Thursday, January 04, 2007

Could it be... Seton or Satan?

My first experience of Elizabeth Ann Seton was when I visited her shrine daily in lower Manhattan when I was in New York City for financial advisor training in 1997. It's an unassuming Federalist chapel attached to a mansion built in the late 1700's on the site of her former home. Daily Noon Mass there was a trip. Folks of all varieties were present, from tourists to executives, all in the shadow of One World Financial Center where I was taking classes.

I was and am fascinated by the various roles in Seton's life. She was the first daughter of America to be canonized. Married woman of the world, teacher, foundress of an order of nuns. She was all of these things in turn, and she exemplifies what is best in the American spirit and in Catholic Social Teaching.
We could do worse than emulate her spirit of service. She, like our Lord, counted her position as nothing, and lowered herself to work on behalf of those who were in need. Like our Lord, hers was a choice she freely made.
Pope Paul VI spoke to the American situation when he said the following in 1975 at her canonization ceremony:
This most beautiful figure of a holy woman presents to the world
and to history an affirmation of new and authentic riches that are yours:
that religious spirituality which your temporal prosperity
seems to obscure and almost make impossible.

I shudder when I compare Seton's spirit of selfless service with the Spirit of Fear and Greed which animates our economic system. For example, we're fighting a war in Iraq whose economic cost is overshadowed by the lost opportunity cost of being unable/ unwilling to feed our hungry, house our homeless and educate Americans to a level we all deserve.

The tally on the box at the right shows the cost in dollars. That's bad enough. But, when you dip that dollar wad in the blood of innocent civilians as well that of our own service people the result is downright Satanic. We are not just shooting ourselves through the foot with this misbegotten war. We are stabbing ourselves in the heart.
I ask Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton to pray today for us, that we may have peace and gospel priorities for this dear country of ours.
Blessed be you, Lord Jesus, for having given us Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton as our sister. United to you, she loves us and carries us always in her prayers. May the fidelity and fervor of her life here on earth renew us in our own vocation. Hear us, Lord, in whom all the saints are one.

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