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For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091717.cfm
 
In our Gospel this weekend Jesus talks about the difficult subject of forgiveness.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I believe forgiveness is one of the hardest things we have to do as Christians.  Yet in our Gospel this weekend, Jesus, in response to a question from Peter about whether we are to forgive as many as seven times, states clearly:  “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”   For the Jews of this time, this number would have symbolized forgiveness without end.  After startling Peter and the other disciples with this number, Jesus then told the parable of the owner who forgave the loan of a servant who owed him a huge amount of money.   Unfortunately, that servant refused to forgive the loan of a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount, and instead had him thrown into prison.  At the conclusion of the parable Jesus offers the ominous conclusion:   “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”  
 
What are we to take from this Gospel?   Three things come immediately to mind.  1.  As Christians, forgiveness is not an optional part of our lives;    2.   We can’t expect or ask God to forgive us unless we are willing to forgive one another;  and  3.  The forgiveness we offer to each other must be real and sincere.    
 
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of Sirach.    It shares the theme of the Gospel.  In the section we read today we are reminded:  “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”   
 
In our second reading this weekend, Paul reminds us that “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.  For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord;”   
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
  1. Why, at times, is it so hard to forgive?
  2. What helps you to forgive?
  3. What does it mean to live for the Lord?   

WASHINGTON— The President and Vice President along with Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued a statement denouncing the Administration's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after six months.

The following statement from USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, along with USCCB Vice President, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman, Committee on Migration, and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers says the "cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible."

Over 780,000 youth received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. DACA provided no legal status or government benefits but did provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and reprieve from deportation.

Full Statement

 

 

What does it take to feel like you belong? Early in my career after college, I was in a new town and didn’t know anyone. One Sunday I went to the local Catholic Church. The Mass felt familiar and comforting, but I didn’t know a soul in that church. Nobody said hello and I left Mass that day feeling lonely. I wish I’d been confident enough to strike up a conversation. I’m sure I would have learned how much that parish community had to offer. 

Community. Does it remind you of your hometown, your co-workers, your health club, or your circle of family and friends? We sincerely hope it reminds you of your parish home. At The Basilica, we strive to make everyone feel welcome no matter where you are on your faith journey. We are committed to welcoming everyone with respect and dignity. 

We hope to provide a safe place for you to explore, question, and be nourished by your faith and inspired by God’s truth and beauty. In coming together as a parish community, we pledge to be advocates for positive change, work for justice, peace, and equality, and the protection of all of God’s creation. 

This work starts in our families when we are young and continues as we pray together and celebrate the Eucharist each week. Building on our faith, getting to know each other, and initiating relationships with those in our parish community make our aspirations a reality.

Sunday, September 10, we offer a simple, fun way to engage with our parish community. We hope you’ll make new friends or reconnect with past acquaintances. 

We invite you to join us at our Fall Festival for a simple meal and lots of fun after the 9:30am, 11:30am, and 4:30pm Masses. It’s a drop-in affair, so come and go as fits your schedule. It’s perfect for all ages, and promises great food (with no cooking or clean up). There are fun games for children, and it’s a relaxed easy way to enjoy some conversation and a meal with other members of our parish and their friends.

Staffed by volunteers who graciously have shared their time and skills to do the planning, they arrive early for set up, stay through the day to serve food and run games, and stay to clean up.

Our hope is you’ll join us. We’ve partnered with local vendors to offer wonderful fresh food. You’ll be treated to fresh grilled Minnesota sweet corn from Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm. Deutschland Meats is providing locally made brats and hot dogs. Our volunteers have cooked up homemade baked beans from favorite family recipes. And in case you are still hungry, we’ll have root beer floats made with locally brewed root beer from Vine Park Brewing

Just for children—there is a Fishing Game and Treasure Hunt. Win a cake baked by Basilica parishioners or local bakeries at the Cake Walk or play Basilica Plinko (and if you don’t know what Plinko is you have to check it out.) In celebration of Grandparents Day, we’ll have a special activity for Grandparents. Sunday morning we’ll be entertained with polka music and dancing on the front plaza, and after 4:30pm Mass, guests can dance to swing music with an instructor to help you learn the moves. 

Please, join us at the Fall Festival and help build our community together.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091017.cfm 

Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.   In the first part, Jesus gives some practical directives as to how to deal with disputes.   “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone ……….. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you ………. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.   If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or tax collector.”   Sadly, all too often we reverse this process, going first to others and only last to our brother or sister.   The really important thing to note in this section, though, is Jesus’ last words:  “treat him as you would a Gentile or tax collector.”   And as we know from Jesus’ ministry, he welcomed these people and treated them with respect and love.   These are very challenging words. 

In the second half of today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to make an impossible promise:  “if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.”   In this regard, it is important to note that if two people are really united in prayer, they will also be united in their desire to do God’s will ----- and will pray to do God’s will.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.  In it we are reminded that we have a responsibility to try to “warn the wicked” and turn them from their way.   It is not enough simply to be concerned about our own welfare.

Our second reading this weekend is once again taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.  In it Paul reminds us that the commandments of the Old Testament are summed up by the new commandment of Christ:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus is clear that we are to go to our brother or sister to try to resolve issues before going to anyone else.  Why do so many of us do just the opposite?
  2. How do you know when it is appropriate to confront someone, and when it is better simply to accept their faults?   
  3. What is a practical way to love someone as you love yourself? 

The Basilica will have a second collection the weekend of September 9 and 10 for Hurricane Harvey emergency relief for Catholic Charities.

The funds given to this collection will support humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA, the official domestic relief agency of the US Catholic Church, and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses.

We join together in prayer for all our brothers and sister suffering the effect of this storm and flooding. 

Thank you for your prayers and support of the victims.

Make a gift online. Select Hurricane Harvey Relief on the designation drop down menu.

 

Judge Not

The column below was submitted as a letter to the editor for the Catholic Spirit. It was written in response to two letters to the editor that appeared in the August 10 edition of the Catholic Spirit.  

I hate waiting in lines. Unless there is just a single line for people who want to check in/out; get gas; pay for their groceries, or whatever, I always choose the wrong line. I inevitably end up behind someone who is sure they have the exact change—if only they can find it; or someone who can’t find their credit card; or someone who doesn’t quite understand why they can’t use a coupon that expired three weeks ago. 

Given my abhorrence to waiting in lines, you can perhaps appreciate how surprised I was to read the letters to the editor in the August 10th Catholic Spirit. (The newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.) The issue they were writing about concerned an Illinois Bishop’s decision to prohibit Catholics in same-sex marriages from receiving communion or having their funeral in a Catholic Church. One of the writers was clear that God “does not have a place in heaven for those who decide his rules are outdated and don’t fit the current whims of individuals.” Another suggested that: “Those who claim they are loving others by allowing forbidden practices may just be loving them into hell.” As I read these comments I couldn’t help but think that these writers had found a way to expedite the judgement line at the end of world. 

This is pure genius. I am surprised that no one thought of this before. By narrowing down the issues that Jesus articulated in Matthew 25:31-46 to a single question: “Did you question/wonder about/believe in same sex marriage?”—in effect, by doing some pre-judging in this world—it will save God time at the end of the world. In fact, the line at the judgement at the end of the world should move along quite swiftly. We won’t have to worry about whether or not we fed the hungry; gave drink to the thirsty; welcomed the stranger; clothed the naked; comforted the ill; or visited the imprisoned. Of course, though, if we narrow down the criteria for judgement to a single issue/question, it does make it difficult to explain why Jesus told that parable in the first place. 

We need to be clear. The idea that we can save God time at the end of the world by doing some pre-judging here is complete nonsense.  God searches our hearts, our minds, and our souls; and God—and God alone—is the only One who is qualified to do any judging. And while I can’t say for sure, I suspect God is not all that appreciative of those who think it is right and proper to save time at the end of the world by doing some pre-judging here.   

As for me, I am grateful that judgement belongs to God alone, and that it is something God doesn’t need any help with—however well intended. I am also hopeful that at the end of the world God will grade on a curve.  I say this because the older I get, the more I realize how much in need of God’s mercy I am. 

For the readings for this Sunday click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090317.cfm 

No crown without a cross.”   A former parishioner used these words whenever she encountered a difficulty in her life.    It was her way of saying that life wasn’t always going to be easy, but by staying true to Christ, she believed that heaven would await her.   In our Gospel for this weekend, Jesus told his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  Peter responded:  “God forbid, Lord!   No such thing shall ever happen to you.”   Jesus, though, reminded Peter that “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”   Jesus then went on to tell his disciples that “Whoever wished to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”    No one could accuse Jesus of false advertizing.   He is clear.  The cross --- in one form or another --- is a part of the life of every Christian.   

Our First reading this weekend shares the theme of the Gospel.    In it Jeremiah, the prophet, laments that he has been “duped” by the Lord.   Because he has prophesied in the name of the Lord, he is mocked and the object of laughter.   He vows:  “I will not mention him, I will speak his name no more.  But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”    Clearly being a prophet has caused Jeremiah pain and ridicule --- this is his cross --- but he cannot turn away from his prophetic calling.   Instead he submits to the will of God knowing that ultimately God will vindicate him. 

In our second reading this weekend from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Paul urges the people:  “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of god, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. What cross(es) have you been called to carry?
  2. What has helped you to carry your cross(es)?  
  3. Like Jeremiah, have you ever felt that you have been “duped” by God?    

Every year The Basilica community comes together to celebrate and connect at the Fall Festival (formerly known as the Parish Picnic). This is a large event and it takes a dedicated team of volunteers to plan and organize all the activities. Recently Jenessa, a member of this team, connected with our Gifts Leadership Team to share her story on why she chooses to share her time and talent with us:

“I started volunteering at The Basilica about a year ago. I began by helping out with Basilica Young Adults (BYA) sandwich making and later joined the Basilica Block Party Planning Committee, then the Fall Festival Committee. When I moved to Minneapolis a year ago, everything was new. I was in a new city, a new job, and a new church. The community at The Basilica is why I became a member of the church.

