"But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God"
Two words come to mind when I think about the amazing life of Edith Stein: Courage and Transformation.
Edith Stein was born to a devout Jewish family in turn of the century Europe. Her passion for the human person led her to the study of a branch of philosophy called Phenomenology. The world was ripe for this sort of study as it taught that our subjective experience can teach us objective Truth; essentially ALL experiences can lead us to God. Stein faced many obstacles including a male dominated culture, angry feminists, and Nazi Germany. After receiving her doctorate in 1916 for writing her dissertation On the Problem of Empathy, she would undergo a major conversion. At the age of thirteen Stein had left religion altogether and professed herself and atheist. Her journey back to God led her to Catholicism. In 1933 Stein became a Discalced Carmelite and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Despite the efforts of the order to protect her, on the morning of August 7, 1942, Stein and many others including her sister, were deported to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers. Due to an intellectually influential career the world will remember her as Edith Stein, but as Christians we have the privilege of seeing her as daughter and sister, nurse and teacher; as lover of the Eucharist. We know her as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
“Christ embodies the ideal of human perfection...we are thus led through the imitation of Christ to the development of our original human vocation which is to present God’s image in ourselves.”
I think there is no greater quote that can sum up the vocation of each individual. We live in a world where we areconstantly defined by what we do or accomplish. As women, there is constant pressure to put on a brave face and be perfect. The culture tells us that It is not enough to be a stay at home mom we must also have a career and make ourselves “useful,” yet the working mother often feels that she is somehow ruining her children or her family. Stein’s writings and the witness of her life teach us such an important truth: We are simply called to be ourselves.
The world does not need another Edith Stein, Teresa of Avila, or (insert person you have on a pedestal). The world needs you. You bear God’s image to the world just as you are. Edith Stein was born to a devout Jewish family and would become one of the most influential saints of the 20th century all because she gave her best daily. She even went through a period in her life where she did not believe in God. Ask yourself: Am I giving my best today? Most often our best looks like trying to get three kids out of the car so we can grocery shop so the family can eat. Our best may look like turing in C+ work in because we are juggling a job, school, and extracurricular activities. Make sure you are judging yourself by God’s standards. St. Francis of Assisi made a habit of asking God three questions multiple times a day: Who am I Lord? Who are you? What do YOU want from me? If we learn to listen to those answers and truly try to live our lives accordingly we too can be transformed. We too can become who were created to be, We too will one day be St. (Insert your name).
Edith Stein had an amazing gift of knowing who she was and sharing it with the world.-Maggie
Reflect: What areas of your life are you tempted in thinking that you are not enough?
Reflect: Are you afraid to share yourself with the world? If so why? If not, how do you share the gifts that you have? St. Theresa, prayer for us!
Act: Ask God the three questions of St. Francis of Assisi: Who am I? Who are you? What do you want from me? What does He say?