Monday, August 9, 2010

St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross

On this day in 1942, Edith Stein, along with her sister, Rosa were gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Stein was a member of the Discalced Camerlite monastery at Cologne. Her religious name was Teresia Benedicta of the Cross.
Born a Jew, she flirted with atheism as a teen but converted to Christianity. She was baptized a Roman Catholic in 1922. She was doctor of philosophy and a professor at Freinburg. She attributed her conversion to Catholicism to her reading of the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila.
In 1933 she wrote a letter to Pope Pius XI denouncing Germany's Nazi regime and asked to Pope to opening denounce them. that same year she entered the convent.
Because of her Jewish background her order transfered her to a monastery in the Netherlands.
In 1942, in the face of great acts of horror on the part of the Nazi regime the bishops of the Netherlands spoke out against them. The response was the arrest of all Jewish converts in the Netherlands and their shipment to Auschwitz. It is very indicative that these prisoners received no numbers. It was the obvious intent that they be executed immediately.
The situation of Edith Stein is a clear indication of what we can sometimes expect when the Church speaks out against evil in the world. It's lesson is not that the Church should not speak out against evil, but that we should be prepared to pay the price Our Lord paid for speaking out against the prince of the world and his minions. It is perhaps even a sign of what we can one day expect in our own lifetimes. It should be remembered that Henry VIII was declared "Defender of the Faith" by the Pope only years before he declared himself head of the Church of England and dissolved the monasteries, in the one of the greatest grabs of Church property in European history.
We may see it's like again.