I think that a lot of people on the spiritual journey have had an experience that can be interpreted as either coincidence or Providence. We meet a spiritual mother or father who has the exact wisdom we need at a certain time. We come across the precise spiritual book that helps us forward. A homily seems to speak to our precise spiritual concern. A holy card in our pew or on the floor in church seems like it was just for us.
Are experiences like this coincidences, or little acts of Divine Providence arranged by the Holy Spirit for our benefit? People ask me that sort of question all the time. To be honest, I don't think how we interpret them matters so much. What matters is that prayer has freed us just a little from distraction and misery and made us sensitive to the superabundant goodness of God that is always around us. Little sparks or seeds of God's love are all around us all the time; most of them we miss because of our distraction, much of which is necessary in order to fulfill the work and acts of love we are called to each day.
Here's my favorite example from my own life: For whatever reason I have always had a certain attraction to and spiritual affinity for the mystery of the Lord's Transfiguration. It has always fascinated me as a sort of Resurrection appearance that precedes the Passion, given to a select, inner circle of the disciples. Praying the mystery, I'm led into its mystical, precious, and glorious light, what you would call in Latin, praeclarus.
If I had to pick a day for receiving my religious vocation, it would be the feast of the Transfiguration in 1993. Not that there was anything grand about it, but I remember praying that day--in a chapel dedicated to the Transfiguration--and finding the grace to consent in a concrete way to my desire and interest in pursuing a vocation to religious life.
So it was a delight and a wonder for me to one day calculate that I was born on the second Sunday of Lent, on which the Lord's Transfiguration has been proclaimed for as long as anyone can remember.
Is this a coincidence or an act of Providence and destiny? To me the question doesn't really matter. Everything that exists is a sort of co-incidence of the love of God and the creation that overflows out of that love. Prayer is the discipline that allows the Spirit to train us to see ourselves and the world as this perfect and mystical "coincidence."