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Edith Stein.English.2,12,21

1 diciembre, 2021 Autor: admin

Edith Stein ingles


  1. A message of hope for the man of today



  1. Stein is undoubtedly an important personality in the sphere of society and in the Church due to her contributions to thought and culture, but also as a believer and consecrated woman. What are the lessons that it leaves for those of us who are open to the needs of today’s man and called to face the challenges of a new millennium? What aspects of your life, your work and his message are most suggestive or significant? Without any pretense of being exhaustive, I would venture to point out the following:


  • Passionate and sincere search for the truth



Perhaps the first lesson that E. Stein leaves us is to be a seeker of the truth through all paths; a woman of our time, sincere and critical, «who preferred to be an atheist rather than hastily confess the Christian faith … but, in the search for the truth, also had the courage to question even the atheism she professed» (Four. Five). The search for the truth was the passion of her life, for which she did not hesitate to sacrifice everything; Furthermore, we can even say that “the truth, which was the reason for her life, was also the reason for her death” (46).



The search for the truth led E. Stein to God and to recognize in the Christian faith the entire truth, which she had sought throughout her life; That is why she herself, from her own experience, can say that «God is the truth and whoever seeks the truth, seeks God, whether he is aware of it or not» (47); and in his latest work on the doctrine of Saint John of the Cross, he comes to define the search for truth as the most specifically human activity, which is capable of leading us to God as the term and fullness of truth: “He who walks after the truth lives preferably in that inner center where the activity of the understanding takes place; if he seriously tries to seek the truth (and not to accumulate mere knowledge), he may be closer to God than he imagines himself, because God is the truth ”(48



But not because she has found the truth in God through faith, does she stop searching. God and the truth must always be sought, since God, by principle, wants to be sought, wants to allow himself to be found by those who seek him and hides from those who do not seek him (49). All new light on the truth and on God is an invitation to continue searching, according to the thought of Saint Augustine: “God allows himself to be searched in order to be found. He lets himself be found so that we can look for him again


The testimony of E. Stein is undoubtedly a reason for hope for our world today in need of God and in need of the truth, for so many people of our time who seek the truth perhaps in very different ways. It is also an encouragement for believers to learn to always be open to the truth and to be tireless seekers of God, aware that «God is the only thing that is never searched in vain» (Saint Bernard) .



2) Consistent and committed life



One of the most outstanding features of his personality is fidelity to his own conscience and the unbreakable coherence of his life: coherence between his thought and his practice, between his faith and his works, between his prayer and his life, between his doctrine and her testimony … This sincerity and transparency of her life is perhaps one of the most fascinating and attractive aspects of her personality, but it was also a reason for suffering and inner struggle, especially in her relationship with her family after her conversion. .



This coherence and search for truth is the result, on the one hand of the education received in his Jewish family environment, and on the other, of the aspiration of the phenomenological school to a radical knowledge, an objective description of reality and a total coherence in order to overcome the modern crisis of thought. Her radical coherence can sometimes make him seem uncompromising in her views or attitudes; In his Catholic days he wrote to a friend of hers about the attitude towards people who do not think or believe like us: “Our influence on others will be blessed to the extent that we do not give an inch in the safe ground of our faith and we follow the voice of our conscience, without caring what others think



The result of his coherent life is his commitment to all just causes in the cultural, social, political or ecclesial sphere. That is why she was very actively involved in the defense of women’s rights, in participating in the life of the university, in her patriotic sense, registering as a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross during the first war, and even actively participating in politics. in 1918, as a member of the German Democratic Party, of which she was about to be elected president in her hometown; It is true that very soon she was disenchanted with politics, in such a way that at the end of 1918 she wrote to her friend R. Ingarden: “I am so fed up with politics that I am disgusted. I completely lack the usual tools for it: a robust conscience and thick skin. Anyway, I will have to continue until the elections, since there is a lot to do ”(



This commitment for the world and for society is still present, if possible in a more grounded way, after his conversion and his entry into Carmel; He writes in 1928: “Even in the most contemplative life the relationship with the world should not be severed; I even believe that the more deeply someone is immersed in God, the more he must come out of himself, that is, go into the world to communicate divine life to him. ”(53) From Carmel, she continues to feel solidarity and committed to suffering and problems of others; She understood that her consecrated life could not mean ignoring the problems of the Church and of society; From there he wrote in 1934: “Every day I feel this peace as a magnificent gift of grace, which cannot be given only to one person, and if someone approaches us overwhelmed and bruised, and can get some peace and comfort from here , then I feel very happy «(54


This coherence and sincerity, translated into a generous commitment in favor of all authentically human and Christian values, is an especially valid testimony for our world in need of authentic witnesses and models of life, since the most common currencies of exchange are incoherence, superficiality, individualism and lack of values.


3) Humanity and generosity



If there is something that also stands out in the foreground in the life of E. Stein, it is human values. All the biographical testimonies we have about her tell us about a woman from hers at her time: intelligent, cultured and profound, but at the same time human, simple and sociable; with great sense of humor, cultivator of friendship; lover of nature, theater and literature; She loved to travel, organize excursions and spend vacations with her friends. The abbot of Beuron, R. Walzer, said of her that she was “simple with the simple and learned with the learned; needy with the needy; And it could almost be added that she was a sinner with sinners … Nothing manifests to the outside the depth of her spiritual life, except the perfect harmony between the gifts of the heart and those of the intelligence, her great interest in the problems of the time and his sincere rapport with all


He lived this great humanity above all in his relationship with young people during his teaching work, both at the Institute and at the University: “He quickly won the hearts of the students. For us, she was a shining example, who continues to influence today. With the greatest modesty and simplicity, almost unnoticed, she walked the silent path of her duty, always kind and open to all who sought help ”(56). Her openness and her humanity translate into attitudes of understanding especially towards young people with all their problems: “The current young generation,” she writes to another teacher, “has gone through many crises; she is perhaps incapable of understanding us, but we must try to understand her, because only then can we help her a little ”(57). One of her students left this testimony: “For all of us she was a model of the purest and most noble humanity and deeply Christian sentiments. She kindly knew how to hide her enormous knowledge under her extraordinary modesty ”(58).


During her teaching time in Speyer, she also stood out for her predilection and her help to the poor and the sick, with whom she shared a good part of her time and her salary as a teacher: “Only God knows for how many people she was a collaborator, counselor and guide, and how often did he come to the aid of spiritual and bodily needs as an angel of charity …; she always had time for others ”(59).


She also lived this humanity and generosity in relation to her family, to which she always felt very close and in which everyone trusted her, as well as with her friends, to whom she always kept great fidelity. She wrote to her friend R. Ingarden from Carmel: «The affairs of my friends will always continue to interest me» (60). To Ingarden himself, to whom he gave a significant amount of money in a time of need, he wrote: “What I give to others, I do not consider at all as a gift, because according to my conception of life, what reaches my hands I cannot consider it my property, but only as something that I have to honestly manage …; I think he would do the same for a stranger, who was in his situation ”(61).


His testimony of humanity and generosity is still valid today for all: for non-believers, who need values and points of reference that give meaning to their lives; for believers and Christians, we need to “humanize” much more our experience of faith and learn to build the Christian life on human values; also for a society increasingly in need of signs and testimonies of humanity and solidarity


4) Harmonization of faith and culture, philosophy and religion


  1. Stein reaches God through a sincere and authentic search for the truth, traveling the path of philosophy, culture and thought, putting reason at the service of truth and good. By the way of reason he arrives at the «complete truth» of faith; hand in hand with philosophy he discovered Catholicism and embraced the Christian faith as the culmination of a deepening of the rational search for truth.



However, despite all her human effort in the search for the truth, she recognizes that she has reached the goal of the “complete truth”, not so much because of her personal intellectual effort, but because of having encountered the testimony of extraordinary people. like Agustín de Hipona, Francisco de Asís or Teresa de Jesús, and that there can be as many ways that lead to the truth as human heads and hearts. Faith opens up totally new and unlimited horizons for E. Stein, for which she had prepared her philosophical-intellectual work, but very different from those she could have imagined; She also opens a new dimension for his reflection and her intellectual work: “It is an infinite world, which opens up as something absolutely new, if one begins, instead of living outwards, inwards …; all the realities with which he had to deal with before become transparent and the forces that sustain and move everything are actually felt «


But the experience of faith is not for her something that separates her from life, from culture, from the great questions of human thought; Faith is not so much an intellectual act, but a way of living, «a matter of life and heart» (63), a creative and transforming force that must permeate the entire life of the person. That is why E. Stein will continue after her conversion, and even in the monastery, working intellectually, delving into the truth found and putting his intelligence at the service of the truth. To his friend R. Ingarden, who thought that E. Stein had shut himself up in the refuge of faith to forget the arguments of reason, he wrote in 1927: is more at home; I have not completely forgotten its use, even within its limits, I value it much more than before ”(


For all these reasons, we can say that all his intellectual work is sprinkled with luminous points of interior life (65), precisely because in it there is a perfect harmony between reason and faith, between culture and religion. In it, the paradox of faith was fulfilled, which so many great thinkers and saints in history have lived: “it is necessary to make every effort on earth to conquer that which is given to us from above” (66); she sought in faith and from faith to develop all human and cultural possibilities, because as she herself wrote, «the perfection of nature is in itself the glorification of the creator» (67).



