Father John J. Lombardi
Last week a wonderful
family visited the Grotto. They wanted to
witness and re-state their marriage vows after
25 years! This couple brought their two
daughters along with them for a special day
outing. They were making this a "holy day"!
We celebrated Mass, had
a wonderful Italian picnic and then went back to
Church, after praying in the Grotto, to hear
them read to each other commitments and
sentiments they thoughtfully wrote down to pray
and say to each other in Mary's Grotto.
Fortunately, I was a witness to this beautiful,
sacred action. I began filling up with tears as
each spouse read their own thoughts. I was so
inspired by these that I asked if we could
re-print them for the salvation of all souls.
Following are their thoughts to each other and,
in a way, you can be inspired in your own life
to commit yourself to God, the sacraments and
First, Charles to
"Even as a young boy,
I knew growing up Catholic was a great honor.
I think that's why I was rewarded with a
wonderful wife and family and in this
beautiful sacred arena today. I've always been
a strong believer in my faith and I think
that's why we're here today.
My quiet confidence
always told me I would meet a beautiful girl
some day. So when I met Angela, I knew right
away she was special, coming from the same
town in Italy my Mom came from. A coincidence
- I don't think so. I felt as if I had opened
a door to my destiny, with God's help, as if
we're meant to be together. It was an
awakening of body and spirit, like fireworks.
And to this day I still experience those
fireworks when I see her. I couldn't imagine
ever being without her. She has been my mentor
and spiritual guide in life.
Like everyone else's
life's, roads are full of twists and turns,
some wonderful and some sorrowful. Angela's
faith and undying love has always kept me on
all the right roads. She keeps my spirits high
and has a special way of keeping the right
perspective in life, not like anyone else I've
ever seen. She is so deep in her thoughts only
I can see and feel them. Not only a soul mate,
but best friends forever.
Sometimes the busyness
and tolls of everyday life, blinds you from
the truth, but when I open my eyes I realize
that I was sent this beautiful person with
such a pure heart and mind to be with because
Jesus loves me. And she taught me Jesus' love
is like hers, undying.
And when I'm in Mass
on Sundays I'm emotionally overwhelmed at what
a beautiful family she has given me. God's
gifts of Mikela and Siena cannot be described,
just enjoyed. I'm teaching my children
Catholicism, so they can believe like my wife
and I do, so they too can be rewarded.
Twenty five years ago
we were married on the 5th of July and the
fireworks have continued till this day because
of our faith in God and our faith in each
I love you! -Charles
Now, Angela to Charles:
"Thank you Father Jack
and our Father up above for allowing us to
celebrate 25 years of matrimony. Today I feel
so lucky to be standing here at the Grotto to
renew our vows. I met you, Charles on December
13, 1979, the feast day of St Lucy, and on our
first date three days later when you spoke of
marriage I knew in my heart God had chosen you
A year and a half
later on July 5, 1981, as I walked down the
aisle of St. Michael the Archangel Church, I
had stars in my eyes and amazingly 25 years
later I still have stars in my eyes. We wrote
our own vows which Fr. Lou Martin thought were
so beautiful and when we said to have and to
hold from this day forward, for better or for
worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness
and in health, to love and to cherish until
death do us part, we meant it. I can say this
because we have seen so much illness but we
made it through because our Savior has always
been by our side.
The joys that we have
witnessed are true miracles. We shed tears of
joy when Mikela and Siena were born. I prayed
so much for children and God blessed us with
two beautiful daughters.
This year you and I
stood before God and cried as Siena received
her first Holy Eucharist and as Mikela was
Of course, over the
last 25 years, we have said good-bye to three
of our parents but I have come to understand
that things happen according to God's timeline
and not ours. One day we will be reunited.
Words cannot express
the love I feel for you Charles, but I will
try. Your confirmation name is Joseph and just
as God chose St. Joseph to be a caretaker for
Mary and Jesus, so He chose you for me. You
take care of me, our daughters, my mom as well
as my brother, and also family and friends.
You truly have a heart of gold.
So by renewing our
vows here today Lord, it is my deepest desire
that you will continue to bless the two of us
for the next 25 years.
Mikela and Siena, I
pray every night that the armor of God will
always protect you as well as all the children
in the world. If you choose to marry I hope
God will bless you with a man as great as your
Please, God, in
closing, bless us present here today and bring
peace to our world---Mary intercede on our
behalf that your Son will soon return to a
world unworthy of His love, but Mary help us
to become worthy of His love.
How can you be more
committed to your marriage, to your being single
in the world, or whatever your state in life is?
What sacred rituals or actions can you do to
re-flame your love of God or toward your spouse
or others like this couple? Do you ever pray to
God like this couple to send you a spouse? How
can you support married couples, especially
those in duress? How can you support the sacred
priesthood? How can you support others in their
commitments? How can you, as exemplified by the
sentiments of the letters previous, affirm
others and inspire them toward holiness,
happiness, health and perseverance? In difficult
times how can you see, however obscurely, God's
guiding Hand underneath events?
Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi