Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Saint Edith Stein- Martyr

Saint Edith Stein

Edith Stein lived the true meaning of her chosen name Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, for just as Jesus embraced The Cross so did Sister Teresa Benedicta. But let us take a closer and more intimate look at this great Saint and one of the great minds of The Catholic Church.

Edith was born into a very Traditional Jewish family she was the youngest of eleven children, unfortunately for her family Ediths Father died when she was not yet two years old, which left her Mother as the sole provider for the entire family. As Edith grew and matured she had a deep admiration and love for her Mother who struggled to support her large family and even though Edith herself had turned her back on God, Mrs Stein remained a staunch and Devout Jew, teaching her children the Traditions of the Jewish Faith.

One of the great blessings that Edith was born with was a curious mind and a thirst for knowledge, which led her to study Philosophy, and to become one of the first women to study this subject at University, she was accepted at University of Breslau before transferring to the University of Gottingen in order to study with Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. It was while studying this course and observing the Faith of those around her which led Edith on a course that would change her life forever and from which would also come The Way of The Cross, for herself.
It was whilst she was vacationing with friends that Edith happened by chance to see the book written by St. Teresa of Avila, her curiosity was aroused and so Edith began to read St Teresa's autobiography and was unable to put it down until she had read the last sentence, it was Edith's Epiphany moment. There was no turning back for Edith, for she believed without doubt what she had read within that most profound book, it also brought untold pain and anguish knowing in her heart that she must embrace Catholicism and leave behind her rich Jewish heritage, in the knowledge of what this news would bring to her beloved Mother. So in the end God answered Mrs. Steins prayer that would bring her daughter back to the Faith, but as always God answers prayer in the most unexpected of ways, in this case Mrs Steins beloved daughter, Edith.

A double blow would then strike Ediths mother when she found that her daughter not only would become a Catholic but also a Religious in The Order of Carmel, this was a troubling and most painful of times for both Mother and daughter, but Edith could not resist the Call of God. On October 15, just after her forty-second birthday, Edith Stein entered the Carmel of Cologne, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Upon the death of her Mother, Edith would be joined by her sister Rosa who also converted and was Baptized into the Catholic Church. When the Nazi tyranny turned to untold violence in the infamous 'Kristillnacht', Edith's Superiors decided to transer Sister Teresa Benedicta to the Carmel in Echt, the Netherlands. Her sister Rosa later joined her there as a Third Order Carmelite, in which Rosa helped serve the Community there.

But unfortunately this was not enough to safeguard either Edith or her sister Rosa and both were arrested on August 2, 1942. When her sister reached a state of confusion Edith with much compassion and courage took her sister Rosa and led her with these words, "Come, Rosa. We go for our people." The sisters were deported to Auschwitz and executed just a week later. Edith Stein was fifty years old.
She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 1,1987.

Quotes from St. Edith Stein

"I have no other desire than that the will of God be accomplished in me and through me".
"One cannot desire freedom from the Cross when one is especially chosen for the Cross".
"Charity liberates the will from everything, imposing as a duty to love God above all else. This however is possible only when anxious desire for creatures is removed".

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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