Category Archives: Father Nicholas VanDenBroeke

APRIL 15, 2018 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

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APRIL 15, 2018

3rd Sunday of Easter

“You are witnesses of these things.”

 

The Annunciation

This past Monday the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.  This feast is usually celebrated on March 25th, which is 9 months before December 25th, thus showing the natural connection between Jesus’ conception and his birth.  However, since this year March 25th was Palm Sunday, the Church transferred the Solemnity to the Monday after the Octave of Easter (i.e. this past Monday).

This Feast is actually a very important day, both as we celebrate the life of Jesus, and also for the significance it has in understanding the respect for life from the moment of conception.

Christmas is the feast that gets all the attention, and it certainly should be given great attention.  But it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t become man at Christmas, he was just born at Christmas.  Christ became man at the Annunciation, when He was conceived in Mary’s womb.

There is a church in Nazareth which is built on the site where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God.  And on the altar in this church, there is a beautiful inscription which (translated from Latin) says: “The Word was made flesh here”.  I love this.  In other words, there are lots of places in the Holy Land that can claim that Jesus was there at some point in his life, but only this place in Nazareth can claim that God entered our world and became man right here.

This feast is also important because it should re-affirm our dedication to the protection of children in the womb.  The fact is, Jesus was a human being, he was a real, live person, and this was true from the moment of his conception.  So also this is true about every child from the moment of conception.

As Catholics we cannot be indifferent on the topic of abortion.  Just as it would be unthinkable to consider that Mary was free to “choose” something different about her pregnancy with Jesus, so too it is unthinkable that we not stand up for the right to life of every child who has been conceived.

Consider Mary’s pregnancy: It was “unplanned”; she was poor; she was young; she was not yet married to Joseph; and she wasn’t carrying Joseph’s child.  She had every modern-day excuse to not continue her pregnancy.  Yet, despite these excuses, we cannot imagine Mary aborting Jesus because it was “inconvenient” for her.  So too every child conceived is sacred and must be respected.  The realization of Jesus’ own conception nine months before his birth should make every Christian very pro-life.

I encourage you to join me in praying daily for the protection of life in our world—from conception until natural death.  And may Mary, the Immaculate Mother of Jesus, and our Mother, give us courage and strength to boldly stand up for life.

Additionally, I encourage all men to join me once a month for the Catholic Watchmen.  We begin these gatherings by praying the rosary for the unborn as we gather around the Memorial of the Unborn in the Mary’s Garden behind church.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

April 1, 2018 – Easter Sunday

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APRIL 1, 2018

Easter Sunday

Alleluia!

 

The Easter Candle and the Exsultet

The Church’s liturgical life is so beautiful and powerful to experience.  This is most noticeable during the Sacred Triduum—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.

The Easter Vigil is the “greatest and most noble of all solemnities”.  This is true first and foremost because on this night we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Christ our Lord.  Additionally, this Mass has much more liturgical symbolism than any other Mass.  I want to focus in this article on the Easter (or Paschal) Candle, and the Exsultet.

The Easter Vigil begins outside as we light the Easter Fire, and prepare the Easter Candle.  The Candle is marked with symbols of Christ as the priest says: “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.  All time belongs to him, and all the ages.  To him be glory and power through every age forever and ever.  Amen.  By his holy and glorious wounds, may Christ the Lord guard us and protect us.  Amen.

Once this is done, the Easter Candle is then lit from the fire and then carried in a triumphal procession into the dark church where it scatters the darkness with its light.

The Easter Candle is a symbol of Christ, who is the light of the world.  And just as Jesus brought the light of his redemption to a world that had fallen into darkness through sin, so we symbolize this wonderful mystery of our faith by the Easter Candle’s light scattering the darkness inside the church.

Additionally, each member of the Church holds a candle, which is then lit from the Easter Candle.  This small candle is a reminder of the candle we were given in baptism, and it reminds us that our faith and our hope of salvation come from Christ, who is our light.

