Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The eye with which you see God

Father John J. Lombardi

"The eye with which you see God
is the same eye with which He sees you."
                   Meister Eckhart

God often passes by but because of our busy-ness, forgetfulness or sinfulness, we cannot or do not always see Him. In St Luke's Gospel, the Risen Jesus visits disciples going to Emmaus and they do not recognize Him until… "Their eyes were opened." (Luke 24:28-31). Thru holy mindfulness let us see Him as He visits us daily. In honor of the Most Blessed Trinity here are Three Stories of Divinity manifesting in our midst

A young priest came to the Grotto last Tuesday, Fr. Garcia, of Nicaragua came to celebrate his third anniversary as a priest. He concelebrated Mass and at the end he said in "Espanol," that he was thankful to be a priest and to be able to visit our Grotto of Mary on this mountain. In Nicaragua, he belongs to a large diocese and often travels by horse or even on foot to mountainside parishes. He said many of his people are poor living in clapboard huts without adequate clothing. Food and drink are often given out to the hungry children at their Bible classes just to get them started. However, in spite of all that, they all deeply love The Virgin and their Faith.

I believe all present there felt part of a larger church and Mystical Body thru Fr. Garcia's animated but rugged stories of evangelization and his Latino love of the Lord and Lady.

We got a burst of inspired-internationalism through his language and customs in this surprise visit. We witnessed a young, dedicated priest of Jesus Christ and learned about multi-cultural mystical devotion. Nicaraguans love of the Eucharist and the Church and each time Fr. Garcia referred to "The Virgin," he lovingly looked at the Marian statue.

Quiet consecration:

It was at that same Mass that eight School Sisters of Notre Dame also came on their pilgrimage to the Grotto. You could say it was sort of a "harmonic convergence day!" One of the sisters was 99 and a half and as she left church walking sprightly she said, "Father, I couldn't hear everything but what I did hear was good." Many of the sisters smiled, expressing appreciation for our welcome to them. As I celebrated Mass I was awestruck by all the years in service to Our Lord and the Church; nearly a millennium of dedication and consecration to poverty, chastity and obedience.

One visitor-pilgrim told how the training of the order of School Sisters had influenced him to become a teacher and eventually he became a school principal. We exchanged greetings and they left the Church and I felt God was giving me a subtle sermon; a lot of holiness and selfless dedication was passing me by. I was humbled by their quiet lives of consecration, something we all could learn about being faithful until the very end.

The day was far from over with over one hundred young women from Seton Keogh Catholic High School came for a retreat later that afternoon. They were an enthusiastic group as I told them about Fr. John DuBois who founded the Grotto in 1805. Fr. Garcia was still around and I introduced him to the young women as he gave them his blessing. He talked about how he loved the United States, its beauty similar to Nicaragua, but how much he missed his home and the food! He described being brought up in a very Catholic home with lots of love and devotion and how it affected his priestly calling but he wasn't always as close to his faith. He spoke of the dancing and drinking he did before the Bible and his Church helped him hear God calling him to be a priest. The young women were in rapt attention as he spoke about how much he loves being a priest! It ended the retreat on a wonderful note in the bold sunshine on Mary's Mountain; hearing this priest, the story of conversion and his personal witnessing of God's love and providence.

The prayer/benediction he gave them was this: "May they be ever close to God and the Blessed Virgin, that they be flowers for God and that His happiness be with them as they do His Holy Will."

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi