FEBRUARY 10, 2019 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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FEBRUARY 10, 2019

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.”

              Annual Retreat

I am away from the parish this weekend on my annual spiritual retreat.  Did you know that all priests are expected to take an annual retreat?  In fact, Canon Law says that priests are “bound to make time for spiritual retreats” (CIC 276 §2).

I have had the opportunity to go on many retreats throughout my life.  The very first one I can remember was when I was in middle school I went on a youth retreat.  I wasn’t necessarily interested in a retreat at that point in my life, but part of the deal was that one of the days of the retreat we got to go downhill skiing, so that convinced me to attend.

When I started high school, I learned about NET Ministries, and the wonderful retreats they put on for teens.  (NET retreats are a very similar style and format as the Quest Retreat we put on here at IC for our Confirmation candidates each year.)  My older brother had attended a NET retreat and came back with his faith set on fire.  I admired that, and wanted to experience it too.  And so, as a freshman in high school, I attended my first NET retreat.  That weekend ignited my faith in a powerful way and helped me start running toward the Lord with even greater speed than I had previously.  I encountered Jesus in a new and powerful way, especially in adoration, and met many people who became my friends through high school.  I began to love going on retreats and looked forward to the next one.

During my time in seminary, I was exposed to new retreat formats that I had not previously known: silent retreats and preached spiritual retreats.  A silent retreat is, as its name indicates, a retreat where there is usually no talking among the retreatants.  This silence allows us to concentrate especially on the voice of the Lord speaking in the quiet of our hearts.  A preached spiritual retreat is one where the retreat leader gives several daily reflections on Christ from the Gospels, and invites everyone to meditate on these stories during the day.

Although there are several different formats and styles of retreats, they all have the same goals: 1) to help us to step away from our busy lives, 2) to listen to the voice of Jesus speaking to our hearts, 3) to allow God to draw us closer to him through ongoing conversion and turning from sin, and 4) to help us make changes to our lives so that we can love God more and live for him better in our daily lives.

My hope is that eventually we will be able to offer retreats for our parish.  Parishes that have begun offering retreats for their parishioners often see a great spiritual revival in the community, and this makes sense if the goals listed above are achieved in the lives of many parishioners.

Until we are able to begin parish-wide retreats, if you would like to go on a retreat, here are some good places to look.  Please search for their websites, or feel free to ask me for more information on any of these.

  • Demontreville – Lake Elmo, MN
  • Christ the King Retreat Center – Buffalo, MN
  • Franciscan Retreats – Prior Lake, MN
  • Pacem in Terris – St. Francis, MN
  • World Wide Marriage Encounter

Finally, here are some additional suggestions:

  • Attend a retreat that has daily Mass, and opportunity for confession
  • Go with a friend (but don’t talk too much)
  • Don’t use your phone or computer at all if possible – unplug
  • Bring the bible and another spiritual book to read
  • Get extra sleep
  • Take a long walk
  • Pray a lot

You are in my daily prayers.

May God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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FEBRUARY 3, 2019

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

World Day for Consecrated Life

  

“Amen I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.”

New Rectory Chapel

I’m so delighted to announce that the chapel in the rectory has been completed!  Shortly after I arrived at IC, we began construction in one of the spare bedrooms of the parish house to turn it into a chapel.  The project is now complete, and the result is wonderful.

As many of you know, when the nuns lived in the parish house there was a chapel in the room that is now our Lourdes meeting room.  And since that space is now an important part of the parish office, I decided to put in a new chapel using a different room in the house.

So many people helped work on the chapel.  In particular I want to thank:

  • Jake Tupy – heading up construction projects
  • Jake Simones for construction, painting, and staining assistance
  • My dad for help with drywall mudding
  • Paul Simon for donating the wood for the altar from trees he had personally milled
  • Dave Stepka for constructing the altar and re-finishing the cabinet

If I missed anyone, I apologize.  So many people helped over this past year that it’s hard to remember.

It is a great privilege to have the Blessed Sacrament in the rectory, where I pray daily.  Receiving permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a chapel like this actually requires asking permission from the Archbishop, which I received.

My daily prayer time with Jesus in the Eucharist is the core of my life.  Know of my constant prayers for you.  And thank you for your prayers for me.

May God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

JANUARY 27th, 2019 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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JANUARY 27th, 2019

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Catholic Schools

 

The purpose of our Catholic School is to form saints and citizens in partnership with families.

Saints: Individuals who know and love Jesus and his Church.  Our goal in life is to get to heaven.  But we don’t get to heaven by accident, nor by just being a “good person”.  We get to heaven by God’s grace living in us and sanctifying us, in other words, by being a saint.

Good Citizens: Individuals who have virtue, can think critically, and seek truth.  Modern education is rare that teaches the young morality and virtue.  However, without these, we have nothing to guide us and lead us in the right direction; rather, we are directed simply by our own passions and desires, and strive solely for what we think we want, rather than what God wants and what is best for the good of all society.  The development of virtue and critical thinking that teaches us how to seek the truth and find it is essential to being a good citizen.

In Partnership with Families: Education of children is essentially a partnership between the Church and the parents of the child.  Neither one nor the other alone can fulfill this responsibility.  The Church has always taught that “Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators”.  In addition, “in a special way, the duty of educating belongs to the Church, …[especially by] communicating the life of Christ to those who believe”.

This partnership between the parents and the Church is essential if the faith will be taught and strongly take root in the child’s life.

I believe Catholic Education is the best option for most families who truly want to pass on the faith to their children, because the Catholic School tirelessly works in partnership with the parents, re-enforcing the faith and the virtues that parents seek to teach.

Why I love Holy Cross:

  • Weekly Mass (in school)
  • Daily prayer (in school)
  • Learn about Jesus (in school)
  • Incorporate a Catholic worldview into every area of study, and teach our students how to integrate their faith into their daily lives, not separate them.

For these reasons, in addition to an excellent education in all subject matters, I personally encourage all parishioners of Immaculate Conception to consider sending your children to our wonderful school: Holy Cross.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

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

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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

 

Bingo January 27, 2019

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Please join us for our annual Parish Family Bingo on Sunday, January 27! Bring the whole family for a Sunday afternoon of fun, food and prizes. Invite your family and neighbors – everyone is welcome!

Bingo will be held in the Crusader Civic Center.

Lunch is available for purchase starting at 11am.

Bingo games start at 12:00pm. Play bingo all afternoon for a cover charge of $3.00. Extra cards are available for $0.50 each.

Sponsored by the IC-CCW.

Please enjoy the pictures below, taken from last year’s Bingo (2018):

January 6th, 2019 – The Epiphany of the Lord

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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 25th, 2018 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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NOVEMBER 25th, 2018

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

“For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

Latin and the Liturgy (Part 2)

(Continued from article last week…)

 

The use of Latin in the liturgy has long been esteemed in the Church, and it shows the universality of the Church.

Additionally, it is common that people should worship in a sacred language.  This has been true about the Jews, who worship in Hebrew, although very few people speak Hebrew.  Even at the time of Jesus, everyone spoke Aramaic or Greek, yet Hebrew was used in worship.

Latin has the power to inspire us to mystery and beauty.  Consider the singing of the Ave Maria after Communion.  Most people don’t know the exact words (though they may know it is the Hail Mary), but they are inspired by the beauty of the song.  It has the power to lift our minds and hearts to God.  So too, when praying in Latin, we may not know every word we are saying, but we know the parts of the Mass, and know, for example, when we sing “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth” we are singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”, because that’s the same time we sing that prayer every Sunday.  There is a certain sense of mystery and awe in using a sacred language.  Just as the Mass itself is set apart from the rest of our busy lives, so Latin is set apart and adds to the wonder and mystery of this great event.

In fact, St. Theresa of Avila, who prayed the breviary in Latin with her community, received a special grace to suddenly understand everything she was praying in Latin.  And she later commented that it did not in fact help her prayer, because she already was raising her mind and heart to God fully in her prayer of the breviary, even though it was in Latin and she didn’t understand everything she prayed.  Rather, her heart was encountering God in love and awe and mystery, not just in known words.

Latin helps form our identity as Catholics.  It reminds us that our faith is over 2000 years old, and that we stand in continuity with countless saints and martyrs that have worshiped together for thousands of years in one common language: Latin.  It reminds us that our faith is not isolated to one local area or one time period in history.  Down through the ages, our Roman Catholic faith has had a constant living tradition bound by one common language.  That’s pretty amazing when think about it.

The Church has a beautiful liturgical treasury.  We need to rediscover it, learn it, and embrace it.  As Pope Benedict XVI suggested, we should teach the faithful to “sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (Sacramentum Caritatis 62).

Hearing Latin during mass should give us strength and give us pride to be Catholic.  It should enliven us and help us remember that we have been “set apart” for God, to be holy.  And it should remind us of the faith we share with all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the entire world.

During the four weeks of Advent, which begin next weekend, we will be singing the Mass parts in Latin – The Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), Mysterium Fidei (Memorial Acclamation), and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).  We are already familiar with the tune because it is the same as the English version we are currently doing.  I look forward to this special addition to the liturgy for the season of Advent.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke