Thursday, September 30, 2010

St. Edith Stein on "extraordinary women"

by Carla Galdo

A few weeks ago I emerged from one of my favorite places of prayer, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, with a new book under my arm: "Essays on Woman," by Edith Stein. The German Jewish philosopher-turned-Carmelite, is also known to the world as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, whose fruitful life ended in martyrdom at the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

In the church’s cool underground chapels I had been pondering the call to sainthood, a call that of late had been plummeting through the chasms of my stubborn, quick-to-speak and slow-to-hear personality, snagging on the sharp edges of my anger and my fear, and getting mired in the muck of my self-indulgence and self-pity.

I needed help, and with a certainty I can only attribute to grace, I was led to the guiding words of a saint who shared something of my personality type and life experience.

Edith Stein, I have come to learn, was drawn to her conversion to Christianity through the transcendent truths revealed to hear through the study of philosophy, as well as through the writings of St. Theresa of Avila. She was one of the first German women to be admitted to higher levels of academia, and after she converted and before she entered the Carmelite convent, she dedicated herself to teaching and speaking about education-- particularly the education of women.

All this made her thought and her life particularly appealing and relevant to me, as a woman who has never been far from a classroom, whether as student or teacher. Like St. Teresa Benedicta (formerly Edith Stein), I was drawn to faith via the intellectual road. Although I’m a Catholic by upbringing, the writings of our late--and great-- Holy Father Pope John Paul II, and then formal theological and philosophical study in graduate school, led me to an even deeper experience of and love for Christ.

Edith Stein’s life stood out to me, in contrast to saints of earlier or perhaps simpler times whose lives can often feel distant and far removed from mine. She managed to live a saintly life amidst the complexities of a modern world somewhat similar to that which I experience today.

In 1930, Stein gave a lecture in which she described “exceptional women”:

“They perform wonders on the job in families, professions, and in the seclusion of the cloister...Continue

Reform of the reform continues

--->Pro Multis - New Roman Missal Implementation Set for First Sunday of Advent 2011 ; August statement of USCCB can be found here

--->Jeffrey Tucker: The Musical Hope of the New Missal. "For the first time since 1969, all priests in the English-speaking world will have in front of them a Missal with chants of the Mass clearly given as part of the liturgical structure, presented not as an add-on but rather as an integral part of the liturgy. The music is of good quality, an excellent attempt to capture with spirit the Gregorian tradition... I find it very persuasive"...

--->Revisited. August 2010: Vatican approves new New Roman Missal English-Language Translation, officially returns Pro Multis to the Canon (See texts), Eucharistic prayer. Promise kept.

"Man and women are "two different expressions of human nature. Their difference has a specifically complementary character. Man and women are spiritually ordered toward each other and a much closer communion and ultimate love is between a man and woman engenders a unique I-thou intense longing for union and blissful enchantment with the spouse." --- Dietrich von Hildebrand writing in "Man and Woman" (click)."

--->2006 USCCB note on reasons for Pro Multis change (Please note this was published in 2006. The change has since been effected as noted above. Doubtless Benedict XVI can be expected to comment on the reasons for the change also in his own terms, now that the Missal has been approved and once the actual implementation gets closer, towards Advent next year)