In early January, the Church celebrates two great American saints–St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, whose feast day was yesterday, January 4, and St. John Neumann, whose feast is today, January 5.
The second reading of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, which usually is a work about or by the saint of that day, were especially good for both of these saints. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s reading was from a “conference to her spiritual daughters,” and it was entitled, “Our daily work is to do the will of the Father.” It’s beautiful, and I’m having some trouble figuring out how to cut and paste it from my iPhone’s Universalis App to email.
Update: I was able to figure it out! I have put a longish section from the reading at the end of this post.
In the meantime, here are two great children’s chapter books from the “Glory of America” series by Joan Stromberg about these two saints. I consider these historical fiction titles great gentle introductions to these saints; readers will learn lots about the time period as well as the spirituality of St. John and St. Elizabeth.
Thomas Finds a Treasure: a St. John Neumann Story (Glory of America, Catholic girls and boys of the U.S.A), tells the story of St. John Neumann from the eyes of a young boy who learns from his parish priest (St. John) about doing the right thing, even when difficult.
In Kat Finds a Friend, a St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Story (Glory of America, Catholic girls of the U.S.A), Kat benefits intellectually and spiritually from Mother Seton’s tireless guidance and love.
Because we have a new Kindle in our house, and I use the Kindle App frequently on my iPhone, I was especially excited to see that Behold Publications is beginning to publish books in the Kindle e-reader format. So far, these two books are not yet available on Kindle, but I did download Behold’s newest title, The Search for the Madonna. Like most Kindle books, this arrives at a significant discount to the print version, a bonus. I’ll post a review in the near future.
from Elizabeth Ann Seton, a conference to her spiritual daughters:
I know what his will is by those who direct me; whatever they bid me do, if it is ever so small in itself, is the will of God for me. Then do it in the manner he wills it, not sewing an old thing as if it were new, or a new thing as if it were old; not fretting because the oven is too hot, or in a fuss because it is too cold. You understand – not flying and driving because you are hurried, not creeping like a snail because no one pushes you. Our dear Saviour was never in extremes. The third object is to do his will because God wills it, that is, to be ready to quit at any moment and to do anything else to which you may be called….
You think it very hard to lead a life of such restraint unless you keep your eye of faith always open. Perseverance is a great grace. To go on gaining and advancing every day, we must be resolute, and bear and suffer as our blessed forerunners did. Which of them gained heaven without a struggle?…
What are our real trials? By what name shall we call them? One cuts herself out a cross of pride; another, one of causeless discontent; another, one of restless impatience or peevish fretfulness. But is the whole any better than children’s play if looked at with the common eye of faith? Yet we know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life, that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.
But we lack courage to keep a continual watch over nature, and therefore, year after year, with our thousand graces, multiplied resolutions, and fair promises, we run around in a circle of misery and imperfections. After a long time in the service of God, we come nearly to the point from whence we set out, and perhaps with even less ardour for penance and mortification than when we began our consecration to him.
You are now in your first setout. Be above the vain fears of nature and efforts of your enemy. You are children of eternity. Your immortal crown awaits you, and the best of Fathers waits there to reward your duty and love. You may indeed sow here in tears, but you may be sure there to reap in joy.