Near Christmas

December 21 & 23, 2002

On Saturday morning after mass I was running around town taking care of a few errands and last minute things for Christmas. I remembered that I had a turn signal light go out and it needed to be replaced. I pulled into Fant’s Amoco to get a new bulb and while it was being replaced I very suddenly thought about Christmas coming up in a few days and most likely that would mean a new message from Our Lady of Emmitsburg. At the very instant that thought ran through my mind I suddenly wanted to go to the Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg. A split second later the man who replaced the bulb said the cost would be $4.13. The timing was absolutely perfect.

I completed the things that I needed to do and continued to think about going. I called Ted and asked him if he would be interested in riding with me. Ted said he was washing clothes but could finish that later and would like to go. I told Ted to meet me at Wal Mart at about 1 PM, when I hung the phone up I noticed the clock on the dash said 11:33. Traffic was heavy and I pulled into Wal Mart and picked up Ted at 1:13. Ted and I rode to Emmitsburg and went to St. Joseph’s first. There was nothing special about our arrival time, it was almost 2:30.

We went in the church and I prayed the rosary, during the rosary I prayed to God as I do everyday that these events that happen to me are from Him. I told Him in prayer that if they are not from Him to please stop what ever is causing them so that I may have my life back. I also told Him that if these events are from Him that I have no problem with it at all and I am completely willing to cooperate with whatever He desires and that He may use my life without restrictions.

Before I finished the rosary Ted got up and walked outside. I continued to pray. When I finished the Rosary the time was exactly 3 PM so I continued with the Chaplet of Devine Mercy. When I finished that I walked outside and saw Ted coming from the parish hall. I got in the truck and Ted got in and we were leaving just at the clock switched to 3:13. We drove to the Grotto and upon arrival the odometer was 1.3. While we were walking through the Grotto I started thinking about going to 4:30 mass at St. Joseph’s. The sudden desire was so strong that it caused me to look at my watch and it said XX:XX:33. I asked Ted if he wanted to go to mass at St. Joseph’s. Ted said “I don’t know, I really should go tomorrow”. I took that to mean no and I did not mention it again. A few minutes later Ted said “I don’t mind going to mass at St. Joseph’s”. I said “OK let’s go”.

We got back in my truck and started driving to St. Joseph’s and a very slow moving car pulled out in front of us and stayed in front of us the entire way to St. Joseph’s. There was never an opportunity to pass. I mention this as an example of not having control of the time we arrived back at St. Joseph’s which was 4:13.

Mass started at 4:30 and was said by Msgr. William O’Brien who is the new pastor at St. Joseph’s. This was the first time I ever attended mass at St. Joseph’s when he said mass. His homily struck me very hard and actually was a very good description of how God has acted in my life. He talked about how God does not always and usually does not act in ways that we can understand. He talked about it being Mary’s faith in God and not Her understanding that produced such great results. He also used himself as an example. He said that God knew His plan for him long before he knew it himself. He explained how he was educated by The Christian Brothers and had never even heard of The Vincentians or St. Vincent DePaul but that it was through God’s mysterious ways that lead us to the desired destination, if we allow Him, even when we don’t understand but have trust. I was able to relate my life over the past 4 years to his homily. I knew that I should say something to him after mass, it was just building up from inside of me.

When mass was over Msgr. O’Brien was standing out front and I walked over to him and told him how good it was and that it was his homily that gave me the strength and courage to tell him that a mistake had been made regarding Thursday nights. Over the next few minutes I was able to say what I needed to say. He did not try to brush me off, he was kind and polite and he listened. When I finished he thanked me and wished me a Merry Christmas. At the very instant we finished talking I was completely filled with peace that was so strong that I knew to look at my watch. The time was 5:33:33

Ted and I got in the truck and started driving home. I dropped him off at Wal Mart in Leesburg and then drove the rest of the way home. I pulled in my driveway at 8:13.

The following Monday morning (December 23) I woke up wanting to go to the Miraculous Medal novena and mass that St. Joseph’s has each Monday night at 7:30. I laid in bed thinking about this and made the decision that I would go. At that very instant I got out of bed and the clock on the night stand switched to 7:33. I went to work and when I finished my morning duties I took my lunch break and drove to Our Lady of the Blue Ridge to pray the rosary. I like going there during my lunch because the ride is relaxing and it makes a nice break. I also like the privacy. When I finished the rosary I looked at my watch and the time was 12:13 and I was again filled with the desire to go to St. Joseph’s tonight.

I called Ted to see if he wanted to go and he said yes. When I got off work I drove to Leesburg and picked up Ted at Wal Mart at 6:13. Traffic was light compared to usual. When we arrived at the entrance of the Grotto the odometer was 3.3. We arrived at St. Joseph’s and walked in the front door at 7:13. Ted went to confession. The Miraculous Medal novena and mass began at 7:30 and Msgr. O’Brien was the celebrant. When mass was over I asked Ted if he was ready to go. Ted said he would like to stay for a few minutes to pray his penance. When Ted finished he looked over at me and said “Now I’m ready” As we were leaving the church I felt compelled to look at my watch and the time was 8:13:33. At the same instant I felt the sudden desire to stop by Sister Genevieve’s to wish her a merry Christmas. We drove there and arrived at 8:33.

Sister Genevieve was in bad shape when we got there. Her lift chair that helps put her in a standing position was broken in the down position. Her legs were causing her a lot of pain because she could not prop them up. I tried to get her up so that I could put some pillows behind her. She tried to stand up but was in so much pain that she started to cry. I tried to place the pillows but she slipped and fell back in the chair and was sliding out. I was trying to hold on to her so she would not end up on the floor. At one point I actually considered calling 911. Finally I was able to get her securely in the chair and prop her legs up on a foot stool and position the pillows and everything seemed ok. Ted and I left and headed home. The odometer as we passed the grotto was 13. I dropped Ted off at Wal Mart and I arrived home at the very instant the clock on the dash switched to 11:33.