Monday, January 4, 2016

Mother Seton

     Today is the feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, patron of our parish family and foundress of the Daughters of Charity, one branch of which is found in our Diocese in the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in Greensburg.  Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized on September 14, 1975 - 40 years ago - and yet is still referred to as Mother Seton.  We celebrated her feast this morning with a slightly later than usual morning Mass (at 9:00 instead of 8:00) with music and followed by coffee & donuts.  It was a nice way to pray as a parish family on the feast of our patron.

     I shared a little of the homily of Pope Paul VI on the occasion of her canonization.  Pope Paul said:

"May the dynamism and authenticity of her life be an example in our day - and for generations to come - of what women can and must accomplish, in the fulfillment of their role, for the good of humanity.  And finally we must recall that the most notable characteristic of our Saint is the fact that she was, as we said, the foundress of the first Religious Congregation of women in the United States.  It was an offspring of the religious family of Saint Vincent de Paul, which later divided into various autonomous branches - five principal ones - now spread throughout the world.  And yet all of them recognize their origin in the first group, that of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's, personally established by Saint Elizabeth Seton at Emmittsburg in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  The apostolate of helping the poor and the running of parochial schools in America had this humble, poor, courageous and glorious beginning.  This account, which constitutes the central nucleus of the earthly history and worldwide fame of the work of Mother Seton, would merit a more extensive treatment.  But we know that her spiritual daughters will take care to portray the work itself as it deserves.

And therefore to these chosen daughters of the Saint we direct our special and cordial greeting, with the hope that they may be enabled to be faithful to their providential and holy institution, that their fervor and their numbers may increase, in the constant conviction that they have chosen and followed a sublime vocation that is worthy of being served with the total gift of their heart, the total gift of their lives.  And may they always be mindful of the final exhortation of their Foundress Saint, those words she pronounced on her deathbed, like a heavenly testament, on January 2, 1821: "Be children of the Church".  And we would add: for ever!  And to all of our beloved sons and daughters in the United States and throughout the entire Church of God we offer, in the name of Christ, the glorious heritage of Elizabeth Ann Seton.  It is above all an ecclesial heritage of strong faith and pure love for God and for others - faith and love that are nourished on the Eucharist and on the Word of God.  Yes, brethren, and sons and daughters: the Lord is indeed wonderful in his saints.  Blessed be God for ever! "

     By her statue in our vestibule is the quote about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, that she is " ... a saint for our time." 

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