Happy feast day!
Do you remember the first time we met? I took your name, Teresa Benedicta, for my Confirmation name because I knew that anyone who became a saint through the trials of the Holocaust was someone I desired to emulate. At the time, I had little idea how close we would become during the years that followed.
I first delved into your writings as a college student while serving on the core team for my campus’ Women’s Ministry. Your writings on the nature of woman and her unique vocation astounded and deeply resonated with me. You captured both the beauty of what it means to be a woman and the challenges that arise from our particular nature and sensitivities.
Until I read your work, I often felt pulled between two extremes about my own feminine nature. One extreme told me that I had to be “the crown of creation,” a beautiful, meek, flawless daughter of the King. The other said that I was a raw mess of emotions who was too sensitive and weak, and that I needed to disguise my emotions by acting unaffected and emotionless so that others would take me seriously. My dear Edith, you showed me that neither of these extremes represents my God-given personality and particular vocation. You explained for me how grace builds on our natures as men or women. By describing the nature of woman, you assured me that I could fill in the particulars with my unique gifts and calling.
“But, also, individual gifts and tendencies can lead to the most diversified activities. Indeed, no woman is only woman; each has her own individual speciality and talent, and this talent gives her the capability of doing professional work, be it artistic, scientific, technical, etc.” (Edith Stein, “The Ethos of Women’s Professions”)
What an invaluable gift you gave me! I found such freedom in discovering my own feminine vocation, and my desire to walk alongside other women as they do the same continues to increase. You have been my closest spiritual companion in growing into my identity as a person, woman, wife, mother, writer, professional, lifelong learner, and (most importantly) lover of the Cross.
“The arms of the Crucified are spread out to draw you to his heart. He wants your life in order to give you his. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!” (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, "The Hidden Life")
Edith, I pray that we on Earth will seek the Truth with the tireless dedication that you modeled in your own life; that we will have the courage and resolve to speak the Truth unfalteringly, even when the voices of the world try to drown us out; and, finally, that one day we may join you in Heaven, beholding Truth in its fullest realization.
A Catholic Feminist