Novena to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Day 1 – Saturday, August 1st, 1942
Carmel of Echt, Holland
It was the last day of freedom for Saint Edith and her sister, Rosa. By then Saint Edith had reached a clear perception of the eschatological nature of the crisis affecting the Jews of Germany and the role she was called upon to play in the drama, as a victim of expiation for her people and for mankind.
As far back as March 26th, 1939, Edith had addressed a petition to her Prioress on a used postcard (for motives of monastic poverty) asking permission to offer herself to Jesus in expiation, that the sway of Antichrist be broken and peace ensue.
“I am asking this, today, because it is already the twelfth hour. I know I am nothing, but Jesus wills it and He will call many more to the same sacrifice in these days.”
The manuscript of her book, Science of the Cross, lay on her table; it would never be finished, because the next day, the Gestapo would come to drag her away from the convent. What we read therein is proof of the clarity and courage with which she grasped the call to expiation, key to her earthly destiny.
Around her, the atmosphere was growing heavy with fear and foreboding. A few days earlier (July 28th), her brother, Paul, his wife Eva and their daughter, were sent off to the Theresienstadt Camp. Hede Spiegel, her god-daughter, depressed and distraught, came to the grille of the convent, to pour out her anxieties for the future, anxieties which were shared by Saint Edith’s fellow-Nuns in the Carmel of Echt, where Edith had been sent by her superiors to take refuge from the persecution of the Jews raging in Germany. Edith, in contrast, maintained a rock-like composure and faith in God, which impressed all those in contact with her. The Church has since defined her virtue as heroic.
“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, Jesus leading the way; the disciples were filled with foreboding, while those following behind were afraid. He took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was to happen to him. ‘We are now going to Jerusalem,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man will be given up to the Chief Priests and the doctors of the Law. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the foreign power. He will be mocked and spat upon, flogged and killed.’” Mark 10: 32-34
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
(Any suitable prayer may be said here)
Saint Edith, Pray for Us!