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I have never had much luck retrieving my luggage when I have to take two different flights to reach my destination. In fact for several years, it was pretty much inevitable that my luggage would not appear on the baggage carousel when I got to my final destination. Even now, when I approach baggage claim after landing, I can anticipate my luggage will be one of the last ones to come down the chute. I have learned to accept I am not one of those fortunate individuals who, when they get to baggage claim, within minutes can be walking out the door pulling their suitcase behind them. I have also learned that when I travel with people, I need to tell them not to get their hopes up for an early exit from the airport after the flight.
On a flight several months ago, after walking from one of the furthest possible terminals to baggage claim, I got my hopes up that because of the long walk, just maybe my baggage would be on the carrousel when I arrived. Unfortunately, this was not the case. In fact, the baggage carousel had not even started moving. I did notice, though, the carousel next to me was moving and on it were several forlorn pieces of luggage going round and round. It immediately occurred to me that they were probably left over from an earlier flight, and no one had yet arrived to claim them. Perhaps their owners had stopped to get a bite to eat or have drink before proceeding to baggage claim. Whatever the reason, they just kept going round and round on the baggage carousel. I had time to notice this because, while my luggage carrousel had finally begun to move and baggage began to emerge, my luggage was once again one of the last pieces to appear.
This memory came back to me a few weeks ago when the responsory after the scripture reading for evening prayer was: “Claim me once more as your own Lord and have mercy on me.” As I reflected on these words, it occurred to me that with God, we never have to worry about being “unclaimed” and ending up in the lost and found. God loves us, and even if we don’t acknowledge that love or turn away from it, God never stops loving us. God patiently waits for us to recognize and respond to God’s love. The thing is God never forces God’s love on us. Rather God waits for us to allow ourselves to be “claimed” by God.
On more than one occasion in my life I have felt like the unclaimed luggage on a baggage carousel—going round and round, but in reality, going nowhere. Fortunate indeed is the person who has not experienced those times in their life—times when they have felt lost and alone. At these times if we can come humbly to God in prayer, we will discover God has been there all along, just waiting to claim us once more as God’s own.
Recently, I’ve just been putting one foot in front of the other. Anticipating more change and transition at The Basilica, I have taken a moment to slow down and reflect about the power of coming together in community. During the pandemic, we learned to pivot, adapt, and be flexible.
I am still amazed at what was accomplished and how creatively volunteers and staff tackled the challenges and curveballs of COVID-19. We can and are doing ministry both in person and virtually and are committed to continuing to offer online experiences, but there is something special about coming together that really matters.
I’ve realized how much I’ve missed the presence of people who are making ministry happen. Whether it’s coming in-person for Mass, working with volunteers and getting to know one another, laughing together or praying together, I believe there is something sacred that happens when we gather in person and are present for one another.
I value the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of our many volunteers who lead and help daily on our campus and from home. You make The Basilica come alive for all those who cross our threshold. Thank you for lifting us up by sharing your time, expertise, leadership and your advice. The Basilica is a welcoming dynamic place because of you.
If you haven’t been back to The Basilica in a while, I invite you to dip your toe in – and I know there are many reasons you may not be ready. Trust me when I say when you hear the choir sing and are transported, when you see the incense wafting through the air, or experience the bright friendly smile of someone you haven’t seen in over a year, it is quite wonderful.
If the time is right for you, please consider returning to worship and volunteering in person. It’s been wonderful to have more activities starting again. In coming weeks, we will celebrate confirmations, weddings, baptisms, graduations, and more. We love seeing you and need your help to keep the wheels at The Basilica turning.
Beautiful celebrations of Pentecost are being planned for June 4 and 5. The last two weekends in June, we will gather for Mass and head outside for ice cream to say thank you to Fr. Bauer for his 15 years of leadership at The Basilica.
As we transition pastoral leadership, I invite you to also support our volunteer leaders. From June 1-13, parishioners are invited to vote in the Parish Council election to choose council members to lead our parish and welcome and work with a new Pastor. Please take time to cast your ballot online at mary.org/vote or come to Mass, and you’ll find paper ballots in the back of church.
Your presence is what makes our Basilica community work. I invite you to remember the inspirational words of Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world."
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
Preserve, Restore, and Advance
The Basilica Landmark, formerly known as The Friends of The Basilica, was established in 1993 as a separate 501(c)(3) organization to preserve, restore, and advance The Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations. The Basilica Landmark provides essential financial support to uphold and maintain our beautiful buildings and campus. The partnership between The Basilica Landmark and The Basilica of Saint Mary empowers the parish’s ability to serve its more than 12,000 members, as well as the greater community.
Some of the Landmark funded projects that will be accomplished in 2022 include:
- Debris removal from the vault areas in the attic above the sanctuary that are holding moisture in the cavity and creating plaster damage on the interior of the sanctuary;
- Replacement of three condensers on the Cowley roof to repair the A/C system in this building; and
- Routine maintenance of the Church roof due to deficiencies that come with thermal movement and temperature cycles.
We are very excited about returning to an in-person Landmark Spark Gala at The Metropolitan on Saturday, May 15. If you were unable to attend Spark in-person this year, you can still participate by joining our online auction that is open now and runs until 5:00 pm on Sunday, May 16. Bid on a wide variety of interesting items, one-of-a-kind experiences, and exciting excursions at basilica2022.ggo.bid.
In addition, you can donate to our Fund-A-Need initiative that raises the necessary funds to accomplish one vital preservation or restoration project. Proceeds raised for the 2022 Fund-A-Need will help replace campus lampposts and improve exterior lighting surrounding our Landmark. An “old meets new” design will introduce LED efficiency while preserving the architecture to bring a renewed sense of optimism and safety to our community. It is not too late to have an impact!
Please consider making a gift to our Fund-A-Need at theBasilicaLandmark.org/FAN. A special thank you to all those who have already supported this year’s Fund-A-Need project.
We are so grateful for The Basilica Landmark Board of Directors, our sponsors, partners, event attendees, and all those who participate and generously support The Basilica Landmark.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
At the end of February, I wrote a column for this newsletter, lamenting the fact that so many people have difficulty saying they were sorry. My comments were triggered by Pope Emeritus Benedict’s failure to acknowledge any personal wrongdoing regarding four specific cases of clergy sexual abuse that occurred while he was Archbishop of Munich. 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. I lamented his failure to apologize because I thought an apology would have sent a powerful message to Catholics, and to people everywhere, 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.)
Given the above, you can imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago Pope Francis issued a historic apology. Speaking to a delegation of Indigenous people from Canada, he said he was asking for God's forgiveness for the Catholic Church's role in running a system of Canadian boarding schools where Native children were, in many cases, taken from their homes and abused. Specifically, the Pope said: “All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.” WOW!!! For a Pope to issue such an apology is nothing short of stunning. More importantly, going forward it hopefully will serve as a model for all the priests and bishops of our Church.
Far too often when the leaders of our church have responded to the issue of abuse they have done so with denials, reluctance, half-heartedly, or with qualifying statements of regret or sadness. Seldom, though, have there by clear cut, unqualified apologies. The sad fact is that until Pope Francis I cannot remember anyone in leadership in our church uttering the simple words. I am sorry. I ask pardon.
In issuing an apology Pope Francis has clearly indicated that the Church and its leaders can no longer pretend that they didn’t/do not make mistakes, and that there is never a need for them to apologize. The fact is, we all make mistakes; the leaders of our church are no exception to this. And because we all make mistakes, we all need to learn to say and mean the words: I am sorry. I ask pardon.
I am very mindful that Jesus, who was like us, in all things but sin, has modeled for us that reconciliation and peace are to be the hallmarks of our lives as Christians. In order to be reconciled and at peace with others, however, we sometimes (and even often) need to say I am sorry; I was wrong. These words might not spring immediately from our lips; and we may not say them well or often, but that does not change the fact that seeking and offering forgiveness are part and parcel of our lives as followers of Jesus. Inspired by the recent example of Pope Francis, and empowered by God’s grace, may we never tire of or be afraid to say: I am sorry. I was wrong.
In his powerful encyclical, Fratelli Tutti—On Fraternity and Social Friendship—Pope Francis challenges us to look deeply at our individual and collective lives. He articulates a paradigm of communal life shaped and upheld by the immense and steadfast love of our God. With life infused fully with God’s love, the possibilities for culture, connection, and creation are inspiring.
Directly addressing our local and global struggles, Pope Francis confronts us and inspires us to holiness. If you have not read this document, look for it online and read it!
A primary and deep-rooted struggle of our day is racial injustice. We are a country founded with the legal institution of human chattel slavery and all the underlying spoken and unspoken assumptions this rested on. In a myriad of ways, we are still healing from this history.
Sitting with a twenty-first century mind, it is tempting to ease my discomfort and simply claim: Slavery is gone—let’s move on. Yet, Pope Francis warns: “It is easy to be tempted to turn the page, to say that all these things happened long ago and we should look to the future. For God’s sake, no! We can never move forward without remembering the past; we do not progress without an honest and unclouded memory. We need to keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened, because that witness awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction.”
Pope Francis encourages to go into the struggle: ”When conflicts are not resolved but kept hidden or buried in the past, silence can lead to complicity in grave misdeeds and sins. Authentic reconciliation does not flee from conflict, but is achieved in conflict.” We are encouraged to stay in the dialogue—open, honest, and hard.
Over the past year, The Basilica staff and leadership have been learning to address racial injustice in our individual lives and our parish community. We are working on four parish goals.
- Increased understanding of implicit/unconscious biases and its effect on each of us and our parish community
- Thursday, May 19th at 5:30, Zoom session, “Cultivating Equity at The Basilica.” Learn more and register at mary.org.
- Increased opportunities to listen to voices from the community, underserved and marginalized populations in our parish and in the community
- This fall we will share, in respectful and healing ways, stories of racial injustice right here at The Basilica. Ignored and hidden, it eats away at the dignity of our brothers and sisters.
- Increased opportunities for personal transformation to support staff and parishioners in working toward systemic change
- May 22nd at 1:00 in The Basilica: “Seven Fates: Racial Healing Stations,” a meditative experience. Register at mary.org.
- Increase diversity at all staff levels and in volunteer ministries
You are invited to join in this work, wherever you find yourself on this issue. If you are struggling, come to share your concerns. Come and learn how you can get involved in our parish work.
If we believe “God created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters,” as Pope Francis states, let us engage together and continue the hard work of love.
All Mass recordings can be found at Mass Recordings
A few years ago, I was coordinating the preparation of our Basilica children for their First Reconciliation; really I was hopefully helping their parents prepare them for this sacrament. I hoped that they would not just know what to do during the sacrament and what to say to the priest but be open to knowing God’s great mercy and love on that day and throughout their lives.
One young boy came up me after the First Reconciliation service and was beaming; I asked him how it went and he said, “That was awesome! Can I go again?” I looked at his mom and smiled and told him to keep sinning and he can definitely go again! That’s not exactly the idea of the sacrament, but I’m very glad that he had a positive experience. When I was working in college campus ministry, I met a Lutheran student who shared that he was raised Catholic, but became Lutheran because of an experience in Reconciliation when the priest scolded him for his sins, rather than offering mercy and compassion. I offer these brief stories to illustrate the power this particular sacrament can have, both in positive and negative experiences.
Today is known as Divine Mercy Sunday, and has been since 2000, when Pope John Paul II declared this to be celebrated every year on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. You may recall the Year of Mercy that Pope Francis called for in the Church in 2015; mercy has been one of the hallmarks of his papacy, both experiencing the mercy of God in our own lives and then sharing works of mercy with others.
Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun of early 1900s, had powerful mystical experiences in prayer that she wrote in her diaries about God’s mercy; these helped to begin this movement in the Church. She shared a beautiful prayer for us; in this Easter season, may we know the mercy of the Risen Christ in many ways and never hesitate to share it with others.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbor’s souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me. Amen.
Continued Easter blessings to all!