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Parables were a favorite teaching device for Jesus. In essence parables are simply short stories or sayings that are meant to convey a deeper meaning. They try to tell us something about God, about our relationship with God, or about how we are to live. In our Gospel this Sunday we find several brief parables: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? No disciple is superior to the teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? A good tree does not bear rotten fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes.” Taken together these parables/sayings remind us that those who seek to guide others, must take care that their own house is in order before they undertake the task of guiding someone else.
Clearly the message of these parables/sayings is one that needs to be heard today --- perhaps most especially by those in leadership positions in our church. In the recent history of our church we have seen many priests and bishops who sought to guide others, while not “practicing what they preached.” Because of this we should not be surprised that people have left of Church. For this we need to hold people accountable. As a consequence of this those in leadership positions must re-learn that they need to preach first to themselves before they presume to preach to others.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach. We don’t often read from this book, but the section we read today shares the message of the Gospel. “When a sieve is shaken the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks. As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just.”
Our second reading today is taken from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In the section we read today Paul reminds us to be steadfast in faith, so our labor will not be in vain. “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Can you remember an instance when your words/actions were not consistent with your faith?
- Has there been a time when your faith has been tested in regard tribulations you have had to face?
- How does one devote themselves to the work of the Lord?
As the snow gently falls outside my office window it is hard to imagine that come July 12 and 13 the snow on the east lawn will be replaced by concert goers, vendors, and back by popular demand the silent disco as our community celebrates the 25th anniversary Basilica Block Party.
In an era when new festivals pop-up weekly and just as many never make it to year two—25 years is a true accomplishment. This accomplishment is only possible because of some very visionary thinking—an incredible group of staff and volunteers both past and present, as well as all of you. The Basilica parish that has embraced this summer tradition for the last quarter century.
To celebrate, please join us as our community celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Basilica Block Party with a little pre-party on Sunday, June 2! After all of our Sunday Masses, you will have your one and only chance to buy fee-free tickets to this year’s block party, exclusive volunteer openings only for parish members, fun giveaways, and a chance to walk down memory lane with some of our favorite ad campaigns, t-shirts, and photos from years gone by.
Personally, this will be my 12th Basilica Block Party, something I could never have imagined when I started as a wide-eyed Block Party intern in 2007. Fast forward to today and even after all these year it is still hasn’t lost its charm. It is still my absolute favorite event of the summer.
Over the years I have gotten to see some pretty amazing concerts and been exposed to bands that I would otherwise never have taken the time to see. In my opinion there is no better way to spend a warm summer night in Minnesota than to be outside listening to live music with The Basilica as your backdrop.
It still gives me chills looking from our beloved Basilica back to the bands rocking out on stage with a sea of people in between enjoying what so many have worked so hard to put together. It is an incredible event and this year once again promises to be a great weekend of fun and music benefiting the efforts of The Basilica Landmark’s mission to preserve, protect, and restore The Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations and our St. Vincent de Paul ministry to help our neighbors in need.
I hope you will join us on July 12 and 13 for 2019 Cities 97 Basilica Block Party to celebrate this summer tradition with great food, good friends, and tasty beverages. And don’t forget the unbelievable bands including Kacey Musgraves, Jason Mraz, Semisonic, CHVRCHES, Dawes, HANSON, The Jayhawks, Metric, Anderson East, JOHNYSWIM, Flora Cash, Ruston Kelly, Lissie, and Yam Haus for two nights of amazing music.
Check out the the The Basilica Block Party's website for ticket information.
For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/022419.cfm
“Now, listen because I’m only going to say this once.” Growing up with four brothers and two sisters, these words were frequently on my mother’s lips. I was reminded of them when I read the opening words of our Gospel today. “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘To you who hear, I say,’”
In our Gospel for this Sunday Jesus tells his disciples that they are to live and act in ways that set them apart from others. Jesus tells his disciples: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you………. Give to everyone who asks of you…………Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful……….. Stop judging and you will not be judged……….. Give and gifts will be given to you.”
