Into God's Light With Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton - Seton Shrine
Into God's Light With Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Into God’s Light With Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

There’s a mental health crisis afflicting young people—an epidemic of anxiety, depression and despair that coincides with a steady decline in religious affiliation.

In this series of seven Easter reflections author Paula Huston brings Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s spirituality of absolute trust in God's will to bear on the life challenges and spiritual wounds confronting today's youth.

Join us as we explore how faith can give young people the anchor they need in a cold and harsh world, as they seek to satisfy the deepest desires of their hearts.


Introduction | 4.4.24 (See Below)

Week One | Confusion: “Who am I? What is my path?” | 4.7.24

Week Two | Fear: “Who can I trust? Will I ever feel safe?”  | 4.14.24

Week Three | Rejection: “Who can I love? Who will accept me as I am?” | 4.21.24

Week Four | Abandonment: “Why am I alone? Where do I belong?” | 4.28.24

Week Five | Shame: “Why do I feel unworthy? How do I gain self-respect?” | 5.5.24

Week Six | Hopelessness: “Does my life matter? How do I find happiness?” | 5.12.24

Week Seven | Powerlessness: “Why is there evil and suffering? How can I make a difference?” | 5.19.24 / Pentecost


“God is light, and in him is no darkness” (1 John 1:5-10)

We are each born separated from God, wounded by original sin.

When Adam and Eve—our first parents—betrayed God’s trust, sin and death came into the world.

But God didn’t abandon us. He prepared humanity for the coming of His son, Jesus Christ, who reconciled us to God through his death and resurrection.

And while our wounds are never fully healed in this life, through Jesus and his Church, by the Holy Spirit, we can embrace our brokenness, seek forgiveness for our sins, and accept God’s healing mercy and love.

This is the path Elizabeth Ann Seton followed on her way to sainthood.

From childhood to her death at the age of 46, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton persevered through loneliness and hardships, pain and loss, confusion and despair. Her love for Jesus, and her trust in Divine Providence, sustained her along her personal “via crucis.”

Elizabeth could persevere because of her faith and her natural virtues, which she nurtured throughout her life. But she also had the support of God’s strong presence in her world.

Most Americans of her time understood—even if only on a basic level—that they were children of God. Their identities were rooted in a biblical creation story that gave their lives meaning and resilience.

Today, the supports of faith and culture are much weaker. God has almost completely disappeared from public life. And our churches, institutions, communities, and families are in decline.

Each year the number of young people in America without religion—the so-called “Nones”—increases. A 2021 survey found that over a third of adults under 30 were religiously unaffiliated. That figure was just 10% in 1986. And the smaller number who identify as atheist or agnostic is increasing as well.

To a large degree, young people are growing up without the religious and social structures that presented life as full of purpose and hope.

Yet most continue to believe in God or a higher power. And perhaps more than any generation before, these young people are asking urgent, existential questions:

Who am I? Where do I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil and suffering? What is there after this life?

Unfortunately, they find little in the answers offered by our secular culture that can satisfy them. Is it surprising then that so many are experiencing alarming levels of anxiety, depression, addiction and suicide? And so few are marrying and forming families?

Even though today’s culture is very different from the one Elizabeth Seton grew up in, as a young girl she went through many of the same challenges that today’s youth face.

Elizabeth’s mother died when she was two years old. Her stepmother was cold and distant. Her father was often absent or preoccupied with his medical career. Elizabeth’s marriage was beset by money worries and her husband’s poor health. She herself struggled with constant stress and anxiety due to the heavy burdens life had placed upon her.

But Elizabeth’s innate sense of God’s presence supported her through these struggles, and always brought her to a place of peace and joy.

Later, as an adult, Elizabeth’s absolute trust in God’s will for her life, and her unshakable belief that God loved her, would carry her through the loss of loved ones, hardships and obstacles, and periods of intense spiritual darkness. Her deep faith and the mystical wisdom she acquired on her journey is available to help today’s young people find their way.

In a series of seven reflections published each week during the Easter season, we’ll explore the spiritual wounds that can lead to self-destructive addictions and behaviors, or aggravate the psychological disorders that afflict so many vulnerable young people today.

These seven wounds are:

  • Confusion: “Who am I?” What is my path?”
  • Fear: “Who can I trust? Will I ever feel safe?”
  • Rejection: “I’m unacceptable. Everyone is against me.”
  • Abandonment: “I am all alone. Nobody loves me.”
  • Shame: “I am a failure. I am unworthy.”
  • Hopelessness: “My life is meaningless. Nothing matters.”
  • Powerlessness: “There is nothing I can do. I can’t change anything.”

At the root of young people’s feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness and despair is a desperate cry for an unconditional and transcendent love that never fails, even in the midst of setbacks, contradictions and tragedy.

Learning about the difficult trials St. Elizabeth Ann Seton faced in her life, and the wounds she suffered as a consequence, can give young people a much-needed exemplar during these confusing times.

Mother Seton’s spiritual insights can help them acquire the virtues and confidence they need to face life’s challenges and flourish in a cold and often cruel world.

Most of all, her steady faith can help all of us—and the young people in our lives—find our path to a deep and loving relationship with God.

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US Bishops Announce Mental Health Initiative [National Catholic Register]

“I think people leave the Church — in great numbers, they abandon God; they abandon the liturgy; they abandon prayer,” he said. “And then they wonder, ‘Now, why am I so sad? Why am I so lonely? Why am I so isolated?’ So, there’s a link there, between spiritual health and mental health.” – Bishop Robert Barron

Suicide, Depression, and a ‘Crisis of Hope’: Offering Real Help to Our Youth in Despair [Fr. Roger Landry, National Catholic Register]

“…there is a crisis of hope underneath the persistent sadness and the consideration of ending one’s life. This is linked to a crisis of meaning, of the “why” of living, of what gives motivation to be able to change one’s own circumstances for the better, not to mention change one’s environment and the world. This crisis of hope is linked to a crisis of faith…”

How the Life of Faith Can Support Your Mental Health [Fr. Billy Swan, Word on Fire]

“What good news does our faith offer to us when we feel down, depressed, and suffer in our minds? Here I offer five reasons why our faith in Christ is Good News that brings light in times of darkness. First though, a few caveats that are important…”