Ruth McGoldrick, SP, a Sister of Providence from Holyoke, MA and also co-founder of the Women of Providence in Collaboration, has generously shared with me a presentation she did for their Associates.  I intend to share that with all of you in parts or sections in this blog.  So here is Part Four.

The Commingling of Simplicity and Complexity in Providence Spirituality

In our Provident God there is a marvelous commingling of simplicity and complexity and we have that same commingling in ourselves.

            The word ecology comes from the Greek word for “a home” or a “place in which we live.”   Ecology is the study of organisms “at home where they live and interact with other living and non-living things.”  Most ecosystems maintain a dynamic stability until some big change disrupts the patterns of the relationships. If the change is great enough, the whole ecosystem can collapse and die

           In St. Luke’s Gospel of Providence, Jesus warns us against upsetting the delicate balances in our ecosystems by trying to provide for ourselves rather than trusting that the processes of life will feed, clothe and heal us if we keep all in balance.  He tells us to “gaze at nature” ( gazing is a contemplative stance ) – to gaze at how simple creatures” live” in time. They are in their lives in non-anxious, non-greedy ways thus allowing God to provide for them.  He teaches us to live simply within complexity.  To “keep Providence” in this way, we must just “be” and live simply, non-violently. This brings a graced energy, – an ecological lifestyle and spirituality.  It is only when each ecosystem “keeps Providence” in this way in its own little cells and bioregions that it can be kept globally in the larger universe which is the mystical Body of Christ.


            In my more contemplative moments, I realize that all is Gift and all is Grace; yet at the same time I also know that our Provident God does need and appreciate our cooperation and efforts to keep our own and the universes’ ecosystems dynamic and healthy, elegantly beautiful and environmentally friendly in their simplicity and complexity by our contemplative and ecological spiritualities and lifestyles.

             Remember that simplicity lies deep within our Vincentian tradition. St. Vincent said, “Simplicity is my gospel… for God is simple.  Whenever you discover Christian simplicity, walk with confidence.”  (SVI, 284).


Sr. Ruth McGoldrick, SP


  1. What touched your heart or spirit?
  2. How can you make this practical in your Providence lifestyle or spirituality?
  3. In what areas do you need to do more reading or study in order to live a more ecological or contemplative lifestyle?

I hope you both enjoyed and learned from Sr. Ruth’s presentation on Living Providence Spirituality.  The Women of Providence thank her for being willing to share her insights with us on a broader scale and hopefully reach more Providence people!!   

Barbara McMullen, CDP                                                                                                                                         

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