Jesus’ words remind us clearly that for his followers God is the standard for our words and actions. We are called to treat others as God has treated us, by loving and caring for them, being merciful and by not judging. Certainly we don’t always do this. Yet Jesus is clear. As God has loved and cared for us, and shown us God’s mercy in so many ways, so we are called to do this for one another. This is not just a suggestion or a recommendation. It is a command given to all those who seek to follow Jesus Christ.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the first Book of Samuel. In the section we read today we heard, that King Saul, consumed by jealousy of David, was seeking to kill him. In a reversal, though, David has a chance to kill Saul. He refused to do it, though, thus demonstrating God’s mercy and compassion.
In our second reading this Sunday from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, Paul reminds us that “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, (Adam) we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.” (Jesus)
Questions for reflection/discussion:
- Jesus told us to “love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.” Why do we find this so difficult?
- Jesus also said: “Give and gifts will be given to you.” When have you experienced this in your life?
- Where have you seen others bearing the “image” of the heavenly one? (Jesus Christ)
Over the past few years, The Basilica of Saint Mary has prayerfully been developing a parish-wide, faith filled-response to racism. Rooted in our Catholic Faith, this effort will create a safe place for discovery and discernment, ritualizing respectful dialogue. It will provide multi-faceted learning experiences that include sharing stories/relationship building, art and media, speakers, workshops, and working with community organizations. It will be sustained over time, seeking to propel transformation and change individually and collectively.
The initiative on racism coincides with implementation of the new Basilica Strategic Plan. This new plan calls us to promote inclusivity as an institution—addressing cultural and religious divides. We are called to support and welcome those who have been marginalized and seek interventions in the systems that perpetuate marginalization.
To fulfill these goals, we are beginning a partnership with the Penumbra Theatre. Penumbra Theater is the largest and among the oldest African American theatre companies in the country. They produce artistically excellent, thought-provoking, and socially responsible drama that illuminates the depth and breadth of the black experience.
The partnership with Penumbra Theatre will begin this Lent. It will carry over several years, gradually folding in more and more of our parish community. Penumbra will customize each workshop to fit the unique needs of The Basilica. Its programming is rigorous and immersive. Together, we are grateful for the opportunity to build deep, ongoing relationships.
The Penumbra RACE Workshop invites precipitants to Learn, Reflect and Act. Learn: Explore how race, gender, class and other identify markers shape our opportunities, success, safety and circumstances. Reflect: Become aware of how our intersectional identities determine how we see the world and how the world sees us. Act: Practice intervening in oppressive behaviors as they happen.
Look for ways to get involved in the Basilica/Penumbra partnership. For more information contact Janice.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/021719.cfm
Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. The more familiar version of the Beatitudes is found in Matthew’s Gospel. (Mt. 5:1-12a) Luke’s version of the Beatitudes differs from Matthew’s in three distinct ways. 1. Luke’s account takes place on a “stretch of level ground,” not on a mountain. 2. Luke’s Beatitudes are not spiritualized as are Matthew’s, e.g. in Luke the “poor” and “hungry” are blessed, not the “poor in spirit” and those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” 3. Finally, Luke’s version contains four “blessings,” but also four “woes.”
Luke’s Beatitudes remind us that true blessings come to those who know their need for God and rely on God rather than themselves. They also suggest that when we seek to be fulfilled by earthly things, and place our confidence and hope in these things, we can anticipate “woe” for ultimately these things cannot satisfy us and cannot offer us eternal salvation.
Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. It shares both the theme and structure of the Gospel. It reminds us that “cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,” and “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”
In our second reading for this Sunday we continue to read from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. The section we read today, is a simple, yet eloquent statement by Paul about our belief in eternal life. Paul says clearly: “If Christ is preached as raised form the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?” ……………….. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you experienced God’s blessings in your life?
- When have you relied on yourself and not placed your trust in God?
- What does the promise of eternal life mean to you?
Our Homeless Jesus sculpture has received quite a bit of media attention recently. Apparently the press learned that an ambulance had been dispatched to The Basilica thinking that a person was sleeping on the bench. This story did not surprise me. I have personally witnessed first responders getting out of an ambulance ready to help the person on the bench, only to realize that it was a sculpture. I watched them use their phones to take some pictures, maybe to alert their colleagues.
