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It seems any direction you look, these days, there is trauma, grief, loss, and sadness. More than ever, life seems colored by weariness and struggle. While people continue to hold on to threads of gratitude and faith, life is hard. Whether it is division or loss within families, violence in neighborhoods and cities, discord in local and national politics, or international suffering and brutality, these are days that call us to dig deep into our hearts to find strength.

In February 2019, the UN General Assembly set up The International Day of Human Fraternity to commemorate the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb. In this document, “the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.” All people were called upon to “rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.”

This document “reflected on the level of poverty, conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption, inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other causes.”

With profound hope for the future of all human beings, the idea of “fraternity” was advanced. This document invites all persons to unite and work together. It seeks to be a guide to evolve a culture of mutual respect: “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.”

The UN General Assembly called for a Second International Day of Human Fraternity in February 2022. So great is the threat to the social order—and so high the desire “to build fraternity as a bulwark against hatred, violence, and injustice,” Pope Francis calls all people to attention.

“Now is the fitting time to journey together…Do not leave it to tomorrow or an uncertain future…This is a good day to extend a hand, to celebrate our unity in diversity—unity, not uniformity, unity in diversity.”

“Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters, or everything falls apart. This is not to be melodramatic; it is the truth! Either we are brothers and sisters, or everything falls apart.”

Truly, the only answer to the suffering and trials of our day is found in our willingness to trust God and find the grace and strength to stay “committed to the cause of peace and to respond concretely to the problems and needs of the least, the poor and the defenseless.” Pope Francis warns, “the path of fraternity is long and challenging, it is a difficult path, yet it is the anchor of salvation for humanity.”

Let us walk side-by-side, in the harmony of differences, with respect for the identity of each. With concrete actions, let us be brothers and sisters, all.

 

 

Join the Journey!  Bend your knees, mend your hearts, and lend your hands.”

The Second Week of Lent

“On the Care for our Planet and One Another.”

 

In 2015 Pope Francis addressed his encyclical Laudato Sì. On Care for Our Common Home to “everyone living on this planet.” With this encyclical, Pope Francis calls for a radical and urgent “Ecological Conversion” which he grounds in Scripture and adds to our body of Catholic Social Teaching.

 

Pope Francis wrote that God’s granting “dominion” over the earth in Gen. 1:28 is often used to justify the relentless exploitation of our planet. As a corrective he offers Gen. 2:15 where God entrusts both the cultivation and the care for our planet to us. Too often, he says we have excelled at cultivating the earth but have failed miserably at caring for our planet.

 

Now is the time to change that and to urgently start caring for our planet and for one another.  Poor people and poorer countries bare the brunt of climate change while they are victimized by the unbridled pursuit of money and possessions in richer parts of the world.

 

You can find more information about Laudato Si’ and how we might collaborate on its implementation at: https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/ The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a unique collaboration between the Vatican, an international coalition of Catholic organizations, and “all men and women of good will.”

 

During this Second Week of Lent let’s mend our hearts by fasting from single-use plastic; bend our knees by praying with Pope Francis; and lend our hands by purchasing sustainably and ethically sourced products.

 

  • Mending our Heart by Fasting from Single-Use Plastic
  • Pope Francis does not mince words when he says: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
  • Though most of us are diligent about composting and recycling far too much plastic still ends up in our ocean. In an TV interview in February Pope Francis said “Throwing plastic into the sea is criminal. It kills biodiversity, it kills the earth, it kills everything.” The best way to prevent this from happening is by eliminating the use of plastic.
  • This week let’s consider fasting from products that come in one-time use plastic containers. For many practical and attainable suggestions please go to: https://ourcommonhome.org/media/docs/Lenten-Plastic-Fast.pdf

https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/

https://www.ncronline.org/earthbeat

 

  • Bending our Knee by Praying with Pope Francis
  • Pope Francis ends Laudato Sì with prayers which he invites us to pray often. During this second week of Lent let us offer the following prayer on a daily basis.

 

O God of the poor,

help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,

so precious in your eyes.

 

Bring healing to our lives,

that we may protect the world and not prey on it,

that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

 

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

 

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,

to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature

as we journey towards your infinite light.

 

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace

 

  • Lending our Hands by Purchasing Sustainably and Ethically Sourced Products
  • In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis praises St. Francis for lifting up the “inseparable bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” Pope Francis then goes so far as to say that we need to respond to “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” as both are profoundly connected.
  • This seems like an overwhelming task. Besides we are not decision makers. We are subject to decisions made by others who have much more power and wield much greater influence than we do. Yet maybe the task is not for one person to make big changes but rather for a great number of people to institute small changes.
  • This week maybe we can carefully consider the products we buy. The important question to ask is how these products impact our planet, the lives of others and especially the lives of those making them. In other words, let’s commit ourselves to buying products that were sustainably sourced and ethically produced.

 

And please remember to be patient with yourself and others and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed.  Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.

 

Johan M. J. van Parys, Ph.D.

Director of Liturgy and the Sacred Arts

 

 

 

 

Join us this Lenten season 

A message from Fr. John Bauer, Pastor

 

Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary. I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times. 

As I have mentioned previously, I will be retiring from The Basilica at the end of June, and on July 1 will become pastor of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. While I will be very sad to leave The Basilica, I am very excited and very grateful that Fr. Dan Griffith will be following me as Pastor. Dan is a good person, a good priest, and a good pastor. 

He has already met with some of the staff as well as our parish trustees and will continue to meet with staff and attend meetings as he is able in the weeks ahead. The Basilica is blessed that Fr. Griffith will be the next pastor. 

Today I would also like to invite you to join us in person or via livestream for Mass, Stations of the Cross, and Vespers during this season of Lent. Our schedule of services is available on our website. We also invite you to participate in a small faith sharing or bible study group during the season of Lent. You can learn more about these groups on our parish website. 

As I have mentioned before, we have taken several steps to promote the safety and wellbeing of those who will be attending any services or activities at The Basilica. While the city of Minneapolis has discontinued its facemask requirement, we still encourage those who will be coming to The Basilica to wear a face mask. We will do this until the CDC changes its guidelines. Wearing a mask is a concrete way to show your care and concern for your fellow Christians. 

Today I also want to thank those of you who continue to support The Basilica financially. Please know your financial support is greatly appreciated. Your financial support makes it possible for to continue to offer the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. Certainly, the last couple of years have been very difficult for all of us. Yet, despite the difficulties and the stress, there have also been moments of great grace, as God’s love has broken through and blessed us. 

Joining us during the season of Lent and Easter is a wonderful way for us to gather as a people of faith to celebrate and thank God for the many ways God has blessed us in our lives. And, as always, if you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join them via livestream. A schedule of our livestreamed liturgies is available on our website.

Finally, I want to let you know of my ongoing prayers for our community. The Basilica is indeed a very special place—made so by our parishioners and staff. 

As always, I would like to close today with a prayer. 

 

Dear God – 
You have made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: 
Look with compassion on the whole human family; 
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; 
break down the walls that separate us; 
unite us in bonds of love; 
and work through our struggles and confusion to accomplish your purposes; 
so that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; 
we ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

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Many of the faithful would like to contribute to help our sisters and brothers in Ukraine. Because the situation is so fluid and to maximize the efficiency of the gift, the Archdiocese recommends that the faithful contribute through Catholic Relief Services. Please use this link to CRS for donations and feel free to share the CRS Emergency Factsheet about the relief efforts underway.

 

CRS Ukraine Fact Sheet

https://www.crs.org/media-center/current-issues/ukraine-conflict-facts-and-how-help

 

 

Stations of the Cross 

Friday, March 4

 

 

Mary Untier of Knots webcrop

Please Forgive Me

I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.

I don’t know why it is so hard for so many of us to say these words. Perhaps it is our pride, or perhaps we worry that we will look weak, or will be perceived as being vulnerable. Whatever the reason, I’ve noticed that lots of us have trouble saying: I’m sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.

Sometimes people offer a pseudo apology, for example, by saying “I’m sorry that happened.” or “If I offended you, I’m sorry.” In reality, though, these are just pretend apologies. They lack sincerity and have no real meaning. A real and genuine apology comes with no strings attached. It is an admission that we have done something wrong or something that hurt someone, and we ask for their forgiveness.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on our seeming inability to apologize. My reflections started when retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued a statement on February 8 after a report, requested by the Munich Archdiocese, concluded that during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich there were four specific cases in regard to clergy abusers that he could be accused of mishandling. In his statement, while retired Pope Benedict acknowledged past failings of the Catholic Church in confronting clergy sexual abuse under his watch, he stopped short of a direct, personal apology. He did ask for forgiveness for any "grievous faults" in the Church’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases. And he did express his feelings of great shame and sorrow for the abuse of minors and requested forgiveness from all victims of sexual abuse, BUT he did not acknowledge any personal or specific wrongdoing. In other words, he did not say: I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.

Now, I suspect that his advisors told him that for legal reasons, or more likely because he was the retired Pope, he should not acknowledge any wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. And yet, at the same time, I think that it would have sent a powerful message to Catholics and to people everywhere, if he had simply said: I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me. These simple words would have sent a clear and unmistakable message that sin and failure are a part of each of our lives, and that we all need to seek forgiveness and healing when we have hurt others by our words and actions (or inactions).

Words are necessary and important, but they are heard best when they are accompanied by the witness of lives. May God grant to all of us—and especially the leaders of our Church—the ability to say more often and more sincerely: I am sorry. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Please accept my apology. Please forgive me.

 

 

The First Week of Lent:

Join the Journey!  Bend your knees, mend your heart, and lend your hands.”

Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to angerJames 1: 19

 

In his weekly Wednesday Audience of December 15, 2021, Pope Francis spoke about the urgent need for deep silence, which is much more than the mere absence of sound. He quoted the French Philosopher Blaise Pascal who observed that “all the unhappiness of people arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”

 

The cultivation of silence is indeed essential for true human happiness because it is in silence that we learn the important skill of listening. It is in silence that we learn how to listen to our own deepest truths and yearnings; to one another’s thoughts and needs; and even for God’s voice. In the same audience, Pope Francis referenced the Book of Wisdom underlining that it was “While gentle silence enveloped all things, your [God’s] all-powerful word leaped from heaven.” 

 

The gift of silence and the virtue of listening go hand in hand, yet sadly both are lost on most of us. We have become uncomfortable with silence, and we have lost the art of listening.

 

During this First Week of Lent, we invite you to: mend your heart by fasting from noise and needless speech; bend you knees while engaging in Centering Prayer; and lend your hands by listening intently to others.

 

  • Mending our Hearts: Fasting from Noise and Needless Speech
    • Our world is filled with constant noise. As individuals and as a society we have become estranged from silence. Worse, it seems we have become fearful of silence as we constantly surround ourselves with sound.
    • At the same time, the art of listening has been lost. And the voice that seemingly matters most is not the voice of the one who knows most deeply but rather from the one who speaks most loudly.
    • So, during Lent let’s fast from all the noise that surrounds us and let us give up all needless speech.

 

 

  • Lending our Hands: Listening Intently to Others
  • Not only have we lost a sense of the importance silence we also have lost the willingness to listen. We have made up our mind on so many things and our willingness to listen to others is limited to those who think like we do. This is the perfect way to keep polarizing and dividing our community and our church.
  • We need to reclaim and relearn the art of listening. Only if we listen intently and open ourselves to what others have to say can we properly communicate and interact with one another, which is the basis of civil society.
  • Let’s open ourselves this week to the art of listening, deep listening to our own deepest yearnings, intent listening to the needs of others, and intentional listening for the voice of God.

 

And please remember to be patient with yourself and others and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed.  Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.

 

 

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