By Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M.

Nov. 19 we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of spanine Providence. In the image, Mary leans over the Christ Child, who in an attitude of complete trust sleeps peacefully on her lap. The Virgin’s hands are folded in prayer while she gently supports her Son’s left hand. The whole carving suggests tenderness, abandonment, devotion and peace. Pope Paul VI, by a decree signed on Nov. 19, 1969, declared Our Lady of spanine Providence principal patroness of the island of Puerto Rico.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “spanine Providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all His creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end” (No. 321). God has destined creation for an ultimate perfection yet to be attained. God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of His children’s smallest needs. {{more}}

In spanine providence we put our trust in a God who never promised us instant success and who frequently writes our history straight with crooked lines. Trusting in spanine providence we proclaim the kingdom of God in a society where there is confusion and turmoil. We accept these imperfections while seeking to change them confident in God’s plan for all of us.

Let’s look around us and celebrate the lives of those who have modeled trust in God’s providence. I remember the founders of my religious community, Father Gillet and Sister Theresa Maxis. Theirs was by no means a passive trust in God’s providence. Loyal to God’s love, they strove to find the will of God in everyday choices. Because of their willingness to trust in the providential love of God, they were able to found the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1845.

So often, our plans may seem to be interrupted – especially when faced with our limitations and vulnerabilities. These are the times when we most need to remember God’s love us and care for us. In trust, we are invited to place ourselves on Mary’s lap recognizing that nothing finds its way into our lives by chance: “(T)he whole of our lives, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s spanine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.