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An important lesson in charity from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


Jon Dawson | Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/04/21

The American saint challenges us to "practice what we preach" and be witnesses of charity in the world.

Often we will hear the words of Jesus about charity, but then think to ourselves that nobody could possibly live up to his high ideals. Yet, when we look at the lives of the saints, we are clearly shown that it is possible, even in our own particular situation.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is one of those examples, showing to the American people that charity towards the most vulnerable of society is possible.

In his homily for her beatification, St. John XXIII stressed this aspect of her life, highlighting her extraordinary practice of charity.

Elizabeth Seton, who possessed  a special love for God and neighbor, in turn gave a [special] impetus to charity.The name and symbol of charity became the program of her inner life and her outer activity; this heartbeat spread from [her family] to the larger family of her [local community], including all those belonging to the Beatitudes announced by Jesus: the poor, the persecuted, the weak, the sick, the suffering. 

He highlighted how she heard the word of God and put it into action.

Blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it. This beatitude summarizes the essence of the Christian life, a harmony of faith and works, of thought and action, which proceeds from the seed sown in Baptism in a very happy development to the splendor of eternal life.Tonight the humble Vicar of Christ likes to apply those words to the one whom the Church venerates from today in the glory of the blessed: Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton. Truly blessed, because she heard the voice of God and put it into practice.

Her life is a reminder to us all that it is simply not enough to read the Gospel. We must live it in our daily lives and be witnesses in the world. It is a call given not only to religious, but every member of the Church.

Today’s glorification of a heroine of charity wants to instill new impetus of dedication not only to these worthy religious women, but also to all the members of the Church, priests and laity, elderly and young people, so that in charity they know how to give that witness of love and of works, which the world awaits.

As we reflect on the life of a beautiful American saint, may we be inspired by her example to be strong witnesses of charity, showing that we are Christians by the love we share.

Read more:
How to take risks like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


Read more:
How the Eucharist led St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to become Catholic

SaintsSaints of the United States
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