A picture of a solid stone cross in front of a clear blue sky.

Weekly Musings

A few weeks ago I was doing some cleaning at my cabin and had the radio on in the background. At one point the theme song from Mission Impossible came on. As I listened I was transported back in time as I remembered watching the show when I was growing up. (Yes, I know there have been several movies based on “Mission Impossible,” but I still like the old television show the best.) I especially liked the words that introduced each episode “Your mission, should you chose to accept it is….” I like the well defined purpose and the clarity of knowing exactly what was expected and what needed to be done. There are many times when I long for that same kind of clarity in regard to God’s will in my life. It would be great if God would clearly tell me, “John, your mission should you chose to accept it is….”

Unfortunately, more often than I care to admit, when I am trying to discern God’s will or what God would have me do in a particular situation, I am much like a boat without a rudder.

I pray, but my prayer is often directionless and without focus. I want clarity and direction, and worse I want it now. In my efforts to get God to tell me what God wants me to do, I am impatient almost to the point of demanding. I don’t like it when I get this way, and I suspect God isn’t too happy with me either. 

When I encounter these times in my life, one of the things that is helpful for me is to remember and take to heart a prayer that Thomas Merton wrote many years ago. I have kept this prayer in my Breviary since I was ordained. And on times too numerous to mention I have found it very comforting. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Discerning God’s will for us, or what God would have us do in a particular situation is not always easy. It can be frustrating, time consuming, and even a little annoying. It would be much easier if God simply told us, “Your mission should you chose to accept it is….” Unfortunately, if God were that direct, it would negate our free will. And our free will is one of the things that defines us as human beings and separates us from other creatures.

And so, at those times when I struggle with discerning God’s will, I take heart and find consolation in the prayer of Thomas Merton. The way I figure it, if one of the premier spiritual writers of the 20th century had trouble discerning God’s will, I should probably cut myself a little slack when I experience the same difficulty. I also take comfort in the knowledge that God will never call me to a mission that is impossible, because with God’s grace all things are possible.

In my hometown, Memorial Day signals the start of summer. This year, my mom and I went to the town cemetery to put flowers on our family members’ graves, and on Monday we gathered with the whole town at the courthouse for an Avenue of Flags dedicated to deceased veterans. 


It’s a beautiful memorial and draws hundreds of people who come together to remember their loved ones. With over 1,000 U.S. flags whipping in the wind, a sea of people in lawn chairs listen to the reading of each veterans’ name and mourn with families who have come to dedicate the flags of those who died in the past year. It’s simple, solemn and celebratory. 


Often this remembrance is the first time spent outside seeing friends and neighbors, experiencing the sun, the breeze, and the joy of summer.  


What does the start of summer mean to you? At The Basilica, our parish community explores Personal Stewardship in June and July. I invite you to consider how you care for yourself in mind, body and spirit. Sometimes I find that friends and family concentrate and worry about everyone but themselves. Summer somehow gives us permission to take it a little easier...to go for a walk, smell the roses, or contemplate the feel of the sun after a very long winter.  


The questions of how we care for ourselves and how we re-charge and re-energize probably have unique answers for each of us. For some it’s enjoying sweet fresh fruit and garden-grown vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Others head outdoors for biking, fishing, playing sports, or going for a swim at the lake. Many take summer vacations to break away from routines and the responsibilities of home, work, or both.  
As you consider the importance of Personal Stewardship, I encourage you to remember the words of Saint Teresa of Avila—“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours....” She challenged us to live our faith and reminded us that it’s our job to do Christ’s work on earth. How can we possibly answer this call unless we first commit to take care of ourselves in mind, body and spirit?  


There are many ways to embrace Personal Stewardship. Just commit to do one thing to renew and recharge yourself this summer. The key is actively, consciously making choices that contribute to your well-being. Consider the nice weather an opportunity to get outside for fun and exercise. Take a stroll through the neighborhood or around the lake. Play tennis or golf. Work in the garden. Go for a bike ride. Summer gives us so many possibilities to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. Or take advantage of the great fresh food offered at your local grocery store or neighborhood farmers market. As we move through summer, see what looks good at the farmers market and experiment with cooking up healthy and nutritious offerings.    


Think about focusing on your prayer life. Worship with us weekly or visit The Basilica in the quiet of the day for contemplation and reflection.  Consider Centering Prayer, a spiritual practice of quieting the mind and meditating in silence. It’s offered twice weekly on Wednesdays from 7:30 – 8:00am, and Fridays from 10:00 – 11:00am in the Bride’s Room located on the Basilica’s ground level. You’ll meet with a small group to discuss a book and then practice Centering Prayer for 20 minutes. Walk the labyrinth on The Basilica’s west lawn, or attend the Mental Health Blessing at all our June 27 and 28 liturgies. 


Please explore Personal Stewardship in June and July and take time to consider the importance of caring for yourself in mind, body and spirit this summer. You’ll find lots of ideas at www.mary.org/personalstewardship.

 

At a consistory on Saturday, February 14, Pope Francis created 20 new Cardinals from around the globe. On Sunday, February 15, Pope Francis presided at Mass with these new Cardinals. As part of his homily at that Mass, Pope Francis addressed the 20 new cardinals in the words below.

Dear new Cardinals, my brothers, as we look to Jesus and our Mother, I urge you to serve the Church in such a way that Christians—edified by our witness—will not be tempted to turn to Jesus without turning to the outcast, to become a closed caste with nothing authentically ecclesial about it. I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is marginalized, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith, or say that they are atheists; to see the Lord in who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper—whether in body or soul—who encounters discrimination! We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalized! May we always have before us the image of Saint Francis, who was unafraid to embrace the leper and to accept every kind of outcast. Truly, dear brothers, the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered and is revealed!

I was and continue to be amazed at the clarity and breadth of Pope Francis’ vision for our church. He is clear that because no one is beyond the reach of God’s love, so too no one can be beyond the reach of our Church. For Pope Francis, reaching out to the marginalized, the outcast, the excluded is not just a good thing to do, it is essential and fundamental to our Church. 

Now clearly, we have not done this well. At times people have sought to restructure the Catholic Church into what they see as a far smaller, simpler and more spiritual entity. I think this is not just unfortunate, but also and more importantly it fails to follow the example of Jesus. In the Gospels, Jesus was always reaching out to those that others referred to as “tax collectors and sinners”—to the people on the margins. And we know that these tax collectors and sinners not only became his followers, but also eventually became those who would continue the mission and ministry of Jesus and bring his message to the world. 

Clearly it is safer and simpler and it certainly takes less effort to try to restrict our Church’s mission only to those who are already “in the corral,” so to speak. I believe, though, that Pope Francis’ has laid before us a profound and exciting challenge. And challenges can be scary. Our Church, and particularly The Basilica, though, will more clearly be the church of Christ when we strive to reach out to the marginalized, the outcast, the excluded. We don’t have to go far to do this, these people are all around us. They are our relatives and friends, our neighbors and co-workers. They are all those who—for whatever reason—feel at a distance from God’s love. Our call and challenge are to welcome and invite them into our community, and share with them the inclusive, universal and unending love of God made visible in Jesus Christ and given expression in our care and concern.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some years ago I was asked to give a tour of The Basilica to a group of lawyers, physicians, reporters and university professors from the Middle East. Most of them were Muslim with the exception of one or two Christians. They had been invited by the State Department to experience our country first-hand. My task was to show them the building and while doing that answer any questions they might have about Christianity. Given the many images and symbols around our building it was rather easy to offer a quick introduction to our catholic faith.

Toward the end of the tour a journalist from Yemen asked me how we could consider ourselves monotheists or believers in one God as we seemingly worshipped three Gods. As fate or better yet, Divine Providence would have it we were standing by the chapel of St. Anthony. Carved in the wall leading to this chapel is a representation of a snake and a clover, the symbolic representation of St. Patrick. The snake refers to the belief that Patrick chased all snakes out of Ireland. The clover was used by Patrick to explain the mystery of the Trinity. Pointing out that a three lobed clover leaf has indeed three lobes but constitutes one leaf he explained that the Holy Trinity is one God but three persons.

I pointed out the carving of the clover in the wall and told the story of St. Patrick. I told them that we have a threefold experience of the one God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. I spoke of our God we call Father who created all that is. I spoke of our God we know as Son who redeemed us from our sinfulness and death. And I spoke of our God as Spirit who inspires us to live according to the Gospel.

Hesitatingly admitting that on some level this made sense, the journalist then told me of a picture she saw of the Christian God in the form of three men. How was she to deduce that this actually was an image of one God? I asked her if the three men looked alike.” Indeed they did”, she said, “they looked exactly alike”.  There, of course is a reason for that as the three are actually the one and the same.

Nevertheless, the representation of God as three men, more than likely old and long bearded white men does not necessarily enhance the understanding of the Trinity. In the end, God only became human in Jesus Christ. Depicting the other two persons of the Holy Trinity in human terms may be too much of an anthropomorphic approach to the Trinity. This actually may impede the understanding of our God by Christians and non-Christians alike.

The mystery of our Tri-une God is in essence the mystery of an intimate relationship. In the same way as two humans who love one another are one in their love but separate individuals so the persons of the Trinity are one in their relationship but distinct in their personhood.

As our visitors left The Basilica they thanked me profusely for giving them a better understanding of Christianity. The Yemini journalist said nothing, but just smiled. To this day I am not sure what she ended up thinking about our faith. Of course, thinking is probably the wrong verb as it really is all about believing. After all, as the little boy by the sea told St. Augustine, it is no more difficult to move all the water of the ocean using a seashell than it is to comprehend the Holy Trinity.

 

I sometimes catch myself fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to be a monk in a Trappist monastery where I could spend lots of time in prayer and reflection. In this fantasy, I would be much holier, much more tolerant and understanding, and certainly kinder and more caring than I am. The reality is, though, that most likely within a couple of months at the monastery, the Abbot would be calling me in to his office to chastise me for talking excessively and breaking silence, sleeping in and missing Lauds, and hiding a cell phone in my room. While some people are called to be a Trappist monk, I am not one of them. And my fantasy about being a better and holier person if I were a Trappist monk is just that—a fantasy. It is my way of justifying those times when I fail to live and act as a follower of Jesus.  

I suspect all of us have our own version of the: “I would be a much holier and better person if only ----” (You can fill in the blank). In part, these fantasies are understandable. There are times for all of us when pettiness, meanness, or even spitefulness finds expression in our lives, and we tell ourselves that it would not have happened—“if only.”  

The above is not a new problem. It has been around at least since the beginnings of our Church. We even have a name for it. We call it sin. Now we need to be clear. Christians didn’t invent sin. We do believe, though, that because of and in Jesus Christ, we have found the remedy for sin. In Jesus Christ, God is continually offering us the grace we need to resist sin and/or to repent of our sins. The only hitch is that God never forces God’s grace on us. Rather God offers us God’s grace. It is always our free choice to accept that grace or to reject.

To be a better and holier person we only have to accept the grace God offers us. Now some days, I do this fairly well. There are other days, though, when it is a real struggle. I suspect the reason for this is that there is a certain attractiveness about sin. The reality is, though, that the attractiveness of sin is short lived, and it merely distracts me from the more difficult task of accepting my faults and failings, and acknowledging my need for God.  

I don’t have to become a Trappist monk to be a better person. I do need to be open, though, to the grace God is continually offering me. I used to think this would get easier as I got older, but sin runs deep in our lives and isn’t easily rooted out. God’s grace, though, is constant and ever present, and this gives me hope that some day I will be that better person I want to be. 

Owen's Landmark Gift

In the fall of 2007 I was hired as The Basilica Block Party Intern.  If you would have asked me as a college senior if I would still be working at The Basilica more than seven years later I probably would have said no.  I loved my internship, but it was not until I began working elsewhere that I realized what a truly unique and rare place The Basilica and the community it services are.

In the spring of 2009, I returned as a full-time employee in The Basilica’s development office. Six years later, I am grateful to be a staff member and to experience The Basilica’s beauty on a daily basis.

Even as seeing the building has become part of my daily routine, I am constantly reminded by all those that enter its doors how important this building is to so many people.  It is a beautiful and historic landmark, but it is more than that, it is a spiritual home to thousands, a center for the arts, a refuge for those in need and a beacon of hope in our community. 

I was reminded of this again last fall, when 7 year old Owen came to visit the Basilica with his Grandmother.  Like so many of us, Owen fell in love with what he saw and wanted to know how the Basilica was cared for.  His Grandmother told him it takes donations from thousand of people each year to care for this historic building.

Upon hearing this Owen decided to donate from his piggy bank - $2.03 to The Basilica Landmark.  But Owen did not stop there.  He then turned to his family and asked them if they would join him in making their own donations, collecting an additional $45.25. 

What makes Owen’s gift even more special is that it qualifies for our Participation Challenge.  For every NEW Annual fund gift received, a generous anonymous donor will donate $100 to The Basilica Landmark up to $70,000.  No minimum gift is required, which means Owen’s $2.03 immediately turned into $102.03.

Now we turn to you; please join Owen by making a gift to The Basilica Landmark today.

With your help, The Basilica Landmark can continue its work to address the growing needs of our parish, steward our buildings, and ensure The Basilica can continue to service our community.

This spring, we have begun construction on the Reardon Rectory to convert the unfinished space on the 4th floor to offices, archives and art storage space.  Now nearly 90 years old, the Reardon Rectory cannot accommodate current and future space needs for our growing parish.  Upon completion of the project the Basilica’s extensive art and archive collection will finally have proper storage as well as space for individuals to visit and view the collection.  In addition to adding space to the rectory, the entire building will also receive central AC, replacing 35 individual wall units for added energy efficiency as well as updated fire suppression for added safety. 

Tuck-pointing the bell towers will also take place. The featured project in this year’s Fund-a-Need auction at the Basilica Landmark Ball, The Basilica’s bell towers are in desperate need of repair. In 2011, a 300-pound exterior stone came loose from The Basilica’s west bell tower, falling from the façade and crushing the front steps. Thankfully, no one was injured, but this incident heightened the need for new mortar on these towers.  Beginning in 2015, and every five years thereafter, tuck-pointing of the bell towers will be required to keep them in a safe condition and to ensure the integrity of the towers.

These are just two of many projects The Basilica Landmark will address this year, investing more than $2 million in The Basilica and its campus in 2015.

I feel deep gratitude for Owen and all those in our community for your ongoing investment in our beautiful historic landmark and campus projects.  It took many hands to build the Basilica more than 100 years ago and it continues to take all of us to care for it. I ask you to please join Owen by making a gift to The Basilica Landmark today.  To find more information on any Landmark projects or to make a gift please go to thebasilicalandmark.org.

I have been using the same books to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (formerly the Breviary) for over 35 years, and yet on a regular basis a word in the psalms or scripture readings, or one of the prayers, will catch me by surprise and be a source of prayer and reflection for me. Most recently this happened with one of the prayers of intercession for Thursday of the fourth week of the psalter. The prayer was simple:  “Grant, Lord, that we may see in each person the dignity of one redeemed by your Son's blood, so that we may respect the freedom and the conscience of all.” 

As I reflected on this prayer it struck me how easy it is for me to not to see the dignity in each person, let alone respect their freedom and their conscience. More often than I care to admit I view someone do something or I hear someone say something, and I assign a negative meaning to their words or actions, without ever bothering to check to see if there was any accuracy to my interpretation.    

Perhaps I am looking for company in this particular failing, but I suspect this is something we all do—at least occasionally. Someone will say something or do something and we take offense, without bothering to check to see if our interpretation of their behavior or their words was correct. When we do this, we fail to see in that person the dignity of one redeemed by Jesus’ blood. And instead we have sat in judgment of them.  

In addition to respecting the dignity of others, though, it is also important to remember that even if we disagree with their behaviors and/or words, we are still called to respect their freedom and their conscience. In saying this there is a need for clarity. Respecting someone’s freedom and conscience does not mean we are giving assent to their behavior or words. Nor does it mean that we can’t voice our disagreement. Rather, respecting someone’s freedom and conscience means that we must strive to see and love in them what God sees and loves in them. Certainly this is not always easy. And clearly from time to time we all fail at it. As followers of Jesus, though, it is a task from which we cannot shrink.     

Christ did not come to redeem only a select few. He came to redeem all of us. None of us by dint of our own effort can achieve our own salvation. We all stand in need of the salvation that is offered us through Jesus Christ. This is one of the fundamental truths of our faith. I believe we only begin to understand the depth of this truth when we are able to see in each person the dignity of one redeemed by Jesus’ blood and respect the freedom and the conscience of all. 

 

“Ask Mother Mary for help.”  With these words my grandmother always sent me along, either to school or camp or just on my way home. At first I thought she was telling me I could always ask her for help as her name was Mary. It was not until she was more explicit about it that I learned she was referring to the Blessed Mother. 

From that day on whenever my grandmother suggested I “ask Mother Mary for help” I obliged. Without much thought, I usually just repeated what my grandmother told me and prayed: “Mother Mary, help me.” Most of the time, there was no specific need. And while this interaction seemed somewhat perfunctory and almost mindless it was comforting. 

One time I remember asking my grandmother how it was that I should request Mary’s help? I clearly had never met her. And since we did not know one another how could I be assured that she would help me? Without saying a word, my grandmother stopped me in my tracks and walked me to the Lourdes grotto in her garden. She told me to “look at her face.” We stood there for a long while without saying anything. At first I thought it strange but as I continued to look at Mary’s face it was as if I no longer saw the plaster statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. I actually had a strong sense that I was gazing into the eyes of Mary herself. I had a veritable “Visio Divina” or “Seeing the Divine” moment before it was named thus. 

Mary looked remarkably like my grandmother, though maybe a bit younger and darker skinned. And sounding like my grandmother she assured me that I could always “Ask Mother Mary for help.” I am not sure how long the experience lasted. Suddenly, I felt my grandmother’s hand on my shoulder. I looked at her. She nodded and walked me back to the front door. As we said our goodbyes I told her that Mary looked and sounded just like her. My grandmother smiled, waved me out and said “Ask Mother Mary for help.” 

As I am writing this column I am looking into the face of the many statues of Mary that grace my office: Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of LaVang, Our Lady of Africa, Our Lady of Guadalupe. They all look different. They appear as they were described by those who had a vision of them. And they all remind me of that one moment filled with grace so many years ago and I can hear my grandmother’s voice inviting me to: “Ask Mother Mary for help.”

My response to this invitation is no longer as quick, automatic or evident as it was when I was a young boy. I guess I have become a bit tainted by age and I may have lost some of my ability for spiritual seeing and hearing. Sometimes I wish for that uncomplicated time when I could just ask for help. I also wish for the amazing sense of Mary’s presence I had so many years ago. Maybe I don’t listen well enough? Or maybe I look in all the wrong places?

As we celebrate Mary during the month of May I will be looking for her, not only in the face of the many statues I have in my office but also in the faces of the many women who surround me. They have nourished my faith from the very beginning and they continue to do so until today. Some of them do this from the other side of this life while others do it here and now. And I will ponder the question whether Mary took on my grandmother’s face when she appeared to me or whether my grandmother looked like Mary?  In either case, it is an affirmation that all of us are called—not only to become like Christ—but also to become like Mary, this strong Jewish women who dared to say yes to the greatest mystery of all: bearing God to the world.

On Mother’s day I will light a candle for my mother, my grandmother and for all the women who surround me as I think of them and honor them and pray for them. I will ponder their face in that of Mary and Mary’s face in theirs and I will “ask Mother Mary for help.”  

Working to end hunger in our country and world can seem overwhelming. Hunger is a complex, age-old human struggle. What can one person do?

Providing direct assistance to people who are hungry through churches and charities is vital. It feeds many families in immediate need and gives people hope for the future. But even if churches and charities doubled their efforts, they still would not be able to end hunger on their own. Our federal government must play a role. Only government leaders can make economic, social, and political decisions necessary to attack the deep structural causes, and ultimately eliminate widespread hunger and poverty. Just a sentence or two written into a piece of legislation can benefit millions of people in the United States and around the world.

As people of faith and conscience, we must remind leaders of their responsibilities to the people they represent, and offer constructive solutions. We can advocate for changes in public policy that will end hunger and poverty in the decades ahead. Advocating with and for people who are hungry is something each of us can do, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. It just takes the will to act and speak out. Even though the political process in Washington can seem challenging, we remain hope-filled and confident that our voices will make a difference.

Bread for the World is a non-partisan, Christian citizens' movement in the United States that urges our nation's leaders to end hunger at home and abroad. God's grace moves us to help our neighbors, whether they live in the next house, the next state, or the next continent. If we work together and confront the problem of hunger directly, we can end hunger in our time. Everyone, including our government, must do their part. Together, we can build the political commitment needed to overcome hunger and poverty.

The Basilica is joining other churches throughout our country in Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters. We are mobilizing our entire parish community to write letters and urge Congress to renew our federal government’s major child nutrition programs, including those for school meals, summer feeding, and the WIC nutrition programs for pregnant and new mothers along with their small children.

Every five years, Congress must re-authorize the law that funds these programs, which have helped so many children. Even with all the progress that has been made, only half of children receiving school lunches benefit from breakfast. Summer meals are available to less than 10 percent of those children who count on lunches during the school year. Overall, one in five children goes to bed hungry every night in the U.S.

Now is the time to renew these national nutrition programs. We invite you to be part of the Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters by taking a few minutes to write letters to your members of Congress. Urge them to protect child nutrition programs from cuts and harmful policy changes, and improve children’s access to school breakfasts and summer meals. Working together, we can be part of God’s will on earth that all children receive the food that enables them to learn, be healthy, and grow strong.

Advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable is a constitutive part of our faith. As God’s hands and feet in the world, we work toward a beloved community in which every person has an equal opportunity to thrive. The Offering of Letters is one way that we can live out this commitment. It invites us to be good stewards, using our voices to encourage our elected representatives to take the necessary steps to end hunger.

The Basilica will be collecting letters from you, our parish community, throughout the month of May. Place your letters in baskets in the back of church or in the parish Rectory. Before they are mailed, we will gather these letters and bless them in Mass throughout the weekend of June 6/7, 2015. We encourage all members to participate in this call to action. You can learn more at www.mary.org/offeringofletters. Let us act together and make a difference!

On the Threshold

The Basilica of Saint Mary is on the threshold of making a huge difference in our community. We are on the verge of doing something great. Working together, we have an opportunity to effectively put our faith into action—leaving the world a better place for future generations. 

What are we doing? What is so grand and effectual? Beginning in early May, when you throw away garbage at the Basilica, you will have three options: Is it recycling? Is it organics? Is it trash? Your choice to sort waste accurately will help change the culture of The Basilica, and save our world. This simple choice can speak boldly and prophetically to our community.

Is this hyperbole? Well, perhaps. But I suggest that this very simple gesture, multiplied over and over every day, can indeed change our world.  This focused attention to the waste stream we create, individually and collectively as a parish community, can make a significant difference in our world. 

We can too easily minimize the impact of small, individual efforts in a big world. Yet, we are invited to consider the impact of our collective actions, working together as the Body of Christ, advocating and acting on behalf of the most vulnerable. All it takes is a desire to engage—a willingness to care and act. 

Currently, The Basilica sends at least two-thirds of our waste stream into trash, with less than a third recycled. Over and over we put materials that have value into the trash—adding to landfills or incinerator use. Hennepin County was considering enlarging the incinerator just north of The Basilica due to over use. A large proportion of what is being burned has value, and they have refocused their efforts to increase composting. We can help in this effort. As we all help to sort our waste, we will drastically reduce what The Basilica puts into the landfills and incinerators. The goal for The Basilica is to move to 10% trash.

Organics:
One big change for The Basilica is to begin to collect organics that can be easily composted into rich soil. Did you know that 40% of the waste stream created by each of us every day is organics? Food waste, non-recyclable paper, flowers and plant waste, and other organic items add up to almost half of our garbage. When organics are placed in a landfill, they create methane gas, which is 70 times worse a greenhouse gas than carbon-dioxide. If we divert even 15% of the organics from our landfills, we would realize a reduction of methane gas equal to taking over 23,500 cars off the road. We can make a huge difference. All it takes is a choice: place all organics into the correct waste bin.

Recycling: 
Recycling can seem mundane or old-school. Yet, when we choose recycling, we allow our waste to be reconstituted and reused. Some things, like aluminum cans and glass bottles/jars, have no limit on the number of times they can be recycled. They don’t lose their quality when recycled over and over. 

Materials like paper do not have an infinite life. The number of times paper can get recycled into new paper is limited. Normal copy paper can go through the recycling process five to seven times. After that, the paper fibers will become too short. Newspaper is already of lower quality. It can be turned into egg cartons.

Our habits are often ingrained in our culture and can easily be dismissed. We are a society that measures our productivity by how much we purchase. We often clear out by throwing away.  Our faith calls us to calibrate our lives and actions differently. Our invitation is to take these choices seriously.

The exciting part of this initiative is that it involves each of us. We will have success if we all do our part. Yet, the hard part of this initiative is that success depends on each one of us. Let us, together, find ways to energize our imaginations and engage. 

Look for new bins, in sets of three, all around The Basilica campus. Help us be successful in our work to leave the world in a better place for future generations. To get more involved in this initiative, contact Donna at rdkrisch@gmail.com or Dennis at dennis.dillon@msn.com.

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