At Pentecost, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church through imagery of divine wind and fire. For Mother Seton—and for Catholics today—it’s within the storms and wreckage of life that grace is encountered, and new paths are revealed.
For humans, finding a balance between justice and mercy is always difficult. But St. Elizabeth Ann Seton understood that God’s grace transcends earthly limits, and allows mercy to fall lightly from heaven on our hearts and minds.
Frances of Rome and Elizabeth Ann Seton were very different women who took similar paths to sainthood. They each received the grace to found religious communities, by praying without ceasing, and trusting in God’s plan for their lives, no matter the circumstances they encountered.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s entire life testified to the meaning of the Incarnation. In Jesus’s vulnerability, He taught us to trust that all of God’s purposes redound to our good. In God’s gift of himself, He taught us how to freely give of ourselves to others.
Before she became a foundress and a saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton was a wife, a mother, a teacher. On All Souls Day, her example reminds us of the dignity of the ordinary faithful who keep things going, bearing everyday witness to the power and value of a life in Christ.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was a woman of great works, but she was also a mystic. Like Saint Augustine, her restlessness led her to open her heart fully to God, to ask the most essential questions about her very being, knowing that she could fully trust in His answers.
Like Saint Benedict, the father of western monasticism, Mother Seton’s life was grounded in contemplation and action. She was a woman of prayer who put all of her energy into the work God called her towards, always trusting in Grace.
If we really understood Lent, we would be as enthralled with Ash Wednesday as Mother Seton was. It is through our Lenten journey inward into “the great empty” that we encounter God and meet our authentic selves.
When Bernadette Soubirous and Elizabeth Ann Seton each discerned their callings, these future saints gave unstinting witness to their missions, in extreme obedience to truths that brought hope and light to many. They never backed down.
Looking for a role model to inspire your New Year’s resolutions? Who better than St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, America’s first native-born Saint, whose feast day falls on January 4. She overcame the same obstacles we struggle with in our own lives. A friend we can identify with is one we are more likely to emulate.
As we see in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and in the life of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, we are each made for some purpose. Not for “nothing,” but decidedly for “something” in the grand scheme of the world and all of its intended Glory.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, like so many other saints, took inspiration from the lives of those who came before her. For All Saints Day, why not copy the venerable practice of seeking out a patron saint to teach you throughout the next liturgical year?