God's Providence and Timing: My Journey to the Catholic Church - St. Bernard's

God's Providence and Timing: My Journey to the Catholic Church

Aug 29, 2023

Sarah Walters

“Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask Him; for He desires to do something even greater for you while you cling to Him in prayer.”- Evagrius Ponticus

April 6th, 2021, was a day I’ll never forget. At 12:30 am, I woke up abruptly, just two days after Easter Sunday. I nearly fell, steadying myself on a counter. Later, I sat on the floor, fearing I would faint. I began to tip over to the right, unable to walk or use my right arm properly. For one and a half hours, I lay on the floor. My physician, fearing a stroke, advised that I be rushed to the ER via ambulance.

Frightened, as this was my first ambulance trip, I prayed (as I always do) and had a premonition - a sixth sense if you will - that I would never be the same. As the ambulance raced out my tree-lined driveway while the EMT attended to me, I wondered if I would ever see my home again. I literally had nothing with me, except my New York State driver’s license and my cell phone. I wasn’t even wearing shoes. Only socks.

They won’t release me from the emergency room until I can walk. Those words terrified me more than anything I had ever heard before. So, I was determined to walk, and prayed to God that I would be able to. He answered my prayer.

When I walked (very slowly and methodically) out the front door of the ER, wearing only socks, I knew my life had changed forever.

As specialists struggled to find a diagnosis, I embarked on a journey of daily dizziness and some cognitive impairment, and forced myself to implement an entire lifestyle change.

One of those changes was to find a new church: my goal was to go back to church (I had been a life-long churchgoer), but this time I needed to find a new place of worship within a five-mile radius of my home so I didn’t have to drive very far, if the dizziness struck again. There were three or four options, and I visited all of them that summer. I had friends at some; none moved me enough to stay. Then the thought hit me, why don’t you try the Catholic Church? Terrified of that prospect, it took me about three weeks to get my courage up to “sneak” in the back door and find a pew in the very back of the parish. “I can feel the anointing in this place,” I thought. As emotion built, the last song they sang was, “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” or “Ten Thousand Reasons,” which was played in my grandmother’s room as she lay dying nearly ten years earlier.

When I heard that song, the tears started flowing and I knew I was home. Shortly thereafter, I began the process of RCIA and received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion in 2022. Eight days after my Confirmation, I began my first class here at St. Bernard’s and am working towards a Master’s degree in Theological Studies.

St. John Damascene wrote: “observe further that the ways of God’s providence are many, and they cannot be explained in words nor conceived by the mind.”

I am convinced that God, in His providence, led me to St. Bernard’s. What I didn’t say earlier is that two days before suffering my medical emergency, I drove to one of my favorite spots along the shores of Lake Erie and poured out my heart to God in prayer. Uncertain of my future, I could tell I was on the precipice of something and was desperate for His direction.

He answered that prayer too. Looking back, if I didn’t suffer that medical emergency, I would have never become Catholic, and I would have never enrolled in graduate school at St. Bernard’s. My life turned in an entirely different direction when I gave God the reigns and allowed Him to lead.

If you’re praying for something today, pray with confidence. God will hear you and will answer you, just maybe not in the way you think He will.

Listen to what it says in the Book of Daniel about prayer: “Do not fear, Daniel,” he continued, “from the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard" (Daniel 10:12).

The Lord hears your prayer instantly. But He will answer it in His perfect timing.

Sarah Walters is working on her Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. She is a former Human Resources Administrator, journalist, entrepreneur, and published author. She is also a professionally trained vocalist who has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Maryland and lives in upstate New York.