Tag Archives: St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Monasteries are true and proper oases for humanity, Benedict XVI reminds us

In Wednesday’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict told the listeners of the Wednesday General Audience that the monastic life is an essential value for humanity and for the Church, today. The Pope’s emphasis on beauty and silence helps us to appreciate and to listen God’s promptings of the desires of the heart is important. Let’s pay attention to what the Pope has to say. You may also want to watch the Rome Reports news video.

The editor writes, “Monasteries are true and proper oases of the spirit in which God speaks to humanity. The Pope said this to faithful at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10 August, that was held in the courtyard of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters! In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer – like monks and nuns – have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be “filled,” so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb – that is, Sinai – experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward the sky.

Tomorrow, dear friends, we will celebrate the memory of St. Clare of Assisi. So I would like to recall one of these “oases” of the spirit which is particularly dear to the Franciscan family and to all Christians: the little convent of San Damiano, situated just beneath the city of Assisi, among the olive groves that slope towards Santa Maria degli Angeli. In that little church, which Francis restored after his conversion, Chiara and her first companions established their community, living off prayer and little works. They were called the “Poor Sisters,” and their “form of life” was the same as the Frati Minori: “To observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule of St. Clare, I, 2), conserving the union of reciprocal charity (cfr ivi, X, 7) and observing in particular the poverty and humility of Jesus and his Most Holy Mother (cfr, ivi, XII, 13).

Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence and beauty of the place in which the monastic community lives – simple and austere beauty – are like a reflection of the spiritual harmony which the community itself attempts to create. The world is filled with these oases of the spirit, some very ancient, particularly in Europe; others are more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are a load-bearing structure of the world! It is no accident that many people, especially in times of rest, visit these places and stop there for some days: even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!  The Pope continues:

Let us remember, therefore, St. Clare. But let you also remember other Saints who remind us of the importance of turning our gaze to the “things of heaven,” like St. Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Carmelite, co-patron of Europe, whom we celebrated yesterday. And today, August 10, we cannot forget St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, with a special wish for Romans who have always venerated him as one of their patrons. Finally, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, that she may teach us to love silence and prayer.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.jpg

God of our Fathers, who brought the Martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross to know Your crucified Son and to imitate him even until death, grant, through her intercession, that the whole human race may acknowledge Christ as its Savior and through him come to behold You for eternity. 

 

“God Himself teaches us to go forward with our hand in His by means of the Church’s liturgy.”

 

The 2010 blog post is here.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

St Edith Stein in lay clothes.jpg

The youngest child of 11 of a pious Jewish family, Edith Stein was born 1891 in was a one time Germany and what is now Wroclaw, Poland). Early in life she knew what it meant to face adversity with the death of her father and four of her siblings. By the time she was a teen Edith was not practicing her faith.
Through her study of philosophy, particularly Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology which introduced her to the notion of transcendence which then led her to experience the reality of a transcendent God revealed in Jesus Christ. Philosophy was the condition of Edith’s conversion to Christianity. In 1921 Edith read the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and the catechism; in January 1922 she was baptized.
At 42, Edith Stein entered the Cologne Carmelite monastery after attending the Holy Week Services. The priest who celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass was reason for her following her heart’s desire. She wrote: “I told our Lord that I knew it was His cross that was now being placed upon the Jewish people; that most of them did not understand this, but that those who did would have to take it up willingly in the name of all. I would do that. At the end of the service, I was certain that I had been heard. But what this carrying of the cross was to consist in, that I did not yet know.” In the convent she was devoted to the Carmelite way of life and she was allowed to continue her writing. Her last work was The Science of the Cross. With the Cross in mind, at the age of 50 was killed at Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. It was reported that Edith’s interior strength allowed her to be completely centered and focussed on Christ offering her sufferings and those of others to the Crucified Christ.
Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Teresa Benedicta on May 1, 1987 and canonized her on October 11, 1998. At that time, John Paul said, “Learn from St Teresa 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.'”

The liturgical prayer and some links for Saint Teresa Benedict is here…and a good biography is noted here.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

St Edith Stein.jpg

 

God our Father, You give us joy each year in honoring the memory of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. May her prayers be a source of help for us, and may her example of courage and chastity be our inspiration.

You can read any of the following for an understanding of this pivotal, 21st century saint:
from volume IV of the collected works
Brief biographies found here (from the Vatican) and here.
books by the saint

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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