I’ve started talking with a Protestant reader via e-mail about the Eucharist: what the Early Church Fathers believed, whether that belief was consistent with the New Testament, and whether the New Testament’s depiction is supported by the Old Testament.
I decided to send him a copy of Fr. James O’Connor’s The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist, because it’s probably the best book I’ve read on the subject of what the Church Fathers believed. The first half of the book is almost exclusively lengthy quotes from the Fathers themselves, with helpful notes added by Fr. O’Connor to explain confusing passages. He even personally translated one of Augustine’s homilies on the subject into English for the first time. The book is a pretty easy read (particularly considering the subject), while the footnotes are chock full of scholarly information for those seeking to delve even deeper (for example, he’ll often have footnotes explaining why he translated something one way instead of another).
While I already own the book, given the choice between (a) shipping him my copy to ship back, and (b) just buying him a used copy off of Amazon, option (b) seemed easier. The first time I went to purchase a copy of the book, though, I accidentally sent it to myself (my default Amazon shipping address), and couldn’t seem to fix it before it shipped. So in addition to buying him the book, I also bought myself an extra copy of the book.
Then, on Sunday, we were having brunch after church, and my friend Ryan had his copy of the book (I’ll go ahead and point out that this was a strange coincidence). John, a seminarian friend who was in town, mentioned how much he’d been wanting to read it.
But since John was going back to New York right away, it didn’t make sense to try and borrow Ryan’s copy. Suddenly, my extra copy was incredibly handy. After explaining what had happened a few nights earlier, we organized a grand swap: Ryan gave his copy to John, and I’ll be giving one of my two copies to Ryan. It all worked out beautifully, and all by Providential accident.
I find that these sort of accidents happen quite often: where through some seemingly random event or even my own mistakes, God is able to draw some benefit: seemingly random things come together perfectly in a way where His Design can be briefly glimpsed. Anyone else have any stories to share about the work of the “Providential accidents” in their own lives?