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In November 2018, the U.S. Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter entitled Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love—a Pastoral Letter Against Racism. Amid competing crises and issues demanding attention, the bishops of the Catholic Church rose to the occasion to address racism, “one particularly destructive and persistent form of evil.” Acknowledging that strides have been made in our country, they state, “racism still infects our nation.”
The issue of racism is understood in different ways. Here, in this call to healing, the U.S. Bishops explain, “Racism arises when—either consciously or unconsciously—a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior, and therefore judges persons of other races or ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude, ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful… Every racist act…is a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God.”
Racism takes many different forms. “It can be seen in deliberate, sinful acts. In recent times, we have seen bold expressions of racism by groups as well as individuals.” It can be experienced “in the form of the sin of omission when individuals, communities and even churches remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice when it is encountered.” Racism can “be found in our hearts—in many cases placed there unwillingly or unknowingly by our upbringing and culture.” “Racism can also be institutional, when practices or traditions are upheld that treat certain groups of people unjustly. The cumulative effects of personal sins of racism have led to social structures of injustice and violence that make us all accomplices in racism.”
Despite previous work on racism, the Bishops state, “racism still profoundly affects our culture…. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts… People are still being harmed, so action is needed.”
Conversion: The Bishops proclaim, “What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change, and reform our institutions and society. …All of us are in need of personal, ongoing conversion. Our churches and our civic and social institutions are in need of ongoing reform.”
The challenges inherent in this conversion seem daunting. Yet our faith reminds us that God’s love is a reconciling love. God’s love is a forgiving love. God’s love is a saving love. Indeed, God’s love can help us press forward despite fear and division.
We Commit Ourselves to the Following Steps:
To move forward, the Bishops commit to specific actions. We are invited to join them—inviting the Holy Spirit to transform our lives and communities.
These actions include:
- Acknowledging Sins: as individuals and as communities, we are all asked to humbly and honestly see and acknowledge our sinful deeds and thoughts and ask for forgiveness.
- Being Open to Encounter and New Relationships: we are invited to “engage the world and encounter others—to see, maybe for the first time, those who are on the peripheries of our own limited view.”
- Resolving to Work for Justice: both nationally and locally, love should move us to “examine where society continues to fail our brothers and sisters, or where it perpetuates inequity” and to take concrete actions to address those problems.
- Educating Ourselves: We are all challenged to learn more and to hear life-stories that “will help open our minds and hearts more fully and continue the healing needed in our communities and nation.”
- Working in Our Churches: We commit to working within the Church to root out vestiges of racist experience and celebrate the great cultural diversity of the Church. The Bishops recognize the unique role each person must play—including the important voice of Bishops and priests.
- Changing Structures: “The roots of racism have extended deeply into the soil of our society. Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality—economic and social—that we still see all around us. With renewed vigor, we call on the members of the Body of Christ to join others in advocating and promoting policies at all levels that will combat racism and its effects in our civic and social institutions.”
- Conversion of All: “Prayer and working toward conversion must be our first response in the face of evil actions.”
- Our Commitment to Life: “The injustice and harm racism causes are an attack on human life.” Indeed, the Bishops “unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.”
As Catholic Christians, we begin and end with wrestling with the incredible love of God. Our Bishops urge us: “Love compels each of us to resist racism courageously. It requires us to reach out generously to the victims of this evil, to assist the conversion needed in those who still harbor racism, and to begin to change policies and structures that allow racism to persist.” Indeed, love “is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace.”
The Basilica is committed to this work. Look for ways to engage in a partnership with Penumbra Theater in early Spring. For more information, call Janice at 612.317.3477.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and past it into your browser: https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011319.cfm
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Now, to some it might seem strange that we celebrate this Feast so soon after we have celebrated Christ’s birth, especially since the scriptures tell us that Christ was baptized as an adult at the beginning of his public ministry. The reality is, though, that other than the infancy narratives and the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple, we really have no information about Christ’s early life. When you stop and think about it, this is as it should be. What is important about Christ is not any stories about his early life, but rather the stories about his preaching, teaching, miracles and ministry.
