The Spirit of the Grotto

Inside the Grotto

The Grotto on University of Notre Dame’s campus holds a special place in my heart. Being from South Bend and the son of two Notre Dame Law School grads, I have spent many a moment in prayer at this sacred place. The unceasingly gentle glow of candlelight always calms me, and the peaceful sounds of the surrounding nature help me center my prayers. Whether rejoicing at some good fortune or lamenting a recent failure, my wandering feet always lead me to the Grotto where I can put my heart before the Virgin Mary and ask her intercession. The beautiful imagery of taking one’s concerns, placing them at the foot of the Holy Mother, and parting with trust in God is something that never fails to get to me. Each time I light a candle and say a prayer, I ask that God will allow me to let go of my worries. I implore His help in strengthening me to remain humble and grateful in the face of good fortune. I pray for understanding during difficult times. I sit in silence, listening to what He may say, and I wait until I feel prepared to return to the world. Regardless of my state, I always leave the Grotto changed for the better.

The Grotto is a place of new beginnings; I have a great deal of personal history there. It is where my family’s journey officially began, when my father proposed marriage to my mother. Going there as individuals, they left prepared to spend the rest of their lives together, open to bringing forth new life from that beautiful love. It is there that, at the beginning of the school year, I processed with all the other seminarians to join them as a seminarian in the Congregation of Holy Cross. I came to the Grotto as an individual, and I left as part of an intimate community. Here, I showed my devotion to discernment, to my new brothers, and to my faith. I opened myself to God’s will for me in a special way.

The Grotto at Notre Dame

On a historical level, the original grotto in Lourdes (on which the one at Notre Dame is based) was where young Bernadette Soubirous first saw Our Lady of Lourdes. In a moment just right, when Bernadette paused to catch her breath, isolated from her siblings, Mary came, and told Bernadette of God’s presence in that place. After these apparitions, Bernadette left with a new missionone directly from our Heavenly Mother. Just like at Lourdes, the Grotto at Notre Dame allows us to heed the voices of those in Heaven. To do this, what we must do is humble ourselves to be like a lowly child. We must retreat from the bustling world around us. We must open ourselves up to accept God’s grace. In short, we must seize the moment.

The Grotto has a certain sanctity that can move one to prayer and renewal. When we embrace this atmosphere, we can find solace in God’s presence, and gain the strength to persevere, or perhaps even a better understanding of whatever we bring in prayer. It is this spirit of the Grotto that allows us the grace to return to our lives and to begin again in the Lord with a renewed mission and purpose.

Mr Liam Maher

Liam Maher is a Freshman at the Old College Undergraduate Seminary on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. He and his fellow Old Collegians regularly share their thoughts and experiences through the Spes Unica Blog. Liam is a South Bend, Indiana native, and a graduate of both St. Joseph Grade School and St. Joseph High School.

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