Today, August 9, we celebrate the feast of Edith Stein, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942), a Polish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and joined the Discalced Carmelite Order. Saint Teresa wrote extensively about the unique and God-given feminine vocation, as evidenced by the life of Our Blessed Mother. Despite her noted philosophical writings, as well as her conversion and service to the Lord as a religious, Saint Teresa was killed at Auschwitz along with millions of other Jews during the second world war. Her life and writings remain, inspiring us to find hope in the Lord, even in times of great struggle and suffering.
"This is truth." Her discovery of the life of Saint Teresa paved the way for her exploration of Catholicism and eventual conversion.
“Many of the best women are almost overwhelmed by the double burden of family duties and professional life-- or often simply of gainful employment. Always on the go, they are harassed, nervous, and irritable. Where are they to get the needed inner peace and cheerfulness in order to offer stability, support, and guidance to others?...To have divine love as its inner form, a woman's life must be a Eucharistic life. Only in daily confidential relationship with the Lord in the tabernacle can one forget self, become free of all one's wishes and pretensions, and have a heart open to all the needs of others.”
“Whether she is a mother in the home, or occupies a place in the limelight of public life, or lives behind quiet cloister walls, she must be the handmaid of the Lord everywhere. So had the Mother of God been in all the circumstances of her life....Were each woman an image of the Mother of God, a Spouse of Christ, an apostle of the Divine Heart, then would each fulfill her feminine vocation no matter what conditions she lived in and what worldly activity absorbed her life.”
JUXTA CRUCEM TECUM STARE
Today I have stood with you beneath the Cross
And felt more certainly than ever before,
That you became our Mother beneath the Cross.
How faithfully an earthly mother strives
To fulfill her dying son's last wish.
But you were the handmaid of the Lord,
Subduing wholly your own life and being
To the life and being of God incarnate.
You have taken your own to your heart
And with your heart bleeding from bitter sorrow
Have purchased for each one of us new life.
You know us all, our wounds and our defacement,
But you know also the heavenly radiance
In which your Son's love eternally bathes us.
And so you carefully direct our footsteps.
You find no pain too great to bring us to our goal,
So those whom you have chosen for companions,
To stand beside you at the eternal throne,
Must stand beside you here beneath the Cross
And with hearts bleeding from bitter sorrow
Purchase heavenly radiance for the precious souls
With whom the Son of God entrusted you.
writing and speaking engagements, Edith felt called to a different life—a life of quiet contemplation of the Lord as a member of the Carmelite community. When her position as a teacher at the Educational Institute of Munich was terminated due to growing pressure from the Nazis, Edith’s spiritual director have his approval for her to enter the Discalced Carmelite Nuns’ cloistered community at Cologne-Lindenthal. The following April, Edith received the Habit of Carmel and the religious name of "Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.”
"Come let us go for our people." In her cell, the sisters found, written on the back of a small picture, her last will and testament: “May the Lord accept my life and death for the honor and glory of his name, for the needs of his holy Church - especially for the preservation, sanctification, and final perfection of our holy Order, and in particular for the Carmels of Cologne and Echt - for the Jewish people, that the Lord may be received by his own and his Kingdom come in glory, for the deliverance of Germany and peace throughout the world, and finally for all my relatives living and dead and all whom God has given me; may none of them be lost.”
At the camp, Saint Teresa Benedicta comforted and cared for frightened mothers and their little children. Before her arrival in Auschwitz, she managed to smuggle one last message to her mother prioress: "I am content now. One can only learn the Scientia Crucis if one truly suffers under the weight of the Cross. I was entirely convinced of this from the very first and I have said with all my heart: Hail, Cross, our only hope."
“Maybe the best way I can explain it is that she carried so much pain that it hurt to see her smile...In my opinion, she was thinking about the suffering that lay ahead. Not her own suffering — she was far too resigned for that — but the suffering that was in store for the others. Every time I think of her sitting in the barracks, the same picture comes to mind: a Pieta without the Christ.”
"One can only learn the science of the Cross by feeling the Cross in one’s own person."
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:24).
Dear brothers and sisters, the divine Teacher spoke these words to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. What He gave His chance but attentive listener we also find in the life of Edith Stein, in her "ascent of Mount Carmel". The depth of the divine mystery became perceptible to her in the silence of contemplation. Gradually, throughout her life, as she grew in the knowledge of God, worshipping Him in spirit and truth, she experienced ever more clearly her specific vocation to ascend the Cross with Christ, to embrace it with serenity and trust, to love it by following in the footsteps of her beloved Spouse: Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is offered to us today as a model to inspire us and a protectress to call upon.
We give thanks to God for this gift. May the new saint be an example to us in our commitment to serve freedom, in our search for the truth. May her witness constantly strengthen the bridge of mutual understanding between Jews and Christians.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us! Amen.”
“As for what concerns our relations with our fellow men, the anguish in our neighbor's soul must break all precept. All that we do is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself, because God is love.”
”Every true prayer is a prayer of the Church; by means of that prayer the Church prays, since it is the Holy Spirit living in the Church, Who in every single soul 'prays in us with unspeakable groanings.”
”If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.”
”In order to be an image of God, the spirit must turn to what is eternal, hold it in spirit, keep it in memory, and by loving it, embrace it in the will.”
”On the question of relating to our fellowman - our neighbor's spiritual need transcends every commandment. Everything else we do is a means to an end. But love is an end already, since God is love.”
”The limitless loving devotion to God, and the gift God makes of Himself to you, are the highest elevation of which the heart is capable; it is the highest degree of prayer. The souls that have reached this point are truly the heart of the Church.”
”Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones, but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone.”
"The way of faith gives us more than the way of philosophical thought: it gives us God, near to us as person, who loves us and deals with us mercifully, giving us that security which human knowledge cannot give. But the way of faith is dark.”
“Whatever did not fit in with my plan did lie within the plan of God. I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God, that my whole life down to the smallest details has been marked out for me in the plan of Divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes. And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.”
“God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need. Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace. And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him. Then you will be able to rest in Him — really rest — and start the next day as a new life.”
“Learn from Saint Thérèse to depend on God alone and serve Him with a wholly pure and detached heart. Then, like her, you will be able to say ‘I do not regret that I have given myself up to Love’.”
“O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace.”
Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death to the covenant of love
ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Year 2: Day 221 of 365
Prayer Intentions: An end to prejudice and discrimination; For those who are unjustly punished, oppressed, and mistreated; For all those who have wrongly suffered.
Requested Intentions: Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C); Financial assistance and employment (B); For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S).