Quote of the day: 21 April

J.M.+J.T.

Cologne-Lindenthal, April 25, 1935

Pax Christi!

Very Reverend and dear Mother Petra,

The Bridegroom sends you the little wreath of myrtle with which your love decorated him, him as well as the bridal candle, the candles on the table, the napkin, cutlery, etc. The Bride wore a wreath of white roses. I was very happy to hear where the adornments came from. Heartfelt thanks for them. We have not yet finished discussing what else I am to receive from you. I thought of an emblem and lining for a vestment since the silk of the bridal dress has not yet been used and has been waiting for the necessary accessories since the Clothing Day. But perhaps our dear Mother [Mother Josepha, the prioress] will think of something more urgent.

When you visit us again — after all, we’ve been anticipating it with joy all winter — we will recount everything that happened from the first hours of the morning until night on this beautiful Easter Sunday. One cannot write about it in such detail. The Veiling ceremony will come only three years from now, after perpetual profession. For us, the preparation consists primarily of a ten-day retreat made in total silence and solitude. During that time we are allowed to live like hermits. I will tell you about the daily schedule when I see you.

The Bride wore a wreath of white roses

For my meditation, I had our Holy Father John’s Dark Night and the Gospel of John. Usually, on the day before Profession, before dinner, one makes a public admission of one’s faults. I was allowed to do that at noon on the Wednesday of Holy Week so that it would not interrupt the silence of the Holy Triduum. I found it especially good [to comply with that custom] before the first of the Tenebrae offices — once they begin one wants to leave off all occupation with oneself. On Saturday evening I was called [to come for a few minutes to see the community] during recreation time; I received from each Sister the promise of a spiritual bouquet and a commendation of intentions.

Richly laden I then returned to the choir. Of course, out of the great riches of grace on this Easter day, I let all those have a share who have given me something of their heart to take along into Carmel.

Once more, sincere thanks for all your goodness and love. In caritate Christi, your Sister

Teresa Benedicta a Cruce, OCD

Saint Edith Stein’s Letter 198 to Mother Petra Brüning, OSU
Self-Portrait In Letters, 1916-1942 (The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5)


Notes:

  • It was customary to place a small statue of the Infant Jesus on the head table in the refectory where the newly-professed is seated next to the prioress. Myrtle is used to create a small wreath for the statue of the Infant, the “Bridegroom”, who faces his “Bride”, wearing a garland of white roses. Edith sent the myrtle wreath that had been used on the statue to Mother Petra, who had provided it and all the flowers and decorations for the celebration.
  • Edith refers to the Chapter of Faults, where even to this day in many Discalced Carmelite monasteries, nuns will gather in the Chapter Room of the monastery to listen to the prioress give a brief spiritual reflection on an aspect of community life and how it applies to the Carmelite Rule and their Constitutions. The nuns then take a spiritual and moral inventory, reviewing their life together; each one admits her public faults and begs forgiveness of her sisters. On occasions like religious profession, a nun will individually and publicly admit her faults and ask for forgiveness outside of the community Chapter of Faults. Since her profession rite took place on Easter Sunday, Edith made her public admission on Holy Wednesday; she gives the reasons why.
  • During the retreat days prior to her profession on Easter Sunday, Edith would have assisted at the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours in the nuns’ choir. However, she would have veiled her face with her great veil (grand Voile) when in the presence of the community so as to maintain the spirit of solitude where the Discalced Carmelites “are allowed to live like hermits,” as Edith describes above. In the photo below, the veil that you see extending over her shoulders is the great veil, while the small veil (petit Voile) tucks inside her scapular. In her hermit days while on retreat, we see that Edith preferred to spend extra hours of solitary prayer in the choir near Christ in the tabernacle while the rest of the community was occupied at recreation.

[Sources: Leuven, Stinissen & Gelber; Carmel of Haifa]

First Profession_Easter 21 April 1935

Excerpt from Edith Stein's Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa
Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated by Josephine Koeppel
(The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5)
Copyright © 1993 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 15 April

J.M.+J.T.

Cologne-Lindenthal, <Easter Week, 1934>

Pax Christi!

Reverend and dear Mother Petra,

Before I go into holy silence, I feel compelled to send you heartfelt thanks for the charming Easter package. Our dear Mother <M. Josefa>, Mother Subprioress <Teresa Renata> and I happily unpacked it together, and on Holy Saturday night, an Easter rabbit and an Easter candle were stationed in every cell of the novices. I received the beautiful wooden candlestick with the large Easter candle, although I surmise this large light was intended for the Novice Mistress <Teresa Renata>. It will burn for me now during my retreat, when I make my meditation in the solitude of my cell, away from the community. Our holy Father John of the Cross will be my guide: the Ascent of Mount Carmel.

Probably I will be allowed to begin early on Friday. I would like most of all to remain in solitude until the morning of the Clothing, but there is a possibility that I will be called out the day before at the request of guests from out of town. I look forward with so much joy to the silence. As much as I love the Divine Office and as loath as I am to be away from the choir even for the shortest of the Hours—the basis of our life, after all, is the two hours of meditation provided by our schedule. Only since I’ve been enjoying this privilege do I know how much I missed by not having it outside. Our Reverend Mother will surely be glad to send along [with this letter] the ritual for the Clothing ceremony. It will be so much better if you can read it before it takes place—even though you cannot be present yourself.

May I beg you, together with your community, to help us with a very important intention? On the 11th, the General Chapter of the Congregation of Beuron will begin in Gerleve. We know there are very important questions to solve. Will you join us in prayers to the Holy Spirit for a successful outcome? I am also a bit interested in it personally. If Father Archabbot <Raphael Walzer> can close the Chapter on the 14th, he will be on time here to conduct the Clothing. But that, of course, is a small matter compared to all that is at stake there. I hardly need to say that I tell you this in confidence. I believe you will be happy to help because of your love for the Benedictine way of life.

Particular thanks for the Easter Prefaces: they are helping me celebrate the beautiful octave. And above all, thank you again for your love that I have in no way earned.

Always faithfully mindful of you, your grateful

Edith Stein

Letter 168 to Mother Petra Brüning, OSU, Dorsten
Original in Convent Archive of Ursuline Sisters, Dorsten

Edith-Stein_clothing-bridal-
Edith Stein on her clothing day, 15 April 1934 | Photo: Discalced Carmelite Order

 

Excerpt from Edith Stein's Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa
Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated by Josephine Koeppel
(The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5)
Copyright © 1993 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

Quote of the day: 30 March

Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this we were created.

“Pure love” for our Holy Father John of the Cross means loving God for his own sake, with a heart that is free from all attachment to anything created: to itself and to other creatures, but also to all consolations and the like which God can grant the soul, to all particular forms of devotion, etc.; with a heart that wants nothing more than that God’s will be done, that allows itself to be led by God without any resistance. What one can do oneself to attain this goal is treated in detail in the Ascent of Mount Carmel. How God purifies the soul, in the Dark Night. The result, in the Living Flame and the Spiritual Canticle. (Basically, the whole way is to be found in each of the volumes, but each time one or other of the stages is predominant.)

He will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do

Should we strive for perfect love, you ask? Absolutely. For this, we were created. [Perfect love] will be our eternal life, and here we have to seek to come as close to it as possible. Jesus became incarnate in order to be our way. What can we do? Try with all our might to be empty: the senses mortified; the memory as free as possible from all images of this world and, through hope, directed toward heaven; the understanding stripped of natural seeking and ruminating, directed to God in the straightforward gaze of faith; the will (as I have already said) surrendered to God in love.

