Pastor’s Letter Aug. 14, 2016: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Dear Parishioners,

I would like to take this opportunity to announce that Deacon Terry Marcell will be serving as a deacon at Holy Rosary. He lives in our Parish and is a long time parishioner. He has been very active over the years in serving the Church in Western Washington in various capacities and I am happy to welcome him to assist me as a deacon here at Holy Rosary.

Sometimes I like to highlight a saint that we celebrate in the Church’s liturgical calendar. This past week the Church honored a remarkable woman, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She suffered and died at the hands of that nationalistic, godless and dehumanizing ideology that killed millions of people in the last century, Nazism. St. Teresa Benedicta was born Edith Stein in 1891 into an observant Jewish family. Edith was a very bright young girl and in her mind she could not find a rational foundation for religion. So at age 14 she rejected her family religion and all religion and declared herself an atheist. She completed her Doctorate in Philosophy in 1916 and worked as an assistant to the famous philosopher Edmund Husserl at the University of Freiburg. Some of her colleagues were converting to Christianity, mostly Lutheran. She felt if she did convert it would be to Roman Catholicism because it was the original Christian church.

After reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila at a friend’s house, she exclaimed: “This is the truth!” Ten years later, in 1933, she entered a Carmelite Monastery in Cologne. She taught and wrote several books attempting to combine the philosophies of Thomas Aquinas and Husserl. To avoid a growing Nazi threat the monastery transferred her to a monastery in the Netherlands.

Having the premonition that she would not make it through the war she wrote in a testament dated June 6, 1939: “I beg the Lord to take my life and my death … for all concerns of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary, as atonement for the unbelief of the Jewish People, and that the Lord will be received by His own people and His kingdom shall come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world, at last for my loved ones, living or dead, and for all God gave to me: that none of them shall go astray.” She did not make it through the war. She was arrested by the SS on August 2, 1942 and was taken to Auschwitz. There seven days later she was killed with many more of her people in a mass gas chamber.

A few quotes from St. Teresa Benedicta:

“When you seek truth, you seek God whether you know it or not.”

“The woman’s soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold.”

“Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”

“Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning.”

In Christ,

Fr. Vincent