This weekend we read the story of Jesus’ baptism from the Gospel of Luke. The first section of this Gospel is a summary of the mission of John the Baptist: “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The second section of this Gospel records Jesus’ baptism. We are told simply that after he had been baptized, “the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’” Interestingly, in Mark and Luke the voice from heaven is addressed to Jesus personally, whereas in Matthew the voice is addressed to the surrounding crowds. (John records Jesus baptism indirectly, though the words of John the Baptist.)
There are two choices for our first reading this weekend. At the Basilica we will be using Isaiah 42: 1-4; 6-7. The section we read this Sunday is part of what is know as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. It is God’s promise to send a “servant” who will be filled with God’s Spirit. We would see this as prefiguring Christ.
We also have a choice for our second reading today. At the Basilica we will read from the Acts of the Apostles. In this reading Peter boldly proclaims: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you attended a baptism recently? What do you remember about it?
- How would you explain baptism to a non-Christian?
- If God, shows “no partiality” why is baptism important?
The new edition of the BASILICA Magazine is a commemorative issue celebrating the 150th anniversary of the parish. Thank you to the dedicated volunteer team who created the special issue.
Inside this issue:
Reflections to Commemorate the Parish’s 150th Anniversary
Life in 1868
Looking Back 150 Years Ago
A Parish of Immigrants
A 150 year journey continues
The Basilica’s Founding Families
Building the Parish 150 years ago
Meeting the Needs of the Community for 150 Years
Volunteers then and now
Carrying on a Basilica Tradition
Multi-generational families committed to service
Voices from Our Community
Local civic and faith leaders share their thoughts on this historic anniversary
Celebrating 150 Faces of the Parish
Telling the stories of our founders
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.
BASILICA is published twice a year (spring and fall) with a circulation of 20,000.
For advertising information please contact Liz Legatt.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word “epiphaneia” meaning manifestation. In the Western Rite Catholic Churches this Feast is celebrated as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi from the East.
On this feast we always read the Gospel story of the visit to the new born Christ child by astrologers or magi from the East. If you read the Gospel text carefully, however, you will notice that the magi are never identified as “kings” and their number is never specified. (We presume there were three, because there were three gifts.) The three “kings” we sing of comes to us from our verbal tradition and not from the scriptures.
The message of this feast is important and it is stated well by St. Paul in our second reading today. “………... the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise of Jesus Christ through the Gospel.” In essence Paul is saying that Jesus came to save all people for all time. His manifestation to the magi (being Gentiles, not Jews) reminds us of this most basic fact.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah. It speaks of the restoration of Jerusalem, when the Israelites will return from their exile. The new Jerusalem will be a light to the nations for the Lord will shine upon it.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- While there have been and will continue to be dramatic and powerful epiphanies of our God, I also believe that subtler epiphanies take place all the time. Can you remember a time when you experienced an epiphany of God’s presence and grace?
- If Jesus Christ came to save all people for all time, why do you suppose some people want to put limits on God’s salvific will?
- Can you find the Epiphany stained glass window in the Basilica?
“The world must be educated to love Peace, to build it up and defend it.”
Pope Paul VI, 1968
In 1967, Pope Paul VI established a special feast day dedicated to universal peace. Each year, on January 1, the Pope offers a declaration that articulates important and relevant social doctrine for our day. This World Day of Peace Message addresses issues that resonate with specific struggles of our time—imminent crisis in the lives of people throughout the world.
With classic prophetic insight, we are challenged to see what we want to ignore. We are invited to enter into the struggle that pollutes our lives and threatens our humanity, today.
Historically, issues addressed in the World Day of Peace Message include themes of human dignity and common good in society. Grounded in a deep knowledge and commitment that every facet of our life intersects with our faith, the World Day of Peace Message calls us to open our hearts and minds to God’s love and mercy—both personally and collectively. We are guided on both a political and pastoral level, as we confront the issues in our life that are barriers to peace.
The World Day of Peace Message is an opportunity to re-center our lives and hearts—to identify that which is broken in our world community, and actively work to repair, reconcile, and rebuild.
In the World Day of Peace Message on January 1, 2019, Pope Francis calls us to embrace a deep conversion in our public dialogue and civic life. In his message “Good politics is at the service of peace,” Pope Francis compels us to understand that “Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings.”
Pope Francis encourages us: Political responsibility belongs to all citizens. Every person has an obligation to engage in dialogue and action to safeguard the ultimate dignity of every person. When “one out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects,” how do we stand up against corruption, fear, oppression or dishonesty? “When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals,” how do we change the politics to foster trust and work together for the common good?
Pope Francis compels everyone to be engaged in the work of advocating for and with those whose voices are marginalized. He encourages us to work to ensure the protection and fulfillment of the most vulnerable. “If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.”
“Good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”
“Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home.” This collaborative commitment and participation builds trust, removes fear and rejects isolation. “Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.”
Ultimately, Pope Francis states this “great political project” of peace “entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects: peace with oneself…; peace with others…’ peace with all creation.” This New Year, let us commit to clothe ourselves with our Lord’s peace, and enter into the fray of political life—armed with God’s love, and embolden with God’s promise of forgiveness.
A few weeks ago, after the meeting of U.S. Bishop’s in Baltimore, I received an email from a friend. He was distressed and angry that the Vatican had intervened and asked the U.S. Bishops not to develop specific recommendations for how to handle malfeasance among their ranks. The Vatican asked them to wait until a meeting of the heads of the various bishop’s conferences from across the world that will take place in Rome this coming February. While my friend understood that it was perhaps better to deal with the issue of malfeasance on the part of bishops on a worldwide basis, he didn’t understand why the U.S. Bishops didn’t at least discuss the issue, without coming up with specific recommendations. Frankly, I think my friend has a right to be angry. At a minimum our bishops should have discussed this issue in a public forum. Once again, our bishops have failed to provide leadership at a critical time in our church—most specifically the church in the United States. And as a result more people are heading to the door on their way out of the church.
While I understand and respect people’s decision to leave—or at least take a break from our church—I would like to suggest that, from my perspective, they are leaving the church for the wrong reasons. Certainly our bishops have been a disappointment, but they are only a small part of our church. More important for us as Catholics is that we know and believe in Jesus Christ and his message of love, peace, care, and compassion. More important are the sacraments and especially the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. More important is our belief in the Bible as the inspired word of God that speaks to our lives today. And more important is our belief that whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters we do to Christ. These are the things that define and maintain our church.
Our church is much bigger and much better than the members of the hierarchy who have ill-served it. Yes, these men have had a very big and a very bad impact on our church. BUT, they are just a small part of our church. While their actions and their inaction have been and are very public and very problematic, they are just a small part of the church. From this perspective, I would like to suggest that it is the organization of our church, most specifically the hierarchy, and not our church, that people should be upset about. Catholics went through one crisis of faith when they discovered they couldn’t necessarily trust priests who ministered to them. We are now going through another as it becomes clear that many bishops have not fulfilled their duty to hold abusers and their enablers accountable. People have a right to be angry, disappointed, and upset about this.
The words transparency, openness, and honesty are much in vogue lately. Their high fashion status, though, doesn’t diminish their importance or necessity. In regard to our church, they call our bishops to a high standard of accountability. Certainly for some time now our leaders have failed to meet this standard. For this they need to confess their failings, repent, and establish clear standards of accountability. And they need to work with others, most especially the laity, to do this, and thus to provide the leadership we deserve. If they can’t do this, or are unwilling to do this, then they shouldn’t be surprised if people simply stop paying attention to them.
This year, as we celebrate the great Feast of Christmas, I extend a welcome to all those who, despite their discouragement, disappointment, and anger, will join us for worship at The Basilica as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The many and diverse people who fill our church are a visible reminder that we have a big God, and so we need a big church. A church that is much bigger and much better than our bishops. This Christmas especially, this is something for which I am particularly grateful.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/123018.cfm
This Sunday we observe the Feast of the Holy Family. This Feast celebrates Jesus’ birth into our world as a member of the human family of Mary and Joseph. It also reminds us that the Holy Family is a model for our own families.
When I was growing up it used to be very easy to say what a family was. It was a mom and dad and any number of kids. Through the years, however, I have had to continually expand my understanding of family. I say this because I have come to realize that families come in all shapes and sizes What is most important in regard to families (of whatever configuration) is that they are characterized by loving relationships. At their best they are marked by lives lived out in care and service of one another and the broader community. Clearly this was the case with the Holy Family.
Our Gospel this Sunday is the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple. This story illustrates well the relationship of love that existed in the Holy Family. Note that there is no display of anger, no recriminations, and no resentment. Rather there is mutual respect, an effort at understanding, and above all love. Would that all families manifested these qualities.
There are two options for our first reading this Sunday. The one we will use at the Basilica is from the book of Sirach. This book is part of the Wisdom literature included in our Catholic Bible. If it is included in Protestant Bibles it is usually under the heading of “apocrypha books”. Following the theme of the Gospel, the section we read today reminds us of the ideals of family life: honoring and reverencing parents, caring for them, and exhibiting love and kindness toward them.
We also have two options for our second reading this weekend. The one we will use at the Basilica is from the First Letter of St. John. In this reading we are reminded that “We are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- I once heard a speaker say that families should be defined by bonds of love versus bonds of relationship. Do you agree or disagree?
- How would you define a family?
- Have you ever thought of yourself as a child of God?
Plan to celebrate this joyous time of year at The Basilica of Saint Mary. The music, liturgy, and community create a special Christmas experience for all who pass through our doors.
Monday, December 24
3:00pm Vigil Eucharist organ, cantor, Cathedral Choristers, Children’s Choir and Cherubs, oboe*
5:30pm Vigil Eucharist Mundus & Juventus
Celebrant: Archbishop Bernard Hebda
8:00pm Vigil Eucharist piano, cantor, flute, cello
ASL Interpreted beginning with Choral Music at 11:00PM
10:30pm Prelude Music for Christmas harp
11:00pm Meditation Music Cathedral Choir, organ, harp, flute
11:30pm Vigil of Lights organ, Cathedral Choir
Midnight Solemn Eucharist organ, Cathedral Choir, brass, harp
Tuesday, December 25
7:30am Eucharist at Dawn organ, cantor, violin
9:30am Solemn Eucharist organ, choir, brass, strings,
Noon Solemn Eucharist organ, choir, brass, strings
4:30pm Festive Eucharist music from around the world
*The Archbishop has given permission to celebrate the Vigil Masses starting at 3:00pm.
We are so grateful for your financial support throughout the year. As we approach the end of 2018, please consider making a special Christmas gift to The Basilica.
In order to receive tax-deduction credit for 2018, checks must be postmarked by Monday, December 31. Online gifts need to be received by midnight on December 31. The Basilica offices are closed on Monday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 1.
If you need assistance with a year-end gift:
December 26-28: contact Char Myhre
December 29-31: call Audra Johnson at 612.328.3486 (cell).
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
On this fourth Sunday of Advent we read the familiar story of the Visitation --- Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Each of their lives has been touched by God’s powerful grace, and now both women are with child. The story is brief, but important. Mary has learned through the angel Gabriel that in her old age her cousin, Elizabeth is pregnant. In response to this news: “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” Elizabeth responded to Mary’s greeting by crying out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” At the close of their encounter Elizabeth’s words to Mary are a message to all believers: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Clearly both Mary and Elizabeth were keenly aware of God’s work in their lives, and they rejoiced together in this shared knowledge. In this they are a model for all believers. They call us to believe in God’s ongoing and abiding presence in our lives and our world, and they remind us that we too will be blessed if we only believe that God’s promise to us will be fulfilled.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Micah. It contains the promise of a messiah made to the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity. “Thus says the Lord: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”
For our second reading this weekend we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews. It speaks of the new “covenant” that is offered to us in Jesus Christ. “He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you felt God’s grace touch your life?
- How did you respond to God’s grace when it touched your life?
- Paul says we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to you to be consecrated?