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The great St. Irenaeus said centuries ago that the glory of God is the human person fully alive. A fitting corollary to this is that a parish fully alive also glorifies God. Whether as individuals or as communities, God intends for us to flourish and grow. One of the realities that has most impressed me about The Basilica of Saint Mary is the balanced approach to the life, mission, and culture of the parish. This speaks to the care, intentionality, and thoughtfulness that has been applied to how the life of our parish is ordered and lived. When we look to Scripture, there are many dimensions of our faith that Jesus teaches are essential. Correspondingly, these same dimensions should also be nurtured and grown in communities of faith. I would like to highlight four dimensions of our Catholic faith which are on full display this fall at The Basilica and which invite us to take a “discipleship inventory” —places where Jesus might be calling us to enter more deeply into our faith. These four are: praise and worship of God; fellowship; faith formation and learning; and stewardship.
In the Catholic tradition, the highest form of prayer is doxology or praise. In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, the shepherds are among the first to hear the good news of the birth of the Christ child as the Angels praise and glorify God. In the Eucharistic liturgy, we are invited to enter into a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the gift of Jesus Christ. I begin here because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith—the greatest gift given to us down through the ages. The celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy is marked by great beauty and reverence at The Basilica and this invites us to raise our hearts in worship of the living God. Our new icon of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks—invites us to join the saints in their perfect praise of God. The liturgy is not a static reality. Rather, its dynamism transforms our hearts and calls us beyond ourselves and beyond the doors of our church to see and serve Christ in our neighbor. If you have been away from The Basilica during the pandemic, I invite you back—come and experience the dynamic love of God in-person.
Jesus teaches often in the Gospels about koinonia, which is translated as Christian fellowship or communion. In its essence, the Catholic Church is a communion of disciples united by the Holy Spirit and one in Christ. Given this reality, all parishes, including The Basilica, are called to provide opportunities where we can enter into and strengthen our fellowship. This begins again with the Eucharist and flows from there to the entire life of the parish. Here at The Basilica, there are so many opportunities to deepen our fellowship with one another in Christ. In early October, on a glorious autumn day, we blessed the animals and celebrated the great lover of all creation, St. Francis. The joy was palpable. Fall also provided the opportunity to celebrate Octoberfest last Sunday and November 5 we will host the Dia De Muertos event. Join us for one of the many fellowship events this fall at The Basilica, including coffee and doughnuts on Sundays.
Before commissioning his disciples to continue his saving work, Jesus taught them for three years about God, God’s love, and how they (and we) are to live as disciples. One of the central teachings of Jesus is that we are called to serve and help heal those who have been wounded. This has also been a consistent teaching of Pope Francis who has likened the Church to a field hospital. He has called Catholics to a culture of encounter and accompaniment. Sadly, some of our sisters and brothers have been wounded by clergy or have suffered wounds inside the Church. Much works needs to be done to bring greater justice and healing to those who have been wounded by the Church and in our broader society. I would highlight two opportunities later this fall to enter into the wounds experienced by our brothers and sisters—Ministering on the Margins with Monsignor Chad Gion and a very important event December 3 on racial justice and healing entitled, Here I am Lord – Journeying Toward Healing through Listening and Truth-Telling. These are vital programs which invite us to listen, to learn, and to accompany those who have experienced harm. These events are part of our Faith, Justice, and Healing series which includes other important events as well.
Lastly, but not least in importance, Jesus calls us repeatedly in the Gospels to be good and generous stewards of the gifts we have been given by God. Stewardship for disciples is a way of life lived faithfully throughout the year. Fall is often the season in Catholic parishes to reflect on Christian stewardship and the invitation to give back to God. On the first weekend of October, I highlighted in my homily the example of my father who has been a generous steward throughout his life. This approach to stewardship should not be the exception but the norm for Christians. The Basilica Fund Appeal is now launched and I would ask you to prayerfully reflect on your gifts and blessings, the needs and opportunities of the parish—both of which are robust— and where your generosity can help us prepare for the vibrant future to which God is calling The Basilica community.
These four dimensions of our Catholic faith outlined above provide us with a spiritual inventory as disciples—how am I doing as a follower of Jesus? This is a perennial question for all of us as we continue our journey of faith together.
We invite you to watch "The Letter. A message for our Earth" a new documentary about Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter "Laudato si'" and the care of our common home. The Basilica will be offering future events to discuss the film and its message. If you would like to get involved in future planning, contact Janice.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
This past year our son celebrated his First Communion. His initial reaction was that it tasted pretty good! He does have a discerning palate, so we are fortunate that he liked the taste of the blessed host. I hope it tastes good to him every time he goes to Mass, but more than that I hope he begins to reflect that in receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, he is called to BE Jesus to others, probably beginning with his little sister.
I took the lead in his sacramental preparation and noticed that there was heavy emphasis on the doctrinal and devotional formation, and virtually nothing on the implications that receiving the Eucharist has in loving our neighbor. Do I want our children to understand the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist? Of course, and I hope he can grow in his devotion to this particular Sacrament over the course of his life; this is truly a life-long endeavor for all of us. However, if this formation comes at the expense of his learning what receiving the Eucharist demands of us, something fundamental is lacking in that formation.
You may have heard that this June the United States Bishop’s began a three year long Eucharistic Revival. What exactly is a Eucharistic Revival? I like this line for the website: “The Revival is a grassroots movement of Catholics, each responding to the gift of the Eucharist in their own way.” I appreciate this definition because it seems to be an invitation to each of us to reflect and respond, and gives space for people to respond in a variety of ways. I think it is also a particularly poignant time to reflect on this, as we have come out of a pandemic time when we were not able to celebrate the Mass and come together as the Body of Christ in this most important way.
What might the reflection look like? Perhaps some of us may review and reflect on the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, or perhaps how we might grow in our own devotion to the Eucharist. I know for myself sometimes the sacraments can grow a bit stale, especially if I have received them many times. Perhaps we might go beyond reflection and “into the concrete practice of love” that Pope Benedict called us to in one of his early writings as Pope.
I remember years ago in an RCIA presentation here (folks discerning if they want to join our Catholic Community), that in an older Rite the Mass was to begin “when the priest was ready.” In our newer Rite we begin “when the people have gathered.” I want our priests to be ready when we begin Mass, but what a beautiful reminder to all of us that the celebration of the Eucharist cannot even begin without us gathered as community!
We are in the midst of another busy fall here at the Basilica, and there is much that you can enter into. Faith formation classes have begun, RCIA continues to meet, small groups are gathering, and we have a great lineup of speakers coming over the next few months. All of these offerings are great, but our gatherings make most sense when they flow into and out of our Eucharistic celebration. Hopefully we can take advantage of this time and grow in our understanding and love of the Eucharist as individuals and as a community.
Join us for the dedication of the new Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Icon Sunday, October 9, at the 9:30 & 11:30am Masses.
(Indigenous Peoples' Day Oct 10)
Daughter of the Americas,
Lily of the Mohawks,
Witness to the Love of God,
your life was marked by courage and devotion
in the face of adversity and pain.
Through your intercession,
may our lives be modeled after yours,
filled with strength and humility,
with hope and peacefulness,
and above all, with a profound love of Jesus
as we follow in his footsteps
on our journey to the Heavenly Jerusalem
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings.
Every day I come to work, I see faith in action at The Basilica. Last week a group of young adults had gathered around a fire pit in the parking lot for Bible Study. From choir members streaming in to sing at Sunday Mass, to our catechists helping children learn and grow in their faith, volunteers are present and make our community a place of inspiration, hope and welcome. Everywhere I look, I experience the strong partnership that exists with volunteers helping in countless ways.
Recently, I hope you received The Basilica’s Annual Report in the bulletin mailed to your home. The report shares a snapshot of some of the wonderful activities, ministries and beautiful liturgies that you helped make possible in the past year.
As volunteers, participants, and as financial supporters, you make Basilica ministry happen . . . Thank you for all you do.
As we look to the future and start to make plans for 2023, we do this with a new leader, Fr. Daniel Griffith, who has been with us since July 1st. I hope you have met him, and if you haven’t yet, that you will join us soon for a liturgy and some of the fun events coming up this fall to say hello to him and get acquainted.
We are blessed to have a new pastor who is excited about The Basilica’s vision and mission.
“Seek the well-being of the city to which I have sent you. Pray for it to the Lord. For in seeking its well-being, you shall find your own.” Jeremiah 29:7
It is clear to me that Fr. Griffith is already demonstrating his commitment to support, sustain and grow the many ministries and connections with community partners that so many of you have built through the years.
The possibilities for strengthening and expanding our impactful ministries are right in front of us. We need to sustain our beautiful liturgies, faith formation and support those facing life’s challenges. But we also need to move ahead with opportunities for deeper relationships and partnerships, inspiring speakers and teachers, and expanded ministries and outreach.
To take on these challenges and grow, we need your financial commitment for 2023. Only you know what you can commit to support our ministries. I’m asking you to do 3 things:
- First, prayerfully consider what The Basilica means to you and what financial commitment works for you in 2023.
- Second, when you hear from Fr. Daniel or from one of our parish volunteers, please respond, and make a financial commitment for 2023 to The Basilica Fund that works for you. If you are giving now, we ask you to consider an increased commitment to help us keep up with increased parish expenses to grow our ministries. If you don’t have a financial commitment at this time, please start one today.
- Finally, please consider choosing the option to give through your bank account or a credit card – Its easy and secure, and really helps us with our planning and budgeting.
Thank you for considering my request for your financial support. If you have questions, or need more information, please feel free to contact me or our Development Office at 612.317.3407.