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Three parishes in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis are participating in a parish pilot program on restorative justice and healing in response to the clergy sexual abuse. Janine Geske will lead two forums on this topic on Sunday, April 29. Justice Geske is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and Marquette Law School Professor who has led conversations on restorative justice at the Vatican and throughout the world.
Justice Geske will be joined by Doctor Mark Umbreit, Director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota.
The sessions will take place at two locations: St. Joseph the Worker, hosted by Father Mike Sullivan, and Our Lady of Lourdes, hosted by Father Dan Griffith. Everyone is welcome.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser.
I have never been much of a gardener. Keeping a couple of house plants alive is about as much as I can handle. I do appreciate, though, those who create beautiful flower gardens and those who grace our tables with fresh fruits and vegetables. I suspect it not only takes an interest, but also a special set of skills to create and cultivate a garden. Now I mention this because the image of a garden is evident in our Gospel today as Jesus tells us: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”
Friends of mine who are gardeners tell me that if a plant is to produce beautiful flowers or abundant fruit, a certain amount of pruning is necessary. I suspect this is why Jesus told us that his Father “takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” In addition to pruning, though, if a plant is to bear fruit it must also receive the proper nutrients. Jesus reminded us of this when he went on to say: “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
We continue to read from the Acts of the Apostles for our first reading today. Today’s section is the wonderful story of how Paul (Saul), who had previously persecuted the early Christians, tried to join the disciples. We are told that they “Were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.” Finally “Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord……”
Our second reading today is from the first Letter of Saint John. In the section we read today, John reminds us that we are to “love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- What do you need to allow God to prune in your life in order to become a better Christian?
- When have you been suspicious of someone’s words or actions only to discover that they were acting in good faith and with charity?
- How and/or where do you need to love in deed and truth?
- The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He doesn’t run away when he sees the wolf coming.
- The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and they know him.
- The Good Shepherd is the shepherd of “all” the sheep, not just the ones that belong to his fold.
- The Good Shepherd does all that he does freely and out of love.
- Even though many people have not had any experience with sheep, they find the image of the Good Shepherd very comforting. Why do you think that is?
- The priest sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, particularly in the United States, has revealed clearly that many priests and bishops are not the shepherds we would want or hope for. Despite this, many people still look to the church and its leaders for guidance/support/leadership. Why is this?
- What do you think it means that we shall be like God?
Sunday, April 15
- Children’s and Cherub choirs for 11:30am Mass
- Children’s and Youth Ministry
- MN Sinfonia Concert
Saturday, April 14
The Archdiocesan Confirmation scheduled for April 14 has been cancelled. Participating churches will be rescheduled and questions should be directed directly to the individual parishes.
St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Ministry is cancelled for Saturday morning, April 14.
The Engaged Couples Retreat from 1pm - 5pm has been cancelled. The Marriage office will be forthcoming with alternatives.
The Downtown Festival rehearsal at Westminster Presbyterian Church to take place on Saturday morning, April 14 has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 15 at 5pm. It will still take place at Westminster.
One of the values we strive to live every day at The Basilica is compassion. Our faith invites us to become aware of our brokenness—from this place of humility we share hospitality, love, acceptance, and care. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes it is hard. We wrestle with the “right” thing to do, and often feel unprepared to address the complex issues of our day.
One issue that can present complexity is immigration. Yet, Pope Francis calls us to simplicity—focusing on the people in front of us each day. He invites us to see the situation of immigrants and refugees in our midst as “undoubtedly a ‘sign of the times’ … Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.”
What compassionate thing does our faith call us to do right now, with the people right here, today?
In response to this question, over the past eight months, Basilica leadership has prayerfully discussed becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. What does this mean for our community?
A Sanctuary Supporting Congregation takes seriously the call to compassion. It declares that all people have dignity and deserve respect. It declares we will care for and offer God’s healing love to all people, regardless of who they are. It declares that The Basilica community welcomes all people who are in need of compassion—finding solidarity and unity rather than judgment or division.
In practice, this declaration articulates what we already seek to do every day as a parish community. Without regard to worthiness, The Basilica provides spiritual, emotional, and physical support to our community in need. We provide food, clothing, and housing assistance, as well as advocacy support and prayer for those who are the most vulnerable. As a community we give and we receive in gratitude for all God has given us.
The Basilica community supports families who have arrived in Minnesota as refugees. We support families who have risked their lives to flee war and persecution as they seek asylum in Minnesota. So, too, we build relationships with and respond to the needs of those who have deep fear of deportation. Indeed, Pope Francis calls us to “defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.”
In declaring The Basilica as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation we are not taking a political stance. We are simply finding Christ in our brothers and sisters and responding with compassion.
In declaring The Basilica as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation we are not pushing the limits and declaring the parish as a Sanctuary Congregation. A Sanctuary Congregation provides space to live for individuals and families in immediate danger of deportation. This role has challenges that go beyond what The Basilica can do. The Basilica is not moving toward becoming a Sanctuary Congregation.
In declaring The Basilica as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation The Basilica would continue doing what we already do for those coming to our doors for support. Yet, the declaration highlights our willingness to embrace the unconditional compassion of Christ and the depth of our solidarity with those in need. It connects us to the greater reconciling work of Christ in the community.
The Basilica Parish Council invites you to a Listening Session on Sunday, April 15, to discuss what this could mean for us individually and as a parish community. Let us come together and prayerfully reflect on this call. For more information, call Janice at 612.317.3477.
Director of Christian Life
The Basilica of Saint Mary
SANCTUARY SUPPORTING CONGREGATION: LISTENING SESSIONS
SUNDAY, APRIL 15, AFTER 7:30, 9:30, 11:30AM AND 4:30PM MASSES
SAINTS AMBROSE/TERESA, GROUND LEVEL
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Our Gospel this weekend begins just as the two disciples who had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus join their fellow disciples and recount “what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known t them in the breaking of the bread.” We are told that as they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” The disciples were “startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.” Jesus calmed them by showing them his hands and feet and by asking for something to eat. He then went on to “open their minds to understand the Scriptures.” The Gospel concludes with Jesus’ words: “You are witnesses of these things.”
What are we to take away from this Gospel? I’d like to suggest there are at least three things that are three important lessons from this Gospel. 1. Jesus wants his disciples (and us) to know “peace.” In this case, peace isn’t just the absence of conflict or fear; rather it is the deep peace that comes from the knowledge that God is with us. 2. The scriptures are important for understanding that in his suffering and death Jesus was fulfilling what had been prophesized about the messiah. 3. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not a private matter. We are all called to be witnesses of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
In our first reading this weekend, Peter speaks boldly and directly to the people. He reminds them that while they had “acted out of ignorance,” they had put to death the “author of life.” But God “raised him from the dead……………….Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be wiped away.”
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint John. In it John reminds us that Jesus Christ is the “expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. When have you experienced the “peace” of Christ?
2. How have the scriptures helped you to understand God’s presence and action in your life?
3. The word “expiation” has several synonyms. (I know because I looked it up.) What does this word mean to you?
When I give talks about the liturgy I am often asked why we do what we do. I give three answers to that question: 1. So that we may become what we believe. 2. So that we may be all on fire with the love of God. 3. So that we may truly encounter the Paschal Mystery.
As for the third I always quote my great mentor the late Mark Searle. When he was diagnosed with cancer he said: “I have lived the Paschal Mystery long enough not to forsake it or doubt it when it becomes most real.” We celebrate the liturgy so that when any one of us encounters a life threatening disease we may have the deep faith Mark had and say with him: “I have lived the Paschal Mystery long enough not to forsake it or doubt it when it becomes most real.”
That day has come for me.
On Monday of Holy Week I was told I had a tumor in my abdomen. Further tests revealed that I have metastatic seminoma. Currently it is staged at 2C. This week I will undergo more tests. If all goes as planned I will start chemo on Monday April 16. The treatment calls for 12 weeks of chemo. One week of daily 5 hour doses followed by two weeks of recuperation. This cycle is administered four times. The doctors are cautiously optimistic that this regimen will cure the cancer.
Holy Week was a new experience for me. The mysteries we celebrate during Holy Week became very real. Being the celebrant for Stations of the Cross and speaking to those joining the church at the Easter Vigil were very profound experiences. Singing the exulted and the Easter Alleluia moved me to my core. We are an Easter people. We are a people of hope.
We have set up a Caring Bridge page so you can journey with me these next few months. www.caringbridge.org/visit/johanvanparys
I know it will not be easy but I find great strength in the knowledge of God’s love and mercy and your prayers and concern. It is my hope to come out of this experience a better person and a stronger Christian.
And BTW (By The Way), if you want to know more about why we do what we do, you will have to come to my next lecture on the liturgy or read Ask Johan in our Basilica Magazine.
Basilica volunteers and leaders will hold a conversation with parishioners on the call to support our neighbors through becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation and how it is different from a Sanctuary Congregation.
Sanctuary Supporting Congregation: Listening Sessions
Sunday, April 15, Following 7:30, 9:30, 11:30am and 4:30pm Masses
Saints Ambrose/Teresa Room, Ground Level
The Basilica parish community is committed to accompany, serve, and defend immigrants in our community. We co-sponsor refugee families, partner with Advocates for Human Rights, and support families seeking asylum. We are also following the call of our Pope to offer support to those who rely on the protection of DACA to avoid deportation. Come to learn more about The Basilica’s commitment to this ministry supporting people who face deportation. For more information, call 612.317.3477.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040818.cfm
I have always felt a great deal of sympathy for poor Thomas. One quick and ill conceived comment and he has been forever labeled “doubting Thomas.” Perhaps even worse, because we read this story every year on the Sunday after Easter there is little chance that he will ever live down this nickname.
In defense of Thomas, I would like to suggest that he is not so much a doubter as he is a realist. Thomas had accepted the hard and ugly truth of Jesus’ death, and he had begun to move ahead. (I say this because our Gospel today reminds us that he was the only one who was not cowering in fear behind locked doors.) Also, his statement: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” --- while crude --- is merely asking for a proof similar to what the other disciples had already seen and experienced.
When we think of Thomas, it is important to remember that we have grown up with a belief in Jesus’ resurrection. If we can put ourselves in his shoes, however, we can perhaps begin to grasp what an unprecedented, unexpected, astonishing, miracle Jesus’ resurrection was. From this perspective, I wonder if most of us --- like Thomas who, unlike the other disciples hadn’t seen the risen Lord --- wouldn’t ask for a bit more “proof” before believing wholeheartedly in Jesus’ resurrection.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles. It moves us quickly from the resurrection to the life of the early Christian community. It begins with the unequivocal statement: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind……………...”
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the first letter of St. John. (Our second readings throughout the Easter season will be taken from this letter.) In the section of this letter which we read this weekend, John reminds us that we show our love for God and the children of God not just by knowing, but by keeping the commandments of God.
Questions for Discussion/Reflection
- Alfred Tennyson once said: “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.” Do you agree or disagree?
- What would you say to someone who had difficulty believing in the resurrection?
- What can we do today to make the community of believers of one mind and heart?
Several years ago I was part of a question and answer session with high school students concerning what we believe about the last things, e.g. heaven, hell, and purgatory. At one point one of the participants asked me how I knew that heaven and hell existed. Now, I’m not sure if they asked this question out of interest, or to see if they could trip me up. In either case, if their reaction was any barometer, I think they were genuinely surprised when I replied that I didn’t really know that heaven and hell existed; rather I believed they existed.
Pressed to clarify the difference between knowledge and belief, I explained that knowledge is based on personal experience, while belief is based on the witness or testimony of others. For example, I know that New York City exists because I have been there. I believe that Miami exists, not because I have been there, but because of the testimony of others who have been there.
Now in making the above distinction, I don’t mean to suggest that those things which we are cognizant of because of our belief are any less real than those things we know because we have experienced them personally. Belief and knowledge are often twin sources of inspiration, motivation, guidance, and hope for our lives. Belief is not a poor substitute for knowledge. It has its own unique place in our lives. It has importance and value for our lives, and because of this it cannot be ignored or denied.
Particularly with regard to matters of faith, I think belief is as important as knowledge. In fact, our beliefs can be as challenging and reassuring as the knowledge which comes from our experience. For example, my belief in heaven is a source of real assurance for me as I live my life, just as my belief in hell is likewise a real source of motivation for me as I live my life.
In terms of God, I know that God exists because I have experienced God’s presence and grace in my life. My knowledge of God is based on personal experience. I say this because in my life I have experienced God as loving Father, redeeming Son, and inspiring Spirit. In regard to heaven and hell, however, since, I have not yet died and experienced either of them, my belief in them is based on the testimony of others—very specifically, the testimony of Jesus Christ.
For it was Jesus who told us: “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will have eternal life.”
As we celebrate the great Feast of Easter today, my prayer for all of us is that we might come to experience and know the presence of the risen Lord Jesus in our lives, so that our belief in Jesus’ promise of eternal life might give us courage and hope for our lives.