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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/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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The Basilica has spent the last year developing a strategic plan that will guide and sustain our community into the future. We have focused on what makes The Basilica unique and how to deliberately assess our work to ensure that we are meeting the objectives of the Mission and Vision of The Basilica. The evaluation and planning professionals who assisted us in our strategic planning encouraged us to answer the question: how do you know when you’ve met your goal? We are hard at work developing a system to assess our programs and ministries, so we can continue to invest our time and resources in what is working and “bless and release” what is not. This is hard work. Our programs and ministries were created to meet a specific need at a specific time. Staff and volunteers sustain programs because they believe in the ministry’s mission and are invested in its success. It can be hard to look at organizational practices objectively when it’s what you’ve always done, but we must assess strategically and prayerfully to thrive into the future.
I believe that our Archdiocese, the wider Catholic Church in America, and the Vatican need to undergo a similar examination. Earlier this year the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had a meeting scheduled to consider a new code of conduct for bishops and the creation of a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct (or the failure to address misconduct). Shortly before the meeting began, the Vatican instructed the group to postpone the discussion. The Vatican justified this request because they were working on a global policy that would circumvent any local or national policy. While I believe that a worldwide practice to hold bishops, cardinals, and even the Pope accountable for cover-up actions is needed, we cannot wait while the Vatican’s bureaucratic wheels slowly turn.
The USCCB’s proposed policies would remove a barrier currently being used as an excuse by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to not pursue allegations against former Archbishop Nienstedt. Current Archdiocesan leadership has declined to pursue allegations again Nienstedt because he no longer serves or resides in Minnesota. Additionally, Church leaders have refused to release the findings of an internal investigation into Nienstedt because they have no jurisdictional authority outside of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. These are old and unacceptable excuses. These are the kinds of excuses that led to years and years of abuse in the past. We need policies that protect our congregations everywhere. Many of the atrocities of the past could have been caught and ended quickly if dioceses across the country had shared information, worked together, and taken responsibility to police themselves and others.
The Basilica’s strategic planning group has also discussed how The Basilica does not operate in a vacuum. The work of The Basilica goes beyond our campus and there are other organizations who are engaging in similar work. We must learn to work in partnership or cede work to others who are better equipped. The larger Church also must do this. The Church is not a civil law enforcement agency, so when illegal activities are suspected or reported, we must work with those who are better suited than the church. The Church should also engage professionals to provide expanded professional training on the most recent research concerning abuse of priests, Church leaders, and seminarians of the Archdiocese.
Please pray for our local strategic planning committee as we continue to work towards a plan for our Basilica’s future and encourage our local and national Church leaders to put aside bureaucratic silos to build a better future for our Church.
Parish Council Chair
The Basilica of Saint Mary
“The people at The Basilica make us feel like we are one family.”
Stories from immigrant members of our community in the recent issue of the BASILICA magazine.
A Parish of Immigrants
Over the last 150 years
When the seeds of The Basilica parish were planted in 1868, Minnesota was in its infancy, becoming the 32nd state in 1858. In the many decades that followed, tens of thousands of immigrants flocked to the state from across Europe pursuing a better (albeit colder) life.
Today, Minnesota’s story is not dissimilar. According to US Census data and refugee-support agencies, our state has the highest number of refugees per capita nationwide. While Minnesota has just two percent of the US population, it has 13 percent of its refugees. Our history calls The Basilica community to respond our brothers and sisters in need...
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/012019.cfm
This Sunday and for the following three Sundays we return to what is known as Ordinary Time in our Church Year. Ordinary Time is that time between the seasons of Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent.
Our Gospel this Sunday is the familiar story of the wedding at Cana. There are two specific things in this Gospel which deserve comment. First, notice that when the wine ran out, Mary did not tell Jesus what he should do. She merely brought the matter to his attention: “They have no more wine.” She left it up to Jesus as to how to respond to this situation. If you are like me, this is not how I usually bring a problem to God. Too often when I bring things to God in prayer, I have a desired outcome in mind. Mary, though, just presented her concern to Jesus and left it in his hands. I think this is a good model for our prayer. The second thing I would note is the abundance of water turned into wine: “six stone water jars………………each holding twenty to thirty gallons.” This reminds us that where God is involved there is always an abundance.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The people of Israel have returned from Exile, and the prophet Isaiah reminded them that they still have found favor with God: “As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you, and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” It is the marriage imagery that ties this reading to this Sunday’s Gospel.
Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In it Paul reminds us that “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there re different workings, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- In your prayer have you ever followed Mary’s example and simple brought something to God without having a hoped for outcome in your mind?
- Where have you experienced God’s abundance in your life?
- What gifts have you been given?
As we enter a new calendar year, we often assess how we’ve been spending our time and resolve to do something different. We may want to get more exercise, watch less TV, or make time for friends and family.
Perhaps you’ve thought about getting involved in your parish or community, but just never got around to it. Perhaps 2019 is the year to act on your intentions.
Volunteer opportunities abound at The Basilica. Are you passionate about social justice, caring for those less fortunate, or listening to another person’s story? Do you prefer to help behind the scenes or take charge of a project? Do you have skills as a writer, photographer, or graphic designer? Do you enjoy seeing the immediate results of your labors, as in polishing a chalice or shoveling a sidewalk?
Or do you not know where you fit, what gifts and skills you are being called to share? We invite you to explore where you are feeling called to serve.
Come explore what your gifts and skills are at the Spiritual Gifts Workshop on Saturday, January 19 with Deacon Winninger.
Or meet with a member of the Gifts Leadership Team who will help you explore a ministry at The Basilica that needs your specific gifts and talents to thrive. Contact the Gifts Leadership Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a meeting.