The little — taken absolutely, is for us a great deal

This can be said very simply, but the work of an entire life would not attain the goal were God not to do the most essential. In the meantime, we may be confident that he will not fail to give grace if we faithfully do the little we can do. The little—taken absolutely, is for us a great deal. And while we are about it, we have to be careful not to wish to judge for ourselves how far we have come. Only God knows that. That brings me to Psalm 18 (so simple, as I understand the phrase). What we recognize of ourselves, and of our faults and behavior, is only the illuminated surface. The depth they come out of is to a large extent hidden from ourselves. God knows that depth and can purify it. The ab alienis can probably be understood in different ways. I think of it principally as what burdens us through unknown faults. But one could also think of that in which we are implicated by others. Delictum maximum probably is not to be understood as anything definite. To me it seems to point far more to Divine Mercy’s immensity and Salvation’s almighty power, for to them nothing is too great.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 311 to Sister Agnella Stadtmüller, O.P. (Excerpts)
Written from the Carmel of Echt, 30 March 1940

Edith bust candle 21 july 18
Edith Stein shrine, St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Louisville, Kentucky

 

Excerpt from Edith Stein's Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa
Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated by Josephine Koeppel
(The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5)
Copyright © 1993 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 29 March

So far we still live in deep peace, entirely unmolested within our cloister walls. But the fate of our Spanish sisters tells us, all the same, what we must be prepared for. And when such profound upheaval takes place in such close proximity, it is a salutary warning.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 283 to Sister Callista Kopf, O.P. (excerpt)
Cologne-Lindenthal, 7 May 1937

Guadalajara_portrait
The Discalced Carmelite Martyrs of Guadalajara

“The fate of our Spanish sisters” refers to the assassination on 24 July 1936 at Guadalajara, Spain, of three Discalced Carmelite nuns who were killed for their fidelity to the faith. Sisters María Pilar de San Francisco de Borja, María Ángeles de San José, and Teresa del Niño Jesús y de San Juan de la Cruz were beatified by Saint John Paul II on 29 March 1987, 33 days before he beatified Edith Stein.

Excerpt from Edith Stein's Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa
Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite, translated by Josephine Koeppel
(The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 5)
Copyright © 1993 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

 

EDITH - You reign on the Almighty's throne transfigured
Excerpt from I Will Remain With You . . . an undated poem by St. Edith Stein; the original manuscript is preserved in the archives of the Carmel of Cologne. It is assumed that the origin of the poem was Edith’s departure from the Cologne Carmel for the Carmel of Echt, Holland, 31 December 1938. [Source: Dr. Lucy Gelber, The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, p. 146]
EDITH - Blessed hope blooms forth almond IGsize
You reign on the Almighty’s throne
Also in transfigured human form,
Ever since the completion of your work on earth.
I believe this because your word teaches me so,
And because I believe, I know it gives me joy,
And blessed hope blooms forth from it.
Saint Edith Stein
(I Will Remain With You, excerpt)

Lenten Online Retreat 2019

Carmelite Online Retreat
Lent 2019
with 
St. Edith Stein

Teresia Benedicta a Cruce OCD

Prepare yourself for the coming Easter together with the Discalced Carmelites

Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross is co-patroness of Europe. Before entering Carmel and taking this name, Edith Stein already had a long life as a philosopher and lecturer. Born in Prussia in 1891, a Jew who became agnostic, she undertook a quest for truth through philosophy and the events of her life, until her discovery of Christ.

Baptized at the age of 31, she became a remarkable Catholic intellectual. Forbidden to teach by the Nazis, she entered the Carmel of Cologne in 1933 and had to flee to the Carmel of Echt in Holland in 1939. Arrested with her sister Rosa Stein, she died at the Auschwitz camp on August 9, 1942, leaving us her work and a powerful message. During this Lent, her writings and her life will nourish our meditation on this paschal journey in the footsteps of Christ.

How do I make the retreat?

Click here to access the registration page; follow the instructions and complete the registration form on the page. Click Submit, you will be registered for the retreat. You will receive a confirmation message by email. Weekly, every Friday of Lent, you will receive another email message with a new point of inspiration for the following week, along with short texts for daily prayer.

Participation in this retreat is completely free!

If you have any difficulty in registering or if there are any problems, please email the retreat coordinators at retreat-online@karmel.at

With best wishes for a Lent filled with blessings from Heaven,

The Discalced Carmelite Friars of Paris and Austria

The retreat texts were written by Fr. Philippe Huguele ocd, from the Carmelites of Paris. The English translation is by Joanne Brydson ocds (Canada). 
CameliteRetreatOnline2019
Saint Edith Stein will be our guide for the Carmelite Online Retreat for Lent 2019 | To register, visit www.retreat-online.karmel.at

Edith Stein: A service to peace

JOHN PAUL II

ANGELUS

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, 26 February 1995

Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

Among the women who have served the cause of peace, I wish today to remember a “martyr” of our century, that I myself, in 1987, had the joy of raising to the honors of the altars: the Carmelite Edith Stein.

Like many other victims of Nazi savagery, she was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. For her, being of Jewish origin and educated according to the traditions of her parents, the choice of the Gospel, which came after painstaking research, did not mean the rejection of her cultural and religious roots. Christ, known in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila, helped her to read the history of her people more deeply. With her gaze fixed on the Redeemer, she learned the wisdom of the Cross, which made her capable of new solidarity with the sufferings of her sisters and brothers.

Uniting herself to the pain of God made man, offering her life for her people became her great aspiration. She faced deportation and the prospect of “martyrdom” with the intimate awareness of going to “die for her people”. Her sacrifice is a cry for, and a service to peace.

Edith Stein was also exemplary for the contribution she made to the promotion of women. I wrote in the Message for the World Day of Peace that the building of this fundamental value “cannot ignore the recognition and promotion of the personal dignity of women” (No. 4). Edith Stein played a significant role in this, dedicating herself for a long time, in the years that preceded her withdrawal to the monastery, to initiatives aimed at ensuring that women are recognized the rights of every human being and those specific to femininity. Speaking of women, she gladly emphasized her vocation as “bride and mother”, but together with this Edith exalted the role to which women are called in all areas of cultural and social life. She herself witnessed this socially active femininity, making herself appreciated as a researcher, lecturer, teacher. She was also esteemed as a woman of thought, able to use with wise discernment the contributions of contemporary philosophy to seek the “full truth of things”, in the constant effort to combine the needs of reason and those of faith.

To the Blessed Virgin we desire today particularly to entrust the harmony and peace among the believers of the different religions: God is love, and by his nature unites and does not divide those who believe in him. Above all, Jews and Christians cannot forget their unique fraternity, which is rooted in God’s providential plan that accompanies their history.

Mary, Daughter of Sion and Mother of the Church, pray for us!


To read the original text of this Angelus Address in Italian, click here
To read the text in the Vatican’s Spanish translation, click here
English translation by Elijah’s Breeze 

 

Quote of the day: 27 February

You have asked me twice, I believe, whether I have any connection to Gertrud von le Fort’s Carmelite novella. She hit upon the material without my having anything to do with it.

However, soon thereafter she came to see me in Munich, and one afternoon we spoke about Carmel, from which she was spiritually still rather distant at that time. She only became engrossed in it through her work on the novella. Naturally, she has also visited us when she was here [in Cologne], and was very happy to have the two hours at the grate.

Saint Edith Stein
Letter 196 to Mother Petra Brüning, O.S.U.
27 February 1935

Compiegne_portrait-at-carmel-de-compiegne
The Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne | Mother Teresa of St. Augustine and her fifteen companions were the subject of Gertrud von Le Fort’s novella, “Die Letzte am Schafott” (English title: The Song at the Scaffold), which was a work of historical fiction published in 1931. The English translation appeared in 1933. In 1947, French author Georges Bernanos wrote a screenplay based on von Le Fort’s novella; the screenplay was produced as a film in 1960 under the title, “Le Dialogue des Carmélites.” But as early as 1951 Bernanos’ screenplay had been adapted for the theatre. This was the script that inspired Francis Poulenc to use as the libretto for his opera of the name title. | Image credit: Le Mémorial des Carmélites Martyres, Carmel of Jonquières

 

 

Quote of the day: 26 February

Her sacrifice is a cry for, and a service to peace.

Among the women who have served the cause of peace, I wish today to remember a “martyr” of our century, that I myself, in 1987, had the joy of raising to the honors of the altars: the Carmelite Edith Stein.

Mary, Daughter of Sion and Mother of the Church, pray for us!

Saint John Paul II
Angelus Address, 26 February 1995

edith-stein-631x331

Quote of the day: 15 February

Edith’s six months of probation passed quickly. On 15 February 1934, following the custom of the Order, she knelt before the assembled community and asked to receive the habit of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel. She was granted her request on 15 April. During the two months that she was preparing for her clothing, she grew in love and gratitude toward her superiors and her sisters. It was not easy for her to grasp that, as the “bride-to-be,” she should be the object of so much attention and solicitude on the part of her Sisters. Everyone was busy helping her to prepare for her clothing as it drew nearer. Besides the bridal dress, all the clothes she would need in the convent had to be made – a long white tunic of wool, a pair of rope sandals, a rosary with big beads and a coarse brown handkerchief. She had to go from one workroom to another to try on first one thing and then another; and though nothing more was done for her than for anyone else, she accepted each service as though it were a special token of love for herself.

Mother Teresia Renata of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.
Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite

Edith-Stein_clothing-bridal-
On 15 April 1934, Good Shepherd Sunday, Edith Stein was clothed in the habit of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel and received a name that she herself had suggested, Teresia Benedicta a Cruce

Quote of the day: 2 February

“The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole. If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the Others. Thus the way from Bethlehem leads inevitably to Golgotha, from the crib to the Cross. When the blessed Virgin brought the Child to the temple, Simeon prophesied that her soul would be pierced by a sword, that this Child was set for the fall and the resurrection of many, for a sign that would be contradicted. His prophecy announced the Passion, the light between light and darkness that already showed itself before the crib.

“In some years Candlemas and Septuagesima are celebrated almost together, the feast of the Incarnation and the preparation of the Passion. The star of Bethlehem shines in the night of sin. The shadow of the Cross falls on the light that shines from the crib. The light is extinguished in the darkness of Good Friday, but it rises all the more brilliantly as the sun of grace on the morning of the Resurrection. The way of the incarnate Son of God leads through the Cross and Passion to the glory of the Resurrection. In his company the way of every one of us, indeed of all mankind, leads through suffering and death to this same glorious goal.”

Saint Edith Stein
The Mystery of Christmas

 

Edith Stein was confirmed on 2 February 1922: On Candlemas Day 1922 she had received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the house chapel of His Excellency Dr. Ludwig Sebastian.” (Mother Teresia Renata Posselt, OCD)

 

Esther speaks in the night

I am not she—but I know her very well,
And it is my joy to serve her.
I am of her people, her blood,
And once I risked my life for this people.
You recall her when you hear my name.
My life serves as an image of hers for you.

Saint Edith Stein
(Esther speaks of the Virgin Mary in “Conversation at Night”)

Esther_metmuseum
Esther Pleading Before Ahasuerus, The Cloisters Collection, 1953 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Medium: Linen warp; wool, linen, and metallic wefts
The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Book 4
ICS Publications, Washington DC
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.
L'Assomption de la Vierge
Mary stands at the crucial point of human history and especially at the crucial point of the history of woman; in her, motherhood was transfigured and physical maternity surmounted. ~Saint Edith Stein (Essays on Woman)
EDITH - One must after tell those poor people
“Arbeit macht Frei”, or “work sets you free” could not have been farther from the truth 

 

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 9

SCRIPTURE READING
Hosea 2:2-17

Denounce your mother, denounce her,
for she is not my wife
nor am I her husband.
Let her rid her face of her whoring,
and her breasts of her adultery,
or else I will strip her naked,
expose her as on the day she was born;
I will make a wilderness of her,
turn her into an arid land,
and leave her to die of thirst.
I will not love her children,
since they are the children of whoring.
Yes, their mother has played the whore,
she who conceived them has disgraced herself.
“I am going to court my lovers,” she said,
“who give me my bread and water,
my wool, my flax, my oil and my drink.”
She would not acknowledge, not she,
that I was the one who was giving her
the corn, the wine, the oil,
and who freely gave her that silver and gold
of which they have made Baals.

That is why, when the time comes, I mean to withdraw my corn,
and my wine, when the season for it comes.
I will retrieve my wool, my flax,
that were intended to cover her nakedness;
so will I display her shame before her lovers’ eyes
and no one shall rescue her from my power.
I will Jay her vines and fig trees waste,
those of which she used to say,
“These are the pay my lovers gave me”;
I am going to make them into thickets
for the wild beasts to ravage.
I will put an end to all her rejoicing,
her feasts, her New Moons, her sabbaths
and all her solemn festivals.
I mean to make her pay for all the days
when she burned offerings to the Baals
and decked herself with rings and necklaces
to court her lovers,
forgetting me.
It is Yahweh who is speaking.

That is why I am going to block her way with thorns,
and wall her in so that she cannot find her way;
she will chase after her lovers and never catch up with them,
she will search for them and never find them.
Then she will say, “I will go back to my first husband,
I was happier then than I am today.”

That is why I am going to lure her
and lead her out into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.
I am going to give her back her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a gateway of hope.
There she will respond to me as she did when she was young,
as she did when she came out of the land of Egypt.

When that day comes – it is Yahweh who speaks she
will call me “My husband,”
no longer will she call me “My Baal.”
I will take the names of the Baals off her lips,
their names shall never be uttered again.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 12.C.

The secret ladder

Dark contemplation is the secret ladder: secret as is mystical theology that is communicated and infused into the soul through love.

The mystical wisdom is therefore also called secret because it has the characteristic of hiding the soul within itself. . . . Occasionally, it so engulfs the soul in its secret abyss that she has the keen awareness of being brought into a place far removed from every creature. She accordingly feels that she has been led into a remarkably deep and vast wilderness unattainable by any human being, into an immense, unbounded desert. And this, for her, is the more delightful, pleasant, and lovely, the deeper, vaster, and more solitary it is. She is conscious of being so much more hidden, the more she is raised above every created being. This abyss of wisdom elevates and enriches the soul to a high degree: it engulfs her in the veins of the science of love and lets her know in this way how base are creatures in comparison with the lofty, divine knowledge and feelings, and gives her an insight into how lowly, inadequate, and entirely incapable all images and words are with which one speaks of divine things in this life.

PRAYER

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,
one God, forever and ever.

Wadi Rum_Julien Lavallee-93746-unsplash
Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Jordan | Photo by Julien Lavallée on Unsplash

 

August 9: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

August 9

SAINT TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS

Virgin and Martyr

Memorial

Edith Stein was born to a Jewish family at Breslau on October 12, 1891. Through her passionate study of philosophy she searched after truth and found it in reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus. In 1922 she was baptized a Catholic and in 1933 she entered the Carmel of Cologne, where she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was gassed and cremated at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942, during the Nazi persecution, and died a martyr for the Christian faith after having offered her holocaust for the people of Israel. A woman of singular intelligence and learning, she left behind a body of writing notable for its doctrinal richness and profound spirituality. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Cologne on May 1, 1987.

From the common of martyrs or of virgins

THE SECOND READING

(Edith Stein Werke (Freiburg, 1987), 11:124-126)

From the spiritual writings of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Ave Crux, spes unica!

We greet you, Holy Cross, our only hope! The church puts these words on our lips during the time of the passion, which is dedicated to the contemplation of the bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life.

Contemplate the Lord who hangs before you on the wood, because he was obedient even to the death of the cross. He came into the world not to do his own will but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.

Before you the Redeemer hangs on the cross stripped and naked, because he chose poverty. Those who would follow him must renounce every earthly possession.

Stand before the Lord who hangs from the cross with his heart torn open. He poured out the blood of his heart in order to win your heart. In order to follow him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.

The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt. The cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity.

The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out? Contemplate the cross: from his open heart the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell. Through the faithful observance of the vows, you make your heart open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.

Through the power of the cross you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the divine heart. That charity enables you to spread everywhere the most precious blood in order to ease pain, save and redeem.

The eyes of the Crucified gaze upon you. They question you and appeal to you. Do you wish seriously to renew your alliance with him? What will your response be? Lord, where shall I go? You alone have the words of life. Ave Crux, spes unica!

