Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint for our social and familial times

Today’s feastday brings us to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, or “Mother Seton” as she is also known. Over at the site for her National Shrine, I argue that he is very much someone we moderns can turn to for spiritual companionship in 2019:

How relatable is St. Elizabeth Ann to our lives and our times? Well, she’s a woman whose life pitched her from wealth to poverty, from a deliriously happy marriage to young widowhood. From a world full of social connections — she would have been a huge draw on Facebook and Twitter — to a social reject. As a child she lived uneasily in a troubled “blended family” before such things were common and she suffered there enough to contemplate overdosing on an opiate (laudanum) to escape.

Before Elizabeth Ann became the spiritual mother of many, she was a single parent raising five children and scrambling to find respectable work to support them. She raised her children with great joy but grieved for the two teenaged ones she had to bury.

Baptized into the Anglican tradition, Elizabeth Ann’s relationship with God was forged in her youth, her prayers informed by Scripture and her instinct for lectio divina. Her encounters with the Word created a hunger for the Word Made Flesh, and fervor for the Real Presence brought her into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Her habit of seeing the hand of Providence in all things made the subsequent rejection by her family seem a bearable turn within the trustworthy plans of God. “If [something] succeeds, I bless God, if it does not succeed …I bless God, because then it will be right that things should not succeed.” (Collected Writings, 362)

The more I am learning about her, the more I am loving her (as is the usual case with saints and with ordinary folk. As St. Catherine of Siena wrote, “love begins with knowledge”).

The National Shrine looks gorgeous! I’m thinking of making springtime visit, myself.

All images via the National Shrine

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2019-01-04T13:31:45-04:00

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