Where can I begin the story of my coming to know Edith Stein? I think it began about 4 years ago when a friend and I were looking for a female saint to name our group. When she suggested her, saying, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, I said I’d look into her life. I did not know much about her at all. After some research, I said yes and learned enough to speak about her to our little group. And then I did nothing for some time. I meant to of course, but other things crowded her out of my brain until I visited Auschwitz last summer. Unlike St. Maximilian Kolbe, she has no marker there; she was gassed with and like hundreds of others on August 9, 1942 day.
I first read Anne Costa’s book about her, Embracing Edith Stein. That spurred me on to read more and so I’ve read a few of her Essays on Woman. I watched a movie about her life, Edith Stein, The Seventh Chamber which was very good. (side note, Maia Morgenstern played Edith; she was Mary in The Passion of the Christ) I need to find a good biography next.
I read her work because it makes me think. Really think. She has much to say to women today, though she wrote many years ago. The essay I’m quoting from, Spirituality of the Christian Woman is from 1932.
Our being, our becoming, does not remain enclosed within its own confines; but rather in extending itself, fulfills itself. However, all of our being and becoming and acting in time is ordered from eternity; has meaning for eternity, and only becomes clear to us if and insofar as we put it in the light of eternity.
We are meant to share our gifts and talents and it is in that sharing that we become who God created us to be. We spend so much time worrying and being busy and planning, but to what end? If it is for God, good; if not, then why are we doing it?
I think about this often in my faith journey. Why am I doing this? For myself or for him? I’m sure there are days when we do many things that seem far from God: business trips that take us away from family, cleaning toilets, changing diapers, paying bills. But they aren’t far away at all when we realize that our tasks serve others and in turn, help us to live out our becoming as Edith says. Those are the little things, the day to day work.
Then there are bigger things to discern in our life. Do I marry this person? Take this job? Move to a new place? Change careers? Have another child? I’m always turning and asking, “is this going to help me get to you, God?” The next step needs to look good, be right, in the light of eternity.
St. Edith Stein makes me think. I’m going to continue to read, learn and think about and with her.
Here are a few links to more information:
A brief biography from the Vatican website
Essays on Women (the book is in English only) by Edith Stein
And a few images I’ve shared on Instagram and Facebook with her prayers and quotes