Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: a beautiful person, a seeker of truth and love who found her way in Christ. A Martyr for Truth and Love. A great sister for us and a model for our times.
She was born just a 130 years ago in Germany in an Orthodox Jewish Family. She died a Carmelite Nun just 80 years ago, a martyr in the death camp of Auschwitz.
She was brilliant. In her youth she was ambitious in her studies, but that ambition was refined into the search for truth. There was a new school of philosophy called Phenomenology that captivated her because of its commitment to find truth by looking closely at what is going on around you.
In her youthful studies she had become an atheist and a militant feminist – yet seeing the love and hope of a number of friends, Catholic families, she discovered that their hope was firmly grounded on their faith in the God of Love, in Jesus Christ who died and rose for love. She understood that the Jewish faith of her family was fulfilled in the New Covenant of Christ.
A brilliant modern philosopher, she became a theologian as a teacher and then, a mystic as a Carmelite Nun, dedicated to a union of truth and love. Her contributions to contemporary theology have influenced many – like Saint John Paul II!
Like Ezekiel the Prophet, she was called listen and then to witness with her words: to Christ Crucified who calls us to live sacrificial love in practical, everyday ways. She did so with the docility of a child, giving herself totally for the Kingdom of God.
Because of the persecution of the Jews in Germany, she was transferred to a Carmelite Monastery in Holland, but when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and started taking Dutch Jews to their death camps, the Christian Churches spoke up in protest. The result: the Nazis immediately annihilated all Jewish converts to Christianity.
In 1942, knowing of her impending death, Sister Teresa Benedicta offered her martyrdom both for her Jewish people and for her persecutors.
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About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!