January 4, 2012
Today's gospel offers an interesting opportunity to consider how what happened to the men who were called to follow Jesus was not and is not a singular event. Even in our times there are moments when God uses others to be his assistant in bringing others to know him and even others who have known but left his company to return to his company.
The saint we honor today is an example, at least in my viewpoint, of someone who took the opportunity to listen to the voice of God speaking to her through people not known as proclaimed saints. Elizabeth Seton was not a born Catholic. Most of your young life was spent in the Episcopalian Church. Her life had so many different and unexpected turns. Her mother died when Elizabeth was very young. Her father later left the stepmother and the children. This stepmother was very active in the Episcopalian Church, frequently taking Elizabeth with her to bring food and other needs to the less fortunate. Elizabeth married William Seton when she was but 19 years old. Their marriage brought 5 children into the world. Elizabeth's husband had business and health issues that brought him to Italy for a time a recuperation. However, while there he died. Elizabeth remained with her husband's Italian business partner's family. In that living situation Elizabeth was introduced to the Roman Catholic Church.
Returning to the USA, Elizabeth turned to teaching and eventually accepted an invitation from and the support of the Sulpician Fathers to begin a school for poor children. Quickly Elizabeth founded what was to be the first free Catholic school in the USA. Then she founded a religious community of women for teaching poor children, the Sisters of Charity, the first religious community of women in the USA. Two firsts for the lady!
A lengthy story. Yet recall how open Elizabeth was to the will of God for her in so many different circumstances. Each major event in her life actually being a formative part of the great woman that she was and the extraordinary work she did in Emmitsburg especially. Each one of the difficult moments as well as the good moments were an invitation from God to answer his call to her.
None of us is free from such experiences. What we need to recognize is God's call comes to individuals in many ways ... not always the way we would expect. Clearly Elizabeth learned to listen to each event as an expression of God's call to her.
When trying to discern God's will, it does not hurt to request from this outstanding woman. Let her help you clear you heart and ears to know God's will.
Elizabeth was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1975 and, alas, was added to the Calendar of Saints for the Episcopalian Church in 2009. (Dual citizenship!!!)