Emmitsburg Council of Churches


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 others…

First, Charles to Angela:

"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 other.

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 for me.

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 confirmed.

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 Dad.

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