NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Spiritual Serendipity"

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose."

~ Romans 8:28

SERENDIPITY.  I like how it sounds; the way it feels while I'm saying it; and I like what it means.  According to one online resource, the word Serendipity generally means, "... the act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it"; another resource refers to it as a "fortunate coincidence".

In recent months I've had quite a few moments of "spiritual serendipity" - coincidental events that, upon further reflection, were personal affirmations and encouragement from above. Countless people have had such experiences and I strongly believe that it's just one way God confirms that He really exists and that He maintains an interactive relationship with the Faithful; it's not a one-sided relationship, at all, when it comes to our faith-relationship with the Lord.  He's truly alive and he's concerned with our concerns.

In the two recent serendipitous moments I decided to share below, I was actually able to capture something concrete, via photos I took at the time. Our Lady's intercession was involved and it just goes to show how interactive she is, as well, with us - her spiritual children. I expect that most people will probably judge me a fool or not "all there"... or maybe both, but it's all fine with me. What matters to me is that I got something positive out of these experiences... and who knows?  There may be a reader out there who receives a needed spiritual affirmation, as well.

Small grains of rice; BIG message...

A few months ago I was having dinner while watching television at the same time. I recall the news program I was viewing had something to do with abortion and, as I continued watching, it was evident that the program was slanted towards the pro-choice view of the abortion issue. I was troubled and offered silent prayers, asking God to forgive the world for what we are doing to innocent, unborn babies. I then thought of the Blessed Mother and how her Immaculate Heart must also hurt because of the deaths of so many children... and I apologized to her, too.

Shortly after, I glanced down and noticed that a few grains of rice had fallen off my fork unto the granite counter top, and what I saw was serendipitous, to say the least. The sticky white rice was clumped together in the form of a white silhouette against the dark granite, which to me, oddly enough, evoked a tiny figure of a woman sitting (or kneeling) with her knees bent, and holding a bundle - the Madonna and Child! If abortion wasn't a serious topic, I might have thought of the image as somewhat amusing. However, as I stared down, I had the sad conviction that our Holy Mother was trying to convey something important to me; that the bundle she cradled represented ALL babies waiting to be born and that she was profoundly grieved by abortion. In my mind a clear thought also formed, which almost seemed like an audible voice - the voice I "heard" said: "Yes, they [the unborn] are my children, too."

... and another remarkable cloud formation

This second photo was taken this past Saturday, 4/8, the eve of Palm Sunday, after the vigil Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua. Perhaps because of the somber theme associated with Holy Week, I was feeling melancholic and spiritually "dry". Plus, I had been stressed and tired from the past work week and, despite myself, had a hard time focusing during the long Gospel reading about our Lord's Passion.  It made me feel even worse.

After the Mass finished I walked out to my car and happened to look up into the sky to admire the bright blue sky... and there I saw it - a ghostly figure that stood out like a sore thumb among the wispy clouds and it looked remarkably like a common depiction of the Blessed Virgin. In fact, Our Lady of Fatima instantly came to mind since the image closely resembled a Fatima statue with its long white veil and hands joined together in prayer, just minus the large crown. It was all so clear... plus it held its form until I finally took a photo! Incidentally, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Fatima apparitions and I'm happy to report that my parish has been diligently exercising a First Saturday Rosary Devotionuninterrupted, for 6+ years.

I suddenly felt uplifted - refreshed - and thanked our Lord and our Heavenly Mother for that moment of spiritual serendipity. It was a much needed boost and the inspiration that came to me as I gazed at the cloud-formation was simple - I felt that Our Lady was encouraging perseverance and prayerful trust in God. At the same time, I was assured that she was praying for me, too. It's a comforting notion that could apply to any believer who finds himself/herself in a time of personal challenge, whatever that challenge may be.

Another photo of the "Fatima Virgin cloud" with a photo of the statue used at
the Fatima shrine in Portugal for comparison.  The resemblance is striking.

I don't expect people to read this and arrive at the very same conclusion as me about the situations and photos described above... it's completely understandable. But the main point I hope readers will get is that God exists and is continually reaching out to all of us; He's highly interactive, but often communicating with us in surprising and unexpected ways... even through things that may seem insignificant at first (like an odd-looking cloud, a small piece of crumpled kleenexor a few small grains of rice!).

But if we view life's many moments through the eyes of faith and, are open to God's limitless possibilities, we may just recognize that certain oddball moments are indeed instances of "spiritual serendipity" - little signs or reminders from Heaven - that are timely... wondrous... affirmative... encouraging... enlightening... and definitely meaningful. We just need to always remember - anything is possible when it comes to God... and "all things work together for good" for those who love Him.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

~ Psalm 19:1-4

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