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

The Way of Jesus

A few weeks ago a former parishioner of mine told me she was taking a break from the Catholic Church. With the recent and seemingly endless revelations about our church’s mishandling of the sexually inappropriate behavior on the part of various priests, she didn’t feel that, at the present time, the Catholic Church was a place where she could pray and experience God’s grace. She was clear that her decision was not irrevocable, but — at least for now — she was going to look elsewhere for spiritual strength and guidance.

As we talked, it was clear that while she was angry, perhaps the overriding emotion for her was disappointment. And while she was able to make a distinction between the Church and its all too fallible ministers and leaders, she couldn’t understand why no one seemed to be held accountable or was willing to accept responsibility for the current crisis. She felt that the Church, as an institution, had failed her and others who called the Catholic Church their spiritual home. This was tough for me to hear. As our conversation ended, though, we agreed to stay in touch and to continue the conversation another day. 

Now while I could understand my former parishioner’s reasoning, and in part could agree with it, I also know that for me there is no other spiritual home I could imagine for myself than the Catholic Church. With all its warts, with its imperfect and flawed ministers, the Catholic Church is where I am meant to be. I echo Peter’s words when Jesus asked him if he also wanted to leave: “Master to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).      

Now while I am joined at the hip with the Catholic Church, I don’t think it is acceptable simply to write off anyone, who, for whatever reason, has left or taken a break from the Catholic Church.  Especially at this time, I think that I, as your pastor, as well as our entire community, need to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions: Who are those people who no longer worship with us? Who feels alienated or estranged from our Church?  Are we comfortable that people no longer choose to join us for worship? 

Sadly, I think it is all too easy for us to simply let people leave our Church without making an effort to talk with them or ask them to stay. This needs to stop. It is not enough simply to tell people they are always welcome to come back. Instead, we need to help them find a reason to stay, or at least a reason to keep the conversation going. In the Gospels, Jesus had ongoing and serious disagreements with the Scribes and Pharisees, yet he never stopped talking with them. He never stopped trying to engage them. I think this is a good model for us. We need to invite people to continue the conversation and not just leave. 

Our Church has been around for over 2,000 years. During this time, it has faced innumerable divisions and controversies; it has had poor and ineffective leaders; it has engaged in activities that were questionable at best and cruel at worse, and yet it remains. At its best, our Church is a place of God’s presence and grace, and a beacon of hope and a spiritual home to many. Certainly our local Church has not been that lately. For this reason I can understand why some people might choose to leave. I would hope, though, that, as individuals, and as a parish community we would not be comfortable if or when people choose to leave, but rather that we would engage them and offer to keep the conversation going. This was the way of Jesus. It needs to be our way as well.


Follow the link for this weekend's readings.

In the play “A Man for All Seasons” Thomas More addressed the witnesses for his execution in the following words;   “I am commanded by the King to be brief, and since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be. I die his Majesty's good servant but God's first.”   I was reminded of these words when I read Jesus’ opening statement in this weekend’s Gospel.  “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and Mammon.”  Clearly Jesus was telling his disciples they could not have divided loyalties. As his followers, their first loyalty needed to be to God.         

Jesus then went on to remind his disciples (and us) that we are not to give ourselves over to worry or anxiety.  “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”  Rather we are to trust in God.  “So do no worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or “What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek.  You heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”   

Our first reading this weekend from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it Isaiah reminds the people that God will never forget them.  ‘Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?  Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”   

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.   In the section we read this weekend Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us) that .people need to see us “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”  We should not be concerned about passing judgment on others or their passing judgment on us.  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 
1.    Why is it difficult at times to trust God?  
2.    Have you ever felt forgotten by God?  
3.    How can you be a servant of Christ?   

Witnessing Our Beliefs

Several months ago I had an encounter with an individual who identified themselves as a fundamentalist Christian. In our brief conversation, we had a disagreement about how best to enter into conversation with those who don’t necessarily identify themselves as Christians. My point was that we need to enter into dialogue with these people so that hopefully we can find common ground. The individual with whom I was talking took a more aggressive stance. This person believed that Christians need to be clear, forthright and unapologetic about their beliefs. If that should cause problems or divisions, so be it. The person then quoted Luke 6:22 as justification for their position:

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!  Behold your reward will be great in heaven.” 

Now, in response to this, I tried to point out that as disciples of Jesus we aren’t supposed to try to make the world hate us. Certainly at times our beliefs may set us apart from others. And there may be times when people don’t like us because of our beliefs. But this is different from deliberately antagonizing people or looking for a fight with someone.

In the Gospels Jesus didn’t try to deliberately provoke, alienate, or invite people to hate him. Now, of course, this is not to say it didn’t happen. Jesus wasn’t crucified because people didn’t like the way he parted his hair. At times his words and actions did cause people to take offense. But I don’t believe this was deliberate. Time and again in the Gospels we see Jesus reaching out to, spending time with, and engaging in conversation those with whom he disagreed. I think this is a good model for us.

As Christians our beliefs may, at times, set us apart from others. And in the worst case, our beliefs may cause people to hate us. But having people hate us should not be the goal for which we strive. Rather, I think we need to follow the model Jesus set for us. We need to be clear and unapologetic about our beliefs, but we also need to be open to dialogue and conversation.

It is in dialogue and conversation that we might be able to find some common ground. It is in dialogue and conversation that we show those with whom we disagree that we recognize in them a fellow child of God. It is in dialogue and conversation that we model the respect we hope others will reciprocate. And it is in dialogue and conversation that we invite others hopefully to see the worthiness and rightness of our beliefs.

It seems to me that too often in our world today we talk at or over each other. Some people even seem to take delight in being “hated” by others. I don’t think this was the way of Jesus and I don’t think it should be our way either. As disciples of Jesus, we aren’t supposed to deliberately try to make the world hate us. Rather, we are called to love one another as we have first been loved by God. Certainly this is challenging, but I believe that we are more apt to change people’s minds and hearts if we first give witness to our belief, as Jesus told us, that: “God is Love.”


Follow the link below or copy and paste it into your browser for this weekend’s readings.

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells his disciples:  “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you…………………..”  Later Jesus says again:  “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you…………................”   

Now there are some people who have suggested and continue to suggest that in these words Jesus was seeking to abolish the law the scribes and Pharisees held so dear.   I don’t believe this was the case.  Rather I think Jesus was calling his disciples to a deeper commitment to the law and an entirely new way of living.  Jesus is clear about this at the end of this weekend’s Gospel when he said:   “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”   These words remind us very forcibly that as followers of Jesus our lives are to be substantially different from those of non-believers. Certainly we don’t always do this well, but that does not mean that we can ever stop trying.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Leviticus.  It shares the theme of the Gospel.   Specifically God told Moses to tell the whole Israelite community:  “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge again any of your people.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”    

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.  In the section we read this weekend Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us):  “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.    Why is it so hard at times to love our neighbor? 
2.    What helps you let go of hurt and resentment, and forgive?
3.    What do you think Paul meant when he said we are Temples of God?    

Follow the link below or copy and paste it into your browser for the readings for February 16th

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells his disciples:  “unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  As we read these words, it would be easy to think Jesus was criticizing the scribes and Pharisees because they were bad people or because they were doing bad things. The fact is, though, the scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of their time.  They carefully observed all the laws and all the precepts of the laws.  In fact, they were so intent on following the law that they constructed a “fence” around the law so that they wouldn’t accidently break it, e.g. they determined how may steps an individual could take on the Sabbath before they broke the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was not that they were bad people who did bad things.  Rather, the issue was that they had turned their relationship with God into a set of rules and regulations.  While their actions were always in accord with the law, their heart was not.   They had forgotten that following the law was not an end in itself.  Rather the purpose of the law was to help people grow in their relationship with God.  Jesus invited them (and us) to recognize that while following the law is important, more important is that we do so because our hearts are set on doing God’s will.

Our first reading this weekend from the Book of Sirach reinforces the message of the Gospel.   It reminds us that “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live.”   It reminds us that keeping the commandments will save us, if we trust in God.  

In our second reading this weekend we are reminded of God’s mysterious wisdom.   “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

1. In many ways a nanny and a parent both do the same tasks.   The difference is the nanny does them because they are paid to do them.  The parent does them out of love.  I believe doing things out of love and not obligation is what Jesus was getting at in our Gospel today.  Do you agree or disagree? 

2. What does it mean to trust in God?

3. What words/images come to mind when you think of what God has prepared for those who love him?