It was 6 years ago today that I took the picture of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg. The burst of light clearly reveals to me and others the unmistakable side profile of the Face of Christ. I did not see that when I took the picture but I certainly felt the sudden feeling of peace that I have come to know the very instant I snapped the picture. I do not know what the exact time was when I took the picture but it would not surprise me at all if it were at 13 or 33 after the hour.
The film sat in the camera and was not developed until December 8, 1998. That was the first time I ever saw the picture but it was not until about a month later that I first saw the image in the burst of light and then it was only because someone else pointed it out to me. It was my mother. After realizing this and everything that led up to it I promised God that I would go to the Grotto every September 23rd. I have made it every year since and it seems that every year I almost miss it. This year was no exception.
At the very instant I woke up this morning I remembered that today was the anniversary of taking the picture and I would be going to the Grotto of Lourdes as part of keeping the promise I have made to God. I got ready to go to work in Manassas and on my way I stopped at St. Joseph’s to say a quick prayer. I arrived and the time on the dash was 6:13.
I said a few prayers and continued my drive to work. It was a difficult trip to Manassas because a portion of Rt. 15 was down to one lane due to bridge construction. I thought it was going to cause me to miss mass at All Saint’s but somehow I arrived there just as mass was starting. I looked at my watch as I walked in the door and the time was 8:33:00.
After mass I went across the street to work and when I completed it I needed to go to "hometown". I left for "hometown" but stopped first at All Saint’s to pray the rosary. I walked in the chapel and glanced at my watch just as I started the rosary. The time was 11:13:13. I prayed the Luminous mysteries and when I finished I glanced again at my watch as I walked out the door. The time was now 11:33:33. I drove to work in "hometown" and arrived at my desk at 12:33.
Later in the day while working at my desk I was suddenly filled with a strong out of nowhere desire to pray. It was so strong and sudden I glanced at my watch and the time was 2:13. I said a few prayers and continued my work. Later in the afternoon I called home and talked to S.C.C. and she said Sr. Claire Mahoney DM was going to stay the night at our house. Suddenly the thought of this brought a strong feeling of peace over me. I glanced at my watch and the time was 3:13.
Later when I got off work I started my drive home and started thinking about keeping my promise to God by going to the Grotto. It seemed easy because I have to drive by there on my way home but things got difficult because of slow moving traffic and heavy traffic.
I did not think I would be able to make it by the time the Grotto closed. I considered just going to St. Joseph’s and praying a rosary there and considering that as keeping my promise. As I got closer to the Grotto I felt like I should at least try to go there even if I could only get as far as the locked gate. I arrived at the Grotto and the gate was still open. This surprised me because it was already dark. I was again surprised when I saw the lights on in the glass chapel. I then noticed the odometer was 1.3
I walked in the glass chapel and was stunned to see the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. About 1 minute after I arrived Fr. Jack Lombardi came in and we had benediction. There were 9 or 10 other people in the chapel. After benediction Fr. Jack placed the host back in the tabernacle. At the very instant he closed the tabernacle door I was suddenly consumed with the peace of knowing I had kept my promise and it was only by the Grace of God that I was able to make it. I looked at my watch and the time was 7:33:33.
I thought that was the end and I would leave but a special mass began immediately for St. Padre Pio. After mass Fr. Jack blessed everyone individually with a relic of the saint. After mass I left and drove home. When I arrived and pulled in my driveway I noticed Sr. Claire was there and the time was 8:33.
Oct. 1, 2004