“…I see all in the order of Providence.” (to Julia Scott) – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, from Elizabeth Bayley Seton, Collected Writings 2, 642.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is enjoying Restaurant Week. (Remember those?) Maybe she is meeting her friend Julia at their favorite nook. Elizabeth’s few words: “…the order of Providence” inspired this unique concept. Each entrée on the menu features providence at its best.

To see “all in the order of Providence” suggests Elizabeth must have reflected deeply on every aspect of her life, including those hardships that felt acutely “out of order.” The struggles she endured perhaps left her questioning God, feeling bereft or miffed for a time.

“Order” suggests predictability, stability. “Providence” implies God’s limitless and complete presence. Providence’s “raison d’être” (reason for being), may well be “made to order” – to rely on a steadfast God underpinning each trial of life. To be sure of a predictable Presence through every experience and emotion inflicted on the heart and soul. As life readily demonstrates, the workings of Providence are clearer in retrospect. Sometimes a major setback is but an inherent lead-in to God’s deeper plan at work.

Elizabeth came to “see all” as God’s Providence. Moreover, Providence informs all of life. It guides the past in order to enlighten the present – from city socialite to country school teacher. Providence offers hope and healing through the happy and hard times – from wife to widow; bearing five children to burying two of them. Providence embraces pain and holds promise – from bankruptcy to trail blazing; a motherless childhood to Mother of Charity in America. Although Elizabeth Seton’s life was hardly predictable, Providence was certain.

No prices are listed on the menu. God’s order of providence is freely given, abundant, unlimited. “Come, eat without money, drink without cost.” (Isaiah 55). And best to remember: God delivers.

All in the Order of Providence

Imagine the Master Chef
creating providence for you,
adding just the right seasoning
when you find yourself in a stew.

Such culinary skills are vast
And the recipes are precise,
God will score and beat the odds
Knowing when to fold, cube or dice.

Providence is made to taste
And if you are feeling creamed,
God will sweat it out with you,
Lower the heat when you’re steamed.

Marinating, sifting, blending
The Spirit’s stirring makes way,
Providence is perfected
Served as your daily entrée.

When life goes sour at best,
Feeling pickled, pinched or fried,
God is curing and binding
Until each dearth is fortified.

Providence seems off the menu
When strained by adversity’s slice,
Yet God is in every morsel,
Every dash, dollop, sprig and spice.

A specialty and signature dish
The Master Chef will provide,
all in the order of providence
rendered, infused, and clarified.

– Catherine Salani (SC collaborator, educator, artist)

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