God’s love takes the form of tender loving care
Sister Mary Montgomery and the Sisters of Providence recently hosted our 2017 Retreat for Busy Catholic Moms. The weekend is filled with many different activities including a special focus on Our Lady of Providence. One mother who was not familiar with the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Providence shared her experience:
“When I arrived for a weekend retreat for Busy Moms hosted by the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, I looked forward to a brief respite from my hectic life and the opportunity to visit the famed shrine of Saint Mother Theodore. Honestly I had no idea that there was a shrine to Our Lady of Providence there. This was not an image I even had any clue how to understand.
As a convert, I had grown to cherish Mary despite my initial unfamiliarity with her veneration. But “Providence” in particular was not a vocabulary word I would have associated with Mary. Upon reflection, I believe this is due to my Protestant background. I was only familiar with the Calvinist-influenced understanding of “Providence” as fate, predestination … a rigid notion vastly removed from Mary’s love for all people.
Hence, I was confused by the painting there which depicts Mary as Our Lady of Providence. Here, Mary is tenderly holding her baby boy, gazing into his eyes while his fingers endearingly hold her hand. What this had to do with fate and predestination completed eluded me. I felt confused. What was this sweet portrait doing here, precisely, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Providence?
Well, reader, I googled it. Guess what. Providence indicates God’s love. God’s love could, I suppose, come in the form of God setting your life course for you: fate, predestination. But here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Providence, God’s love takes a different form. Here, God’s love takes the form of tender loving care.
This loving care is evident throughout the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore where ideas offered for reflection about God’s providence. The reader is reminded of God’s patient support; God’s providing (providence!) “pathways and ports … protection and perseverance.” God is portrayed through an understanding of the help God offers. It’s not that God precludes suffering but that God never stops offering the figurative TLC we all need when we fall or get hurt.
And how much bolder can a person be if he or she believes that, no matter how bad things get, God will still be there to offer some TLC. Toddlers are emboldened by knowing their parents are there to offer TLC when they fall or get hurt. So much the same for us. Indeed this clearly animated Saint Mother Theodore as she boldly undertook what her doctors called a “suicide mission” to the wilderness of Indiana.
And so that is the lesson I have learned. I face hardships and heartbreak, and more than anything fear and anxiety, and I often have wondered: where is God? But now I can see that God will be always be there, to provide “pathways and ports”; Mary will be there to offer TLC. This realization is of tremendous comfort to me. I feel I can be brave so long as I don’t have to be brave alone. And now I don’t.”