12 Quotes from Edith Stein – Jewish convert, Carmelite Sister, Martyr and Catholic Saint.

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Edith Stein, a Jewish woman who became a religious sister, a martyr, and Canonized Saint of the Catholic Church. If you were not familiar with the incredible conversion story and death of St. Edith Stein before reading this post today, I would encourage you to read about it here.

In her quest for truth while studying philosophy, she found the Truth, Jesus Christ, as well as the truth of philosophy in the Catholic Church. Born to Jewish parents, she converted and was baptized on January 1, 1922. Because of her love for St. Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein joined the Carmelite Order and became Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. It is quite fitting and providential that she took that name, since she would endure her own cross. She was martyred in a Nazi Concentration Camp of Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. To read more about her life, please see the aforementioned link above.

On May 1, 1987, Pope St. John Paul II beatified her and on October 11, 1998, he officially recognized her as a Saint of the Catholic Church. In his homily, which you can read here in its entirety, the Polish Pope said,

“The new saint teaches us that love for Christ undergoes suffering. Whoever truly loves does not stop at the prospect of suffering: he 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.’”

Since she had such a brilliant mind, her words are often quoted, however, I am guessing that some people aren’t familiar with these words. To remedy that, I now give you 12 quotes from Saint Edith Stein for you to contemplate and pray with during this day and the rest of the week, and maybe the rest of your life –

1. “We cannot separate love for God from love for man. We acknowledge God easily, but our brother? Those with whom we do not identify his background, education, race, complexion. We could not have imagined that love for God could be so hard.”

2. “God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need. Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace. And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him. Then you will be able to rest in Him — really rest — and start the next day as a new life.”

3. “Since Mary is the prototype of pure womanhood, the imitation of Mary must be the goal of girls’ education.”

4. “All I need is a quiet corner where I can talk to God each day as if there were nothing else to do. I try to make myself a tool for God. Not for myself, but only for him.”

5. “Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation, no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order, or in a worldly profession.”

6. “O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace.”

7. “The walls of our monasteries enclose a narrow space. To erect the structure of holiness in it, one must dig deep and build high, must descend into the depths of the dark night of one’s own nothingness in order to be raised up high into the sunlight of divine love and compassion.” (Me, after reading this – “Wow!”)

8. “In the last few months one has often heard the complaint that the many prayers for peace are still without effect. What right have we to be heard? Our desire for peace is undoubtedly genuine and sincere. But does it come from a completely purified heart?”

9. “Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones, but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone.”

10. “Learn from St. Thérèse to depend on God alone and serve Him with a wholly pure and detached heart. Then, like her, you will be able to say ‘I do not regret that I have given myself up to Love’.”

11. “Every true prayer is a prayer of the Church; by means of that prayer the Church prays, since it is the Holy Spirit living in the Church, Who in every single soul ‘prays in us with unspeakable groanings’.”

12. “The limitless loving devotion to God, and the gift God makes of Himself to you, are the highest elevation of which the heart is capable; it is the highest degree of prayer. The souls that have reached this point are truly the heart of the Church.”

St. Edith Stein…Pray for Us..

“Mondays With Mary” – The Love the Saints Have for Mary

Today’s “Monday’s with Mary” is a small collection of quotes about the Blessed Mother from the some of the great saints of the Catholic Church. There is no doubt there are many more great quotes about our Lady not listed here, but I wanted to provide you with some that I have found. I would encourage you to Tweet them, put them up as your Facebook status, or use them in your own blogs and periods of evangelization.

Mary is so important to Jesus for she is his Queen Mother. She is our Queen Mother as well for it was our Lord who gave her to us through St. John the Apostle while he was on the cross (see the fifth quote). We don’t worship or give adoration to her, but we give her great honor as her Son gave her great honor. She stands for all time as the Mother of All.

“Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin, chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He will that virginity should be free.” – St. Augustine, On Holy Virginity

“As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary” –Saint Thomas Aquinas

“And by a new nativity [Christ] was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother’s chastity…The origin is different by the nature like: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bare, and a Virgin she remained.” – St. Leo the Great, Sermons

“A gentleman of the Protestant faith, the son-in-law of Malcolm Muggeridge, told me: “I love you, your work, everything I see, but there is one thing I do not understand: Our Lady. You are full of Mary.” I replied to him: “No Mary, no Jesus –no mother, no.” A few months later he send me a card with these words printed in big letters: “I believe, no Mary, no Jesus! This has changed my life.”” – Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

“If through faith Mary became the bearer of the Son given to her by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, while preserving her virginity intact, in that same faith she discovered and accepted the other dimension of motherhood revealed by Jesus during his messianic mission. One can say that this dimension of motherhood belonged to Mary from the beginning, that is to say from the moment of the conception and birth of her Son. From that time she was “the one who believed.”” – Blessed John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer 21

“If there is an apostle on whom our eyes would be fixed, was likely to teach us about the Blessed Virgin, it is St. John, to whom she was committed by our Lord on the cross – with whom, as tradition goes, she lived at Ephesus till she was taken away. This anticipation is confirmed; for, as I have said above, one of the earliest and fullest of our informants concerning her dignity, as being the Second Eve, is Irenaeus, who came to Lyons from Asia Mino and had been taught by the immediate disciples of St. John.” – Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

“Now I seem to be penetrating what was the martyrdom of our most beloved Mother…Oh, if all people would but penetrate this martyrdom! Who could succeed in suffering with this, yes, our dear Coredemptrix? Who would refuse her the good title of Queen of Martyrs?” – St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

“In that first ‘fusion’ with Jesus (holy communion), it was my Heavenly Mother again who accompanied me to the altar for it was she herself who placed her Jesus into my soul.” –Saint Therese of Lisieux

“Is not Mary the Mother of Christ? She is therefore our Mother also…He [Jesus] acquired a body composed like that of other men, but as Savior of our race, He had a kind of spiritual and mystical body, which is the society of those who believe in Christ…Consequently, Mary, bearing in her own womb the Savior, may be said to have borne also those whose life was contained in the life of Savior. All of us, therefore…have come forth from the womb of Mary as a body united to its head. Hence, in a spiritual and mystical sense, we are called children of Mary, and she is the Mother of us all.” – Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum

“In the Heavens Mary commands the angels and the blessed.  As a recompense for her profound humility, God has empowered her and commissioned her to fill with saints the empty thrones from which the apostate angels fell by pride.” – St. Louis De Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

“Day by day, let us strive to belong more and more to the Immaculata, and in her and through her, to Jesus and to God; never should we try to go to Jesus without her. We do not serve God the Father, and Jesus our Lord, and the Immaculata; but we seek to serve God in Jesus and through Jesus, and to serve Jesus in the Immaculata and through the Immaculata.” – St. Maximilian Kolbe, Letter to Fr. Salezy Mikolajczyk, July 28, 1935.

“The devotions we practice in honor of the glorious Virgin Mary, however trifling they may be, are very pleasing to Her Divine Son, and He rewards them with eternal glory.” – St. Teresa of Avila

Holiness and Martyrdom as a Catholic in America

When Cardinal Timothy Dolan received his red hat on February 18, he said that he was grateful to the Holy Father for giving him this honor, but he just wants to be a saint. If I were to sit down with Cardinal Dolan today, I would share with him that the easiest way to canonization, according to the 6th point in the article – Desiderata for 2012 written by Reverend C. John McCloskey III, is to die a martyr. Knowing the extent of Cardinal Dolan’s experience and education, I would imagine that he would already understand this fact. I make this statement because martyrdom is very likely to appear in the United States of America in the years to come. With the greatest threats against Religious Freedom and attacks on the First Amendment this country has ever seen, it it quite possible that not only will our bishops, priests, and religious face martyrdom, but many faithful and obedient Catholics who will not comply with a tyrannical government could as well. I will let this marinate in your minds return to it at the end.

With that being said, the purpose of my blog is to engage and educate the Catholic lay faithful in the New Evangelization. It’s my hope that through my writing, I will help teach the “basics” of the Catholic faith for Catholic adults, who did receive proper catechesis as adolescents. In the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and one of his great vicars and universal shepherds, we must remember – “Be Not Afraid!” We must not be afraid of what lies ahead of us or be afraid to learn more about Catholicism. Today, I will discuss holiness, what it means to be saint, and martyrdom.

In Thessalonians 1:6-7, St. Paul says, “you become imitators of us and of the Lord…you became an example to all the believers…” To be holy and to seek perfection is not an option, but an obligation. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must always thrive to be saints. Every Christian has the capacity of becoming a saint. Our purpose in life is to be holy in imitation of Jesus Christ, who is all holy. He is to be our perfect model. As St. Paul says in Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

What is holiness?

Holiness is the separation of the irreverent, seeking and giving oneself to God. God is the foundation of holiness because God is all goodness. The invitation to holiness and goodness comes from God himself.  As Christians, to be holy is to bring our best versions to the world. However, because we suffer from the remnants of Original Sin, it can be difficult and challenging at times to live a life of holiness. We must always remember that we have Jesus Christ as our model and strength and should never get discouraged. Even the greatest saints of the Catholic Church had their struggles and moments of weakness.

What is a saint? Who is called to be a saint? When do we receive this call?

A saint is a person who thrives to live a life of holiness with the help of God’s grace and attains the prize of eternal life (CCC 828). The word saint comes from the Latin term – sanctus, which means “holy.” Sanctification is the process where one is made holy.

All Christians are called to holiness. We are called to holiness after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, we are claimed and adopted by God as his children. We are restored to the filial (sonship) relationship that was established first and foremost with the first man. In our Baptism, we receive the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. We also share in the three Old Testament offices that are fulfilled by Jesus – Priest, Prophet, and King.

To be a saint is to live a life dedicated to heroism. Heroism is about self-sacrificial deeds; it’s not about self-glorification and narcissism. It requires one to live with heroic virtue! G.K. Chesterton said, the “saints are the heroes of the Church.” Zorro has always been one of my favorite literary heroes. When I think about Zorro, the words of self-sacrifice, strength, goodness, and servant of the people come to mind. Just as Zorro is a great hero, so must we thrive to live lives dedicated to self-sacrifice, goodness, and serving others. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, there have been many men and women who have answered the call to live lives of heroic virtue and self-sacrifice. In recent years, I think of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Blessed John Paul II, and St. Jose Maria Escriva. These men and women truly lived their lives for Jesus Christ and were filled with joy. St. Teresa of Avila said to be a saint is to live life with joy and passion – “a sad saint is not a saint at all.”

Living the life of a saint is not always the most popular lifestyle in our culture or period of history. To be a saint is to be counter-cultural just as the Church is counter-cultural. During his three-year ministry, Jesus himself was counter-cultural for he ate with sinners, spoke with woman (some became his disciples), and countered the elders of the faith.

Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix says, “Christ does not call us to be popular, or even successful. He calls us to take up the cross each day and follow him. There is only one ultimate failure in life: not to be a saint. Nothing else in life matters, compared to the treasure of Christ’s love.”

As Catholics, how do we become saints seeking holiness?

First, we must receive the Sacraments. Although all seven are fundamental, Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist can be received on a daily basis. The Sacrament of Reconciliation assists us in our relationship with Our Lord and allows us to restore our personal relationship with him when it is severed. If you have not been in some time, I encourage you to find a time and go. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist is the life giving bread of Jesus Christ. It not only nourishes our physical body, but gives us spiritual strength as well. It is truly Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. Next, we need spiritual direction. A director of our interior life will aid us in our prayer and help us to discern God’s will for our lives. Lastly, reading the Scriptures, Lives of the Saints, or other spiritual texts will engage us to know God in a personal way and will also assist in our relationship with Our Lord and His Church.

As Catholics who are striving to live lives of holiness, learning each day how to be saints, and living contradictory to the world around us will often bring times of hostility and persecution. We saw this in the Early Church as Christianity grew. Hostility and persecution rose up to meet Christianity and the martyrs of the Early Church were born. The word martyr comes from the Greek term – witness.  St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). Other individuals such as St. Lawrence, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Martina of Rome, and eleven of the twelve apostles (excluding John) and many others all died the martyr’s death. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch says about his impending martyrdom, “…Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts…only let me get to Jesus Christ…I would rather die.”

There are two forms of martyrdom – red martyrdom and white martyrdom. Red martyrdom is witnessing to the faith where a person endures death. The Church proclaims those who are killed for the faith are baptized by blood and are directed straight to heaven. The red martyrs are genuine examples of heroic fortitude and conviction that is unparallel. White martyrdom (dry martyrdom) is social persecution rather than death. This form of martyrdom is when a person or group of persons are attacked either verbally or in writing for having a conviction of faith or when they choose not to violate their moral conscience. This is the most common form of martyrdom for us Catholics in America to date, but that could change soon.

Although the 20th century witnessed more red martyrs for the faith around the world than any other century, here in the United States white martyrdom was more common. However, in recent years and with the multiplying of the culture wars, white martyrdom has dramatically increased against Catholics in general (see Huffington Post article). With the announcement of the HHS Mandate and the so-called “compromise”, verbal and hate filled attacks have been on the rise against Catholics since we stand against this unjust law. We will not allow a tyrannical government like the Obama Administration to force us into anything that contradicts our Religious Freedom and First Amendment Rights on the grounds of “women’s health” (see yesterday’s results from the Blunt Amendment – right down party lines). We will not comply!

In the 1920’s, the government of Mexico declared war on the Catholic Church killing bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay faithful in the streets. It was terrible time for the Church in Mexico and many good and faithful people lost their lives. If the dangers we have now continue and the current administration is re-elected for four more years, Mexico from the 1920’s could appear on the shores and in the heartland of the United States.