To protect the life of grace means to defend it against any influence that could extinguish it, such as loss of faith or sin. These, of course, endanger the child only when he arrives at the age of reason and freedom. Nevertheless, the child needs protection even before this, for poisonous matter can penetrate into the soul even before the life of reason has begun.
The child’s soul receives impressions from what he sees, hears, and touches; indeed, even experiences before birth can leave impressions upon the soul, and these impressions can have unpredictable consequences in later life. Therefore, the mother must keep pure the atmosphere in which the child is living.
Above all things, she herself must remain pure and faithful; she must try, as much as possible, to keep far from the children those people whom she cannot trust implicitly. Before the age of reason is reached, this nurturing of the flame of grace is ensured through the prayer of the mother, and it is also ensured because the child is thus confided to the protection of the Mother of God.
With the age of reason, direct influence becomes possible. The child must learn to know and to love the Father in heaven, the child Jesus, the Mother of God, and the guardian angel. With increasing understanding, a deeper and more extensive penetration into the world of faith is possible. The pure, uncorrupted child’s heart has no difficulties in this and asks for more and more.
The sources of grace provided by the sacraments must also be made accessible. They are the strongest nourishment of the life of grace and the most efficacious safeguard against the dangers which come about almost unavoidable in this very time when, in many instances, various and uncontrollable influences encroach upon the influence of the mother and of the strictest family circle.
Saint Edith Stein
The Church, Woman, and Youth (25 July 1932)
On July 24 and 25 I attended a very enjoyable convention for young girls in Augsburg. At the leadership meeting, I had to give a talk on “The Task of Woman as Leader of Youth to the Church.”
Letter 120 (excerpt) to Sr. Adelgundis Jaegerschmid, OSB, 28 August 1932
Gelber L, Leuven R, and Stein E 1996, Essays on Woman, translated from German by FM Oben, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Stein E 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters 1916-1942, translated from German by J Koeppel, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
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