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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Subject: Day 9: Wisdom of the Saints

Subject: Day 9: Wisdom of the Saints

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Retreat Day 9: Wisdom of the Saints
Sometimes we may question, “Where is God?” “What is God doing?”

Jesus gives us hints on how God acts within our world: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when it is full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches” (Mt. 13:31-32). 

He adds, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened” (Mt. 13:33).

One thing these parables point out for us is that God’s actions are not always the most obvious. Seeds are buried in the soil and a good part of their growth takes place hidden below the ground’s surface. Yeast is such an amazing organic component. In its own hidden way, it works with other organic substances and even becomes transformed, causing dough to rise. Often the lives of saints indicate for us that almost imperceptible work of God happening within the “soil” or the “dough” of our lives.
God is living within those who sincerely seek him. Divine grace is at work within me to build that everlasting kingdom of God’s reign.”
We can see God building up his kingdom in and through the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, born in New York City to a prominent and devout Episcopal family. Later in life she wrote of those days of her youth when she would spend time at her uncle’s home on the shores of Long Island Sound, taking in the beauty of creation and sensing God’s nearness: “The beauty of nature took hold of her senses, and her soul soared with wonder. She realized and rejoiced that God was her Father and wrote that she “then layed still to enjoy the Heavenly Peace that came over my Soul; and I am sure in the two hours so enjoyed grew ten years in my spiritual life.” (Elizabeth Ann Seton, pg. 5)

After the death of her husband, Elizabeth felt drawn to the Catholic Church. While sitting in the Episcopal church that she attended, it was the presence of the Eucharist that she missed from the days she’d spent in Italy: “I got in a side pew which turned my face towards the Catholic Church in the next street, and found myself twenty times speaking to the Blessed Sacrament there… tears plenty, and sighs as silent and deep as when I first entered your blessed Church of Annunciation in Florence, all turning to the one only desire to see the way most pleasing to my God, which ever that way is.” (Ibid., pg. 38)

After being received into the Catholic Church, Elizabeth Ann Seton went on to establish what would eventually become a network of Catholic schools, and founded a religious order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, dedicated to education. However, following God’s invitation did not come without a price. Those in her social circle prior to her conversion pretty much shunned her once she became Catholic, leaving Elizabeth and her five young children without the support of family and friends.

The “mustard seed” of God’s grace was already very much at work within the young Elizabeth. God’s plan was germinating into the “large tree” where birds would “nest in its branches” through the works of her Sisters of Charity. When St. Elizabeth was a young socialite in New York City, she could not have foreseen the path that God chose for her. Could we have ever thought that a petite, young girl from a comfortable life in New York City would give us a legacy of Catholic education in the United States?

If it was possible for God to work within Elizabeth Seton, could he not build his “kingdom” within and through me as well? Why not?

I can spend some time before the Lord and invite him to come stay within me. I pray the Our Father, asking God for the grace to live and work within me so that his will be done and that his kingdom will grow in and through me.

“Where is God?” “What is God doing?”

God is living within those who sincerely seek him. Divine grace is at work within me to build that everlasting kingdom of God’s reign.
Before You, Lord, in Prayer
Lord, help me to trust that you are always here with me and always at work within me. 

At times, it’s so hard to understand why you allow some circumstances to happen in my life. Yet I know that it is only my good that you desire. I ask to be open to your grace so that your reign will be established here on earth and forever in eternity. Amen.
Book Suggestions
All of the saints have something to teach us about living our lives according to God’s will. In the Saints By Our Side series, author Anne Merwin brings model of holiness and inspiration alive.

“The Eucharist sustained and fortified Elizabeth after her conversion and increased her ability to cope with the many trials she faces in Emmitsburg. It was her spiritual anchor and sextant both in the calm and in the deep, stormy seas of life. ‘I sit or stand opposite his tabernacle all day, and keep the heart to it as the needle to the pole.’ The physical presence of the Eucharist within her added another dimension to Elizabeth’s personal relationship with Christ.”

Excerpted from the book Elizabeth Ann Seton, by Anne Merwin, published by the Daughters of St. Paul.
Sr. Maria Grace needs your advice (please!)
For four delightful years, I worked in our Pauline Books & Media bookcenter in Alexandria, Virginia. My favorite part of being in the bookcenter was helping people on the floor. I realized that by listening to people and asking them questions, I could find just the right book, resource, or gift item that they needed for themselves or for a family member, student, or friend. The longer I worked in the bookcenter, the more familiar I became with all the great Catholic material that’s available, and the better I was at fulfilling the requests of those who came in. It was very satisfying to see people happy with the books or DVDs or gift items that they obtained from our bookcenter.

The only frustrating thing was—sometimes I could not find anything to fill a particular need. Either there was no book on a certain topic, or the person had read the little that was available and was looking for more. Or perhaps the resources available were addressed to a different audience or age level than what was required.

Now that I’m back working in our publishing house, I think back to the needs that were not satisfied, and I want to see about filling in some of these gaps. Could you please help me by answering just a few questions about your areas of interest? It would really help me alot. 

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