A Gift from Edith Stein (1891-1942)

A Modern “Mother” of the Church

Edith Stein was born into a Jewish family on the Feast of the Atonement, 1891, and died a Catholic Carmelite nun, St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, in Auschwitz in 1942. She is an “eminent daughter of Israel and faithful daughter of the Church … [and] a saint to the whole world.” (2) 1

There is a terrible temptation to look the other way, to pretend that we live in a different world, or to believe that we are different from the people who lived and died in the atrocities of the Second World War. However, in reality, what we have seen is a spread of the mentality that rejects the gift of human personhood. On the one hand, there are marvelous inventions which benefit us, whether it is increased international communication, motorized wheelchairs, or personal computers. But, on the other hand, there is a disease that has spread: an uncritical, unaccountable, and unrestricted belief in technological development. Indeed, that there appears now to be a new “sin” existing where we believe that there can be nothing other than progress, and endlessly exploitative innovation. The human conscience—which is paralyzed under the influence of bureaucratic “distance,” the ideological denial of a common humanity, the goal of a greater good for everyone (except the people whose exploitation make it possible)—needs reawakening. Edith Stein, then, is a witness to a feminism which develops the whole human race, and is an antidote to the dying humanity which we daily witness.

In the following three parts to this article, there is an account of the origin of this reflection in the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Cracow (I); the context of modern feminism (II); and, finally, a number of specific aspects of Edith Stein’s life and work (III).

Edith Stein in the Context of the World Youth Day—Pilgrimage to Cracow (I)

Ordinarily, I would never have read about a woman who had been gassed at Auschwitz. As a young student, having seen pictures taken by the allies who entered the concentration camps at the end of the Second World War, I had no desire to revisit this reality. However, over many years, it has become clear that the mentality that can reduce human beings to mere “biologic” beings is still with us. 2 Indeed, biologism is expressed in the mentality that considers itself biologically superior,3 superior to the point of determining the death of those defined as “inferior”. The problem is caused by an inadequate account of the human person. Biological identity is a beginning which needs the complementary analysis which opens to the fuller reality to be investigated. The contradiction inherent in the intelligent explanation of a human, “biological” being is beyond the power of ideologically-driven exponents of biologism. In other words, in elective abortion, in the stark reality of a child being torn from the womb, the perpetrators believe that this child is a “biologic” reality, rather than a psychologically inscribed biological reality that begins the gift of human personhood. Even in view of the inconsistency of tearing out a boy or girl from the womb, there is the wealth of human reality which is expressed in the relationship of a son or daughter, grandchild, niece, or nephew. There is a wealth of human suffering that is brought about at the same time. The reality of bureaucratically programmed deaths, in other words, is still with us: the “processing” of the abortion of a human being suppresses the very humanity he or she has in common with the person whose gift of life has been stolen. The terrible irony remains that the abortionist has received the gift of human life, which he or she then takes from the unborn child through abortion.

However, visiting two memorials to the death of ideological racism has shown me that the mystery of this tragedy, and the triumph of hope, needs to be pondered over and prayed about.4 The first memorial was in Berlin, a deliberately bare set of giant shapes like tombstones, inscribed, in one place, with the stark words: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.5 Whatever the controversies that surround this work, I could not but admire the blunt statement of truth which constantly calls consciences to be open to the reality of this human suffering, and to all human suffering.

The “second memorial” consisted of the concentration camps themselves: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau. As we processed through these camps, thousands upon thousands of us, passing through on the way to the World Youth Meeting with Pope Francis in Cracow, there was a reverence in the process of assembling, passes being checked, and then winding our way through the various scenes and accounts, identifying what went on in the barbed, but extraordinarily ordinariness of the buildings, and their beautiful surroundings of trees and fields. What I did not expect to discover was hope, hope that expressed itself in the liberation of the camps, and the raw witness to what went on, and then finally came to an end.

As I read about Edith Stein, what encouraged me was the attractiveness of her personality. Indeed, a certain contrast between her patient, cheerful, helpfulness in everyday life, and through the extremity of awaiting execution,6 contrasted to my own tendency toward grumpiness, especially towards the end of the day.

