A Meditation on Woman, in Celebration of the Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein was a prominent Jewish philosopher, writer, teacher, and professor in pre-WWII Germany. After reading The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, Edith converted to Catholicism and eventually became a Carmelite nun, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She continued to write and study. During the war, Catholics of Jewish heritage were arrested by the Nazis and deported to concentration camps. St. Teresa Benedicta was executed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942. Her feast day is today, August 9.

Much of St. Teresa Benedicta’s work was given to illuminating the role of women and their vocation. She has much to say to us today and deep reading gives echoes of the writings of Blessed John Paul II. The following is taken from “The Ethos of Women’s Professions,” a lecture given by Dr. Stein at a meeting of the Catholic Association of Academics in Salzburg, Austria, on September 1, 1930. The entire text can be found in The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 2: Essays on Woman.

“Only by the power of grace can nature be liberated from its dross, restored to its purity, and made free to receive divine life. And this divine life itself is the inner driving power from which acts of love come forth. Whoever wants to preserve this life continually within herself must nourish it constantly from the source whence it flows without end — from the holy sacraments, above all from the sacrament of love. To have divine love as its inner form, a woman’s life must be a Eucharistic life. Only in daily, confidential relationship with the Lord in the tabernacle can one forget self, become free of all one’s own wishes and pretensions, and have a heart open to all the needs and wants of others. Whoever seeks to consult with the Eucharistic God in all her concerns, whoever lets herself be purified by the sanctifying power coming from the sacrifice at the altar, offering herself to the Lord in this sacrifice, whoever receives the Lord in her soul’s innermost depth in Holy Communion cannot but be drawn ever more deeply and powerfully into the flow of divine life, incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, her heart converted to the likeness of the divine heart.

Something else is related to this. When we entrust all the troubles of our earthly existence confidently to the divine heart, we are relieved of them. Then our soul is free to participate in the divine life. Then we walk by the side of the Savior on the path that He travelled on this eath during His earthly existence and still travels in the mystical afterlife. Indeed, with the eyes of faith, we penetrate into the secret depths of His hidden life within the pale of the godhead. On the other hand, this participation in the divine life has a liberating power initself; it lessens the weight of our earthly concerns and grants us a bit of eternity even in this finitude, a reflection of beatitude, a transformation into light. But the invitation to the transformation in God’s hand is given to us by God Himself in the liturgy of the Church. Therefore, the life of an authentic Catholic woman is also a liturgical life. Whoever prays together with the Curch in spirit and in truth knows that her whole life must be formed by this life of prayer.”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Auschwitz, Authentic, Authors, Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, Blessed Pope John Paul II, Books/Reading, Carmelite Order, Catholic Church, Christ, Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 2, Confidence, Divine Life, Edith Stein, Eucharist, Faith, Germany, God, Grace, History, Holy Communion, Jesus, Liturgical Life, Love, Mass, Mystical Body of Christ, Nazis, Prayer, Qualities of a Lady, Sacramental LIfe, Sacrifice, Saints, Spiritual, Spiritual Reading, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Transformation, Truth, Values/Morality, Virtue, Vocation, Women, Work, WWII. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Meditation on Woman, in Celebration of the Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

  1. Azixoye says:

    Hi Angela,

    St Teresa Benedicta of The Cross was born on October 12, 1891. According to the Jewish Calendar that day was Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

    On August 9, 1942, St. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rose were urdered at Auschwitz. Today, on this Auguust 9, 2011, as we remember St Teresa Benedicta of The Cross on August 9, this day falls on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish Calendar. For it was on Tisha B.Av that both Holy Temples were destroyed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Israel. The first one by the Babylonians and the second one by the Romans.

    This duel connection of dates to St Teresa Benedicta of The Cross is like being at one end of the universe and being at the opposite end of the universe at the same time. If that were possible.

    It makes me happy to see other people remembering her.

    Thank you,

    • Angela says:

      Thank you SO MUCH for pointing out these beautiful connections, Azixoye! There are no coincidences…..these connections are very significant. St. Teresa never was NOT a Jew, even after she became a Christian. She loved her Jewish faith and heritage as it prepared her in every way to recognise Jesus as the Messiah and she never abandoned her roots. She is one of my favorite saints.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s