Mike Hargadon

Emmitsburg can be a beautiful, peaceful little town, but like anywhere in the USA, it can also be that godless, stress-filled rat race. Life can become a never-ending carousel that seems to take a hold and capture our peace. Much of our time can then often be spent trying to regain our peace. This effort can often be misdirected into an escape through drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy relationships. There is a better way! The solution is beautifully explained in a new book by the former Chaplain of the Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, Father Jack Lombardi (pictured right).

This little book on meditation titled, Thirty-three Breaths: A Little Book on Meditation, covers the topic of meditation from a spiritual, historical, and a “how to” perspective. Father Jack describes meditation as an “ongoing and foreshadowing merger with God and soul in oneness.”  Those who became familiar with Father Jack during his eight years at the Grotto will recognize his contemplative manner, as he often would break forth in short prayerful interjections, seemingly erupting from deep within.

Father Jack is also known for his many pilgrimages, in which he led groups internationally to India, Africa, Peru, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and France. Now, his pilgrimage has presented him as an accomplished author, attempting to lead his readers into an essential part of each of our beings. His approach to pilgrimage, whether to a foreign country or life in general, is to deal with the successes and the adversities. He welcomes both as “Part of the Pilgrimage.”

His book reclaims meditation as an essential part of Christian life. “Jesus along with the Holy spirit gives instruction. When you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.”

Father Jack discusses techniques to help develop our meditation, to avoid possible failures, and to help still ourselves for this journey.  “We need to ‘ignite the spark’ daily in our own meditation and make this Godly merger real, sensual and ongoing.” Some things may be as simple as breathing, “Why not use it explicitly in our prayer.” In describing the title, Father Jack stated, “Breathing thirty-three breaths in a rhythmic and measured manner is a way to both imitate Jesus’ number of years of life on earth and also physically and spiritually pray in a simple and relatively short way.”

Thirty-three Breaths: A Little Book on Meditation can be purchased at the Seton Shrine and Grotto gift shops.

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