The artist, Timothy Schmalz intentionally created a very realistic sculpture which he hoped would push us to face the persistent problem of homelessness. As I write this letter it is -28 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in these temperatures some people will have no choice but to spend the night outside.
I know that not everyone loves our Homeless Jesus. Some people think we should not represent the resurrected Jesus in the image of a homeless person. However, by depicting Jesus as a homeless person or more importantly, being asked to see Jesus in homeless people we simply illustrate the message of Matthew 25: ““Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Others have argued that the money spent on the Homeless Jesus should have been used to alleviate the suffering of those in need. The Basilica has a very strong commitment to helping all those in need. Our approach is two-pronged: alleviation and education. Thus, on the one hand we offer direct help to those in need and we work to change systems that cause and perpetuate poverty and inequality. On the other hand we are also intent on changing people’s heart and mind so that they too might be moved to help those in need. And that is exactly what the Homeless Jesus intends to do: change people’s heart and mind.
The sculpture is not so much about the bronze Jesus it represents, but rather about the suffering person in whom we ought to recognize Jesus. Many of us are a bit more like Peter than like Mary. Peter courageously declared to Jesus that he would never leave him, and yet he denied knowing Jesus after his arrest and he ran away when Jesus was crucified. By contract without making grandiose statements, Mary, the Mother of Jesus together with Mary of Magdala and John the Beloved stayed with him. They were not able to prevent his death but they stayed with him even as he was dying on the cross.
We received Homeless Jesus last November. Since then we have seen people quietly sitting on the bench next to him with their hands placed on his pierced feet. We have found flowers and a lit candle left beside him. And just a few weeks ago as the winter was setting in, someone lovingly covered him with a red blanket. It is our hope that the Homeless Jesus will move us to similar and even greater acts of kindness not just to the sculpture but more importantly to the people it represents.
Join Basilica Reads this Lent. As a parish we will read Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job by Kerry Weber.
The book is available at local and online book sellers. Books will be available to purchase at Ash Wednesday Soup Supper. A limited number of scholarship books are available. Watch for discussion group options soon.
Contact Janice for more information or a scholarship book.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
There are two scenes in this weekend’s Gospel. In the first scene, we are told that the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and so he got into Simon’s boat and they put out a short distance so that he could continue to teach the crowds. After he had finished speaking, he told Simon “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” While Simon initially objected, he did as Jesus suggested and ‘they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.” Such must have been the power of Jesus’ words that experienced fishermen took fishing advice from the son of a carpenter.
The second scene in this weekend’s Gospel occurs immediately after the miraculous catch of fish. We are told that Simon Peter “fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’” In response “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.’” At this point we are told “they left everything and followed him.” Peter is like many of us. We often focus on our sinfulness, and fail to realize that God calls us as we are, where we are. And the God, who calls us, also gives us the grace to respond to that call.
The theme of the Gospel is echoed in our first reading this weekend from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. God calls Isaiah, but Isaiah is reluctant: For I am a man of unclean lips………” God, however, sent a Seraphim, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched Isaiah’s lips with the ember and said: “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” As in today’s Gospel, the message is clear: God doesn’t send the qualified; rather God qualifies those whom God sends.
In our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In the section we read this weekend, Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us) of the Gospel he preached: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scripture that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. When have you been invited to trust in God?
2. Have you ever felt God calling you to do something for which you did not feel qualified?
3. Have you ever allowed your sense of sinfulness to keep you at a distance from God?
From the Pastor
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Christmas at The Basilica: Before Christmas becomes a distant memory, I want to express my gratitude to all those who made this year’s celebration of Christmas such a wonderful experience. Our attendance was great and I received numerous compliments about the quality of the liturgies and music. I was also very impressed with the prayerful spirit that permeated all of our liturgies. As your pastor, I have much to be proud of and even more to be grateful for this year.
I also want to thank all those who contributed financially to The Basilica this past year and particularly at Christmas. Your financial support makes it possible for us to continue to offer the programs, ministries, and services that are the hallmark of our parish.
