St. Teresa Benedicta Novena (Edith Stein)

St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 1

READING

Switzerland wishes to open its doors to my sister Rosa and myself since the only cloistered monastery of our Order in that country—Le Pâquier in the Canton Fribourg—will receive me, and a Convent of the Third Order Carmelites an hour away, my sister. The two houses have certified, to the alien’s office of the police, that they will provide for us for our lifetimes. The big question remains: will we be given permission here to leave. In any case, it will probably take a long time. I would not be sad if it did not come. After all, it is no slight matter to leave a beloved monastic family the second time. But I will accept whatever God arranges.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 339 to August Pérignon, Ludwigshafen
Carmel of Echt, 29 July 1942

SCRIPTURE

Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them:

And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.

When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again.

Acts 20:16–18,25,32,36–38

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

All scripture references in this novena are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America as accessed from the Bible Gateway website.

Stein, E. 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters, 1916-1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Discalced Carmelite , translated from the German by Koeppel, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 2

READING

Dear Herr Kaufmann,

First of all, best wishes for the new phase of the war, which one hopes (and that surely is a hope based on reason) will be very brief.

At the same time, this is a timid announcement of a Christmas package. Unfortunately, I got your address just at the time when acceptance of large packages expired so that, regrettably, the gift I really intended for you cannot be sent until after the holidays. It is Konrad Fiedler’s work on art. If (as I hope) you aren’t familiar with his writings yet, I believe you’ll find in them much that is stimulating on the subject that has been occupying you lately. Today, my head is not fit for philosophizing.

If only one were a few days older and could know what the Entente will say to the peace offer! Is your imagination [phantasie] keen enough to paint a picture of our having peace once more and how everything will turn out then? If it doesn’t happen, then perhaps I will go—despite the Ideen —to work in a munitions factory or somewhere similar. But I just have to annoy you a bit more with my ghastly optimism and so I wish you a Merry Christmas accompanied by an armistice!

With best regards,
Edith Stein

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 2 to Fritz Kauffmann
[at the front, World War I]
Freiburg, 13 December 1916

SCRIPTURE

The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth—
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:13-22

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

READING

Dear Mr. Ingarden:

You see, I can no more be in love with Germany than I can with myself for, indeed, I am Germany, that is, a part of it. People are “persons” who have life: they are born, grow, and pass away. It is a life beyond ours although it includes ours.

Thus, it makes no sense to ask whether it “should” be large or small, that is, whether we should do something to it, for we have as little control over that as the cells that make up an organism have in deciding whether or not it should grow.

However, not only are we just used up like cells, but we are able to become conscious of our relationship to the whole to which we belong (I even believe that we can experience the effective developmental tendencies) and voluntarily can subordinate ourselves to it. The livelier and more powerful consciousness becomes in a people, the more the people develop into a state. This development is its organization. The state is a self-conscious people that disciplines its functions.

Since, to me, the strengthening of self-consciousness appears to be connected with an increasing tendency to development, likewise it appears that organization is a sign of inner strength and the people most organized (according to the complete formation of the people, certainly not according to their “character traits”) is most a state.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 7 to Roman Ingarden, Freiburg (excerpt)
9 February 1917

SCRIPTURE

The tribune directed that [Paul] was to be brought into the barracks, and ordered him to be examined by flogging, to find out the reason for this outcry against him. But when they had tied him up with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?” When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen.” The tribune came and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” The tribune answered, “It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship.” Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” Immediately those who were about to examine him drew back from him; and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

Acts 22:24–29

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

READING

Knowledge, as it appears to me, is a fact as well as an idea . It appears to me that this act lies before all science and is an act of faith and has no higher justification than faith in its own strength and faith in the veracitas Dei.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 91 to Roman Ingarden (excerpt)
28 September 1925

SCRIPTURE

Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.

Wisdom 3:9

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 5

READING

I knew that Carmel asks for a dowry because these monasteries have no means of earning an income. Now the Sisters in Cologne have asked the religious superiors for a dispensation in order to receive me without the dowry. If you find yourself able to send monthly payments, without being burdened, I would now accept them with gratitude, on behalf of the monastery.

Were the times not so sad I personally could only be grateful to them because they have finally opened this way for me. To my great joy, my relatives are patient and brave, especially my dear mother; after all, she has such a firm belief in God, which has guided her throughout her long and difficult life.

Once I belong to this silent community of nuns I hope to be of better help to you than heretofore. Carmelite nuns are here only to pray, and they are not readily denied anything [they ask].

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 146-b to Theodor Conrad (excerpt)
End of June, 1933
Nota bene: It was at the home of Theodor Conrad and his wife Hedwig Conrad-Martius that Edith read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. Her first biographer was Sister Teresia Renata Posselt, who was her novice mistress and later prioress in Cologne. Sister Teresia Renata shares Edith’s own testimony: I picked at random and took out a large volume. It bore the title The Life of St. Teresa of Avila, written by herself. I began to read, was at once captivated, and did not stop till I reached the end. As I closed the book, I said, “That is the truth.”

SCRIPTURE

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

James 5:16-18

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 6

READING

What you wrote about the little Thérèse amazed me. For the first time, I saw how one can look at it from that point of view. My impression was simply that there the life of a human being has been formed entirely, from first to last, only and exclusively, by the love of God. I know of nothing more sublime, and I would wish to have as much of that as possible in my own life and in the lives of all who are near to me.

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 137 (Postcard) to Sr. Adelgundis Jaegerschmid, O.S.B. (excerpt)
17 March 1933

SCRIPTURE

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 7

READING

Since we have a little postulant in the house again, I think often of our own young days in the Order and of the wonderful [providential] guidance that each one’s way to Carmel signifies. Perhaps even more wonderful is the story of the souls in Carmel. They are hidden deep in the Divine Heart. And what we believe we understand about our own souls is, after all, only a fleeting reflection of what will remain God’s secret until the day all will be made manifest. My great joy consists in the hope of that future clarity. Faith in the secret history must always strengthen us when what we actually perceive (about ourselves or about others) might discourage us. Today is the feast of St. Simon Stock. We sang his high Mass this morning and used “Flos Carmeli” as the hymn for our May devotion. There are so many promises contained in it.

In Corde Jesu et Reginae Carmeli [Your Charity’s] faithful, least Sister
Benedicta

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 320 to Sister Maria de Deo Ernst, O.C.D., Carmel of Cologne
16 May 1941
Nota Bene: It was to Sr. Maria de Deo that her “least Sister” Benedicta wrote this note (Letter 233), presumably at the beginning of 1937:

“I just received this Ambrosian text, which I am translating for Your Charity: “God does all things at the right time. Whatever he does is not outside of time, but rather at the most opportune moment and comes at the right time for me.” (To Psalm 118)

SCRIPTURE

But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Cf. Hebrews 10:32–11:1

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 8

READING

Dear Mother,

Once Y.R. [Your Reverence] has read the letter from [Father Johannes Hirschmann, S.J.] you will know his opinion. Now I would like to do nothing more at all about the matter of my stability. I put it in Y.R.’s hands and leave it to Y.R. whether to call on the Sisters, Pater Provincial, or our Father Bishop for a decision. I am satisfied with everything. A scientia crucis can be gained only when one comes to feel the Cross radically. I have been convinced of that from the first moment and have said, from my heart: Ave, Crux, spes unica! [Hail, Cross, our only hope!]

Y.R.’s grateful child,
Benedicta

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 330 to Mother Ambrosia Antonia a Spiritu Sancto Engelmann, O.C.D.
Prioress, Carmel of Echt
Presumably December 1941
Nota Bene: In referring to the matter of her stability, Sr. Benedicta refers to her transfer from the Carmel of Cologne to the Carmel of Echt. The Latin term stabilitas loci designates the incorporation of a Discalced Carmelite nun into the chapter of a new or different monastery. Carmelites do not make a vow of stability such as Benedictines do. The scientia crucis was the title of the last book she wrote and was editing at the time of her arrest, the volume which we know in English as The Science of the Cross.

SCRIPTURE

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

St. Edith Stein Novena 2020 — Day 9

READING

J.M.

Drente-Westerbork, Barracks 36, August 6, 1942

Dear Mother,

A Mother Superior from one of the convents arrived last evening with suitcases for her child and now offers to take some short letters along. Early tomorrow a transport leaves (Silesia or Czechoslovakia??).

What is most necessary: woolen stockings, two blankets. For Rosa all the warm underwear and whatever was in the laundry; for us both towels and wash cloths. Rosa also has no toothbrush, no Cross and no rosary. I would like the next volume of the breviary (so far I have been able to pray gloriously). Our identity cards, registration cards [as Jews], and ration cards.

A thousand thanks, greetings to all, Y.R.’s grateful child,

B.

<P.S.> 1 habit and aprons, 1 small veil

Saint Edith Stein

Letter 342 to Mother Ambrosia Antonia a Spiritu Sancto Engelmann, O.C.D.
Prioress, Carmel of Echt
6 August 1942
Nota Bene: This is the final letter in the correspondence of Edith Stein, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. The transport that she mentions was the freight train that carried 987 passengers from Camp Westerbork to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

SCRIPTURE

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

NOVENA PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

9 August: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

August 9
SAINT TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS
Virgin and Martyr
MEMORIAL
In provinces of Europe: Patroness of Europe, Feast

From the common of martyrs or of virgins

The Second Reading

From the spiritual writings of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Ave Crux, spes unica!

We greet you, Holy Cross, our only hope! The Church puts these words on our lips during the time of the passion, which is dedicated to the contemplation of the bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life.

Contemplate the Lord who hangs before you on the wood, because he was obedient even to the death of the cross. He came into the world not to do his own will but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.

Before you, the Redeemer hangs on the cross stripped and naked, because he chose poverty. Those who would follow him must renounce every earthly possession.

Stand before the Lord who hangs from the cross with his heart torn open. He poured out the blood of his heart in order to win your heart. In order to follow him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.

The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt. The cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity.

The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out? Contemplate the cross: from his open heart, the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell. Through the faithful observance of the vows, you make your heart open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.

Through the power of the cross, you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the divine heart. That charity enables you to spread everywhere the most precious blood in order to ease pain, save and redeem.

The eyes of the Crucified gaze upon you. They question you and appeal to you. Do you wish seriously to renew your alliance with him? What will your response be? Lord, where shall I go? You alone have the words of life. Ave Crux, spes unica!

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