December 22, 2006

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Cherish the gift of Providence at Christmas

Sean GallagherWe are fast approaching the end of what could well be described as the “Year of Providence” for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

In February, we learned that the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints had cleared the way for the canonization of now St. Theodora Guérin, the foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

In July, Pope Benedict XVI announced the date on which the canonization liturgy would take place.

And, of course, on that grand Oct. 15 morning, hundreds of Catholics from across the archdiocese were at St. Peter’s Square in Rome to witness the solemn declaration of Indiana’s first saint.

All these moments were once-in-a-lifetime events to be remembered and cherished forever by the faithful throughout central and southern Indiana.

But as Christmas is now only days away, perhaps this year’s focus on a holy woman’s trust in Providence can lead us to do the same and to see it as a gift greater than those we’ll unwrap on the morning of Dec. 25.

Our heavenly Father not only provides for our needs. Through my experience of life with my family, I have become convinced that he also provides those things that can make life truly sweet.

This happens in ordinary ways, such as when my son, Michael, takes joy in opening up one more door on our Advent calendar or blowing out the candles on our Advent wreath.

But God makes life sweet in big ways, too.

God has already blessed my wife and I with two wonderful young sons. And in recent months, we learned that we have been blessed with another child that is due to be born sometime next May.

While the gift of children is always a blessing, there comes with them the necessity to provide for their needs.

In recent years, this has become increasingly difficult as the cost of those things that all of us truly need—medical care, heating, gasoline and food, among others—seem to have increased faster than our incomes.

But seen through the eyes of faith, such circumstances are but an invitation to trust in the Providence of God all the more.

It is in these instances, then, that the words of St. Theodora can lift us up:

“If you lean with all your weight upon Providence, you will find yourself well supported.”

Admittedly, sometimes that is hard to do when large bills stare us in the face.

But when we step away and turn our vision, in a sense, behind us to our own history, we quickly realize that if God has provided so well for our needs in the past, we can trust that he will do so once again.

In any case, at this time of year when we share gifts of sweaters and sweets, ties and toys, we can find comfort and strength in the definitive sign that our heavenly Father will indeed provide for all our needs: the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. †

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