Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Christmas Day at the Grotto was beautiful, warm and bright

Father John J. Lombardi

A lady called and asked how long we were open, for, she said she wanted to bring up her uncle who was dying. Thankfully they made it here just in time to get some Grotto water for healing. And a couple from Sri Lanka visited and said they came three times previous to pray for children. Upshot: they're pregnant now with twins!…So many came to the Grotto Christmas day too from all over the world, praying, leaving flowers for the Virgin and simply enjoying Mary's Mountain. We're ever thankful. May you have a blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year and grow closer to the Holy Family-Jesus Mary and Joseph!

The Year A.D. 2007

By the way, A.D., from the Latin, anno Domini-means year of our Lord. So, now, what happened last year and how can we, as I was taught in the seminary, think theologically about it all? The Top News Events of 2007--according to Time Magazine are the following. Now, remember, these aren't Gospel truths. However…

1.Paksitan in Transition-Is Pres. Pervez Musharif coming or going there? With Benazir Bhutto recently assassinated the country is in turmoil. Most important thing: calm. Peace. Also: the cyclic violence in the Middle East is being perpetuated by Islamic terror and is a result of this and will continue until Peace-fortified-by-Justice comes. Pakistan is a "hinge country"-culturally, religiously, geo-politically-and is tottering on turmoil and a "key" to the West-and democracy. Upshot: pray for peace and justice and reason there and elsewhere.

2. Mortgage Lending Crisis: we all need homes/houses to live in and the market is still plummeting. They say the current glut of houses-now in a "buyers market"-- will continue for another year. So pray for a break in the storm, and remember: don't go into, and live off of debt. Our wonderful U.S. of A. is now teetering on a debt crisis precisely because of our avariciousness-desire for more/lust of materialism. Remember/New Year's resolution: Less is more!

3. Myamar Monks Protest - Even monks get ticked off, eh? Anyway, in that SE Asian country (formerly Burma) now run by dictocrats, let us pray for human rights and dignity to reign instead of the rule of a gun. Regarding those monks and us, remember: Christ has spent time in jail. And: let's count our blessings of freedom here and never take them for granted.

4. Goodbye Harry Potter-No loss here: I read the first book and found it dreadful towards parents, families, organized religion, young boys, etc.- ad nauseum. We later found out the book/author is pushing homosexuality. Anyway: Watch out what your children read and ditto for the new series "The Golden Compass"-which promotes anti-religion (and other books in the series-"Dark Materials"-- are explicitly against "the Magisterium"-which is the teaching part of our Catholic Church). The author is an atheist. The "Compass" movie was reviewed by the U.S. Bishops lead reviewer in a positive way-and the review was actually used by companies to promote the film, which obviously slights religion and the Church. Don't believe everything you read.

5. Petreaus in Iraq-The war-like all wars--has been a mess and in such conflicts there's usually a "fall guy": Petreaus is it. And yet he's still "in" (Iraq and as Supreme commander)-and things seem to be changing with some forms of peace, community and family life returning to Baghdad and greater Iraq. And don't forget our troops there and elsewhere!

6. Chinese toy recall-Playing is a serious business here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and when American companies and Chinese ones are ethically found wanting, then they/we need help. Sweat shop labor and poor quality threatening children is inimical to our American way. And, also: a 2007 news story recounted how four year old children are being targeted for cell phones and sophisticated video games and other techo-gimmicks. Wow: at that age?! Hey: in today's world, don't forget old fashioned games like recreation, exercise and simplicity.

7. Virgina Tech slayings: This was the Tragedy Of The Year. With over twenty killed, Never forget: evil exists in the world and some people don't know it is lurking around them, or within, and so seek constant conversion. As peace loving and beautiful as our country is, there is a lotta violence promoted in so many ways here and it manifests in explosive and shocking ways intermittently.

8. Stem Cell breakthrough-Thank God for this breakthrough--Healing without hideousness. Imagine a new Frankensteinian project of harvesting babies for spare parts (it's already been done). Now, with American know-how, adults (living) can donate cells which can re-align and become helps for Alzheimer's victims and others in need.

9. Barry Bonds breaks record and gets indicted-okay he's the homerun king now, but: at what cost? Upshot: many have decried the corporate takeover of professional sports-from biking to wrestling to football and baseball, and have split the scene of cheering to leering. Sad but true.

10. iPhone mania: didn't last long. A lotta hype without hatching a large following. So, now ask: who's communicating with God these days? …

Other Events in 2007:

Tony Blair converted to the Catholic faith: Hooray for him, England and our Church!

Global Warming: will be a key issue for the future, and this issue comes with proposed apocalyptic scenarios and prophets, too.

Duke lacrosse players exonerated: in a "reverse discrimination" case justice prevailed.

Vatican document on Evangelization: we obviously need help here. Mormons and Protestants are doing a better/bigger job at evangelizing the planet than we Catholics are.

Best Essay: "An Unhealthful Obsession"-by Jonathan Zimmerman, The Baltimore Sun (12/27) about: "Americans are addicted to competitive sports in ways that are profoundly unhealthful. And until we confront that problem, head-on, steroids will continue to plague us."

Most Interesting Person: Pope Benedict XVI-Is he going green? Here's a man who is most orthodox and yet is seizing opportunities to promote and protect God's earth and people.

MSM Bicentennial: 200 yrs ago Fr Dubois fled persecution in France and came to Mary's Mountain and founded our college (now university) and we are still here benefiting!

Books I recommend…

"Left to Tell": Miraculous, faith-filled story by a Catholic-Immacule Ilibagiza, who survived (months in a bathroom) the slaughter by Hutu militia. This book/story will teach you how to: pray, forgive, thrive.

"Come Be My Light"-Mother Teresa's letters and correspondence which may shock some readers because of her darknesses and sufferings, her "eclipse of God-experience" and how, yet, she persevered. Gives hope to us all.

"Heaven is Real" by Don Piper-the title says it all by this man who claimed to have died and went to Heaven for 90 minutes: beautiful inspiring and hope-filled. Fill yourself with Heaven!

"The 4:8 Principle" by Tommy Newberry: about thinking good holy thoughts and transforming one's life and mind.

"Soul Surfer": True account of a young lady who survived a shark attack, with her arm taken off and then goes back in the surf. She's a Christian- Believer and this book is a page-turner of witness to the Faith and courage!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi