Of providence & order

Trust in Providence is an attitude of mind, installed at conception, but later it becomes a choice. On this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary we recall the place of choice in human history: of God’s choice of the path to redemption for fallen, sinful man. It was not our choice. God chose Mary; and then, Mary chose God.

Much would follow, along this path, but in this moment the miraculous die is cast, and events beyond the comprehension of this world are set in motion. To my poetical imagination, it is the most extraordinary possible course. God will continue to surprise us, by doing things in the most unlikely ways. His providence is founded in unutterable mystery, yet it is plain and simple. A Savour will be born of a perpetual virgin, in the mystery of the Incarnation. What could be simpler than that?

The Feast, I gather, is much older or earlier in the East than in the West. In some respects we Catholics are still catching up, not so much with the East as with what is called the Deposit of Faith. Such information as we required was there from the beginning. Yet after two thousand years, and more, it is still surprising us. Nothing in this world makes sense, until it will be ordered in the womb; our own little lives can make no sense. Providence, for the heathen, is unaccountable. Good things happen, and bad.

There are floods, hurricanes, earthquakes. There are terrible plagues; there is war and death. There is not only the fact but the history of human suffering — none of which could ever have been felt had we not existed. And there is also Love, which I type with a capital L, for in the absence of Incarnation it is strange beyond inscrutable. We live in this odd, and in the ancient sense comical circumstance of, “Love among the ruins.” (It is the title of a poem by Robert Browning.)

Our Holy Mother, this Theotokos, “Mother of God,” is our guide through wilderness of our own making — the wilderness not of this Earth, but in the heart of man. She will show us to Our Lord. Always there was Providence; always there will be. In the beginning was our end; in the end is our beginning. We live in a place that is indestructibly ordered.