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What is a coincidence? We know that many see them for what they are: God's way of weaving things together (while, as the cliche goes, He remains anonymous). Perhaps another way of saying it is that coincidences grant us little signs and hints. We discuss this often.

When is something a coincidence, and when is it not?

Take politics. Three out of the first five U.S. presidents died on the Fourth of July: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration, and  James Monroe passed to eternity five years later -- to the day, on July 4, 1831. Independence Day!

Take baseball -- the Tampa Bay Rays.

From 1998, when they began, to 2007, they were known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and were bottom dwellers: Never did they crack the .500 mark in victories (it wasn't unusual to see them thirty games behind). But in 2008 they changed their name, dropping the "devil," ended the season at .599, and are in the World Series!

We like that lesson.


When  is something meaningful as happenstance and when is it just the toss of dice?

Take numbers.

"Is it a coincidence that September 11, 2001, the icon of the financial world (the World Trade Center) collapsed," asked Linda Anderson from Midlothian, Virginia. "Now September (maybe 11th) seven years later we started seeing the 'collapse' of the financial world. It was like we didn't learn from the warning."

Take the clock -- oh, the clock! "Today my hairdresser, who is not Catholic, told me that she had a Groundhog Day kind of dream last night," wrote Jean LoGiudice a while ago. "She was at work and it was three o'clock and person after person got in her chair and it was still three o'clock. She couldn't get off 'three o'clock.' I asked her if she ever sees 11:11 o'clock (I don't). Her eyes widened and she told me that last week when she got in her car the time was 11:11 for just an instant before it turned to 11:12 and that night when she looked at her alarm clock, it said 11:11, but only for an instant again before it went to 11:12. She was wide-eyed and wanted to know why I asked that! I always book my next appointment when I leave, and it's always six weeks out. She handed me my appointment card, and it said 'Nov. 11.' I asked her if she noticed that was 11/11!"

The season of superstition?

Is it true, wondered a viewer, that in Hebrew, there is no translation for "coincidence" (and that as one fellow said, "if there is no Hebrew word for it, it does not exist")?

Not quite. There is a Hebrew translation.

But as viewer Jerry Worth sees it, "The Old Testament gives testimony to the role of numbers when the twelve jewels worn by high priests would irradiate and reflect in striking a letter in the most Holy of Holies place in the temple as struck by light from God to answer a question, or give guidance. Each letter in Hebrew has a number attached to it."

"I took this picture on the ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver," another writes us. "I am going to become a priest and took this to be a sign from God."

Accidents, luck, fate. The dictionary on coincidence: "a sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged." Sometimes, they come in a way that's lifesaving!

Is it angels who coordinate them?

"My landlady, although a very nice person, is very much anti door-to-door sales people, and usually turns everyone away," writes Maria Amaral of Aurora, Ontario. "Last Thursday, October 2, 2008, a man came knocking on the door and said that he was canvassing the homes in the neighborhood looking for faulty hot water heaters, and would she like her hot water heater inspected for free? No one, not even she, knows why in the world she granted him access to the basement to look at the hot water heater. But she did. 

"The man looked at the hot water heater and promptly told the landlady not to turn on any appliances, computers, fans, etcetera -- and to call Enbridge Gas, the major gas provider in Canada. She was too shocked and shaken up to ask the fellow’s name and what company he represented but thanked him. She called the gas company immediately. 

"About an hour later, an Enbridge Gas representative arrived at the house and inspected the heater, which apparently was the culprit in whatever catastrophe was about to befall us. He looked at us and asked which one slept in the basement. 

"I said that I did. He turned to me, and not mincing any words said, 'I don't know how you have not experienced brain damage or worse -- how you are not dead.' 

"My look must have been like a deer when a car is roaring towards it with headlights on.  He said that by his estimation, carbon monoxide had been leaking -- and not at a slow rate -- for the past five days, if not more. He added that one more night, and I would not have woken up the next morning. 

"There are no coincidences with God!

"Furthermore, the 'man' who had come to the door had not been canvassing anywhere else in the neighborhood, and had not knocked on anyone's door except mine. The companies that employ these sorts of representatives are relatively few, and none reported anyone with his description anywhere in the area."

[Postscript: October 2 is feast of guardian angels]

[resources: The God of Miracles and Father DeGrandis' books]

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