O Lord, my heart is not proud
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great
nor marvels beyond me.
Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
A weaned child on its mother’s breast,
even so is my soul.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
both now and forever.
The Science of the Cross, Chapter 1
Oppression and dryness
It was mentioned earlier that the active entrance of the soul into the dark night is only possible for her because God’s grace anticipates her, draws her, and supports her along the entire way.
But for beginners this anticipatory and enabling grace does not as yet have the character of the dark night. Rather, God treats them the way a tender mother treats her tiny children—carrying them in her arms and feeding them with sweet milk: in all their spiritual exercises—in prayer, meditation, and mortifications—they receive abundant joy and consolation. This joy then motivates them to devote themselves to spiritual exercises. They are unaware of the imperfections that lie therein and how many faults they commit in their practice of virtue.
In order to be freed from all these defects we must be weaned from the milk of consolations and be fed with strengthening nourishment….
“After beginners have exercised themselves for a time in the way of virtue and have persevered in meditation and prayer and through the delight and satisfaction they experience in this have become detached from worldly things and have gained some spiritual strength in God, which helps them to restrain their appetites for creatures, and for God’s sake are able to suffer a little oppression and dryness without yearning to return to those better times when they experienced more pleasurable satisfaction and gratification… then… God darkens all this light and closes the door and the spring of sweet spiritual water they were tasting as often and as long as they desired…. Now he leaves them in such darkness that they do not know which way to turn in their discursive imaginings.”
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.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.
All scripture references are from The Jerusalem Bible Reader’s Edition, copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday & Company, Inc. as accessed from The Internet Archive website.
Stein, E 2002, The Science of the Cross, The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Book 6, translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington D.C.