My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Providence Lane is named after the house which was established there by the Saint whom we honour today, Mother Mary of the Cross Mackillop. The place was to be a shelter for destitute women and children. St Mary of the Cross called such a place the Providence. The name which she gave to other similar places in Australia and New Zealand expressed her profound belief in Divine Providence. That’s why the Scripture Readings for this Solemnity are all about Divine Providence because belief in Divine Providence nurtured and sustained Mother Mary of the Cross. No one could accuse her of being lazy. She did take seriously God’s commandment to work six days a week but she also lived each and every weekday according to what Jesus said in the Gospel. Six times as if for each day of work during the week Jesus urged his disciples, including us, not to worry. God who created this whole world in six days as the Book of Genesis tells us, rested on the seventh day, but he hasn’t retired. He still creates, though this time not out of nothing but out of our successes and failures. St Mary of the Cross had many successes but she also had a lot of failures, but nothing could stop her from speaking about God as ‘Our good God.’ She didn’t change it when she was misunderstood and unjustly treated even by the people of the Church. She didn’t change it when at the age of 59 suffered a stroke and had to use a wheelchair. God was still ‘Our good God.’ Trusting Divine Providence was her driving force.
Providence means ‘to see in advance’ but it doesn’t apply to us. In the midst of what is occurring to us, particularly things which are painful: physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially etc. our vison is clouded. We are short-sighted. However our good God can see in advance. Therefore we trust him even when what happens to us could discourage us from keeping on going. But we do, like Mother Mary of the Cross did because our God can see in advance.
In 1870 the news reached Australia that the Pope lost the city of Rome, which for more than a thousand years was his dominion. The new country which was to be called Italy was emerging. When most of the people, including the Pope and his advisors, were thinking that it was the end, that the Pope had lost his importance and influence Mother Mary of the Cross said: ‘The will of God is at work there too… God will be glorified…’ She was right. What seemed to be a terrible loss was just losing the burden which the Pope didn’t need. The Pope lost the large territories but found the spiritual authority. The Pope wasn’t now a king but he was a father. St Mary of the Cross didn’t know that at that time but she believed that God saw in advance therefore she prayed her favoured prayer:
‘Divine Providence can provide, Divine Providence did provide, Divine Providence will provide. O merciful and all-provident God, hear our prayers and grant our petitions.’
The little Providence Lane is squeezed between high-rises of East Melbourne which make you search for some opening in the sky. Standing there you feel like at Mass when the priest urges the people: ‘Lift up your hearts.’ In the Providence Lane you do want to ‘Lift up your heart to the Lord,’ our good God who sees in advance, who sees further than we do. We trust him.