Thought for the Day – 4 January – The Memorial of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) “What is a Saint?”
Excerpt from HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER BLESSED PAUL VI – 14 September 1975, on the Canonisation of St Elizabeth Ann Seton
Elizabeth Ann Seton is a Saint! We rejoice and we are deeply moved that our apostolic ministry authorises us to make this solemn declaration before all of you here present, before the holy Catholic Church, before our other Christian brethren in the world, before the entire American people and before all humanity. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a Saint!
She is the first daughter of the United States of America to be glorified with this incomparable attribute! But what do we mean when we say: «She is a Saint»? We all have some idea of the meaning of this highest title; but it is still difficult for us to make an exact analysis of it. Being a Saint means being perfect, with a perfection that attains the highest level that a human being can reach. A Saint is a human creature fully conformed to the will of God. A Saint is a person in whom all sin-the principle of death-is cancelled out and replaced by the living splendour of divine grace. The analysis of the concept of sanctity brings us to recognise in a soul the mingling of two elements that are entirely different but which come together to produce a single effect: SANCTITY. One of these elements is the human and moral element, raised to the degree of heroism: heroic virtues are always required by the Church for the recognition of a person’s sanctity. The second element is the mystical element, which express the measure and form of divine action in the person chosen by God to realise in herself-always in an original way-the image of Christ (Cfr. Rom. 8, 29).
The Church has made this study of the life, that is, the interior and exterior history, of Elizabeth Ann Seton. And the Church has exulted with admiration and jo, and has today heard her own charism of truth poured out in the exclamation that we send up to God and announce to the world: she is a Saint!
May the dynamism and authenticity of her life be an example in our day-and for generations to come-of what women can and must accomplish, in the fulfilment of their role, for the good of humanity.
St Elizabeth Ann Seton – Pray for us that we may all travel safely this path of sanctity and join you in Heaven in the halls of Sanctity!