It is a truism that nothing comes to exist but for the context in which it comes to exist. Therefore, Edith Stein’s life and work comes to exist in the context of a many-faceted “moment” in modern history. She is a woman who lived the love that completes the truth of nascent feminism: the need to recognize the right of all races’ legitimate self-expression and development; the need to integrate new philosophical insights with perennial truths; the need to improve Jewish-Christian relations;7 and, the mystery of a lived “love of the enemy” (cf. Mt 5: 44).8 St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”(6)9

Edith Stein in the Context of Modern Feminism (II)
The Identification of Women in the Church

We are used to thinking in terms of the Fathers of the Church, profound Christian thinkers from the early part of the first millennium, and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The Fathers of the Church were a wide variety of early Christian writers who reflected on almost every aspect of the Scriptures, and the spiritual life. St. Augustine (354-430 AD), for example, is cited in the document of the Council on the Word of God, showing an early sensitivity to the implications of divine-human authorship: “God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion” (Dei Verbum, 12). In other words, it was precisely as “true human authors” that God inspired the writers of Scripture (Dei Verbum, 11). Therefore, God spoke to us through the very humanity of human authorship (cf. Lk 1: 1-4). Blessed John Henry Newman (1901-1890) was not actually present at the Council, and yet influenced it in a number of ways, particularly in its reference to the lay vocation:10 the vocation of being Christian, whether or not it is expressed more specifically in the vocation to marriage, or the priesthood.

Edith Stein (1891-1942), who came along later and was younger than Newman, is no less an influence on the Council, and the modern development of the Church. It was, after all, not until 1970 that Pope Paul VI made St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)11 the first woman Doctor of the Church: a Doctor of Prayer, in a world too often too busy to pray.12 As a part, then, of the general rapprochement concerning the overlooked contribution of women in the life of the Church, Edith Stein is one of three co-patronesses of Europe, along with three male patrons of Europe.13 Thus, I regard Edith Stein as a Mother of the Council, and a Modern Mother of the Church.

At the same time, however, the very existence of female religious orders is itself a witness to the ongoing contribution to the development of the identity of women, which, from the Old through the New Testament, has been expressed in innumerable ways. As such, there is plenty of work to do in a reasonable account of the contribution of women and the positive, if not uncritical assessment, of the mystery of the Church to the identity of women throughout the centuries. Therefore, I am not an avant-garde feminist. Indeed, in the words of Pope Francis, St. John Paul II answered that there is no possibility of a woman’s ordination to the Catholic priesthood. He said by way of explanation:

…the Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ. It is a spousal mystery. And, in the light of this mystery one understands the reason for these two dimensions: the Petrine dimension, namely, episcopal, and the Marian dimension, with all that is the maternity of the Church, but in a more profound sense.14

In the mystery of salvation, then, the mystery of woman is an expression of the mystery of salvation: that God acts in us; and, in keeping with the iconography of this mystery, Christ chose the ministerial priesthood to be an expression of the vocation of a man.15 Nevertheless, there is a feminism which needs to be identified and developed.16 Edith Stein was in the forefront of advancing the reasonable development of the identity of a woman.

A Real or an Imagined Injustice to Women?
In the case of the Catholic Church, then, it is widely “claimed” that denying the possibility of the priesthood to women is an injustice. If the priesthood of the Catholic Church is an expression of a specific ministry of Christ Himself, then it is clear that Christ chose men precisely for this purpose; indeed, men were “created” in view of a priestly possibility that was never envisaged for women. Nevertheless, in view of our baptismal consecration as priests, prophets, and kings, there is a priestly work of teaching which is a part of the vocation of women, as Edith says:

The spreading of the faith, since it is included in the priestly vocation to teach, is predominantly the task of men, though women, too, are active in this sphere, especially in the teaching Orders.17

Where is the injustice if men and women are constituted as dynamically different, yet complementary “expressions” of human personhood? What if, from the beginning, God expressed a radical difference in human personhood, precisely as a vocation to the mutual enrichment of both men and women. What is the radical benefit of womanhood and, indeed, of the contribution of specific women to the life of men, marriage and family, culture, society, the Church and the world? Why, in other words, is a ministry which is exclusively reserved to men, not an injustice to women?18 There is, in other words, a vocation in virtue of being a woman, which is as indispensable as being a man, but characteristically different. Perhaps, it is a help, therefore, to reflect on this in the light of Edith Stein, an early advocate of genuine feminism.

