Author Archives: DMiller

NOVEMBER 11th, 2018 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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NOVEMBER 11th, 2018

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Veteran’s Day

 

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.”

 

 

 

Veteran’s Day

I want to keep today’s column short and simply thank all the veterans who have served our country, especially any veterans in our parish.

I myself have several family members and friends who are serving or have served in the military. And am so grateful for their service by which we are protected and kept free.

Please say a prayer today for all veterans, and all those currently serving in our military.

From the bottom of my heart: Thank you to all our veterans.

#FreedomIsNotFree

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

NOVEMBER 4th, 2018 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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NOVEMBER 4th, 2018

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

 

The Best Way to Live

This month’s Lighthouse CD is The Best Way to Live by Matthew Kelly.

How is the best way to live?  Is there a best way to live?  The great minds of every age have pondered this question.

No one wants to live a mediocre life with little to no meaning.  We all want to live a wonderful life, full of meaning.  The question is, are you living your best life?

In this CD, Matthew Kelly powerfully articulates how we can discover the best way to live.  He helps us reflect on how we make decisions in all areas of our lives, and how these decisions help us become the amazing person God created us to be.

In particular, there is one essential question that Matthew talks about that he learned to ask in his own life and is the most important question we can ask in order to find the best way to live.  You’ll have to listen to find out what that question is.

This talk was recorded at a gathering of confirmation candidates, but while Matthew Kelly addresses them specifically, the wisdom he gives is something we can all learn from.

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

OCTOBER 28th, 2018 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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OCTOBER 28th, 2018

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Mission Sunday / Priesthood Sunday

“Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

 

 

Voting with a Catholic Conscience

Voting is a wonderful and important right we have.  There are many things that deserve the attention of our political leaders, but some things must be weighed with much more seriousness than others.

There are five “non-negotiables” we must consider when voting as Catholics.  They are: Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning, and Homosexual “Marriage”.

As you can see, four of the non-negotiables have to do with life itself.  The right to life is the first and most fundamental of all human rights.  If life is not respected, from the womb to the tomb, then no other right matters.  This is why life issues must be at the very forefront of the Catholic voter’s conscience.  As Pope Benedict XVI said: “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.”

But let’s bring this just a little bit closer to home.  Medical data reports show that there were 60 abortions by Rice County residents last year.  That’s three classrooms of children who were not born and will not fill our schools in the coming years.  The issue of abortion is not an abstract issue, it is a concrete reality that affects everyone.  And it is essential that we work hard to outlaw abortion in our world.

A few weeks ago, I received an advertisement in the mail for a candidate who promoted himself as having served his country in the military, and now is running for office to serve families.  This sounded really good, and just based on this advertising I would have supported him.  But I knew it was important to look further into additional issues, and when I went to his website, I found that he is pro-abortion and endorsed by Planned Parenthood!  That is a disqualifier.  If you do not support life, then nothing else you support matters.

We need to get past labels of Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc.  We need to look at what each candidate actually stands for when we vote for them.  Many Catholics grew up voting for a particular political party, but that doesn’t mean that party still supports Catholic values.

Consider, by analogy, how someone might have bought a Ford or Chevy or Dodge pickup several years ago.  And back then they did their research and chose the best one.  Now several years later, they need a new pickup.  Many will simply go and buy the same brand pickup as they did before, assuming it must be as good as it was in the past.  But in reality, everything under the hood might have changed, and it may now be an inferior truck to other brands available.  I think this is also true with political parties.  It’s not the name-brand that matters; it is what’s under the hood that matters.  And when we vote, we need to ensure that what is “under the hood” is something we should be supporting as Catholics.  A political party is a good place to start when evaluating candidates, but we must do our homework to know where each individual stands on significant moral issues.

We have to take our civic duty very seriously as Catholics.  I encourage you all to be involved politically, first and foremost by voting, but also by talking with others about political issues, and even attending caucuses.  As is rightfully quoted often: “All that evil needs to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”  Let’s make sure we do something.  I look forward to the day when abortion is outlawed in our land, and other Christian values are upheld, because good people did something.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

OCTOBER 21st, 2018 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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OCTOBER 21st, 2018

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Mission Sunday

 

“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as ransom for many.”

 

The Priesthood Series

Article 8 – Priestly Celibacy (Part 3)

Note: The previous articles in this series are posted on our parish website.

     Celibacy is truly a sacrifice in “making oneself that way” as Jesus describes.  In fact, far from running from sexual contact and marriage out of fear, the one who embraces “celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” must do so by understanding the goodness and value of what he is giving up, what he is sacrificing.  We don’t sacrifice things to God that are bad; we sacrifice things that are good.  If marriage and sex were dirty or defiling, then giving it up would be a duty, not a sacrifice.  That clearly not being the case, celibacy becomes a sacrificial offering as a celibate offers his body “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1).

As mentioned previously, the motivation for voluntary celibacy flows from a desire for the “Kingdom of Heaven” and “for the Lord”.  In short, the foundation of celibacy, its primary inspiration, is love for God and service of his Kingdom.  This is the same as the foundation for the priesthood itself: Love for God and his Kingdom.  And the priest and the celibate desire to serve God and his Kingdom with his whole life.  This is the missionary or apostolic dimension of celibacy, since it is “For the Kingdom of Heaven”.

A friend of mine once said to me: “Without the Eucharist, celibacy is pointless”.  In other words, a celibate must have a deep union with Christ, and see himself as participating in the “heavenly marriage” (cf. Revelation 19 and 21).  This union is most fully lived in this world through our union with Christ in the Eucharist.

This is the prophetic dimension of celibacy, that it is a prophetic sign to the world of our ultimate calling, which is complete and perfect union with God himself.  As Jesus says, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels”.  “Like the angels” meaning in a perfect union with God.  This union with God is also described in the scriptures as a “marriage”, but the difference is that it is a spiritual union with God, not a physical union with another person.  There is no human marriage in heaven because there is only one marriage in heaven: Christ and the Church.  And the celibate person is a sign already in this world of this future marital union in heaven.

In conclusion, the practice of priestly celibacy is a very good and important discipline of the Church.  It is good on a practical level, and especially good on a spiritual level, as the celibate is a sign to the world of our future union with God himself in heaven, where there is no “marrying or giving of marriage”.  But there is a perfect marital union of Christ and his bride, the Church, of which we are all a part.

Perhaps the best summary of celibacy is in this quote from the Second Vatican Council’s document Prefectae Caritatis:

“Chastity ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 19:12), which religious profess, must be esteemed as an exceptional gift of grace.  It uniquely frees the hearts of men and women (see 1 Cor 7:32-35), so that they become more fervent in love for God and for all humanity.  For this reason it is a special symbol of heavenly benefits, and for religious it is a most effective way of dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to the divine service and the works of the apostolate.  Thus, for all Christ’s faithful, religious recall that wonderful marriage made by God which will be fully manifested in the age to come, and in which the Church has Christ alone for her spouse.”

I can testify that I have experienced this “gift” of celibacy in my own life, and thus, I for one, would never change this important discipline of the Church.  Celibacy does not take away my freedom, rather, it enables me to love more freely.  It truly is a gift of the Spirit, for “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.

Sources for additional reading:

The Charism of Priestly Celibacy – Edited by John C. Cavadini

Theology of the Body – Pope John Paul II

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,    Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

OCTOBER 14th, 2018 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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OCTOBER 14th, 2018

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Clergy Appreciation Sunday

 

“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

 

Introduction of our Teaching Parish Seminarian

I am very happy to announce that we have been assigned a seminarian, Mitchel McLaughlin, from the St. Paul Seminary to participate in and learn from our parish over the next four years as he prepares to be ordained a priest.  He will be joining us for weekend Masses once a month, and will be down at the parish one day each week to be involved in many different aspects of parish life, such as faith formation, Holy Cross School, parish meetings, etc.  I am very happy to welcome Mitchel to our parish, and I hope you will get to know him over the next four years.

(The following is an introduction by Mitchel)

Hello Immaculate Conception Parishioners! My name is Mitchell McLaughlin. I am a seminarian studying to be a priest for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I am in my first year of Theology studies at the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Part of the program of education at the seminary includes practical pastoral experience at a parish within the Archdiocese. I have been blessed to be assigned to Immaculate Conception.

 A little about myself. I grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa (one of the Quad-Cities) with my parents and two brothers. My father works at the John Deere corporate headquarters, my mother is a dental hygienist, my older brother is army doctor in residency for psychiatry at Walter Reed Hospital, and my younger brother studies Microbiology at Iowa State University.

 I attended Catholic grade school till 8th grade then transferred to the public high school. I chose to attend the University of South Dakota after high school. It was there that my faith came alive and I started to take my life seriously through the Catholic Church’s presence on campus. Among the subjects I studied before I entered seminary were Medical Laboratory Science, Secondary Education, and English; however, in all of these areas of study I was not at peace and knew that God was calling me to something more. After studying at the university for 3 years I chose to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Sioux Falls and entered the St. John Vianney Seminary. I attended the St. John Vianney Seminary for another 3 years (that’s 6 years total of undergraduate), there I grew much in prayer, in relationship with God, and as a man.

I love talking about how God is present in our everyday lives. A few of my hobbies are reading, hiking, being with friends, and eating good food. Know that all of you are in my prayers and I look forward to getting to know you all over the course of the 4 years of my seminary studies. Please pray for me as I continue to follow God’s will.

