Lift Up My Soul: 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton didn’t leave the church and community she loved for an abstract idea. It wasn’t theology that pulled her into the Catholic Church and away from New York. It was a person. It was Jesus Christ. It was her deep and abiding desire to have the most intimate relationship possible with Him.
Even before she entered the Catholic Church, Jesus was Elizabeth’s all. With her husband and father gone, she leaned on Him, marveling at “the protective presence [and] the consoling grace of my Redeemer and God.” Likewise, quoting the Psalms, she wrote:
“He raises me from the dust to feel that I am near Him. He drives away all terrors to fill me with his consolations. He is my Guide, my Friend and Supporter. With such a Guide, can I fear? With such a Friend, shall I not be satisfied. With such a Supporter, can I fall?”
She Knew Jesus
Although she struggled at times to understand Jesus’ plan for her life, Elizabeth always wanted to follow it. She knew Jesus, so she trusted Him. She explained, “My Jesus first called me from nothing, drew me in pity to him, loved me first with an eternal love, and called me to love him and gave himself for me . . .”
Throughout her life, Elizabeth reflected again and again upon how God had pursued her and cared for her. He was to her “Blessed Savior,” “Blessed Spirit,” “Father of All,” “Father of Mercies,” “Friend,” “God Almighty,” “Guardian,” “Omnipotent Jesus,” “Jesus Babe,” “Redeemer,” and “Spirit of Peace and Patience.” She also begged Him repeatedly for the grace to know, love, and serve Him better, “My faith, my Hope, and my desires are fixed on You alone,” she wrote, adding, “O JESUS, sure joy of my soul, give me but a true love of you.”
Relationships Take Work
Elizabeth did more than ask Jesus to draw her closer to Him, though. She put in the work that all intimate relationships require. She spent time with Him in prayer—including what she called the unceasing “prayer of the heart. She received His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, which she described as her “dear union here with God.” And she served Him by serving those dearest to Him: the children and the poor.
Day by day, year by year, Elizabeth’s relationship with Jesus grew stronger until, by the end of her life, her spiritual director believed it was not possible, “to find similar or great elevation, purity, and love of God, heaven, or supernatural things than were found in her.”
Faith in God in Your Life
Relationships with Jesus, however, aren’t just for saints. He also wants you to know Him as “Guide, Friend, and Supporter.” To make that possible, He waits for you in the Eucharist. He longs to hear the concerns of your heart in prayer. And He invites you to serve Him by serving others. Don’t wait. Take Him up on His invitation. Remember that “Eternal Love” Elizabeth Ann Seton wrote about? He has that same love for you. And it is unchanging.
Pick a way to get to know Jesus better:
- Read the Gospels
- Receive Him more often in the Eucharist
- Spend more time in personal prayer
- Pick a name for Him that resonates with you
- Share your struggles with Him
In the Words of Mother Seton
“Received the Longing Desire of my soul. Merciful Lord, what a Privilege! And my dearest Anna, too. The bonds of Nature and Grace all twined together. The Parent offers the Child, the Child the Parent, and both are united in the Source of their Being—and rest together on Redeeming Love. May we never, never leave the sheltering wing, but dwelling now under the shadow of His Cross, we will cheerfully gather the thorns which will be turned hereafter into a joyful crown.”
– Elizabeth Seton, Spiritual Journal for Cecilia Seton, Entry of August 23, 1807
Question for Reflection
How freely do I share my heart with God in prayer? How much do I hold back and why?
These reflections are based on 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton by Betty Ann McNeil, D.C.