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Every now and again our Bishops—or one of our Bishops—does something that makes me proud to be a Catholic and a priest. (In recent years, more often it has been Pope Francis who has done this.) I say this because our Bishops are not known for being risk-takers or trend setters on most issues. On June 13, 2018, however, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a strong and unequivocal statement in regard to the asylum issue and the separation of children from their parents. In part the statement read:
“Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration's zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral."
I am impressed that while Cardinal DiNardo was clear that we have a right to protect our borders—how we do that is just as important as that we do it. He was also able to articulate succinctly and without equivocation our understanding that separating children from their parents is a moral issue and that we need to name it and know it as such. Separating children from their parents is clearly the wrong way to protect our borders, and as Cardinal DiNardo reminds us, it is immoral.
In the play A Man for All Seasons, Cardinal Wolsey fails to force the church to bend to the will of Henry VIII, and annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. As punishment, the King charged Wolsey with high treason. On his deathbed Cardinal Wolsey said: “If I’d served God one half so well as I’ve served my King... God would not have left me here to die in this place.” These words are a chilling reminder to me that while we owe allegiance to our government certainly; ultimately it is our allegiance to God and God’s laws by which we will be judged.
I applaud Cardinal DiNardo’s courage and clarity in reminding us that we cannot ignore the moral issues that are involved in protecting our borders, in particular the issue of the separation of children from their parents. And I pray that this moral imperative will become clear to all those involved in this issue.
"At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General's recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence. Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.
Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration's zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral."
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Names are very interesting. Sometimes they can signal continuity. (Many names have been in a family for generations.) At other times they can express uniqueness. (I do a lot of Baptisms, and I’m continually surprised at some of the new names that crop up.) Names can also have a religious connotation, (think of Faith, Hope and Charity). They can also be an expression of a popular trend. (I’m always intrigued each year by the list of the most common baby names.)
In our Gospel this weekend for the Feast of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, we encounter Elizabeth and Zechariah who have to choose a name for their new born son. We are told that “When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, ‘No. He will be called John.’ But they answered her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has this name.’ So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed.” The child was named John because the angel Gabriel had told Zechariah this was to be his name. In Hebrew “John” means “God is gracious.” In this case God was indeed gracious because Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren, conceived a son in her old age. The name is also appropriate because John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ, thus his name is a sign of God’s gracious favor toward all of us.
Our first reading for this Feast is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In this reading, Isaiah rejoices that he was called by God to be a prophet. “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name…………………You are my servant, he said to me, Israel through whom I show my glory.”
In our second reading for this Feast, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul reminds us that “John heralded his (Christ’s) coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. What is special/unique about your name (first, middle, last, or a nickname or Confirmation name)?
2. Isaiah saw himself as being called by God to be a prophet. Have you ever felt God “calling” you to do something?
3. How or when have you experienced God’s gracious activity in your life?
Where Does Altar Bread Come From?
The Eucharist is a cornerstone of living out the Catholic faith. Every time a Catholic goes to Mass, he or she has the opportunity to encounter Christ in the Eucharist and contemplate the mystery of faith. For such a fundamental part of our shared spiritual tradition, we may have never stopped to wonder where the bread that becomes the Body of Christ is made.
Until recently, The Basilica of Saint Mary received its altar bread from the Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd, an order of nuns in Saint Paul. The Sisters recently discerned that they will discontinue their altar bread ministry because of the advanced age of their sisters. The Basilica received their last shipment of 30,000 hosts from the Sisters in early January and will now look for a new source.
Altar bread is different than bread or crackers at the grocery store. It must be made with wheat and water and without any additives, said Johan van Parys, Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts at The Basilica. Though it’s not required, hosts are typically made by religious communities like the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
This article and more in the spring BASILICA Magazine.
Download full article Baking the Bread to Become the Body
by Rachel Newman
The award-winning BASILICA magazine is sponsored by The Basilica Landmark, a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to preserve, restore, and advance the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations.
