11th Day of Christmas / Elizabeth Seton — January 4

Bible connection

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. – Luke 6:12-16

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:31-36

Image result for mother setonAll about Mother Seton (1774-1821)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, many Catholics and Episcopalians honor  Elizabeth Seton, or Mother Seton, who was the first native-born American to be canonized as a saint. [Info from the shrine]

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City on August 28, 1774 to a prominent Episcopal family, and lost her mother at the age of three. In 1794, at the age of 19, Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, a wealthy businessman with whom she had five children. William died in 1803 of tuberculosis, exacerbated by his financial misfortunes, leaving Elizabeth as a young widow. After discovering Catholicism in Italy, where her husband had died after an attempt at convalescence, Elizabeth returned to the United States and entered the Catholic Church in 1805 in New York.

After a number of difficult years, Elizabeth moved in 1809 to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, the first community for religious women established in the United States. She also began St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, planting the seeds of Catholic education in the United States. Her legacy now includes religious houses in the United States and Canada, whose members work on the unmet needs of people living in poverty in North America and beyond.

Mother Seton, as she is often called, was canonized on Sunday, September 14, 1975 in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Paul VI. Her remains are entombed in Emmitsburg in the Basilica at the National Shrine that bears her name.

The Fifer — Édouard Manet (1866)

Also, according to the song, on the 11th day of Christmas my true love sent to me… Eleven pipers piping

The “secret” meaning of the song supposedly notes the eleven faithful apostles: Simon Peter,  Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of  Alphaeus,  Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot, who gave over Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans. Being faithful disciples is a lifelong matter and could be costly, as Elizabeth Seton experienced. On this day, however, it is kind of fun to imagine them marching through as pipers.

What do we do with this?

Pray: Thank you for choosing me. Reassure me of my calling. May I be free to live as my true self in your presence.

Want to learn more about the apostles? Here is a video narrated by a nice British accent. It has some disputable assertions, but is interesting.

Mother Seton was undoubtedly a good woman. However, she may have been canonized because the Roman Catholic Church needed an American saint. Regardless, she models a life of service to oppressed women and the poor. And she represents a person who stuck with her convictions when it was not easy to do so. None of us need to be sainted. But we will have a reputation and a legacy of one kind or another. What is yours? Journal a prayer about that.

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