Archives: September 2015

If you haven’t visited the Reardon Rectory this summer, you may not be aware of all the work that is going on. This summer we are renovating the fourth floor to create space for our art and archives storage; installing some handicapped accessible bathrooms; renovating the third floor kitchen; installing a fire sprinkler system; and adding central air conditioning. Trying to work amidst the noise and general commotion has, at times, been challenging. It reminded me of a comment some friends made many years ago when they were remodeling their home. They told me that they could have afforded it, they would have moved out while their house was being remodeled.  


Perhaps the biggest challenge during the renovation and upgrading of the Reardon Rectory has been the fact that, for various periods of time, our staff has had to vacate their offices while work was being done in them. This has necessitated relocating people to various areas of the campus. Some are temporary office-ing in our school building; others are in the ground level rooms in the church; others are in Cowley Center; and others have needed to share office space. The difficulty has been trying to remember where someone is when you are trying to locate them. At times it has reminded me of the “Where’s Waldo” game from several years ago. You knew Waldo was somewhere in the picture, but you had to look hard to find him.   


As I reflected on this experience, it reminded me of my sometimes vain attempts to find God’s presence in my life. Now I know and believe that God is present in my life. Unfortunately, there have been—and no doubt will continue to be—times, when despite my best and most prayerful efforts, I can’t seem to find or feel God’s presence in my life. Now these times don’t occur regularly or with any consistency. Most often they occur when I am trying to make a decision or come to clarity about something. At these times, I tell myself that I am trying to understand and follow God’s will. The reality is, though, that more often I am trying to “push” God to give me a sense of clarity and direction. I have discovered, though, that God does not operate on my timeline or according to my agenda.   


God is always with us in our lives. This we believe. This is our faith. At times, however, for a variety of reasons we may have a hard time finding or feeling God’s presence. At these times it would be easy to give up on God, and presume that God either doesn’t care about us or that God is preoccupied with other matters. At these times, the challenge is to trust that as God has been with us in the past, so God is with us in the present moment and will continue to be with us in the future.  


Having faith in God—believing that God loves us and is always with us—is not always easy.   But then again, if faith were easy we’d all be believers. Faith calls us to trust, though, that God’s hand is guiding us even when the way is uncertain, and that ultimately God will lead us into a future full of hope.  

        

    

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091315.cfm 


In our Gospel this Sunday a distinct change occurs.   In the first chapters of Mark’s Gospel Jesus worked so many cures that people were mobbing him. And that was the trouble. Jesus was in danger of becoming famous as a wonder-worker.  The people were coming to him at every stop, thinking that their lives would be changed for the better --- if only they got their health back, if only they got relief from poverty and death, or if only --- well, you name it.  No doubt Jesus worried that people would look to him as a messiah who could and would restore Israel to a place of prominence and power in the world.  This was not the kind of messiah Jesus was going to be, however.  And so, in our Gospel today we see Jesus began a new phase of his mission. He has turned his face toward Jerusalem --- and the cross.

In our Gospel this Sunday after Peter acknowledged that Jesus is “the Christ,”  Jesus responded by telling his disciples that “The Son of Man must suffer greatly, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.”   Worse than this, though, Jesus also told his disciples:  “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”   Certainly these words must have had a sobering effect on those who heard them.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In the section we read this Sunday Isaiah reminds us that those who trust in the Lord, despite any trials or difficulties they face, will not be put to shame.  “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.  I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

Our second reading this Sunday is once again taken from the Letter of Saint James.   In the section we read today James reminds us that faith must find expression in works.  “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you had to carry a cross in your life? 
  2. When/how have you felt God’s grace help you to carry your cross?
  3. How has your faith found expression in works?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090615.cfm 

In our Gospel this Sunday we are told that Jesus went “into the district of the Decapolis” and people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment.  They “begged him to lay his hand on him.”   In response to their request, Jesus did something unusual, “He took him off by himself away from the crowd.”   Once away from the crowd, Jesus “put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue, then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ --- that is ‘Be opened!’ ………………  his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly” He ordered them not to tell anyone.  But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.”  

There are at least three things worth noting in this Gospel.   1. The area of the Decapolis would have been Gentile territory.  This reminds us that Jesus did not see his mission as restricted to the Jews.  2.  We are not told why Jesus took the man off by himself.  I suspect, though, that Jesus knew that being deaf the man probably lived an isolated existence.  In addition to being healed, the man probably also needed simple human contact.  Jesus provided this.  3.  Often, particularly in Mark’s Gospel, we find Jesus telling people not to talk about the miracles he had performed.   The reason for this is that the people of that time were looking for a Messiah who would restore Israel to a place of prominence and power in the world.  Because of his miracles people could look to Jesus to be this kind of Messiah.  Jesus was clear, though, that he was not that kind of Messiah 

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  In the section we read today the people are reminded of God’s ultimate victory even in the face of war and persecution.   “Say to those whose hearts are frightened;   Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”   The signs of God’s ultimate triumph are clear:  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared.”   This is precisely what Jesus was doing in our Gospel today. 

Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint James.  James’ words are clear:  “My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”   

Questions for reflection/discussion:

  1. Where do you need Christ’s healing presence in your life? 
  2. When and/or where have you found hope in the face of trials and adversity?
  3. Have you shown partiality in your dealing with others?  

Keeping faith a priority

Well, here we are…Labor Day weekend, the un-official end to the summer season. One last weekend to enjoy the cabin and boat, cross those last items off on the school supply list, help your college student get moved into his or her dorm, do some fall gardening, pull out the Vikings (or Packers!) gear and begin to dig out the sweaters and rakes in anticipation of the leaves that will begin to fall. 


At The Basilica of Saint Mary, the end of summer means lots of preparation for fall programs. Our RCIA process began this past week on September 1. The inquirers along with their sponsors and the RCIA team will meet weekly until after Easter. Our children and youth will be back to programs in a few weeks. (Parents—there is still time to register if you have not already done so.) The fall will see preparation for First Reconciliation, along with the beginning of Confirmation preparation for our youth. The Rock Solid Marriage Team will begin a marriage enrichment series. The Basilica Young Adults (BYA) will continue with their educational, social, and service opportunities—Sunday Night Live, making sandwiches and a fall retreat. We also have a diverse and interesting line up of adult learning program opportunities available this year, many of our programs focusing on the Year of Mercy that begins in the new liturgical year. (Please see www.mary.org or the fliers at the back of church to learn more.


In our homes, autumn may mean a busier lifestyle…more school commitments, more practices and rehearsals, more volunteer commitments, more meetings. fall just seems to be the time of year when we hit the ground running, full speed ahead. At this time of year it is easy to take on a lot, after all, we are all re-energized and rejuvenated after our wonderfully relaxing summers, right? 


While we look ahead to fall, it is so important that we make our faith lives a priority in the midst of everything else that is going on in our lives. There are so many fulfilling ways to accomplish this goal and deepen our faith lives this season. Keep your preferred weekend Mass time sacred—consider Mass to be a firm commitment each weekend. Participate in hospitality following Mass to meet others within our parish community. Carve out time for morning or evening prayer, in solitude or with your spouse or family. Consider what talents you might share with your parish in a volunteer capacity. Commit to signing up for one (or more!) adult learning opportunities offered at the parish this program year. Take time to listen to God…where or how are you being called to deepen your faith? However you are called, listen! Listen and commit! 


Wishing you a happy, productive, and faith-filled season filled with many blessings. We hope to see you next weekend at our Basilica Parish Picnic!

 

 

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