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On a separate note, I will be gone this week as I am traveling to Washington DC with our Holy Cross 7th and 8th graders.  Please keep us in your prayers for a great trip and safe travels.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

OCTOBER 7th, 2018 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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OCTOBER 7th, 2018

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father VanDenBroeke’s Installation

 “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

 

Family, Faith, Football

This month’s Lighthouse CD is Family, Faith & Football by Philip Rivers.

You might think that an NFL athlete’s whole world revolves around football.  But for Philip Rivers, starting quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers, it’s just one of the things that makes him who he is.  More important than his football accomplishments are his love for his family and his dedication to his faith.  In this inspiring talk, Rivers recounts lessons he’s learned on the football field and shares how faith impacts his football career and family life—keeping him focused on what matters most.

This talk will help inspire you to be a man or woman of faith as you raise your family centered on Christ.  It is a talk no football fan should miss.

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Last weekend, I preached about the need right now for us to pray and fast for an end to abortion.  With just four weeks until the election, I thought it would be helpful to print where the candidates stand on the issue of Life, which is the most important and fundamental of all rights.  Please see the inserts in today’s bulletin provided by MCCL.

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Today is also my installation as Pastor here at Immaculate Conception.

I’m grateful to Archbishop Hebda for assigning me as the spiritual father of this parish community.  I’m grateful to Fr. Michael Skluzacek for coming down to do my installation.  And I’m most grateful to all of you here at Immaculate Conception who have welcomed me and given me so much joy this last year.  I look forward to many more wonderful years here with you.

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

September 30, 2018 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 30, 2018

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better if a great millstone were put around his neck and he was thrown into the sea.”

The Priesthood Series

Article 7 – Priestly celibacy (Part 2)

In the last article I began a discussion on the discipline of priestly celibacy and said that it is both practical and theological.

Celibacy is practical in that it would be very difficult to fulfill all the necessary functions of priesthood and also have time for a family.  The priesthood is not simply a job that one can leave from at 5pm and have weekends off.  Rather, the priesthood has great demands on time.

Additionally, as St. Paul says: “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

This text is a very practical statement, that the man who is unmarried can be about the affairs of the Lord rather than of the world.  But it also makes a very important change in the focus of the celibate life, namely, celibacy is not simply “For the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” (a cause), but for “the Lord” (a person).  And this must be the fundamental reason for priestly celibacy, that it is done out of love for a person, Christ the Lord.  Thus the celibate can say, “My soul is in love with Jesus Christ.  Let others contribute to the preservation of the human race.”

And this leads us to the deeper theological meaning of celibacy.  Celibacy is a sign of our future union with Christ in heaven.  It is a participation here and now in the heavenly marriage of Christ and the Church.

Fr. Reniero Cantalamessa, in an essay on priestly celibacy, writes:

What is needed, therefore, is a complete reversal of our mind-set, and this can happen only through renewed contact with the biblical and theological roots of this state of life.”

Thus, rather than asking, “What does the culture say about celibacy?”, we need to ask, “What do God and the Scriptures say about celibacy?”.

Most fundamentally, the link between priesthood and celibacy is established in Christ himself.  It is indisputable (despite unhistorical Dan Brown type stories) that Jesus was unmarried.  Thus, the link between priesthood and celibacy was established first in Christ himself, who is our “high priest” and the archetype of all priests.  Thus, it cannot be “unnatural” or foreign to the idea of priesthood for a man to be celibate.

As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis, “The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of [priestly celibacy in] the Latin Church.”

The two motives of Christ’s celibacy are: Spiritual engendering (rather than begetting human children), and universality of love (because Jesus does not have his own family he is free to love every individual as his own).

To be continued…

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

September 23, 2018 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 23, 2018

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not only me but the One who sent me.”

 

Note: After taking a few weeks off, this week’s column continues a series of articles I have written on the priesthood. The previous articles in this series are posted on our parish website.

The Priesthood Series

Article 6 – Priestly celibacy (Part 1)

One of the biggest challenges to the priesthood today is the discipline of priestly celibacy.  Priestly celibacy is not a doctrine of the Church, but rather, a discipline.  This means that it could be changed (indeed we already have a few exceptions to the rule in special cases of married priests).  However, I want to show why this discipline should not be changed in the universal practice of the Church.

The teaching on celibacy is nothing new, it is written about all over the New Testament.  Jesus and St. Paul were both not only celibate themselves, but taught very clearly on this discipline:

As Jesus says: “There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it” (Matthew 19:12).

And St. Paul says: “I wish that all were as I myself am (i.e. unmarried).  But each has his own special gift from God” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

Nevertheless, there are many objections that we hear against priestly celibacy, such as: “It’s unnatural,” “It leads to sexual disorders,” and, “Changing the teaching on celibacy would solve our vocation crisis.”  However, the fact is that none of these claims are true.

We can agree that celibacy is not a “natural” desire, however, Christ and St. Paul have shown us that it is super-natural, and that it is a gift to be received from God (cf. 1 Cor 7:7 and Matt 19:12 above).

It has been shown that celibacy is not the cause of sexual disorders, but rather a catalyst of illicit sexual behavior for those who already have a sexual disorder before making a vow of celibacy.  So we need to help people find sexual integrity, not do away with celibacy.

Additionally, in the short term it may solve our vocation crisis, but not in the long term.  Indeed, imagine what the face of the Catholic Church would be like if hundreds of thousands of men and women had not “renounced home, spouse, and children” for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The proclamation of the Gospel and the Church’s mission has rested primarily on their shoulders.  So our priest shortage might be helped in the short term by married priests, but not in the long term.

Rather, the cause of our current shortage of priests flows, not from the discipline of celibacy, but from a loss of priestly identity and the loss of the value of the priesthood.  In fact, the majority of young priests in my generation would not choose marriage even if celibacy became optional, because we understand both the practical implications, and especially the theological implications of this change.  (See previous articles on priestly identity, and also the next articles on celibacy.)

To be continued…

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

September 16, 2018 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 16, 2018

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

 

The Lord’s Day as the Center of our Christian Life

The third commandment of the Decalogue is “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8).  As the Catechism says:

In speaking of the Sabbath Scripture recalls creation: ‘For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’”  (CCC 2169)

Scripture also reveals in the Lord’s day a memorial of Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt: ‘You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.’” (2170)

Just as the Israelites were liberated from slavery in Egypt, and were instructed to keep one day each week as a day to remember God’s mercy shown to them, how much more do we as Christians, who have been liberated from our sins by the blood of Christ, need to take a day to remember and give thanks to God for his mercy?

God entrusted the Sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant.  The Sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.”  (2171)

Again, how much more do we as Christians, who have been made part of the “new and eternal covenant” in Christ, need to keep the Lord’s day holy for the praise of God?

Jesus rose from the dead ‘on the first day of the week.’  Because it is the ‘first day,’ the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation.  Because it is the ‘eight day’ following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.  For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day – Sunday.”  (2174)

The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life.”  (2177)

This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.  The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful ‘not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.’”  (2178)

As I have reflected and prayed about this importance of the Lord’s day, it has really been on my heart how important the weekly Mass is—not only in the regular life of the parish, but especially in preparation for receiving the sacraments of initiation (baptism, first communion, and confirmation).

For this reason, I have decided to begin requiring attendance at weekend Mass as an essential preparation for receiving the sacraments.  This will ensure that the child is taking seriously his or her sacramental preparation.  If we do not form a habit of living the Catholic life before receiving the sacraments, it rarely happens that this habit is formed later in life.  Thus, if a family does not make weekend Mass a priority, it will be determined that the child has not been properly prepared to receive the sacrament, and he or she will have to repeat the sacramental preparation year the following year.

Included in today’s bulletin is a copy of the letter I am sending home with all our parish families with children.  My hope is that this new emphasis on attending weekly Mass will help assist parents in helping their children know and love the Lord, and form a lifelong habit of gathering with the parish community and celebrating the Lord’s Day.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

 

September 2, 2018 -22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 2, 2018

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

Seven Reasons to be Catholic

This month’s Lighthouse CD is Seven Reasons to be Catholic by Dr. Peter Kreeft.

Why should someone be Catholic when they could be anything else?  Most of us were born into a Catholic family, and that’s a wonderful thing.  But what if you had been born into a family with a different faith?  Maybe Lutheran.  Or Muslim.  Would there be any reason to consider becoming Catholic?  Or perhaps more importantly, why should you stay Catholic?

When it comes down to it, the question shouldn’t be “what religion was I born into”, but rather, “is it true?”  This is the only reason why someone should become Catholic or remain a Catholic, because it’s true.

Dr. Peter Kreeft is a world-renowned philosopher and best-selling author of over 35 books.  In my opinion—having read several of his books and listened to several of his talks—I think he is one of the best thinkers and clearest teachers in the Catholic world today.

In this CD, Dr. Kreeft articulates with great clarity seven reasons why anyone would want to become or remain a Catholic.  He draws from the treasured wisdom of such great spiritual thinkers as St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, C. S. Lewis, and Cardinal Newman.  He helps us to understand why the truth about God is so essential, and how it is found in the Catholic Church.

It is a very convincing talk on why everyone should be Catholic.

If it would be easier for you to listen to this (or any other Lighthouse CD talk) as an MP3, rather than on CD, please talk to me.

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke