Posts Tagged ‘Edith Stein’

My Sister, The Saints

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell, 14 Book Corner on 2014/10/31 at 12:00 AM











In My Sisters the Saints, author Colleen Carroll Campbell blends her personal narrative of spiritual seeking, trials, stumbles, and breakthroughs with the stories of six women saints who profoundly changed her life: Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Faustina of Poland, Edith Stein of Germany, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Mary of Nazareth. Drawing upon the rich writings and examples of these extraordinary women, the author reveals Christianity’s liberating power for women and the relevance of the saints to the lives of contemporary Christians.


My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
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In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/24 at 12:00 AM

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A 19 October 2014

  • One of the saints who will adorn our new mural is St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Edith Stein was a Jewish convert to Catholicism who became a Carmelite nun and was eventually martyred in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942.
  • But unlike her fellow Jews, St. Edith Stein went very willingly and knowingly to her death.
  • Edith’s keen intellect, coupled with a deep and intense personal prayer life, led her to the

    understanding of what was to befall the Jewish people long before anyone else in Germany

    had a clue as to just how evil the Nazis were.

  • And so in imitation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Edith Stein offered up her life to

    our Lord as a personal holocaust for the sake of the Jewish people, for averting the Second

    World War, and for the sanctification of her Carmelite family.

  • In doing this, Edith prayed that God would receive her life as an act of atonement for the

    terrible atrocities being committed against God’s chosen people, with the hope of converting

    atheists and the Nazis. This is why Edith Stein is a saint.

  • Edith Stein did not wish to be a Christian in name only. She wanted to be totally conformed

    to our Lord by bearing the cross she saw being laid upon the Jewish people. Edith wanted to

    share fully in our Lord’s suffering and death in a supreme act of love.

  • On August 2, 1942, she and her sister, Rosa, were taken by Nazis from the Carmel in Echt,

    Holland, and a week later they were gassed to death in the Birkenau section of Auschwitz.

  • Eyewitnesses who saw Edith during her last week of life all attest that she remained faithful,

    courageous, and impeccably charitable to all up to her last moments.

  • In a very dark and confusing time, St. Edith Stein shone like a bright ray of light. Quite

    selflessly, she offered her life for the sake of others. And as such, St. Edith Stein is a

    remarkable example of Christian heroism and charity in the face of astounding evil.

  • In some ways I wonder if we might be entering into another one of those very dark and

    confusing periods in human history when evil seems to have the upper hand in the world.

  • As we consider the terrible threat posed by ISIS, the fear of a worldwide outbreak of Ebola,

    and the ever-increasing moral confusion surrounding marriage and human sexuality that has

    ambushed our state, our country, and our culture, there is much to worry about.

  • I know, as well, that many of you have been following the confusing media reports coming

    from the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on issues related to

    marriage and evangelization that concluded yesterday.

  • There’s been much media speculation coming from the Synod that perhaps the Church is

    going to permit Catholics who are divorced and remarried without an annulment, as well as

    same-sex couples and those who cohabitate before marriage, to receive Holy Communion.

  • But let me state clearly and emphatically that, despite what you may have heard from the

    media this week, there has been no change in Church teaching on these issues.

  • Our doctrine is based upon the revelation of Jesus Christ, expressed in both Sacred Scripture

    and Tradition. While the Church may come to new and deeper insights about a particular

    teaching, the essence of a doctrinal teaching cannot change because truth does not change.

  • While the Church can change certain disciplines, we must also remember that Church

    disciplines are rooted in our doctrine. Therefore, a practice or discipline of the Church cannot be at odds with the Church’s doctrine. And any effort by a Church leader to knowingly distort, weaken, or change the Church’s doctrine is evil.

  • At the same time we must realize that there are a growing number of people in the Church who live in morally compromised arrangements. In other words, they are engaging in conjugal acts with someone who is not or cannot be their spouse in a sacramental marriage.
  • Setting aside appearances of judgmentalism and condemnation, the Church’s challenge is to really look at the way we engage with these folks so that we can call them to conversion and better help them conform their lives to Christ and His commandments.
  • The fact is that people will have a better chance of knowing God and finding salvation if they have a relationship with His Church, even if they cannot fully participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
  • So our challenge is to welcome these people into the Church without condoning their sin or compromising our teachings. Following the example of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, we must be forthcoming with mercy while also exhorting people to sin no more.
  • The Church is a hospital for the spiritually sick. But to enter into this hospital, we must desire healing! It’s by being obedient and docile to the Church’s teachings that we find healing for our spiritual ills.
  • Sadly, not all who are invited to the Church will come. While open to all, those who enter the Church must be willing to convert and be docile to Her teachings, rather than arrogantly believing that they know better than Her and trying to force Her to change Her teachings.
  • Those who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge and adhere to the truth, and who try to force the Church to conform to this world with its mixed up morality, have no place in the Church.
  • If you are living in an irregular relationship right now by cohabitating before marriage, by being involved in a same-sex relationship, or by being divorced and remarried without an annulment, I want to say publicly that I’m glad that you’re here.
  • God loves you, the Church loves you, and I love you. Moreover, I am willing to do whatever is necessary to help you get to a place where you can fully take part in the sacramental life of the Church and live a Christian life with full integrity. But there must be some humility.
  • If you do not understand why the Church teaches as She does, come speak with me. My door is open to you – and so is my heart.
  • And I ask everyone else in this parish to be of like mind. While we cannot and must not respect sin, we can and must respect all people, and we must lovingly help others to hear the Gospel and live it in its fullness.
  • At her canonization Mass in 1998, St. John Paul II repeated Edith Stein’s famous quote: “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth!”, to which he added: “One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”
  • As we do our best to proclaim the truth to our fallen world, let us be sure to do it with love.
  • As we consider the darkness in our world today, we must be – like Edith Stein – heroic rays

    of light that shine forth with the truth, goodness, and beauty of our Catholic faith.

  • Moreover, in this time of desperate confusion in our world and in our Church, let us place our hopes and trust in God Himself. Let us not forget that He is omnipotent and, as Isaiah

    says, He grasps us by the hand.

  • Trusting in Him, let us hold fast to the constant and unchanging teachings of His Church,

    confident that our obedience to those teachings will bring us to salvation.

  • Lastly, may we be willing to live lives of true charity by offering sacrifices and penances to

    God on behalf of those who attack and persecute this Church we love so much.

• May each of us cultivate within our hearts a true desire to suffer and lay down our lives for the Church so that all men may be saved. St. Edith Stein, pray for us.


© Reverend Timothy Reid, 10/19/2014

Communion of Saints

In 07 Observations on 2013/07/05 at 12:00 AM

The Communion of Saints 

Detailed notes taken by Aida Tamayo on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series

“There is only one real sadness in life…Not to be a saint.”  Spiritual writer Leon Bloy

A saint is someone who is in heaven someone that allowed the grace of God to invade him/her.  This grace doesn’t compromise or undermine what it invades, it enhances.  That is the nature of grace, if we cooperate with God’s grace, we’ll experience life to the fullest.  Fr. Barron suggests that a saint is someone that allowed Jesus to get into his/her boat.  To see this dynamic at play, just examine the lives of the saints.  Fr. Barron explores the lives of 4 relatively speaking modern saints.  We can see how Jesus graciously invaded their lives and with their cooperation transfigured them from the inside out.   Two of them are dear to my Carmelite heart:  St. Therese of Lisieux, and Edit Stein who became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.  I identify somewhat with Edith in that it was the great Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) that enkindled in her desire for Carmel.

Before we look at these saints, how about us? We should want to be a saint and should never settle for second best.   That is what we’ve been designed for, that is the principle purpose of the Church, to help us become saints.   We want to be a saint because only saints live in heaven.  It may be through a long process of purification in this life or the one to come, but nevertheless when you get to Heaven, you have achieved that state of perfection (we call a saint) and are thus united to God.  As Father Barron said “Wanting to be the most successful, wealthiest person in the world is a stupid waste of time but to want to be a saint, that is the way to go.  That is a great thing to desire. “

Thomas Aquinas’ sister once asked him what she had to do to be a saint.  He said “Will IT”!  He is right.  Part of our problem is that we accept a kind of spiritual mediocrity.  Me a saint … really?  Really! A big part of it is to want it, to move beyond the spiritual mediocrity and say I want to be a person of heroic virtue and follow Christ with all my heart and stop playing the game of false humility by saying “I can never do that”.  No, for God all things are possible and He can make a saint out of any of us but we have to desire it and cooperate with Him.

