Have you ever said a prayer at the Grotto? For many readers, the answer could easily be, “Yes, many times.” For me, raised a Baptist, the answer is no.
Praying at the Grotto was somewhat of a mystery to me, mainly because of my lack of knowledge surrounding Catholic practices. Yet this past New Year’s Eve I found myself on campus for a quick prescription pickup at the Wellness Center Pharmacy. That day was the fourth anniversary of the passing of my mother. I recall what she had said in December 2017 about the approaching New Year: “I won’t see it.” It is the prescience I think only those who are nearing Heaven’s gate can have.
Every year since then, I look to the New Year with the fact that I cannot take my mother into it with me. Each year I am, as to be expected, melancholy. But this year was different.
I decided to park near the lakes and walk a bit, needing quiet time away from family and home and all that comes with New Year’s Eve.
I have always regarded the Grotto at a distance, walking by but never entering the sanctity of that holy space. The pull to it was strong on this particular day; my soul needed comforting. I made the decision to say a prayer at the Grotto for the memory of my mother, to honor her more than anything. But I didn’t know how to go about doing it. Thankfully, my ignorance of the process was remedied with a quick call to a Catholic friend and co-worker. She walked me through the steps and assured me that I didn’t have to be Catholic to do it. One lit candle and a prayer later, I was on my way home, a little more at peace with the New Year.
All of this is to say: If you’ve ever been curious about the Grotto, perhaps looking for an opportunity to pray, or just looking for solace, it’s available to anyone.