During his two years here he has touched many lives through his ministry. We all will miss him as he moves on as of June 20, 2016 to St. Bridget Parish in Loves Park, 600 Clifford Avenue, Loves Park, IL 61111. 815-633-6311.
Visit fatherbrowning.com or on Facebook: Fr-Ryan Browning
June 12, 2016
Recently, I have been praying a lot about moving, and reflecting on the graces from my time here at St. Patrick’s. I cannot believe how much God has done for me over these two years of priestly ministry. I am in awe of God’s loving mercy and grace, and your spiritual openness. In many of my homilies, I speak of opening our heart to His grace and taking that next step with Him. Trusting that God wants to make us saints, we only need to say yes and He comes rushing in. I have seen the reality of this in my life and in many of yours. Let’s keep saying yes!
I have been thanking God for all of the wonderful people I have encountered throughout my time here. It is truly overwhelming to be an influence and to play a part in the lives of God’s people. I thank God for your openness to me, and your forgiveness of my shortcomings. To steal from St. Paul, “I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you.”
I hope, if you remember anything I have shared with you, that it is this: Trust and believe in God’s love and mercy for you personally.
When that reality begins to sink into our hearts everything begins to change. We begin to see more clearly the path that leads to eternal life. To steal from St. Paul again, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Thank you all for everything! Please be assured of my prayers, and please pray for me as I embark on this new journey with Our Lord.
With a heart full of gratitude to God and to you,
I remain sincerely yours in Christ,
P.S. Welcome Fr. Manno with an open heart, as you did all three of us. Pray for Msgr. Knox and Fr. Deitz, because I think with me gone, Fr. Deitz might set his sights on Msgr. Knox for the brunt of his razzing!
We, as a Church, are approaching the beginning of an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins on 8 December 2015 and concludes 20 November 2016. I will be offering reflections on Divine Mercy throughout the year. So get ready!
Jesus said to St. Faustina, “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You (327). I desire that this image be venerated,…throughout the world (47).”
You can contact me at fatherbrowning.com
May 15, 2016
The Bishop has assigned me to St. Bridget’s in Loves Park. It is always difficult to leave an assignment, and I hear from other priests, especially your first assignment. It reserves a special place in the heart of the priest. I certainly sense that in this news, which is bittersweet. I have thoroughly enjoyed being at St. Patrick’s. I have enjoyed becoming a part of so many of your lives through the celebration of the sacraments, visiting the school and RE program, and speaking with so many of you.
I have enjoyed my time with Msgr. Knox and Fr. Deitz as well, and I will cherish their friendship. We get along really well and I have been privileged to learn from them, and to work along side of them. I consider Fr. Deitz one of my best friends, although he considers me his arch-nemesis.
The razzing shall never end! Msgr. Knox is a fantastic pastor and I have learned a great deal from him.
It is always difficult to leave, but I trust in God’s providence and grace. I am excited to see what He has in store for me next. I hope in some way I have helped many of you grow in your relationship with our Lord and to trust in His merciful love for you.
Please be assured of my prayers, and please pray for me as I embark on this new journey with Our Lord.
God bless you,
Bulletin Columns Written by Father Browning
December 6, 2015
The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
What is a Jubilee Year? The origin of the Christian Jubilee goes back to the Old Testament times. The Law of Moses prescribed a special year for the Jewish people (see Leviticus 25:10-14). Jesus presents Himself as the fulfillment of the old jubilee, because He has come to “preach the year of the Lord’s favor”
(Luke 4:18-19; see Isaiah 61:1-2).
In the Roman Catholic tradition, a Holy Year or Jubilee, is a great religious event, held roughly every 25 years, for forgiveness of sins and punishment due to sin. This tradition began in 1300. Since that time, the Church has celebrated 26 ordinary and three extraordinary Jubilee Years (this is the fourth). It truly is a historic and special year in the life of the Church. It is a year of reconciliation between adversaries, conversion, and a time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is a time to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ, who brings life and grace to humanity.
Pope Francis called for this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy because he believes that the present age is an “opportune moment” of mercy. St. Faustina records Jesus’ words expressing the same theme: “I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation (1160). Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy (1588). He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice (1146).” Mercy is God’s love as it encounters our suffering, poverty, brokenness, and sin. Jesus mercifully takes action to do something about it, if we let Him.
Over the course of this year, I will offer reflections on mercy in the Old Testament, the New Testament parables, and the Saints. I will discuss the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy and offer you practical suggestions to practice them. Let’s make this Year of Mercy one of deeper conversion to Jesus in every area of our lives. Next week, I will offer the Holy Father’s practical advice for the Year of Mercy.
December 13, 2015
Celebrating the Year of Mercy
In the papal bull (Misericordiae Vultus – The Face of Mercy) establishing the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis suggested a few concrete actions to celebrate it:
- He asked all of us to steep ourselves in the Word of God through reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture. “In order to be capable of mercy,” the Pope wrote, “we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God by rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us.” Try reading the Gospel of Luke, known as the “Gospel of Mercy” slowly and meditatively individually and as a family. Discuss what struck you in the passages.
- Find the “Face of Mercy” through the holy doors of the confessional. Make an effort to make the Sacrament of Confession a more integral part of your spiritual life. Try to go to confession every two months in order to receive God’s merciful love. If it has been years since you have been to confession, be not afraid. This is a special time to receive God’s mercy. Jesus told St. Faustina: the greater the sinner the more right one has to His Mercy.
- Finally the Pope calls us to reflect more deeply on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
- Corporal: (1) Feed the hungry. (2) Give drink to the thirsty. (3) Clothe the naked. (4) Shelter the homeless. (5) Visit those in prison. (6) Comfort the sick. (7) Bury the dead.
- Spiritual: (1) Admonish sinners. (2) Instruct the uninformed. (3) Counsel the doubtful.
(4) Comfort the sorrowful. (5) Be patient with those in error. (6) Forgive offenses.
(7) Pray for the living and the dead.
The Pope exhorts us to read the Bible, go to confession, and practice mercy. These are good practices for individuals and families.
December 20, 2015
Year of Mercy: Holy Door and Indulgences
Pope Francis says, “On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope.”
Doors are very symbolic. They can represent passage: sin to redemption, life to death, disbelief to faith, and so on. Jesus describes himself as The Door. People have to enter through Christ to get to the Father. The door is the path to salvation. It helps us focus on the meaning of this holy year which is to receive God’s mercy and share it with others.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Pope Francis writes: “The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim traveling along the road, making his way to the desired destination. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”
A Holy Year brings with it the opportunity to receive a Plenary indulgence when you pass through one of these Holy Doors. Paragraph 1471 states that a plenary indulgence is “…a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”
Visit the Rockford diocese website for the pilgrimage opportunities. http://www.rockforddiocese.org/jubileeofmercy/pilgrimages
In order to obtain a plenary indulgence it is necessary to be in the state of grace when one completes the indulgenced work (walking through the Holy Door).
One must also:
(1) have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
(2) have sacramentally confessed their sins(before walking through the Holy Door);
(3) receive the Holy Eucharist;
(4) pray for the intentions of the Pope (Our Father and a Hail Mary).
We are Invited to St. Thomas More where the Holy Door is for the Elgin Deanery. Passports are available for pick-up and stamping after visiting the Holy Door.
Visit 215 Thomas More Drive, Elgin, IL 60123. Please call their office 847.888.1682 for info.
The church doors are usually open during office hours & during Mass schedules: Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
See their website for Mass Schedules. www.stthomasmorechurch.org.
December 27, 2015
Year of Mercy & Christmas
The angel appears to St. Joseph and says, “She [Mary] will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21)
Christmas has everything to do with Mercy. Mercy is the second name for love. Mercy is God’s love as it encounters our brokenness, poverty, and sin. The very beginning of the fulfillment of God’s plan to save His people is the Incarnation – the birth of the eternal Son of God into time and flesh in Jesus.
This has been the plan from all eternity. Since the moment of the first sin by Adam and Eve, God has set in motion his saving plan for His beloved creation. The story of the promise of a Savior begins in Genesis 3:15 and runs throughout the whole Bible. All the prophets foretold of the One who would come as Emmanuel (God-with-us), in order to set straight the discord of sin. He is the One who will pay the ransom for sin, which we could never pay. The long-awaited Just One.
“God could have restored man to himself by simply forgiving man’s sin, but then there would have been mercy without justice. The problem confronting man was something like that which confronts an orchestra leader. The score is written and given to an excellent director. The musicians, well skilled in their art, are free to follow the director or to rebel against him. Suppose that one of the musicians decides to hit a wrong note. The director might do either of two things: either he might ignore the mistake, or he might strike his baton and order the measure to be replayed. It would make little difference, for that note has already gone winging into space, and since time cannot be reversed, the discord goes on and on through the universe, even to the end of time. Is there any possible way by which this voluntary disharmony can be stopped? Certainly not by anyone in time. It could be corrected on condition that someone would reach out from eternity, would seize that note in time and arrest it in its mad flight. But would it still not be a discord? No, it could be made the first note in a new symphony and thus be made harmonious!” (Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love)
In order to create the new symphony from the note of discord (original sin), the eternal Son of God stepped into time and took upon Himself our flesh to pay the price for our sins and to create a new harmony from the rebellion of the wrong note. Freedom is God’s gift to His creatures, and so He will not force us to become part of this new harmony. He begs us to be a part of it. He proposes to us this new way in accord with our freedom. It is also in accord with the deepest longings of our hearts – God is what our hearts desire. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we begin to experience the joy and peace that only God can give.
God is always calling us to a deeper relationship with Him. Take this opportunity to let God take up His rightful place in your life. If you have been away for a while, begin again to walk the path that leads to harmony – get connected with your Catholic faith through Sunday Mass, through the sacrament of confession (it is the Year of Mercy), and through daily prayer.
I was away from my faith for over 10 years, I have lived the ways of the world and I will promise you if you give God a chance you will not regret it.
The greatest gift you will ever receive will never be found under a Christmas tree. It is far too valuable to be stored in any other place but in the depths of your heart.
January 3, 2016
New Year’s Resolutions – Part I (The Holy Mass)
I’m sure you are like me and try to make a few New Year’s resolutions to better yourself in the coming year. I enjoy the humor of the resolution to lose 10 pounds and by June, I only have 15 pounds to go. This is normally how these resolutions go and they are mostly directed to some type of desired physical change or activity. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get physically healthier; that is a good thing. But being a spiritual father, I want to propose a plan to help your spiritual health in 2016 and beyond.
The sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest and most necessary of prayers for our spiritual growth. The Mass is how God desires to be worshipped. The Mass is not man-made, but God-given. The Church has been doing it, since Jesus instituted it at the Last Supper – “Do this in remembrance of me.” Mass is the re-presentation (making present) of the once-for-all sacrifice offered on Calvary by Jesus to save us from our sins. This sacrifice saves us, if we allow it. When we receive communion we are receiving the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. He transforms us into Himself – He is continually perfecting us so that we may be “perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The Church teaches that we must fulfill the command of Jesus to “Do this in memory of me” by attending Sunday Mass (or the anticipatory Mass the night before). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, pp. 493-94) explains that Mass attendance on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is the first of the six Commandments of the Church. These Commandments of the Church also require receiving Communion at least once a year during the Easter season, confessing any mortal sin as a preparation for Communion, and observing the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence. These Commandments spell out the minimal responsibilities of a Catholic. To fail to fulfill them through our own fault, the Church teaches, is a serious sin. The Church, like a good Mother, commands us to do those things which are good for us, until we realize for ourselves that we cannot live without it.
If you feel like you are not getting anything out of Mass, then you might want to evaluate what you are putting into it. Arriving a few minutes early to pray and ask God to clear your mind and help you to enter in to this eternal and saving mystery of our faith is always a helpful aid. Use some of the resources on formed.org or read a book on the Mass to increase your knowledge and love.
FREE Programs from — Recommended by Fr. Browning:
SYMBOLON—Living the Faith: with Focus on Sessions 2 & 3: The Eucharist and Walk Through the Mass
Knowing the Catholic Faith is one thing, but what about living it? This program answers that question by exploring how Jesus gave us the Sacraments, the Mass, and the rich treasures of Church teaching to quicken our faith and bring vibrancy to our Catholic lives. With experienced and insightful teaching from top presenters, complemented by beautiful cinematography from around the world, it touches on all aspects of our lives for authentic spiritual growth and development.
The Best Catholic Content…All in ONE Place. You have unlimited access to the best eBooks, talks and videos in the Church today. Go to www.FORMED.org. Type in the parish code: c89555. Set up a username and a password. Keep it simple. Now you are all set to use all the great Catholic programs. Contact Mike Zak in the office at email@example.com.
Join me and Fr. Deitz on January 12th at either 9 a.m. at the Downtown church or at 7 p.m. at the Crane Road church, for “A Walk through the Mass.” We will help you see anew the deep biblical roots of the Mass and its rich history.
Make attendance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the priority of your spiritual life this year. There are 8,760 hours in a year. God commands that you give Him back 58 hours of that time (Sunday and 6 Holy days of obligation which includes Christmas and Easter). This is less than 1% of the hours given to us that we have to give back. In this small sacrifice our love grows and we are formed into more loving and caring people. I promise you that your life will get better if you give God His 58 hours back this year. Make God and the worship of God at Holy Mass your number one priority this year. It is the most important resolution you can make.
January 6, 2016
New Year’s Resolutions – Part II (Prayer)
“Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.” –St.Therese of Lisieux
Prayer is essential to living a holy life, to becoming a saint. Praying is not about a method – there are many fine ones – prayer is about showing up with the proper inner dispositions. Prayer is a work of grace – it’s less about us and more about Him. Those inner dispositions are faith and trust that God is present with me in this time of prayer – begin with a prayer: “Lord, I trust that you are present with me in this time of prayer and that you look on me with great love.”
Fidelity and perseverance: “Time spent faithfully every day in mental prayer that is poor, arid, distracted, and relatively short is worth more, and will be infinitely more fruitful for our progress, than long, ardent spells of mental prayer from time to time, when circumstances make it easy” (Jacques Philippe, Time for God). Setting aside the time and sticking to it will be the means that leads to a better quality of prayer. In the beginning be faithful and persevere.
Purity of intention: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall she God.” Purity of intention is desiring to live more for God than for ourselves. It does not mean we are perfect yet, but we have the desire to be so. Our intention should be to pray to please God – the gifts received during prayer are a bonus.
Prayer Game Plan (minimum) Prayer Game Plan (maximum)
5 min. Mental Prayer 30 min. Mental Prayer
1 min. Act of Spiritual Communion 30 min. Daily Mass
1 min. Prayer at before Meals 1 min. Prayer before Meals
10 min. Theological Study 10 min. Theological Study
5 min. Rosary one decade 15 min. Rosary
2 min. Examination of Conscience 2 min. Examination of Conscience
24 minutes a day TOTAL 88 minutes a day TOTAL
24/1440 minutes in a day = 1.6% 88/1440 minutes in a day = 6.1%
of your day of your day
Mental Prayer: use a verse from the Bible or a quote from a Saint or a good spiritual book; or talk to God about your day, your life, about your desire to love Him more. Anything that helps you enter into prayer. Set the timer on your phone.
Daily Mass or an Act of Spiritual Communion (when you cannot go to Mass).
Prayer before Meals – pray before every meal; it is ok to be subtle or unabashed.
Theological Study – read a Catechism (Baltimore, YOUCAT, the Big Green One)
Rosary/Divine Mercy Chaplet or both – pray as a family or individually: on the way to work (helps with road rage)
Examination of Conscience – go over your day (graces and failures); thank God and ask for His merciful forgiveness and the grace to be better tomorrow.
Prayer (communion with God) is that for which your heart longs. Those who pray are healthier and happier according to some secular studies I have read – less anxiety and stress. The reality of God’s love and our response (prayer) are undeniable even to the irreligious. Start with the minimum daily prayer plan and work your way up. Let’s get praying!!
Part III (confession and living mercy).
January 17, 2016
New Year’s Resolutions – Part III (Confession)
“In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
The sacrament of Confession is an extremely important and under-utilized sacrament. It is extremely important because we know that we are sinners – that we miss the mark at times. We need a do over, a new start with God and with each other. The sacrament of confession is indeed the medicine we need in this fallen world to continually repair our relationship with God and others. We receive the forgiveness of Original Sin in baptism and all personal sins if we are baptized as an adult, but the effects of Original Sin are still present. Concupiscence is its name and it means we still struggle with the temptations to sin and weakness in resisting sin.
The sacrament of confession is necessary when our sin is grave or serious or what the Church calls mortal. We must receive sacramental absolution before receiving Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin. Venial sins are forgiven through our reception of Holy Communion at Mass. However, it is still a good practice to go to confession on a regular basis (once a month) even if we have not committed a mortal sin (Praise God). Confession not only forgives our sins, but strengthens us not to commit them anymore.
Please do not be afraid to come to confession. We are all sinners and in need of God’s mercy. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven by Our Lord and He wants to help us experience His the power of His merciful love in the confessional and His healing grace. When we sin, many times we want to run and hide from God. God wants us to run into His loving arms and be restored to communion with Him and His Church. This year make confession a regular part of your spiritual life. It is necessary to overcome mortal sins that have become a habit and extremely beneficial in growing in your relationship with God, which can be wounded by venial sins.
This sacrament was instituted by Christ: “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:21-23). This verse implies that to forgive sins they must be confessed to the Apostles and subsequently to their successors and to their helpers – the priests. Miracles take place everyday in the sacrament of confession.
Jesus said to St. Faustina: “Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [i.e., the sacrament of confession]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of ] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late” (1448).
Be Not Afraid!!
In Jesus’ Merciful Love,
Further Reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs: 1422-1498.
Plan of Discipleship
I have sketched a three-point plan over the past three weeks to help us create good Catholic habits – weekly Mass, daily prayer, and monthly confession. These habits prepare our hearts to receive the love of God in a deeper and more personal way. The sacraments are powerful vehicles of grace in our lives, but they are not magic. We have to develop a receptive and responsive heart to the graces God wishes to shower upon us.
Through developing these good Catholic habits our hearts are more aware of and open to God’s call to a deep personal relationship with Him. He wants us to know and experience the personal love He has for each of us. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction….”
I desire nothing more than to help you deepen your relationship with Jesus. I want to encourage you to become an “intentional” disciple of Jesus. I will be trying to lay out what that means and how to do it.
The first part of this process is reacquainting ourselves with the kerygma. The kerygma is the Greek term referring to the preaching or proclamation of the basic outline of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the nucleus of the Gospel (the Good News) that awakens initial Christian faith. It leads us to say that “Jesus is Lord.”
All of us who have been baptized will eventually be called to make a personal choice to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church. Below are two quotes to pray with this week and some questions to ponder.
St. John Paul II described the kerygma as “the initial proclamation by which a person is one day overwhelmed and brought to the decision to entrust him or herself to Jesus Christ by faith.”
Pope Benedict XVI: “Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us.”
Where am I in my relationship with Jesus? Have I made a commitment to Jesus as Lord of my life? Have I entrusted my life to Jesus?
In Jesus’ Personal Love,
Plan of Discipleship – The Great Story (I)
In order to become an intentional disciple we need to know the greatest story ever told.
You were created by God out of love. You were not an accident. You were not an afterthought. From all eternity God had you in mind. He willed you in to existence and He wills you to continue in existence at every moment. Did God need to create us? Absolutely not! God is perfect in Himself and that is an important truth. God needs nothing from you – His only motivation for creating you is Love. “For God is love” (1 Jn 4:8), and love is God’s very being it is all He knows how to do.
Original sin and our personal sins blind us from seeing this in our lives. Sin darkens the intellect and weakens the will. Sin makes it hard to know and do the good and avoid evil. And right from the outset of this sin God promises to send a Savior born of a woman. Speaking to the cunning serpent God promised: “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
Jesus is the answer to the two opposing realities. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Jesus is the incarnation (becoming flesh) of God’s love. And Jesus’ name means to save from sin. An angel speaking to Joseph says, “she [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). The God of love became incarnate to save us from our sins.
Jesus came to reconcile us to God. He came to take upon Himself our sins and to open the path to Heaven. In entrusting ourselves to Jesus, we enter in to the redemption that He brings. We experience His mercy and forgiveness, which changes our sin hardened hearts. We recognize that God calls us to a life of abundance, full of love, peace, truth, beauty, goodness, and meaning that begins now, lasts forever, and cannot be taken away. Jesus preached and called this the Kingdom of God.
More to come!!
Help me to know how much you love me,
Open my heart to experience your call to conversion,
your call to discipleship.
Send the Holy Spirit into my heart,
and drive from it all sin and distrust,
and fill it with Trust in your merciful love.
May I decide today to entrust my life into your loving hands. Amen
In Christ Jesus,
Feb 10, 2016
Fr. Browning’s Lenten Suggestions
The beautiful season of Lent is upon us – Ash Wednesday is February 10th. It is a season of renewal and conversion. Let’s not let it go by without taking advantage of such a rich opportunity. God gives many wonderful graces during this season. He is calling each of us to take the next step with Him on the path of discipleship. Here are some thoughts to get you started. Let’s pray for each other!!
Come up with a plan that is prudent for your state of life.
- Daily Mass – will change your life. As often as you can.
- Confession – at some point during Lent.
- Daily Prayer: 15 minutes minimum a day, 30 minutes is optimal. Suggestions:
- Morning Offering
- Read Sacred Scripture (Start with the Gospels or the Daily Mass Readings)
- Sign up for one of the daily meditations below.
- Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Read a good spiritual book (Interior Freedom, Fr. Jacques Philippe) or email me for other suggestions.
- Stop by Adoration on Tuesday or Wednesday (another life changer)
- Pull out your calendar and write in a family member, friend, co-worker, or difficult person on each day of Lent. Offer all your prayers, works, joys, and sufferings that day for them. Powerful practice!
- Fast: Is there something in your life that steals your time, or is sinful, or focuses you on yourself instead of God and others? If so, eradicate it from your life.
- Almsgiving: Find a good charitable organization to support either financially or through volunteer work. Do corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Daily Meditations: Dynamic Catholic follows the Rediscover Jesus book we offered at Christmas (http://dynamiccatholic.com/bestlentever/); Bishop Barron’s daily reflections (http://www.lentreflections.com/); RedeemedOnline (http://redeemedonline.com/); EWTN has some good resources (http://www.ewtn.com/faith/lent/).
The spiritual work you put into Lent will bear many fruits, because Jesus is a generous giver. Take a step in faith and Trust in God!
The three temptations of Jesus correspond to the temptations that all of us face in our day to day life. The temptations Jesus endured all came from without, whereas ours come from without and sometimes from within our fallen nature, but they still provide us with the correct response to overcome them and to be strengthened by them when resisted.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” It is the temptation to focus on the pleasures of the body and the joys of the material world exclusively. That is we try to find our happiness in pleasures and things of the world. And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ” So following Jesus’ example and response, focus on heavenly things. Fast from material things and spend time in the Bible and prayer, in order to become more attentive to the supernatural things of heaven that lead to true happiness and joy. Pray for the supernatural gift of faith.
“To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.” The devil tempts Jesus to worship him with the promise of giving Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. The temptation for us is to seek power in our relationships with God and others. Our pride of desiring to be first and well liked. “But the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” We make idols of the things of our life and worship them with our time. And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ” Later on Jesus says, “seek first the Kingdom of God and everything shall be given to you.” Let your penance and prayer during Lent lead you to surrender your life to God. Seek to serve God and others. Self-sacrifice leads to the joy of the kingdom experienced already here on earth. Pray for the supernatural gift of love (selfless).
Then he “set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Do some miracles and then we will believe. This reminds me of praying for something to happen and then when it does happen saying never mind God I didn’t need your help after all. Why did God allow this to happen? Why did He make me this way? Why do I have to suffer? Where is God? We all struggle with these questions. And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Instead of the question why, ask the question who. “To whom shall we go Lord you have the words of eternal life.” Meet God in the little graces and gifts throughout the day. Trust Him in all circumstances. “Everything works for the good for those who love God.” Surrender your life to God and trust even in the difficult times that God is powerfully at work through His transformative grace. He purifies and perfects us through suffering (His own on the Cross and ours united with Him) to be His disciples and to enter in to our heavenly homeland. Pray for the supernatural gift of hope.
May you have a blessed Lent!
On March 16th, your priests will be hearing confessions from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm at the Crane Road Church.
This is an initiative of the Diocese of Rockford called “Be Reconciled.” Repentance of sin and conversion of heart are at the center of Jesus’ ministry. He came to reconcile us to the Father. We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus does miracles of healing, but always in connection with the forgiveness of sins.
(see Jn 8:3-11; Mt 9:1-8; Lk 7:36-50)
No matter how long it has been and no matter how bad you think your sins are, God is greater than your sins. God desires to offer us mercy and forgiveness and to give us a brand new start. The greater your sins the greater the right you have to God’s mercy. There is nothing that God cannot forgive. Do not be afraid; it will be the best thing you do this Lent.
Four things needed to make a confession complete:
Contrition: a sincere sorrow for having offended God and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
Confession: confronting our sins in a profound way to God by speaking about them -aloud- to the priest.
Penance: an important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest imposes in reparation for our sins.
Absolution: the priest speaks the words by which “God, the Father of Mercies” reconciles a sinner to Himself through the merits of the Cross.
When the priest absolves you, it is Jesus forgiving your sins through His instrument the priest by the power of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of Jesus’ healing and forgiveness that we see in the Gospels continues on through His Church — otherwise we would have been unlucky not to have lived when Jesus did to receive this gift. But when the Resurrected Jesus entered the upper room and said, “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20:21-23)
He instituted this sacrament and gave bishops and priests a share in His authority to forgive sins.
Go to the Diocese of Rockford website and click on the “Be Reconciled” link or type in the following link (http://bereconciled.rockforddiocese.org/guide-to-confession) to find the basics of going to confession, along with examinations of conscience to be prepared. Confession is easy but it does require some preparation.
Do not be afraid, confession will change your life. I know that for a fact, because it changed mine!
Divine Mercy Sunday is April 3, 2016
As you know, I am a huge proponent of God’s Mercy having experienced so much of it in my own life. I want all of us to be prepared for this great feast of mercy. If you have not been practicing your faith, but are with us this Palm Sunday, I invite you to take advantage of the confessions times during Holy Week. See this as an opportunity to reconnect with God and His Church and to prepare your heart for an experience of God’s merciful love. Jesus is the answer to the longings and restlessness of our hearts.
Jesus tells St. Faustina, as recorded in her diary (#699): “I desire that the Feast of Mercy [Sunday after Easter] be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.
The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.
On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.”
The promise made by Jesus is an astounding one. The Church also grants a plenary indulgence, but what Jesus promises is beyond that. It can only be gained for ourselves, but it is essentially like a second baptism. We receive “complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” We literally get a brand new start – no baggage remains (no temporal punishment due to sin, remains).
Here is how to prepare for this amazing gift:
- Go to confession up to 20 days before Divine Mercy Sunday – remain in the state of grace (that means: no mortal sins).
- Receive Holy Communion.
- Trust in God’s merciful love.
The Church also offers a plenary indulgence to the faithful that day (we can obtain it for ourselves or a deceased person).
Divine Mercy Novena begins Good Friday.
You can pick up a pamphlet with the novena at the kiosk in the back of each Church, or download the Divine Mercy app for your smartphone.
It will be prayed in private, but it would be very powerful if every person and family was praying this novena leading up to The Feast of Divine Mercy.
To obtain this indulgence we have to do the following:
- Sacramental confession (20 days before or after)
- Receive Holy Communion in the state of grace
- Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father— Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
- Be detached from the affection for sin, even venial sin
- Take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (exposed or reserved in the tabernacle) pray an Our Father, the Creed, and “Merciful Jesus, I trust in You!”
April 10, 2016
How was your Lent? Was it the best ever or did it pass you by? Did it leave you feeling guilty because you feel you missed it?
Have no fear. Everyday is a new day with the Lord! If you had a great Lent then take one of the spiritual practices that you implemented and continue it. If you missed out, pick a spiritual practice that you have always wanted to do and begin today.
- 15 minutes of daily prayer
- Daily Mass once or twice a week
- Pray the Rosary daily
- Pray the Divine Mercy chaplet daily
- Make confession a regular practice (monthly or quarterly)
- Read the Bible for 10 minutes daily
- Read a spiritual book 10 minutes daily
The list is endless. Pick one or two and begin today to create good spiritual habits. If you already have a vibrant spiritual life, then grow through the practice of gratitude. Find something or someone every hour of your day for which to be grateful, and praise God for His Goodness and Mercy.
May 1, 2016
The Holy Spirit and the Church
Jesus said, “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
Each and every one of us have become temples of the Holy Spirit through our baptism and we have been strengthened and given the gifts of the Holy Spirit through confirmation (as our 200+ high school students received last Sunday). The Holy Spirit guides us through His inspiration and the teaching of the Church. If we each have the gift of the Holy Spirit then why do we need the teaching authority of the Church?
Because the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit who wants to direct us. There are the evil spirits, the spirit of the world, and our own fallen inclinations. I know I can be very good at rationalizing my behavior when it is not up to God’s standards. We need the authority of the Church – her authoritative teaching when it comes to what we need to believe (faith) and what we need to do or not do (morals). When it comes to faith and morals we need a sure and certain guide to help us know we are following the Holy Spirit and not something else – and that we are on the path to Heaven.
Jesus pronounced these words above to His Apostles and passed on the keys of the kingdom to St. Peter to bind and loose (juridical terms). The Church has always known that she has the distinct responsibility to uphold the Gospel and all that Jesus did and taught. When it comes to faith and morals the Church was given as teacher and guide, so that she may help us respond to the Holy Spirit in our lives and to stay firmly planted in Gospel on our way to our heavenly homeland.
Fr. Ryan Browning
Fr. Ryan Browning grew up in Eldorado, Illinois, but has been living in Batavia, IL since 2003. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, in 1999 with a degree in Business Finance. After working as a golf professional and in the investment and insurance field he entered seminary in the fall of 2007. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Bishop Doran asked him to study at the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City. He completed an STB in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome in June of 2012. He was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood by Bishop David J. Malloy on June 22, 2013. Fr. Browning returned to Rome after ordination and completed an STL in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum in June of 2014. He was assigned to St. Patrick Parish beginning July 1, 2014.