« ElőzőTovább »
TWO VOCATIONS. *
WHEN, during the War of Ameri- gave to her sentiments and aspiracan Independence, the little Eliza tions a tone of uncommon purity Ann Bayley was the joy and beauty and virtue, which manifested itself of her father's New York home, no in all her writings. Her mind was wildest flight of fancy probably ever of a superior order, but it was not suggested to him, who was father and less prone to the indulgence of pious mother both to her, that his child meditation than it was active and would one day be at the head of a intelligent. Those hours which she peaceful but powerful army, whose could snatch from her domestic and banner of charity should be known social duties were frequently emand loved from the Atlantic to the ployed in communing with God, in Pacific, and from the Great Lakes to the perusal of the Holy Scriptures, the Gulf of Mexico. He might have and in meditating upon the sublime dreamed it to be remotely possible truths of the Christian religion. that divisions could, some future When things had assumed the most day, occur in the new country strug- unfavorable aspect, and one loss, apgling into life, and that the sons of peared only to be the harbinger of those who, in his time, were fighting additional misfortunes, she knew how side by side might one day clash to possess her soul in patience and swords against each other; but he to trust in Him who directs all the was not likely to so forecast events events of life for the wisest ends.". as to dream that in that future of his Iu 1803 Mr. Seton, who was in Protestant country the white cap of very delicate health, left home for the Catholic Sisters of Charity would Italy, to try the effect of a sea-voyage. be known and welcomed and hon- His wife and their eldest daughter ored on battlefield and in hospital, Anna accompanied him, leaving two and that she whom those sisters re- sons and two daughters at home. vered as their foundress and first On the 18th of November they mother would be his little girl. reached Leghorn, where they were
Eliza Bayley was a member of the obliged to go into quarantine, and Protestant Episcopal Church, and there for a full month they lived in she married Mr. William Seton, who suffering and deprivation, brightened was also of that denoinination. She with earthly and heavenly love, whose was earnestly devout, and was so de- record, from Mrs. Seton's own jourvoted to the relief of the poor that nal of the time, is very touching and she and one of her relations, who beautiful to read. was much associated with her in such But it is more, much more, than works, were called Protestant Sisters touching and beautiful when considof Charity. Her biographer says, in ered in the light of what was to folregard to this portion of her life, low. On the 19th of December the “Hers was one of those favored poor invalid was set free from his souls that are borne up by their own trying captivity, though his wife's natural impulses to the love and pur- heart “beat almost to fainting lest suit of what is right, and this dispo- he should die in the exertion ;'' comsition, aided by study and reflection, fort for a short time was granted him, * The Life of Mère Marie de la Providence, Foun
but extreme suffering and weakness dress of the Helpers of the Holy Souls. By Lady Georgiana Fullerton. Burns & Oates, London, 1875. Life of Mrs. Eliza A. Seton, Foundress and first Superior of the Sisters or Daughters of Charity in the United States of America. By Charles I. White. D.D. J. Murphy & Co., Baltimore, 1873.
me, suade him to wet his lips, but con
tinued calling his Redeemer to par- of God and trust in him. The soul don and release him. As he always of this earnest woman would seem would have his door shut, I had no to many persons to be very ripe in interruption. Carlton kept Anna out holiness, and yet, in little more than of the way, and every promise in the a year from that time, Eliza Seton Scripture and prayer I could remem- had become a Catholic. Fresh from ber I continually repeated to him, her husband's deathbed, and after which seemed to be his only relief. watching beside another dying couch, When I stopped to give him any- that of her cherished sister-in-law thing, "Why do you do it? What Rebecca, she left deliberately the do I want? I want to be in heaven; fold in which she had been reared, pray, pray for my soul.' He said he and where she had loved them, and felt so comfortable an assurance that taking a step which sundered her in his Redeemer would receive him, her young widowhood from many that he saw his dear little Rebecca friends, to whose love and sympathy smiling before him, and told little she might otherwise have looked, she Anna, 'Oh, if your father could take went straight onward to meet poverty you with him!' And at midnight, and neglect on the one hand, but on when the cold sweats came on, he the other that which was to her more would reach out both his arms, and than life or love of earth. Not withsaid, repeatedly, “You promised me out long and hard struggle did she you would go; come, come, fly!' attain to the rest which finally she At four the hard struggle ceased; won. nature sank into a settled sob. “My “I do not get on," she writes, dear wife and little ones,' and 'My “cannot cast the balance for the Christ Jesus, have mercy and receive peace of this poor soul, but it suffers me,' was all I could distinguish; and plenty, and the body too. I say again repeated, 'My Christ Jesus,' daily, with great confidence of being until a quarter past seven, when the one day heard, the 119th Psalm, dear soul took its flight to the blessed never weary of repeating it and exchange it so much longed for. I reading à Kempis, who, by the way, often asked him, when he could not was a Catholic writer, and, as our speak, “You feel, my love, that you Protestant preface says, 'wonderfully are going to your Redeemer?' and versed in the knowledge of the Holy he motioned “Yes,' with a look of Scriptures;' and I read much, too, peace. At a quarter past seven on of St. Francis de Sales, so earnest Tuesday morning, December 27th, for bringing all to the bosom of the his soul was released, and mine from Catholic Church, and I say to mya struggle next to death. And how self, Will I ever know better how to will my dear sister understand, ex- please God than they did?' and down cept you could conceive the scene I kneel to pour my tears to them, of suffering my poor William passed and beg them to obtain faith for me. through, that I took my little Anna Then I see faith is a gift of God, to in my arms and made her kneel be diligently sought and earnestly again with me by the dear body and desired, and groan to him for it in thank our Heavenly Father for re- silence, since our Saviour says I canlieving him from his misery, for the not come to him unless the Father joyful assurance that, through our draw me. As it is, by and by, I blessed Redeemer, he had entered trust this storm will cease, how paininto life eternal, and implored his ful and often agonizing He only protecting care and pity for us who knows who can and will still it in have yet to finish our course?" his own good time. ... In a des
We read here of devoted love to peration of heart I went last Sunday the earthly spouse and of deep love to St. George's (Protestant Episco
pal) Church. The wants and neces- thought, till told by Mr. Hobart, sities of my soul were so pressing that their faith could be so full of that I looked straight up to God, consequence to them or me, I will and I told him, since I cannot see go peaceably and firmly to the Cathothe way to please you whom alone I lic Church'; for, if faith is so imwish to please, 'everything is indiffer- portant to our salvation, I will seek ent to me, and until you do show me it where true faith first began-seek the way you mean me to walk in, I it among those who received it from will trudge on in the path you suf- God himself. The controversies fered me to be born in, and go even on it I am quite incapable of decidto the very sacraments where I once ing; and as the strictest Protestant used to find you. So away I went, allows salvation to a good Catholic, my old Mary happy to take care of to the Catholics I will go and try to the children for me once more until be a good one. May God accept I came back; but if I left the house my intention and pity me! As to a Protestant I returned to it a Catho- supposing the word of our Lord has lic, I think, since I determined to go failed, and that he has suffered his no more to the Protestants, being first foundation to be built on by much more troubled than ever I Antichrist, I cannot stop on that thought I could be while I remem- without stopping on every other bered God is my God. But so it word of our Lord, and being tempted was, that the bowing of my heart be- to be no Christian at all ; for if the fore the bishop to receive his absolu- first church became Antichrist, and tion, which is given publicly and the second holds her rights from it, universally to all in the Church; I then I should be afraid both might had not the least faith in his prayers, be Antichrist, and I make my way and looked for an apostolic loosing to the bottomless pit by following from my sins, which, by the books either.” Mr. Hobart had given me to read, I On the 14th of March, 1805, Mrs. find that they do not claim or admit; Seton abjured Protestantism, and was then trembling to communion, half received into the Catholic Church, dead with the inward struggle when This step brought upon her not only they said the body and blood of the opposition of her former friends, Christ;' oh, no words for my trial! but estrangement from them. Left a And I remember, in my old prayer- widow with five children without book of former edition, when I was sufficient support, she was now dea child, it was not, as now, said to prived of aid that would have been be spiritually taken and received; gladly given her had she remained however, to get thoughts away, I an Episcopalian. But though she took the Daily Exercise of good still had friends to assist her, she was Abbé Plunkett to read the prayers unwilling to be wholly dependent after communion, but finding every on them, and, therefore, opened a word addressed to our dear Saviour boarding house. In the course of as really present, I became half crazy, the next year her young and dear and for the first time could not bear sister-in-law, Cecilia Seton, when the sweet caresses of the darlings or only fourteen years of age, became bless their little dinner. Oh, my a Catholic in spite of all opposition ; God, that day!"
