"Signposts in a Strange Land"*

People break down into two groups when they experience something lucky. Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation is fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?

M. Night Shyamalan ~ Signs

Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."

The Prince's Bride

Providence is at once our greatest reality as it is the greatest question mark that dictates the fragility of faith. There are rare moments when we catch a glimpse of the path that God has led us down, and we can see the incredible wisdom and precision with which every breath of our life has been assembled. Yet, these visions grow further apart with growing skepticism as we fall further and further into the realization of suffering, and the question of our vocation. Does God desire a child to die -- or worse -- as part of His Will? If the man (or woman) who is our perfect spouse chooses a life without us, was this because he or she was simply not the one who God intended for us to begin with, or does God's will "change" in such a way that we are redirected to God's second choice for us? If we do our best to follow God's will, how can we reconcile Providence in light of the actions of those who do not, when their choices seem to indelibly effect the course which our life takes? How do we reconcile the happiness of following our God-given vocation with the sins of those who seem to prevent our vocation from taking place? Does Providence move with the inconstancy of free will, or is it philosophically possible to believe that while we are fully free, the path that God has laid out before us is always and intimately protected?

There are two problems that we face in considering Providence. If God's will depends solely on human free will, we run the risk of becoming deists; God is there, but in the end we are on our own. At the same time, if God is in complete control, we run the risk of believing in the wrong kind of predestination. This harmony between Divine guidance and free will is a difficult concept to reconcile, yet as Catholics, this harmony is fundamental. How is this possible? How does it reconcile with vocation? And what about this problem of suffering?

In regards to our vocation, it is my belief that if we try to follow God's will as best we can, there is nothing that can affect our vocation, nor the ultimate joy that comes from finding it. Everyone desires true love, whether it is through another person, or through the religious life. This is not to say that vocation isn't painful. True love -- requited or not -- hurts tremendously because the suffering and imperfections of that other person become your own, except amplified by a million. But God does not give these transcendental desires to leave them unfulfilled, because He does not desire suffering, only allowing it when He must. Losing the "man of our dreams," therefore, or being prevented from entering a religious order, is not the tragedy that it may seem to be at the time. If God desired it, He would find a way to make it happen. And even if it is true that the "first" vocation was God's first choice, what does it matter in terms of our happiness? Original Sin was not God's first choice; yet His second choice was to dignify our humanity with the Incarnation, with a far greater dignity than we ever would've known had Eve just told the serpent to bugger off in the first place.

We are not redeemed by suffering per se, but by our ability to hope in spite of suffering. We are wholly free, yet wholly protected from everything that fallen nature can inflict upon us, so long as we resign ourselves to mercy. We choose, falter, stray, and cause one another to stumble. But Providence is far greater than our choices, and the sufferings and losses that we experience either by our own hands or by the hands of others. Our one and only power is our ability to choose, but our free will would have no power without His grace. We choose our vocation, and are even free to choose between two relatively equal goods; but our ultimate vocation remains protected.

"One Day Late" by Sam Philips

Help is coming
Help is coming one day late
One day late
After you’ve given up and all is gone
Help is coming one day late
Help is coming one day

Try to understand
You try to fix your broken hands
But remember
That there always has been good
Like stars you don’t see in the day sky
Wait ‘til night

Life has kept me down
I’ve been growing underground
Now I’m coming up
When time opens the earth
You’ll see love has been moving all around us
Making waves
So (refrain)

*Walker Percy

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