Author Archives: DMiller

January 21, 2018 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 January 21, 2018

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

Praying for Life

Tomorrow, January 22nd, we remember the 45th anniversary of the horrific supreme court decision Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.  For this reason, this day has become an important day of prayer and demonstration for the protection of life from conception until natural death.  I want to personally invite the entire parish to join me at two opportunities to support life:

Sunday, January 21st, we will have a Holy Hour at St. Nicholas from 4-5pm to pray for life.  We will pray together for those who have been wounded by abortion, for respect for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, and that those who govern us may be guided by justice, truth, and a love for the gift of life.  (Come over after Bingo ; )

Monday, January 22nd, is the rally at the St. Paul Cathedral and Minnesota State Capital.  It begins with a prayer service at the Cathedral at 10:30am, followed by a rally at the Capital at noon.

Planned Parenthood just released their 2016-2017 annual report, and it shows that they committed 321,384 abortions last year alone.  That’s nearly 1/3 of a million people whose smiles we will never see, whose talents we will never know, and who will never have the opportunity in this world to love and be loved as a creature created in the image and likeness of God.

But more than that, Planned Parenthood alone is responsible for the deaths of over 7.6 million human babies since it legally began performing abortions in 1973 following Roe. vs. Wade.  And we, the US Taxpayers, were forced to give Planned Parenthood more than $543 million dollars last year to carry out their “business”.

We need to continue praying for life, for the day when life will again be respected in our world from conception until natural death.

One of my favorite Christian music groups is Casting Crowns.  And on their Christmas CD, (which I think is the best ever), they have one song that came to mind in particular as I was thinking about this topic of praying for life.  The song is called “While you were sleeping”, and talks about how Bethlehem missed recognizing Jesus because it was “sleeping”, and there was no room in the inn.  It then goes on to ask if the United States too is sleeping and will miss Jesus.

In particular, the song has a line that says, “…while we’re sound to sleep by philosophies of save the trees and kill the children…”  Our culture has done a great job of convincing us to protect the trees and the rest of the planet, but it has neglected those who should be the most treasured in our world: children, including the unborn.

Please join me at the upcoming prayer opportunities for life, and perhaps more importantly, please add to your daily prayers a prayer for the protection of life in our world.

You are in my daily prayers too.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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January 14, 2018

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Behold, the Lamb of God.”

Introducing: Encounter

I’m very excited to announce this weekend a new parish opportunity I have been looking forward to starting since I arrived.  On Friday, January 26th, we will host our very first parish adoration event called: Encounter.

Growing up, Eucharistic Adoration, especially with music and communal prayer, was a very powerful way that I encountered God and experienced His love.  My hope is that many of you will attend this event and also experience God’s presence and love for you in a powerful way.

Encounter will be a time of Eucharistic Adoration, but perhaps in a way you have never experienced before.  There will be praise and worship music played.  And for this first event, not only will I be playing, but some friends of mine will be joining me to help lead very beautiful music.

There will be many, many candles, making a very beautiful, prayerful, and meditative atmosphere.

And we will conclude with Benediction, including bells and incense and all.

Encounter is open to all.  I hope young and old, families and singles, will all attend this wonderful event.

A few weeks ago, Fr. Barnes and I did a pulpit swap to talk about adoration and encourage our parishes to participate in this wonderful opportunity to be with Jesus.  I hope you take advantage of this time to spend with the Lord and encounter his love.  Encounter will be held monthly (on the 4th Friday when possible).

I hope you will plan to attend.  And please invite your friends (even non-parishioners and non-Catholics may attend!)

Encounter

Friday, January 26th

6:30-7:45pm

IC Church

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

January 7, 2018 – The Epiphany of the Lord

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January 7, 2018

The Epiphany of the Lord

 

“Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

 

Upcoming Opportunities

We have some exciting youth and all-parish opportunities coming up.

High school youth group

Our next high school youth group will be on Sunday, January 21st, from 5-8pm at St. Nicholas.  These nights are a lot of fun and include sports, food, prayer, and Q&A with the priests!  All high school teens are welcome to attend.

Middle school youth group

The next middle school youth group will be on Friday, January 19th, from 5-6:30pm at St. Nicholas.  These are even more crazy fun than high school youth group!  Come and get energized and enjoy time with other middle schoolers.

Pro-Life events

January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.  For this reason, this day has become an important day of prayer and demonstration for the protection of life from conception until natural death.  I want to personally invite the entire parish to join me at two opportunities to support life:

Sunday, January 21st, we will have a Holy Hour at St. Nicholas from 4-5pm to pray for life.

Monday, January 22nd, is the rally at the St. Paul Cathedral and Minnesota State Capital.  It begins with a prayer service at the Cathedral at 10:30am, followed by a rally at the Capital at noon.

We are working to coordinate a bus to the events at the Cathedral and Capital, so stay tuned for more information.  But be sure to mark it on your calendars right away.

It is very important that we participate in pro-life events like this.  Thankfully we are starting to see that the attitude in our country toward abortion is slowly changing!  And we need to keep praying, and keep showing our support for life by attending events like these.

That fact is, especially in an online world like we live in today, what we believe and stand up for doesn’t matter so much by what we claim we believe, or what we post on Facebook, rather, we show what we believe with our feet: Am I willing to show up to pray for this or to demonstrate for this?  (Or even more: To suffer for this in the January cold?)  Anyone can post their view online in a few seconds, but we prove that we are serious about it when we actually show up.

I ask that you please make these pro-life events a priority, and join me as we pray and demonstrate for life.

 

You are in my daily prayers.

 

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

Dec. 31, 2017 – The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

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December 31, 2017

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

 

“The child grew and became strong,

filled with wisdom;

and the favor of God was upon him.”

 

New Year’s Resolution

As 2017 comes to a close and we begin 2018 I want to recommend a “New Year’s Resolution” for everyone: Read at least one good faith-building book this year.

First and foremost, if reading the Bible is not already a part of your daily or weekly prayer routine, then start there.  We believe that the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, and have the power to change our lives by drawing us closer to the Lord who speaks to us.  Read a chapter of the Bible at least once a week.

One of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is to read the Bible completely or at least more often, however, very few people actually succeed.  I would encourage you to begin by just reading the four Gospels.  The Gospels are the writings about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and are the very heart of the entire Bible, and they should have a primacy of place in our own reading and study of the Bible too.

Almost every night before I go to bed, I either say the rosary (if I haven’t already done it during the day), or I read one chapter of the Bible.  This is a great way to end the day, and also to ensure that reading of the Scriptures is a normal part of my daily life.

In addition to reading the Bible, we should all be reading good faith-building books.  This past year I read 24 books (some audiobooks)—About 20 of which were faith related books.  Among those, here is a short summary of two of the best:

Orthodoxy

by G K Chesterton

Orthodoxy has become a classic of Christian apologetics.  In the book’s preface Chesterton states the purpose is to “attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian Faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it.”  He sees the faith as the answer to natural human needs, the “answer to a riddle” in his own words, and not simply as an arbitrary truth received from somewhere outside the boundaries of human experience.  Chesterton is one of the most insightful authors, and is able to look at reality in a completely different, outside of the box, kind of way.  However, as a fair warning, some parts in this book can seem a little confusing or strange at first, but after I read this a few times, I realized the depth of Chesterton’s thought.  Orthodoxy is one of my favorite books…ever.

Prayer Primer

by Fr. Thomas Dubay

This book is an excellent introduction to prayer.  Fr. Dubay invites the reader beyond simply memorized prayers and introduces you to the basics of meditation and leading into contemplation.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to develop a prayer life.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

December 24, 2017 – 4th Sunday of Advent

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December 24, 2017

4th Sunday of Advent

 

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.

May it be done to me according to your word.”

 

“And you shall name him Jesus

I would imagine that one of the joys (or perhaps dilemmas) of having a child is the great privilege of choosing a name for the child.  Many names are chosen from ancestors as a sign of family pride and unity.  Many children are also named after a saint who is important in the lives of their parents.  Others are given a particular name because their parents heard it somewhere and liked the name.  In all of these cases, the child is given a name as something that is significant to the parents and a desire or hope for the child’s own future.

In the case of Jesus, his name was not decided by his parents; rather, it was given to them directly from God the Father by the message of an angel.

We read in Luke 1:30-31, “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.’”

