Here are the entries for our Divine Providence & You Writing Contest. We had hoped originally to get more entries, but to be perfectly honest these three were so good we would have gone crazy trying to pick just three for the prizes. Our job, we thought had been made a tiny bit easier, uh, not so much. We now have to pick the First, Second and Third Place Winners. Wow! What a job…
Tonight at 6pm EST, The Winners of the Writing Contest will be announced and the winners of the Random Drawing will be announced. Praying that the Doctor is in a good mood, Sofia just migh be there to tweet out the winners and say congratulations and hi…for just a minute! So be there and in the meanwhile, here are the entries. Read and judge for yourself…Good, huh?
BTW, We have one other separate winner we aren’t posting here. The writer and the piece will be posted at 6pm also. The explanation why will be there too. Hmmmm? See ‘ya at 6 (3pm PST) for our friends in Cali!
If one were to walk up to me, and ask me: “What is Divine Providence?” I would say:
“It is simply God acting in the world.” I believe God acts in this world constantly, but so often we don’t open our eyes.
We don’t look for it. There’s a song that I like, and while it doesn’t relate divine providence, the main line in the song is:
“Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful.” And it is, because God blesses us in so many ways.
Divine providence is always there, we just have to look. There has been some extraordinary ways in which I believe God has worked in my life,
and I do believe it’s all been Divine Providence.
I will be talking a little bit about that today. I’ll take you back in time to what my life has been like.
I’ll give everyone a taste of who the real Layna is, on a more personal note. I’ll start around middle school and junior high.
For me, I’ve always been home schooled, but during this period of time I was doing an online schooling program. It was through this online program I got wrapped up in the wrong crowd. And my Faith wasn’t strong at this point. I was basically going through the motions of my Faith. I went to Mass, I went to confession, and that’s about it. Occasionally I would pray, but never devoutly like one should. I had just moved from California to Ohio, and really didn’t have any -true- friends.
The youth group I had -tried- to get involved with, weren’t very “accepting” of me. So, I felt like a complete outcast.
I was going through a dark and lonely time. But, it was this that drove me to pray for good friends. I remember praying for months for good friends, until Summer of 06 rolled around. I was about to start 9th grade, and I remember my dad picking up a church bulletin and it advertised something called: “The Fest” (basically a huge Catholic event with Mass, games, confession, live music, etc.) My dad said I should go, and I was hesitant, because it seemed so out of my element. (This is coming from someone that was into hard rock/dark music at the time.) But, I remember calling the youth minister because he was in charge of this program, and he said he’d love to have me.
For some reason, I was still hesitant to the point where I was basically set on not going at all.
But, a force came over me. A force that said: “Go!” and I couldn’t say no to it. So, I went, and there I met my friends, and other great people that have changed my life for the better.
Especially one person in particular. He’s my best friend. And this person has taught me the true meaning of friendship. I have found that true friendship is not about sharing common interests, or hanging out all the time, that’s only a small portion. It’s about unity with each other through Christ. We are both discerning our vocation, and we have a special friendship because Christ is the center of it. We’re constantly striving to uplift each other. Not always in an emotional sense, but in a spiritual sense.
With Christ as the center of our friendship, we definitely see God working in each others lives, and it’s a beautiful thing.
I also got involved with the youth ministry program, and later on became active in Catholic Scouting.
Scouting is what broke the leadership in me out. And it was Catholic Scouting that “re-perked” my interest for the religious life, because there’s a community of Sisters 10 minutes away from where I live, and that’s where we used to have some of our meetings. I do believe this is the work of God, because if I didn’t move here, meet my friends, get involved with scouting, then I never would have known to take discernment seriously.
From everything I’ve said, it may seem like my life had been blessed by God, and everything was perfect from there on. But, I’ve gone through hell to get to where I’m at now. My heart was very divided between good and evil. Especially during 2008 into 2009. I was struggling with a problem on the side, and still had people in my life from my old online school. I was being influenced in a bad way by them. So, it was common for me to go to scouting/youth group, come home, and then basically be a completely different person. There was some sort of “attachment” there.
I remember 2008-2009 like it all just happened yesterday. I remember even though I had finally found good friends, got more involved with the Church, feeling bound in chains by the situation I was in. I wanted to break free, I strived for goodness, I desired change! But it’s like I couldn’t do any of this. This situation completely distorted my mind, that I remember this darkness took over me at one point while in Church. I remember running out of the church because I couldn’t stand being there.
Everything I looked at…the paintings…the statues….everything got twisted in my mind.
Never have I felt so far from God in my life. It felt like I had infection in my brain, that had spread.
And I hated myself for this. But, this was actually a turning point.
It was from that point on, that I truly prayed for a complete conversion.
