For the renewal of vows at the Carmel of Echt in 1940, St. Edith Stein wrote a meditation for the prioress at her request. We share the final section of the meditation where Edith presents a striking response to the age-old complaint that God doesn't hear our prayers. "What right have we to be heard?" Edith asks. Her own answer is decisive: "The day on which God has unrestricted power over our hearts we shall also have unrestricted power over his."
Keenly aware of Europe's urgent situation, in 1939 God prompted St. Edith Stein to offer herself to "the Heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of propitiation for true peace." We examine her request in the light of Carmelite spirituality and the examples of Discalced Carmelite martyrs who made similar offerings in centuries past.
For our ninth meditation in this novena, we read St. Edith Stein's letter to her prioress requesting permission to offer herself "to the Heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of propitiation for true peace." She is insistent "because it is the twelfth hour. I know that I am a nothing, but Jesus desires it." Thank you for joining us in prayer for this novena.
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 Saint John Paul II at Cologne on May 1, 1987 and canonized in Rome on October 11, 1998; the following year he proclaimed St. Teresa Benedicta a Co-Patroness of Europe.
Upon the death of a lay sister in the Carmel of Cologne, St. Edith Stein wrote to a friend that she was not worried about her "Master" Edmund Husserl, who was seriously ill and, in fact, would die one month later. Edith had one, straightforward reason not to worry: "It has always been far from me to think that God's mercy allows itself to be circumscribed by the visible church's boundaries. God is truth"
In her poem, "I Will Remain With You", St. Edith Stein writes, "You reign on the Almighty’s throne also in transfigured human form, ever since the completion of your work on earth."
In lectures delivered during the summer of 1932, St. Edith Stein addressed the problems of women's education. In one lecture, she mentioned the Church's position on women and demonstrated how, despite patriarchal viewpoints that claim a woman's place is in the home, theologians have been able to examine liberal feminist claims to evaluate their "compatibility with the entire Catholic philosophy of life." St. Edith states that the Church's serenity lies in her ability to preserve eternal truth while adjusting with "unmatchable elasticity" to the "circumstances and challenges of changing times."
In 1940, St. Edith Stein wrote, "Since September 29 we've had a new Mother who would like me to write something again." She wrote from Westerbork Transit Camp on 5 August 1942 asking the nuns in Echt to send her the manuscript of The Science of the Cross.
Today St. Edith Stein shares with a close friend that Edith realized religious life isn't a matter of naval-gazing but rather an imperative "to carry the divine life" into the world. And the "the deeper one is drawn into God", the greater is this mandate.
St. Edith Stein the philosopher introduces us to the basic "dilemma of all human philosophizing: truth is but one, yet for us in falls into truths (plural) that we must master step by step." Sooner or later, she says, we have to dive in.
St. Edith Stein the catechist teaches us today that "God the Creator is present in each thing and sustains it in existence [...] God dwells in this manner in every human soul, also." The soul, Edith says, "is in his power." As St. Edith said after she read St. Teresa's autobiography, "This is truth." Jesus tells, "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Writing to a former student from St. Magdalena teachers college in Speyer, St. Edith Stein assumes the role of spiritual director. In this letter from 1936, she counsels the young woman not to seek changes that are "apt to disturb one's inner peace" because whenever we attempt to get rid of one cross, we usually get a heavier cross, instead. Two years later, this student would become a Discalced Carmelite postulant in the Carmel of Kordel.
Today St. Edith Stein teaches us that compassionate love and mercy flow "from the divine heart." The prophet Isaiah reminds us that "the Lord waits to be gracious;" and "all those who wait for him" are blessed.
The prophets called on God’s people to wait with hope. St. Edith wrote, “to suffer and to be happy although suffering […] this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.”
Author Melissa Presser prayerfully composed this year's St. Edith Stein Novena. Melissa Presser is a Jewish girl who was led home to the Catholic Church by St. Edith Stein. The theme that she has chosen for this year's novena is "Waiting." Melissa writes in her introduction: "It is so hard to wait. Yet, Edith Stein waited patiently while discerning her vocation to religious life. Through this novena, we will learn from Saint Edith Stein how to wait well. Let us make this a beautiful time of waiting with God!"
On the 4th of July 1942, the Prioress of the Carmel of Le Pâquier, Switzerland proposed to the voting members of the monastic community that St. Edith Stein should transfer and be received as a member of the community. On July 5, the nuns gathered once again and held a secret vote...
St. Edith Stein writes an old friend in Switzerland to ask if she could assist to obtain entry permits and visas for herself and her older sister Rosa, who has been an extern sister and outside sacristan at the Carmel of Echt since 1 July 1939.
St. Edith Stein examines woman's sins and defects of character that are as old as the fall of Adam and Eve.
We continue St. Edith Stein's comment on woman's destiny and the Marian ideal: "woman has something in herself inherited from Eve, and she must search for the way from Eve to Mary."