Pity of War I have been able to spend time with it. The sculpture really speaks to me. It has given me solace as I have come to it with a heavy heart wondering if we will ever get it right. Sitting with the sculpture I have pondered our broken world and our apparent inability to stop ourselves from adding on to the brokenness time after time.

And though it was conceived to commemorate victims of war I started to rename the sculpture: Pity of Violence; Pity of Abuse; Pity of Intolerance; Pity of Bigotry; Pity of White Supremacy; Pity of Racism.

I welcome Peter’s words that this sculpture is not only a memorial to past victims. It is also, and maybe even more importantly a challenge to all of us today; a challenge to be better; a challenge to work for change; a challenge to end all wars, violence, abuse, bigotry, supremacy and racism.

I am very grateful to add this sculpture to our art collection here at The Basilica of Saint Mary during these times filled with challenge and hope. I only wish it was much larger so that it might speak even more loudly to even more people.

When you visit The Basilica next, please visit Pity of War and let this sculpture speak to you. It is my hope that it will help us in our mission to change hearts and promote the values of equity, diversity and inclusivity.

 

 

 

Windows_noon Mass video

Noon Mass

Pages