How bright was the star the wisemen followed?
My inner astronomer has often wondered about what the Wisemen saw that led them to Bethlehem. The question is a favorite at planetarium shows during the Christmas season. My curiosity led me to Wikipedia. The explanations range from pious fiction with a theological purpose to positing all kinds of astronomical objects and events. Even the Jesuit Vatican astronomer weighed in!
One thing I know for certain is that the image the star has often been used very powerfully as a metaphor following divine guidance. This, in turn, led me to think about what guided Elizabeth Ann Seton whose feast we celebrate January 4th.
How bright was the star St. Elizabeth Ann Seton followed?
Sister of Charity Regina Bechtle writes movingly about Elizabeth searching and seeking light in the darkness of
- her grief when her mother died, followed by her father, her husband, and 2 of her daughters
- her confusion when she couldn’t yet see her way clear to becoming a Catholic
- her disillusionment when the peaceful religious life that she longed to live got tangled, in its early days, in the all-too-human power plays of her priest-Superiors and the machinations of some of her Sisters
In each of those times of thick and heavy clouds, Elizabeth kept seeking. And the revelation that came each time uncovered a God of infinite tenderness: a caring Father, a faithful guide, a loving Presence. That tender God was revealed to her, not in fireworks or bells and whistles. No, the making known of God happened in the most ordinary of ways and places.
- At the kitchen table, the writing desk, the home of a friend, God’s tender face was revealed.
- In the bedroom where her children were conceived and born, and at the bedsides of the sick and dying, God’s tender touch was revealed.
- In the cramped rooms where poor widows and children lived, in the classroom where she heard the lessons of lonely children, God’s tender heart was revealed.
Certainly, the powerful, luminous Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament focused and summed up all of God’s revelations to Elizabeth. But she would want us to know that she grew into her holiness, grew to become a Saint – just as we are asked to do – by finding her God, meeting her grace, precisely in those most ordinary of moments, in the darkness of our lives.
[FamVin recently posted a graphic presentation by another Sister of Charity, Gertrude Foley, highlighting aspects of her spirituality. Addtionally, see the presentation “Star Gazer .by Sr. Mary McCormick, SC ]
The star guiding our lives in the coming year
Her approach sounds remarkably like Vincent’s approach to Providence. He had a deep faith and trust in God’s providential care for him and for all people, especially the poor. As Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M. puts it,
Even in the midst of great activity [St. Vincent] stands before his Father constantly in prayer, seeking his will and trusting in his providence.”
Click on the YouTube video below to reflect on a few more of St. Vincent’s thoughts on trusting in God’s Providence. (The video is a little over two minutes long.)
Perhaps we can draw strength in our own times of darkness and cloudy skies