Charlie's Blog: The Fingerprints of God


The Fingerprints of God

In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences.

There are two ways that you can look at events in the world. The first and most common way is to see life as fundamentally random and chaotic. There is no pattern or meaning to any of it. If you see a pattern, this is just a coincidence. The second and less common way is to see life as determined by God and His providence. There are no coincidences. Everything is following God's plan, and you must trust the plan even if you don't see it always working. This requires faith. But sometimes, you see the fingerprints of God in the unfolding of the plan. I don't think these are accidental. I think they are intentional. God lets you know He is running the show even if you can't see the bigger picture.

A great example of this was the cross found in the wreckage and ruins of the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11. For atheists, this cross was a random thing. It would be more miraculous if they had found a star of David or something more complicated. Crosses abound in structural elements, so one was bound to find one in such wreckage. For others, the 9/11 cross was a reassurance that God was there despite the horror and evil of that day. For those people, this cross became a holy relic and a memorial.

So, which is it? Was it Providence or coincidence? You're not going to get a scientific explanation on the thing because one of the features of life is that you can see it either way. You can see God in the everyday, or you can ignore God in the everyday.

Seeing the hand of Providence in things is seeing the same thing the atheist sees but with an added dimension--the spiritual dimension. These things need to be distinguished from miracles. Miracles occur in contradiction to what we know about the way nature works. These providential signs work in accord to the way nature works. Miracles are rare things which is what makes them miracles. These providential signs are extremely common. They don't matter to the atheist, but they matter very much to the believer.

One of the fingerprints of God could be seen when lightning struck St. Peter's Basilica after the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI. For real Catholics, this was an omen of divine displeasure and bad things to come. Since then, that is exactly what has happened as the pontificate of Pope Francis has been an undisputed disaster. Do I believe God sent us a message with this? I do.

You could see more fingerprints of God in the fire at Notre Dame de Paris. The image of the golden cross from the interior of the cathedral went viral. People also saw Jesus in the flames, and many trad Catholics noted that the spire that collapsed hit the Novus Ordo Cranmer table altar but left the high altar untouched. The fact that this cathedral can actually be rebuilt seems miraculous to say the least. In all of these things, we God's hand of Providence.

The scoffing atheist will say that if Providence was working then God should have providentially prevented this fire. The fact is that God has preserved this great work for 800 years, and it seems destined to continue on.The atheist says, "So, what?" The survival of the cathedral is just a coincidence, and its near but not total destruction is also a coincidence. Providence is never allowed in the atheist worldview. Nothing will ever suffice for the atheist. The spiritual dimension of things does not exist for them.

Sometimes, you get the ridiculous as when the Virgin Mary appeared in a grilled cheese sandwich. What makes this absurd is the fact that it was a grilled cheese sandwich. If it was the bloodstained shirt of a Catholic martyr, then it becomes a divine fingerprint. Otherwise, this is seeing a pattern in the noise. What if it had been Scooby-Doo instead of Our Lady?

Believers know the difference between the divine and the absurd. The fingerprints of God always inspire a sense of awe and reassurance usually in the midst of calamitous events. God has a modus operandi. Before or after a calamitous and troubling event or series of events, God sends a sign to His people to give them a reassurance for the dark days ahead. The most famous of these is the Transfiguration from the gospels.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus took His disciples up on a mount where He had a glorious meeting with Moses and Elijah. This awesome event should have been enough to establish who Jesus was. It should have reassured the faith of His disciples for the dark days ahead. It didn't. They abandoned Him in His darkest hour. Only St. John the Apostle was found with the Blessed Mother at the foot of cross. Seeing should be believing, but it isn't. How could they forget this and all the other miracles?

For myself, being a former atheist and a Catholic convert gives me two sets of glasses. I put on one pair of glasses when I wish to see things skeptically. I put on the other when I want to see the deeper reality. My recent accident was miraclous because I lived. The EMT crew said they expected to pull dead bodies from the wreckage. It was the second worst accident they had seen. I saw the worst accident which took out a bridge and killed the driver on impact. I never thought I would be number two to that.

Since the accident, it has become NO BIG DEAL. The amazing thing is how the amazing becomes the ordinary after just a few days. But I felt God protecting me through all of that ordeal just as He protects me today. I will not forget what God did for me. But the atheist part of me wonders why God let it happen in the first place.

God tests you. You can read this for a deeper treatment of this subject. I know God wished to test me with this trial which I am still enduring as I write this. You don't get all the answers in this life. But you do get enough to know that God is real, and He is working His plan. This should be enough to trust the plan.

I confess that I have experienced enough to know that God is real. But I am not mature enough to trust that He knows what He is doing. Some part of me suspects that God is either evil or incompetent. The world and the Roman Catholic Church are such a mess. Many of my prayers go unanswered. Yet, I have witnessed my own transfigurations. I am caught between things I have witnessed and know to be both divine and absolutely true and the things I am at loss to explain or understand. I have seen both the miracle and the atrocity.

The lesson I have learned is that it is easy to believe but very hard to trust. I believe in God's existence. I believe He has a plan. I also believe that I am going to get busted up in that plan. It's like having the best pilot on a plane that you know is going to crash, but you will survive.

The simple fact is that the miraculous and the calamitous go hand in hand. The experience of Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun was the biggest and most witnessed miracle next to the Resurrection. Yet, it foretold the worst century humanity has ever endured in terms of bloodshed and social upheaval. The 21st century promises to be even worse.

I see God's fingerprints on everything. I see them daily in the things I read in the news and in the experiences of my daily life. These fingerprints tell me three things. God is real, and He is in control. God has a plan. TRUST THE PLAN.