Monday, August 9, 2010

This Is The Truth!

Today is the feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and I couldn't let this feast day go by without writing something. I have always been fascinated with Edith's life story and who wouldn't be. She searched her whole life for truth, she became a great philosopher and teacher, so finding truth and the meaning of life, were especially important to her. She had the intelligence to grasp philosophical ideas and concepts that most of us would find challenging. Her searching brought her to Catholicism, to the "arms of Jesus" and to the Carmelite Order. She would eventually become a Carmelite nun and suffer a martyr's death in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, with her sister Rosa, in 1942. Edith Stein was highly intellectual and her intelligence and ability to reason, brought her to Christ, the greatest of truths.
Edith Stein was born in Breslau in 1891, the youngest of 11, as her family were celebrating Yom Kippur, the Feast of Atonement.  She had a Jewish upbringing, yet she would lose her faith as a teenager. She was an excellent student throughout her life. As an adult, she would study with the greatest German philosophers of her time, no small accomplishment for a women. 
At the University of Gottingen, she became the teaching assistant and pupil of Edmund Husserl, a well-known and respected philosopher. She met another philosopher while there, named Max Scheler, who introduced her to Catholicism. According to the Vatican website, "During this period she went to Frankfurt Cathedral and saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer. She wrote, ' This was something totally new to me. In the synagogues and Protestant Churches I had visited, people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation. It was something I never forgot.' "
One evening she stayed at a friends' house and she picked up a copy of St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography, that was in their library. She couldn't put it down and read it throughout the night. In the morning, she declared to her friends, "This is the truth." Finding that truth would lead her to conversion. Edith Stein had found Jesus, ultimate truth. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." Once finding Jesus, there was no turning back for Edith, she devoted her life to serving Him. It is an inspiring story. 
When I get to Heaven, Edith Stein is one of the many saints, I'd like to have a conversation with. (I hope that's one of the perks of being in Heaven!) What a great woman saint! In my opinion, she should be the 4th women to receive the title Doctor of the Church. (There are only 3 women so far, to be given the title, Doctor of the Church). She wrote over 17 volumes. She was a genius and out of all the philosophies, ways of life, and ideals she could have embraced, she chose Jesus. It is what it is and it's remarkable. 

My longing for truth was a single prayer.  (E.S.)

One cannot desire freedom from the Cross, when one is especially chosen for the Cross.   (Edith Stein)