Undoubtedly, we live in a time characterized by a deep rupture between faith and culture, as well as by a kind of «fragmentation of knowledge», in such a way that one of the great challenges we face in the next millennium is to realize the passage from the phenomenon to the foundation and to reach a unitary and organic vision of knowledge (68). Precisely for this reason, the work of E. Stein and, above all, his life, will be a very important point of reference, in order to bravely address this problem and find a healthy and balanced harmony between faith and reason, culture and religion


5) Open and ecumenical woman



The passionate search for the truth through reason and faith also makes her an open, free and ecumenical woman. E. Stein was born and grew up in a Jewish and liberal environment, where he learned to respect other ways of thinking and believing, as well as to value friendship and open relationships with others, as is very well reflected in his autobiographical book of his childhood and youth, «Yellow stars». In both her family and friends’ circles, as well as in college or school, Edith is seen as an open, friendly and helpful woman. This emotional and mental openness also leads her to great inner freedom. When she decided to stop being Husserl’s assistant, after a great inner struggle, she wrote to her friend R. Ingarden: “I have achieved great inner freedom; Now I am convinced that I am where I should be, and I am also convinced that I have been led to this path that I travel with the most jovial dedication, without a trace of resignation ”(69).


Because she is an open and free woman, she is also capable of adapting to any situation and feeling good everywhere. At a very young age, she leaves the maternity home to continue her studies in Göttingen; then she will be Freiburg, Speyer, Münster, Cologne, Holland; she travels very frequently to all the Central European countries: “I feel at home everywhere” (70). And from Carmel she writes: “I don’t miss anything that is outside and I have everything that I missed outside” (71). She always valued in Carmel the freedom of spirit that Saint Teresa wanted for all her daughters, and for some friends, who felt called to a contemplative life and had not yet decided where to enter, “she advises them to look for a monastery where they leave space for freedom of spirit ”(



But above all, E. Stein stands out for his ecumenical openness, which is one of the most significant aspects of his life. From his Jewish roots, he learned to respect other religions; His best friends, before his conversion, who helped him to come to the faith, were Protestant Christians, such as the Reinach family or the Conrad-Martius family; the godmother of his baptism and of his religious profession was his Protestant friend Hedwig Conrad-Martius; With her and with other Protestant, Jewish or agnostic friends, he continued to maintain a cordial relationship of friendship from Carmel, from a very specifically Catholic piety and dedication. But, above all, E. Stein is the bridge of union between the Jewish people, to whose destiny she always felt united and for which she offered her life, and the Christian people, in whom she found the whole truth and the salvation. To the Jesuit P. Hirschmann he says shortly before her death in Auschwitz: «You cannot imagine what it means for me to be the daughter of the chosen people» (75). E. Stein “does not deny his lineage of Israel, to which he is proud to belong, but on the contrary, he feels the vocation to draw his people with him into salvation … Dying as a witness of Israel, he also died as a witness of Christ and his people ”(76


In this world so plural from the social, cultural and religious point of view, always threatened by discords, divisions and intolerance, E. Stein leaves us an authentic lesson in dialogue, tolerance and ecumenical openness. For this reason, we can say with Reinhold Schneider, the great post-war German writer and publicist, that E. Stein, with his life and his testimony, “is hope and promise for his people and ours” ( 77).


6) Learn the wisdom of the cross



The best lesson that this intelligent and cultured woman learned was the lesson of the wisdom of the cross of Christ. It was her cross that began to question her in her search for the truth, to open new avenues of search and bring her closer to the true faith. The cross is what she shaped and strengthened the Christian and religious experience of her. The wisdom of the cross, according to the model offered by Saint John of the Cross and the spirituality of Teresian Carmel, becomes the leitmotif of her entire life, her work and her spirituality.


  1. Stein, from his deeply Christocentric experience, understands that all mystical experience necessarily passes through the experience of the cross, of the dark night; He also understands that the mystery of the cross is the life-giving force of spiritual life, and that the life of man is a way of the cross in which there is a progressive identification with the Crucified one until reaching union with God (78).



Before entering Carmel, she came to understand, by a special grace of God as she herself explains (79), that the cross of Christ weighed on her people in those historical moments and that the destiny of her people it was also his; That is why she offers to carry it on behalf of all: «Under the cross I understood the destiny of the people of God … I thought that those who understood that this was the cross of Christ, should take it on themselves in the name of all» ( 80). This offering to God for her people, she learned to live and mature in Carmel, making the mystery of the cross a source of wisdom and strength. Edith learns to share the sufferings of her people, of her family and of all the people who suffer and with whom she identifies, aware that “the passion of Christ continues in his mystical body and in each of its members, and if it is a living member, then suffering and death receive a redemptive force by virtue of the divinity of its head ”(81).