Edith Stein: the Person (III)
How do I Come to be Writing about Edith Stein?
Writing about Edith Stein, however briefly, is another aspect of the gifts I have been given through the 2016 World Youth Day pilgrimage to Poland. As a member of a team of catechists, who went with more than three hundred young people to the World Youth Day, and met with Pope Francis, my wife and I also attended a pre-pilgrimage meeting. A team of around twenty catechists were called to finalize the preparations for the pilgrimage, which included the possibility of giving a number of catecheses in the course of a nine day journey, from London to Cracow. Although I am much more familiar with the work of St. John Paul II, I was vaguely aware of a philosophical affinity between Karol Wojtyla and Edith Stein. As I was also had a slight familiarity with her connection with the late Pope, I offered to prepare a catechesis on Edith. Reading began and continued, both in the lead up to the pilgrimage, and during it. As the schedule of the pilgrimage suffered from one delay after another, it looked as if the opportunity to give this catechesis would slip through the changes in the timetable. In what I regard as a gift from Edith herself, I eventually gave the catechesis in a Carmelite Monastery in Poland.19

Edith Stein: Philosophy; Judaism and Feminism; Prayer and Self-Offering
I began reading about Edith Stein, falling in love with her reasonableness, her prayerful discovery of her vocation, and the dialogue she had with her confessors. There was the obvious kinship between her philosophical and theological work, and the papacy of St. John Paul II, and the modern development of the Church’s teaching on the complementarity of men and women, Jewish-Christian dialogue, and the attractive goodness in how she did the good she did. Although there is not an explicit reference to Edith Stein in the opening catecheses, in 1979, of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, it is possible to see the whole cycle as summarized in Edith’s understanding of the opening chapters of Genesis. Edith says:

“We shall find in … [the Word of God] … the traces of the original order of creation, of the fall and of the redemption;”20 and, in the words of St. John Paul II, we see that Christ appeals to the beginning and to the original order that “has not lost its force, although man has lost his primeval innocence.”21

On the one hand, then, it could be that both of them had been thinking with the Church22 and understood, albeit in slightly different ways, the enduring reality expressed in the word of God, or, alternatively, it could be that there is a direct dependence of St. John Paul II on Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. However, I cannot prove such a dependence and simply point to it in order to indicate how the path of the Church has passed through both the work of Edith Stein, and John Paul II. It is now necessary to consider some more specific features of Edith’s work.

Philosophy: Edith’s search for the truth led her to phenomenology: “the world as we perceive it does not merely exist … in our subjective perception. [Husserl’s] … pupils saw his philosophy as a return to objects: “back to things”. [His] … phenomenology unwittingly led many of his pupils to the Christian faith.23 In other words, there is an implicit relationship between “what is” and the Christian faith, in that truth does not contradict truth;24 and, therefore, any philosophy which apprehends what really exists, also leads to the fullness of truth expressed in the mystery of God. At the same time, phenomenology is also an aid to philosophy itself, as it helps to rescue modern thinking from an unaccountable subjectivity.

After deciding to abandon prayer, “it was precisely along the byways of philosophical investigation that grace awaited her: having chosen to undertake the study of phenomenology, she became sensitive to an objective reality which, far from ultimately dissolving in the subject, both precedes the subject, and becomes the measure of subjective knowledge, and thus needs to be examined with rigorous objectivity.”(8)25 In Edith’s own words: phenomenology “turned attention away from the ‘subject’ and toward ‘things’ themselves.”26 Although, it has to be said, in the very recognition of the process of perceiving the object, there is an implicit, if not an explicit, recognition of an objectified subjectivity: a recognition, in other words, of the presence of the perceiving subject as entailed in the turn “toward ‘things’ themselves.” Thus, “Perception again appeared as reception, deriving its laws from objects [and] not, as criticism has it, from determination which imposes its laws on the objects.”27 Without digressing too far from Edith herself, I would add, however, that perception has its own laws: it is the law of a process that provides the opportunity of an active engagement with what actually exists. In other words, perception is both a framework for making possible the active reception of what exists and, at the same time, a process through which there is a dialogue of the whole person with the reality in which we are almost seamlessly immersed.

In the temptation, as it were, of philosophical thought to emphasize one aspect of reality, or another, Edith’s recognition of woman’s capacity for holistic, human development found philosophical expression in a philosophy of wholeness. On the one hand, Edith says: “The female species is characterized by the unity and wholeness of the entire psychosomatic personality and by the harmonious development of the faculties; the male species by the perfecting of individual capacities to obtain record achievements.”28 The unfolding development of each person’s characteristics, whether man or woman, clearly benefits from the reciprocal development of both human wholeness, and specific capacities. On the other hand, the philosophy that attracted Edith, phenomenology, “is an effort to ‘bring back into philosophy everyday things, concrete wholes, the basic experiences of life as they come to us.'”29 In another account of phenomenology, we read that phenomenology “describes with meticulous accuracy the stream of consciousness as it presents itself to the observing mind … the acts performed … for example … in responding to a stimulus, in taking cognizance of a fact, in reaching a decision.”30 Altogether, then, Edith Stein, and later St. John Paul II, took phenomenology’s beginning with the subject’s openness to phenomena of whatever kind, kindling an almost universal openness to what exists, and began to integrate it into a deeper metaphysics of what this reveals about the whole human being, relationships, reality as a whole and, ultimately, religious experience and God: “both [Husserl and St. Thomas Aquinas] considered philosophy to be an exact science that starts with the knowledge of reality through the senses and develops in intellectual activity.”31

Clearly, however, intellectual activity runs throughout: from “the knowledge of reality through the senses” to the development of it through “intellectual activity’.” In a certain sense, then, it is necessary to define the intellectual activity: “Phenomenology … taught that essences could be intuitively and immediately known without the formal apparatus of scientific method or psychological process.”32 An essence is what is definable. Therefore, phenomenology concerns itself with an “immediate” apprehension with what exists, whether what exists is an “idea,” an object or a relationship between people, or all kinds of variations of these three possibilities. In other words, an actual piece of paper is “intuitively and immediately known” as a non-living product of the labor of a person, the different kinds of which can be observed or explored with cutting, drawing, or wrapping activities, the materials and processes through which it can be made can be researched; and, ultimately, the actual piece of paper can be identified as per its origin, generally or more particularly, with respect to who bought it, and for how much. In other words, the object itself, “paper,” implies a specifically knowable identity, amidst a multitude of relationships, and potential uses. This whole process implies all the psychological, sociological, philosophical, scientific, and circumstantial analyses that are, in effect, coextensive with the “intuitive” definition of what exists in a particular instance and, at the same time, entails all the ramifications for the investigating subject, and the whole environment of which it is a “whole” within the “whole.”

Developing this interrelationship between an adequate subjectivity, and a foundational understanding of the structure of being, was one of the primary concerns of St. John Paul II. In other words, Edith’s work was instrumental in the modern enrichment of the structure of human personhood, with a more adequate account of human subjectivity, with all its unique and universal characteristics.

Judaism and feminism: In the context of anti-Semitism, which seemed to be so prevalent in what was referred to as a country with a Christian government,33 Edith’s conversion to Catholicism was also a point of re-entry into the heritage of faith which she had abandoned when she had decided to give up prayer, although she later said that: “My longing for truth was a prayer in itself.”34 Edith did not disown her Jewish heritage and, indeed, it helped her in order to enter into the cross which was inseparable from her vocation.35

Edith’s pursuit of truth had culminated in the discovery that “Truth is a person, the person of Jesus [Christ];”36 and, at the same time, Edith followed St. Teresa of Avila into the Catholic Church, and the Carmelite order. Albeit Edith’s entry into Carmel had to wait until anti-Semitism had closed all other possibilities of work to her,37 and both she, and her confessor, agreed that it was the providential moment for her to enter Carmel.38 Edith’s entry into Carmel, however, was not to be without the taint of a slight anti-Semitism in the course of her reception into the convent.39 More generally, however, Edith’s account of Life in a Jewish Family was to provide a real answer to the propaganda’s “horrendous caricature”40 of Jewish people: “to write down what I, child of a Jewish family, had learned about the Jewish people since such knowledge is so rarely found in outsiders.”41 In the course of the dialogue between Jews and Catholics, it is almost as if the life of Edith Stein “is” a powerful catalyst of this development.42 In the words of St. John Paul II: “May her witness constantly strengthen the bridge of mutual understanding between Jews and Christians.”(8)43 Furthermore, there is no doubt that her Jewish background informed her feminism and, indeed, is almost a modern forerunner to it: “By the time [Edith’s mother] was eight, she was so diligent and capable that her parents could send her to help out-of-town relatives in an emergency.”44 In other words, although in this instance in a very “traditional” way, Edith’s mother was both trained to be capable and, indeed, chose to be capable at a very early age;45 and, on the death of her husband, Edith’s mother was to show herself a very able businesswoman,46 providing for the education of two very able daughters.47

Prayer and self-offering: It was the vocation of Esther, the Jewish Queen, who interceded for the salvation of her people with King Ahasuerus,48 which increasingly expressed the depth of Edith’s vocation—a vocation which entailed that mystery of offering her death for both persecutors, and persecuted.49 It is probably one of the deepest mysteries of the divine-human dimensions of the Christian Faith that the free act in which evil is done is the occasion through which God brings about good. Joseph, a prophetic dreamer, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers, and had yet risen to be Pharaoh’s right hand man, was thus able to help his family, and the whole region in a time of famine. On being reconciled with his brothers, he explained to them that :”…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”(Gn 50: 20) It is unavoidable, therefore, that we think of the crucifixion: that God intended for good what was clearly the dreadful death of the Son of God. In this way, therefore, Edith entered into the mystery announced, as it were, by her birth on the Jewish feast of the Atonement—the feast day of reconciliation between God and man.50

In the dialogue between Edith Stein and Jesus Christ, we can see that Edith recognizes that her vocation is a participation in the reconciling51 self-offering of Christ. At the same time Edith recognized that Christian marriage entailed an inseparable, reciprocal self-offering: “I believe that even most of the ‘happy’ marriages are, more often than not, at least in part a martyrdom.”52 Edith wishes to live and die for the Church, for the concerns of Jesus and Mary, for the Order of Carmel. Then, there are the peoples to which she belongs: the communities of Cologne and Echt, the Jews and Germans, her family, friends, and acquaintances. She is offering herself for all of these.53 Edith Stein’s answer to the question of who can atone for the “oppressed and the oppressors” was that is was the victims, “willingly carrying their sufferings, who could atone.”54 Edith was born “in 1891, on the (Jewish feast day of the) Day of Atonement”55 and died in Auschwitz in 194256.

No period of history is an isolated event—either in itself, or in terms of the relationship between one idea and another—and, ultimately, ideas and programs impact people, either by bringing communion and communication, or fracturing society, and imperiling the lives of people. Our times are very much an outcome of the mentality which is, in a certain sense, radically incapable of recognizing the equality of all human beings in the gift of human personhood. Just as the “structure of energy” is manifest in the capabilities of matter and its states—whether solid, liquid or gas—so the visible more generally communicates the invisible. And, as such, the psychological is inherent in the embryological development of the human person. The relationship of mother and father to their child is already as “psychologically existent” as it is physiologically drawn upon in conception.

What we witness, however, in the life of Edith Stein, is that the last word of human development goes to the Christian mystery of the “gift of self”—the reciprocal gift of self between Edith Stein and Jesus Christ. Even if in the course of her life she espoused all the good developments of a true, realistic type of feminism—unfolding profound philosophical and personal gifts—the “leaven” of Edith’s life goes on unfolding in the most influential way through the very Jewish-Christian identity that expresses the deepest contours of the path of life.

I am personally grateful, then, for the opportunity to begin to draw on her participation in the dialogue of our times. And, in so far as I have been able, I hope this article encourages others to turn to this modern Mother of the Church.