Four Saints

Unknown-5Katherine Drexel.  She came from one of the riches families in the USA.  Born 11/26/1 858, her parents were devout Catholics. They had a chapel in their home and her father retired to it for prayer every day after work and did works of charity.  They drilled into their children that their wealth had been entrusted to them and was destined to be used for the common good.  At 14 years old, Katherine met Fr. O’Connor who had a tremendous influence on her.  Under his direction, she laid out a program to grow in holiness.  At age 20 her parents died within months of each other and Katherine inherited the equivalent of $400 million today.  She was plagued with a sense of anxiety and indecisiveness.  During a trip to Europe, she had a meeting with the Pope and kneeling in front of him offered her support to the order of priests or nuns he wished to send to evangelize the Native Americans and the colored people, the most disadvantaged groups in the US.  The Pope suggested she should be that missionary. Visibly affected, she left the Vatican and sobbed as she thought of the enormity of such a task.  She felt God was calling her to be a nun and perhaps form an order dedicated to the poorest ones in America.  She fully dedicated herself and used her money for her tremendous mission.  It was justice elevated, transfigured, rendered luminescent by grace.  With Katherine’s cooperation, Jesus had so seized her life that now she had become an icon of His Presence. She died in 1955.

Unknown-4Thérèse of Lisieux. Born in 1/2/1873, her parents were pious devout members of the French middle class.  She had a blissful childhood until her mother died in 1877 when Therese was 4 years old.  When miraculously cured from a psychological and physical illness, Thérèse saw it as a manifestation of God’s grace, God’s unmerited love.  She would become one of the doctors of grace in our church.  She understood clearly that grace was necessary for the spiritual life and this grace required our cooperation with God’s love.  She became a Carmelite nun at the age of 15 after begging those in authority, including the Pope, to enter at such a young age.  She lived 9 years in the Carmelite convent until her death at age 24 and during this time she developed a spirituality known as the little way which she was ordered to write by her spiritual director in her autobiography the Story of a Soul.  Her Little Way involved doing simple and ordinary things out of great love, small sacrifices accepted gratefully.  Thérèse was plagued at the end of her life with the darkness of unbelief to join in the pain of so many souls that did not believe in God.  She wrote that in a joyful Easter, Jesus helped her understand that there are souls who have no faith.  He allowed her soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness and she interpreted this struggle as a participation in the pain of so many of her contemporaries who no longer believe in God. She died of tuberculosis on 9/30/1897 at age 24.  Hardly known by anyone at her death, she became known worldwide within a few years of her death due to her autobiography of “Story of a Soul”. We can characterize her holiness as transfigured prudence which was elevated by Christ’s love.  Like a little child, Thérèse let God pick her up and raise her to the heights.  Her loving and trusting “little way” allowed her to open herself fully to the grace of God.

Unknown-6Edith Stein was born 10/12/1891 in Breslau in Poland to pious Jewish parents. She also had a privileged childhood.  She was smart and strong willed.  Her father died when she was still young and as she grew older she became an atheist.  Highly intellectual, s he studied for a doctorate under Husserl the master of phenomenology.  Upon obtaining the doctorate in 1915, Husserl asked her to work alongside him but treated her as glorified secretary leaving her highly dissatisfied with her job.  Her friends were scandalized that someone of her great intellect was forced to perform such simple tasks.  During this time a good friend was killed in the war and she went to visit his widow, expecting to see her devastated but instead she was sad but fundamentally at peace.   That serenity came from the woman’s Christian faith.   Edith later wrote: “It was my first encounter with the cross and the divine power it bestows upon those who carry it”.   Jesus was getting into Edith’s boat.  There were other moments that occurred that led her to eventual conversion, similar to the one experienced by Blessed Newman’s or St. Augustine’s – a gradual interior conversion that was accompanied by much intellectual wrestling.

This is where I identify with Edith Stein.  One day she was staying with friends and to pass the time picked a copy of Teresa of Avila’s autobiography.  She spent the whole night reading it and when she put the book down she simply said:  That is the truth.  She wouldn’t say what about the book impressed her, but like me, it was the galvanizing moment when all the strands came together.  After a few days of thinking and praying she went to the local priest and asked to be baptized.  When he questioned her readiness, she eagerly asked him to test her.  She was received into the Church 1/1/1922.  She immediately wanted to join the Carmelites but she was asked to wait.  Eleven years later in 1933 she was accepted into the Carmel in Cologne.   In 1938 Germany was invaded by the Nazis and eventually the Gestapo came for Edith in 8/2/1942 and took her away with her sister who had also joined the order.  During the journey she comforted and helped distraught mothers and their children.  She was murdered in Auschwitz in 8/9/1942 in the gas chamber.  What we see in a martyr like Edith is not normal courage, but courage elevated and transformed through love.  She was willing to give her own life out of love for Christ and His people.

Unknown-7Teresa of Calcutta was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 8/26/1910 in Serbia.  At 12 she felt the call to religious life and at 18 enter the Loreto Sisters and took the name sister Mary Teresa  of the Child Jesus after the just canonized Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower.  After some time in Ireland she sailed for India and saw unbelievable poverty.  She worked incessantly in helping the poor to the point of a breakdown.  During her recuperation time she felt Jesus’ call to her to serve the poorest of the poor an d to follow Him with reckless abandon.  She understood it as a summons to slake the thirst of Jesus for souls.  It took a while but she was eventually released from her vows with the Loreto Sisters and allowed to found her own community, the Missionaries of Charity whose mission was to serve the poorest of the poor.  Formal approval came from the Vatican in April of 1948.  This is something important to understand about the lives of the saints.  When a work is of God, people are drawn to it and so many of Mother Teresa’s own students came to join her here in Calcutta.  They lived in same poverty as those they served.  From this small beginning the order expanded to over 500 missions on six continents.  Mother Teresa said if there are poor people on the moon we shall go there too!  In time, Mother became a world renowned figure wining the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and used her Nobel speech time as a way to decry abortion which she saw as the greatest enemy of peace in contemporary society.  She experienced extraordinary closeness to Jesus most of her life but when her order got underway, she experience just the opposite, her unique participation in the suffering of Christ, an aching sense of the Lord’s absence.  This darkness lasted for the rest of her life.  She felt a terrible pain of loss. She had no joy in her work. She came to understand that her suffering was a sharing in the passion of Jesus, and His feelings as being abandoned by the Father.  She entered more deeply into the suffering of those she longed to serve.  This experience was not unlike her namesake, Therese of Lisieux who suffered the same type of darkness at the end of her life.  Mother Teresa died on 9/5/1997 at age of 87. Temperance is the virtue by which we control our desires for food, drink and pleasure so that we might achieve the demands of justice.  Mother Teresa was elevated and transfigured in temperance –  a disciplining of the desires that goes beyond the requirement of justice so as to serve the infinite demands of love.

The beauty of the church can be found in the tremendous differences it has in its saints: from a towering intellectual as Thomas Aquinas to St. Francis, who wasn’t much of an intellectual at all.  There is Joan of Arc, a warrior saint and non-violent saints.  This is the glory of what we call the communion of saints.  Each one of the four saints in this video segment allows a unique dimension of the Divine Holiness to shine through.  Katherine Drexel produced a miracle of transfigured Justice; Edith gave us the clarity of her intellectual work and the beauty of her martyrdom; Thérèse of Lisieux gave us the Little Way; and Mother Theresa brought forth the Missionaries of Charity.  The church needs the diversity of the saints to show the infinite intensity of God’s goodness.

Jesus Prayed

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2012/09/27 at 9:11 AM

The individual human soul a temple of God – this opens to us an entirely new, broad vista. The prayer life of Jesus was to be the key to understanding the prayer of the church. We saw that Christ took part in the public and prescribed worship services of his people… And this is precisely how he transformed the liturgy of the Old Covenant into that of the New.

But Jesus did not merely participate in public and prescribed wor­ship services. Perhaps even more often the Gospels tell of solitary prayer in the still of the night, on open mountain tops, in the wilderness far from people. Jesus’ public ministry was preceded by forty days and forty nights of prayer (Mt 4,1-2). Before he chose and commissioned his twelve apostles, he withdrew into the isolation of the mountains. By his hour on the Mount of Olives, he prepared himself for his road to Golgotha. A few short words tell us what he implored of his Father during this most dif­ficult hour of his life, words that are given to us as guiding stars for our own hours on the Mount of Olives. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine” (Lk 22,42). Like lightning, these words for an instant illumine for us the innermost spiri­tual life of Jesus, the unfathomable mystery of his God-man existence and his dialogue with the Father. Surely, this dialogue was life-long and uninterrupted.

Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

Our Will?

In 07 Observations on 2012/06/01 at 9:11 AM

The created will is not destined to be free to exalt itself. It is called to come into unison with the divine will. If it freely submits itself to this unison, then it is permitted in freedom to participate in the perfection of creation. If a free creature declines this unison, it lapses into bondage. The human will continues to retain the possibility of choice, but it is constrained by creatures that pull and pres­sure it in directions straying from the development of the nature desired by God, and so away from the goal toward which it itself was directed by its original freedom. With the loss of this original freedom, it also loses security in making decisions. It becomes unsteady and wavering, buf­feted by doubt and scruples or obdurate in its error.

There is no other remedy for this than the following of Christ, the Son of Man, who not only promptly obeyed his heavenly Father, but also subjected himself to people who imposed the Father’s will on him. The obedience enjoined by God releases the enslaved will from the bonds of creatures and leads it back to freedom. Thus, it is also the way to purity of heart.

Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedict of the Cross)

©Institute of Carmelite studies