Sr. Regina Bechtle, SC has prepared a prayer service for the August 28 anniversary of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s birth.
8-28-13 prayer for EAS birthday (Word doc)
PRAYER FOR THE BIRTHDAY OF ST. ELIZABETH ANN SETON – August 28
CALL TO PRAYER: Today we mark the birthday of Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton – “a woman of faith for a time of doubt and uncertainty, a woman of love for a time of coldness and division, a woman of hope for a time of crisis and discouragement” (Terence Cardinal Cooke). As Catholics the world over mark the Year of Faith, let us give thanks to God for the living faith that grounded Elizabeth through all the joys and sorrows of her life journey.
ANTIPHON (All): I am going straight on by Faith. (Elizabeth Seton)
You raise me up to new life;
You dry my tears, and guide my feet on straight paths.
I keep my faith, even in times of great turmoil;
I invite others to awaken to the joy of your Presence.
What shall I render to You for all your goodness to me?
I will drink the chalice of Love, and praise You,
who have done wondrous things;
I will bear witness to You, O Bread of Life,
in the presence of all the people.
Precious to You are all who live in Love,
who abandon themselves into your loving care.
– Psalm 116, excerpts, from Nan Merrill, Psalms for Praying (1996)
SCRIPTURE READING: from the Letter to the Hebrews (10:23 – 12:2, excerpts, JB translation)
Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is faithful….
Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for,
or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen….
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country
that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants,
and that he set out without knowing where he was going….
It was equally by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive,
because she believed that the one who had made the promise would be faithful to it….
With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us,
we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily,
and keep running steadily in the race we have started.
Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection.
Pause for reflection
RESPONSE: (excerpts from Elizabeth Seton’s writings, in italics, and Pope Francis’ encyclical, Lumen Fidei – Light of Faith) Pause briefly between each section.
On God himself I pin my Faith.
Faith’s new way of seeing things is centered on Christ. Faith in Christ brings salvation
because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us,
a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us. (LF #20)
We must walk, and walk confidently in the obscurity of faith.
Faith is not a light which scatters all darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.…In union with faith and charity, hope propels us towards a sure future. (LF, #57)
Link by link the blessed chain:
one Body in Christ – he the head, we the members
one Spirit diffused thro the Holy Ghost in us all
one hope – Him in heaven and Eternity
one Faith by his word and his church
….Who could escape this bond of unity, peace and love!
Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. …[Faith’s] light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope. (LF #51)
Faith lifts the staggering soul on one side, Hope supports it on the other–Experience says it must be and Love says let it be.
Those who believe are transformed by the love to which they have opened their hearts in faith….Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes. (LF, #21, 26)
SHARING: What words and images spoke to your heart?
How does your faith enable you to see reality in new ways?
Leader: Let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith. (LF, #60, adapted)
All: Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear the word of Jesus and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land
and to receive his promise.
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial,
beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, Son of God, our Lord and Brother!
MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: “Give us Faith, Lord” (on CD: Morning Light, St. Louis Jesuits, ©2005, Published by OCP); “We Walk by Faith” (traditional); “May We See You in Faith,” Gerald Chiusano (on CD: On This Mountain, ©2005, Published by OCP); “Find Us Faithful,” Steve Green (available on YouTube)
– Prepared by Regina Bechtle, SC; image: Joseph Dawley