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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: Model of Eucharistic Love and Tender Love of Others

MANHATTAN, May 26 — During the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage through lower Manhattan, the huge throng of pilgrims stopped at the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Seton in her former house in Battery Park.


There the Sisters of Life, who run from there their Visitation Mission to vulnerable pregnant and new mothers, welcomed pilgrims into the Chapel of Mission and assisted in their adoration of the Lord by singing several polyphonic Eucharistic hymns.


The superior of the house, Sr. Gianna Maria Solomon, SV, also gave a brief reflection on the connection between St. Elizabeth Seton's Eucharistic love and her maternal love. The reflection took place on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.


Here are excerpts of what Sr. Gianna Maria said:


“Glory Glory Glory be to Him who has obtained for his servant these inestimable privileges –to enter into covenant with Him, to commune with His Spirit, to receive the blessing of our reconciled Father, inheritors in his Kingdom of Blessedness" (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).  


"Dear Friends, welcome to the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. What a gift on this Solemnity to praise the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and adore Our Lord Jesus in His Most Holy Body and Blood in this holy space. The Sisters of Life are happy to welcome you to this place. My name is Sr. Gianna Maria and I am the local superior at our Visitation Mission to pregnant women here at the Shrine. We pray you find your visit here today a moment of prayer and rest. … The Sisters and I look forward to greeting you as we head to the Brooklyn Bridge and invite you to join us on Thursday afternoons for Adoration here or our monthly Source Holy Hour held September through May one Saturday evening once a month alternately here and at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


"Though this church was built only in the early 1960s, we are here because this space, where we are right now, was for two years the site of the home of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. It was May of 1801. After being forced to sell their home on Stone Street due to their worsening financial situation, she, her husband William and four children at the time rented the newly built brick home here on the Battery. Here Elizabeth and her family resided as William’s health declined and his business failed. Here she joyfully welcomed her last child, Rebecca, in August 1802. From here she sailed to Italy in the Fall of 1803 in hope of finding some healing for William’s health and instead found the Bread of life to heal her own soul. Here her mother’s heart poured itself out freely for her children and her ailing husband. Here she prayed, trusting deeply in the Divine Providence of God to guide all aspects of her life. When she finally left New York in 1809 for Baltimore, seeing the house from the port as they departed, she could not help but express love and nostalgia as she wrote, 'I saw once more the windows of State Street… can a heart swell so high and not burst?'


"The suffering Elizabeth experienced in life formed in her a mother’s heart full of tenderness and compassion. Her letters to friends and family reveal a warmth and humanity that show she was willing to be vulnerable and let herself be moved by the plight of others. Her maternal kindness and down-to-earth practical wisdom she shared firstly with her five children, with the widows and their children she served, and eventually with her students. Even as the general superior directing a new religious congregation, she always saw herself firstly as a mother. When the grace of encountering Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament drew her to the Catholic Faith, the capacity of her maternal love grew as she spent time in Adoration and received Holy Communion as frequently as possible. She said, 'I taste the sweetness of His Presence, and feed on the bread of angels which warms, cheers, soothes, contents, and renews my whole being.' She loved the traditional prayer of the Anima Christi and would make it her own by adding lines such as, 'Heart of Jesus, receive me; Spirit of Jesus, enliven me; Beauty of Jesus, draw me.' Jesus in the Eucharist deepened the already burning flame of love for her children and her students. She would later write, after the founding of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph that she was 'at peace…. I [was] a mother encompassed by many children of different dispositions-- not all equally amiable or congenial, but bound to love, instruct, and provide for the happiness of all.'


"St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is a model for us of ardent love for the Eucharist and of steadfast, tender love for others. She’s an example of perseverance in suffering and of trust in God’s holy will and providence. To her daughter Rebecca, she said, 'Trust all, indeed, to Him my dear one; put all in His hands, and we shall see, by and by, when we get home to our Jerusalem, how good and tender He has been in giving you a thorny crown.' She loved our Blessed Mother and would marvel at the maternity of Mary, whom she imagined must have wanted to delay weaning the child Jesus.


"Let us ask the intercession of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton that we too may love with a tender love those entrusted to our care — children, siblings, parents, co-workers, friends. Let us ask her intercession that the sufferings Jesus gives be for us a source of union with Him. Let us ask her intercession that trust may grow in our hearts so that we see life in light of His loving Divine Providence. May we too spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, receive Him as often as we are able, and marvel with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 'At last, God is mine, and I am His.' May we heed her final advice to her sisters, 'Be children of the Church.'


I’ll close with her words in praise of the Trinity that each of us can make our own, 'Blessed be the Eternal Father who adopted me as His child! Blessed be the Eternal Son who merited for me this adoption with His blood! Blessed by the Holy Spirit who confirmed this adoption by the grace of Divine love and shed it in my heart!' Amen."

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