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Liturgical day: January 4th: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Gospel text (Lc 10,38-42): As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He entered a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister named Mary who sat down at the Lord's feet to listen to his words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving and finally she said, «Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the serving?». But the Lord answered, «Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her».

«Only one thing is needed»

(Tarpon Springs, Florida, United States)

Today, we celebrate the feast-day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, wife, mother, educator, foundress of the Sisters of Charity, and initiator of the parochial school system in the United States, the system whereby a parish provides total education for its children. Although St. Elizabeth Ann Seton worked relentlessly establishing Catholic schools throughout the United States, her main focus and that of her congregation was the interior life. She took seriously the message of the Lord in today's Gospel: «Mary has chosen the better part» (Lk 10:42). The union with the Lord found in contemplation, as exemplified by the Mary of Bethany, is far more important that the continual activity displayed by her sister Martha. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton encouraged the Sisters of Charity to treasure the interior life. She wrote, «An interior life means the continuation of the Savior's life within us», and is «the sweet land of promise». It was clear to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, that, «only one thing is needed» (Lk 10:42), in life. That «one thing» was to be in the presence of the Lord.

This nun of the first days of the American Republic teaches modern, overly busy man that nothing worthwhile can be accomplished unless it is done in union with the Lord. The time that is spent in prayer is integral to the ability to serve the Presence of Lord in others. For it is the Presence of the Lord within His people that attracts others to Christ.

Does a priest or religious wish to be successful in ministry? Does a layman or laywomen desire to promote Jesus Christ? Do we Christians want to attract others to the Lord? Then we must savor the Presence of Lord within ourselves. We must develop the interior life. That is the "one thing that matters".