Category Archives: Father Nicholas VanDenBroeke

May 27, 2018 – The Most Holy Trinity

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MAY 27, 2018

The Most Holy Trinity

 

Note: This is the first article in a series that Fr. VanDenBroeke is writing on The Priesthood

Article 1 – Statistics

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), from Georgetown University, publishes yearly statistics about the ordination of priests around the United States.  We can see great hope in the fact that there were 548 men ordained priests last year!  Additionally, 4 men were just ordained this weekend for our Archdiocese.  This number has been growing since the year 2000, when only 442 men were ordained priests, but it is still down dramatically from the year 1965 when 994 men were ordained priests.

Please continue to pray for more priests.  However, praying for them is not enough, we must also encourage young men (perhaps your own children or grandchildren) to consider discerning a call to the priesthood.  The CARA survey said that, on average, 4 people encouraged each of the men who were ordained to consider a vocation.  In other words, it is important young men be encouraged not just by one person, but by several people to consider the seminary.  The most influential people who encouraged most men to join the seminary were: Parish priests, Friends, Parishioners, and Mothers.  Sadly, almost half of the priests ordained last year said they were discouraged by at least two people from entering the seminary.  We must be encouraging, not discouraging, of our young people considering a call to the priesthood.

Did you know that priests are among the happiest people in any way of life or vocation in the United States?  A large scale survey was conducted a few years ago which determined that priests are remarkably happy, are less likely to be depressed or to suffer “burn-out” than other careers, and are largely at peace with the demands of the priestly life, including the requirement of lifelong celibacy.  These findings are published in a book called “Why priests are happy”, by Stephen J. Rossetti.

The findings of this study that priests are truly happy is really important to hear, because I think there can be conflicting thoughts in our minds saying, on the one hand, “we need priests if we are going to have the sacraments”, and on the other hand, “I wouldn’t want my own son/friend to become a priest because the priesthood is a sad, lonely, and unsatisfying existence”.  That might be what our culture would like everyone to think, but that simply isn’t true.  The data shows the opposite, that priests are truly happy and satisfied.  And I can personally testify to the fact that I love being a priest, and I would encourage any young man who had thoughts of priesthood to look into it further.

Journalist John L. Allen Jr. sums up the findings of the priest survey with these words: “…It would all boil down to this.  The priests of this country obviously love serving you and ministering to you, because otherwise there’s no way to explain why they’re basically happy, in the teeth of a culture which constantly tells them they’re not supposed to be.

We need more priests.  We need men to give up their lives for Jesus Christ now.  Pray for your priests, and pray for more priests.  Encourage your sons, grandsons, god-children, nephews, neighbors, friends, and parishioners to consider the priesthood.  As Archbishop Flynn says, “If I had a hundred lives, I’d live every one of them as a priest.”

To live in the midst of the world,

Without wishing its pleasures;

To be a member of each family,

Yet belonging to none;

To share all sufferings;

To penetrate all secrets;

To heal all wounds;

To go from men to God

And offer Him their Prayers;

To return from God to men

To bring pardon and hope;

To have a heart of fire for charity

And a heart of bronze for chastity;

To teach and to pardon,

Console and bless always–

What a glorious life!

And it is yours,

O Priest of Jesus Christ!                -Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, OP

 

Stay tuned next week for more information on the priesthood…

 

 

CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION

I want to personally invite everyone, especially those from the various liturgical ministries at IC, to attend the 10:00AM Mass next Sunday, June 3rd.  At the end of this Mass we will have a Eucharistic Procession around the block and then return to the Church for Benediction.

 

May 20, 2018 – PENTECOST SUNDAY

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 MAY 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday

 

“Everything that the Father has is mine”

GOD BLESS OUR GRADUATES

We are honoring and celebrating our Immaculate Conception Parish 2018 High School Graduates at our 5:00 PM Mass 

We wish them well, & offer our prayers for their success in the future.  

Katie Calliguri

Daughter of Jim & Marcy Calliguri

Ronan Carston-Fix

Son of James & Elizabeth Daleiden

Jack Dooley

 Son of Dave & Mary Dooley

Jadon Duban

Son of Scott & Theresa Duban

Logan Geer

Son of Shannon & Kristen Geer

Grace Jacobs

Daughter of Janet Jacobs

Cole Kaderlik

Son of Mike & Andrea Kaderlik

Ashley Kes

Daughter of Tim & Kim Kes

Kaitlyn Koktavy

Daughter of Thomas & Jenni Koktavy

Zachary Mikel

Son of Brian & Cathy Mikel

Emma Sickmann

Daughter of Paula and Trent Vinge and David Sickmann

Isaac Simon

Son of Bruce & Ann Simon

Jack Skluzacek

Son of Tim & +Lisa Skluzacek

Katelyn Sticha

Daughter of Scott & Theresa Sticha

Tommy Witte

Son of Bridget Leirer

Faith is not knowing what the future holds, but knowing Who holds the future.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We offer our special prayers and Congratulations to the following students, who will graduate from Holy Cross Catholic School on Thursday, May 24, 2018

 Dustin Anderson, Daughter of Dennis & Denise Anderson

John Benolkin, Son of Jake & Sara Benolkin

Maggie Flicek, Daughter of Joe & Melissa Flicek

Ellie Fredrickson, Daughter of Duane & Anne Fredrickson

Macey Hager, Daughter of Jon & Selena Hager

Maggie Havlicek, Daughter of Tim & Molly Havlicek

Abigail Kugler, Daughter of Keith & Diana Kugler

Maria McCabe, Daughter of Tom & Barb McCabe

Levi Meyer, Son of Ed & Dana Murphy-Meyer

Carter Pavek, Son of Joe & Sarah Pavek

Nolan Revak, Son of Justin & Jill Revak

Fernando Reyes, Son of Francisco Reys & Erika Rodriguiz

Justin Simones, Son of Jon & Jessica Simones

Abigail Wight, Daughter of Bob & Jennifer Wight

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

Pastor’s column for May 20, 2018

Altar Boys, Cassocks, and Sacristans

Before Vatican II (1962-1965), all parishes had altar boys and they wore cassocks (black robes).  Following Vatican II, many parishes went to boys and girls serving, and the servers wearing albs (white robes).  We are now seeing a growing trend of parishes returning to cassocks and altar boys.  There are two primary reasons for this.

1) The altar servers are an extension of the priest’s own ministry of serving the altar of God, thus, it is fitting that they, like priests, should be male.  2) Vocations to the priesthood are often more abundant from parishes where the altar boys wear cassocks.

To begin discussing this topic, we need to begin by asking: Why do we have altar servers at all?  What is their ministry or service for?  The fact is, we could quite easily celebrate Mass without altar servers (I do it almost every day for daily Mass).  However, having altar servers does add a lot to the Mass, for they are able to carry things in procession, bring things to and from the altar, hold things for the priest, and generally assist the priest in anything he needs.  That being said, we cannot look at altar serving simply as a practical “we need someone to carry or hold this, and anybody will do”.  Rather, we need to understand altar serving as a role (or ministry) at Mass which is an extension of the priest’s own ministry.

Just as the ministry of the priest is not merely practical, “we just need someone to stand in front of everyone and lead prayers”, but rather is very symbolic as the priest stands in persona Christi, in the person of Christ.  So too, an altar server is not just functional, but also symbolic, as they are an extension of the priest’s ministry at the altar.

This is the reason that altar boys have traditionally worn cassocks to serve at Mass.  A cassock is clerical (or priestly) attire.  When the servers wear cassocks, they almost look like little priests by what they wear.  This historically was very intentional, to visibly remind us that the server’s ministry flows from the priest’s ministry.

Note: I’ve written a whole series of articles on the priesthood, which I will begin publishing in the bulletin soon, and in these articles I explain why the priesthood is reserved only to men.  In short: because only a man can be ordained in the person of Christ, who himself was a man.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is his bride.  And only a man can be a bridegroom.  This is why only a man can be a “sacramental” presence of Christ, i.e. a priest.  And flowing from this, the altar servers assist with the priestly ministry.  Thus, it is appropriate that the altar servers be boys and wear clerical attire, showing their union with the priest.

There is something awe inspiring about seeing boys wearing cassocks in the sanctuary.  I have had several parishioners make this comment to me when they have seen some of the boys wearing them for Mass, and how fitting and sacred it feels to see the altar servers this way.  I think the reason it feels more sacred or more fitting is that we subconsciously understand this powerful connection between the priest and the altar servers when we see them wearing cassocks.

Additionally, boys being invited to be altar servers has always been an important invitation to them to seriously consider the priesthood as a possible vocation that God might be calling them to.  Statistics show that 70% of priests were altar servers when they were younger.  This closeness to the priest helped foster a desire to consider the priesthood for themselves.  For me personally, being an altar server was very instrumental in my own vocational discernment, and I want to strongly encourage this for all the boys here at our parish of Immaculate Conception.

This taking on the identity of the priest by wearing cassocks also changes how the boys approach serving.  As someone recently commented to me after seeing the boys serving in cassocks, “It seemed to me that they served with a greater dignity, that they took their role more seriously.”  I remember that this was my own personal experience too when I began wearing a cassock in seminary.  It changes the way you see yourself and what you are doing at Mass.  It deepens the boy’s sense of the sacred as he realizes his closeness to the priest at Mass.

For these reasons, I have decided to make two changes to our altar server program: Our servers will now begin wearing cassocks at Mass, and serving will be limited to boys.  Additionally, I have decided to lower the age to become an altar server.  Once a boy has received his first communion he may begin serving.

We will be implementing these changes on the weekend of Corpus Christi Sunday (June 3).

I’m grateful to the donor who came forward to purchase the new cassocks for our parish.  Thank you for your generosity.

I’m also excited to announce that we have already begun a wonderful new opportunity for girls and their mothers to minister at Mass as sacristans.  For several months now, some of the homeschool girls have been helping out as sacristans at the Friday morning Mass and have asked about helping out on Sundays as well.  Therefore, I’ve decided to expand our current group of weekend sacristans and open this opportunity to others who are interested.

I’m calling them “The Sacristans of St. Therese”.  St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) loved Jesus and the Mass very much.  One of her roles in the convent was to be the sacristan—to prepare and care for all the things used for Mass.  St. Therese served in this ministry with great love, knowing that she was serving Jesus.

One of St. Therese’s sisters wrote about her: “[Therese] loved to get the altar ready, especially on the days when we had exposition off the Blessed Sacrament.  For a long time she was sacristan, and it was edifying to see the respect and delight with which she touched the sacred vessels…She touched corporals and purificators lovingly; she said she felt she was touching the child Jesus’ linen.  When she was getting things ready for the following day’s Mass, she liked to look at herself in the chalice and paten, and imagine that the divine species would rest on her since her image was reflected in the gold.”

In the past it was common for a parish to have an Altar Society, which cared for the sacred vessels and linens for Mass.  I’m so grateful for how dedicated some of our parishioners have been serving in this role for many years, and I’m excited to expand the opportunity to the young ladies of our parish as Sacristans of St. Therese.

Please pray for me, as I pray daily for all of you.  And please pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

MAY 13, 2018 – The Ascension of the Lord

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MAY 13, 2018

7th Sunday of Easter

The Ascension of the Lord

Mother’s Day

 

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

 

Congratulations and God Bless

the Newly Confirmed Members

of Our Parish Family

 

Alexander Joseph Graff-Smisek

Son of Bruce Smisek & Amy & Nathan (Graff) Keilen

Alexis Frances Graff-Smisek

Daughter of Bruce Smisek & Amy & Nathan (Graff) Keilen

Makaylie Marie Hager

Daughter of Jon & Selena Hager

William Edward Kaderlik

Son of Michael & Andrea Kaderlik

Eliza Angeline Lynch

Daughter of Jeffrey and Rebecca  Lynch

Dawson Gregory Pint

Son of Greg & Marilyn Pint

Ellie Marie Singleton

Daughter of Jeff & Darcy Singleton

Zachary Shawn Wendorff

Son of Ryan & Melissa Wendorff

 

These students received the Sacrament of Confirmation

From Archbishop Bernard Hebda

on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at the Cathedral of St. Paul

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

On this Mother’s Day, I want to take the opportunity to thank my mother for all that she has done for me.  She gave me life.  She taught me to pray.  She encouraged me.  She comforted me.  I have been blessed to have a very wonderful mother.  Thank you mom for everything.

                                                        – Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

 

Today we pray for every mother,

that their hearts be filled with God’s joy and peace.

We pray they are blessed with happiness

 as they reflect on the memories of their children.

We pray that this Mother’s Day will be a celebration

      of the sacrifices she made and the love she shared throughout the years.

MAY 6, 2018 – 6th Sunday of Easter

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MAY 6, 2018

6th Sunday of Easter

 

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”

 

Congratulations

to the following children who are receiving their

First Holy Communion

Today, Sunday, May 6, 2018 at the 10:00 AM Mass

 

Ilsa Denise Baker

Daughter of Bernie & Melissa Baker

James John Paul Deutsch

Son of Terry & Andrea Deutsch

Brayden Daniel DuPay

Son of Dan & Kim DuPay

Carson Isaac Flicek

Son of Joseph & Jamie Flicek

Cullen Michael Flynn

Son of Adam & Janel Flynn

Tyson Joseph Grant

Son of Jeffrey & Heather Grant

Oliver Russell Grogg

Son of Patrick & Sara Grogg

Carsten Robert Haala

Son of Brittany Haala

Elliiot Elizabeth Kling

Daughter of Heather & +Matthew Kling

Kinsley Grace Mach

Daughter of Joseph & Melissa Mach

 Grace Mary Malecha

Daughter of Kevin & Meghann Malecha

Kayla Marie Michel

Daughter of Norbert & Ashley Michel

Gianna Vita Rickert

Daughter of Joshua & Ashlee Rickert

Gabriel Allen Rynda

Son of Allen & Kimberly Rynda

Kendall Rae Schmoll

Daughter of Joseph & Rebecca Schmoll

Avery Rae Sirek

Daughter of Jacob & Wendy Sirek

Corrine Jane Skluzacek

Daughter of Ryan & Jennifer Skluzacek

Hunter Jeffrey Tuma

Son of Andrew & Jennifer Tuma

Welcome to the Table of the Lord

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Religionless Spirituality

 This month’s Lighthouse CD is Religionless Spirituality – Why we need the Church.

This is one of the best, and most important, Lighthouse CDs I have listened to yet.  Renowned Scripture scholar and author, Dr. Tim Gray, speaks directly to the question of “Why do we need the Church?  Can’t I just love Jesus without a church?

He offers incredible insights that make clear the role of the Church as an essential part of God’s plan for salvation.

This talk personally helped deepen my own understanding of the focus of Christ’s teachings, and his establishing the Church.

Not only does this CD increase our appreciation for the Church, but it will help you grow in your own ability to articulate why the Catholic Church is important, especially when talking with other Christians or fallen away Catholics.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

APRIL 29, 2018 – 5th Sunday of Easter

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APRIL 29, 2018

5th Sunday of Easter

 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”

Lighthouse CDs

I’m very excited to announce a new, wonderful opportunity to grow in our knowledge and love of the faith: Lighthouse CDs.

Lighthouse Catholic Media records talks given by the best priests and theologians in the Church today, and makes these talks available on CD for just $3 each.

The topics cover everything in the Catholic world: Sacraments, Devotions, Theology, Prayer, etc.

I can tell you personally that Lighthouse CDs have helped me grow immensely in my knowledge and love of the faith.

Going forward, Immaculate Conception will be buying one new CD each month and make it available in our Lighthouse Kiosk in the back of church.  I will highlight each month’s CD in the bulletin and at Mass, and explain why it is worth listening to and how it has impacted me personally.

Lighthouse CD’s are ideal for car rides, especially if you are commuting to or from work alone.  I have listened to literally hundreds of hours of these CDs during my own time in the car, and not only does it make the drive much more interesting, but it helps me grow in faith at the same time.

Our first Lighthouse CD actually came out on Easter when we gave out the CD “Who am I to Judge?”.  Next weekend, May 5 & 6, I will introduce our next CD.

Here are just a couple testimonies from the Lighthouse website:

These presentations have made the Mass come alive and left me with a hunger to learn more. What a blessing!” – Russ, Dayton, OH

I have found the presentations on the CDs so informative that we are now using them in our religious education classes. I heartily recommend your program and hope that your Faithraiser CDs get into many more parishes around the country.” – Fr. Pat, Chino Hills, CA

I hope this new initiative will help you and your family grow in knowledge and love of Christ and his Church.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick 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