Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774-1821) was the first American-born saint canonized in the Roman Catholic Church. We celebrate her today as a woman who, it is often said, “lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.” Her life was a bit like a seesaw with serious ups and downs by turns. She was born into a solid, well-to-do family in the high society of New York but her mother died when she was 3 years old. She was married at age 19 to a wealthy businessman and had 5 children, but his business failed and he died of tuberculosis when Elizabeth was 30 years old. Necessity led her to open a school in Baltimore in order to support her children and grace moved her to found a religious community which grew out of the spiritual nature of how she ran her school. She died at age 46. Franciscan Media says the following about the woman who has become an example of faith to generations of Catholics and is revered as “Mother Seton.”
Elizabeth Seton had no extraordinary gifts. She was not a mystic or stigmatic. She did not prophesy or speak in tongues…The thousand or more letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones (her husband and two young daughters) and the heartache of a wayward son…She wrote to a friend that she would prefer to exchange the world for a “cave or a desert. But God has given me a great deal to do, and I have always and hope always to prefer his will to every wish of my own.” Her brand of sanctity is open to everyone…(www.franciscanmedia.org)
How can we refuse the offer?