And again, in Matthew 1:20-21, “Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’”

The name Jesus is very significant.  The name itself means “God saves” (as the angel said to Joseph…“he shall save his people”).  Our English spelling of “Jesus” comes from the Latin “Iesus”, which comes from the Greek “Iesous”, which comes from the Hebrew “Yeshua”, and this means “Yah[weh] saves”.

Ever since Adam and Eve turned against God, the Lord has been planning to come and save us.  Throughout the Old Testament the people of Israel longed for God’s salvation in the coming Messiah.  And now in Christ, God has come.  He is Emmanuel, which means “God is with us”.  God has now come in the flesh to save his people.  In Jesus, God’s love for us becomes incarnate.

So let us be proud to call upon the name of Jesus.  Not only can we call out to him in prayer, but when we say his name, we also acknowledge that Jesus is our savior and that he is love.

I, and the rest of the Immaculate Conception staff, hope that you and your family have a very blessed and merry Christmas.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

December 17, 2017 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

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December 17, 2017

3rd Sunday of Advent

Gaudete Sunday

 

“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,

make straight the way of the Lord.”

 

The “O Antiphons”

Did you know that the verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel (which I call the “theme song of Advent”) are very symbolic and correspond with the 7 days leading up to Christmas Eve?

Each of the verses of this song begins with a title for Christ, which connects back to an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah.  These titles for Christ have been called the “O Antiphons” because when the Church includes them in Vespers (Evening Prayer), it adds the “O” before the specific title to make it more solemn.

Here are the seven titles and the day when the Church includes this title in Vespers:

December 17 – O Wisdom

See: Sirach 24:1, 3-4, 7; 1 Cor 1:24

December 18 – O Lord

See: Exodus 6:6; 20:2

December 19 – O Root of Jesse

See: Isaiah 11:1-5; Revelation 22:16

December 20 – O Key of David

See: Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7

December 21 – O Dayspring

See: Isaiah 9:2; Luke 1:78-79; John 8:12

December 22 – O King of the Nations

See: Ezekiel 37:21-28; Revelation 19:16

December 23 – O Emmanuel

See: Isaiah 7:10-14; Matthew 1:21-23;

John 1:1-18

As we approach these holy days in preparation for Jesus’ nativity, I encourage you to meditate on the verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel (easily found online), and to look up in the Bible the scripture references (listed above) for each verse of the song.  Read it over, and then take a few moments to ponder God’s wonderful plan of salvation in sending us Christ, who fulfilled these promises of the Old Testament.  This might be a great way to do family prayers every evening this week: light the Advent wreath, read the scripture verses, and pray “Come Lord Jesus.”

You are in my daily prayers.  Please pray for me as we enter into these final days of Advent and prepare to welcome our Lord at Christmas.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

PLEASE NOTE

When sending mail to the Parish Office

or Fr. VanDenBroeke, our Mailing Address is: 

 202 Alabama Street SE

December 10, 2017 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

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December 10, 2017

2nd Sunday of Advent

 

“I have baptized you with water;

he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

 

Holy Days of Obligation

What is a Holy Day of Obligation, why do we have them, and why is it so important that we attend Mass on these days?

A Holy Day of Obligation is a special day on which the Church celebrates a certain solemnity of Christ or the Saints.  We celebrate the various saints’ feast days almost daily, but some of them are so important that the Church has made them mandatory for us to attend Mass.

Unfortunately, it is easy to think of an obligation as something burdensome that “I’m being forced to do”.  I think it’s very important, however, to instead see these wonderful solemnities of the Church not so much as days of obligation, but rather as days of opportunity.  It is an opportunity for us to come together as the body of Christ, to celebrate our faith, and to show our love for God and his Saints.  Going to Mass on a great solemnity of Christ or the saints should be a day of immense joy and celebration.  We find it easy to see Christmas this way (one of the Holy Days of Obligation), now we need to start seeing all the Church’s Holy Days this way.

How many Holy Days of Obligation are there?  To answer that I want to begin by noting that Canon Law says that every Sunday is in fact a Holy Day of Obligation.  This is why we must attend Mass every Sunday (or the evening before).  Beyond Sundays, there are five Holy Days of Obligation (in almost every diocese of the United States, including our Archdiocese).  These five are:

  • January 1st – Mary, Mother of God
  • August 15th – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1st – All Saints Day
  • December 8th – The Immaculate Conception
  • December 25th – The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

To make this just a little bit more complicated, we are always required to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception and Christmas, however, when one of the other Holy Days of Obligation falls on a Monday or Saturday (i.e. next to a Sunday) the obligation is lifted.  They would still be a Holy Day, but not a Holy Day of Obligation that year.

