Ave Maria Meditations
August 9th: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
But we have the Savior not only in the form of reports of witnesses to his life. He is present to us in the most Blessed Sacrament. The hours of adoration before the Highest Good and the listening for the voice of the eucharistic God are simultaneously “meditation on the Law of the Lord” and “watching in prayer.” But the highest level is reached “when the Law is deep within our hearts” (Ps 40:8), when we are so united with the triune God whose temple we are, that his Spirit rules all we do or do not do. Then it does not mean we are forsaking the Lord when we do the work that obedience requires of us. Work is unavoidable as long as we are subject to nature’s laws and to the necessities of life. And, following the word and example of the apostle Paul, our holy Rule commands us to earn our bread by the work of our hands. But for us this work is always merely a means and must never be an end in itself. To stand before the face of God continues to be the real content of our lives.
The legend of the (Carmelite) Order tells us that the Mother of God would have liked to remain with the hermit brothers on Mount Carmel. We can certainly understand that she felt drawn to the place where she had been venerated through the ages and where the holy prophet had lived in the same spirit that also filled her from the time her earthly sojourn began. Released from everything earthly, to stand in worship in the presence of God, to love him with her whole heart, to beseech his grace for sinful people, and in atonement to substitute herself for these people, as the maidservant of the Lord to await his beckoning this was her life.
from the writings of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
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Edith Stein was born of Jewish parents in 1891. She was a brilliant young woman, earing her doctorate in philodophy at the age of 25. With the witness of the strong faith of some Catholic friends, she began to study the Catholic faith, converting in 1922. The love of God was all consuming and she entered the Carmelite Order in 1934 taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She offered her life for the conversion of her people, the Jews. When World War II broke out, she had to leave the Germany but later was arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz where she was gassed on August 9, 1942, slightly less than a year after St. Maximilian Kolbe was also murdered there. St. Edith Stein was canonized in 1998.
Whatever did not fit in with my plan did lie within the plan of God. I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God, that my whole life down to the smallest details has been marked out for me in the plan of Divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes. And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross