Abandonment to Divine Providence

Blog Published: November 13, 2008
By Sister Julie

Providentia providebit. Providence provides. I learned the phrase from the Oblate Sisters of Providence when I first met them over 10 years ago. As I’ve gotten to know them through the years, heard their stories, worked side by side with them, and listened to how Providence is alive in their lives and congregation, my own spirituality and indeed how I see my IHM life and tradition has grown, helping me to see that Providence pervades my whole life.

Providentia providebitI wrote recently about the Oblate Sisters of Providence on the occasion of the IHM Sisters’ Founders Day. Deerose commented on the post and had a question for the Oblate Sisters: “Does your charism have anything to do with the theology/philosophy behind the classic, Abandonment to Divine Providence?” I checked in with a couple of Oblate Sisters for their response. Sister Alice, OSP, sent me this response:

“Abandonment to Divine Providence” as described by the theologians, for example, Caussade, is truly what we are all about. Providence Spirituality is dependence upon God as Provider of all our needs, including our spiritual welfare. Whatever we have, we know that it is gift of the spirit and we must use it wisely and share it generously. As our Statement of Charism says:

The original inspiration of the Oblate Sisters of Providence is that gift of the Spirit, so evident in the life of Mother Mary Lange.

This charism enables us, with total trust in God’s Providence, to bring joy, healing and the liberating redemptive life of the suffering Jesus to the victims of poverty, racism and injustice despite contradictions, prejudice and pain.

What is your experience of Providence? How does the experience of Providence express itself in your life, your prayer, daily living?

Archived Comments

Eleanor Burne-Jones November 13, 2008 at 10:28 am

Does this mean they are reluctant to work for social justice?

Leoneli November 13, 2008 at 10:40 am

Hi Sister Julie, your blog looks very neat, I love it. I enjoy reading your posts so I added you to my blogroll. Thank you for inspiring me.

Sister Julie November 13, 2008 at 10:42 am

Eleanor, Thanks for writing in. The Oblate Sisters of Providence are not in the least reluctant to work for social justice. In fact, they are individually and collectively one of the most active workers for social justice. The OSP Sisters work tirelessly to help people who have experienced injustice AND to eradicate systems that perpetuate injustice. And like Jesus, they do so from the depths of their relationship with God.

Leoneli November 13, 2008 at 10:45 am

My understanding of divine providence as a lay person is this: When I can’t, God can. I do my part and it’s God’s divine providence who will supply all that I need to do my part. He always finds a way when there seem to be no way.

Sister Julie November 13, 2008 at 10:47 am

Thanks for writing, Leoneli. That’s a good way to describe Providence active in our life. And thank you for the link to your blog! Looking forward to checking it out. Blessings.

ChristineH November 13, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hi Sister Julie! “Abandonment to Divine Providence” is a book that I have read as part of my discernment journey. To me, it means that God is always there, providing all that I need, sometimes before I know or realize that I need His help. It also means that God works within His own time – not mine – and as I’m prone to impatience, this is a lesson that I continually learn over and over again. Blessings.

Sr. Marcia November 15, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to Eleanor, but I’ve been working on vocation presentations. Anyway, what I think I’m hearing you ask (and please correct me if I’m wrong) is whether the Oblates and other Providence communities (there are about 13 of us) just sit back and wait for God to work. No indeed! It means we ask God for our needs, while doing the work that needs to be done. If that were the case, Mother Mary Lange (foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence) would never have stepped out in faith and founded a school for children of color in 1828 in a slave state, several decades before the Civil War. Our sisters have historically worked with the poor and marginalized, especially in the African American community, in schools and parishes in the United States, Cuba and Costa Rica. Our sisters have also been involved in anti-abortion protests, boycotts against Wal-Mart and a major healing racism project (with the IHMs). Yes, we work for social justice.

John November 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm

According to Cassade, abandonment has little to with sitting around and waiting…it is about actively responding to God’s will! Every thing that happens I life is a part of His design, our vocation is to actively respond in a way that will enable us to better know, love and serve Him. I read Cassade while I traveled to see my Dad who was to undergo surgery for a brain tumor. It completely changed my response to this very difficult situation. My brothers shied from situations where my father was weakened or needed assistance with basic bodily functions. It was easy to leave it to Mom. This too was my nature! Cassade revealed these situations as opportunities to share in the redemtive nature of my dad’s suffering and to be Christ to my dad and family. To lean forward and find ways to ease my dad’s pain, support my mom, communicate with out of town relatives, etc. Respond like Christ calls me to respond! What was a health crisis became a transformative spiritual journey that brought me closer to my parents and my God.

Eleanor Burne-Jones November 17, 2008 at 11:37 pm

That’s fascinating, thanks very much. I will go do more reading on this! Warmest blessings.

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