  1. Homily of John Paul II for the Canonization of Edith Stein, Sunday, 1998, w2.vatican.va/content/john-paulii/en/homilies/1998/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_11101998_stein.html.
  2. Cf. Evelyne Shuster, “Fifty Years Later: The Significance of the Nuremberg Code”, New England Journal of Medicine, 1997; 337: 1436-1440: nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199711133372006 (Source Information: From the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University and Woodland Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19104) at the end of this excerpt she cited the following reference, at footnote 12: ‘Complete transcript of the Nuremberg Medical Trial: United States v. Karl Brandt et al. (Case 1). Washington, D.C.: National Archives, November 21, 1946–August 20, 1947. (Microfilm publication no. M887)’.
  3. “Übermensch”: ‘The term Übermensch was used frequently by Hitler and the Nazi regime to describe their idea of a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race’ (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9Cbermensch).
  4. During the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Cracow, 22nd July to 3rd August, 2016.
  5. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_to_the_Murdered_Jews_of_Europe
  6. Cf. Joanne Mosley, Edith Stein: Woman of Prayer, Leominster: Gracewing, 2004, p. 14, quoting from Posselt, Sister Teresia de Spiritu Sancto, Edith Stein, pp. 54-55.
  7. Carmen Hernandez (1930-2016), the recently deceased co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, has likewise contributed significantly to the enrichment of a Catholic understanding of the Paschal Mystery through a life-long assimilation of a positive dialogue with Judaism. Moreover, many young women ‘said it was thanks to Carmen they found pride in being a woman” (catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/20/carmen-hernandez-co-founder-of-neocatechumenal-way-dies/). Carmen is, possibly, yet another Modern Mother of the Church.
  8. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 50: Edith’s ‘love went out to both the oppressed and the oppressors.’
  9. Homily of John Paul II for the Canonization of Edith Stein, Sunday, 11 October, 1998.
  10. americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1946: ‘Blessed John Henry Newman’ (1801-1890).
  11. Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, 2011: w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110202.html
  12. Cf. ctkcc.net/carmelite-corner/pope-paul-vi-on-st-teresa-of-jesus-as-doctor-of-the-church/
  13. Cf. w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_01101999_co-patronesses-europe.html
  14. November 2nd, 2016, Pope Francis’s Interview on Return from Sweden: zenit.org/articles/full-translation-popes-in-flight-press-conference-on-return-from-sweden/.
  15. In her article, “The pitfalls of a gendered theology of church”, Natalia Imperatori-Lee, says: ‘this complementarity {of masculine priesthood and feminine Church} also casts the laity in the Marian role and the clergy and hierarchy in the Petrine office. This is potentially problematic, as it rests on the passivity and submission of the “Marian” principle (the laity) to the Petrine (the clergy)’ (americamagazine.org/content/all-things/its-not-complement). But the problem with Imperatori-Lee’s point is that it overlooks the following: that it is the whole Church, expressing the mystery of mankind before God, “who” stands to God as feminine in virtue of the necessity that God acts in us for the sake of our salvation: ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15: 5).
  16. Cf. St. John Paul II, Letter to Women.
  17. Writings of Edith Stein, selected, translated and introduced by Hilda Graef, London: Peter Owen Ltd., 1956: pp. 161-173, are an extract from “The Ethos of Women’s Professions”; and, therefore, the quotation comes from p. 168 of this version.
  18. There is clearly a ministry for women in that, as a woman Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek was by far the more able preacher at an event at Tewkesbury Abbey (2016): the conferring of various levels of the Bishop’s Award in the Joint Anglican and Catholic Academy of All Saints. In the strict sense of being a Bishop, however, the ministry is “constitutionally” different in an Anglican communion to what it is in a Catholic communion. Nevertheless, as I say, Bishop Treweek spoke in a memorably attractive way about the Christian life and how it is lived. She said that the cross, for example, she wore around her neck was made of bits of war machinery: a fitting “modernization” of the cross of Christ transforming an instrument of torture into the vehicle of our salvation.
  19. To over three hundred pilgrims at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery, Czerna 79, Czerna 32-065, Poland (Thursday, 28th July, 2016).
  20. P. 112 of the Writings of Edith Stein, selected, translated and introduced by Hilda Graef, pp. 101-125, “The Vocation of Man and Woman”.
  21. John Paul II, Man Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006, p. 141: excerpt from the Catechesis, “Second Account of the Creation of Man”, September 19, 1979, n. 4.
  22. A free translation of the adage, sentire cum ecclesia.
  23. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Edith Stein (1891-1942): vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_19981011_edith_stein_en.html
  24. Vatican Council I, Dei Filius.
  25. w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_01101999_co-patronesses-europe.html
  26. Edith Stein, Life in a Jewish Family, Volume One of The Collected Works, translated by Josephine Koeppel, OCD, Washington: ICS Publications, 1986, p. 250.
  27. Edith Stein, Life in a Jewish Family, p. 250.
  28. Writings of Edith Stein, selected, translated and introduced by Hilda Graef: pp. 142-143 are an extract from “Problems of Women’s Education”.
  29. From Michael Novak, “John Paul II: Christian Philosopher,” America 177: 12 (October 25, 1997), p. 12, quoted in George Weigel’s, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, New York: Cliff Street Books, 1999, p. 127.
  30. Writings of Edith Stein, selected, translated and introduced by Hilda Graef: Introduction, p. 18.
  31. Fr. Raimondo Spiazzi, OP, “Edith Stein: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross”, ewtn.com/library/Theology/EDITHST.HTM.
  32. John C. Caiazza, “The Social Teaching of John Paul II”, hprweb.com/2014/01/the-social-teaching-of-john-paul-ii/
  33. Cf. The words from Edith Stein’s letter to Pope Pius XI in 1933 are: ‘Everything that happened and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself “Christian”’ (p. 226 of Susanne Batzdorff’s, Aunt Edith: The Jewish Heritage of a Catholic Saint, Springfield, Illinois: Templegate Publishers, second edition, 2003).
  34. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 64.
  35. Mosley, Edith Stein, pp. 46-47.
  36. Mosley, Edith Stein, pp. 14, but also 16.
  37. Mosley, Edith Stein, pp. 27-28.
  38. Cf. Mosley, Edith Stein, p.
  39. Cf. Mosley, Edith Stein, pp. 30 and 42; however, whether this was simply anti-Semitism or the fear that Edith’s Jewish background would endanger them all in an increasingly anti-Semitic climate, or both, is not clear. As regards the latter, it emerges as Edith’s own concern as anti-Semitism increases: ‘She was putting the community {at Cologne} at risk by her mere presence’ (p. 39).
  40. Edith Stein, Life in a Jewish Family, p. 23.
  41. Stein, Life in a Jewish Family, p. 23.
  42. Cf. Batzdorff’s, Aunt Edith, pp. 196-211: Chapter 15: In the Spirit of Catholic-Jewish Understanding.
  43. Homily of John Paul II for the Canonization of Edith Stein.
  44. Stein, Life in a Jewish Family, p. 37.
  45. Stein, Life in a Jewish Family, p. 38.
  46. Cf. Batzdorff’s, Aunt Edith, p. 75.
  47. Cf. Batzdorff’s, Aunt Edith, pp. 102-110.
  48. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 97.
  49. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 97.
  50. Mosley, Edith Stein, pp. 50-51.
  51. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 51.
  52. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 82, quoting from: Die Frau: Fragestellungen und Reflexionen, Freiburg, Basle and Vienna: Herder, 2000, p. 50.
  53. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 46-47.
  54. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 50.
  55. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 50.
  56. Mosley, Edith Stein, p. 56.
Francis Etheredge About Francis Etheredge

