A young mother died unexpectedly. Her death left her precious toddler scarred emotionally. A year later, the child’s younger sister, barely a toddler, also died. As an adult, Eliza still recalled herself, at four years of age, sitting on the doorstep gazing at the clouds, hoping to see her deceased loved ones in the sky.
Numbed by pain from early childhood issues, Eliza felt her father’s absence keenly when he was abroad for professional study. At times, she wondered if he loved her. As emotional waves surged, confusion mixed with sadness, troubled her adolescent heart. Feeling alienated and alone, Eliza considered taking a drug overdose but she decided not to take laudanum, an opiate derivative. Later, she rejoiced in her choice–not to do the “horrid deed.” Hope soon dissipated her melancholy and restored her lively spirit.
Beguiling once again, Eliza met and fell in love with William Magee Seton. They married and had five children but the mature Eliza lost her beloved husband to tuberculosis. Catholic friends introduced the young widow to the Catholic faith, its liturgical worship, and personal devotions. Catholic beliefs, particularly the Eucharist and Blessed Mother, attracted Eliza. She longed for interior peace and the gift of true faith, which she discerned through reading, study, consolation, and conversations on religious matters. Friends and family argued against her considering Catholicism. The more they dissuaded, the more she felt called to religious conversation as “the earnest desire of my Soul.”
Should she or shouldn’t she become Catholic? Her discernment left her in a whirlwind of emotional turmoil. Hers was a heart-wrenching struggle to discover God’s plan. Eliza longed for God: “If I am right, O teach my heart still in the right to stay; if I am wrong, thy grace impart to find the better way.”
She sought divine truth: “I seek but God and his church and expect to find my peace in them.” When the Church retold the story of the Magi following a star to find the Promised Savior, Elizabeth wrote plaintively: “Alas, where is my star?” In making her profession of faith, Eliza found her inner peace as a Roman Catholic. As foundress of the Sisters of Charity, she encouraged her sisters to: “Meditate on peace before Jesus, the sweet King and Prince of peace–let us desire it, make it a great part of our perfection, a capital point of our vocation of love.”
Points to ponder:
- What is the earnest desire of my soul?
- What helps me discern God’s will when faced with significant choices?
- Where is my star? How does its brilliance touch my heart?
- How shall I live my vocation of love?