Throughout the rest of the year, the Easter Candle will be lit for every baptism and funeral as a reminder to us that Jesus, who washes us clean in baptism, is our hope of resurrection after death.

Just after processing into the church with the Easter Candle, the priest (or a deacon or cantor) will sing the Exsultet.  This ancient hymn tells of the glory of Christ’s resurrection.  This song is so special that it is only sung once a year, during the Easter Vigil.

The songs name, “Exsultet”, comes from the first word of the song, “Exult”, as all in heaven and earth are invited to exult in “our God invisible, the almighty Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.  Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father, and, pouring out his own dear Blood, wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.”

The song goes on to proclaim how important this night is, for, “This is the night, when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.”

It then speaks about the glory of Christ’s redemption from our sins, even going so far as to say: “O happy fault [of Adam] that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”  For in Christ, not only do we have the hope of redemption from sin, but we now have the hope of eternal glory as participants in Christ’s own glory with the Father!

May you and your family have a very happy and blessed Easter.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

March 4, 2018 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

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March 4, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent

 

“Destroy this temple

and in three days I will raise it up.”

 

Guatemala

I am away on an 11 day mission trip to Guatemala, and I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful reasons I am participating in this trip.

In case you’re not familiar, Guatemala is the country just south of Mexico.  And the village I am staying at on this trip is called San Lucas Toliman.

Over the last 3+ years I have come to love Guatemala very much.  I first traveled there in the summer of 2014 when I went to study Spanish.  I had just been assigned to the church of Divine Mercy in Faribault, and I needed to be able to celebrate Mass in Spanish, so I went to Guatemala for six weeks of Spanish study.  Since that first trip, I have returned to Guatemala multiple times for more Spanish study and to lead mission trips.

Over this time, I had the opportunity to make friends, participate in the culture of the region, and visit many places.  The culture of Guatemala is very rich and full of tradition.  Especially noticeable in the region of Guatemala where I visited is the beautiful and colorful clothing of the people.  The women especially take great pride in their hand-woven clothing, which can take up to six months to complete one item, but it is the most beautiful clothing when completed.

Another highlight of this area is the great beauty of the landscape.  Most of Guatemala, and especially the region I am in, is very mountainous, formed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  Most of the volcanoes are now dead, but they have left behind a picturesque landscape.  Of particular beauty is Lake Atitlan, which is surrounded by three inactive volcanoes.  San Lucas, where I am staying, is located right next to this beautiful lake and at the base of one of the volcanoes.

Another highlight of my previous time in Guatemala has been the opportunity to visit and celebrate Mass at many small villages.  The church I stayed at on previous trips has about 30 little villages that the priests serve.  Some of these villages are so remote that a priest is only able to visit them about once a month.  I had the great privilege of visiting several of these villages for Mass.

When I return, I will give a presentation and explain all of this in greater detail.  Thank you for your prayers!

The current trip I am on is with students from the Newman Center at Mankato State University.  You can follow our blog at: https://msunewman2018.wordpress.com/

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

February 18, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Lent

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February 18, 2018

1st Sunday of Lent

 

“The Kingdom of God is at hand.

Repent ans believe in the Gospel.”

~

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

We have just entered the season of Lent—40 days of prayer and penance which help us to repent from sin and turn back to God.  And the Church gives us the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as important ways to enter into this Lenten season.

As human beings we are composed of a body and a soul.  Our body and our soul work so closely together that what we do physically effects us spiritually, and vice versa.  This is why, for example, when we pray we often kneel down, close our eyes, and fold our hands, because this physical posture aids our prayer by giving it attention and focus.  The most important part of our prayer is the spiritual raising of our mind and heart to God, but it is so much easier to do this when our body is also in a posture of prayer.

This is also why we practice fasting and abstinence, because the physical denial of our bodily desires, such as for food, aids us in spiritual growth and in denying sinful desires.

St. Paul says, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”.  We do this when we fast, for, we when we deny ourselves from eating food, the hunger our body experiences becomes a sacrifice for the Lord.

Additionally, fasting and abstinence make us grow in virtue by helping us learn self-denial and self-mastery.  For, when we deny ourselves from eating something, we master ourselves and our desire for food.  We show that we have control over our passions and desires.  Self-mastery is a very important virtue, for it helps us avoid sin in the future.  If we can say no to eating food when we are hungry, then we are more likely to be able to avoid sin when we are tempted.

One of the prayers during Lent acknowledges this purpose of fasting: For through bodily fasting you restrain our faults, raise up our minds, and bestow both virtue and its rewards.

Canon Law defines that Catholics from age 18 until age 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal.  Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal.  And abstinence from meat on Fridays must be observed by all Catholics from age 14 onwards.

Those who are pregnant, or nursing, or who are sick do not need to strictly follow the rules on fasting and abstinence.  Please ask me or another priest if you ever have any questions about this.

Almsgiving too is a very important spiritual practice for Lent.  Almsgiving embraces under the single name of mercy, not only financial giving, but many other works of charity as well, so that all the faithful, no matter their material wealth, are able to participate in almsgiving.  Thus, the rich, the poor, and those of average means, are able to play their part in almsgiving.  Those unequal in their capacity to give financially can be equal in the love within their hearts.

Consider the story of the Widow’s Mite, where she gave only two pennies, but Jesus said she gave more than all the others, because she gave what she could, whereas the others only gave from their surplus wealth.  Her almsgiving excelled the others because her love excelled the others.

The Church has great wisdom in teaching us to practice these important spiritual practices for Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

February 11, 2018 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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February 11, 2018

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Marriage Day

World Day of the Sick

 

“I will do it.  Be made clean.”

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross consist of 14 moments of the life of Jesus during his passion and death.

Some people are able to make a pilgrimage at some point in their life to the Holy Land, and actually follow the path Jesus walked through his suffering and death.  In other words, they can make the Stations of the Cross in the actual place where they happened.  I’ve had this wonderful privilege, and it is very powerful to walk where Christ walked, and pray where Christ suffered and died.

Many, however, are never able to make this pilgrimage in person, and certainly not regularly.  For this reason, churches began creating 14 memorials to represent the locations where these events in Jesus’ life happened, and the faithful may walk along these memorials, or stations, in memory of walking along with Jesus.  Thus, when we pray the Stations of the Cross, we spiritually walk and pray with Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem.

We can pray the Stations of the Cross during any time of the year, but it is particularly appropriate for the season of Lent when we meditate more specifically on our sinfulness which led Christ to undergo his passion and death.  We are familiar with praying the Stations of the Cross at church as a community, but we can also meditate on the stations of the cross anytime during our prayer time.  You can easily lookup the Stations of the Cross online.

Catholics are familiar with the idea of “giving something up” for Lent.  Giving up things like chocolate are good for us because it helps us grow in virtue and offer this small penance to Jesus as a sacrifice.  I encourage not only “giving something up”, but also “doing something extra” for Jesus during Lent.  It could be praying more, saying the rosary, going to daily Mass once a week, etc.  For the last several years, I have made a commitment during Lent to do the Stations of the Cross every day.  It is powerful to meditate daily during Lent on Jesus’ suffering and death, and to think of how he did that for me.

Whether or not you also try to pray the stations of the cross daily, I do hope you attend the Stations of the Cross here at church on the Fridays of Lent.

During the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, we will have a time of Eucharistic Adoration.  I will expose the Eucharist, then proceed to do the Stations as usual, and then conclude with Benediction.  (We will do adoration during Stations every Friday during Lent except for the two Fridays when I will be absent, those Fridays the Stations will be prayed but there will not be Adoration.)

I’ll conclude with the prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori for the Stations of the Cross (which I love and pray daily in my own prayer time).  I love you Jesus my love.  I love you more than myself.  I repent with my whole heart from ever having offended you.  Never let me offend you again, grant that I may love you always, and then do with me as you will.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

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