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Twenty-five years ago, had anyone told me that I would become a member of a Church that didn’t ordain women, I would have laughed. I was Lutheran and interested in becoming a pastor. During my senior year in college, I shared these hopes with our college pastor who laid out the long path toward ordination. Realizing that starting a family was more important at that time of my life I postponed the pursuit of ordained ministry.
In 1995 I was invited to interview for the choral director position at The Basilica. The invitation didn’t come as a complete surprise. I had just conducted choirs of The Basilica, Temple Israel, and the College of Saint Benedict in an oratorio commissioned by The Basilica: Uvacharta Bachayim: Choose Life by Mona Lyn Reese. I was surprised though when this important Catholic church offered me, a Lutheran, the job.
Four years later I became Catholic. This wasn’t a big leap. The Lutheran Church in which I grew up taught me the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So, with Johan as my sponsor and the choir watching through the grates of the sanctuary I was confirmed on April 11, 1998. I truly felt I had come home despite the unsettling fact that the old hope of becoming a pastor was still very much alive.
These past 20 years have not always been easy. I have been called a “turncoat.” I have wondered if I am a hypocrite? Why am I in a Church that doesn’t ordain women? I have indeed wrestled with the decision to remain.
Though tremendously important to me, I can’t claim that the Cathedral Choir and Choristers or the opportunity to make music in our glorious space are the primary reasons I stay. I also don’t stay because of humans, ordained or not. Human endeavors will fail. Humans themselves fail and sin as we have seen in the heart-breaking abuse cases. If I had put my faith in humans I would have left long ago.
Rather, the Eucharist, sharing in the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ is the primary reason I stay. I love being part of a Church that has a mystery we struggle to comprehend at its center: the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is something that is so much greater than ourselves and yet one with ourselves.
Blessedly, I have also been afforded the opportunity to be a pastor of sorts in this Catholic parish. My beloved choir members recognize this. And I am truly blessed to serve them. I also help to form the faith of many children. I have presided at Stations of the Cross, Morning, Midday, and Evening prayer. This has certainly fed my pastoral sense. I cherish these opportunities and am grateful for them.
I may not agree with everything the Catholic Church stands for and I will continue to question and struggle. But I will do so coming to the table with all of you to remember who we are—beloved children of God, the Body of Christ.
The Basilica Landmark has announced a funding initiative to refurbish the essential community space in the lower level of the church, the Teresa of Calcutta Hall. This primary gathering space in the lower level of the church serves the daily physical, mental, and emotional needs of thousands in the community. From homelessness, employment, and immigration support to interfaith collaborations, training seminars, artist exhibits and beyond—the funds raised will be designated to refurbish the essential community space.
The Basilica Landmark will kick-off this fundraising initiative, know as the Fund-A-Need, at the Landmark Spark—a special evening dedicated to keeping the flame alive for the beloved Basilica. The Landmark Spark event is reimagined this year to amp up the classic event to a night that ignites.
The Landmark Spark event chair, Karen Capiz, is especially passionate about improving the community space used to support our neighbors in need. Karen volunteers with one of the many outreach programs and believes, “Having a welcoming, clean, comfortable space is important to best serve everyone who comes through The Basilica’s doors.”
The Basilica Landmark Board of Directors invites the community to support our effort to refurbish the essential community space. It is important that the physical building reflect our message of welcome and hospitality to all.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
The Machine Shop
300 2nd St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
The signature fundraising event features creative cuisine, specialty cocktails, and fantastic giving opportunities to support The Basilica Landmark.
To purchase tickets or make a gift to support the Fund-A-Need initiative visit www.thebasilicalandmark.org.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
In our three year cycle of readings on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, we always read from the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel. In this chapter Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd and his disciples as the sheep. The section from chapter ten we read this Sunday is very brief. It is only three verses: “Jesus said: My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of my Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
We should not presume that the brevity of this Gospel suggests it is unimportant. In fact quite the opposite is true. This Gospel tells us three very important things. 1. Jesus is continually calling us to follow him. We need to listen, though, in order to hear that call. 2. We cannot accidentally fall away from God or be snatched out of God’s hand. Rather, we are meant for eternal life with God. 3. Jesus is able to promise these things because he is one with the Father, not subordinate to the Father.
In our first reading this Sunday we continue to read from the Acts of the Apostles. In the section we read this weekend, Paul and Barnabas continue to preach about Jesus Christ. However, since the Jews of that area had rejected their preaching, they preached instead to the Gentiles, telling the Jews: “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” When they continue to encounter resistance they “shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.”
Our second reading this Sunday is once again taken from the book of Revelation. It presents a “vision” that told of a future time when “They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Jesus said that my sheep hear my voice. How do you “listen” for the voice of Jesus?
- What helps you to listen for the voice of Jesus?
- We are reminded in our first reading that God intends salvation to be for all people. Why do think some people want to restrict/limit the number who can be saved?
A few weeks ago in a conversation with a friend, I suddenly realized that without intending it, I had said something that bothered, and in fact, had hurt my friend. Now saying something hurtful certainly wasn’t my intention. In fact, quite the opposite, I was trying to be witty. Thus, when I realized that what I had said had been hurtful, I began to explain what I meant, and why I had said what I did. As the explanatory words tumbled out of my mouth, it dawned on me that I was doing the same thing that increasing numbers of people seem to be doing; I wasn’t apologizing, I was explaining. When I realized what I was doing, I immediately shifted gears and offered an apology for my intemperate words. I then asked my friend to “call me out” in the future, if and when, I explained rather than apologized. He promised he would, and we moved on to other things.
From my perspective, explaining why we said or did something, rather than apologizing for it seems to be a growing phenomenon. People will send snarky emails, say nasty things, or do things that are discourteous or just plain rude, and when they realize they acted intemperately, they will tell you why they said or did it, rather than apologizing for it The thing is, though, that while at times it can be helpful to know someone’s motivations and intentions for their words and actions, this doesn’t change the fact that someone may have been hurt by them. In these situations, an apology, not an explanation, is what is needed. And apologies start with the words: “I am sorry.”
In regard to the above, however, we need to be brutally honest. In some cases, even the words: “I am sorry” are insufficient. These times occur when we have knowingly and intentionally hurt someone, or when we have become aware that the hurt caused by what we said or did ran deeper than we thought. At these times, a simple “I’m sorry” is not enough. We need to go to a deeper level. We need to ask the tough question. “Will you forgive me?” When we say “I’m sorry,” we are still in charge and in control. When we ask: “Will you forgive me?” We are ceding that control to another person, and asking them to give us what we cannot give ourselves: reconciliation and peace.
The above is a good example of what happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we come to God with our sins and failings, and tell God of our sorrow for the things we have done wrong. We also ask, though, for God’s forgiveness. In asking for this forgiveness, however, we need never fear that God’s forgiveness is in doubt. The forgiveness of our sins is offered to us freely, and generously, without limitations or end. God loves us. And because God loves us, God cannot not forgive our sins.
When we ask for God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we can trust and believe that because of God’s love and in God’s mercy, our sins—whatever they may be—are forgiven. And in asking for the forgiveness of our sins, we know and believe that we will receive in return what we cannot give ourselves: God’s pardon and peace.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/050519.cfm
In our Gospel this Sunday we read of a resurrection appearance by Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias. We are told that Simon Peter and the other disciples had gone fishing, “but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” He asked them if they had caught anything and when they said they hadn’t, he told them: “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” When they were not able to pull the net in because of the number of fish, the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter: “It is the Lord.” Peter than jumped into the water and swam to shore. When the other disciples arrived, Jesus fed them with bread and fish. He then asked Simon Peter three different times: “Do you love me?”
Over the years, many explanations have been offered as to why Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Some suggest that it was because Peter had denied Jesus three times. Others suggest that Jesus wanted Peter to understand not just the importance of the question, but the importance of his answer. I would like to suggest, though, that perhaps the most important thing about this exchange is that it was only after Peter had declared his love that Jesus gave him a mission: “Feed/tend my sheep/lambs.” For Peter, as for us, the things we do in the name of Jesus should come out of our love for Jesus.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles. In it the disciples are brought before the Sanhedrin because in defiance of their orders, they continued to preach about Jesus. “But Peter and the apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
Our second reading this Sunday is from the Book of Revelation. The style of writing in this book is known as apocalyptic literature. Often it was written during a time of trial/persecution, and it was intended to offer hope and encouragement. It is not meant to be taken literally. Rather, it uses vivid imagery and symbolic language to convey the idea that despite the difficulties of the present, God is ultimately in charge.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you ever thought God was calling you to do something? Did you respond to that call out of love for Jesus?
- Have you ever experienced a conflict between obeying God versus men?
- There seems to be a fascination in regard to apocalyptic literature. Why do you think this is?
Divine Mercy Sunday vespers will be devoted to the people of Sri Lanka. Please join us in prayer for the victims and for an end to violence. A book will be available for parishioners to share prayers that will be sent to the Cardinal of Sri Lanka.
April 28, 3:00pm
Basilica Choir Stalls
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Although our first and second readings for this Sunday follow our three year cycle of readings, the Gospel for this Sunday is always Jn. 20: 19-31. It is the story of Thomas.
I have always felt a great deal of sympathy for poor Thomas. He didn’t believe the other disciples when they told him that Jesus had been raised from the dead and had appeared to them. As a result, forever after he was known as “doubting Thomas.” Now I don’t know that I can completely restore Thomas’ credibility, but I’d like to offer two thoughts in his defense. First, it seems to me that the other disciples couldn’t have been very effective witnesses if they couldn’t convince Thomas that they had encountered the risen Lord. Certainly the idea of someone rising from the dead was an unprecedented phenomenon, but the disciples couldn’t have been very persuasive if they couldn’t convince Thomas --- a man who had been in their company for three years --- that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Second, I don’t know that doubt is such a bad thing. Doubt and faith are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have doubt if you don’t have (at least some) faith. In fact, out of Thomas’ doubt came the first statement of Easter faith: “My Lord and my God.”
Our first reading today is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. It recounts the beginnings of the apostles’ ministry, which was a continuation of Jesus’ mission and ministry. In this reading we are told “Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women were added to them.”
Our second reading today is taken from the Book of Revelation. We will be reading from this book for the next five weeks. It is important to remember that the Book of Revelation is “apocalyptic” literature. It is not meant to be taken literally. Rather, apocalyptic literature is filled with vivid imagery and symbolic language. It was written during a time of trial or distress and it was meant to encourage and offer hope in the face of trials and suffering. It also reminded people to remain firm in their faith.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Do you think doubt is a bad thing?
2. Have you ever tried to convince someone of something only to have them doubt you? Did they ever come to believe you?
3. If you encountered someone who read the Book of Revelation literally, what would you say to them?
A few weeks ago Johan van Parys, our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, wrote an excellent column for this space articulating why he is staying in the Catholic Church. His words prompted me to reflect on why I to stay in our Church, especially in light of the fact that many people have left or are at least taking a break from our church.
In most cases the reason people have left, or are taking a break from our Church, has to do with the handling of the clergy sexual abuse crisis by the leaders of our Church. Over the past many years, hundreds, if not thousands, of priests have engaged in the sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adults. Others have sexually exploited or harassed adults. Worse, many bishops and others in leadership positions covered up this behavior or turned a blind eye to it. Worse still, it has come to light that some bishops have also engaged in this kind of behavior. Worst of all, though, is that now that the actions of these bishops have come to light, the leadership of our Church still hasn’t developed a comprehensive plan to respond to the sexually inappropriate behavior of their fellow bishops.
Until and unless the leaders of our Church acknowledge their failures, and put forth a concrete, specific plan for their future accountability, our Church will continue to be embroiled in the sexual abuse crisis, and people will continue to leave our Church in frustration and anger. People have been deeply wounded by individuals they have trusted. In many cases, those in positions of authority allowed this to happen. These same leaders must now commit themselves publicly to openness, transparency, and honesty. This is called accountability. People should not only expect it; they should demand it.
Despite the failures of many in leadership positions in our Church, however, and despite the fact that many people have left our Church, I chose to remain. While the reasons I stay are many and varied, there are two primary reasons.
I stay in the Church because I need the Eucharist. As Catholics we believe that in the Eucharist we celebrate and share, that Jesus Christ is really and truly present—not present just in memory, not present just symbolically, and not present just spiritually, but really and truly present. We offer no proof for this. There is no logical or rational explanation for it. The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a matter of faith. And it is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist that I hunger for and that sustains and nourishes me in my life. As I tell the children at First Eucharist every year: I know that I am not the best person in the world. I am a sinner. But I would be far worse without the Eucharist. The Eucharist makes me be a better person than I would otherwise be. I cannot do without it, and I cannot accept a substitute for it.
The second reason I stay in the Church is that I need a community of faith that both supports and challenges me. I believe we do this especially well at The Basilica. Here at The Basilica we welcome all those who come through our doors. Not only do we strive to see the face of Christ in one another, but we also strive to be the face of Christ for each other. While some would seek to limit the embrace of our Church, I believe that the embrace of our Church can be nothing less than the embrace of God’s love.
In his message at the beginning of Lent a few years ago Pope Francis wrote: “Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference.” I believe these words describe well what the church, as a community of faith, is all about. These words are an important and necessary challenge to parishes everywhere. They remind us that parishes can never be self-referential or concerned only with their own self interest. The Church needs to be a community of faith that supports and challenges its members. The Church needs to be a community of faith where people are welcomed and accepted. The Catholic Church—and particularly The Basilica—does this better than any church I know. I need this in my life.
And so because I need the Eucharist and because I need a community that supports and challenges me, I stay in the Catholic Church.
In this space several months ago I quoted a line from the late comedian Phyllis Diller, who famously said: “Don’t go to bed angry…Stay up and fight.” I believe this is good advice for Catholics today. And so, on this Easter Sunday, I say to all those who may read this: Don’t leave our Church angry. Stay and fight for a Church that is open, honest, and transparent. Stay and fight for leadership that is accountable and responsible. Stay and fight so that you can be the Church that you want the Church to be. Stay—and celebrate the Eucharist and be a part of a community that supports and challenges all of us.
The Basilica of Saint Mary welcomes all to celebrate Holy Week and Easter, April 18 through April 21, 2019. The vibrant beauty and tradition at The Basilica will draw over 10,000 people for these sacred celebrations.
The most important days of Holy week, known as the Sacred Triduum, begin with Holy Thursday on April 18, and continue with Good Friday, April 19, Holy Saturday, April 20, and Easter Sunday, April 21.
“The Basilica is honored to welcome parishioners and visitors to celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Johan van Parys, director of liturgy and sacred arts at The Basilica.
Reveiw full schedule www.mary.org/holyweek
The Basilica of Saint Mary stands in prayer and support with the Notre Dame Cathedral community and the city of Paris. We pray for the safety of the first responders working to manage the fire.
During this Holy week, Catholics around the world are saddened by the destruction of the iconic cathedral. The loss of precious relics, irreplaceable art, striking architecture, rich history and culture, are simply devastating.
We invite our community to join us in prayer and to share a message to the people of Paris. A book of messages will be placed on the Altar of the Sacred Heart in The Basilica. This book will be sent to the Archbishop of Paris.
Tuesday, April 16 - Noon Mass
Saint Joseph Chapel, Basilica Ground Level
Mass followed by a rosary to Our Lady of Paris