My friends didn’t really know what was going on- I never spoke about it. But they knew I was struggling with something,
so they advised me/prayed for me in the best way that they could, and that in itself was comforting. I knew I had their support.
I remember praying and the words “Change my heart, Lord” is the main thing I said.
Over and over. In tears, I begged, I pleaded, and it wasn’t until September of 09, that I had a complete conversion.
September of 09, I went to the Eucharistic Congress in DC. When I went, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
But, I went, and there I met so many religious orders. I listened to great talks. I was surrounded by so many Catholic people,
including my own good friends from youth group. I remember going to Mass one day, and hearing beautiful music.
As I heard the beautiful singing, I was gazing upon this painting of Jesus in the National Shrine of the Basilica. I just started crying.
I felt such abundance of love and mercy fill my soul, that with my entire soul, I just said: “I want to live for you, Jesus.”
I’ve realized that this is how God works. Sometimes He lets us fall flat on our faces, in hopes that we cry out to Him, crawl back to Him, and beg Him to have mercy on us.
I believe when we beg for God’s assistance, and don’t hear from Him, He is testing us.
That in itself, is God acting through us. He’s testing to see how committed we are to Him, and how trusting we are of Him.
He is begging that we cry out to Him. Crawl back to Him. Beg Him to have mercy on us, not just with our mouth but our entire being.
My job, while it may be tough, and reflect darkness, I look at it as Divine Inspiration for what’s to come, simply because it has made me strive for more in my life.
I only see this as preperation for what God has in store fo me.
Divine providence in my life, has always taken place in times where I’ve suffered.
I suppose that’s why I enjoy talking about suffering so often- because I’ve been there.
All I can say that it’s divine providence that I’ve been given everything to crawl out of the ditches, and climb over the hills. God has given me the right friends.
And now I can start anew. There isn’t a day that goes by, where I don’t thank God for all that He has done in my life….
Guided Through Life By Divine Providence
“I am Eternal Truth, incapable of any lie. I am faithful to My promises.” – Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary
Have you given much thought to Divine Providence or how it has impacted your life? Often things happen in our life and we aren’t really sure as to why this or that happened. To have a better understanding of the meaning of Divine Providence:
The purpose, or goal, of divine providence is to accomplish the will of God. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than a depiction of God at work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power, nor do they work independently. The laws of nature are the rules and principles that God set in place to govern how things work.
This is what I believe Our Lord was saying to St. Margaret Mary, it is through his promise of never lying to us and always faithful to the promises of life eternal as long as we simply believe.
I am a convert to the Catholic Church and truly believe that this too, was an act of Divine Providence. I was born into a family to parents of different religious backgrounds. My Mother was from a rural community and worshiped in a rural Church. My Father was a “city slicker” and had attended parochial schools and was baptized Catholic. However, after the marriage, my father no longer worshiped in a church of his faith but would attend church with the family as a whole. Life was good in those days and to a child it was carefree! My mother let us visit other churches with friends and relatives and it was one of those times with a great-aunt that I knew I was destined to become Catholic. Vatican II had not yet come into play so Mass was still said in Latin but I was in awe, not by the vestments of the Priest but by how I connected within my young soul. After hearing sermons with the minister pounding his fist on the podium and raising his voice to make his message known, I was transformed at Mass by what I felt at the time to be that of holiness and a sense of feeling God’s presence. I was always an inquisitive child and I think that trait has sense transferred to my adulthood! I would ask questions relentlessly of the great-aunt in which I had attended Mass with and she did the best of her ability to explain to me as time went forward. She told me about the Rosary and it’s meaning and even gave me a small altar to place in my bedroom to put candles on. However, though at the time not fully understanding everything herself about the Catholic Faith I was instructed to give the altar back to my aunt by my mother. I soon became, sadly, bored with going to the Protestant Church as I no longer felt the connection like I had went I went to Mass. As I became a teenager and like most of you know, teen-agers at some point think they know all about everything…so I decided that I was just not going to go to church!
Bad decision! Unfortunately, like many teen-agers I fell into what is commonly referred to as the “wrong crowd.” This is not a confessional of any sorts but a means of showing you how Divine Providence led me out of the darkness.
As I reached a “mature”age, I started to seriously do some soul searching and looking at where I was at in my life. Was I pleasing God? Was I living right? By this time, I had separated myself from my family and was in a very low place or like Mother Theresa wrote about being in doubt. I was in a job that no longer made me happy for at the time I wasn’t sure what that was. I started to pray..and pray..once in a while I would think that my prayers were in vain for nothing seemed to change. One evening while driving downtown I drove past a century old Catholic Church and suddenly as if someone had flipped a switch I felt the urgent need to go to Mass and the following Sunday, I was sitting nervously in the middle of this ornate Church. I stood when the others stood and knelled when they knelled. It was on that occasion that I knew what I had to do! I called the Parish closest to my home and soon was in Catechism classes. I was belittled by those who thought was I was doing was ridiculous but I never let their words deter my intentions. I finished the classes and the following Easter was welcomed into the Church. I was elated! I finally felt that I was on the right track and then something else started to bother me, I was unhappy doing the work in which I was doing at the time. It really doesn’t matter what it was but I knew in my heart that it was not pleasing to God and that is what I wanted most in the world was to please Him and in a sense seek forgiveness for the sins of my youth. So, once again I found myself praying in earnest, often to the point of tears streaming down my face and once again…the doubt started to enter my mind. Was it really “me” having the doubts or was it Satan who was realizing he was loosing his grip on a lost soul as I no longer felt lost. This time my wait wasn’t as long as before and you know the old saying, “things don’t happen in our time but in God’s time.”
One particular day while napping I was awakened by the phone and my Aunt (by marriage) was on the other end and with an excited tone began to tell me that she thought she had met my grandmother while visiting her relative in a nursing home. I couldn’t believe my ears, I hadn’t seen my paternal grandmother nor my maternal grandparents in years…The very next day she went with me to visit her in the nursing home and guess what? Divine Providence once again became relevant and clear…It was that visit that led me to my current career as a Registered Nurse. I knew by caring for the sick, I would be able to please God with my service. Many refer to us as being “Angels” but I always scoff at that terminology and say that, “no, I am not an Angel but a servant to God.”
As my paternal grandmother lay dying, I sat beside her bed and placed the Crucifix on my Rosary upon her heart and prayed until I felt that I had swallowed a grapefruit. She would whisper, “pray for me” and I reassured her that indeed I was. I had started my nursing career in long term care but quickly and once again attribute this to Divine Providence moved to the hospital setting and I quickly applied at Catholic Hospital so I could work in a setting that reflected my faith.
I still have days where I have my doubts but they never last like they once did. I am reminded daily as I enter a patient’s room and see the Crucifix on the wall just what Our Lord sacrificed for us. I am more humbled by the suffering I see as I attribute this to the suffering Our Lord endured and it has only made my faith stronger.
One of my strongest devotions is to the Divine Mercy and I use it often when at work and caring for a terminally ill patient. As Jesus had instructed Sr.Faustina: “Unceasingly recite this chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death…Priest will recommend it to sinners as a last hope of salvation. Even the most hardened sinners, if he recites this chaplet will receive grace from My infinite mercy…Oh what great graces I will grant to souls who will recite this chaplet…By means if of it you can ask and obtain anything if what you ask for will be compatible with My will. I want the whole world to know My infinite mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who Trust [emphasis mine] My mercy.”
I feel blessed by His grace and by His mercy for it is by His Divine Providence that I am able to write about this today. Never lose your Faith and hold true to the promises that Our Lord gave to St. Margaret Mary and to countless other Saints and yes even to us if we only open our hearts and accept and Trust Him for he is ever with us.
When writing a personal story about Divine Providence, one shoud make sure not to omit the information that would answer certain simple, straightforward questions in the mind of the reader, such as the following: What did God do for you? Why did you need that? How bad off were you before God intervened? What would have happened if He had not stepped in? What good came of what God did?
For me, the answers to those questions are ultimately as simple as the questions themselves. God saved my life and my soul, literally. When our Lord acted to save me, I was at the lowest point in my life and seriously considering suicide. If God had not stepped in, I would have lost both my life and my salvation.
As I said above, at the lowest point in my life a ticket came into my hands by what some would call chance but what I know was divine providence. The ticket was to attend a Catholic Conference celebrating the Millennium. It was well after the cut off date so I couldn’t have gotten it on my own efforts. I know in my heart that God was calling me to that conference.
I am a cradle Catholic. Having been raised in the faith I had knowledge of it, but that knowledge was superficial, just memorized facts. I believed what I was told because that was how I was raised but I had no understanding of the fullness of the Catholic faith in my heart. In my late teens I started attending a Catholic university which was faithful to the Magisterium. It was at this place that I began to experience and know the fullness of the Catholic faith.
Due to health issues I had to live off campus and attend the university part-time. Over the next couple of years I began to feel lonely. I wasn’t able to see my friends nearly as much as I was previously able to, and I felt detached from my friends who were living on campus. I ended up renting a room from a lady professor, which led to my becoming acquainted with her handyman. My main focus at this time was my studies but I have to admit it was a nice feeling knowing a man was paying attention to me. After conversing with this guy for a couple of months he asked me out to lunch. We went out and I enjoyed myself. Then one afternoon He asked me to hang out with him and some of his friends at night. At the time I didn’t see any harm in going out with him.
I went out that night and let’s just say that events didn’t go as planned. Unfortunately, some of the options I was given to choose from that night were not good ones. I was so scared and I didn’t know how to get out of the situation I was in. Because of my being scared I made some bad choices in trying to avert something worse from happening to me. By the end of the night, the handyman I went out with sexually assaulted me. At the first available time I told the professor that her handyman had sexually assaulted me. Well, one would think one would respond with understanding but what came out of the professor’s mouth next shocked me. She said “I thought he didn’t have the greatest outside life but I didn’t warn you because I didn’t want to be your mother.” After having heard her response I was both shocked and upset.
At the college I started seeing a counselor to help me deal with the fact that I was sexually assaulted. At the beginning she seemed like a good counselor. I had a very frustrating experience with the police department being less than helpful to say the least. Unfortumately, I didn’t know my perpetrators last name. In addition, the police refused to ask the professor for his last name. As the semester continued tensions mounted. A couple months later this professor forced me to leave her residence. This happened right before my last exam was to take place. This caused me great stress but thankfully I found a couple of friends who were willing to put me up for a couple of nights.
During the next semester I continued with counseling. I finally heard from the police in mid-march. I picked out my assaulter’s picture out of a photo lineup. Fast forward a bit…. During the summer I the police informed me that the guy who assaulted me moved to the state where I attended college. This wasn’t good news. I was scared. After I returned to college I continued with counseling.
The previous year I had filed a complaint against the professor for her awful treatment of me after she found out that I had been sexually assaulted and for being unwilling to give up my perpetrator’s last name. During the previous year my counselor asked me to write a feelings letter and to write a journal of my feelings over a short period of time, so I did. When a person is violated, having that person write a feelings letter or journal is a therapeutic tool to help that person vent their feelings about the incident.
During the summer our previous president had retired from his post. At the beginning of the fall semester our new president was introduced to the students. I felt the need for justice to be done, to get this criminal off the streets before any other girl or woman was hurt. It had been almost a year since my sexual assault had occurred but I had hit some road blocks along the way, with regards to both the police and the university. One day I happened to see the new President, a priest, walking around campus and I asked whether I could talk with him. He said Yes. I informed him about both my situation and the complaint I had made against the professor. I asked him to look into this and he agreed to check it out. I made it clear to him that I didn’t want my complaint to be swept under the rug. Over the following week a series of events unfolded that was unexpected to say the least. Before I knew it the staff at the university had falsely accused me of the unthinkable, and had decided to suspend me for something I didn’t do. They used my feelings letter against me and accused me of threatening this professor. I didn’t do this. I never thought of doing anything of the sort. All I ever really wanted was for this man who assaulted me to be taken to court in order to prevent him from harming anyone else. I didn’t want any other woman to have to experience the horror that I experienced. In addition, I thought that the university should at least talk to the professor since she had treated me so badly.
I had formed a number of friendships at this university. This university helped me to experience the fullness of my faith. I loved and enjoyed attending this college. Its beliefs were in line with my beliefs. After I was suspended I felt like my heart was ripped right out of me. I began to ask, why did this happen to me? How could God let this happen to me? How could this university which I loved and adored treat me so horribly? I became severely depressed. I thought this college would handle my problem the correct way but they didn’t. The staff at the college stabbed me in the back, scapegoated me. It was the year 2000, and our diocese was getting ready to celebrate the mellennium with a huge conference located about a half hour drive away. But, unfortunately there weren’t any tickets left. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was meant to attend this conference. I was friends with my parish youth minister at the time so I talked with her about getting a ticket to the conference. She said that she would keep her eyes open for a ticket. Then a couple days later she gave me a call, and told me that her father became ill so I could have his ticket. This was divine providence. Now I was able to go to the conference. The millenium celebration conference took place a week after I was suspended. But, during that week I became very depressed. I was in so much pain that I thought life wasn’t worth living. I was seriously contemplating committing suicide.
I attended the Sunrise 2000 Conference. I was able to see some friends of mine from the diocese who I hadn’t seen in a long while. Seeing them was good. I really enjoyed the praise and worship in the different workshops. There was also some people from my parish who gave me support and cared so much for me during this conference it was so touching. While at the conference I felt this very strange awesome, soothing feeling come upon me. The presence of the Holy Spirit calmed me, soothed me and gave me this feeling that I was loved. God showed that he loved me. I do believe that it was divine providence that I was given a ticket when there was none left, and that it was divine providence that I attended the conference. I knew I was exactly where God wanted me.