1 John 3:7-10
The Christmas Event & St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Today’s Gospel selection features John the Baptist and two of his disciples meeting Jesus as he walked by – "the Lamb of God". The encounter led to Jesus’ invitation to "come and see" where he was staying – and ultimately, those first few hours with Jesus led to lives of life-changing discipleship.
Over the centuries countless others have heard Jesus’ invitation to "come and see". One such 18th Century American woman-disciple is the saint we honor today: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton…the first American-born saint.
Married to William Seton and mother of their five children, Elizabeth Ann was reared an Episcopalian but was drawn to the Catholic faith by an Italian Catholic family whom she met while in Italy traveling with her husband. After her husband’s death from tuberculosis at the young age of 30, Elizabeth Ann embraced the Catholic faith – and subsequently opened a parish school in Baltimore to support her family and express her faith.
Drawn by Elizabeth’s fervor, a group of young women joined Elizabeth Ann in her approach to education and Christian life. In 1809 they formed the American Sisters of Charity, following the rule of St. Vincent de Paul and later founding other schools and orphanages. By the time of her death on January 4, 1821, the community had expanded their ministries as far west as St. Louis.
Elizabeth Ann Seton was called to help build up the Church in her time. As noted in today’s Gospel, Jesus drew disciples to himself and began the Church; Elizabeth Ann joined those early disciples in saying "yes" to Jesus and working tirelessly to build up the Church.
As we embrace 2012, God continues to bless us with our Passionist charism as enfleshed by St. Paul of the Cross. May we deepen our relationship with Jesus these days – and encourage others to "come and see" God’s love present in our world. With St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, we pray the words of Psalm 98: "Sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done wondrous deeds…"
(N.B.: January 8 to 14, 2012 is National Church Vocations Awareness Week. Join us in praying for priestly and religious vocations.)
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.