Skip links

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Edith Stein Teaches Us to Embrace the Cross

Edith Stein was once labeled by her family as “sealed with seven seals” because of her private nature. And she refused to discuss the impetus for her conversion to Catholicism, noting it as a private, secret matter. And yet, in a very real and honest way, Edith opened up her heart and allowed herself to be touched through her writing, especially through her memoirs and through her letters.

Although Edith herself observed a rational and logical reason for writing the book that eventually became Life in a Jewish Family, Edith’s honesty about herself and those around her in the narrative exposes her to readers in a manner that, perhaps, Edith herself never did otherwise.

Edith’s letters, much in the same way, serve as a kind of epistolary journal in which she shares with her friends, family members, and former colleagues a piece of her heart that was not often exposed. It is here that we hear her courage, feel her frustration, and find her humor. Her letters reveal the pain of being misunderstood and confess the recognition of her probable destiny.

Edith’s letters also reveal and illustrate her character traits. She was courageous, honest, direct, faithful, dedicated, realistic, spiritual, and above all, prayerful.

In a letter written in April of 1931 — her final year of teaching at St. Magdalena’s in Speyer — Edith remarked with earnest honesty that, although people continually demanded “clever themes” of her as a lecturer, her platform came down to “a small, simple truth that I have to express: How to go about living at the Lord’s hand” (Self-Portrait, 87).

This is Edith Stein’s signature phrase.

For this professional and highly educated young woman, who for so many years climbed the academic ladder of recognition and prestige, all of life came down to a small, simple fact more real than anything she could touch. She believed in divine providence, and she put herself completely, wholeheartedly, into God’s hands. “To be a child of God,” Edith noted, “means to walk at the hand of God, to do God’s will, to put all worries and all hopes in God’s hands. . . . God in us, and we in Him, that is our portion in the divine realm for which the incarnation laid the foundation” (Daybook, 118, 121).

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

Share with Friends: