Category Archives: Father Nicholas VanDenBroeke

JANUARY 20th, 2019 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Published by:

JANUARY 20th, 2019

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Everyone serves the good wine first…but you have kept the good wine until now.”

Why I Left Planned Parenthood

I decided to add a bonus Lighthouse CD this month because of its relevance to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal throughout the entire United States.  This week’s CD is Why I Left Planned Parenthood by Abby Johnson.

Abby Johnson used to run a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas until she experienced a dramatic conversion on the understanding of human life in the womb.  She shares an insider’s perspective about the true motivations of the abortion industry, and her courageous journey away from it and towards life.

In this CD, Abby gives her personal testimony and also gives many helpful thoughts about why it is so important to be pro-life.  Her story is a testament to God’s grace and mercy, and the joy that comes from being an advocate for life.

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.

There is also a new movie being made about Abby Johnson’s story, called Unplanned, which will be released in March of this year.  As it turns out, there is a very powerful story connected with the lead actress in the movie, Ashley Bratcher.

Ashley got the part to play Abby in the movie, and it wasn’t until she was on the set getting ready to film the movie when she talked to her mom about having the role.  Suddenly her mom began to cry and explained to Ashley that she herself was in an abortion clinic preparing to abort her (Ashley), when she decided she couldn’t go through with it.  And so, the actor playing Abby Johnson in this movie is herself only alive today because her mom left the abortion clinic and didn’t abort her.

(You can watch Ashley explain this powerful moment between she and her mom in an interview she did on Fox News.  Just do an online search for “Ashley Bratcher Fox interview”, and the video should pop up.)

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

January 6th, 2019 – The Epiphany of the Lord

Published by:

JANUARY 6th, 2019

The Epiphany of the Lord

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

 

Blessings of Technology

Last weekend I wrote about the blessing of a home.  This weekend I’d like to focus again on blessings, and this time talk about blessing technology.

Technology is amazing in what it can do and how quickly it keeps advancing.  And with access to the internet, these devices help us find information quickly and stay connected with family and friends.  However, phones, tablets, and computers can also be used in ways that are gravely immoral by accessing pictures and videos that become occasions of “adultery of the heart”, as Jesus explained in Matthew 5:27-28.

I will be the first to say that technology is wonderful and a great benefit.  So, we do not need to reject technology, but we do need to take great care that it is used in a way that does not offend God, but rather glorifies Him.

For this reason, next weekend (January 12th & 13th), I will be offering a special blessing on all electronic devices.  I invite you to bring your phones, tablets, laptops, Kindles, iPods, etc., to Mass next weekend for a special technology blessing.  We will bless them as a way of dedicating them to God’s service and glory, and a reminder to have moral uprightness whenever we use these devices.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 23, 2018 – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Published by:

DECEMBER 23, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Advent

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”

Blessing of the Christmas Tree and Nativity Scene

Christmas trees are a lovely tradition and have great symbolism.  The evergreen tree is a symbol of life, since it keeps its green color year-round (even through Minnesota winters!).  The Christmas lights remind us of Christ, the light of the world.  Christmas trees used to be decorated with apples, in addition to other ornaments, to remind us of the original sin of Adam and Eve, and of the redemption of Christ which frees us from sin.  Christmas is an important time to remember our redemption, for it was out of God’s desire to redeem us that He sent his son Jesus to be born for us at Christmas.

I encourage you to keep your Christmas tree up for at least the 12 days of Christmas (through the feast of Epiphany), or even until February 2nd (the feast of the Presentation of the Lord) which is 40 days after Christmas and concludes the Christmas season.

The nativity scene is another wonderful thing to display for the Christmas season.  The nativity scene was made popular by St. Francis of Assisi and is an excellent visible reminder to us of the humble birth of our Savior.

Here are some blessings you can use in your own home to ask for God’s blessing upon your Christmas tree and nativity scene.

Christmas Tree Blessing

Leader: My brothers and sisters, amidst signs and wonders Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: his birth brings joy to our hearts and enlightenment to our minds.  With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us; may its lights guide us to the perfect light.

Read: Titus 3:4-7

Leader: Let us ask God to send his blessing upon us and upon this sign of our faith in the Lord.

R/. Lord, give light to our hearts.

L: That this tree of lights may remind us of the tree of glory on which Christ accomplished our salvation; let us pray to the Lord.  R/.

L: That the joy of Christmas may always be in our homes, let us pray to the Lord.  R/.

L: That the peace of Christ may dwell in our hearts and in the world, let us pray to the Lord.  R/.

Leader: Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation: the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.  We praise you for the light of Israel: the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.  We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love.  Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree.  May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.  May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R/. Amen.

 

Nativity Scene Blessing

Read: Isaiah 7:10-15 and Luke 2:1-8

Leader: God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.  To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love.  Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns forever and ever.  R/. Amen.

 

I wish you all a very happy and blessed Christmas.  May Jesus Christ, who is the reason for the season, fill your hearts with great hope and joy this wonderful time of year!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

DECEMBER 9, 2018 – Second Sunday of Advent

Published by:

DECEMBER 9, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”

Immaculate Conception Novena

(Pray the following prayers for 9 days in a row)

O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being His beloved mother. By the power of His Cross, He preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.

I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.

Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…  (Mention your intentions)

My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.

As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!

Hail Mary…

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

DECEMBER 2, 2018 – First Sunday of Advent

Published by:

DECEMBER 2, 2018

First Sunday of Advent

 “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality

This month’s Lighthouse CD is The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality by Matthew Kelly.

This is a very inspiring talk about the basics of living the Catholic faith.  In this CD, Matthew explains seven of the “pillars” of our faith, and why they are so important.  This talk will help re-energize your spiritual life, and help you learn practical ways to incorporate the seven pillars into your everyday life.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

Other Advent thoughts…

Confessions will be available on the four Sundays of Advent between the 8am and 10am Masses (so approximately 9:10 – 9:50am).  I wanted to make it easy for people to be able to stay after Mass or come early to Mass and go to confession during this wonderful season of preparing for the coming of Christ.

We are also adding a few weekday evening Masses during Advent.  I encourage you to come as a family after work and school.  The dates of our evening Masses are:

Tuesday, December 4th – 6pm

Tuesday, December 11th – 6pm

Thursday, December 20th – 6pm

If you do not yet have an Advent calendar, I encourage you to grab one from the back of church.  These calendars have one short scripture verse for each day leading up to Christmas.  I especially encourage using these if you still have children at home.

Advent wreaths are another wonderful way to celebrate this season.  Lighting one candle each week leading up to Christmas helps us grow in anticipation for the coming of Christ, the Light of the World.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

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

Published by:

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

Published by:

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 21st, 2018 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Published by:

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

Published by:

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.

——————

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

 

September 30, 2018 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Published by:

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