Weekly Musings

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings

Monday, May 9

Tuesday, May 10

Wednesday, May 11

Thursday, May 12

Friday, May 13

 

 

At the end of February, I wrote a column for this newsletter, lamenting the fact that so many people have difficulty saying they were sorry. My comments were triggered by Pope Emeritus Benedict’s failure to acknowledge any personal wrongdoing regarding four specific cases of clergy sexual abuse that occurred while he was Archbishop of Munich. I suspect that his advisors told him that for legal reasons, or more likely because he was the retired pope, he should not acknowledge any wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. I lamented his failure to apologize because I thought an apology would have sent a powerful message to Catholics, and to people everywhere, that sin and failure are a part of each of our lives, and that we all need to seek forgiveness and healing when we have hurt others by our words and actions (or inactions.)

Given the above, you can imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago Pope Francis issued a historic apology. Speaking to a delegation of Indigenous people from Canada, he said he was asking for God's forgiveness for the Catholic Church's role in running a system of Canadian boarding schools where Native children were, in many cases, taken from their homes and abused. Specifically, the Pope said: “All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.” WOW!!! For a Pope to issue such an apology is nothing short of stunning. More importantly, going forward it hopefully will serve as a model for all the priests and bishops of our Church.

Far too often when the leaders of our church have responded to the issue of abuse they have done so with denials, reluctance, half-heartedly, or with qualifying statements of regret or sadness. Seldom, though, have there by clear cut, unqualified apologies. The sad fact is that until Pope Francis I cannot remember anyone in leadership in our church uttering the simple words. I am sorry. I ask pardon.

In issuing an apology Pope Francis has clearly indicated that the Church and its leaders can no longer pretend that they didn’t/do not make mistakes, and that there is never a need for them to apologize. The fact is, we all make mistakes; the leaders of our church are no exception to this. And because we all make mistakes, we all need to learn to say and mean the words: I am sorry. I ask pardon.

I am very mindful that Jesus, who was like us, in all things but sin, has modeled for us that reconciliation and peace are to be the hallmarks of our lives as Christians. In order to be reconciled and at peace with others, however, we sometimes (and even often) need to say I am sorry; I was wrong. These words might not spring immediately from our lips; and we may not say them well or often, but that does not change the fact that seeking and offering forgiveness are part and parcel of our lives as followers of Jesus. Inspired by the recent example of Pope Francis, and empowered by God’s grace, may we never tire of or be afraid to say: I am sorry. I was wrong.

 

 

In his powerful encyclical, Fratelli Tutti—On Fraternity and Social Friendship—Pope Francis challenges us to look deeply at our individual and collective lives. He articulates a paradigm of communal life shaped and upheld by the immense and steadfast love of our God. With life infused fully with God’s love, the possibilities for culture, connection, and creation are inspiring.

Directly addressing our local and global struggles, Pope Francis confronts us and inspires us to holiness. If you have not read this document, look for it online and read it!

A primary and deep-rooted struggle of our day is racial injustice. We are a country founded with the legal institution of human chattel slavery and all the underlying spoken and unspoken assumptions this rested on. In a myriad of ways, we are still healing from this history.

Sitting with a twenty-first century mind, it is tempting to ease my discomfort and simply claim: Slavery is gone—let’s move on. Yet, Pope Francis warns: “It is easy to be tempted to turn the page, to say that all these things happened long ago and we should look to the future. For God’s sake, no! We can never move forward without remembering the past; we do not progress without an honest and unclouded memory. We need to keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened, because that witness awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction.”

Pope Francis encourages to go into the struggle: ”When conflicts are not resolved but kept hidden or buried in the past, silence can lead to complicity in grave misdeeds and sins. Authentic reconciliation does not flee from conflict, but is achieved in conflict.” We are encouraged to stay in the dialogue—open, honest, and hard.  

Over the past year, The Basilica staff and leadership have been learning to address racial injustice in our individual lives and our parish community. We are working on four parish goals.

  1. Increased understanding of implicit/unconscious biases and its effect on each of us and our parish community
  2. Increased opportunities to listen to voices from the community, underserved and marginalized populations in our parish and in the community
    • This fall we will share, in respectful and healing ways, stories of racial injustice right here at The Basilica. Ignored and hidden, it eats away at the dignity of our brothers and sisters.
  3. Increased opportunities for personal transformation to support staff and parishioners in working toward systemic change 
  4. Increase diversity at all staff levels and in volunteer ministries

You are invited to join in this work, wherever you find yourself on this issue. If you are struggling, come to share your concerns. Come and learn how you can get involved in our parish work.

If we believe “God created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters,” as Pope Francis states, let us engage together and continue the hard work of love.

 

Mary baldachin web banner_general

Noon Masses April 25-29

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings

Monday, April 25

Tuesday, April 26

Wednesday, April 27

Thursday, April 28

Friday, April 29

 

Sunday of Divine Mercy

A few years ago, I was coordinating the preparation of our Basilica children for their First Reconciliation; really I was hopefully helping their parents prepare them for this sacrament. I hoped that they would not just know what to do during the sacrament and what to say to the priest but be open to knowing God’s great mercy and love on that day and throughout their lives. 

One young boy came up me after the First Reconciliation service and was beaming; I asked him how it went and he said, “That was awesome! Can I go again?” I looked at his mom and smiled and told him to keep sinning and he can definitely go again! That’s not exactly the idea of the sacrament, but I’m very glad that he had a positive experience. When I was working in college campus ministry, I met a Lutheran student who shared that he was raised Catholic, but became Lutheran because of an experience in Reconciliation when the priest scolded him for his sins, rather than offering mercy and compassion. I offer these brief stories to illustrate the power this particular sacrament can have, both in positive and negative experiences.

Today is known as Divine Mercy Sunday, and has been since 2000, when Pope John Paul II declared this to be celebrated every year on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. You may recall the Year of Mercy that Pope Francis called for in the Church in 2015; mercy has been one of the hallmarks of his papacy, both experiencing the mercy of God in our own lives and then sharing works of mercy with others. 

Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun of early 1900s, had powerful mystical experiences in prayer that she wrote in her diaries about God’s mercy; these helped to begin this movement in the Church.  She shared a beautiful prayer for us; in this Easter season, may we know the mercy of the Risen Christ in many ways and never hesitate to share it with others. 

 

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbor’s souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me. Amen.

Continued Easter blessings to all!

 

Easter cross

Noon Masses April 18-22

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings

Monday, April 18

Tuesday, April 19

Wednesday, April 20

Thursday, April 21

Friday, April 22

 

Jesus is Present

While I am a little embarrassed to admit it, there are times when I feel some kinship with Mary Magdalene. As you will remember, Mary was the one who, in John’s Gospel went to the tomb early in the morning and upon seeing that the stone had been rolled back from the tomb, ran off to Simon Peter and John, and told them: “The Lord has been taken from the tomb! We don’t know where they put him.” (Jn20:2) Mary had gone to the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus. And when she did not find Jesus where she expected to find him, she was distraught and fearful, and probably more than a little uncertain about what she should do.

Mary’s experiences of not finding Jesus in an expected place is one that is very familiar to me. Most often I expect to find/experience the presence of Jesus in my prayer. And, in fact, prayer is indeed the place where I regularly do find and experience Jesus’ presence. There are times, in my prayer, though, when this has not been the case. At these times it feels as though Jesus has been taken away, and I don’t know where he is.

I suspect the above is something that is true for all of us. There are places/activities/special moments in our lives where we have felt Jesus’ presence in the past, and as a result, we continue to expect that we will find/experience the presence of Jesus in those places/ activities/moments. When this turns out not to be the case, we wonder what happened, and we feel as though Jesus has been taken away and we do not know where he is to be found.

When the above happens, we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is still present, even though it is not in the place or in the way that had been the case in the past. Certainly, this is what happened with Mary Magdalene. When she went to the tomb, she did not find Jesus where she expected to find him. At that point it would have been easy for her to give in to discouragement and give up the search, but instead she sought help and went looking a second time, and it was then that she experienced the presence of Jesus in a new and glorious way.

This same thing can be true for us. If we don’t find/experience the presence of Jesus in the usual ways/places, if we can persevere in our search, if we can wait in hope, seek in love, and believe in Jesus’ resurrection and his promise to be with us always, even until the end of the world, we will discover anew Christ’s abiding presence with us in new and unexpected ways.

On this Feast of Easter, my prayer is that all of us will continue to look for and discover the presence of Jesus in our lives—in familiar as well as in new ways—and that the grace of Christ’s resurrection will sustain and support us in our search and ultimately reward our efforts.

 

This Lent, some parish members are sharing their Lenten practices and stories with us. For Julissa Medrano, a parishioner who currently lives in Texas, the livestreamed liturgies keep her nourished and connected to her spiritual home at The Basilica. She also shares how the livestreamed Holy Week and Easter liturgies were an important part of the sacred final days with her mother before her passing in April 2020.

 

 

 

Join the Journey: Second Week of Lent

Noon Mass April 11-13

All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings

 

Monday, April 11

Tuesday, April 12

Wednesday, April 13


Holy Week and Easter April 14-17 

 

Throughout history humans have pondered the meaning of life and tried to find answers for the many difficult problems we have faced. Today’s experience prompts many questions as we are confronted with the devastating effects of COVID-19; the destructive powers of the numerous wars around the world, most recently the invasion of Ukraine by Russia; the damaging breakdown of civil interaction between people; the distressing divide between rich and poor, white and BIPOC, conservative and liberal; to name but a few.

 

Christians have turned to the Bible in their quest for answers and meaning, especially when facing trials and tribulations. Such questions as “Where is God?” and “Why did God let this happen?” are frequently asked. And yet, as Metropolitan Kallistos Warre, Orthodox theologian and archbishop holds: “it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not as much the object of our knowledge, as the cause of our wonder.”

 

Archbishop Shelton Fabre of Louisville, KY challenged those attending his installation Mass not to let “what we are facing” distract us from “where we should be looking” or “for whom we should be looking:” Jesus Christ. In other words, we should not let ourselves be absorbed by all the things that are going wrong, rather we should look at Jesus and heed his voice no matter the gravity of the situation because Jesus, Immanuel, is God-with-us, always.

 

Admittedly, this is easier said than done but we are about to begin the greatest celebration and practice of our faith in this mystery. Today we commence the celebration of Holy Week, the most important week of the entire liturgical year. During this week we celebrate the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; the mystery of Immanuel, God-is-with-us. It is during this week above all other weeks that we become “progressively aware” of the “cause of our wonder” and behold the one “we are looking for,” Jesus the Christ.

 

To be sure, it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the mystery of our faith, the cause of our wonder. That will only happen when we see God face-to-face at the end of time. For now, mere portals to this mystery are opened during the celebration of the liturgy when the veil of the mystery is lifted just enough so we can get a glimpse of this mystery. Yet even but a mere glimpse is enough to get us on our Christian way to face the realities of life, unpleasant as they might be, because we know that God is with us even in the darkest of times.

 

During the next eight days we will recall and honor the last days in the life of Jesus. We start on Palm Sunday with the remembrance of Jesus’ glorious entrance into Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday we remember how Jesus embodied Divine Mercy by washing the feet of his disciples and by instituting the Eucharist. On Good Friday we behold the unfathomable mystery of the passion and death of the Son of God. On Holy Saturday we observe a solemn silence as Jesus lies in the tomb and breaks down the gates of hell. And on Easter Sunday we celebrate his glorious resurrection.

 

The great liturgies of Holy Week invite us to engage in many symbolic acts that evoke the mystery of our faith as we engage in extended processions; we wash one another’s feet; we honor the Blessed Sacrament; we pass and venerate the cross; we baptize and confirm; and we share in the Paschal Eucharist. The physicality of these symbolic acts is unmistaken. The best way to experience these symbolic acts is by participating in them in person together with our Christian community.

 

We are so glad and blessed that many of you have returned to The Basilica for in-person celebration of the liturgy. It is so great to worship together. If you have not yet returned and are able to do so, please consider returning during Holy Week. Our community will be the richer for your presence. If you are not yet able to return to in-person worship, we will continue to livestream all our Holy Week liturgies so you can participate remotely.

 

We truly look forward to that day when all of us will be able to gather in The Basilica for the celebration of our liturgy where together we may behold the “cause of our wonder” and find the one “we are looking for” so we may be ready to face whatever comes our way during our earthly journey.


Blessed Holy Week!

 

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