One of the little blessings I’ve had throughout my life is that I’ve always gone to school with a chapel nearby.
At St. Philomena Elementary, I always liked to visit the Blessed Sacrament across the street for a couple of minutes after school. At Loyola High School, I attended a short 20-minute mass offered everyday before class. And at Notre Dame, I’m supremely blessed — everyone is — to have a chapel in the dorm. (And I’m even more blessed that my dorm is one of the few on campus that celebrates mass in an orthodox fashion).
Especially in my freshman year, Little Flower Chapel in Morrissey was my safe haven — a place that offered stability and calm, where I could relax, think, and know that God was listening. And when life got busy after freshman year — well, at least I had the Grotto, the place from which I believe grace flows most on campus. With how crazy life gets at Notre Dame sometimes, I seriously believe that it’s the Grotto that kept me sane. It was the Grotto that gave me perspective. It was the Grotto where I was reassured that our Lady and our Lord are watching over everyone who walks the grounds of Notre Dame.
If there’s one place I miss most while I’m in Rome, it’s the Grotto. I also miss daily mass, and I miss simply having a place where I can sit down, unwind, and reflect. Maybe that’s why I’ve been a tad bewildered these days and why I’ve been getting left behind…I don’t take time to thank God and put things into perspective anymore, so I’m living life wandering aimlessly about, trying to find direction that only daily prayer and reflection can offer.
I discovered that there’s a chapel just on the corner of my program’s building here in Rome that offers daily mass at 6:30pm every night. I think it’s time I start going.
To close, some words on the Grotto from Tom Dooley, engraved on the hearts of every Notre Dame student:
But just now. . . and just so many times, how I long for the Grotto. Away from the Grotto Dooley just prays. But at the Grotto, especially now when there must be snow everywhere and the lake is ice glass and that triangular fountain on the left is frozen solid and all the priests are bundled in their too-large too-long old black coats and the students wear snow boots. . . . if I could go to the Grotto now then I think I could sing inside. I could be full of faith and poetry and loveliness and know more beauty, tenderness and compassion. . . .