March 3 & 5, 2003

Ash Wednesday

About 2 weeks ago I was thinking about all of the things that have been taking place in my life since I started going to Emmitsburg. I had thoughts about what I was doing with my life before Emmitsburg and what was important to me then. I then thought about my life after Emmitsburg and what is important to me now. I realized that my priorities have completely changed. I tried to make comparisons in my mind of how and what I thought about certain things then and how I think about them now. It was completely clear to me that before Emmitsburg I was on a path straight to Hell and the sad part is the fact that I did not even realize it. Like most people in a luke warm state I thought everything was fine. I could not have been more wrong.

Sometimes I just need to go off somewhere alone and think about everything that has taken place and try to let it sink in. The best place for me to do this is the Grotto of Lourdes and St. Joseph’s in Emmitsburg. To me either place is just an extension of the other. I made plans to do this about 2 weeks ago by requesting a vacation day from work so I could go to Emmitsburg on March 3, 2003. The reason I picked this day is because the date equates to 3-3-03. I thought it would be a good day to spend in prayer concerning the events that have been taking place in my life. My intention was to ask God to continue to give me strength to accept what is happening on such a frequent basis and a better understanding of what I am supposed to do with it. I just wanted to pray because it helps more than anything else.

My original intention was to go alone but this past Friday I told Ted that I would be going on Monday and I invited him to go along with me. Ted said he would like to go but he had a doctors appointment in the morning and did not know exactly what time he would be finished. I told Ted that was not a problem and that we would leave when he was finished. Sometime Monday morning after I had done some things around the house I called Ted and he said he had just walked in the house after returning from his doctors appointment. He asked if I was still planning to go and I said yes. I told him that I was ready to leave and I would see him in about and hour and a half at Wal Mart.

I got in my truck and when I started it the CD player flashed the number 13 on the dash in perfect synchronization with the unique sense of peace that I am at a loss to describe. At the very instant I pulled out of the driveway I glanced at my watch because the feeling was so strong. The time was 11:13:00. I drove to Wal Mart in Leesburg to pick up Ted and arrived there at 12:33. We drove to Emmitsburg and when we reached the entrance to the Grotto of Lourdes the odometer was 3.3. We continued to drive and arrived at St. Joseph’s at 1:33. We noticed there were a lot of cars there and Ted said “something is going on here.” My first thought was maybe it was a funeral so I looked around to see if there was a hurse because I did not want to barge in on someone’s funeral. There was no hurse so we went in and instantly became the last 2 people in an already formed and moving line to go to the front of the church and venerate a visiting statue of Our Lady of Fatima from the “America Needs Fatima Foundation”. There was not even a gap in the line when we joined in, we fell into perfect place at the very instant we walked through the front door as if we had been there the whole time since the line was formed. It was absolutely perfect and could not have been more seamless if it had been rehearsed. Again I was stunned but not surprised by this perfect timing and our place in line.

After we venerated the statue we entered an empty pew and I started to pray the rosary. A few minutes later Karen Major walked up to me and said “Robert, I want to talk to you before you leave, don’t go anywhere until we have talked”. I continued my rosary and Karen went to the front of the church and was taking pictures of the Armarta Bianca children with the statue Our Lady of Fatima which happened to be the most exquisite one I have ever seen. After I finished my rosary and Karen finished taking her pictures she came back to where Ted and I were sitting and invited us to her house for dinner at 6:30 because she wanted us to meet Fr. Ray Walsh M.C. who had been in Emmitsburg to give a 4 day retreat from Guadalupe, Mexico. We told Karen that we would come.

A few minutes later I asked Ted if he was ready to ride over to the Grotto and he said yes. As we were leaving Karen stopped us again as we were getting ready to walk out of the door and we talked for about another 5 or 6 minutes. Karen told us there would be adoration from 3 to 6 PM. When we finished talking we left and got in the truck to go to the Grotto. When the truck started the time on the dash was 2:33.

Ted and I drove to the Grotto and we ran into Jack Manion who is the man I met at the Grotto on September 8, 2002 from Canada. We picked up our conversation right where we left off 6 months ago and while we were talking I was suddenly filled with peace that was strong enough to make me look at the time. It was 3:33. It was a very cold day and someone suggested that we go to the Ott House for coffee so we did and ran into Jim O’Brien while we were there. After we had been there for a while I suggested that we walk over to St. Joseph’s because I remembered that Karen had told us they were going to have adoration from 3 to 6. We walked over to the church and at the very instant I opened the front door I looked at my watch and the time was 5:33:33. We prayed another rosary and when we finished Ted and I drove over to Karen and Mick Majors house for dinner. Fr. Walsh was there and several people I have known since my earliest days in Emmitsburg. It was a very nice time and I will always remember the friends I have made in Emmitsburg.

There is a common bond that seems to hold everybody and everything together and nobody who has been through this experience can question or doubt who that common bond is. The time that has passed shows no sign of weakening this bond, actually it only seems to get stronger and stronger. God does not start something such as this and then let it fail. The Blessed Virgin Mary is appearing in Emmitsburg, Maryland and because of the events in my life as a result of being there it is not possible for me to doubt this.

Ash Wednesday

When I got up this morning I started Lent by praying the 15 prayers from the Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden based on the Passion and Death of Jesus. I was not paying any attention to the time whatsoever but noticed that when I started the prayers the time was 8:13. When I finished the prayers the time was 8:33. I then went to work in "hometown" and then needed to go to Manassas. When I finished my morning work I took my lunch break and went across the street to All Saints to pray the rosary and arrived at 12:33. While I was praying the rosary I could not keep my mind off of last Ash Wednesday which was February 13, 2002. All during the rosary I had very vivid memory of the day I went to Baltimore to give my letter to Cardinal Keeler. I clearly remembered every detail of being escorted through downtown Baltimore by a complete stranger starting at 11:13 and every traffic light turning green as we approached it and arriving at the Arch Dioceses building at 11:33. This was also the event that enabled me to write down for the first time and try to explain the 13, 33 and 333 sequence as it had been happening to me. When I finished the rosary I went back to work, did a few more things in Manassas and then drove back to work in "hometown" to finish the day.

When I got off I drove home and S.C.C told me that she and C.R.C had already been to Ash Wednesday mass at St. John’s in Warrenton this morning. I went to pick up Barbara G and go to mass at 7 PM. There was a visiting priest from Germany named Fr. Simion. When he was blessing the ashes I was very suddenly struck with a very strong sense of peace, the kind of peace that almost makes your body feel numb. I glanced at my watch and it said XX:XX:33. At that very instant my mind went straight back to Ash Wednesday 1999. That was the day a little Spanish boy got sick on the carpet while going with his mother to receive the ashes. I will never forget the look on Fr. ___’s face when that happened. I remember thinking that someone needs to get that up right away so people can come through and receive the Eucharist. I did not think it was going to be me. Suddenly I knew that it should be me and that I was going to do it as a “Thank You” to God for allowing me to be at St. Joseph’s on Thursday nights. I hated the thought of doing it but while I was cleaning up the mess I was suddenly struck with that same exact peace I am unable to describe that happens to me to this very day. The peace was so strong that it made the job of cleaning up easy. This sounds absurd but the peace was so strong that I actually hated to see the job come to completion.

When mass was over Barbara and I were walking out and I suddenly felt the strong desire to look at my watch and the time was 8:13. At this same instant I was struck with a strong desire to be in Emmitsburg. I was tired and I did not think that was very likely. I drove Barbara home and after I dropped her off I was going to go home. I was sitting at a stop sign when the urge struck me again very hard. I resisted. I continued to sit at the stop sign even though there was no traffic coming and I said out loud “If you want me to come I will”. Suddenly this out of nowhere thought crashed through my mind. It was more like a interior voice that said “No, you have to be the one who wants to come”. This was so sudden and so strong and so much the opposite of what I was actually thinking that I felt compelled to look at my watch and it said XX:XX:13. I had no idea what the actual time was because I only saw the 13. I drove to Emmitsburg and arrived at St. Joseph’s at 10:33 and prayed the entire rosary and when I finished I felt compelled to walk over to the corner of the church and give it a kiss. I did and the time was 11:33:33. I drove home and pulled in my driveway and at the very instant the truck came to a complete stop the clock switched to 1:33.