Epiphany, Elizabeth Seton and Our Ordinary Epiphanies
Sr. Regina Bechtle, SC reflects on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the feast of the Epiphany and our ordinary epiphanies.
Epiphany – it’s no accident that the feast of St. Elizabeth Seton falls on or near this day each year. Epiphany celebrates a manifestation, a revelation, a great “aha” moment. For it tells us of a God who doesn’t hide but who shows up – a God who wants to be seen and known, sought and found – a God who delights in being discovered, usually in the most unlikely places.
In a feeding trough for animals, for instance – or in dark and difficult times…When “darkness covers the earth and thick clouds (discouragement, fear, sadness, violence) cover the people”. And didn’t Elizabeth Seton know times like that?
Didn’t she search and seek for light:
- in her grief when her mother died, followed by her father, her husband, and 2 of her daughters?
- in her confusion when she couldn’t yet see her way clear to becoming a Catholic?
- in her disillusionment when the peaceful religious life that she longed to live got tangled, in its early days, in the all-too-human power plays of her priest-Superiors and the machinations of some of her Sisters?
In each of those times of thick and heavy clouds, Elizabeth kept seeking. And the revelation that came each time uncovered a God of infinite tenderness: a caring Father, a faithful guide, a loving Presence.
That tender God was revealed to her not in fireworks or bells and whistles. No, the making known of God happened in the most ordinary of ways and places.
- At the kitchen table, the writing desk, the home of a friend, God’s tender face was revealed.
- In the bedroom where her children were conceived and born, and at the bedsides of the sick and dying, God’s tender touch was revealed.
- In the cramped rooms where poor widows and children lived, in the classroom where she heard the lessons of lonely children, God’s tender heart was revealed.
- Certainly, the powerful, luminous Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament focused and summed up all of God’s revelations to Elizabeth. But – especially as we gather here in the house where she used to live – she would want us to know that her dearest epiphany moments would always breakthrough in the most ordinary of ways and places.
[Presented at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish/Seton Shrine, State Street, NY – Regina Bechtle, SC on Jan. 4, 2015]
As we mark another celebration of Mother Seton’s feast day on January 3, she reminds us that she grew into her holiness, grew to become a Saint – just as we are asked to do – by finding her God, meeting her grace, precisely in those most ordinary of moments.
She would have related well to Pope Francis’ reminder that we are all called to be “ordinary saints”.
Food for thought
- Have I found Christ in the ordinary moments she did?
- Have I realized that Christ is in my ordinary moments?
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