Sunday, October 31, 2010
My huge public apology to the Basilica of St. Mary, Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis
I knew, without doubt, that I was in a Roman Catholic church.
I visited the beautiful Basilica of St. Mary this afternoon as they were preparing the sanctuary for vespers. I just happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped in for a prayerful visit. I was astonished at the interior beauty of the Church. It seemed as if candles were glowing everywhere, glittering votive and tall altar candles burned softly in all of the chapels as well as on the main altar. Unbeknown to me, the annual icon festival in celebration of the saints and in remembrance of the dead began today... I walked in on it amidst all of its splendor.
I was literally brought to my knees, so moved by the beauty of the space. I visited the magnificent new side shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe with its full size mosaic replica of St. Juan Diego's tilma. The image of the Virgin is an exact replica masterfully executed in mosaic.
I spoke with a few basilica volunteers and was fortunate to meet the Liturgical Arts Director, Johan van Parys. I congratulated Mr. van Parys for his wonderful contribution to the preservation and promotion of the sacred arts in his many years at the Basilica. I found the Basilica and the staff to be very welcoming, warm and gracious.
I must admit I haven't visited the Basilica for over ten years, and yet I have at times dared criticise various aspects of their outreach and ministry - without ever witnessing anything first hand. For that I am very sorry. Unfortunately I have allowed myself to become embroiled in debates concerning the Basilica's vast inner city mission, liturgical celebrations, and ministry to alienated Catholics. Most recently I insensitively jumped on the band wagon criticizing the Basilica and an artist in residence who had been suspended from her position because she disagreed with the Archbishop's DVD in defense of marriage. Of course I believe the Rector of the Basilica, Fr. Bauer acted responsibly in suspending the artist in view of a sculpture she intended to make in protest, and I support Fr. Bauer in what must have been a very difficult decision. On the other hand, the artist was able to accomplish her project privately, and exhibited it at a secular gallery - which is her right, of course. End of story.
Going forward I hope to avoid rash judgements and divisive speculations regarding the diversity of parishes throughout this Archdiocese. After all, we have an Archbishop very much in charge of doctrine, faith and morals.
I have made it my aim to pray very much for each and every person, priest and laity alike I have ever criticized on this blog. Please pray for me that I can be faithful and persevere.
Today's first reading from Mass.
"God overlooks the sins of men that they may repent...
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing you have made;
for what you hated you would not have fashioned?
You rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them, and remind them of the sins
they are committing
that they may abandon their wickedness
and believe in you O Lord!" - Wisdom 11:22-12:2