Wednesday 13 April 2016

The Hidden Gem

I had often seen the local Catholic shop run by the 'Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate' on a busy one-way system. I had also heard that the shop had a Chapel where Blessed Sacrament was reserved and exposed, but in the almost 17 years I lived in the area I had never had the chance nor felt the need to go and visit.

I love England very much but one thing that I missed the most from Italy was the presence of open Churches at every corner.

It happened that in a moment of difficulty where things looked quite dark and it was very difficult to count my blessings, I woke up one morning with a strong desire to find peace, to be still and silent in the presence of the Lord. I needed Him to speak to me.

Because I work, my lunchtime was the only moment of the day where that could have been possible... but the doors of the Parish next to my work place were closed... What to do? The Chapel in the shop, 10 minutes away from me, crossed my mind and I went not sure of what I would find.

The shop was exactly as one would imagine it. Very old fashion, a bit tacky and in a horrible building on a very busy road next to Domino's Pizza. 

I went in and asked for the Chapel. A kindly young nun showed me the way and there He was, in all His Majesty.

Who would have ever imagined this! The smell of incense filled the small room. A statue of the Immaculate Conception of Lourdes and St Joseph was standing on either side of the Altar (just like a good Mother and Father standing by the side of their child)... and in the middle there He stood.

I felt at home, the Silence embraced and filled my spirit! A sense of gratitude pervaded my heart.
People who were passing by, thought not many, would come in, stop if only for a few minutes, kneel down, pray and leave with great reverence.

There was a life around that little old shop that I was completely unaware of. I felt alive, I felt the Church was alive and Christ was calling his people, constantly, to Himself. Once again the King was to be found in the place where one would least expect.

It is there where I truly discovered the Power of Adoration! How could I have survived without it for so many years? It is true that it is in the darkest moments that we can get closer to God. It was certainly true in my case. I have been visiting the shop ever since and developed a beautiful Christian relationship with the Sisters. 

God bless the Nuns for all their hard work in the shop and around the Parish and for maintaining and guarding such a precious 'Hidden Gem' in the most unlikely of places. 

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