Mother Seton's Daughters of Charity and the Civil War
May God Keep You And Yours!!!!
SAINT ELIZABETH SETON
Born, New York City, August 28, 1774. Converted to Catholicism March 14, 1805. Died Emmitsburg, Maryland, January 4, 1821.
As an Episcopalian, Mother Seton, was known as the Protestant Sister of Charity. As time went on things changed for Elizabeth Seton. One of the major changes in her life would be that she would convert to Catholicism. She always, however, was a sister of charity, servant and great lover of God. This mother to five children, founder of the first American religious community, founder of the parochial school system in the United States, left behind spiritual daughters that number in the thousands, as do their hospitals and their schools which are all over the United States, Canada and other countries as well. This small framed woman had no idea what a great impact she would have on the world.
Father Matignon, one of Mother Seton's advisors, did know that Mother Seton was fated for something great. Before Elizabeth Seton became Catholic her husband had died leaving her to raise her children alone. After she converted to Catholicism she discussed with Father Matignon about moving to Canada to seek an education for her two sons. Father Matignon's response was "You are destined, I think, for some great good in the United States." When reading the following comment that Saint Elizabeth Seton wrote in her journal on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila it is clear that Mother Seton had no idea that one day she would be declared a saint to the world and that she had little idea how her great good, that God graced her with, would benefit so many souls, "Holy mother, you called yourself a sinner, the worst of sinners. What then am I? The sins of your whole life would be outbalanced by those of any of my days. Blessed saint of God, pray for the weary soul that has stayed so far behind. You have reached the summit, pray for me."
In Mother Seton's writings we can find clues to how she by God's grace fulfilled her holiness and we can find some helpful clues for ourselves on how to walk the paths of holiness we are called for. We all have paths, a way to holiness, a destiny that God wants for us it is up to us to choose to fulfill it or deny it. For those who do not believe that God has made paths for them created out of His love it only makes me think of these words Saint Seton wrote, "For my part I find so much contentment in the love of God that I am obliged to think with consideration to find out how anyone can raise one's eye to the light of heaven and be insensible to it."
One will find nothing new in Mother Seton's writings, no new doctrine, or revelations, just a simple path and simple advice that may help others to walk the roads that lead us closer to our Abba (Father). One of the first things we should do is "Recollect as a mother's entreaty, that you give some time every day, if it is only a half an hour, to devotional reading, " One cannot build a relationship if one spends no time learning about the other in the relationship. Devotional reading allows us to farther unite ourselves to our Good Father. As Mother Seton said, "Let you chief study be to acquaint yourself with God, because there is nothing greater then God, and because it is the only knowledge which can fill the heart with a peace and joy which nothing can disturb."
This following prayer of Saint Seton's is also full good direction."Unite me to thyself, O adorable victim. Life giving heavenly bread, feed me, sanctify me, reign in me, transform me to Thyself, live in me and let me live in Thee. Let me adore Thee in Thy life-giving sacraments as my God listen to Thee as to my master, obey Thee as my King, Imitate Thee as my model, follow Thee as my shepherd. Love Thee as my father, see Thee as my physician who will heal all the maladies of my soul. Be indeed my way, truth , and life. Sustain me, O heavenly manna through the desert of this world till I shall behold Thee unveiled in Thy Glory."
In this prayer everything is God and everything depends on God. There is great wisdom in this. The wisdom is not in knowing of the words for many of us do, but in the real knowing of which Mother Seton did. By that knowing she gave God the reigns of her life, so that God could truly live in her and could fulfill His plans for her. What greater thing is there in life, what greater fulfillment, there is none!!!
Saint Elizabeth Seton was also not afraid to look at her sins as many of us now are. The word sin has become a dirty word today. Probably because most of us have become in many ways our own gods and we think we are above sin, above offending God or we think we know better then God that God doesn't have it quite right so, we are not really sinning. Here are six resolves Mother Seton made in her life that may help us come closer to God. "solemnly in the presence of my Judge, I resolve through his grace to remember my infirmity and my sin, 2) to keep the door of my lips, 3) to consider the causes of sorrow for sin in myself and in them whose souls are as dear to me as my own, 4) to check and restrain all useless words, 5) to deny myself and exercise the severity that I know is due to my sin, 6) to judge myself - thereby trusting through mercy, that I shall not be severely judged by my Lord." Sin takes us all a little farther away from Abba's arms making us the prodigal child if we check and watch our sins we won't have so many journeys away that make us feel were are in a foreign land because we can't feel Abba's presence, we can know that God is near , has defeated sin and death. As Mother Seton says, "What is sorrow , what is death? They are but sounds when at peace with Jesus."
Peace hard to believe that a woman who's mother died when she was three and has this to say about her mother's death, "You never knew the want of a mother's tender care, or you would tremble at the thought that your child should ever want" who's father and step-mother ignored her until she was married, a woman who in her late teenage years had no place to call home, a wife that watched her husband die and all their belongs and any safety net go, leaving her and their children no security and no place to live, a woman that watched two of her five child died before her very eyes, a woman that saw many sorrows could speak of such peace. She knew that peace was found only in one place in God and in serving and loving Him to the best of her ability. She was "Not only willing to take my cross, but kiss it too . . . " Because she knew that the cross is love and in the arms of the Father the cross is held in those arms is found peace.
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