I volunteer because I believe that I am actively working toward maintaining and improving the community that I fell in love with when I moved here. My hope is that I, along with others who serve, can continue to spread the love of Christ and welcome people from all walks of life into our community. I quickly learned that volunteering at The Basilica is whatever you want it to be. As someone who often travels for work, I was worried about making commitments that I wouldn’t be able to keep. Everyone has his or her own reservations about volunteering, but because there are many different volunteer opportunities, with various levels of commitment you can work around your schedule and your needs.”

We invite you to celebrate The Basilica community with us next Sunday, September 10 during our Fall Festival—outside on the West Lawn following the 9:30am, 11:30am, and 4:30pm Masses. 

Register to volunteer

 

 

Come and See

“Come and see!” These three words convey feelings of happiness, joy, wonder, and delight. They are a call to see a litter of squirming puppies, a brightly-lit Christmas tree, a giggling baby taking her first steps.

In the Gospel of John, the woman at the well enthusiastically cried to all who would hear her: “Come and see!” Her joy and delight following her encounter with Jesus are contagious as we read her story. Just like those who heard the woman’s call, you, too, are invited to “Come and see!” 

Have you ever wondered what the Catholic Church is all about? Are you an adult who would like to join the Catholic Church? Were you raised in the Catholic Church but for any number of reasons never followed through on confirmation as a child? Then “Come and see!” Through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA, anyone—the curious, the spiritual seeker, or those wanting to be received into the Church through baptism and/or confirmation—may encounter a place to find answers to their questions. No question is too simple, silly, complex, or controversial. Everyone is welcome. RCIA members come from all faiths and backgrounds—churched and unchurched, believers and non-believers. RCIA is a place where questions and doubts are encouraged, and there is never any obligation to join the Catholic Church. The environment is warm and encouraging, with no judgment or criticism. Many find they make new and long-lasting friendships during this time.

RCIA begins with a Period of Inquiry with an overview of the Scriptures and basic Christian teachings. One weekend is devoted to a relaxing and rejuvenating retreat where everyone has a chance to get to know one another better, building relationships over good times and even better meals. This section ends with the beautiful Rite of Welcome into the Church for those who desire it. This rite is a simple yet eloquent enactment of the Church’s welcoming nature for anyone wishing to step inside its doors. 

Next comes the Period of the Catechumenate, where the sessions go deeper into Catholic teaching, the Sacraments, and encounter the character of Christ through both class sessions and the Breaking Open the Word for the catechumens (unbaptized) during Mass. During the Breaking Open the Word, anyone not yet baptized gathers to discuss each Sunday’s Gospel readings on an intimate level, building even closer and sweeter relationships with Christ and one another.

That is followed by Lent and the Period of Purification where we more deeply encounter the person and character of Christ through the Gospels. Finally, with the Triduum, all the drama and passion of the three days leading to Easter is stunningly portrayed, culminating in baptism and/or confirmation of those who desire it. But there is never any pressure to take this step. The RCIA team recognizes that the decision to do so is deeply personal and is a call from God, and anyone who chooses not to do so is never shamed or questioned.

Finally, the RCIA year ends with the Period of Mystagogia where everyone gathers to reflect on the year and are offered ways to match their time and talent to become more deeply involved with the Basilica. A delicious pot luck caps off the year where everyone is encouraged to bring their favorite dish to share. 

If you or anyone you know would be interested in attending RCIA during the coming year, ask them to “come and see” if this is for them. Contact me the parish office to learn more. Sessions begin on Tuesday, September 12. 

For this Sundays readings click on the link below or copy and  paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082717.cfm    

I would guess that at some point in each of our lives, someone has asked us for our “honest” opinion about something.   What would you do, if you were me?   Do you think I’m wrong?   What’s the worst that could happen?   Something akin to this happened in our Gospel for this weekend.  In that Gospel Jesus asked his disciples:  “Who do people say that the Son of May is?"    His disciples must have been proud to be able to fill in him on the local gossip:  “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”   Jesus, though, wasn’t satisfied with knowing what others thought of him.  His next question was:  “But who do you say that I am?”  In reply Simon Peter said:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Jesus then told Peter:  “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”  

Jesus was clear with his disciples.   He didn’t want them simply to know about him.   He wanted his disciples to know him.   This same thing is true for us.  Jesus wants us to know him, not just to know about him.   And the way we come to know Jesus is by spending time with him in prayer.   

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In the passage we read this weekend, “Shebna, master of the palace,” is demoted for something he had done, and in his place Eliakim is promoted:  “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder.”    The emphasis in this passage is that, just as Peter was proclaimed “rock,” so too it is by God’s authority that Eliakim is given a position of responsibility and authority. 

Again this weekend, our second reading is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In it Paul reminds us:  "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”   

 Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Who do you say that Jesus is? 
  2. The giving of keys was mentioned in both the First Reading today and the Gospel.   I suspect this was a sign of authority.   Has anyone ever entrusted you with their keys?   How did you feel about that? 
  3. More often than I care to admit I have discovered anew that God’s judgments are inscrutable and God’s ways unsearchable.  Has this also happened to you?    

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