EMMITSBURG, Maryland (CNS) – Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint we can all relate to. She experienced joy and suffering. She had hopes and dreams. She faced the problems and frustrations of everyday life.
And she fell in love.
William Magee Seton was the descendant of a wealthy New York family and a successful young businessman who made his mark. He was smart, gentle, and shared his passion for music and the arts. For almost a decade, they had a happy life together.
Today that love story is the subject of âSeeker to Saint: A Storybook Romance,â the latest in a series of videos about the life of Mother Seton produced by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton National Shrine in Emmitsburg.
The videos, available on the shrine’s website, explore various aspects of the life and spirituality of the first American saint born in the country.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was 19 when she married Seton, 25, and they moved into a house on Wall Street and rose to prominence in society, counting Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton among their neighbors.
Elizabeth Seton had five children and the couple had an intimate, pious and even flirtatious relationship.
Their marriage, however, will last less than a decade. Will, suffering from tuberculosis and facing business difficulties, was encouraged to travel to Italy for treatment. He died there in 1803 with Elizabeth by his side.
While ultimately tragic, their story epitomizes the redemptive power of Christian love and marriage – a story that resonates today, said Stephanie Calis, founder and editor of Spoken Bride, a marriage ministry. for Catholic brides.
She is also the author of “Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner”, published in 2021 by Pauline and Media.
In a Q-and-A, Calis recently discussed love, marriage, and what Mother Seton can teach us over two centuries after her own storybook romance:
Q: We hear a lot about young people who don’t get married. What is the state of Catholic romance and marriage in a post-COVID-19 world?
A: In fact, I see a spirit of determination and holy audacity in many young Catholic adults lately.
Through conversations with friends who have married over the past year – many of whom have been forced to dramatically adjust their expectations, reduce their guest numbers, and even forgo deposits and reservations – I perceived a greater willingness to take action, rather than wait, in matters such as how long an engagement lasts before marriage or when to invite someone out on a date.
During lockdowns, many of us were confronted with messy parts of ourselves. More loneliness and unstructured time brought to light things we might have idolized or taken for granted. As a result, I observed a sort of stripping away of the âextraâ things related to love and marriage. A conscience sharper than genuine love and the sacraments of the Church are what counts and what lasts.
Having said that, I have the same admiration for couples who have organized simple and intimate weddings during the pandemic, and for those who are getting married in the near future and who are thrilled to finally reunite with their family and friends in one. big room. When Christ is at the center, all ceremony and reception is a picture of the heavenly wedding feast.
Q: What do people ask you the most about Catholic marriage these days?
A: At Spoken Bride, couples most often ask us how to communicate the meaning of the Catholic Faith to non-religious or non-Catholic guests.
I truly believe that a wedding of spiritual and visual beauty – a sacred setting, special attire, flowers, music, incense – can embody the truth, goodness and beauty of God, all of it. without saying a word. Beauty is captivating and can serve as a bridge in your relationships!
For all couples who wish to communicate the goodness of their faith, I invite them to consider this idea of ââbeauty and relationship first, and the rhetoric second, as a way to convert hearts.
Q: How do couples survive on a daily basis when the âlove affairâ part becomes the part of paying bills and changing diapers? How do you keep faith in the foreground?
A: Be friends, pray and identify your priorities!
At the start of our relationship, my husband and I were convinced that we would always be as willing to sacrifice each other for each other and still find each other as fascinating as in the first days of our relationship. Unsurprisingly, we’ve found that it takes effort to engage with each other when things seem routine or tiring. But really, the more time we spend talking, praying, and just being wacky best friends together, the less painful everyday life is and the more frequently we still experience those feelings of âstorybook loveâ.
Rather than feeling frustrated when changes in work or family circumstances require a change in our spiritual commitments (in our current season of raising young children, for example, even simple prayers at meal times are not being done. effortlessly, and we have less time to get involved in the ward than in the past), we try to see each present season as an invitation to seek the Lord where we are.
At times changing the world means public ministry, and at others it means investing in your home church. We set ourselves the goal of always putting our vocation first, knowing that the body of Christ is being built both publicly and personally. Our family is our heritage; we know that we are stewards of his love and that for our children the presence, the relationship and the training that we can offer as parents are irreplaceable.
Q: Is a love and romance like the one shared between Will and Elizabeth Ann Seton possible today?
A: I can’t help but say yes to that! I absolutely believe that a love like Will and Elizabeth’s, filled with admiration, trust, affection and attraction, is possible two centuries later.
I think in an attempt to pursue a committed, Christ-like love that remains even when the good feelings are not there, we as Catholics sometimes do not give our emotions their due. All those dizzying, clichÃ©-worthy feelings that develop with new love are a gift! They are part of our hearts that the Lord really wants to reveal and rejoice with us. For my husband and I, falling in love has been one of the most fun, awe-inspiring and virtually indescribable moments of our lives. We felt such a heightened awareness of God’s goodness when we realized that we had met the person he had called us to marry!
So for me, finding and maintaining love like the Setons’ involves recognizing both the emotional and objective dimensions of love, knowing that each dimension can complement and strengthen the other.
Q: Can you relate anything from your own marriage to that of Will and Elizabeth?
A: In fact, I relate the most to the most difficult parts of their married life! It’s easy to hear sweet stories about married saints and think that we may never be as satisfied as they are or as receptive to God’s will. Yet I would expect that even these great men and women in the church would have had difficulty in their marriages and be holy because of the way they responded to suffering – not because they did. never suffered.
I am so inspired as Will and Elizabeth face the daily challenges of family life and, for Elizabeth, the loss of her spouse at a young age. It is incredible to me that in her pain, she remained insightful and receptive to the will of the Lord, to the point of embarking on a whole new vocation.
In the toughest days of parenthood and work responsibilities, I try to remind myself that a loving marriage and a big, chaotic family life is literally everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Seton’s wedding is a testament to how quickly life can change and how a great gift the vocation to marriage is.
See the video