Skip links

Edith Stein: Eucharistic Champion, Witness of Surrender, Vessel for Grace — and Saint

The story of Edith Stein is a harrowing one.

Practicing Judaism in her youth, an atheist in her teen and young-adult years, and, eventually, a baptized Catholic and Discalced Carmelite, God clearly had his hand on this woman from the beginning.

Born in 1891 in Breslau, Germany — now Wroclaw, Poland — Edith was one of 11 children. Disinterested in faith altogether after her father’s death, it wasn’t until she discovered the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila that she felt she had found the truth. Upon fulfilling her vocation to enter Camel, Edith took the name Sister Teresia Beneditca a Cruce (or “Teresa Benedicta of the Cross”).

Sister Teresa was a bright mind and a force to be reckoned with. She spent a great deal of time reading, writing and studying, with a particular interest in phenomenology.

In 1942, Sister Teresa was living at the Carmel house in Nazi-occupied Cologne, Germany. While in prayer in the chapel, she was arrested by the Gestapo. Along with several other sisters, Sister Teresa was executed in a gas chamber one week later, on Aug. 9, 1942.

Of course, there is much more to her story. But even this condensed version lends a glimpse into Sister Teresa’s heart. Through further study, it seems that, among many things, Edith Stein can be known and loved as a Eucharistic champion, a witness of surrender and a vessel of grace.

Like the saints before and after her, Sister Teresa Benedicta enkindled a deep love for Jesus in the Eucharist. It was in adoration that she experienced the tangible presence of Jesus and found great comfort and consolation. She wrote, “Only in daily, confidential relationship with the Lord in the tabernacle can one forget self, be free of all one’s own wishes and pretensions, and have a heart open to all the needs and wants of others” (Essays on Woman).

She further noted, “This heart, it beats for us in a small tabernacle where it remains mysteriously hidden in that still, white host” (The Hidden Life).

May Sister Teresa’s devotion for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament inspire us to carve out time from our busy schedule to meet Jesus in the Eucharist, even if just for a short while, especially amid the National Eucharistic Revival.

In her writings, Sister Teresa often discussed the importance of total surrender to the will of God. It is only through surrender, she explained, that we find true freedom. This is incredibly challenging with human efforts! But the eternal rewards will be great, and surrender often brings us peace in this valley of tears.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

Share with Friends: