Daily Reflections

St. teresa benedicta quote

FEAST OF SAINT THERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS

August 9, 2019

Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Psalm 77:12-16,2,

Matthew 16:24-28

 

Is God Not Concerned?

 

Edith Stein grew up in an observant Jewish family, but as a young woman became an atheist. However as a bright student of philosophy she was surprised to find people of living faith among many of her associates. While visiting one of them she borrowed St. Theresa of Avila’s autobiography and, having read it in one overnight sitting, declared, “This is truth”. Not long after that she was baptized.

Born in Germany Edith was in her early thirties when the Nazi persecution of the Jews was developing.  At age 42 she joined the Carmelite Sisters in Cologne where she was known as Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Cross. Sister Theresa’s heritage put her in the same danger as all other Jews. Recognizing that she was putting the sisters in her convent at risk Sister Theresa moved to The Netherlands in 1939 and was arrested in 1942 with her younger sister who had also converted to Catholicism. As they were being taken away she was overheard telling her sister, "Come, we are going for our people”. In prison she was known for her active concern for her Jewish companions.

Theresa of Avila’s mysticism reflected her Jewish grandfather’s influence. A brilliant academic Sister (now Saint) Theresa Benedicta was prevented from teaching because of her Jewish blood. Her mysticism also hints at an awareness of the Jewish mystical tradition. She was killed by the Nazis because of who she was!

How many immigrants, gay persons, and other marginal people have to die, deteriorate under uneven health care, be forcibly separated from their families, and despair before unjustifiable social rejection before people of faith confront the irrational racism, homophobia, and social structuring which is so often proclaimed with authority by persons in positions of influence, including many Christian clergy and lay leaders whose reasoning is based on unproven hypotheses, prejudice, personal ambitions, and often ignorance and inadequate information?

Jesus said: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. God said to the Israelites: I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt.

Do you think God is not concerned about how people are being treated in our country?

 

Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”,   www.bishopmolloy.org