This year as we approach December 25th and January 1st, it turns out that both fall on a Monday.  Thus, the obligation to attend Mass on Christmas remains, but the obligation is lifted for the Holy Day on January 1.  Note: I still encourage you to attend this wonderful solemnity of the Mother of God, but you are not obliged to attend this year.

Please note our Mass schedule for the upcoming feasts, since the Saturday + Sunday + Monday situation can confuse things a bit.

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

 

CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR’S MASS SCHEDULE

4th Sunday of Advent

Saturday, December 23rd – 5:00pm

Sunday, December 24th9:00am

(note the different Mass time for this Sunday)

Christmas

Sunday, December 24th – 4:00pm & 10:00pm

Monday, December 25th – 9:00am

 

 

Sunday after Christmas

Saturday, December 30th – 5:00pm

Sunday, December 31st – 8:00am & 10:00am

Mary, Mother of God

Sunday, December 31st – 4:00pm

Monday, January 1st – 9:00am

December 3, 2017 – 1st Sunday of Advent

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December 3, 2017

1st Sunday of Advent

 

“May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘ Watch!’”

 

Thanksgiving (part 2) – Continued from last week…

 

Thus, the Eucharistic Prayer is the great prayer of thanks that we give to the Father.  It is said aloud by the priest, but all the faithful should join in the act of offering thanks by uniting their hearts to the words of the priest.

Immediately after the Eucharistic Prayer, we receive Communion, and following Communion we have a wonderful moment of personal prayer with the Lord.  Unfortunately, I think the Church has done a poor job of helping people understand how to fruitfully use this time after Communion.  Many people simply find themselves watching everyone else go up to receive Communion, and then watching the priest as he purifies the sacred vessels and finally goes to sit down.

I want to encourage you to foster a more fruitful time of prayer during this part of the Mass.  To do that, I recommend you close your eyes after you return to your pew from receiving Communion, or to look up at the crucifix, and to talk to the Lord in the depth of your heart, thanking Him for the great Mystery of Faith you just received.

To help begin to foster this time of prayer after Communion, I’ve decided that during Advent we will be having a special time of thanksgiving after the sacred vessels are purified.  I will not go to my chair as usual, but instead will kneel before the altar.  We will then sing a beautiful meditative song of Thanksgiving to the Lord.  I hope you are able to use this time to truly encounter the Lord who we have just received sacramentally into our very bodies!

Finally, as I conclude this reflection on giving thanks during the Mass, I want to emphasis that it is also important that we take a moment once Mass has ended to offer thanksgiving to God.  Our encounter with God at Mass is the most solemn and truly awesome (full-of-awe) moment that we can possibly have with God at any point during our day.  Even if we don’t feel the most uplifted on a particular Sunday, the reality is that we cannot be closer to Jesus than when we receive the Sacraments.

This is why it is important for us to pause after Mass to give thanks before we head home.  After the closing song, I encourage you to simply knee down, close your eyes, and pray for a short time before you leave.  Give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, and ask the Lord to help you as you go home to live a good and holy life.

In fact, this giving thanks after Mass is so important that the Church actually makes it mandatory for priests.  The Code of Canon Law says, “A priest is not to omit dutifully to prepare himself by prayer before the celebration of the Eucharist, nor afterwards to omit to make thanksgiving to God” (canon 909).  Thus, although the laity are not included in the mandate of this canon, nevertheless, we can understand that if it is essential for the priest to pause and give thanks, it is likewise important for the laity to do so as well.

You are in my daily prayers, just as St. Paul says, “I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Eph 1:16).

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

 

 

November 26, 2017 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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November 26, 2017

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

“Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

Thanksgiving (part 1)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We have so many things to give thanks for in our lives: Faith, family, friends, housing, food, health…and the list could go on and on.  It is very important that we take time regularly to give thanks to God, even getting into the daily habit of thanking God during our daily prayer.

Did you know that the word Eucharist means Thanksgiving?  For example, in the Gospel of Matthew 15:36, when it says, “He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples…”, and again in 26:27 when it says, “and He took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them…”, the Greek verb used is “Eucaristeo” meaning “to give thanks”, from where we get the word “Eucharist”.  Thus, celebrating the Mass is to give thanks to God.

During the Mass, we give thanks to God constantly.  Let me just highlight a few parts.

During the Gloria we sing – “We give you thanks for your great glory.”

After the Readings – “The Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.”

The most significant moment of thanksgiving during the Mass is in the Eucharistic Prayer.  As we learned that the Greek meaning of the word Eucharist is Thanksgiving, thus we could call the Eucharistic Prayer the great Prayer of Thanksgiving.

The Eucharistic Prayer begins with “…Let us give thanks to the Lord our God…”  It then continues, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy…”  Why is it right and just to give thanks to God?  Thanksgiving should be our immediate response to God for the great love He has shown us in sending His own Son to us.

Then later in the Eucharistic prayer, during the Institution Narrative, the priest quotes Our Lord’s words, “…He took bread, and giving thanks, broke it….He took the chalice and, once more giving thanks

The Eucharist is the fulfillment and perfection of the Jewish “thank offering” found in the Old Testament.  One of the peace offerings the Jews offered to the Lord was called the Todah, which is the Hebrew word for “thanksgiving”.

“The todah offering involved sacrificing a lamb, consecrating bread, eating the meat and bread with wine, and singing songs of thanksgiving.  The occasion of the todah was deliverance from extreme peril, and the todah psalms tell a story of suffering and salvation.  They begin with a lament in which the psalmist retells his plight and calls upon the Lord, and they end with words of thanks and praise to God, often including language like ‘My vows to you I must perform, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.’ (Psalm 56:12)

“How does the todah relate to the Eucharist?  There is an ancient rabbinic teaching that in the Messianic age, ‘all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering [todah] will never cease.’  Christians have long regarded the Eucharist as the fulfillment of the Passover, but it is only recently that biblical scholars have considered how the Passover matches the description of the todah.”  (Praying the Mass, by Jeffrey Pinyan, pg. 154-155).

To be continued…

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

Leon Meger is leaving the parish staff,

and we thank him for his service to Immaculate Conception.

November 19, 2017 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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November 19, 2017

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;

but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

 

Incense

Incense has been used in sacred worship since time immemorial, not only in Christian and Jewish worship, but in all kinds of Pagan worship as well.  So why is incense so common in worship, and what is it for?

Incense serves two main purposes: To be a sweet-smelling offering to God, and to be symbolic of our prayers ascending into heaven.  Just as the sweet smell of the incense is pleasing to us, so we pray that our sacrifice would be pleasing to God.  And as we offer our prayers to God on high, we see the incense rising from our altar to heaven.  We use incense, a physical, material thing, to show our love to God.  Of course, God doesn’t need incense—He doesn’t need to smell it or see it—but as human beings we use material things to express our spiritual devotion.

As we hear in the Psalms: “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2).

The use of incense in Jewish worship began at Mount Sinai when God instructed Moses to build an altar on which to burn incense: “You shall make an altar to burn incense upon…. And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it… a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (Exodus 30:1,7,8).

In the Old Testament, God that a new sacrifice and offering would one day come, and as we hear the Lord speak through the Prophet Malachi: “From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering” (Malachi 1:11).  This prophecy is fulfilled in Christ and the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, because it is the pure offering and perfect sacrifice.  Furthermore, this perfect sacrifice of Christ is made present once again on the altar every Mass.  This is why the Mass is also called the perfect sacrifice, for it is a renewal of the one sacrifice of Christ.  That is one reason why we use incense during the Mass, as it is symbolic of this prophecy from Malachi being fulfilled.

Additionally, incense is also mentioned in the book of Revelation.  We read: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full if incense, which are the prayers of the saints….  And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4).

During the Mass, incense can be used to bless the altar, the crucifix, the book of the Gospels, the priest, the people, the bread and wine, and the Body and Blood of Christ.  All of these things are blessed with incense because they are set apart for God.  This is why not only the physical things used at Mass are incensed, but also the priest and people are incense, for through our baptism, we have all been set apart for God.

Thus, when you see incense at Mass, envision the prayers of your heart rising to the throne of God along with the smoke; and when you smell the incense, consider how pleasing the sacrifice of the Mass is to the Father in heaven!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke