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Each year on the Second Sunday of Lent we read one of the accounts of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Since this is year C in our three year cycle of readings, we read from the Gospel of Luke. In Luke’s account, we are told that “Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah………………… As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master it is good that we are here;’ ……………… from a cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him”
There are several elements that are common to all three accounts of the Transfiguration. 1. It took place on a mountain, which in the Old Testament often was the place where God’s presence was made known; 2. Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white or white as light; 3. Moses and Elijah are identified as appearing with Christ; 4. Peter suggested that they stay; and 5. A voice came from a cloud identifying Jesus as God’s chosen/beloved son.
The experience of the Transfiguration certainly must have been overwhelming and awe inspiring. I would suggest, though, that we all have had similar experiences in our lives ----- perhaps not to the depth or degree of the Transfiguration ----- but we all have experiences of God’s presence and grace ----“transfiguring” experiences. These experiences give us hope when we encounter difficult or uncertain times in our lives.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Genesis. It is the story of God’s covenant with Abram (later Abraham) that his descendants would be as numerous as the “stars in the sky” and that: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”
Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. In it Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you had a “transfiguring” experience in your life?
- What stands out in your memory about that experience?
- Have you ever thought of yourself as a citizen of heaven?
We are all aware of the hard Minnesota winter we have been experiencing. With it comes additional expenses to keep our Basilica sidewalks clear and the building warm. We are currently $7,000 over budget on snow removal and $17,760 over budget on utilities. If you are able please consider a donation today to help The Basilica with our additional expenses.
Lent is my favorite season of the liturgical year. It can easily be thought of as a somber or gloomy period, with a focus on giving things up or carrying a cross. We enter forty days of penance and prayer, as we prepare for Easter. Yet, there is great joy found in recommitting to our faith. Our hearts are renewed, as we are invited into the deep love of God.
In Lent, we are invited to embrace and practice the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Of course, these are disciplines we could practice every day of the year. Yet, so often we fall short—distracted or sidetracked. I know well the sentiment of St. Paul, in Romans 7:19: “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.”
Lent is an intentional time for individuals and communities to begin again. We gather together, hold one another accountable in a new way, and commit to pray, fast, and give alms. We commit to refocus and draw near to our God—seeking purification, enlightenment, and mercy.
A gift of Lent is the joy, comfort and grace we experience as we are called into a deeper relationship with God. As we are formed by God’s forgiving, redeeming love, we are transformed in the way we think, speak and act. During Lent, all things lead us toward this transformation.
In his 2019 Message for Lent, Pope Francis offers provocative encouragement and guidance on our Lenten journey. He reminds us Lent is a journey of conversion—opening ourselves ever deeper to the priceless gift of God’s mercy. “The path to Easter demands that we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness, so as to live fully the abundant grace of the pascal mystery.”
Fasting: We are invited to take a fresh look at how we might fast this Lent: Pope Francis suggests that fasting is “learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to ‘devour’ everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts.” This experience of fasting is a challenge. It asks so much more than giving something up. It asks us to go deep into our attitudes, assumptions and actions—and to move concretely toward a love that can hold joy, as well as pain, in our relationships.
Prayer: Our prayer can shape and change us. Pope Francis invites us to embrace “prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy.” We are invited into a deep peace that recognizes our powerlessness—coming to believe the love of God will sustain, heal and save us.
Almsgiving: What do we keep and what do we give away? Again, Pope Francis challenges us: “Almsgiving, whereby we escape from insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.” Almsgiving brings us freedom.
“Let us not allow this season to pass in vain!” Let us embrace Lent together. Let us say “yes” to the disciplines of our faith—finding joy individually and collectively, as we are transformed by God’s love.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/031019.cfm
This weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of the season of Lent; and every year on the First Sunday of Lent we read an account of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. This year we read from the Gospel of Luke. In Luke’s Gospel, the temptation occurs after the infancy narratives and just before the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The three temptations Jesus faces are the temptation to turn a stone into bread; the temptation to accept power and glory; and the temptation to test God.
