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As summer is slowly winding down, staff members at The Basilica are gearing up to welcome back our community. We are looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with dear friends and renew our commitment to serve one another. It is wonderful to see The Basilica’s doors open again and watch our campus gradually return to the vibrant spiritual home we all admire. I have been especially comforted by my own return to The Basilica and find that I appreciate the beauty and serenity of our buildings and campus more than ever.
The care and upkeep of our buildings and campus requires a constant process of renewal and is made possible thanks to support from The Basilica Landmark whose mission is to preserve, restore, and advance The Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations. We are so grateful for the generosity of all those who have already supported the Basilica Landmark’s Annual Fund. If you have not done so already, I hope you will join me by making a gift to The Basilica Landmark’s Annual Fund at thebasilicalandmark.org/give. Your donation will serve the most urgent of our Basilica Landmark initiatives, including tuck-pointing the exterior church walls, installing additional air purification systems, waterproofing the school basement, and replacing exterior campus lighting.
Making an estate gift through your will or trust, as a beneficiary of a retirement account (such as a 401K or IRA) or an insurance policy, is another wonderful way to show your support for The Basilica Landmark and its critical mission. With planning, your estate gift will help continue this vision and maintain our historic buildings and campus for future generations. To learn more about the benefits of making an estate gift, and how it can help continue the critical work at The Basilica Landmark, we encourage you to reach out to Monica Stuart.
Lastly, we are especially excited that our biggest event of the year is back on the block! For 25 years, the grounds of The Basilica have welcomed countless music fans, volunteers, and parishioners to the Cities 97.1 Basilica Block Party. This long-standing summer tradition unites and connects us to the broader Twin Cities community. Proceeds from the event benefit The Basilica Landmark and a portion of the event proceeds will also go to The Basilica’s St. Vincent de Paul ministry to assist our neighbors in need. I invite you to reconnect with The Basilica Block Party by attending this important community gathering and fundraiser on September 10 and 11! Visit basilicablockparty.org for ticketing information, volunteer opportunities, and the fantastic lineup of new bands as well as some old favorites.
May you find many opportunities in the coming weeks to reconnect with your Basilica family and renew your commitment to this incredible community.
This weekend we get a break from our normal Sunday lectionary readings and celebrate the Assumption of Mary. This holy day recalls our teaching that Mary, because she always lived in right relationship with God and was the first disciple of Jesus, immediately was assumed into heaven when her life ended. Did she die? The Church doesn’t say one way or another; that is a question for theologians to banter about. Not only that, this feast looks ahead to the “resurrection of all members of Christ’s body” (CCC 974). That’s us! Today we can enthusiastically pray that we “look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come” in our Creed.
There isn’t much in the Catechism about this celebration; one might assume there isn’t much more to say about it. Do we really need this reminder every year on the Church calendar? I find this feast day particularly meaningful in light of the events of the past year. With all of the lives lost to this pandemic, the increase in violence in our community, the reckoning with race that we have had to face as a country, how else can we get through the day without an extra shot of hope?
Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) wrote that “All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’” Sometimes I need that simple reminder that whenever we live as faithful disciples of Jesus, as Mary did, we can experience a small glimpse of heaven. When we come together at Mass and/or join together in community in other ways to support and encourage each other, that is a glimpse of heaven. When we support those who are suffering in any way, that is a taste of eternal life, when there will be no more suffering. The Magnificat that Mary proclaims in today’s Gospel of Luke has inspired generations of people to work for justice and right relationship with each other and in society; this concern for the oppressed is a glimpse of the Kingdom in our midst.
And Mary does not just reside in heaven (wherever that is), and support us from afar. Pope Benedict has written beautifully about the Assumption and how close both Mary and God are to us. “Mary…does not go to some unknown galaxy…Mary, united to God, is so close to us, to each one of us. Mary…has a heart as great as the heart of God. In God not only is there room for humankind; in humankind there is room for God. We see this in Mary, who bears the presence of God…this presence of God in us is so important for bringing light to the world with all its sadness, with all its problems…Mary is the consolation and hope of people still on the journey.” Especially from heaven, Mary prays with, and for us, and holds all of her children close, giving us an example and a challenge to emulate.