Whenever my Catholic friends ask me how I’m doing I usually say, “I’m on the Divine Providence plan.” Of course, I’m not joking at all when I say this. In fact, I’ve been on the Divine Providence plan for longer than I can really say. Probably, since the moment that I was conceived in my mother womb.
Many people go through their lives without realizing the many providential ways in which God works. Disasters or problems can be blessings in disguise. Slammed doors can be open windows. Divine Providence is all of these things and more. In order to begin to understand it, however, we need to know what Divine Providence isn’t.
Divine Providence isn’t something that is coincidental. Sometimes, things may be ordered in our lives that we think are coincidences. I was born, for example, on the feast of St. John Capistran. For a long time, I just thought that it was a crazy coincidence that I was born on the feast day of one of the greatest Franciscan missionaries. As the years passed, however, I realized that God had a Franciscan vocation in mind from my mother’s womb. Why else would he give me such a great feast day on which to be brought into the world?
Divine Providence, however, is even more mysterious than this. Last year, I was struggling to decide whether I should stay in my sedevacantist parish or unite myself with Rome. I prayed about it for a long time and even felt pressure from the sede parish priest to register. After a few days, I was speeding in my car when I forgot to stop at a stop sign. I slammed into a truck that was twice the size of my car. My car was completely totaled.
At the time, I was depressed because I didn’t have a car that I could drive to Mass every single Sunday. However, I realized that there was a local parish four blocks from my house that was united with Rome. Divine Providence had made sure that there would be a parish for me to attend and that I could unite myself with Rome. God works in mysterious ways and, sometimes, car wrecks are required for us to wake up and see Him in everything we do.
So how can we trust in Divine Providence? What is it that we can do to make ourselves conform to God’s will? One of the things that I do every once in a while is to make an act of complete surrender to God. Essentially, I go to an empty church and tell God that I am leaving everything in His hands. This not only includes my heart and soul, but also everything I have, my family, my friends, and anyone else that I know. I leave them all at the altar and leave it up to God’s will to decide.
Of course, it’s not easy for us to do such a thing in this day and age. Our society is too individualistic and we ourselves are too materialistic. Yet if we are not willing to conform ourselves to God, then God will do that in His own ways. Indeed, there are certain senseless events that we may not understand, which are actually the hand of God speaking to us about our own society and our own lives within it.
When 9/11 happened, there was a great deal of talk that this would be an event that would convert America. While churches were most certainly filled on the Sunday after the tragedy, I don’t think that very many people realized exactly what was going on. The hijacking of the planes by terrorists was only an external sign of something deeper. 9/11 was a wake up call to our society to change or face the consequences. Whether we have changed or not is not for me to say, but events like this do help us to understand Divine Providence no matter how tragic they may be.
Divine Providence is frequently manifested in the lives of the saints as well. Sometimes, in heroic degrees. Mother Mary Joseph Rossello was the foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy. One day, Mother Mary Joseph found that she had nothing in the donation box. She called the sisters together and asked them to pray. They prayed for an hour and Mother Mary Joseph asked the treasurer to check the poor box. There was nothing, but two buttons. Mother Mary Joseph said that the sisters weren’t praying hard enough. They prayed for another hour. At the end, the sister came back and said that a donor had brought the exact amount of money that was necessary for the sisters to continue their work.
St. John Baptist de La Salle is another saint for whom trust in Divine Providence was something that manifested itself. When Rheims was suffering from famine, many of the brothers came up to De La Salle and asked him how they would feed themselves since the rest of the city was starving. St. John Baptist told them not to worry because God would provide. That very same evening, a farmer arrived from the countryside bringing enough wheat with him to feed the brothers, their students, and many of the starving.
Indeed, Divine Providence is something that we must learn to recognize and love. No matter what the circumstances God brings into our lives, it is necessary for us to see them as manifestations of his loving kindness for us. Let us, therefore, meditate on this wonderful gift and think about the many things that God has wrought for us through His merciful providence.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!