Elizabeth Ann Seton experienced a lot of loss: Her mother dying when she was quite young, her stepmother rejecting her after she and Elizabeth’s father separated, the death of her husband, the death of two daughters.
A lot of times this loss brought a change of plans for Elizabeth. Even her conversion to Catholicism did not come without pain as the girls school she had started was soon being emptied as parents pulled their girls out because of the strong anti-Catholicism sentiment of the day.
Yet she served wherever she was. In her married life when she was a prominent society member, she was known for taking care of the sick and suffering. The Catholic school she established was free and her religious order was dedicated to serving children of the poor.
She served wherever she was. Life threw a lot of changes at her. She kept going on God’s path, she kept serving in whatever capacity she could find.
Suffering can change everything for us. It yanks us off our path of life and puts us on to another. What do we do then? Sit down on the path and stay still?
No, we begin moving in the new direction God has laid out for us. We keep seeking His will and being open to opportunities to serve Him while being thankful for those around us who have found their opportunities to serve God by helping us.
Our service may come in very small ways. Maybe it is just that our suffering gives us a unique perspective that helps us relate to someone who needs it. Maybe its just as simple as people seeing us attending Church faithfully when they know our lives are in complete turmoil. Maybe God has something even bigger for us on this new path.
But that’s what I see in Elizabeth, whose feast day is on my birthday by the way. It’s the ability to adapt and change and keep serving, keeping our eyes on God and walking down whatever path He puts us on.