RESPONSORY

We preach Christ Crucified, a scandal to the Jews
and foolishness to the pagans,
but for those who are called, whether they be Jews or Greeks,
we preach Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.

The desire of my heart and my prayer
rises to God for their salvation;
but for those who are called, whether they be Jews or Greeks,
we preach Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.

PRAYER

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,
one God, forever and ever.

Auschwitz_main-gate
On the main gate for visitors to Auschwitz, the Nazis affixed this motto: WORK SETS YOU FREE. But for the millions who passed through the railway entrance, there was no freedom to be found and no truth in the motto.
As St. Teresa Benedicta wrote of the Nazis in a letter dated July 10, 1940:
“one must, after all, tell those poor people the real truth for once.”

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 8

SCRIPTURE READING
Wisdom 19:6-17

God Guides and Protects His People

6 The whole nature of the universe was changed at your command so that your people would not be harmed. 7 They saw the cloud over their camp and dry land where water had been. There was a grass-covered plain between the stormy waves of the Red Sea, making it easy for them to cross over. 8 All your people, under your protection, saw this miracle and went across. 9 They pranced about like horses let out to pasture; they skipped about like lambs and praised you, Lord, for saving them. 10 They still remembered what life had been like when they were slaves—how the earth bred gnats instead of cattle, how the river produced huge numbers of frogs instead of fish. 11-12 Later, when they desperately wanted better food, quails came up from the sea to satisfy their hunger. The quail was a bird they had never seen before.

The Punishment of the Egyptians

13 But violent thunder gave warning of the punishment that was coming on those sinners. They suffered a well-deserved punishment for their great wickedness. No nation had ever hated strangers so bitterly. 14 Other people had been known to refuse welcome to strangers who came to them, but these people made slaves of those who were their guests and who had shown them kindness. 15 Every nation will be punished if it does not welcome foreigners, 16 but these people, who had earlier welcomed the foreigners with happy celebrations and treated them as equals, later made them suffer cruelly. 17 These people were also struck with blindness, like the men of Sodom who came to the door of that righteous man Lot. They found themselves in total darkness, as each one groped around to find his own door.

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 3.C.(3)

The purgative dryness of the dark night

A case of purgative dryness of the dark night can be discerned by three signs:

1) that the soul finds no delight in creatures;

2) that “the soul turns to God solicitously and with painful care, and thinks it is not serving God but turning back because it is aware of this distaste for the things of God.”

3) one recognizes purgative dryness in that “the soul is powerless in spite of all its efforts to meditate and make use of the imagination, the interior sense, . . . God no longer communicates himself through the senses as he did before, by means of the discursive analysis and synthesis of ideas, but has now begun to communicate himself through pure spirit by an act of simple contemplation for which neither the exterior nor the interior senses of the sensory human being have any capacity.”

This dark and, for the senses, dry contemplation is “something secret and hidden and even for the one who possesses it, mysterious.” Ordinarily, it imparts to the soul an inclination and a demand to remain alone and at rest. She is unable to dwell on any particular thought, nor does she have any desire to do so. If those in whom this occurs knew how to remain quiet, “they would soon experience in that unconcern and idleness a precious interior nourishment. This refection is namely so delicate that the soul cannot usually feel it if it desires it excessively or tries to experience it specifically. . . . It is like air that escapes when one tries to grasp it in one’s hand . . . God deals with the soul in this state in such a manner and leads it along such a special way that, if it desires to work with its own faculties and strength, it would rather hinder than help the work of God.” The peace God produces in the spirit through the dryness of the sensory being is “spiritual and most precious” and its “fruit is quiet, delicate, solitary, satisfying, and peaceful, and far removed from all the earlier gratifications which were more palpable and sensory.” So one understands that only the dying of the sensory being is felt and nothing is experienced of the beginning of the new life that is concealed beneath it.

It is no exaggeration when we call the suffering of the souls in this state a crucifixion. In their inability to make use of their own faculties they are as though nailed fast. And to the dryness is added the torment of fear that they are on the wrong path.

PRAYER

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,
one God, forever and ever.

StoneMountainStatePark_andrew-neel-209619-unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

 

 

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