The Marian Fathers invite you to enter into the my... Read more
A Jewish Woman Beneath the Cross
Saint Edith Stein, or Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (the name she took when she became a Carmelite), was a modern Jewish woman walking the same ancient path so many of her forebears walked in fidelity to the living God. She found her way to Jesus Christ, just like the Blessed Virgin; just like Martha, Mary, and Lazarus; just like Peter, James, and John; like so many others from the time of Christ to the present day.
She was a woman who made a great study of what she called the scientia crucis, the knowledge of the cross, saying, "One can only gain a scientia crucis (knowledge of the cross) if one has thoroughly experienced the cross. I have been convinced of this from the first moment onwards and have said with all my heart: 'Ave, Crux, Spes unica' (I welcome you, Cross, our only hope)."
That can sound intimidating, or difficult, or painful, and yet it's an indispensable part of the Christian life. We are blessed with feasts, yes, and called to enjoy the good things of life. We are meant to celebrate, to feast, to have family and friends gathered round us, to achieve good things and have full lives — and yet we are given fasts as well, times of self-emptying, of impoverishment, of pain.
There's never been a human life that didn't experience some suffering. There isn't a human heart that couldn't be enlarged by suffering, enabled to hold more within its ambit, stretched to allow a more all-embracing love. We all need to learn the knowledge of the cross, the suffering which enlarges the heart and expands our capacity for love. We all need to take up our crosses each day, moment by moment, doing what we ought, even if it's not what we want right now. And sometimes we also need to celebrate when we don't feel like celebrating, encouraging and supporting the joy of others even when it's the last thing we want to do, giving the gift of a smile to all even when there's no smile in our heart, only tears.
We need to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, bearing the cross as He bore it, conscious that we are never quite alone, that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, of those who came before us, both angels and saints. We carry our crosses in a great company of those on earth, in purgatory, and sending help down from heaven, including St. Edith Stein.
Let us ask her intercession, and the intercession of all our brethren in the faith, that we may learn to love our crosses as the instruments of our sanctification Let us ask them to pray that we may gain the wisdom to know when we are to fast and when to feast; when we are to enjoy the good things of the earth and when we are to set them aside for the good things of heaven; when we are to walk a solitary road and when, crushed beneath the weight of the cross, we, like Jesus, must accept help.