30 Dec How God Took Care of Me
by Ella Connor
Ella, who is now 94 years old, raised her four children in difficult times—postwar England. Here are some stories about how God took care of her throughout her life
As a child and really all my life, I have had a great many fears. I always flew to the Hail Mary for help and protection. It was only about 25 years ago that I realized that I have always done that.
Shortly after that, I came to know quite positively and forever that God loves me. And that changes everything.
I will write now about the times I remember when God came to me with assistance when I was in need—sometimes in answer to prayer and sometimes just because he loves me so much that he didn’t wait for me to ask him.
An Early Christmas Present
At this time we had one child, Frances, and our second child, Hugh, was born on December 16th. A few days before his birth, we had moved into a new house. Christmas was very near, and we had no money left for presents etc.. We had spent it all on the house and moving.
In our former parish, my husband, Harold, played the organ at church and for dances, and he went to tell our former parish priest that Hugh had been born.
Father gave him 25 pounds for Christmas, a huge amount of money then—a week’s wages, actually. So we had enough money to buy everything we needed for Christmas. We didn’t pray for that money, but God knew we needed it.
Pressed Down and Overflowing
Six months later, it was the end of the month. We were paid monthly, always on the last day of the month. But this was a five-week month, and we had no money to get us over the weekend.
It was my birthday on Saturday, and in the post came a card from my mother with one pound inside, and later in the day a parishioner arrived with seven pounds that we had won in a church raffle. Pressed down and overflowing, you might say!
The New Coat
This time I was expecting my fourth child, Pauline. I was ironing, and Harold was doing some work in the room. My coat was getting too tight for me, and I said to Harold, “I need a new coat, but we can’t afford it.” He said, “I will make one for you.” But we had to somehow buy the material.
The next day when Harold came home for lunch, he had a large parcel with him. He said that one of the staff at the office had been cleaning out her cupboards and thought we could perhaps make use of what was in the parcel.
We had our lunch, and I thought we had better open the parcel so that Harold could thank her for whatever was in it.
When we opened it, we found three yards of coat material and the lining. (As I write this, I am getting goose pimples!)
I can still hear Our Lady saying to Jesus, “She needs a new coat.”
A Very Foggy Afternoon
Frances had been at school for about a year. It was a twenty to twenty-five minute walk from home to school. I had a baby Pauline in the pram (baby carriage), Gerard sitting on the end of the pram, and Hugh, who was four years old, was walking beside them. We had to go and collect Frances and her friend from school.
It was a very foggy afternoon, and I decided to go early to pick them up. I was very nervous because we had a road to cross which had a bend, and it was difficult to see if there was anything coming on the road, even without the fog.
When we set off, I went to my crucifix and said to the Lord, “Please get us there and back safely, especially at that difficult road.”
As we approached the road, I stopped to listen to see if I could hear anything coming, but as I looked down the road, it was perfectly clear and I could see.
Hugh said, “Mum, why wasn’t there any fog down the road?”
I told him that I had prayed about it, and Jesus had kept the road clear for us. His question was a confirmation for me that the road actually was clear.
A New Hat
Frances had passed her examinations and had been accepted at the convent high school, and I had to go and see the headmistress. I wanted to go looking smart and wanted to wear a hat, but I didn’t have one that matched my coat. We had just bought a new uniform for Frances, and we couldn’t afford money for a hat.
The morning before the interview, my neighbor knocked at our door and said she had been cleaning out her wardrobe, and would I like this hat which she wanted to get rid of.
It was the exact color I needed and it fitted me perfectly. My neighbor had no idea I needed a hat, and I hadn’t even prayed for it!
It never ceases to amaze me how interested God is in the small things of our lives, but it was important to me, and he knew that.
As our children were growing up, Harold and I became members of the Catholic Housing Aid Society, which helped to house the homeless in the London area.
We interviewed homeless people three times a week in our home. All kinds of people came to us for help; some had been in prison, some were very rough and some were not.
We were not able to help everybody, and we often wondered if we would get a brick through our window. But we never did have any abuse and certainly not a brick through the window over the ten years in which we interviewed in our home.
We always knew that God was protecting us and our children. Everyone had access to our telephone number, and we never even had any unpleasant phone calls.
Harold died in 1986, and that night I went to stay with a friend, Helen Cahill. We said night prayers together, and in every word of those night prayers, God was speaking to me through them.
After we finished our prayers, we talked about what I was going to do. My children were all grown up and had left home, and I knew I could not live in a four-bedroom house on my own.
That day Helen’s daughter was offered a job away from home, and Helen was going to be on her own, too.
We decided that it would be nice to have two flats in the same building. We talked about living in Avenue Victoria near the church and near the esplanade. We both had always wanted to live there.
The next Sunday, my son Hugh gave us a lift to church and on the way home, he took us down Avenue Victoria and along the esplanade, and as we passed no. 8, we noticed a for sale sign in the window of the middle flat.
On Monday, Helen went to the real estate office and was told that both the top and middle flat were for sale.
Three months to the day after Harold died, we both moved into those flats in the place we would have chosen to live in—and in fact, God had chosen them for us.
Joy! I did not know or understand what joy was until the day my husband Harold died. If I had been told before he died that I would react in the way I did, I would not have believed it.
I have always believed that you do not receive the grace to cope with difficulties and sorrows until you actually need it, and this was proved to me at this time.
I was so happy that God had not allowed Harold to suffer all the pain he would have suffered had he lived longer that I began to praise God for taking him so quickly.
I really felt uplifted, full of sadness that Harold would not be here in the flesh anymore but at the same time, full of joy.
Harold was always full of joy, and I truly believe that I was experiencing some of his joy at being in heaven.
I know that the joy I felt when Harold died and long afterwards was not from me but was a pure gift from God.
I think it came to me because I did not try to hold on to him. I gave him up willingly because I knew that he wanted to be with God.
It isn’t that I deserved or earned the joy I received, but that Jesus had earned it for me and at the time I was open to receive it.
A friend of MH England, the author also made many visits to MH Combermere. She wrote these stories a number of years ago in obedience to her spiritual director and gave us permission to use them. For more of Ella’s writings, see, “Raising Our Children Catholic,” a three-part series starting in the December 2014 Restoration. See “Archives” on our website: www.madonnahouse.org/restoration