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Prayer Service of Elizabeth Ann Seton

PRAYER SERVICE FOR FEAST OF ST. ELIZABETH ANN SETON


“CALLED IN THE NAME OF CHARITY”

[St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was a woman of New York, a woman of America, and a woman of the Church. We Sisters of Charity of New York and Associates, who celebrate Elizabeth with special affection, are happy to share this prayer service with all who honor her as a woman of steadfast faith, unquenchable hope and passionate charity.

Please feel free to adapt this prayer for your own community, parish, institution, school, or other group. .Sr. Regina Bechtle, SC

Sections in italics are taken from Elizabeth Seton’s own writings \


GATHERING

[After the leader welcomes the group, play some quiet instrumental music and invite them into a time of quiet.] Take a few moments in silence to recall your own relationship with Elizabeth, a woman – wife, mother, widow, friend, seeker, convert, educator, religious foundress. What event from her life of many sorrows and many joys speaks to your spirit? Imagine her present in this room; what would she call forth from you and your family/parish/community today?


CALL TO PRAYER

LEADER: With sages of old who sought the Promised One by the Light of a star,

ALL: WE ARE CALLED IN THE NAME OF CHARITY.

LEADER: With the shepherds who found God’s radiant Light in a child born in poverty,

ALL: WE ARE CALLED IN THE NAME OF CHARITY.

LEADER: With Elizabeth Seton who rejoiced to be awakened by God’s Light and warmed by the fire of God’s love,

ALL: WE ARE CALLED IN THE NAME OF CHARITY.


GATHERING SONG

“Gathered in the Love of Christ” (M. Haugen, The Song and the Silence)

(or see alternate suggestions)


PSALM (composite of Psalms 84 and 27):

Antiphon: Enlighten me O Divine Light! Conduct me O Supreme Truth!

Raise me again O increated Life! (Elizabeth’s words)

How glorious is your dwelling place, O Loving Creator of the universe!

My soul longs, yes, aches for the abode of the Beloved;

All that is within me sings for joy to the living Heart of Love!

Even as the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nesting place,

Where its young are raised within your majestic creation,

You invite us to dwell within your Heart.

Blessed are they whose hearts are filled with love,

Who sing praises toYou with grateful hearts!

Blessed are they who put their strength in You,

Who choose to share the joy and sorrow of the world.

They do not give way to fear or doubt:

They are quickened by divine light and power;

They dwell within the peace of the Most High.

They go from strength to strength and live with integrity.

Love is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

Love is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

Teach me to be love, as You are Love; lead me through each fear;

hold my hand as I walk through valleys of doubt each day, that I may know your peace.

A day within the Heart of Love is more to be desired than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a servant in your dwelling place,

than live in riches among those who know not Love.

For the Beloved is as radiant as the sun, as strong as a steel shield,

And invites each one to come, to partake of the Banquet.

Antiphon: Enlighten me O Divine Light! Conduct me O Supreme Truth!

Raise me again O increated Life! (Elizabeth’s words)

"The Protecting Presence and consoling Grace of my Redeemer and God" has never left me. (Elizabeth Seton to Rebecca Seton, 3 January 1804)


READING

One who is contemplatively present to life is first of all convinced, if only on an intuitive level, that the present moment – just the way it is – is in its deepest meaning a manifestation of the divine. Do we not hear echoes of Elizabeth saying, “Go out to meet your grace.”….

When we are present to the mystery within which life is lived, we are alert to and wait for manifestations of the divine within the ordinary. In our attentiveness to mystery, we uncover traces of the divine presence in joy, absurdity and pain. In short, we not only meet and praise God in and through relationships, ministry, encounters, crises, etc., but we also bring a faith, hope and love that has the ability to transform and to help usher in God’s reign.

-Jean Flannelly, SC, “Elizabeth Ann Seton: Model of Contemplative Presence for the 21st Century,” Vincentian Heritage, 21, 2 (address given at Seton Legacy 2001)


TIME FOR REFLECTION AND SHARING

INTERCESSIONS: (spontaneous)


MAGNIFICAT OF ST. ELIZABETH SETON

(Italicized words are Elizabeth’s own.)

While I live, while I have my being, I will sing praises to my God;

For God has looked with love on my simple and confiding heart;

generations to come will call me Mother of many daughters.

For the One who alone is mighty has changed my poverty and sorrow

into the power to do great things. Holy is God’s name!

In every age our sweet Providence has continually showered mercy over us.

God, my defense and shield and strength and Salvation, confuses the proud of heart,

casts the mighty from their thrones, and calls the lowly to look up with hope.

God raises me from the dust to feel that I am near the Light,

and drives away all terrors to fill me with peace.

God’s abundance fills the hungry,

while the rich are sent away empty-handed.

God, my Shepherd, sustains me in faith, hope, and charity

and leads me to assist the poor with tender compassion.

The God who remembers, who never slumbers or sleeps,

upheld our mothers and fathers, our ancestors in faith.

So too for us and for our children, God keeps the promise,

Mercy for the future, as sure as the past.

Glory…


The heavenly Providence over us has been truly our continued source of Mercy.

(Elizabeth Seton to Julia Scott, 19 Feb. 1819)


CLOSING PRAYER

(all)

Provident and playful Creator,

we thank you for drawing us ever more deeply

into the mystery of your Community of Love,

made manifest in Your beloved Child Jesus.

As we seek to be transformed into His passionate and compassionate image,

may His ever-inventive Spirit inspire in us

new ways to embody Charity as community.

Believing in the communion of saints and the communion of all creation,

we call upon St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, our foundress and friend,

to bind us in one heart and mind to each other,

and to our sisters and brothers who are poor.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Light of all the nations. Amen.

My heart and soul is bound to yours - it never says ME any more but all ways US

(Elizabeth Seton, to Cecilia Seton)

  • * * * *


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Psalm adapted and excerpted from Nan Merrill, Psalms for Praying (Continuum, 1996)

Closing Prayer: adapted from prayers by Srs. Anne Denise Brennan, SC, & Vivienne Joyce, SC, created for the Sisters of Charity of New York

Seton quotations from Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, vols. I & II (New City Press, 2000, 2002), eds. Regina Bechtle, SC & Judith Metz, SC; mss. ed., Ellin Kelly. Available from Vincentian Studies Institute, Chicago, IL 60614-3594 -

phone: 773/325-4943

e-mail: VSIBookstore@depaul.edu;

online: www.depaul.edu/~vstudies (click on “Bookstore”).


SUGGESTIONS FOR MUSIC

Christ Be Our Light (B. Farrell, Christ Be Our Light, OCP, 1994)

The People that Walked in Darkness (St. Louis Jesuits, Gentle Light)

Any version of Psalm 23, e.g. My Shepherd Is the Lord (M. Joncas, We Come toYour Feast, GIA 1995)

We Are Called (D. Haas, GIA 1988)

God of Day and God of Darkness (M. Haugen, Song of God Among Us)

Be Light for Our Eyes (D. Haas, To Be Your Bread)