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During the summer, The Basilica features instrumental and vocal soloists at our 9:30am Sunday Eucharist.  On Sunday, July 20, classical guitarist Christopher Kachian will provide special  music during the Prelude, Offeratory and Communion.  

A University of Saint Thomas faculty member since 1984, Mr. Kachian has directed one of the largest guitar music programs in the US.  He has performed in concert throughout North and South America, Europe and the Far East.  In 2012, he won recognition as a National Arts Associate and Distinguished member from Sigma Alpha Iota Internationl Music Fraternity.   

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.   
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072014.cfm 

This weekend there is a long form and a short form of our Gospel.  The short form, (which we will be using at the Basilica) is one of Jesus’ most challenging parables.  We are told that “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat and then went off.  When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.”   The owner had a difficult decision to make.  Should he have his slaves try to pull up the weeds right away or let them grow with the wheat.   He told his slaves: “……if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.  Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvester, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”   

The message of this parable is clear.  It is not easy to identity, let alone separate, the weeds from the wheat --- the good from the bad.   This is why judgment is God’s business, not ours.  And judgment will take place in God’s time, not ours.   

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Wisdom.  It shares the theme of the Gospel.  In the section we read today, the author is clear about God’s role.  “There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.  For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.”  

Our second reading this weekend is a brief excerpt from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.  Paul reminds us:  “Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”   

 Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1. Why do so many of us feel free to make judgments about others? 
2.  Have you ever made a judgment about someone only to find out later it was inaccurate?
3.  I like the idea of the Spirit coming to our aid when we don’t know how to pray as we ought.   Have you ever experienced this in your life?  

Thanks be to God!

During these summer months many people are fortunate to have some vacation time. Some of us will enjoy a couple of weeks at home, catching up on much needed domestic tasks. Others will spend time at a cabin by a lake or in the woods reveling in the pleasures of country living. Still others will travel around Minnesota or maybe venture into other states. And for some, this is the year to fly east or west, north or south in search of some relaxation and some rejuvenation in other countries.

I have very fond memories of our family vacations in Belgium. Most of the time we simply went to the cabin where we spent entire summers. Sometimes we ventured into neighboring countries such as The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg or France. These daytrips were never a simple matter. First, there were seven of us and there was an age difference among the children of 8 years. Second, we all had different interests ranging from shopping, to hiking, to art. Third, I was a persistent kid who insisted on entering every church we passed and including at least one museum per visit. And I (almost) always got my way to the dismay of my siblings.

One year we went on a week-long excursion to Burgundy in France. One of my father’s uncles, a Franciscan had been a pastor in a small Burgundian town and we wanted to see where he had lived and where he was buried. Thankfully his little church was still in good shape and his tomb was very well cared for. We even found a painting signed J. van Parys on the High Altar in the church.

Although this was all quite wonderful, for me, the high point of the trip was our visit to the abbey of Fontenay which happened despite some great protestations by my siblings. Founded in 1180 as a daughter house of the Cistercian abbey of Clervaux Fontenay is set in the rolling hills of the Burgundian landscape. In its 800+ years of history the abbey and its monastic community knew waves of success and downfall. At the end of the 18th century as a consequence of the French Revolution the monks were dispersed and the abbey was turned into a paper mill. In 1906 new owners began the restoration of the abbey and opened it to the public.

As soon as I walked through the doors of the majestic abbey church, stripped of all its liturgical and devotional accoutrements, I could almost hear the monks chant the office and I could very nearly smell burning candles and wafting incense. My siblings thought me in a trance. How could I not be? This building which had harbored monastic prayer for nearly a thousand years still bore witness to the sounds, the sights and smells of the prayers offered beneath its sheltering roof and under its reaching arches.

I walked away from that place with a sense of awe for the persistent presence of prayer. Even though this building had not been used as an active abbey for a couple of centuries, it still was able to tell the story of our faith and inspire the thousands of tourists wandering through it. The only thing I could say was “Thanks be to God.”

May your holidays afford you similar experiences that will allow you to say: “Thanks be to God” be it in the woods, by the lake or hopefully in a church.

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071314.cfm 

This Sunday’s Gospel is the familiar parable of the sower and the seed.  We are told that a sower went out to sow and “some seed fell on the path, and birds come and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.”  But when the sun came out “it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.”  Some “fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.”   “But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”    

To understand this parable, it is helpful to know three things.  First, parables were short stories that Jesus used to tell us something about God or about our relationship with God.  They were not meant to be taken literally.  Second, the impact of a parable occurs when our sense of what is proper/right is upended.  Third, it is helpful to know is that for the kind of sowing process described in this parable a harvest of 6% – 9% would be the best you could hope for.   Thus a harvest of a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold would be absolutely extraordinary. Taken together these things remind us that the message of the Kingdom of God goes out to all people, but is received in a variety of ways.   Ultimately, though, the Kingdom of God will flourish, despite any obstacles to its growth.   

Our first reading this weekend shares the theme of the Gospel.  Through the Prophet Isaiah God reminds the people that “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return till they have watered the earth ………………… so shall my word be ……………… my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”  

Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.  In the section we read this weekend, Paul is clear about his faith in God’s ultimate triumph.  “I consider the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”     

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1.  Why do you think Jesus used parables?
2.  Have you ever been surprised at the effect God’s word has had on you or someone else? 
3.  What do you think Paul meant when he talked about the glory to be revealed for us?  

Sin as Our Failure

One Monday morning a few weeks ago I was at my cabin catching up on the Sunday newspaper when I heard a loud “clunk” from the living room. I looked up from the paper and saw a bird fluttering around on the deck in a daze. I realized immediately that the bird must have flown into the  sliding glass door, only to have the glass bring its flight to a rather abrupt end. The bird appeared to be okay, so I went back to reading the paper. 

I hadn’t been reading the paper for more than five minutes when I heard another loud “clunk.” I looked out on the deck and saw the same bird fluttering around once more in a daze just outside the sliding glass door. I watched it for a few minutes, but since it again appeared to be okay, I went upstairs to take a shower, figuring that the bird had learned its lesson this time.

After my shower I had to run some errands and ended up being gone for a couple of hours.  When I returned to my cabin, and began unloading some groceries I had bought, I once again heard a familiar “clunk.” This time when I checked, I wasn’t surprised to see the bird fluttering around outside the sliding glass door.  What did surprise me, though, was the number of small feathers and other telltale markings that speckled the window pane. Apparently the poor bird had spent most of the morning trying to fly through the glass. I couldn’t help but think what a shame it was that it hadn’t learned a lesson from its first few failed attempts.  It occurred to me that if only it had a bigger brain or a stronger memory it might have saved itself a lot of pain and uselessly expended time and energy.

I thought about that bird a few days later, when I caught myself falling back into a bad habit I had been working to change. I couldn’t help but smile at myself as it dawned on me that in this particular case, I wasn’t really all that different from that poor bird. Like that bird, I hadn’t learned from my past mistakes. I had fallen into an old behavior pattern, which was anything but constructive and growthful.   

As I reflected on this situation it struck me that something like this probably occurs in each of our lives. There are times when we continue bad habits or patterns of behavior even though they are counter to our growth. It occurred to me that this is what sin is all about. Sin is our failure to break the destructive habits or behaviors that keep us from growing into the people God has called us to be.      

Now in some ways the above is a depressing thought.  Fortunately for us, though, unlike the bird outside my sliding glass door, we have the ability to recognize our destructive behaviors.  Additionally, though, we also have the means available to help us change those behaviors.   As Christians, we believe that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is always there for us and with us in our lives. If we are open to it, and if we allow it to work in our lives, the grace of the Lord Jesus can help us change our lives and be better people.  

Certainly it is not easy to change habits or patterns of behavior that are sinful and which have become entrenched over the years. Moreover, it may take a considerable amount of effort to do so.  However, the work involved in changing these behaviors is certainly preferable to continuing them. For the reality is that if we don’t make the effort to change, to learn from our mistakes and grow, we aren’t a whole lot better off than some poor bird who keeps bumping its head into a pane of glass.

For this Sunday’s readings please click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070614.cfm

Several years ago I heard a story --- probably apocryphal --- about a small boy who snuck into the room where his baby brother lay in his crib and whispered:  “Tell me about God.  I’m already starting to forget.”  I thought of this story as I reflected on this Sunday’s Gospel.  In this Gospel we hear Jesus exclaim: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”   I believe these words remind us that we should be child-like (as opposed to childish) in our relationship with God.  We are called to trust and believe that the God who loved us into existence, will never abandon us or fail to hold us firm in God’s love.   

This is the message in the second part of today’s Gospel.  There we hear the familiar words: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   These comforting words remind us that in God we will always find rest and comfort.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah.  It is a prophecy of the Messiah’s return and the establishment of his kingdom.  “and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.   His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. “   .  

In our second reading this Sunday from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, Paul draws a contrast between the “flesh” and the “spirit.”  Paul reminds us that because of Jesus Christ:  “You are not in the flesh, on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1. Has your relationship with God gotten simpler or more complex as you have gotten older? 
2. Where in your life do you need rest from your labors or burdens? 
3. How do you know when the Sprit of God is dwelling in you?    

Created by local artist Deb Korluka, The Basilica's newest icon will be dedicated on Sunday, June 29 at our 9:30am and 11:30am Masses. 

The icon is of St. Dymphna, the patron saint of those with mental illness.  There will be a special blessing for all those in attendance, and Fr. John Bauer will preside.  Following Mass, all are invited to an ice cream social on The Basilica's west lawn, sponsored by the Mental Health Ministry.

Our Building of Hope

The Basilica, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built more than a century ago, and was the first Basilica in the United States. And it hosts a great rock concert each summer.  

The Basilica Landmark has much to celebrate, from the $2.5 matching challenge gift to the 20th anniversary of The Basilica Block Party. When the event started, it funded emergency “right now” needs.  There were about 1,000 registered households, and the building was in great disrepair.

Today, what happens at The Basilica reaches beyond the parish and impacts our community.

  • Programming spans from employment to mental health ministry to religious education, and so much more.
  • Hundreds of thousands visit us each year attending concerts, art exhibits, and other public events.
  • More than 11,000 people attend liturgies on Easter and Christmas combined, and there are 60 weddings each year.
  • Outreach programs serve about 50,000 people each year. We give away 7,000 pairs of shoes, 13,000 sandwiches, and hundreds of bus tokens, gas cards, and rental assistance annually.

These programs are all possible because The Basilica Landmark cares for the home for these life-changing and life-saving ministries. The Landmark’s Mission Statement is to “Preserve, Restore, and Advance the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations.”  We will advance this mission through giving opportunities including the matching challenge and the Block Party.

Last November, an anonymous donor made a commitment to match new or increased gifts of $1,000+ made to The Basilica Landmark. If we meet this challenge, we will ensure the transition from reaction into action, paving the way for continued growth with major improvements for our campus buildings and Landmark church. If you would like to participate in this opportunity, please call the development office at 612.317.3455.

The Cities97 Basilica Block Party is a great introduction to thousands of people who attend each year, and it is also a successful fundraiser. Each year, more than 1,600 volunteers and 75 committee members make the event come together. In 19 years, more than 400,000 people have attended and $5.2 million has been raised. These funds are directed two places :

  1. Our St. Vincent de Paul outreach programs, and 
  2. The Basilica Landmark, which is an independent non-profit from The Basilica, specifically dedicated to our mission of caring for the buildings on our campus.

You are invited to be part of this year’s event. Don’t miss the archive exhibit featuring 20 years of block party memorabilia. Raffle tickets are available from volunteers after Mass, and you can purchase tickets and The Basilica Block Party 20th anniversary CD at basilicablockparty.org. The Basilica’s own Choirs are featured on the CD performing with The Jayhawks.

After decades of work and investment and two decades of the “party of a higher order,” we have turned a corner on our campus. Today, we have the opportunity to improve buildings, renovating for growth and the future. This year, The Basilica Landmark will spend more than $2.5 million on campus improvement projects, including the removal of the church insulation which is the first step in the interior restoration. The work we do today paves the way for our dream, the complete restoration of The Building of Hope. 

We’ll know we’ve accomplished our goal when we ensure our building — and all the good that happens here — is forever.  Please accept my appreciation to everyone who has cared for our historic Landmark Basilica.  You have contributed to “The Building of Hope.”

Learn more about The Basilica Landmark.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062914-day-mass.cfm

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.   This Feast is observed each year on June 29th, and since June 29th falls on a Sunday this year, it takes the place of what would have been the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time.   

Our Gospel for this Feast is the familiar story of Jesus asking his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”   His disciples must have been pleased they could fill him in on the local gossip.  “Some say John the Baptist, other Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  Jesus, though,  makes the question more personal, though, by asking: “But who do you say that I am?”  It is Peter who gets is right --- even though at that point he didn’t understand the full meaning of his words:   “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”   In response, Jesus tells him:  “……….you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church……….”   
  
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles.  We are told that Herod had Peter arrested and put into prison.  While in prison an angel of the Lord appeared to Peter, freed him from the chains that bound him, and led him out of prison.   In response to this miraculous act Peter said:  “Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”   

Our second reading for this Feast is from the second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy.   Paul is facing death, but reminds Timothy that God has been and continues to be his strength.  “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me…….”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.  How would you respond to Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am?”
2.  Peter felt God working in his life when he was freed from prison.  When have you felt God working in your life?  
3.  Do you believe that a crown of righteousness awaits you at the end of your life?    

A number of years ago I found myself in one of our major cities on Corpus Christi Sunday. I decided to participate in the celebrations at the local Cathedral.  On my way there, I walked by an Episcopal church. The service was in full swing and revealed great dedication to the liturgy. At the Catholic Cathedral, the celebration was even more magnificent. It was truly a beautiful event, a liturgist’s delight.

As I made my way back to the hotel I stumbled over a man who was sleeping in the street. Only then did I notice that several large cardboard boxes lined the avenue. A man crawled out of one of them and asked me for money saying he was hungry. The pathway connecting both churches was dotted with these makeshift shelters housing many hungry people. Blinded by the splendor of both liturgies, I had not noticed them.

That afternoon some friends invited me to accompany them to their non-denominational church. The service was mediocre at best. One thing I will never forget though: at the end of communion the minister placed all the remaining pieces of bread in the hands of the man who had asked me for money. He sat down and ate all of it. When finished he looked to see if there was more, but there was none.

That image is for ever burned in my memory. It reminded me that as Saint John Paul II wrote in Mane Nobiscum: the Eucharist calls us to share “not only in spiritual goods but in material goods as well”. Indeed, it is our mutual love, and in particular our “concern for those in need which is the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebration is judged.”

The celebration of the Eucharist invites us to become the One we honor with our song; the One we raise up in a blessing; the One we carry in procession. That very One lived a humble life of love for the poor and of service unto the cross. He is the One we are to follow, to imitate and to become. He is the one we carry in our Eucharistic processions. These processions are not only to be processions WITH the Body of Christ they also are a procession OF the Body of Christ.

In a way, by walking with the Body of Christ we rehearse in our own bodies the path Jesus took and takes today.  This path is not one of pomp and circumstance, but rather a path of humility and service. This path is one that leads to the cross and from there to life everlasting. Those of us who take part in the celebration of the Eucharist as well as in Eucharistic processions should ready ourselves to pick up that cross and follow him wherever he may lead us.

 

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