Feast of St. Edith Stein (August 9)   Leave a comment

ST. EDITH STEIN (OCTOBER 12, 1891-AUGUST 9, 1942)

Nun and Philosopher

The life of St. Edith Stein exemplifies the union of faith, philosophy, intellect, and prayer.

Stein, born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), raised an observant Jew, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922.  The impetus for this conversion came during her studies of philosophy at universities in Gottingen and Freiburg, when she read the writings of St. Theresa of Avila.  Stein considered Roman Catholicism an expansion of her Jewish beliefs.  Sensitive to her mother’s feelings, Stein continued to attend synagogue services with her for a while.

Stein was a keen intellect, but academic work at the university level was closed to her because she was a woman.  Nevertheless, while teaching German language and literature at a Dominican school for girls, she continued philosophical studies privately.  Stein flowered philosophically after 1933, when she became a Carmelite nun.  Her output during this period included texts on St. John of the Cross and on prayer.
Stein, being ethnically Jewish, was at great risk during in the 1930s and 1940s.  She had to leave Germany in 1937, so the Carmelites sent her to the Netherlands.  The saint was not safe there for long, either, for the Nazis deported her to Auschwitz two years later.  For the last three years of her life, Stein ministered to her fellow prisoners.  She and her sister, Rose, died in 1942.  Perhaps the best epitaph for St. Edith Stein come from her own words:

Sufferings endured with the Lord are his sufferings, and bear great fruit in the context of his great work of redemption.

Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1998.  The Roman Catholic Church has declared Edith Stein a martyr,  on the grounds that she died because the Dutch Roman Catholic bishops had condemned Nazism.  So Stein died upholding the moral position of the Church.  One might say that this is an unusual definition for martyrdom, but it works.  And what about St. Maximilian Kolbe (August 14), whom the Nazis murdered also?  He died because his faithfulness put into the path of danger.  He was no less a martyr than Pope Sixtus II or St. Laurence of Rome.  And neither was St. Edith Stein.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 19, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF F. BLAND TUCKER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, PRINCESS

THE FEAST OF FRANZ SCHUBERT, COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge, and to another the insight of wisdom, and to another the steadfastness of faith.  We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant St. Edith Stein, and we pray that by her teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 3:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

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