Ash Wednesday February 13, 2002
It would be nearly impossible for me to try to describe just exactly what happened on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2002 with out giving a detailed history of events that have been happening over the past few years that have led up to my understanding of what I am about to say. I am going to try my very best to put down on paper this sequence of events that hopefully will begin to set the pattern and give the background needed for understanding what I am trying to say. This is going to be difficult.
This all started very shortly after I started going to Emmitsburg on Thursday nights. My wife S.C.C. usually likes going to bed fairly early while I usually prefer to stay up later. I have a habit of falling asleep on the sofa down stairs and sometime during the night I will wake up, go upstairs and go to bed. When I walk into the bedroom the first thing I would see is the digital alarm clock next to the bed and the time would be 3:33 AM. I would get in bed, say a prayer and fall asleep. When I woke up in the morning I would look at the clock and the time would be 6:33 AM. This did not seem at all unusual and I did not think anything of it.
I few nights later I would fall asleep on the sofa again and when I went up stairs to go to bed the time would be 3:33 AM. This continued to happen on a very regular basis to the point that I knew before I walked in the bedroom that the clock would say 3:33 AM. Sometimes I would wake up earlier and go to bed but no matter what the hour was the minute was still 33. When I woke up in the morning and looked at the clock the minute would be 33. This continues to happen on a very regular basis.
Many nights I will go to bed at a regular time and suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, when I look at the clock the time is 3:33 AM. EVERY TIME THIS HAPPENS I AM THINKING ABOUT JESUS AT THE MOMENT I WAKE UP.
As time went on this continued to happen. I started to notice throughout the day that suddenly a thought about Jesus would pop into my mind and suddenly the number 33 or 333 would somehow present itself in perfect synchronization with the thought. The ways that the numbers present themselves are unlimited, it might be the digital clock or a license plate on a passing vehicle, a dollar total on a cash register, it can be anything but ALWAYS IN PERFECT SYNCHRONIZATION WITH A THOUGHT ABOUT JESUS. ALWAYS.
About 3 years ago I started to notice that when I went to Emmitsburg I would arrive at Saint Joseph’s and almost without fail the time would be whatever hour and 33 minutes. If the clock did not say 33 or 333 the odometer would. This started to happen with such regular frequency that I KNEW BEFORE I LEFT VIRGINIA THAT WHEN I ARRIVED AT SAINT JOSEPH’S THIS WOULD BE THE CASE. IT ALMOST NEVER FAILS.
About 2 years ago the same exact thing began to happen except with the number 13. I would wake up in the middle of the night at 3:13 AM thinking about Mary, I would arrive at Saint Joseph’s at whatever hour and 13 minutes. Everything I have described about the number 33 or 333 is now happening with the number 13. Always by surprise and in perfect synchronization with either a thought about Jesus if the number is 33 or Mary if the number is 13 and always in synchronization with arrival at Saint Joseph’s, The Grotto or Saint Mary’s. This happened so often that it was so far beyond the possibility of just chance that I started to pray that I would understand what this meant and why it was happening to me. About a week later I was just flipping through a book that Sister Claire had given me and I landed on page 610 of “To The Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons” The Marian Movement of Priests and this is what is says starting with paragraph k.
“ The number 333 indicates the divinity. Lucifer rebels against God through pride, because he wants to put himself above God. 333 is the number which indicates the mystery of God. He who wants to put himself above God bears the sign, 666, and consequently this number indicates the name of Lucifer, Satan, that is to say, of him who sets himself against Christ, of the Antichrist.
l 333 indicated once, that is to say, for the first time, expresses the mystery of the unity of God. 333 indicated twice, that is to say, for the second time, indicates the two natures, that of the divine and the human, united in the divine Person of Jesus Christ. 333 indicated thrice, that is to say, for the third time, indicates the mystery of the Three Devine Persons, that is to say, it expresses the mystery of Most Holy Trinity. Thus the number 333, expressed one, two and three times, expresses the principal mysteries of the Catholic faith, which are: (1) the Unity and the Trinity of God, (2) the incarnation, the passion and death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I also read in the same book that Mary appeared in Fatima on the 13th of each month because the number 13 is symbolic of the Trinity, 1 God and 3 Devine Persons. I accepted this as the answer to my prayer because I knew this would be as good an explanation as I would ever get.
After accepting this explanation the frequency that this would happen increased and to this day happens anywhere between 10 and 25 times a day, sometimes less sometimes more but always by surprise and always in perfect sync with another event such as a thought about Jesus or Mary or arrival at St. Joseph’s in Emmitsburg or arrival home in Virginia after returning from Emmitsburg. It would happen every time I took the Eucharist to Clarence Settle and happens every time I do the same for Bob Gray. It would be impossible to document each time this happens because if I did I would never finish writing.
I know this sounds far fetched but after more than 3 years of continually experiencing this both day and night I have grown to understand the meaning of the numbers 33, 333 and 13. When they occur in perfect synchronization with a sudden thought about Jesus or Mary I know that I am on the right track in my conversion towards God. When the numbers present themselves in perfect synchronization with my arrival at Saint Joseph’s or other special places in Emmitsburg I know without a doubt that I am at the place I am supposed to be at the time I am supposed to be there. When it happens after I have taken the Eucharist to Clarence or Bob I somehow instantly understood it to mean thank you.
With this said I will try to describe just what happened on Ash Wednesday February 13, 2002. It actually started 2 days earlier on February 11 when I went to the body shop to pick up my truck after being repaired because of an accident that took place pulling into the parking lot of All Saint’s in Manassas on January 2, 2002 at 2:33 PM. When I got in the truck that morning it suddenly dawned on me it was the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, a fraction of a second later I noticed the clock in my truck said it was 8:13 AM. I started thinking about possibly driving to Emmitsburg that night because Father Jack Lombardi ( the new chaplain at the Grotto ) was going to have a special mass at 7 PM for the occasion. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to go. Later in the day while I was at work I called Ted to see if he would want to go. Ted said yes. I told Ted I would meet him at Wal Mart in Leesburg at about 5:30, our usual meeting place. When I hung up the phone I looked at my watch and the time was 1:13 PM. There is a digital counter on my phone at work and my conversation with Ted was 3 minutes and 33 seconds long.
When I got off from work I drove from Manassas to Leesburg to pick up Ted. I pulled out of the SWIFT parking lot at exactly 4:33 PM and arrived at Wal Mart at the very same time Ted did which was 5:13 PM. We drove to the Grotto in Emmitsburg and arrived there at exactly 6:33 and the last 2 digits on the odometer was 13.
Mass started in the glass chapel at 7 PM and was celebrated by Father Michael Kennedy who was a former pastor at Saint Joseph’s and solid supporter of Thursday nights. During the mass I started thinking about the letter I sent to Cardinal Keeler and how incomplete his copy was because it was mailed to him in March of 2001. Suddenly I felt like I had to send him another updated copy of it. A few minutes later I felt like mailing it would not be good enough and that I should personally take it to him. I also knew the chance of giving it to him personally would be near zero but I also knew that if God wanted him to have it, he would get it. Mass ended and Ted and I drove home. I did not say anything to Ted about wanting to personally deliver my letter to Cardinal Keeler. I dropped Ted off at Wal Mart and I drove home. On the way home I was delayed by a train for about 15 minutes. When I pulled in my driveway that night it was 11:13 PM.
The next day I asked my boss if I could have Wednesday off and I was told that it would be OK. I went to bed Tuesday night and I was not able to get much sleep and I tossed and turned almost all night long. I even thought about scrapping my plan until a later date because I knew I was going to be very tired. It almost seems like the forces that oppose what is right try to attack and tire me out to the point of near exhaustion at certain times. This was one of those times. I got out of bed at 4:57 tired but with determination to carry this through. I was on no time schedule because nobody was expecting me so I decided I would start the day with 8:30 mass at Saint Joseph’s then make my way to Baltimore from there. When I pulled out of my driveway it was 6:13 AM. I arrived at Saint Joseph’s for Ash Wednesday mass right on time. During mass I prayed that things would go smoothly and that I would be able to get my letter to Cardinal Keeler. I was not praying that I could personally give it to him but that he would get it in accord with God’s will. When mass was over I walked over to the Palms and had a cup of coffee with Mary Welyczko and another lady. I did not tell anyone where I was going or what I was going to do. Not even S.C.C..
When I left the Palms I started driving to Baltimore and I was told it would take me about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. Once I got to Baltimore it would be another challenge to find Cathedral Street. I took 140 East from Emmitsburg towards Baltimore and after I had been about 25 or 30 miles I missed a turn and had to turn around. Just before I pulled onto the correct road a white pickup truck pulled out in front of me. I could not help but notice the license plate that said 033. I followed behind this truck for about 10 miles or more until I got to Interstate 145 that I was supposed to take. Suddenly I realized I had no idea what exit I needed to take and there were 3 Baltimore exits coming up. A tractor trailer passed me and on the back of the truck it said 5333. I saw this number on the truck and somehow knew I needed to take the next exit which was coming right up. I took the exit and now I am in downtown Baltimore with absolutely no idea where to go next. I figured I would stop at a hotel and look at a city map or something. The traffic was crazy. While I was stopped at a red light I rolled my window down and asked the person in the black Jeep next to me if he knew where Cathedral Street was
and he said I was headed in the right direction. He then started giving directions as if I knew what he was talking about and then he realized that I was completely lost and not at all familiar with the area. He then said I have some spare time, follow me ! He pulled in front of me and I followed him. I looked at the clock on my dashboard and it said 11:13 AM. Suddenly I realized that every traffic light we came to turned green just at the time we arrived at it. This happened at about 8 or 10 traffic lights. Finally we caught a red light and had to come to a complete stop. The man I was following got out of his Jeep and walked back to my truck and asked “What block are you looking for on Cathedral ?” I said 320. He said “Follow me”. When the light turned green we took off and the next 5 or 6 lights we came to turned green just as we got to them. We never had to stop. He pulled off on the side of the road and I pulled in behind him and he said “There’s 320 Cathedral Street” I looked and it said “Archdiocese of Baltimore”. I looked at my clock and the time was 11:33. I thanked him and asked it there was anything I could do for him and he said yes “Pray for me” I told him that I would and I gave him the rosary that was hanging from my rearview mirror that was from Medjugorje. His name is Steven Church and he also gave me his address in Baltimore. When he left I saw him hang the rosary from his rear view mirror.
I walked into the lobby of the Archdiocese and told the reception person that I would like to see Cardinal Keeler, he asked if I had an appointment and I said no. He called up to his office on the phone and told someone that I was here and wanted to see the Cardinal. He then handed me the phone and I told the person that I would like to see Cardinal Keeler for just 30 seconds. I was told that he was in a meeting and there was no telling what time he would be out. They wanted to know if there was anyone else who could help me and I said no. The person then asked what this was about and I said I wanted to give the Cardinal my personal letter about the events in Emmitsburg. There was a few seconds of silence at this point. The person then told me to have a seat in the lobby and they would call back. About 5 minutes later they called back and said “Cardinal Keeler will not be able to see you because there is no telling what time his meeting will be over and his schedule is full.” I said in that case I would just like to see a priest. The person said I will see what I can do. A few minutes later a woman named Pat Nadolny came down to see me and said a priest would see me as soon as one was available but because of Ash Wednesday there was a shortage and there might be a little bit of a wait. I said thats no problem, I have all day. Pat then said “I understand you want to discuss the events in Emmitsburg, I will be happy to discuss your concerns with you” Pat then identified herself as a member of the commission studying the events in Emmitsburg. She told me there are 3 priest on the commission along with other members selected by the commission. At this point I felt very comfortable talking with her and I told her what I had to say and she listened intently. She told me she would take my letter and make sure that Cardinal Keeler gets it. She asked if anyone had asked me to do this and I told her that NOBODY knows that I am here. She then asked again and I confirmed again that NOBODY put me up to this. She asked for my permission to make copies to be distributed as needed and I gave it. Pat said she would take care of this and make sure it was in the right hands. I said “Thats good enough for me”. Pat then placed her arms around me and gave me a hug and a kiss and thanked me for bringing the letter. I could tell from our conversation that the investigation was in full steam and that a very complete and precise job was being done. I did not sense anything at all negative from our conversation, not the first thing and I am pretty good at reading peoples attitudes towards Emmitsburg. When I walked out of the building feeling I had done what God wanted me to do with the letter I looked at my watch and the time was 12:13.
I drove back to Emmitsburg and went to the Grotto and when I got to the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which is where I took the picture on September 23, 1998 I prayed the rosary. When I finished I looked at my watch and it was now 2:13. I talked with Fr. Jack for about 15 minutes and then drove over to Saint Joseph’s and just sat in my regular Thursday night seat for about an hour just thanking God for all He has allowed me and re-committing my efforts to His will.
I left Saint Joseph’s and drove back to Virginia to pick up David and Rebecca G to take them to Ash Wednesday mass. We arrived at "Parish Church" at 6:33 that evening and met S.C.C and C.R.C. there. Pam showed up so I did not have to drive David and Rebecca home. Later that night when I finally climbed in bed I looked at the clock and it was 10:13 and I said thank you Jesus and Mary and I went to sleep.
A few days later I received a letter in the mail from a priest in Baltimore saying “Surely it was a profound disappointment to discover that you would not be able to personally provide His Eminence with this information.” With no disrespect intended, all I could do was laugh.