2. Lent: While it may be hard to believe, this year Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is March 6. As a child I never really appreciated Lent. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for me, and for all of us. As in the past, we have scheduled a variety of different speakers, activities, and services at The Basilica during this special season. I invite and encourage you to take a look at your calendar and to plan on participating as part of your Lenten discipline. Visit mary.org for a list of our Lenten activities and services.
3. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank to all those who have made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign last fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge—no matter the size—is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community. The really good news this year is that over 200 new parishioners chose to make a pledge of financial support for our community.
In regard to our parish finances, as I write this column, we are slightly behind in regard to our anticipated income at this point in our fiscal year. Thank you to all of those who support our Basilica community financially. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support.
4. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2019 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 2 and 3. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services, and programs within our Archdiocese. Now, I realize many people are concerned that contributions to the Catholic Services Appeal will be used for purposes they didn’t intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This was done to insure that all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services, and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal. I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services, and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information in pews, or learn more at csafspm.org.
5. Strategic Planning: Our Parish, Our Future: As I have mentioned previously, several months ago we began the process of developing a new strategic plan for our parish. (Our previous plan carried us through spring of 2018.) The reason we engage in strategic planning is simple. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29.18). If we don’t consciously and prayerfully plan for our future, we are at risk of drifting into a future not of our choosing and certainly not of our making.
I am pleased to report that at the October meeting of our Parish Council our new Strategic Plan was approved. Our new Strategic Plan retains our core Vision, Mission, and Values, and builds on instead of replacing, the previous strategic plan. There are three Strategic Areas of Focus in our new Plan:
- The Arts: to move, inspire, and transform individuals and communities through excellence in the arts and creative practices.
- Inclusivity: to build a culture where people feel valued, welcome, integrated, and included.
- Homelessness: to respond to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
This plan will serve as a road map to guide and direct our efforts for the next three to five years. Our efforts will help us identify those ministries, programs, services, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community. The insert in this bulletin includes a brief description of our new Strategic Plan. For more information, visit mary.org/ourfuture.
6. Campus Space Planning: As I have mentioned previously, last fall The Basilica Landmark has approved funding for the hiring of a liturgical consultant to help us look at our entire campus, and plan for its future. This fall Fr. Gil Sunghera S.J. was hired to help us build a vision for our campus spaces that helps us welcome the community and our guests. Fr. Gil is from the University of Detroit Mercy and works with their School of Architecture.
Some of the important issues/concerns that will need to be considered are the renovation and updating of the interior of The Basilica. We will also need to consider how to make The Basilica and its campus more welcoming. Accessibility issues will also need to be looked at.
This process of developing a master plan for The Basilica and its campus will take several months and will need input from our parishioners. It will also occur concurrently with the implementation of our new strategic plan. We will share more information about this important work as we move forward.
7. 150th Anniversary of our Parish: This year our parish celebrates its Sesquicentennial. 150 years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Minneapolis. The first Mass was celebrated on October 4, 1868. (When the parish outgrew its original site, seven lots were donated at 16th and Hennepin Avenue in 1904. The cornerstone of The Basilica, which was initially known as the Pro Cathedral, was laid in 1908, and the first Mass was celebrated in The Basilica on May 31, 1914.)
We kicked-off our year long celebration of our 150th anniversary on Sunday, September 30. Archbishop Hebda presided at the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses that day.
Throughout the coming year there will be a variety of events, activities, and exhibits to celebrate our Sesquicentennial as a parish. I invite you to attend as many of these as you are able as we celebrate 150 years of faith.
Two events in particular I would like to note include a reunion for all couples who were married at The Basilica. The Wedding Reunion will take place on Saturday, February 23 with a blessing at the 5:00pm Mass followed by a reception. More information can be found at mary.org/weddingreunion. There will also be a School Reunion for former students of The Basilica School. This reunion will take place September 7. More information can be found at mary.org/weddingreunion.
8. Second Collections: While no one likes special collections, it is heartening to report that the people of The Basilica have been very generous to the last special collections here:
On the weekend of December 1 and 2, $11,621.95 was contributed to the second collection to help support our sponsorship of refugee families through Lutheran Social Services.
The contributions to these collections testify to the generosity of the people of The Basilica. Please know of my gratitude and prayer for your generous and caring response.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
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