Bishop Nickless


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Bishop Nickless’ homilies

Christ opens the gates of heaven for us

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

These first days of November are such important days in the life of the church. Especially in periods of trial, difficulty or confusion within the church, as we are now experiencing, these great celebrations of All Saints and All Souls remind us of the unshakeable bedrock of our faith, and of our vocation.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come among us and shared utterly with us our human condition and weakness, even to the point of death on a cross, to save us from our sins. During his years of public ministry and preaching, he taught us about God’s unfailing love for us. He called the apostles and established the church through them as a foundation, instituting sacraments of grace and giving them a share in his own spiritual powers.

In his passion, death and resurrection, he opened the gates of heaven once again, to all who would follow him. He gave the church the permanent mission and authority to evangelize the whole world, by invitation and the attracting power of the truth itself. The truth is Jesus. And he marked the church with four indelible marks of his own divine nature, making her forever “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.”

All the baptized, regardless of denomination, have some relationship with Christ and the church he founded. But the fullness of truth and grace “subsists in” the Catholic Church, and especially in the sacraments of confession and holy Eucharist, and in our reception of the unchanging apostolic faith, which is best expressed in our sacramental communion with the pope.

In this fullness, we are all called to holiness. This holiness is not “ours,” in the sense that it belongs to us or that we can earn it by good works or the power of our own will. Holiness, properly speaking, belongs only to God. Even before the fall of Adam and Eve, when they lived in perfect communion with God and in innocence, their holiness or freedom from sin was God’s gift to them.

Since the fall, that gift has been withdrawn from us, and other damage to our nature also afflicts us. Because of original sin, we cannot be holy. We suffer from spiritual and moral ignorance, from weakness in the face of temptation, from concupiscence, and from perpetual alienation from God.

Because of Christ, however, we are set free. The grace of baptism heals us from original sin, and restores to us the gift of holiness, of union with God. Christ makes us holy. And he calls us, every day, to remain in the state of grace. And he gives us still more grace, especially in the sacraments, to strengthen us in the infirmities of our nature, so that we can indeed be the saints he died for us to become.

The solemn feast of All Saints celebrates all those saints, especially those we do not know by name, who, despite their weakness and the reality of sin, nevertheless persevered in loving union with Christ by his grace. Those we know by name, about whose lives we are more or less well-informed, give us permanent examples of how to live this way. And in addition to them, a great number of people have done just this, about whom human history records little or nothing.

Likewise, the feast of All Souls celebrates and prays for all those souls who, persevering in loving union with Christ by his grace, still loved imperfectly through their own weakness. Their attachments to all that is not God must be purged before they can enter heaven. They are saved, but still on their journey to perfect union with God. We pray for them, that their purgation may be swiftly and more easily completed, and that they may soon join all the perfect saints and angels in heaven for eternity.

We who are now alive in this life face the same constant choice. We have been baptized. Christ has made us holy and calls us to remain with him at all times.

Yet we are still beset with temptations and distractions of all kinds, and the life of union with Christ is difficult. This is why Christ urges us to “enter by the narrow gate,” and shun the “broad and even road” leading away from him (see Mt 7:13-14).

We cannot drift into heaven. We can only get there, as the saints have and blessed souls in purgatory will, by clinging with all our strength and determination to Christ, to the way of the cross, to the unchanging faith and the sacraments which he established.

The saints and blessed souls prove that it is possible. The voice of the world calling us to return to the broad and easy path is very loud, especially in our materialist and hedonist culture. Drifting down that path takes no effort, but it leads to spiritual death. Holding fast to Christ and the faith takes much effort, but the gift of grace sustains us when we try.

We are all called to be holy, not to be worldly. Let Christ into your heart, again and again, no matter how often we may stray, especially by turning to the healing of sacramental grace. In this way, “we become by grace what he is by nature” – the holy people of God. All saints of God, pray for us.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

P.S. Don’t give upon the Denver Broncos!


November 1, 2018: Christ opens the gates of heaven for us

October 18, 2018: Take time to explore spiritual health

October 4, 2018: ‘Reparation’ rooted in understanding of God

September 20, 2018: In response to current abuse crisis, listening sessions to be held at 3 sites

September 6, 2018: Much to think and pray about 

August 23, 2018: Bishop responds to abuse news, calls for prayer and fasting Sept. 7

 August 9, 2018: Speak the truth in love

July 12, 2018: Humanae Vitae teaches on human sexuality

June 28, 2018: Two moral aspects of immigration issues: asylum requests and family separation 

June 14, 2018: Sacred Heart devotion reminds us of fundamental aspects of faith

May 24, 2018: Season of ordinations, graduations 

May 10, 2018:  May is the month to honor Mary

 April 19, 2018: God calls all people to holiness

March 22, 2018: Christ chose cross, so must we 

March 8, 2018: Turn to Christ to receive light

February 22, 2018: Christians must face moral evils

February 8, 2018: Journey of Lent leads to sacrificial love

February 8, 2018: Bishop asks for prayers, support of WYD pilgrimage

January 25, 2018: Bishop gives thanks to all who support Catholic schools

January 11, 2018: Listen to quiet voice of God 

December 21, 2017: Christmas should shine brightly in us, through us 

December 7, 2017: May Advent joy grow in our hearts

November 16, 2017: Be filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving

November 2, 2017: God must save us through his plan

October 19, 2017: Catechism express true church teachings

October 5, 2017: Be not afraid: Light shall overcome the darkness

September 21, 2017: Prayer humbles one’s pride

September 7, 2017: Catechizing children: Pass on a vibrant and meaningful faith

August 10, 2017: Fatima message emphasizes God’s love

July 27, 2017: Strive to love more perfectly

July 13, 2017: Called to be disciples of Jesus and lead others to follow him

June 29, 2017: Centering faith on Christ, called to be bold for him

June 1, 2017: Planned Parenthood closings illustrate a victory of prayer

May 18, 2017: Holy Spirit lives within each of us

May 4, 2017: Praise, thanks to God for all his gifts

April 20, 2017: Joy of Easter at heart of Gospel

 April 6, 2017: Easter’s joy awaits us

March 23, 2017: Lent calls faithful to greater discipline, renewal of sacrifice

March 9, 2017: Confession important opportunity of Lent

March 9, 2017: Give generously to Catholic Relief Services Collection

March 9, 2017: Bishop commutes Lenten obligation for March 17 

February 23, 2017: Lent is a time to pause, turn to God

February 9, 2017: Valuing the covenant of marriage 

February 9, 2017: Bishop releases immigration statement

January 26: 2017: Catholic Schools: Instruments to spread Gospel, do Lord’s work

January 12, 2017: Forming best plan to journey forward

December 22, 2016: Catholic Charities offers support, guidance

December 22, 2016: Welcome Christ into your hearts with joy and love

December 8, 2016: Faith, hope and love: Celebrate Christmas for the right reasons 

November 17, 2016: Pledged to be true servants of Christ

October 20, 2016: Rely on God’s mercy to avoid devilish influences

October 6, 2016: Worldly culture committed to lies cannot bring about peace, justice

September 22, 2016: Pastoral planning committee reviews, evaluates feedback

August 25, 2016: Spending deliberate time in prayer enhances other areas of our lives

August 11, 2016: Prayers for youth, adults as they prepare to go back to school

July 28, 2016: Voters must be Catholic first

July 14, 2016: Ordination offers opportunity to evaluate diocesan needs

June 20, 2016: Seeking the face of Christ in suffering 

June 16, 2016: Keep the faith this summer

May 19, 2016: Be aware of God’s presence

May 5, 2016: Pastoral care for families: God’s plan for marriage, family taught by Jesus Christ

April 21, 2016: Papal document affirms marriage

April 7, 2016: Pray, discern God’s will during pastoral planning process

March 24, 2016: Find joy in exultation of Jesus

March 10, 2016: No longer time to coast, Lent brings time for conversion

February 11, 2016: Trusting in Lord’s mercy, seek a deeper conversion of heart

January 28, 2016: Being a good disciple is giving a consistent witness to Christ

January 14, 2016: Pray, work more willingly for end to scourge of abortion

December 17, 2015: Jubilee Year of Mercy:  Birth of Christ opens door of mercy

December 3, 2015: Diocese of Sioux City promulgates safe environment program

November 19, 2015: SPOTLIGHT: Movie reminds us to be vigilant

November 5, 2015: GOD’S MERCY: Moving sinners to conversion 

October 15, 2015: Family life: Faithful families know hope and joy

October 1, 2015: Pope’s visit a joyful one

September 17, 2015: Pray for safe travels, success of family meeting and for pope

September 3, 2015: Families contribute to student faith, school success

August 6, 2015: Caring for the most vulnerable

July 23, 2015: Build laws on good laws and truth

July 9, 2015: SUPREME COURT DECISION: Rejecting four marks of natural marriage 

June 25, 2015: POPE’S ENCYCLICAL: Boldly confronts us about creation, bishop says

June 11, 2015: Being a disciple of Christ

May 14, 2015: United with Christ in this life

April 30, 2015: Prayers sought as priest changed implemented

April 16, 2015: Mercy asks to seek opportunities for forgiveness and healing of sin

April 2, 2015: Seeking full, perfect union with Jesus

March 19, 2015: Turning back to the Lord during Lent 

March 5, 2015: Celebrating the charisms of professed vocations

March 5, 2015: Diocese to take up collection for Catholic Relief Services

Feb. 19, 2015: SEASON OF LENT:  Time of contrition, penance

Feb. 5, 2015: Bishop comments on Pope Francis’s remarks on children, family size

Jan. 22, 2015: Uphold human dignity, recommit to light and mission of Christ

Dec. 18, 2014: Blessings of the Season: God wills each of us gifts of grace and holiness

Dec. 4, 2014: Embrace spirit of gratitude, humility this Advent Season

Nov. 6, 2014: Bishop asks for prayers for vocations

Oct. 16, 2014: Don’t lower the bar to achieve holiness