|“Do you want … to be totally united to the Christ?”
A brilliant young university professor, she learned to love the Cross of Jesus. As a religious she suffered the worst horrors of the twentieth century. Proclaimed a saint on October 11, 1998 – Teresia Blessed of the Cross has brought miracles. And she has a special connection to those Catholics of the Melkite tradition.
|Sister Teresia Benedicta
|Saint Teresia Blessed of the Cross
Edith Stein is born in Breslau, Germany. She is the youngest child of a large Jewish family.
“We know from the Gospel accounts that Christ prayed
as a believing Jew and faithful follower of the Law . . ..” – E.S.
Edith’s father dies and her mother Auguste Stein has to take over the family’s failing lumberyard. Auguste builds the family business into such a successful enterprise that Mrs Stein is called “the best businessman in Breslau.”
At the age of six the precocious Stein demands to be enrolled in the Victoria School of Breslau. She is indignant at being sent first to kindergarten.
“being a child of God
means to become small . . .”- E.S.
At age 13 Edith briefly drops out of school because it is not challenging enough her. She also made a conscious decision to give up praying and the devout Jewish faith of her family.
Enters the University of Breslau, but finds it has “nothing more to offer me.” Instead she feels “something was pushing me to move one.” Hearing of the work of philosophy professor Edmund Husserl Edith decides to leave Breslau
“‘Thy will be done’
this must be the rule of Christian’s life . . . ” – E.S.
Edith’s studies are disrupted by World War I. She volunteers for nursing duty.
Completes her doctorate, summa cum laude, with a dissertation “on the problem of empathy.” Edith becomes Husserl’s assistant, transcribing his writings and organizing his manuscripts.
“God in us and we in Him,
This is our share in God’s kingdom. . . .”- E.S.
She went to console the wife of one of her favorite professors, Adolf Reinach, who had been killed in battle on Nov 16, 1917. She was surprised to find herself consoled instead by Anna Reinach’s great faith. Experiences like this began to make her rethink her casual dismissal of religion.
Edith is unable to find a university teaching position. German universities were not yet ready to accept female philosophy professors. Martin Heidegger begins to work with Husserl. Heidegger eventually publishes some Huserl manuscripts that Stein had initially worked on.
“Those who seek the truth seek God,
Whether they realize it or not.”- E.S.
During the course of a single evening, Edith reads the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. When she finished the book she exclaimed, “This is Truth!”
1922, January 1
Edith Stein is baptized. Her Jewish friends are hurt and disappointed. Her mother is heartbroken.
“The limitless, loving surrender to God and the divine reward,
the perfect and constant union,
this is the highest elevation of the heart accessible to us,
the highest stage of prayer.” – E.S.
Teaches in a Dominica teachers’ college in Speyer
Teaches at the German Institute for Scientific Pedagogy in Munster. Stein becomes a renowned lecturer, speaking at philosophical seminars in France, Switzerland, and Austria. She continues to look for a professorship in philosophy and visits the leading German professors of philosophy and theology. She translates Thomas Aquinas’s Disputed Questions on Truth and tries to reconcile phenomenology with Catholic thought.
She plans a trip to Rome. Her goal is to ask Pope Puis XI in a private audience to issue an encyclical against Nazi anti-Semitism. Unable to make the trip, she sends his Holiness a letter imploring the Vatican to take a stand against the tide of anti-Semitism. She never receives a reply.
1933 – October
The growing Nazi presence makes it clear that Stein will never be accorded a university teaching position. She turns to the religious orders with whom she has leved for many years. Edith Stein joins the Carmel of Cologne. Based on her love of St. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, she becomes Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce (Teresa Blessed of the Cross). She is drawn into kreuzewissenschaft, the science of the cross. Her life begins to focus on the mystery of joy in suffering, of victory in failure, and of dying and rising with Christ.
“To suffer and to be happy although suffering,
To have one’s feet on the earth,
To walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet
To be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand,
To laugh and cry with the children of this world
And ceaselessly sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels
This is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.”- E.S.
In April Edith Stien takes her final vows and makes a permanent commitment as a Carmelite nun. There is a going fear that the Nazis will bring reprisals on the Carmelite order for sheltering Jewish Catholics. On the last day of December Sister Teresa Benedicta is forced to flee to the Carmel in Echt, Holland. This move was to avoid the increasingly dangerous environment of Nazi Germany.
The Dutch Catholic church formally protest the policies of the Nazi occupation troops and the treatment of the Jewish peoples. The day after the bishops’ letter is read aloud in the churches of Holland, all Catholics Jews, approximately 700 in number, are ordered to be deported. In retaliation Sister Teresia, along with her sister Rosa, are send to the concentration camp at Theresianstadt, Germany.
“Come, Rosa, we are going for our people.”- E.S.
to her sister, Rosa Stein, as the Nazis led them away.
1942, August 7
A railcar packed with the dead and dying stops briefly in Breslau. When the door is opened the stench is overwhelming to the soldiers on the platform. A nun steps forward from the huddled children and says, “This is my beloved hometown, I will never see it again. We are riding to our death.”
1942, August 9
Sister Teresia Benedicta is killed in the suffocating gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Do you want to be totally united to the Crucified?
If you are serious about this, you will be present,
by the power of His Cross, at every front, at every place of sorrow,
bringing to those who suffer comfort, healing and salvation. – E.S.
Sister Teresia Benedicta
1. Proof of a single miracle is required for the Church to declare the person “venerated” or “venerable.”
2. Beatification – if the individual is martyred for the faith or there is a second miracle the person is declared “beatified.”
3. Finally, one more miracle must be proven for the individual to be recognized as a saint.
Sister Teresia Benedicta dragged by railway car across Europe. Huddled with terrified children, she speaks reassuring words and tries to gives comfort. With millions of other Jews, she is striped of all dignity, starved, and brutally abused. She proclaims love in a world of unspeakable hatred. In the shadows of the smoke stacks and the stench of burning flesh, she ministers to all of God’s people. On August 9th 1942 Sister Teresia Benedicta passed through the gas chamber door and entered the kingdom of heaven.
“She lived a contemplative life in the midst of difficulty.
She offered her life for the Jewish people.” – Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh
1984, August 8
Melkite Catholic priest, Father Emmanual Charles McCarthy and his wife Mary give birth to a daughter. They recognize that this child is born on the anniversary of the death of Sister Teresia Benedicta (August 9 at Auschwitz). Two days later Father McCarthy at a mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City announces that his daughter was named Teresia Benedicta McCarthy.
“The focus of my entire life has been that the Church
has to take Jesus’ nonviolence more seriously.” -Fr. McCarthy
Stein’s autobiography is published in Germany.
The English translation of Stein’s autobiography is published as Life in a Jewish Family (IU.C.S. Publications: Washington, D.C.)
Two year old Teresia Benedicta McCarthy get a hold of a bottle of Tylenol and swallows sixteen times the fatal dosage. Her liver swells to five times normal size – an infection sets in. Massachusetts General Hospital doctors diagnose irreversible liver damage. The family is told that the girl can not survive. Father McCarthy and dozens of relatives begin praying to Sister Teresia for her intercession. Three days after her impending death was announced by medical specialists – little Teresia McCarthy has a full and total recovery. Her destroyed liver and damaged kidneys appear perfectly healthy.
“It was unexplainable.”
“I think it was miraculous that she recovered,”
“I think you have to acknowledge that there are other forces in play there
. . . beyond what we’re capable of doing.” – Teresia’s doctor, Dr. Ronald Kleinman.
On May 1st, Pope John Paul II beatifies Sister Teresia Benedicta. The story of Teresia McCarthy’s miraculous cure is printed in a diocesan publication of Portland, Maine -The Church World. The McCarthys did not seek to share their story – but requests for more information began to arrive at the family home.
“It was definitely, definitely was miracle. It was amazing.
From the time she came home from the hospital,
she was running around like a normal two year old.” – Mrs. Mary McCarthy
The article from The Church World is condensed in Catholic Digest. The McCarthys receive phone calls from across the country requesting more information about Sister Teresia. Prayer cards are made up for Sister Teresia and the Archdiocese of Boston begins an investigation of the apparent miracle.
“Blessed Edith Stein teaches us how we should be relating to Jewish people.
We should be standing beside them, dying with them. – Fr. McCarthy
Father Kieran Kavanaugh is named vice postulator. For the next several years he heads the tribunal investigating the apparent healing of Teresia McCarthy. Sworn testimony is taken from the doctors and nurses who were involved. All other individuals with first hand knowledge of the little girl and her family are interviewed. Father Kavanaugh’s sealed report is sent to the Vatican for further investigation.
1997, April 8
The Vatican, based on Father Kavanaugh’s reports and its own investigations, declares that the healing of Teresia McCarthy is a miracle.
1998, October 11
Sister Teresia Benedicta is proclaimed a saint by His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Sister Teresia Benedicta
Saint Teresia Blessed of the Cross
Dear St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross
Child of the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur,
Daughter of Abraham,
Bride of Christ,
Seeker of truth,
Scholar of the Church
Handmaid of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,
Servant of the Suffering Servant,
Presence of mercy,
Victim of victimizers,
Embracer of the cross of Christ-like love,
Martyr of Auschwitz,
Imitator of Jesus,
Conqueror of evil,
Friend of God, Edith,
Please pray for me. Please intercede for this petition of mine. (Here mention your petition).