and for a time, while the displeasure At last her troubled mind found of her relatives lasted, found a home rest. " They tell me," she says, with Mrs. Seron. But the heart of “ take care, I am a mother, and my the latter was drawn to a higher life; children I must answer for, whatever it was her desire to place her ynx at faith I lead them to. That being so, a Castoric colege, and to be arimitand I so unconscious, for I litle teri berself with her daughters into some convent where she might teach, man, and as obedience is his favorite and her children might be properly service and cannot lead me wrong, educated as Catholics. And now, in according to the old rules I look God's own way, simply and quietly, neither behind nor before, but straight this true-hearted woman's vocation upward without thinking of human was marked out. Not as in the case calculations." of Mère Marie de la Providence, which In 1808, with a view to the work we have linked with Mrs. Seton's, which might be shaped out for her, though that was God's own way also, she opened a small boarding-school did a voice speak first to the inmost in Baltimore, and then, one mornsoul, showing a new path, and shaping ing after receiving Holy Communion, the life by strange events towards it, she was impressed with a wish to The Catholic Church was in its small give herself « to the care and instrucbeginning in the United States, and tion of poor female children, and to more than one of its faithful, hard- organize some plan for this purpose working priests knew of and cared that might be continued even after for the brave convert to the faith her death." Circumstances comwho had left much to find all. Dis- bined to show that God's time was tinctly through their lips God re- come; spiritual daughters desirous vealed his will for her. She had of the religious life gathered round planned to go to the nuns in Canada, Mrs. Seton; Emmettsburg, now so' but her plans were given up in the famous in the annals of the Catholic hope that she might do a greater Church in this land, was selected as work at home. Her advisers bade the place for the home of the great her " wait the manifestation of the future work ; a modification of the divine will, the will of a Father most rule of the Sisters of Charity of St. tender, who will not let go the child Vincent de Paul was adopted for the afraid to step alone.”' Greatly must community; and there until 1821 her meek obedience have cheered Mother Seton labored for the glory them, proving to them her fitness for of the Lord, who had brought her a work which would sustain their into his one and only Church, and hands and the hands of their suc- for the good of souls redeemed by cessors, in many and many an hour his most precious blood. of trial. “I have only to pray God," She desired that her society should one wrote to her, “to bless your be completely affiliated with that of views and his, and to give you the the Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul grace to fulfil them for his greater in the Eastern hemisphere, and glory. You are destined, I think, for though this was not accomplished some great good in the United States, during her lifetime, it has taken and here you should remain in pref- place since her death, and the whole erence to any other location. For globe is belted with these whitethe rest, God has his moments which helmeted ranks of consolation. The we must not seek to anticipate, and sick and the suffering know them a prudent delay only brings to ma- well and love them; they are tender turity the good desires which he nurses to little children whose mo. awakes within us.”
thers own them not; they are found, And so she gave herself to God to fearless and calm, upon the battledo what he should bid her do through field, ministering to the wounded the voice of his chosen servants upon and the dying; plague-stricken cities whom his Spirit rested. It was a know them as of the number of those great work that lay before her; "the who fear God and fear nothing else very idea,” she says, “is enough to save sin; who love God, and for his turn a stronger brain ; but I know sake love all for whom he died. very well he sees differently from Converts to the Church know them,
as they open hand and heart and This bright, keen-spirited girl, full peaceful chapel to bid the newcomers of activity, and tenderly attached to welcome. Men who mock at re- her home, her family, her friends on ligion bow humbly and reverently this side the grave, was drawn by before them. And they count God away from all that living, visiamong their holy dead some blood- ble, tangible affection, so precious to stained martyrs who have met death her, and bound as by an irresistible in the heathen land at the heathen spell to the invisible realm of the hand ; they count among their living dead, to the purgatory where earthly those who have been driven into joys are as the veriest nothing to exile because they stood firm to the holy souls whose one longing is their duty and their God. This to see the face of God. army of St. Vincent is known the She had from mere childhood felt wide world over. There is another a strange and strong attraction to world for which another noble band them. On that All Souls' Day, which is spending its all.
was as a turning point in her life, In the year that closed the first “just after receiving our blessed quarter of the nineteenth century, Lord into her heart, and whilst she and upon the great festival of the was renewing the consecration of her Annunciation, there was born in whole self and her whole life to the France a child who was, some thirty Divine Master whom she had deyears later, to furnish a new order in liberately chosen as the spouse of her the Church. Watching the life of soul, a thought passed through her Eugénie Smet, both in her childhood mind. She said to herself, religious and young womanhood, who would communities exist which answer have dreamed what the object of the every need of the Church militant order would be ? Her home was on earth, but not a single one specihappy, her parents were in easy cir- ally devoted to the relief of the cumstances, her health was good, she suffering church in purgatory. Was possessed talents, and the power of she called, perhaps, to fill up that influencing those about her. Bereave- void ? ment, so far as the loss of friends by "Startling are the first whispers of death is concerned, seems to have grace to a soul watching for God's been well-nigh an unknown thing to leadings. The idea seemed too bold her until after her vocation was a one. She felt at once what it plainly marked out before her, and would involve, with that strange her work begun.
rapidity of thought which in an inEarly in life she was drawn to the stant presents to the mind a whole religious state, but felt no special at- series of consequences and considertraction to any of the existing orders. ations. She saw rising before her For a time she found scope for her the old dread of a total separation holy activity and zeal in the perform- from those she loved, the long array ance of good works in her native of obstacles, of oppositions, of replace, and so important and useful proaches, which meet even an ordidid she beconie that for this reason, nary vocation to the religious life ; as well as severe neuralgic pains which then the appearance of extravagance after a time came upon her, she which the thought of founding a new seemed precluded from the path order would bear, the scorn and ridiwhich still allured her, though she cule it would excite in worldly percould not tell in what direction. On sons, and the contempt with which the feast of All Souls, 1853, light even the good and wise would treat shone out upon that path, and lo! it; then, more dimly, a consciousness it was one as yet untried, where her that those who might pledge themown brave feet must lead the way. selves by vows to be victims for the