Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chaplet of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's inspiring devotions upon her deathbed form an excellent framework for a chaplet in her honor. Her biographer describes the scene in January of 1821 as follows:

"Raising her hands and eyes to heaven in a spirit of the most humble submission to the decrees of Providence, she repeated the words, "May the most just, the most high, and the most amiable will of God be accomplished forever !" She then requested one of her attendants to recite for her the favorite prayer, "Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me," &c. ; but the sister, overpowered by her grief, not being able to proceed, Mother Seton continued the prayer herself. Her last words were the sacred names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, to whom she yielded her heart, her spirit, her life, to whose care she committed her last agony, and in whose blessed company she hoped to repose forever." - Charles I. White, "Life of Mrs. Eliza A Seton…"
The overall theme for this chaplet is resignation to the will of God. In the arrangement of beads, I have chosen 5 sets of 10 beads, thus matching the Dominican rosary. Here, though, the symbolism is of St. Elizabeth's motherhood: the number of decades recall her 5 natural children, and the total number of beads in those decades recall the approximately 50 Sisters of Charity at the time of her death.


On the cross is said the Creed.

On the first bead is said the Our Father.
On each of the three following beads is said the Hail Mary.
On the next single bead is said the Glory Be.

Before each decade is said the Anima Christi:

O Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water of the side of Christ, purify me.
Passion of Christ, comfort me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy sacred wounds shelter me.
Never suffer me to be separated from Thee.
From the malice of my enemies defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me.
Command me to come to Thee,
That with Thy saints,
I may praise Thee forever and ever.

On each of the 10 small beads of the decade is recited either:

May the most just, the most high, and the most amiable will of God be accomplished forever!
May the most just, the most high, and the most amiable will of God be in all things fulfilled, praised, and exalted above all, forever.
After each decade is said:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart, my soul, and my life.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.

At the end of the chaplet is said the Collect for her feast day:

O God, who crowned with the gift of true faith Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's burning zeal to find Thee, grant by her intercession and example that we may always seek Thee with diligent love and find Thee in daily service with sincere faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The English text of the Anima Christi is taken from St. Vincent's Manual, a prayer book for the Sisters of Charity. However, another version of the Anima Christi (really Anima Jesu "Soul of Jesus") is said to have been authored by St. Elizabeth for Corpus Christi in 1816. A prayer very like it is found in an Ursuline devotional book from 1830, and similar aspirations are found in St. Vincent's Manual as well (see the above link, under "Other devout aspirations"). It can be used as a variant.

The prayer of resignation to the Will of God, originally authored by Pius VII, appears in virtually every biography of St. Elizabeth in the short form cited above. But a letter written by Bruté to Elizabeth's daughter cites the full prayer as one of her favorites: "May the most just, the most high, and the most amiable will of God be in all things fulfilled, praised, and exalted above all, forever." (Fiat, laudetur, atque in aeternum superexaltetur justissima, altissima, et amabilissima voluntas Dei in omnibus.) Personally, I prefer the fuller form for the chaplet, but as the shorter version seems to have a strong tradition of its own in the Setonian literature, it seems best to include it.

The third prayer is suggested in White's description but not quoted directly. However, it is quoted directly in St. Elizabeth's account of her daughter Annina's death.