Mr. Francis Etheredge is married with eight children, plus three in heaven. He is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word and a trilogy, From Truth and Truth (Cambridge Scholars Publishing); The Human Person: A Bioethical Word (En Route Books & Media, 2017), with forewords from eight writers; The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads Through Dead Ends (2018); and Conception: An Icon of the Beginning, with contributions from ten other authors, as well as The Prayerful Kiss (2019); Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration (2020); Honest Rust and Gold: A Second Collection of Prose and Poetry (2020), Within Reach of You: A Book of Prose and Prayers (2021), Unfolding a Post-Roe World (2022), Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics (2022), Human Nature: Moral Norm, Lord, Do You Mean Me? A Father-Catechist! (2023), A Word in your Heart: Youth, Mental Health, and the Word of God (2023), and An Unlikely Gardener: Prose and Poems.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. A radio interview can be heard here.

He has earned a BA Div (Hons), MA in Catholic Theology, PGC in Biblical Studies, PGC in Higher Education, and an MA in Marriage and Family (Distinction). He is a collaborator of the Dignitas Personae Institute for Nascent Human Life.


  1. Avatar Leysen Bettina says:

    In the first sentence of your article it should read 1891 and not 1982.

    • Avatar Francis Etheredge says:

      Thank you. I have just noticed it in the version of the article that I am including in a forthcoming book on pilgrimage: “The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads Through Dead Ends”.

  2. Matthew Minerd, Ph.D. Matthew Minerd, Ph.D. says:

    Glory to Jesus Christ!
    Dear Francis,
    I have meant to get to this article for a while. Life pushes one thing after another out of sight. Thank you much for this “invitation” of sorts. Stein / St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross remains on the periphery of my own thought – an unfortunate thing from all that I have heard (and once again now hear from you). On my all-too-long reading list is Alasdair McIntyre’s introduction to her work. Just wanted to mention it for your own edification.

    Thanks again!

    • Avatar Francis Etheredge says:

      Dear Matthew, The Peace of Christ. Thank you for your note. God bless, Francis.