Living her vocation as a Carmelite is for her: to be before God for others, vicariously, in an attitude of offering; to become omnipresent with Christ for all her afflicted, «to be the strength of the cross on all fronts and in all places of affliction» (82). Since her conversion, her entire spiritual life has been oriented and centered on Christ; and that is why she knows that there is no true encounter with Christ that does not involve the cross; if Christ saved us by dying on the cross, every way of salvation and “every union with God passes through the cross, is realized on the cross and is sealed with the cross for all eternity” (83); For this reason also “the path of suffering is the most qualified for union with the Lord” (84), as she herself wrote to one of her students that she was experiencing a difficult situation



But E. Stein, not only learns and teaches the wisdom of the cross, but, above all, lives it to the full, consciously immolating himself like Jesus in favor of others. Especially the last months of his life were marked by suffering and the cross, caused by the tragic situation of his people, by the uncertainty about the fate of his family and by the consequences of the war. Shortly after arriving at Carmel in Echt, he wrote to a friend who wanted to convey some comfort to her: «Of course, there is no human comfort, but the one who imposes the cross knows how to make the burden sweet and light» (85). In the midst of such a profound experience of the cross, she has no other desire than to fulfill God’s will and is able to think about the suffering of others before her own: “It is necessary to pray to remain faithful in every situation, and , above all, to pray for so many who have it more difficult than me and are not anchored in eternity ”(86). A couple of months before her death, while working on her work on Saint John of the Cross, she wrote: «A science of the cross can only be acquired if the cross is fully experienced» (87). She came to experience it to the full, but accepted it with joy and perfect submission to God’s will, generously offering her life for others, as she makes clear in her will.


The life and work of E. Stein is a luminous testimony of hope, which stimulates us and invites us to learn this wisdom that springs from the mystery of the cross of Christ, since only she is capable of giving flavor to life and meaning to it. human suffering, only she can provide satisfactory answers to the great questions that worry or anguish man today.


7) Live and die for others


The supreme fruit of the generosity of his character was to understand and live his life and his death as an offering for the good of others, as we see in many relevant events in his life: Coinciding with the crisis of his adolescence, he offered to help to his sister Else in housework and childcare, for almost a year; she in the university stage she is remembered as the companion and friend that everyone went to in any emergency, because she was always ready to help; During her time as a Red Cross nurse, she gave herself heroic generosity to help the wounded and sick at the Möhrisch-Weisskirchen hospital; When her teacher Husserl is in dire need of someone to help him sort out all her messy scientific material, it was E. Stein who generously offered himself and carried out her work with unprecedented capacity for sacrifice and self-forgetfulness. herself; her students remember her as the one who always had time for others; In her family, she was the one who always took care of the little ones and those who were in need


This attitude of gift and service, which he lived throughout his life, even before his conversion, culminated in the offering he made of his own life for the good and reconciliation of others. As we have indicated, before entering Carmel, in 1932, she felt inspired by God to carry the cross of her people; On March 26, 1939, Passion Sunday, she asked her Prioress of Carmel of Echt to allow her «to offer herself to the Sacred Heart as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace» (89); on June 9 of the same year, she wrote her testament asking God to “accept her life and her death as atonement for the disbelief of the Jewish people, for the salvation of Germany and for the peace of the world” (90) ; When the Gestapo arrived on August 2, 1942 to take her out of Carmelo, E. Stein took her sister Rosa from her by the hand of her and told her: “Come, we are going to sacrifice ourselves for our people” (91); On the way to the consummation of her offering in the gas chambers of Auschwitz on August 9, 1942, she is able to forget herself to care for and encourage her companions in captivity and death.


  1. Stein had written that “voluntary atonement is what unites us most deeply with the Lord” (92), and also that “whoever belongs to Christ must live the whole life of Christ; he has to reach the maturity of Christ and walk the way of the cross to Gethsemane and Golgotha ”(93). With his attitude of service and offering to the point of giving his life for others, we can say that he traveled all the way of Christ and reached full Christian maturity. Like Christ, he knew how to sacrifice himself and die so that others could live (94


An individualistic society threatened by so many signs of death and a humanity in need of love, compassion, true signs of life and solidarity, can find in the life and work of E. Stein an encouraging and hopeful message. A Church that wants to face generously the challenges of authentic evangelization in this new stage of history, undoubtedly has in this great woman a true example to follow. Someone wrote that “after Auschwitz poetry is no longer possible” (Th. Adorno); but E. Stein is proof that, after Auschwitz, poetry, hope and faith in the future are also possible.


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