Saint Edith Stein (1891-1942)
for August 9
Edith Stein was born to a Jewish family in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). As a teenager she turned away from Judaism and professed atheism. Years later, after becoming a noted philosopher, Stein was drawn to Catholic thought. Her reading of the autobiography of Teresa of Avila influenced her greatly. After closing the book, she remarked to herself, "This is the truth." Stein was baptized in the Catholic Church in 1922. In 1933 she joined a religious community, the Carmelites at Cologne, and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In the late 1930s, because Hitler was in power and anti-Jewish sentiment was on the rise, Stein left Germany and sought refuge in the Netherlands, but her safety was short-lived. During World War II, the Nazi government ordered that all Christians of Jewish descent living in the Netherlands be rounded up for resettlement. Stein, along with her sister, who also converted from Judaism, was arrested and then gassed to death at Auschwitz. She was canonized in October, 1998, and has been named a co-patron saint of Europe. Her feast day is August 9. (Taken from "The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth.")
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Saint Edith Stein was intellectually brilliant and spiritually advanced. Not only had she mastered and written extensively on philosophy and theology, but she was also a highly compassionate and selfless person. She was, in a true sense, a Christian in both mind and heart. Sometimes we focus too strongly on learning Christian doctrine or theology and not enough on our prayer life. Other times we focus too much on our prayer life and not enough on expanding our intellectual apprehension of the faith. Saint Edith reminds us of the importance of balancing both these approaches to progressing on our Christian journey.
Dear Jesus, please help me to devote time to developing both my intellectual understanding of you and my spiritual relationship with you.