Luke’s account of the temptations varies in three subtle, but significant ways from the accounts of Matthew and Mark. First, Mark’s account of the temptation merely notes that it occurred. He does not include any details of the temptations. Second, in both Matthew and Mark at the end of the temptations we are told that angels came and waited on Jesus. These angels are not mentioned in Luke. Third, it is only in Luke’s Gospel that at the end of the temptations, we are told that “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” This seems to indicate that Jesus --- like us --- would face other temptations in his life.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy. The context is the Jewish harvest festival. It recounts the “ritual” the Jewish people were to follow at harvest time to help them remember their salvation history. This ritual --- like our ritual of the Eucharist --- made it clear that remembering God’s work and ways is vital to salvation.
Our second reading today is taken from the Letter to the Romans. It reminds us that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- While we are not likely to face temptations on the scale that Jesus did, we all face temptations in our lives. What helps you resist temptation in you life?
- As mentioned above, Luke ends his account of the temptation with the ominous statement: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” How do you deal with reoccurring temptations in your life?
- Have you ever made “distinctions” between Christians, or between Christians and other religions?
These past few weeks I have had so many intense conversations with people about where they are in regard to their faith life. These conversations have been so rich and diverse and filled with wonderful stories of how God has interacted in their lives.
One such encounter was with a friend who is my age and who has gone through several tragedies in her life, the latest being the loss of a child. She told me she prayed and prayed for God to do something and heal her daughter; it did not happen and her child died a slow painful death. She was truly grateful for all those who were involved in her daughter’s illness from doctors to family members and friends. She was also grateful for her faith community that surrounded her but the one she had the problem with was God. She felt that God wants nothing to do with our lives and has just left us on earth to fend for ourselves. I tried to suggest to her that God works through doctors and the community that surrounded her with care and concern but she would have none of it. She said that they were responsible for all that, not God. It left me wondering about doubt and what we can learn from it. It also made me remember that sometimes it is easier to blame God than to just see it as part of life.
There is pain and suffering throughout everyone’s life. That is a very real part of life. Just listen to the news some evening and you will hear about the suffering of many. It seems so unfair and cruel for these things to happen to us. In our anger and loss it is so much easier to blame someone than to face the reality of what happened. I believe this response is part of the process of grieving and the stages of dying.
Acceptance of a loved one’s suffering or death comes much later on as we go through denial, blame and anger in the mourning process. We experience various kinds of loss—loss of control, loss of companionship, loss of a loved one, loss of trust and sometimes loss of faith. If we feel like we have lost our faith in God that can leave us feeling terribly alone and without hope.
All of these things that we may experience are very normal in the life of a Christian. Just because we have come to the point of thinking that we have lost our faith in God, doesn’t mean we really have. Being filled with doubt is common in many of the lives of the saints. Doubt can be an unforeseen gift…it takes us to the place of re-evaluating our relationship with God. In the darkness of doubt we can be confronted with either despair or hope…two very opposite places to be. Whenever I have come to this place in my life, I find it impossible to pray. Do I really believe that God answers our prayers?
Perhaps, the reason we pray is not because God needs it but because we do. Praying for ourselves or someone else really is about teaching us to get out of ourselves and think about someone else. It’s about turning our hearts towards loving someone else as much as we love ourselves. I need my faith community around me. Sometimes in the darkness it is my faith community that prays when I cannot. This is the power of community and being part of the Body of Christ. This is the reason why I can’t leave and I choose to stay.
Multi-generational families committed to service
“FOR everything there is a season,” wrote Qoheleth, whose teachings were recorded in Ecclesiastes long before The Byrds added a catchy refrain in the Sixties. A time to reap, to sow, to laugh, to cry, to dance, to heal, to embrace, and more. There is a time and place to everything under the heaven. Some Basilica families have spent many times and seasons at The Basilica, purposely weaving the parish into their lives multi-generationally.
From the Fall 2018 issue of the BASILICA magazine.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
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.