For Elizabeth, “looking up” was a simple gesture of body and soul, reminding her of who was the true Provider, and where she would find her ultimate home: in heaven. At a time when even a sore throat could spell an early demise, and women died often in childbirth, Elizabeth was well acquainted with the fragility of life, and suffering was consistently knocking on her door. Yet she was always looking up, in hope and trust that her life was in God’s hands and also in his promises.
3) Surrender to God’s will.
A central theme in Seton’s entire life was the pursuit and acceptance of God’s will. She once wrote, “God has given me a great deal to do and I have always and hoped always to prefer his will to every wish of my own.”
And Elizabeth always had a great deal to do. In addition to her own children, she took in her husband William’s younger siblings when his father died. When William took over his father’s business, she kept all the books and helped run the business. She was active in her church, volunteered in various capacities, kept up a lot correspondence and wrote prolifically. Later, as a no-longer-wealthy widow, she had even more on her plate, yet she managed to found a new religious community — the Sisters of Charity, who educated the children of so many Catholic immigrants, in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Elizabeth sought God’s will — in the Scriptures, and later in the sacramental life of the Church, but most of all in her circumstances — the everyday struggles, triumphs, changes and trials. Her openness to the will of God led to her sanctity, and she was canonized as America’s first native-born saint on September 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI.
Perhaps the best way to sum up these three practices for a happier new year is this: Hold on to epiphany! Look up, and keep following the star, and you will find God’s will for you in 2017 — just as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton did every new year that she faced.
Most quotes above taken from the biography Elizabeth Bayley Seton, written by Annabelle Melville and edited by Betty Ann McNeil, DC. More information about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton can be found at The National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Zoe Romanowsky is lifestyle editor and video curator for Aleteia’s English edition.