Category Archives: Father Nicholas VanDenBroeke

September 17, 2017 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 17, 2017

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catechetical Sunday

 

“So will my heavenly Father do to you,

unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

 

Marriage Enrichment Opportunities

Marriage is a sacrament, which means it is blessed by God and raised up to be an image of the love that Christ has for the Church.  But even though marriage is thus blessed by God, it still requires effort to keep a good marriage good.

I want to recommend a few ways for married couples to continue investing in one another and their marriage.

  1. Date nights

Carve out time once a week or once a month to go on date nights.  Get a babysitter, and spend some fun time as just the two of you.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day busyness and rushing around that it’s important to sometimes slow down and put a special emphasis on the most important person in your home: your spouse.

  1. Archdiocesan Marriage Conference

“Do you remember your marriage preparation retreat?  Do you wish you did?  Do you want more intimacy in your marriage?  Do you want to learn how to communicate better, more effectively and with less conflict?  Do you want to learn how to love and care for your spouse better?  Would you like to invite God to a more central role in your marriage?  We hope you are enjoying a beautiful marriage and want to help you maintain and improve it.

The Living God’s Love: The Sacrament of Marriage – Refresher Course for Married Couples will be Saturday, October 14th, from  9:00am-3:00pm at the University of St. Thomas.  www.archspm.org/departments/marriage

  1. Marriage Encounter Weekend

“The emphasis of Worldwide Marriage Encounter is on communication between husband and wife, who spend a weekend together away from the distractions and the tensions of everyday life, to concentrate on each other.  It’s not a retreat, nor a marriage clinic, nor group sensitivity. It’s a unique approach aimed at revitalizing Christian Marriage.  This is a time for you and your spouse to be alone together. To rediscover each other and together focus on your relationship for an entire weekend. Every marriage deserves that kind of attention!  Rediscover the spark that was there on your wedding day!  Rediscover the best friend you had when you were first married!  Join the millions of couples worldwide who have learned how to keep their marriage vibrant and alive!”

The next Marriage Encounter weekends near us are: October 6-8 – In Buffalo, MN and November 17-19 – In Prior Lake.  For more information, visit www.twincitieswwme.org

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

September 3, 2017 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 3, 2017

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

 

St. John the Baptist

On Tuesday of this past week, we celebrated the Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist, and we read at Mass the Gospel describing the circumstances of his death.  Although this story is now 2,000 in the past, is still very relevant for us today.  Why?  St. John the Baptist dies as a martyr, because he is willing to stand up for the truth about marriage.  We also face this difficult situation in our world today as the culture is turning more and more away from the natural and biblical understanding of marriage.

We must hold fast to the truth about marriage because it was taught throughout the entire bible, including by Our Lord himself: ‘“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”’ (Matthew 19:4-6).

We do not have the right or power to change the definition or permanence of marriage, because marriage is not an invention of man, it is an invention of God.

That being said, we must always love and be very compassionate to those who are in an irregular marital situation.  We cannot point fingers or make condemnations.  However, compassion does not mean we must compromise the truth.

An analogy might be the way we love and show compassion to someone caught in an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  While the addiction itself is harmful and cannot be supported, we must show our undivided support and care for the person who is struggling with the addiction.  In fact, it is because we love the person that we are willing to tell them the truth about their situation, and pray and encourage them to have the strength they need to become free from the addiction.

Standing up for Jesus and the Truth he taught can sometimes be difficult.  In fact, Jesus promised us that following him would be difficult.  He said in today’s Gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  Following Jesus is the most wonderful and fulfilling thing possible because it fills us with joy in this life and hope of eternal life to come, but it also requires us to also be willing to be “persecuted for the sake of righteousness”.

May we have the courage to not be afraid, but like St. John the Baptist, boldly to stand up for the truth about marriage.

You are in my daily prayers.  Please pray for me.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

August 27, 2017 – August 27, 2017

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August 27, 2017

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

Disposal of Religious Articles

It is a wonderful practice to have and use religious articles such as rosaries, scapulars, miraculous medals, bibles, statues, icons, palm branches, holy cards, etc., because they help remind us God and his love, and they help open us up to receive God’s grace into our lives.

But what do we do when a religious item gets broken, or ripped, or worn out, or faded, or you just have too many and need to purge the house a bit?  Is it okay to throw religious articles away?

The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.  In short, if the item has been blessed by a priest or deacon, then it is considered a holy object and must be disposed of accordingly.  A blessing sets something aside as dedicated to the worship of God, and therefore blessed objects should not be simply discarded in the trash.  The proper way to dispose of blessed objects is to burn them or burry them.  Even a simple bonfire in the backyard is an acceptable way to respectfully dispose of blessed items.

If an item has not been blessed, then it is not a sacred object, and can be thrown away.  Thus, even if you have an image or statue of Jesus or a saint, if it is not blessed, it can simply be thrown away.  This includes religious articles you may receive from charities in the mail.

The exception to that perhaps would be bibles.  I would recommend always properly disposing of an old bible and not simply throwing it away, since every bible contains the word of God.

If you’re ever unsure of what to do with certain religious articles you no longer want or need, you are always welcome to bring them to church and ask me about them.  I am also happy to collect old blessed items and properly dispose of them for you.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

August 20, 2017 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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August 20, 2017

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

 

The Rosary

We just celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary this past week, so it is a good time to reflect on the importance of Marian devotion.

The prayers of the rosary are largely straight out of the scriptures.  The Our Father was taught by Christ himself.  The Hail Mary is a combination of the words of the Angel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth greeting Mary (Luke 1:28, 42), followed by a plea for her prayers for us.  The Glory Be is simply a prayer of praise and glory to God as a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, and her constant request was to pray the rosary.  Perhaps you grew up praying the rosary as a family.  I did.  My family went through phases when we would pray the rosary every day, or only occasionally, but it was always a part of our life.  We also would include the rosary on road trips, by always beginning our time in the car with this prayer.  Having formed that habit as a child, I continue it today—not only praying the rosary in the car, but I made a resolution in high school to pray the rosary every day, and I have never intentionally failed to say the rosary every day for the past 15 years.  I know that devotion to Our Lady is a huge reason why my faith is so strong today.

If praying the rosary as a family is not a regular part of your family’s routine, I encourage you to begin.  Here is a powerful story that helps illustrate the power of the rosary and Mary’s guidance in our lives and that of children.

Fr. Hugh Thwaites, S.J. writes: “I remember someone telling me of a friend of his, a great Catholic, the pillar of the parish, whose children had all lapsed, one after the other. They had all fallen away from the sacraments and from attending Mass. So I said to him, ‘I wouldn’t mind betting that your friend had been brought up to recite the family rosary when he was a boy, and that his children haven’t.’ The next time I saw him, he said that this was indeed true. His friend had recited the family rosary at home when he was a boy, and when he had got married and started his own family they all said the rosary. But then, one evening when they were about to start the rosary, one of the children switched on the television, and that was that. The custom of the family rosary was dropped, and in due course, they gave up the practice of the faith.” ( https://www.olrl.org/misc/fmrosary.shtml )

We’ll talk more about technology use, like the TV, another time, but for now it’s enough to say that if we have time to watch TV, we also have time to pray the rosary.

I encourage all families, especially we who attend the parish dedicated to Our Lady, to pray the rosary every day.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

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August 13, 2017

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

 

How to Pray In Quiet

This past Sunday I preached about how important it is to learn to listen to Jesus, just as God the Father said on the mountain of Transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

God doesn’t first command us to do great things for him, but first to simply listen to him.  Like the story of Mary and Martha.  Martha is doing very good and important things by serving, but Mary has chosen the better part—to simply sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him.

This same message is in the readings this Sunday as well.  In the first reading, we hear of how Elijah hears the voice of God, not in loud and obvious ways, but in a “tiny whispering sound.”  And in the Gospel, Jesus himself “went up on the mountain by himself to pray.”

Sitting in silence with God is one of the most difficult things for Americans to do because there is almost no silence in our world anymore.  But it is so important that we turn off the TV, turn off the radio or music, get away by ourselves, and just spend time with God listening to him.

One of the best ways to listen to God is to spend time prayerfully reading the scriptures.  And as you slowly read, ask yourself this question: “What is God trying to say to me in this passage?”  And especially pay attention to any words or ideas that catch our attention.

Often times when we do this, we will have one of two reactions:

1) “I don’t get it.”  Or, “I’m not hearing God saying anything to me in this.”  If that is the case, then talk to the Lord about it.  Say, “Lord, I don’t understand this, or I don’t know what you are saying to me.  Please speak to me.”

Or, perhaps we do hear God speaking to us:

2) “This is amazing!”  “I understand how God is asking me to seek him more in my own life.”

If this is our response, then we should thank him for speaking to us and ask him to continue to speak.

And in this way a conversation with God begins, as we ask him to speak to us, we try to listen, and then we talk to him about what we are hearing or not hearing.  Thus, no matter what, we are now having a conversation with God and seeking to listen to him.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

Tuesday, August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION

August 14       Monday  Vigil Masses

6:30 PM          St. Mary’s – LeCenter

7:00 PM          Most Holy Trinity – Veseli

7:00 PM          St. Nicholas – New Market

7:30 PM          Immaculate Conception – Lonsdale 

August 15       Tuesday Holy Day Masses

8:00 AM          Immaculate Conception – Lonsdale

8:00 AM          St. Nicholas – New Market

8:30 AM          St. Patrick – Shieldsville

9:00 AM          Most Holy Trinity – Veseli

9:00 AM          St. Mary’s – LeCenter

6:30 PM          Most Holy Redeemer – Montgomery

7:00 PM          St. Nicholas – New Market

7:30 PM           Immaculate Conception – Lonsdale

August 6, 2017 – The Transfiguration of the Lord

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August 6, 2017

The Transfiguration of the Lord

 

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;

listen to Him.”

 

The Importance of Community

As we celebrate our Parish Bazaar this weekend, I want to reflect on the importance of community. Growing up, my parish community was a very important part of my life. I looked forward to spending time with my fellow parishioners, praying with them, volunteering with them, and being encouraged by them. Our yearly parish festival was also something I looked forward to as a time to come together as a parish family for fun, food, and friendship. Without a Christian community around us, it is hard to be encouraged in our faith, and spurred on to holiness.

Another very important reason why we need community is because we need someone to be accountable to. If we try to just live faith by ourselves, then we can easily fall into error or become lax, and at the same time justify ourselves because there is no one to call us out or lead us back to the straight and narrow path.

We hear in the Letter to the Hebrews,

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

And Jesus himself promised to be present in the Christian community, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is giving so much of themselves to make our Parish Bazaar a success. So many have put in countless hours already, and so many more will be helping prepare and serve food, run the games and activities, and just lend a hand where needed. Your service is noticed and appreciated.

We also welcome all visitors today. I humbly ask for your prayers for our parish as well.

Have a wonderful day and enjoy the Bazaar!

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

 

JULY 30, 2017 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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JULY 30, 2017

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Thus it will be at the end of the age. 

The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous …”

 

Parish Office Hours Slight Time Change

Starting this week, the parish office will be opening 30 minutes later, at 8:30am, rather than 8am.  I made this decision after consulting with the Parish Council and our office assistant, Dianne Miller, and we agreed that this would be a good change.

The reason for the change is to encourage participation in the daily morning Mass at 8am.  Not only will this allow Dianne to attend if she wishes, but I want to take this opportunity to encourage others to begin attending daily Mass as well, especially if you need to stop in to the office after Mass.

Additionally, it is very important to me that, as a norm, we don’t have other parish events happening at the same time as Mass.  Too often in other parishes I have been at, there have been events, meetings, or other activities happening at the same time as Mass.  I want to try to avoid that as a way of showing special respect for the Mass and encourage participation in it.

The Mass is the Source and Summit of our faith, and therefore we need to make sure that all parish events and activities always are planned with consideration of encouraging participation in the Sacred Liturgy.

I want to encourage all our parishioners, especially if you are retired or do not work on weekday mornings, to begin attending the daily morning Mass, when possible.  Or if you do work full time, and have a flexible schedule, perhaps starting your day 30 minutes later as a beautiful way to start your day with Mass.  I realize it might be a big leap to try to start attending every day, so perhaps begin by attending daily Mass one morning per week, or even once per month.  First Fridays are a very special day to attend Mass, so maybe that would be a good day to begin attending every month.

Please pray for me, as I daily pray for you.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

JULY 23, 2017 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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JULY 23, 2017

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun

in the kingdom of their Father.”

 

 

 

What to do during a time of prayer

There are many ways to pray.  We are probably most familiar with vocal prayers (like the Our Father and Hail Mary).  Other kinds of prayer include liturgical prayer (like the Mass), meditation (usually with Scripture), and contemplative prayer (just being present in God’s love).

Most of us probably find it easy to do vocal prayers, which we learned as children, and which we usually think of when we “say our prayers”.  The Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc. are all very beautiful and wonderful prayers, and we should get in the habit of saying these prayers at least every morning and every evening.

In addition to vocal prayers, I want to encourage you to go deeper and try to spend some time daily, or at least weekly to begin with, in meditative prayer.  We can begin this kind of prayer very simply by reading a paragraph from Scripture (the daily readings for Mass are a great place to start).  We shouldn’t rush through reading it just to “get it done”, but with the thought “what is God trying to say to me in this passage?”  It is often helpful to read the passage two or three times slowly, and pay special attention to any words or phrases that stand out to us or catch our attention.  Then, just start talking to God about the passage.  Something like, “God, I want to do your will, what are you trying to say to me today through this reading?  How can this scripture passage help me love you more?”

It’s as simple as having a conversation with God while reading scripture.  We ask God to speak to us, and we listen to the small quiet promptings he puts on our hearts.

St. John Damascene said that prayer is as simple as the “raising of one’s mind and heart to God”.

Please take some time this week for meditative prayer.  If you don’t know where to begin, try Matthew 4:17-22, or Mark 4:35-41, or the readings for the daily Mass (which you can easily find online, just Google “daily readings”).

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

JULY 16, 2017 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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JULY 16, 2017

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“But  the seed sewn on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it…”

 

 

 

Making a “Holy Hour”

One of the most significant things I have done in my life is taking time every day to spend with Jesus in prayer.  Growing up, my family prayed together most nights before bed, and as I grew older, I began to take time by myself to pray, to have my own personal time with Jesus.

When I entered seminary 13 years ago, we were all required to make a “holy hour”.  A holy hour is, as it sounds, an hour of prayer, but more specifically, it is prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist, adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  This daily routine of prayer has transformed my life more than perhaps anything else, because it is an opportunity not only to talk to God, but more importantly, to listen to him, and to love him.  I have kept up my dedication to a daily holy hour almost every day for the past 13 years, and intend to continue for the rest of my life.

I want to encourage all of you to not only pray every day as a family and individually, but also to stop into the church for prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist when you are able.

This past week, I began exposing the Blessed Sacrament in adoration in the church before daily Mass.  So from 7am (actually I usually open the church by 6:45am) until Mass at 8am, Tuesday thru Friday, I invite you to stop in to adore Our Lord in the Eucharist.

I also encourage you to attend daily Mass if you are able, but even if you are not, please try to make time at least once a week to make a visit to the church, perhaps for just a couple of minutes on your way to work in the mornings.

There is a story about a man from Saint John Vianney’s parish in Ars, France, and how he used to just sit in the back of the church and look at the tabernacle.  He never seemed to be doing anything.  So one day St. John Vianney approached the man and asked him what he did or what he said as he sat there in the church.  The man simply replied, “I look at him and he looks at me”.

That man knew and loved the Lord deeply, and he would come into the church just to spend time with Jesus.  I want to invite all of you to come to the church to just spend time with Jesus.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

JULY 9, 2017 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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JULY 9, 2017

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

 

 

I want to say a big Thank You to all here at Immaculate Conception who have helped make my first week very wonderful.  Thank you also to all who helped get the rectory ready for my arrival.  You have all been very kind and welcoming.  I look forward to meeting and getting to know you all soon.  Please keep reminding me of your names.

For those who were out of town for the holiday weekend last week, here are some things I shared as I introduced myself at Mass.

I go by Fr. VanDenBroeke, which you can easily remember by thinking, “I’d like a cookie…VanDenBroeke” because it rhymes!

My official title is “Parochial Administrator”, rather than “Pastor”.  As my letter of appointment states, this position assumes “the responsibilities for governance of the parish…this includes full pastoral responsibility for care of souls of the parish.  As parochial administrator, you are to have the rights and duties of a pastor”.  The biggest difference between “Pastor” and “Parochial Administrator” is that a pastor has more permanence at a parish.  The assumption is that after my first year, I will officially be named the pastor.  In short, for all practical purposes, you can simply consider me your pastor, though it won’t be official or permanent until likely next year.  In regular conversation, you can call me the pastor, but you will see my official title (such as in the bulletin) listed as Parochial Administrator.

Finally, I enjoy being invited over to parishioners’ homes, so please take advantage of that in the coming weeks and months!  I eat pretty much anything, especially pizza, pasta, and anything on a grill.  I also enjoy fresh bread and chocolate chip cookies.  And I’m also very open to trying the Czech foods that I hear so much about!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke