Fr. John Bauer

Rector and Pastor

Serves on the Parish Council, Finance Committee, Stewardship Council and as a member of The Basilica Landmark Board.  Fr. Bauer led the successful merger of 3 parishes (St.Therese, St. Gregory, St. Leo) to become the new Lumen Christi in St. Paul, and completed their major building expansion.  Former Pastor of St. Therese, Deephaven and Associate at St. Patrick’s in Edina. 

(612) 317-3502

Recent Posts by Fr. John Bauer

What Are We Waiting For

Waiting. We’re not very good at that anymore. Perhaps we never were. In this “instant gratification” “gotta have it now” “why is that website taking forever to download” modern age, we get frustrated and irritable if we have to wait for any length of time. The other day I found myself not so silently criticizing the driver of the car in front of me because the light had turned green three seconds earlier and they had not moved. I mean really, I am sure most people would agree that three seconds is a long time for any sane person to wait.

I think the problem with waiting is that it feels like time wasted. And who can afford to waste time these days? We have way too much to do. Every minute counts. It feels like we are squandering a precious resource if our schedule isn’t jam packed, and we aren’t racing from one good and important thing to another. And that is part of the problem. If we were engaged in frivolous or unimportant activities, it would be easy to cut back on them. But for most of us, the things we do have value and significance. We wouldn’t be doing them otherwise. And yet—at times I wonder if all this activity isn’t a way for us to avoid some of the deeper issues and concerns of our lives. Very specifically, I wonder if it isn’t a way for us to avoid having to pause and wait so we can become aware of God’s presence and open to God’s grace. 

Now I know that most of us would not intentionally or deliberately try to avoid God. It’s just that God isn’t really good at small talk. Moreover, it takes a while, as well as some real effort, to tune everything else out so we can “tune in” to God. We all have schedules. So, it would just seem to make sense that if we could just sync up God’s schedule with our schedule everything would be so much easier. The difficulty is that God doesn’t work on our schedule, and so we need to find the times and tools that help us to slow down and wait on God. Advent is such a time.

The season of Advent is all about waiting. During advent, we are reminded of all those centuries when God’s people awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises, the years of uncertainty, the times of doubt. This side of Christmas, it’s easy to think that this season is all about “arrival” e.g. the birth of Jesus. And that’s partly true. But let’s not forget the waiting that preceded Christ’s birth, the waiting that marked the time before Christ’s birth, the waiting that the people of old experienced.

And so, maybe a little waiting is a good thing. I know that’s a difficult concept for some of us to get our minds around, but I think there is a profound truth to be found in waiting. And that truth is that God also waits for us. God waits for us to discern God’s presence, to be open to God’s grace; to respond to God’s love; and to let God find a home in our lives and in our hearts. 

I think the season of Advent is a great opportunity to think differently about waiting. Perhaps the waiting we do during Advent won’t change the way we feel as we get caught in a traffic jam and have to wait, and wait and wait, but maybe, just maybe, it will give us the chance to view that time differently—possibly as a time to turn off the radio, put down the cell phone and spend a little time with God in prayer. 

For this Sunday’s reading click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.  This is the last Sunday of our Liturgical year.  Next Sunday we begin the season of Advent and a new liturgical year.  
The Solemnity of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925.   Seeing the devastation caused by World War I, Pius established this Feast as a way to remind people that despite what may happen in our world, Christ is Lord of both heaven and earth.  Initially this Feast was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but when the Roman Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar in 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year.     
The readings for the Feast of Christ the King have an eschatological tone.  (Eschatology is the area of theology that focuses on the last things.)   This eschatological tone is most clearly seen in the Gospel for this celebration, which is the final judgment scene (the separation of the sheep and goats) from the Gospel of Matthew.   
This eschatological tone is echoed in the first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, where we read:  “As for you my sheep, says the Lord God, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.”   
The second reading for this Feast is taken from the fist letter of Paul to the Corinthians.  It also speaks of the final days when Christ will “hand over the kingdom to his God and Father.”   
Thoughts for Consideration and Reflection: 
  1. Our readings today are clear that judgment is God’s business, not ours. Yet we all continue to make judgments about others.   Now I rationalize this by telling myself that when I make judgments about individuals I am doing so for entirely altruistic reasons.   I want to save time at the end of the world by doing a little pre-judging in the present.   What rationale do you use for judging others?
  2. Fairly frequently we hear of people who, by their reading of certain scripture texts, have determined that the end of the world is near.   So far they have all been wrong.   Why are so many people so obsessed with the trying to determine when the end of the world will occur?
  3. Notice that in our Gospel today, both the righteous and the accursed are surprised that they either helped --- or failed to help --- the Lord in what they did  --- or failed to do --- for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger the naked, the ill and they imprisoned.  When have you seen or failed to see the face of Christ in others?   

Several years ago I had a meeting with my spiritual director and in our conversation I mentioned an issue that seemed to crop up periodically in my life. He listened carefully and than suggested that it might be helpful if I asked myself a couple of questions on a regular basis—sort of a mini examination of conscience. The questions he suggested were simple. “Where have I been the bad guy in someone’s life the past few (or several) weeks?” “Where have I been a hero in someone’s life the past few (or several) weeks?”

These questions were and continue to be helpful to me as I look at where sin has found a foothold—or worse—safe haven in my life. They challenge me to look beyond my intentions, to the impact and effects of my words and actions on others. In this regard, it is easy for me to tell myself that since I didn’t deliberately intend to hurt someone, what I did or said couldn’t have been sinful. The reality is, though, that both intentionally and unintentionally we can be the bad guy in someone’s life. 

On the other hand, it is also good to ask ourselves on a regular basis, where I might be the hero in someone’s life. Now we don’t do this to inflate our ego, or to give us something to feel good about. Rather, we do it to discover where we are doing something right or good and how we might do more of that. 

Asking ourselves on a regular basis where we may have hurt someone or conversely where we may have helped someone is a good spiritual exercise. It can help us be more aware of where a pattern of sin may have entered our life, or where virtue is manifesting itself. Taking a look at the impact of our words and actions on a regular basis can spur our spiritual growth, and help us to be more attuned to God’s presence in our lives and more open to God’s grace. 

Now while it is good to identify where we have perhaps grown lax in our spiritual life, or where we are manifesting virtue, it is important not to stop at that point. The next step is to ask ourselves what we need to do to root out sin, and/or where we can give better witness to our faith. In this regard, I have discovered that in my own life prayer and reception of the Eucharist are the things that help me to grow spiritually and to recognize where God is offering me God’s grace. 

Now while the Eucharist and prayer have helped me to be a better person, they have clearly not eliminated sin from my life, or put me on the path to sainthood. They do help me, though, to be a better person than I otherwise might be. As importantly, they help me to remember that God is still at work in my life, calling me to do good, avoid sin, and to believe that God’s grace is always being offered to me to live as Jesus has called me to live. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  

Our Gospel this weekend --- the parable of the talents --- is a well known story.   A man decided to go on a journey and so he called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.  “To one he gave five talents, to another two; to a third one --- each according to his ability.”    The first two servants traded with the talents they had been given and doubled them.  The third “buried his master’s money.”   After being gone a long time the master returned and called in his servants to settle accounts with them.  The first two were congratulated for being “good and faithful” servants, and were promised greater responsibilities.  They also were invited to “share in their master’s joy.”   The third was berated as a “wicked and lazy servant,” and thrown “into the darkness outside.”  

What are we to make of this parable?  It seems as if the master’s treatment of the third servant is unduly harsh.  I think the key is to be found in the fact that he entrusted his possessions to his servants “each according to his ability.”   The third servant was lazy and indifferent.  He didn’t even put his master’s money in the bank where it could earn interest.   As with every parable, this one also tells us something about God or about our relationship with God.   Specifically this parable reminds us very clearly that God has given us the gift of faith, and we put off living out our faith at our own risk.  

Our first reading this weekend from the book of Proverbs speaks of the qualities of a worthy wife.  It  shares the theme of the Gospel in that a worthy wife uses well the talents and abilities she has been given.  In this she is like the first two servants in the Gospel. 

Once again this weekend our second reading is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In the selection we read this weekend Paul reminds the Thessalonians that because of Jesus Christ they “are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.  For all of you are children of the light, and children of the day.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 

  1. What are you doing to develop the gift of faith you have been given? 
  2. What inhibits you from developing the gift of faith?  
  3. What does it mean to live as children of the light?   

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser: 

“Its mine and you can’t have it.”  How often did we say those words as children, or worse, how often as adults do we still say them?   They express control and selfishness.   At first blush, it appears that this is the message being conveyed by the wise virgins in our Gospel today.   In that Gospel we are told that there were five wise virgins and five foolish virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  “The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”   When the bridegroom arrived, “all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise ones replied, ‘No for there may not be enough for us and you.’”    

Were the wise virgins being selfish in not sharing some of their oil?   In order to answer this question, we need to remember that parables were simple stories that Jesus used to tell us something about God or about our relationship with God.  They were not meant to be taken literally.   From this perspective the question, then, is what was Jesus trying to tell us in this parable.  Well, I would suggest that Jesus was telling us that some things can not be acquired at the last minute, and one very specific thing that cannot be obtained at the last minute is a relationship with God.   At the end of our lives we can’t turn to the person next to us and ask them for some of their relationship with God.   We need to plan ahead and work throughout our lives to develop our relationship with God.   

Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom is an exhortation to seek wisdom.  “For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care;”  And the wisest thing we can do is seek God, and to build a relationship with God.   

In our second reading this weekend Paul reminds the Thessalonians of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of eternal life that has been given to all of us.   He closes with the clear command: “Therefore, console one another with these words.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 

  1. The Gospel parable reminds us that we need to work now to develop our relationship with God.   How does one do this?
  2. How does one seek wisdom?
  3. Belief in eternal life is one of the pillars of our faith.   How would you explain this belief to someone who came from a non-Christian background?