Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Feast Day! Elizabeth Bailey Seton

Mother Seton is my patron saint, and so today I celebrate the woman who helped me in my own conversion many years back. I will share my conversion story here one of these days, but suffice to say the process was a slow one, and in the end harder than I thought it might be. At the time I was a Protestant missionary, figuring that I'd come home and find a minister to marry......and lo and behold I got a call from this man who I just clicked with. I remember thinking to myself after our second conversation how he just seemed so incredible.....EXCEPT that he was Catholic. And thus began the first stirring inside toward what has become my most important and satisfying decision in life -- to embrace the Catholic faith in full.

During my conversion (still a missionary throughout this!), I followed the advice that Mother Seton had received from her good friend Philip Filicci. When she asked him if she was to "pray, seek, and then embrace the Faith" he replied that he wished her only to "pray and seek". I did my own seeking with MANY doubts. I DO remember sharing the feeling of great loneliness during Eucharist, when I often knelt with tears in my pew as all the Catholics went forward. I couldn't understand why Jesus would turn me away, and my idea that the Catholic faith was just a bunch of "rules" was so strong. In looking back I realize that my feelings of anger were probably more pride because I couldnt' get what I wanted when I wanted it.....oh, how I still struggle with that today!

In the end, it was the story of Elizabeth Seton--as well as so many other saints-- who really encouraged my walk. While the Eucharist was drawing me, I didn't recognize it yet for the true presence of Jesus calling. What I COULD understand were these ordinary people just like me who somehow "cleared the clutter" between what they wanted and what God was calling them to. I had already grown SO much in my faith journey to become a missionary (after several years of a truly pagan lifestyle), and so I trusted that God would lead. In my mind I figured that if St. Augustine was good enough to become a saint, then I guess God had better plans for what I could do in His kingdom! The fact that Elizabeth Seton was a convert, a mother, a teacher (a homeschooling one, no less!) made it easy to turn to her as my choice for a patroness.

And so today I say, "Happy Feast Day, Mother Seton!" Thank you for all your intercessions over the years on my behalf.

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