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Reflections on a Restless Heart

Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem.

As seen in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 16-17)

On June 4, 2016, Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem., was ordained to the priesthood. The Mass of Ordination was celebrated by Bishop David L. Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay in the St. Norbert Abbey Church.

By Fr. Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem.

Deacon Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem., on the day of his priestly ordination.

Deacon Bradley Vanden Branden, O. Praem., on the day of his priestly ordination.

Norbertines are often quick to cite St. Augustine’s famous quote from his Confessions: “You have formed us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Indeed, this has become a favorite quote of mine as well, yet I was unaware of the restlessness of my own heart until my ordination drew near.

At first it was a strange sort of coincidence. The imagery and literature during my retreat in preparation for priesthood happened to center around the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My ordination Mass was held on the day traditionally memorializing the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the day after the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). Bishop Ricken’s ordination homily also incorporated much of the homily Pope Francis gave to priests the day before on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. So by the time the homily was finished at my ordination, I was convinced that the Lord was trying to speak to me about something.

Green Bay’s Bishop David Ricken imposes hands upon the ordinand.

Green Bay’s Bishop David Ricken imposes hands upon the ordinand.

Then, as I knelt before the bishop, the only thing I was aware of—and, honestly one of the only moments from my ordination I vividly remember—was my heartbeat. My own heartbeat was the only thing I could hear as it pounded in my ears. My own heartbeat was the only thing I could feel as it almost punched through my chest. My own heartbeat seemed like it was jumping for joy at that moment of ordination.

What all this means, I’m still not sure. My own prayer and reflection on this significant moment for me is that my priesthood ought to be one of love. Just as the Sacred Heart of Jesus loves, so should I love all those whom I encounter. As Pope Francis said in his Sacred Heart homily, “The Heart of the Good Shepherd ‘tells us that His love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up.’ ” May it be so for me! May my heartbeat continue to fill my ears and pound out of my chest for the Church as long as I am a priest. Until I find rest in the Lord, may my heart keep me restless, pushing me forward, loving all people just as Christ would love them.

On June 12, newly ordained Fr. Vanden Branden returned to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in De Pere to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at his home parish. His beautiful homily was a tribute to God and the Faithful at this vibrant Norbertine apostolate.

View the Mass of Thanksgiving homily of Fr. Vanden Branden »

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