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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Broken Relationships Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 00:00

When Elizabeth Seton came into the Catholic Church, most of her friends and family deserted her.  Her in-laws restricted her contact with her husband's siblings, and even her own sister rejected her.  She was naturally devastated by the loss of these relationships, and turned to God in her sorrow. 

Being a lover of Scripture, she was surely familiar with the many Biblical stories of broken relationships, and possibly looked there for comfort.  The book of Genesis recounts the story of the reconciliation of the brothers Jacob and Esau.   Jacob had robbed Esau of his birthright and blessing, and when he found out Esau was plotting his death, he fled hundreds of miles and lived in Haran for many years.  As he was about to return home, Jacob prayed, begging God's forgiveness and protection from Esau's anger.  God heard his prayer, and the two men fell into each other's arms upon meeting.  (Genesis 32-33)

Centuries later St. Paul pleaded for his friend, Philemon, to forgive and accept back a slave who had run away from him.  Not only that, but he asks Philemon to receive him as a beloved brother:  "I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment...I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you...so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother - especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord."  (Philemon 1:10, 12, 16)

Such a beautiful passage! "I am sending him, that is, my own heart"...Onesimus, a corrupt slave, had been saved by the Gospel and was now as dear to St. Paul, and eventually to Philemon, as a cherished brother.  In Christ the most damaged relationships can not only be healed, but made better than new. 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton had some of those lost relationships restored, especially two of her sisters-in-law, Cecilia and Rebecca, who followed her into the faith.  Through it all, she did her best to courageously follow her Savior and trust in Him.  We, too, can ask God to intervene when we have severed ties with someone close to us.  We can start by looking into our own heart and praying for the Holy Spirit to mend what He finds there.  Nothing is ever hopeless in Christ...

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!