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Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious, January 04, 2021



A Reading according to 1 Jn 4:7-10


Beloved, let us love one another,

because love is of God;

everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

In this way the love of God was revealed to us:

God sent his only-begotten Son into the world

so that we might have life through him.

In this is love:

not that we have loved God, but that he loved us

and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.


REFLECTION

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God;

everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God."


Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church. She was born two years before the American Revolution, and grew up in the upper class of New York society. She was a prolific reader, and read everything from the Bible to contemporary novels.


In spite of her high society background, Elizabeth’s early life was a quiet, simple, and often lonely one. As she grew older, the Bible became her continual instruction and comfort.


In 1794, Elizabeth married a wealthy young man named William Seton, with whom she was deeply in love. The first years of their marriage were happy and prosperous.


Not long after, William's businesses and health failed. Travelling to Italy searching for better weather to procure William's recovery, he died of tuberculosis almost upon arrival. Waiting to return to the United States, Elizabeth spent several months with the Filicchi brothers who were business associates of her husband.


While in Italy, Seton learned about Roman Catholicism for the first time. She was especially drawn to the doctrine of the Eucharist as the real body of Christ. In here her Italian friends guided her Catholic instruction. Returned to the United States in 1804, and struggled between Protestantism and Catholicism, until 1805, when she asked the Blessed Virgin to guide her to the True Faith and officially joined the Catholic Church.


She endured the distrust of her Protestant acquaintances, especially after several relatives of them converted to Catholicism.


She was confirmed by Bishop John Carroll in 1806. He remained her spiritual father. She was invited to come to Baltimore to help with founding a school in Baltimore.


The school had originally been secular but once news of her entrance to Catholicism spread, several girls were removed from her school. It was then Elizabeth, and two other young women who helped her in her work, began plans for a Sisterhood.


They established the first free Catholic school in America. When the young community adopted their rule, they made provisions for Elizabeth to continue raising her children.


On March 25, 1809, Elizabeth Seton pronounced her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, binding for one year. This was the first sisterhood in the United States. Elizabeth Seton was named first superior and given the title of “Mother.” She served in that role for the next twelve years.


As the community took shape, Elizabeth directed its vision. On July 19, 1813, Seton and eighteen other sisters made vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service to the poor.


Although Mother Seton became afflicted with tuberculosis, she continued to guide her children. The Rule of the Sisterhood was formally ratified in 1812. It was based upon the Rule St. Vincent de Paul had written for his Daughters of Charity in France. By 1818, in addition to their first school, the sisters had established two orphanages and another school. Today, six groups of sisters can trace their origins to Mother Seton’s initial foundation.


Seton’s favorite prayer was the 23rd Psalm and she developed a deep devotion to the Eucharist, Sacred Scripture, and the Virgin Mary.


For the last three years of her life, Elizabeth felt that God was getting ready to call her, and this gave her great joy. Mother Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46, only sixteen years after becoming a Catholic. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII on March 17, 1963 and was canonized on September 14, 1975 by Pope Paul VI.


Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!


God bless y'all!


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