FRIDAY HOMILY: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, An Anglican Gift
who have chosen the Catholic faith have experienced some setbacks in relationships, etc. For this brave woman, however, the cost was even greater. This should be a great inspiration to those who have become lukewarm in their faith, seeing that this woman - along with a host of others over the centuries - have freely made the decision to embrace the Catholic faith.
In the gospel reading for today, we see two disciples of John the Baptist, Andrew - the brother of Simon Peter, and an unnamed disciple (perhaps the Apostle John) hearing the prophet declare, "Behold the Lamb of God" as Jesus walked by. Recognizing that He was the Messiah, they began to follow Him.
Much like Andrew, Elizabeth Ann Seton chose to follow the Lord without knowing what would be the end result. When she made the decision to enter the Church, she had given her assent to His invitation to "come and see" what He could do through her.
Elizabeth also had a deep devotion to the Eucharist and the Holy Scriptures. This began during her years as an Episcopalian.
On Sunday, she would rush from one parish to another in order to partake of the Eucharist two times that day. Mary Donovan, in an article entitled, "At last, God is mine and I am His; Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Eucharist," from the Vincentian Heritage Journal, highlights the interest she had in the Blessed Sacrament. Here she is writing to her sister-in-law about the experience she had in a Catholic Church in Italy.
"My Sister dear, how happy would we be if we believed what these dear Souls believe, that they possess God in the Sacrament and that he remains in their churches and is carried to them when they are sick. The other day in a moment of excessive distress I fell on my knees without thinking when the Blessed Sacrament passed by and cried in an agony to God to bless me if he was there, that my whole soul desired only him."
This passion continued as she came into the Church. Mary Donovan also shares this quote from her writings after her first communion. She wrote, ""At last - GOD IS MINE and I AM HIS - Now let all go its round - I HAVE RECEIVED HIM."
The Bible was a part of her daily routine, reading it regularly and particularly spending time in the psalms. Donovan also quotes from a correspondence from one of Elizabeth's spiritual directors, Father Simon Bruté, to her daughter Catherine Josephine after the Saint's death. He wrote regarding the importance of Scripture to Mother Seton. "I only mean 10 remind you, Elizabeth's daughter, that in the psalms, in one verse or mother, you will find her soul still warm to her God in your own soul."
The legacy of Elizabeth Ann Seton began even before her journey to the heart of the Church. It started in a human heart kindled by the liturgies of Anglican worship and personal Biblical study. The fires, however, that began to burn there could not be fully fueled outside of Catholic teaching. It was here that she was able to allow the fires of her faith to totally come to flame.
It can certainly be said that all she did in her life and all that was accomplished were forged first in her soul which was consecrated to God from her earliest days. The decision to enter the Church, to respond to the needs of the poor, to educate the young and to establish an order all found their seeds in her "fiat," her yes to all that God wanted to do in her life.
I can remember a time, which still in Anglicanism, where in my heart I knew that I must enter the Church. I knew at that moment that this would be the only way to continue to say "yes" to the work the Lord was doing in my life. At that moment I didn't know how it would take place, when it would happen or what would be the ultimate destiny of my decision. I knew, however, it would come.
Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Eucharist and personal study of the Holy Scriptures continue to play a major role in my spiritual life. The passion for a personal relationship with Christ that burned brightly in my Protestant days ow are inflamed with greater light.
On this special day, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for all of us who have followed your pathway and entered into full communion. Pray that we, like you, would say yes to all that will come to us in the years ahead.
At the age of 46, she died of tuberculosis, on January 4, 1821. This was the same disease that took her husband's life. She was canonized on September 14, 1975.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Elizabeth Ann Seton, Eucharist, Scripture, saint
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