Endow Weekly

St. Edith Stein | Seeker of Truth – Week 8

Week Eight: A Saint for Our Times

Consider the Intellectual 

Chapter 8 is a brief discussion of the legacy of Edith Stein. The appendix to the study guide is not brief but well worth the effort of reading through it. This is a rich and robust study!

Regarding Edith’s academic pursuits, at this point in our study she is enjoying the intellectual vision of God and therefore perfect beatitude. Here’s a dash of St. Thomas Aquinas from Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3, Chapter 37: 

Man’s ultimate happiness consists in the contemplation of truth, for this operation is specific to man and is shared with no other animals. Also it is not directed to any other end since the contemplation of truth is sought for its own sake. In addition, in this operation man is united to higher beings (substances) since this is the only human operation that is carried out both by God and by the separate substances (angels).

Consider the Emotional 

The Postscript of the study includes a story written by Teresia Benedicta McCarthy who was miraculously healed by the saint. She recalls being struck by a painting of Edith Stein with a comb in her hand and a child in the other. She thought it odd that something as simple as combing a child’s hair would be remembered as particularly heroic. Later, when she was taken terminally ill and immobile, she was able to experience the healing effect of having someone—in her case her sister—brush her hair. 

It’s a simple gesture to have one’s hair combed. And yet, the experience of another’s care in this way allows one to feel so much the depth of one’s dignity. 

I recall a very close friend of mine who has Luke 12:7 written on a chalkboard over her bed: 

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

She placed it there after exiting an abusive relationship. It’s not enough to know we have dignity—we also need to feel it.

Consider the Spiritual

For those who do not yet own this study guide, I share with you one of her spiritual poems shared in this chapter:

Of course, the Lord leads each on her own path,

And what we call ‘fate’; is the artist’s doing,

The eternal Artist, who creates material for himself

And forms it into images in various ways:

By gentle finger strokes and by chisel blows.

But he does not work on dead material;

His greatest creative joy in fact is

That under his hand the image stirs,

That life pours forth to meet him.

That life that he himself has placed in it

And that now answers him from within

To chisel blows or quiet finger stroke.

So we collaborate with God on his work of art.