Finding God at the Shrine of St. Gianna

mother and son

A key concept of Ignatian spirituality is finding God in all things. Learning to find God in the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the uplifting and the painful is indeed an important part of deepening our relationship with Jesus. However, every once in a while, it seems like God flashes a spotlight on his presence, painting the most glorious picture right before our eyes such that we simply couldn’t miss God if we tried.

I had one of those precious moments recently, when my husband and I attended a Reconciliation service at a parish near us, St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish. Of note, this parish holds the first Canadian shrine in honor of St. Gianna. St. Gianna was a mother and a doctor; read more about her here.

We were fortunate to have a large number of priests in attendance that evening, so stations of two chairs each had been set up all along the perimeter of the worship space, and one station was placed right at the foot of the shrine. I had just finished my confession and sat back in the pews to pray and wait for my husband. After a short time in prayer, I visually scanned the worship space to find my husband.

As I looked across the church, I witnessed a moment that will stay with me forever. There, at the foot of the shrine, just in front of the bronze statue of St. Gianna, sat a young woman celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation, with a young toddler rocking in her arms. I could so easily picture St. Gianna looking down upon them and praying for this faithful mother who, no doubt, reminded her of herself. As I watched, sunlight brightened the shrine as the sun broke away from the clouds. I imagined the young mother’s heart equally lightened by the grace of forgiveness she received in the sacrament, still quietly rocking her child. Wrapped in the security of his mother’s loving arms, a quiet, unwitting witness to the work of art that God was creating in that moment, the young child was blessed with the most awesome gift of his mother’s faith.

And I, brought into this intimate and grace-filled moment, was touched deeply by the masterpiece that God so lovingly painted right before my eyes.

About Cara Callbeck 43 Articles
Cara Callbeck holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and works in the public sector as a human resources professional. Cara recently completed the Spiritual Exercises and has since felt quite drawn to Ignatian spirituality. She is now on a quest to learn more and grow and to incorporate Ignatian spirituality in her life as a professional, mother, and “woman for others.” Cara lives in the Canadian Prairies with the two greatest blessings in her life—her husband and daughter.

5 Comments on Finding God at the Shrine of St. Gianna

  1. How blessed you were to witness this incredible beauty! And how blessed we are that you shared it with us. Thank you!

  2. That was a beautiful experience which you will always have the mEmory of. Even when God puts something like that in your lap you still have to be open to the possibility which you were and I guess continue to be. I had an experience I have not related to anyone except my wife, until now. I work in funeral service which has been in my family since 1908. Sometimes we experience ‘compassion fatigue’ which some consider burn out. It is always temporary. But when I am in that state and about to meet with a family to plan a funeral I tell myself to see Christ in everyone. I was with a daughter of the deceased when she was telling me her feelings about her loss and her mother’s life. It’s really difficult to explain this except to say I became mesmerized looking into her eyes and could actually feel what she was saying as Christ. I’ll never forget that moment.

    • Kevin, what an amazing experience, and how lucky you are. It must have taken a lot to share this with us, but I am glad you did. What a truly special and incredible thing. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Cara, what a beautiful spectacle you saw and experienced! (I am a mother to a toddler and have to laugh a little as mine would have never been contentedly rocking in my arms in such a setting!) But how beautiful. Thank you for this.

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