The summer before my Senior Year in college, I was all set to go on a pretty amazing month long pilgrimage through the Holy Land, Greece, Medjugorje, and Rome. Now, whether you agree with the apparitions of the third location of the trip is up to you and not the point of this story. It is interesting to mention that the group of pilgrims included a few friends of mine from college as well as my future wife, with whom I was involved in a beautiful courtship.
Due to medical reasons, I had to miss the first week of the trip in the Holy Land. I was not going to go at all, but at the last minute decided to meet my group in Athens. However, the only flight I could get arrived one day in the ancient city before my fellow pilgrims. We planned on meeting at the bus that would take us to the port where we would catch the Cruise ship taking us to Patmos and a few other Greek Islands.
My thoughts on the plane: 1) go to a Mass as soon as you get to Athens. 2) Ask priest if you can sleep in a pew for the night.
It turns out that the Church I picked to go to, happened to be the only Catholic Church in Athens with a priest who was able to speak English. He was a Filipino priest named Fr. Arthur. He let me stay and took me to a cool restaurant where we sang songs from Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. He also helped me buy a bus ticket to the airport.
The next day, I went to morning Mass and hopped on the first bus. I noted that the time was getting close and prayed for God’s help. The bus trip was taking longer than I had planned. I arrived at the airport and began to look for the bus that was going to the port. I finally found it and boarded.
Although it was probably only a few minutes that passed, I began to get a little nervous. The plane should have already landed and there was only one other person on the bus. I asked him if I could use his phone to call my pilgrimage leader and he proceeded to point to the airport and told me to use the pay phones inside.
I grabbed my suitcase, walked off the bus and through the automatic doors of the airport. Members of my group along with my future bride were standing about five feet in front of me. My wife did not know I was joining the trip and it was very exciting to surprise her and other members of the group.
It turns out they were stopped at that spot in order to wait for fellow pilgrims to catch up. Once they did, we were all off to the bus. However, it was not the bus I was originally on. It was a private bus that took us to the port and we almost arrived too late, but made it just in time to board the ship.
Basically, if I had not gotten off the public bus and tried to use the phone, I would have missed my group and possibly my boat. I am sure that God could have fixed whatever mess I caused, but I put the whole trip in His hands from the beginning and, trusting in Him, took each step in hopes of doing His will.
Something that is good to remember before I continue is that there is nothing special about me. God wants to do this for everyone. If we seek His Will over our own, He will do great things. Not to put me on the same level, but two other people who worked to put God’s Will over their own were Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, a holy married couple who happen to be the first married couple canonized together in the history of the Church.
Both Saints Zelie and Louis wanted to do God’s Will by living their lives consecrated to Him in the Religious life. However, at the very moment that Louis saw Zelie for the first time, God told him that he would marry her. Louis recognized God’s plan for His life. He put aside what he thought he originally should do and married Zelie, whom he truly loved. The two holy people were able to raise a Holy family of girls who would all grow up to become nuns. The most famous of which is St. Therese of Lisieux.
Distant Clockmaker or Loving Father
Here we have two examples of God taking an interest in human circumstances. I truly believe that He guided me to meet up with my pilgrimage and I also believe that he guided the parents of St. Therese to meet and marry one another. Notice that each person never has his or her free will taken away in either story. Everyone is free. However, I think that in both cases, through seeking God’s will, all people chose correctly as they allowed God to guide them.
God is not a distant Clockmaker who built the World, set it into motion, and stepped away to see what would unfold. He is a Loving Father who designed everything and is constantly at work to bring about good from the choices humans make. We are all apart of His plan and it is true of all of us what He tells His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 –
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
God knew us before we were formed in the womb. He knows what we will be, do, and who we will meet, befriend, and marry. As a Loving Father, He has a great design for us. I think that in this design, our Loving Father has a vocation in mind for us, whether it be through marriage, ordination to the priesthood, or religious. He has a great plan that He works to guide us to find, and in turn by finding this vocation we will find completion, joy, and peace.
A Father Concerned With Even the Little Things
We can see that Our God is a Loving Father who takes care of even the little things through Sacred Scripture, but it is most specifically in John’s Gospel that we read about the Wedding Feast at Cana. It’s at this wedding that Jesus performs a miracle for an newlywed couple that needs more wine. That’s right, Jesus performed His first miracle making sure a newly wedded couple had enough wine at their wedding. This absolutely proves that God cares about the mundane little things in our lives.
Furthermore, in my own personal life, God has come through for my family and I even for the little things. We have had the help of St. Anthony in finding various lost items. We have had healings through the help of St. Philomena and Our Lady of Lourdes.
Akin to Sts. Zelie and Louis, I have heard countless stories of friends and strangers being brought together through God’s guiding hand. One of my friends left a ring at a statue of Mary asking her to have the woman he felt God already calling him to pursue to wear it. Soon, without any interference on his own part, he saw the woman, whom he would later marry and start a family with, with the ring on her finger.
Soulmates or Sole mates
I have always thought that God had prepared my wife and I for each other. Yes, we need to choose to love one another each day by serving one another and working to put the needs of the other before our own. Still I think that God wanted us to be together, and He wanted this since we were both formed in our mother’s wombs.
We can see something similar in each Priest being called to be the bridegroom to the Church. Priests are called to the celibate state and to serve the Church. Married people are called to chastity as well and to serve one another.
Free will is still at play as we still are free to choose to say yes or no. In the same case that Mary was able to say Yes or No, but she gave her yes. If she said no, God was able, just like He is with anyone of us, to make good out of her choice. And, unlike Mary, many people do say no to marriage, just like many people say no to the religious or priestly life.
Regardless if I am right or wrong in my stance on soulmates, we can know for certain that God is at work in each and every one of our lives. He is trying to guide us to Himself so that we can find His Peace and then share this with others. While in college, I read a well-written book called Arms of Love, and its sequel, Surrender. Sorry to be a bit of a spoiler, but in one of those books a person discovered that they were meant for the single life. Once they realized and accepted this truth, and gave in to what God had planned for them, they were overcome with His peace.
We are all called to love as it is stated in Chapter 5 of the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium. This is universal and should be sought in every state and stage of life. Furthermore, we are called to surrender ourselves and seek God’s will. His plan is amazing. It can be scary to take that step where we have never been before, but we must trust that He is in control.