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Archbishop Lori Homily: St. Elizabeth Seton Had a "Heart Firmly Anchored in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar"

EMMITSBURG, June 6 — On June 6, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore celebrated Mass before a standing room only crowd that spilled out of the huge Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, which enshrines her tomb.

During the Mass, Archbishop Lori preached a homily on the saint's Eucharistic life and calling faithful to be to others like the Filicchi Family that helped her become Catholic.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patroness of the Eastern Route of the National Eucharistic Pilrgrimage.

This is his homily:

Homily on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Eucharist National Eucharistic Pilgrimage – Seton Route National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg June 5, 2024

A Blessing and a Grace What a blessing it is and how appropriate it is that the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is a destination for the “Seton Route” of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. Further, this is the “entry point” of the pilgrimage into the “Premier See”, the first diocese in the United States, the Archdiocese of Baltimore. As the pilgrimage proceeds through Emmitsburg, moving from here to the Grotto at Mount Saint Mary’s, it will then make its way to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, and then to the Basilica of the Assumption, our nation’s first cathedral, – opening minds and hearts to the heart of the Gospel, helping many to encounter the person of Christ, bringing renewal, joy, and youthful enthusiasm to this local Church. What a blessing! What a grace!

The Gravitational Pull of the Eucharist on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton In this holy shrine where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s mortal remains lie, on these grounds where America’s first natural-born canonized saint walked, it is right that we should take hold of this great saint’s Eucharistic vision. For from the start of her conversion, the mystery of the Eucharist, the true presence of Christ’s Body and Blood had what I might call “a gravitational pull” on her heart and mind and spirit.

Hers was a beautiful soul, open to the promptings of God, including those that were unexpected and those what would take her beyond the expectations of family and friends. As a devout young woman worshipping with her own congregation, it is said that she heard bells sounding in a nearby Catholic church as Holy Mass was being celebrated. The ringing of bells first alerted her sensitive and open heart to a Eucharistic faith that would become the foundation of her life. Somehow, the sound of those bells continued to resonate in her heart.

For when Elizabeth travelled to Leghorn Italy with her husband William, in the hope that he might recover from serious illness, she encountered there a warm, full-fledged Eucharistic devotion, particularly on the part of the Filicchi family who lovingly assisted this young woman and her ailing husband. As we know, William did not recover, and in fact died in Italy, but the patience and love of the Filicchi’s and their Eucharistic devotion made an indelible impression on her beautiful soul. But let us not forget that the Filicchi family also provided Elizabeth with books and instruction on the Catholic faith, sharing with her what was the most precious Reality in their lives.

Returning to New York, Elizabeth underwent a time of anguished searching, especially as her family and friends tried to dissuade her from converting. Yet, her desire for the Bread of Life became ever stronger. She wrote: “How happy would we be if we believed what these dear souls believe: that they possess God in the Sacrament, and that he remains in their churches and is with them when they are sick.” She also recounted how she spontaneously knelt in the street when a Eucharistic procession passed by – it was a moment of encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps it was at that moment when anguish gave way to peace and joy as Elizabeth responded to God’s call to embrace the fullness of the faith, and in 1805 was received into the Church by none other than Bishop John Carroll. She looked forward with happy anticipation to receiving the Holy Eucharist for the first time: “At last…at last [she wrote], God is mine and I am his…!”

A Life Transformed The rest, as they say, is history – or perhaps I should say mystery! For the Eucharistic Lord was at work in her soul, as she parted ways with the life she had once known in New York and struggled to support herself and her family and searched for the will of God in her life. Her search brought her to Baltimore where she opened a school and finally here to Emmitsburg where, imbued with the Sacrament of Charity, she founded the Daughters of Charity who would bear witness to the Eucharistic Lord through their life of prayer and their works of education, healthcare, & charity. In accomplishing God’s will, she met with many trials and obstacles, yet with her heart firmly anchored in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, she resolutely followed God’s will, continued to grow in holiness, and became the first natural born American saint, canonized in 1975.

As we trace the Seton Route along the East Coast, may we be overtaken by the same Eucharistic faith that animated the life and vocations of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton! The Eucharistic Revival underway in the United States is a multi-year, multi-pronged initiative, really a movement, to reinvigorate Eucharistic faith throughout the United States. It has a lot of moving parts but really it is very simple. It begins with each of us. It begins with each of our hearts – listening again to heart of the Gospel, encountering the Person of Christ anew, saying with St. Paul, “if we have djed with him we shall also live with him!”. It begins will our being overtaken by immense love Christ has for us in giving himself to us on the Cross and in this most Holy Sacrament.

As each of us opens our hearts anew to the great mystery of faith, let us follow the example of the Filicchi family whose eucharistic faith had such a profound impact on Elizabeth. They were willing to share their faith, to bear witness to it, and to demonstrate its power by their lives of patience and charity. So too, as the greatness of Jesus’ gift of self in the Eucharist dawns on us anew, let us be willing to share our Eucharistic faith with members of our family, to evangelize and catechize our children and young people in this faith, actively to promote in our parishes an ongoing Eucharistic renewal,~ and reaching out to inactive Catholics who, for one reason or another, have lost sight of the preciousness and centrality of the Eucharist. Just as the Fillichi’s invited Elizabeth Seton to consider the fullness of the faith, so too should we be willing to invite inactive Catholics to return to Mass, bearing witness ourselves to One without whose presence we cannot live, bearing witness ourselves to Him by lives of patience and charity.

Intercession of Mary Woman of the Eucharist Finally, as we journey from the Valley to the Mary’s Mountain, and from there to the City of Baltimore, let our footsteps be guided by Mary, the Woman of the Eucharist. Just as Mary carried the infant Jesus in her womb, as if in a tabernacle, as she journeyed to the home of her cousin Elizabeth, so too let us carry the Eucharistic Lord in procession singing aloud as we do so, “The Lord has done great things for me and holy is his Name!” May God bless you and keep you always in his love!


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