It's now that quiet, sated, post-Christmas period, when we look back on the year that has been and forward to the one which lies just a few days ahead. The general consensus is that 2016 has been unstable and violent, a seismic year politically, and a particularly rapacious one for famous deaths, especially several who were still only in their 50s and 60s, with plenty of life and potential before them. And this time of year also means it will soon be time to crank up the Patron Saint Generator yet again. I have to admit, though, that I haven't spent much time with St Elizabeth Ann Seton, my patron for this year, partly because, as I wrote when I received her, I didn't think I'd have much need of her particular patronages. I offered to share her with others, so maybe they've kept her sufficiently busy and been better devotees.
The other day, though, I came across some words, attributed to Elizabeth Ann, and was struck by their simplicity:
Contemplate how you are being asked to give your heart to God amidst your everyday activities. Be prepared to meet your grace in every circumstance of life.
There is something wonderfully homely about these words. In a way there's nothing new in them; they're simply a reminder of a truth which I have increasingly been discovering. God, as ever, in the midst of our daily activities; and grace... grace not as something exalted, sparingly doled out to the worthiest from on high... but grace here and everywhere, in every circumstance of my life; something to be met, bumped into, rather like a friendly neighbour or the postman coming along the road just as I set out. Grace, freely available, is there, not waiting to be found, but hastening to find and meet me in the ordinary and the everyday, in moments and events which are seemingly insignificant, as much as in the obviously powerful and times of trial and need.
So I may not have paid much attention to Elizabeth Ann this year, but she has remembered me, and sent me this little gift, in this reminder of the ubiquity and generosity of grace, as a fitting end to her year of patronage.