Last month we celebrated the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25, a solemnity within the penitential season of Lent. That morning, as on so many others these days, I celebrated my 6:30 morning Mass at Christ Cathedral, which is live streamed. As I was beginning the celebration, I walked past, in the procession into the cathedral, my coat of arms. My coat of arms, and the day of the Annunciation have something in common: The cross in the lower left-hand segment of my coat of arms is the French Cross, which is to acknowledge both the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians) who originated in France. And, March 25, the Annunciation, is the day when all of the Daughters of Charity renew their vows, a provision included in the “rule” of the Daughters from the very beginning. The Daughters of Charity and the Vincentians both taught at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, where I attended, and both of these same communities have a long history here in California.
I mention both of them (The Daughters and the Vincentians) because there is a thread in the spirituality and history of the Vincentian family that teaches about God’s Providence. I heard that often in the seminary from our rector at the time, Fr. Art Trapp CM. Father Trapp was a great role model for me and, in fact, was from Oxnard here in California originally! I believe that the times we are now in can reflect God’s providence to us, and I would like to turn to a reflection by Fr. Richard McCullen, CM, a former Superior General of the Vincentians:
In an address and reflection to the Vincentians in the former “Iron Curtain” countries in 1990, Fr. McCullen said:
“St. Vincent had a profound devotion to the Providence of God. He believed that God, in His kindness, was leading us all the time. As St. Vincent saw things, it was important that we should allow God to lead us and not rush ahead of Him. It is God who leads, not we, Him. ‘ The works of God have their moments,’ wrote St. Vincent, ‘His providence brings them about at one particular point in time, neither sooner nor later.’
It is the Providence of God that has led you through the dark tunnel of fear, of suspicion, and apprehension, into the new light of day that is presently dawning. It is the Providence of God that has preserved you until now. It is the Providence of God that has given you new freedom. The Providence of God may have led you through a dark valley, but now you have been brought into a place of fresh and open pastures.”
Fr. Trapp had reflected to me that exactly one time when he said, “Kevin don’t be two steps ahead of where God wants you to be!”
Let us, in these days of challenge and uncertainty, trust in the Providence of God, let God then be with us and lead us through to a better and new day. Let the Lord lead us through the “dark valley” to where He is taking us, and not rush ahead without Him!