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Aug 09. Saint Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) Feast

Mass Readings + homily notes for special feasts and memorials

Material already online at the Association of Catholic Priests website
(edited by Fr. Pat Rogers)

For full range of memorials
click here


 

1st Reading: Hosea 2:16-17; 21-22

God's love for his people, Israel, is like a husband's love for a wife

On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, "My husband," and no longer will you call me, "My Baal."
For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. On that day I will answer, says the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth;
and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel."

Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

A classic parable on being ready for Christ's return: the wise and foolish bridesmaids

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. ' Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. ' But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves. ' And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us. ' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do no know you. ' Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Bible


Sister Teresa Benedicta (1891-1942)

She was named Edith Stein in her observant Jewish family, but was an atheist by her teenage years. After studying philosophy and holding a teaching position at the University of Freiburg she became a Catholic Church and later a Discalced Carmelite nun. In 1938, she and her sister Rosa, also a convert and an religious sister, were sent to a Carmelite monastery in Echt, the Netherlands for their safety. They were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.

Sharing the destiny of God's people

In his homily at the canonisation of St Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) Pope St John Paul II marvelled at her understanding of how the love of Christ and human freedom are intertwined, because love and truth have an intrinsic relationship. "The quest for truth and its expression in love did not seem at odds to her; on the contrary she realized that they call for one another. In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority. St Teresa Benedicta says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie. This new saint teaches us that love for Christ undergoes suffering. Whoever truly loves does not stop at the prospect of suffering, but accepts communion in suffering with the one he loves.

Aware of what her Jewish origins implied, Edith Stein spoke eloquently about them: "Beneath the Cross I understood the destiny of God's People.... Indeed, today I know far better what it means to be the Lord's bride under the sign of the Cross. But since it is a mystery, it can never be understood by reason alone". The mystery gradually enveloped her whole life, spurring her to the point of making the supreme sacrifice. As a bride on the Cross, Sr Teresa Benedicta did not only write profound pages about the "science of the Cross", but was thoroughly trained in the school of the Cross. Many of our contemporaries would like to silence the Cross. But nothing is more eloquent than the Cross when silenced! The true message of suffering is a lesson of love. Love makes suffering fruitful and suffering deepens love.

Through the experience of the Cross, Edith Stein was able to open the way to a new encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith and the Cross proved inseparable to her. Having matured in the school of the Cross, she found the roots to which the tree of her own life was attached. She understood that it was very important for her "to be a daughter of the chosen people and to belong to Christ not only spiritually, but also through blood".

"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:24). The divine Teacher spoke these words to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. What he gave his attentive listener we also find in the life of Edith Stein, in her "ascent of Mount Carmel". The depth of the divine mystery became perceptible to her in the silence of contemplation. Gradually, throughout her life, as she grew in the knowledge of God, worshiping him in spirit and truth, she experienced ever more clearly her specific vocation to ascend the Cross with Christ, to embrace it with serenity and trust, to love it by following in the footsteps of her beloved Spouse: St Teresa Benedicta is offered to us today as a model to inspire us and a protectress to call upon. We give thanks to God for this gift. May the new saint be an example to us in our commitment to serve freedom, in our search for the truth. May her witness constantly strengthen the bridge of mutual understanding between Jews and Christians."