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For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/061718.cfm
Several years ago, at another parish, we gave out mustard seeds on the weekend on which today’s Gospel was read. Our target audience was children. We thought it would be a great way to give them a “hand’s on” experience of how tiny a mustard seed was, and how big a plant these small seeds could produce. Now, not only did kids get involved in this endeavor, but so did the adults. The winner was a woman who had planted the mustard seeds in a pot she hung outside on the one of the poles for her clothes line. With very little care on her part, the mustard seed had grown into a plant that was a good three feet in diameter. I don’t know what she did with the mustard plant, but its growth was a great illustration of today’s Gospel parable comparing the kingdom of God to a mustard seed: “It is like a mustard see that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants………….”
Parables were a favorite teaching device that Jesus used to tell people something about God or about our relationship with God. The parable in today’s Gospel reminds us that the bringing about of the kingdom of God is God’s work, not ours. It will occur in God’s time, not ours. And its advent and growth will occur whether or not we are aware of it.
Our first reading this weekend, from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, reminds us that God is in charge and God’s work will occur with or without or understanding or participation. “And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.”
St. Paul, in our second reading today, reminds us that: “we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you ever discovered “after the fact” that God had been at work in a situation or a particular circumstance?
- Can you think of an occasion when God’s time was different from your time?
- What does it mean for you to walk by faith, not be sight?
Last week we all heard the good news that an agreement had been reached to resolve the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese. As you know, the agreement establishes a trust fund of approximately $210 million for the victims/survivors. Some of the money for the settlement fund came in the form of voluntary pledges of financial support from parishes and priests of our Archdiocese. I believe this is a wonderful statement of our compassion and support for our brothers and sisters who were seriously wounded and hurt by my brother priests and by others in our church.
With this letter I would like to inform you that The Basilica of Saint Mary was one of the parishes that made a confidential pledge of financial support to the settlement fund. This decision was made in consultation with our Parish Council and Finance committee. After setting a range for this contribution they directed that our Parish Trustees and I make the final decision as to the amount of the contribution. The money for this pledge came from our parish reserves, which are funded by the rental income from our school building. Our financial pledge won’t be payable until the details of the settlement are finalized. It is our hope that making this pledge of financial support will send a strong message of solidarity and support to the victims/survivors.
While the settlement will resolve the Archdiocesan bankruptcy we need to continue to follow up with prayer and outreach to the victims/survivors. This needs to be and must be an ongoing effort. I hope you will join in prayer for those who have been so grievously wounded by members of our Church.
It is my firm and abiding belief that God’s Spirit continues to lead and guide our Church and our parish. If we are open to the gentle guidance of the Spirit, I believe it will lead us into a future full of hope.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
In the early 1990s, The Basilica adopted a parish vision taken from the bible verse Jeremiah 29:7: “Seek the well-being of the city to which I have sent you. Pray for it, says the Lord, for in its well-being you will find your own.”
This vision has propelled parishioners beyond the pews into the city, to put their faith in action. Like our parish, the South African group New Hope International Exchange (NHIE) also draws inspiration from the prophet Jeremiah, as they focus on learning from the past and building bridges to a new future.
Sharing messages of reconciliation with a cultural music exchange, New Hope International is celebrating the 100th year celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birth. Mandela was the first democratically elected leader of South Africa. To celebrate Mandela, NHIE’s singing group known as 29:11 is embarking on a year long journey called the Reconciliation Music Exchange Tour. The group took its name from the bible verse in Jeremiah 29:11: “I know well the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans for your well-being, not your woe. Plans to give you a future full of hope.”
Why music exchange? Coming together around music helps us to celebrate what we have in common. NHIE is committed to a full year of exchange concerts and culture and learning partnerships with churches, schools and others. They see music as the “universal unifier and a catalyst for change we wish to see in the world.” In the Twin Cities, they are partnering with Bethel University, Luther College, the Minnesota Chorale, the National Baptist Convention, the Leadership Institute-Minnesota Honorary Council to South Africa and the Minnesota Orchestra. Their goal is to reach tens of thousands to open dialogues on reconciliation.
The group 29:11 describes their music as “food for the soul.” Their instrumentalists and vocalists will offer traditional South African music and original pieces. For a taste of 29:11’s music join us at the 9:30am Mass on Sunday, June 10. 29:11 return to The Basilica at 7:00pm Thursday, June 28 for an in-depth collaboration with our parish including a concert and program in partnership with 16 Basilica parishioners and friends who travelled to South Africa last January.
Trip participant, Susan McGuigan said her challenge is “to use what I learned to make me a better person and my community a more loving and just place to live. Parishioner Joan Prairie described her striking memory of visiting a Cape Town township and learning about their water shortage. “They’ve experienced extreme drought and have been rationing water for 3-4 years. We learned some communities were facing a total shut off of water this spring,” said Joan. Linda Atwood shared that “The South Africa post-apartheid truth and reconciliation journey challenged me to reflect beyond my familiar cultural comforts and political viewpoints.”
New Hope International Exchange (NHIE)
Originally from South Africa, Brendon Adams and his wife Gaylene co-founded NHIE and operate from their Eden Prairie home. Gaylene visited South Africa in 1996, returning in 1998 for work in children and youth ministry in Cape Town. Brendon and Gaylene met and married in 2000, and ran New Hope International Exchange in Elsies River, a Cape Town Flats township created by the mass removals of blacks from their homes during the Apartheid era. Twenty five years after the end of Apartheid, people in communities like Elsies River still struggle with poverty and high rates of unemployment, crime, gang activity and teen pregnancy.
NHIE offers opportunities to individuals and groups to put hope in action by serving and supporting communities in need within Cape Town, South Africa through volunteer missions and foreign exchange.
29:11 CONCERT AND RECONCILIATION PRESENTATION
THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 7:00PM
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/061018.cfm
This Sunday we return to what is known as “Ordinary Time” in our Church’s calendar. It is called Ordinary Time, to distinguish it from the seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent Easter. At the beginning of our Gospel this Sunday we are told that when the crowds gathered around Jesus his relatives “set out to seize him for they said: ‘He is out of his mind’.” In the verses that follow, Jesus responded to the people who questioned whether he was using demonic power to case out demons by telling them: “How can Satan drive out Satan?” He then told them: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin. For they had said: “He has an unclean spirit.” The Gospel closes with Jesus’ family finally arriving. When told his family had arrived, Jesus responded by saying: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
While our Gospel today is a bit of a hodgepodge in regard to its meaning. It does tell us, though, that people were suspicious and even hostile toward Jesus because he did not conform to their expectations. Their resistance to Jesus was fueled by the suggestion from the religious leaders that he was out of his mind and/or possessed by Satan. More importantly, though, this Gospel also reminds us that those who believe in and seek to follow Jesus are in a new relationship with Jesus and with each other. We are brother and sister, mother and father to one another.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Genesis. It records the aftermath of the sin of Adam and Eve. The point of the story is that when sin entered the world our relationship with God changed. The mutuality and the close and open relationship with God that humans once enjoyed was forever changed because of sin.
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. In it St. Paul reminded the early Christians (and us) that when we encounter pain and difficulties --- even the pain associated with death that we are not to be discouraged. “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comprehension, as we look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen; for we know that what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Why is it easy to think of some people as our brothers and sisters, and not so easy for us to think of others as brothers and sisters?
- How do you imagine our relationship with God was before sin entered the world?
- Our second reading today is often used at funerals. What do you find most consoling about it?
Please take time to vote, The Parish Council represents you - our parishioners. The Council plays a key role in working with the pastor to ensure The Basilica of Saint Mary community continues to live out our mission and vision.
Thank you in advance for your participation and your continued support of The Basilica.
Please remember, all ballots must be received by 5:00pm Monday, June 4, 2018.