Edith Stein believed that before we can carry out our specific roles and fulfill our God-given vocations, we need to "first become a person!... Before a woman can become wife and mother in a positive way, she must first mature in her own self-possession. Although woman longs to love and receive love, she must also become strong enough to be a true gift to another."
It seems to me that this statement is a clarion call for our times: Woman, know thyself. One biographer of Edith said it another way: "Before they can be ready to assist others, women first need to be securely anchored in their own depths." Because the very essence of our vocation as women is self-donation, the truth is clear that we cannot give away what we do not possess. What we need to possess is an inherent and soul-deep understanding of our dignity and worth as women in the eyes of God. We are not simply speaking of a psychological acceptance, but of a spiritual maturity that blossoms and bears fruit through the contemplation of our vocation as women as an outpouring of our intimate, loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
—from the book Embracing Edith Stein: Wisdom for Women from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
✞ "If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive." — St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Natural love is sufficient for earthly parents, but the love which our saint bore to Jesus, as His appointed father, was not a mere human love, it was also a supereminently divine love; for, in loving his Son he was exercising the most perfect love of God; since He whom he called his Son was at the same time his God. As in creatures all is finite, so all is capable of increase. What, then, may we imagine, must have been the growth of this ardent love in the heart of our saint during the long period which he spent with Jesus! Those things which tend naturally to add to human love, in him ministered fresh fuel to the divine flame within him. The constant association with the Son of God made Man and given to him as his own Son, the serving Him and being served by Him for thirty years, and, we must add, their marvelous resemblance created a bond between them which was unequalled of its kind." — Edward Healy Thompson, p. 363 AN EXCERPT FROM The Life & Glories of Saint Joseph
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by. Ecclesiastes 3:14-15
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Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
(October 12, 1891 – August 9, 1942)
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross' Story
A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Saint Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau, Germany–now Wroclaw, Poland–Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Göttingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protégé of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis.
After living for four years in the Cologne Carmel, Sr. Teresa Benedicta moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands, in 1938. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in 1987, and canonized her 12 years later.
The writings of Edith Stein fill 17 volumes, many of which have been translated into English. A woman of integrity, she followed the truth wherever it led her. After becoming a Catholic, Edith continued to honor her mother's Jewish faith. Sister Josephine Koeppel, O.C.D. , translator of several of Edith's books, sums up this saint with the phrase, "Learn to live at God's hands."
Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Nm 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35
The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,] "Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving the children of Israel. You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe, all of them princes."
After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned, met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel in the desert of Paran at Kadesh, made a report to them all, and showed the fruit of the country to the whole congregation. They told Moses: "We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong. Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there. Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands, and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan."
Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said, "We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so." But the men who had gone up with him said, "We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us." So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel about the land they had scouted, saying, "The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants. And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants (the Anakim were a race of giants); we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them."
At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries, and even in the night the people wailed.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: "How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me. Tell them: By my life, says the LORD, I will do to you just what I have heard you say. Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall. Forty days you spent in scouting the land; forty years shall you suffer for your crimes: one year for each day. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me. I, the LORD, have sworn to do this to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me: here in the desert they shall die to the last man."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 106:6-7ab, 13-14, 21-22, 23 R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong. Our fathers in Egypt considered not your wonders. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. But soon they forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel. They gave way to craving in the desert and tempted God in the wilderness. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Alleluia Lk 7:16 R. Alleluia, alleluia. A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 15: 21-28
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me." He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour.
Meditation: Matthew 15:21-28 Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Virgin and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
O woman, great is your faith! (Matthew 15:28)
Can you imagine what must have been going through the disciples' minds when Jesus healed the Canaanite woman's daughter and commended her faith? How did this woman deserve any attention at all? She was a pagan, after all, outside of God's covenant with Israel. Surely there were plenty of needy Jews whom he should have tended to instead. No wonder the disciples tried to convince Jesus to send her away. But he didn't.
There are other instances in the Gospels when Jesus praised the faith of an outsider, someone who was considered unclean. One example is the centurion who told Jesus, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." Jesus was amazed at this man's trust, and replied, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith" (Matthew 8:8, 10). Or we could think of the woman who had suffered from a bleeding disorder for years. She came up behind Jesus, touched his cloak, and was healed. Discovering her, Jesus said, "Daughter, your faith has saved you" (Mark 5:34). Both the pagan centurion and the hemorrhaging woman were considered unclean, and yet Jesus praised them and paid them special attention.
In singling out people like these, Jesus was doing more than simply healing desperate souls. He was also showing his disciples that faith and trust were the keys to experiencing his power. Proximity to him didn't matter, and neither did it make a difference if they knew their doctrine better than other people. More than anything else, it was a person's disposition that made the difference.
Today's reading tells us that Jesus welcomes anyone who comes to him with an open, humble, and willing heart. If unbelievers like the Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion found mercy when they came to Jesus, surely we can! Jesus doesn't discriminate. His arms are open wide, eager to embrace all of us. May we all take our cue from this great woman of faith. May we find hope and inspiration in the disposition of this unnamed, humble, and persistent Gentile!
"Jesus, I am so undeserving of your mercy, but I ask in faith. Just say the word, and I will be healed."
We heard the Word in the first Holy Scripture: "Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me." The Lord takes these acts seriously, acts against Him. Disobedience. Acts of distrust. Acts of placing other things as more important, which is what is entailed in disobedience.
We pray today "Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. But soon they forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel. They gave way to craving in the desert and tempted God in the wilderness." And what does it mean to tempt God? Tempted Him to move in a way He desires not. They were tempted and fell into temptations of laziness. Temptation of disobedience. Temptations of falling into the crowds and their ways of living instead of how the Lord wanted them to live...as a light to the world. This was the whole purpose of Israel...to be God's people.
In comes the Savior of Israel, and of all humanity that calls on the Lord's name: ""I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He came to save Israel, yet, His love is extended to all the faithful, those full of faith in Him. I keep remembering the story of a Muslim that was captured in a war between what I believe where Muslim militants or ISIS. Anyhow, he was alone at one point, now months in prison, he had a dream of Jesus who said he would save him. By this time his wife had a similar dream and was awaiting her husband to come home to fulfill the dream. One day, the militants began shooting at each other and in the midst of the fire the Lord appears and tells the man to leave and follow him out because "he would use him to do great things for Him "(the Lord Jesus)". The man hesitated, arguing that he'd risk getting killed, but Jesus insisted to follow Him (His orders). He went. And was led to a road where oddly, a taxi cab was waiting apparently, in the middle of nowhere. He got in and asked to be taken home. His wife welcomes him with the question "what took you so long to get home?" The man exasperated explains he was captured and was tortured, and she explained that the Lord had told her a while back that he'd be home. To this day, they are spreading the Word of Jesus and bibles everywhere, being a witness to God's salvation.
There are important things to realize in this story of the saved Muslims: First, trust in God. First and foremost! Secondly, never forget the first, and first comes God before all things.
Jesus sees the lost sheep in His creation. Every soul has a hope as long as we live on earth, and that hope is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.
The lady in the Gospel kept crying out "Have pity on me Son of David!" And the Lord said ""It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." But, here is the key...she persisted. She never gave up. She kept reaching out. Let me give you the last words of Bishop Barren's reflection on this today: "Now, what do we make of this story? A long tradition stresses the perseverance of the woman in the face of the "test" that Jesus sets for her. And there is something right about it. Augustine says that we pray in order to expand our will to accept what God is going to give us." If I get something with little effort, I will not appreciate it very much. But if I suffer much for something, the reward is much greater. This is a lesson to teach our children. Suffering? It is good. God said to the the people in the desert they'd now have to suffer for their crimes against God. And it is good. Strange huh? But how else will we value His Goodness? I want my kids to work for their first car, I even tell my young nephews that are going to drive soon, I'll help you get your first car if you work for it and I'll match it to so much. Why? So they'll take care of it. I've bought a car for a couple people and they blow it up (the engine) and I wonder "why don't they take care of it like I keep asking?". It is all in the heart. Yet they beg for another, and I give in. Here we are 4 cars later for them, they keep blowing them up, but I'm making them pay for it one way or the other, and I still to this day ask if they've changed their oil and checked the fluids. And I worry when I see the car is neglected. That car my family, that car is your faith. How are you taking care of it? Are you following religion as it should? Religion is good when God is good and above all. The world teaches the opposite and so faith is thrown into 2nd place, or 3rd, or last, leaving most to think "when I'm old I'll consider this religion stuff....like my parents" LOL. Yet, God takes it. It is evident when He hears the woman cry out ""Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." A spanish reflection (5minutos) said today "what's the difference between a dog and a cat? When a dog sees that its master takes care of it feeding it and all, it thinks to itself 'this one feeds me and takes care of me, it must be god!'. But the cat thinks 'this one feeds me and takes care of me, surely it thinks I am god!" This is applied to those who think they deserve everything....".
Jesus though, can be amazed...at humility and tenacity, persistence, that door you knock on is made of wood. It is the cross. Pretend you are knocking on wood with your persistence. Then pretend you look up as you knock and you see the feet of Jesus....hanging on that wood. And He is looking down with great love..."Yes My Child?"
I had an interesting revelation type thought this morning and I'll leave you with it: "Heaven is meeting people that are truly in love with God"