Sunday, February 26, 2012

Edith Stein- Writer, Convert, Martyr

When we're trying to agree on a name for a new baby, the conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: What about X?
Tommy: X?  Why X?  Who in either of our families is named X?
Me: Well, no one I guess.  But there's a saint X!
Tommy: There's a saint everything, woman.  That doesn't mean we're gonna name our kid, I don't know, Eustadiola.


Tommy: What about Y?
Me: Already taken.
Tommy: What does that mean?
Me: Sibling A of yours has already named his/her son/daughter that.
Tommy: Does that matter?
Me: With ALL the awesome saints throughout all of history you wanna reuse a first name from this very generation?  Because you like confusing people?


Tommy: Fluffy-butt McDiaperson!
Me: Babylinda Sillystink!
Katie: I'm going to get the saint cards out...
Lizzy: Is there a Saint Barbie?

This time has been no exception.  So the other night I hopped onto Jennifer Fulwiler's Saint's Name Generator and prayed for a little divine intervention.  And guess what?  Sometimes the answer to our prayers is "no".  Boys names and already-played names all in a row!

So I gave up my insta-baby-name dreams but immediately remembered that I had used the same name generator to get my personal patron saint for the year back in December.  Had I read about her since then?  Had I prayed for her intercession?  Had I thanked God for giving the gift of her wisdom and selflessness to the world? 

Sometimes the answer to my long list of rhetorical questions is "no".

Do you know about Edith Stein?  Born Jewish, turned atheist, converted to Catholicism, took the name Teresa Benedicta when she became a Cermelite nun and was then executed at Aushwitz in 1942 Edith Stein?  Apparently the Holy Spirit's answer to my prayer back in December was a resounding YES but I guess I wasn't ready to listen.

A friend from our parish calls these kinds of things God-incidences because "coincidence" implies chance.  Being matched up with Teresa Benedicta of the Cross for this year was definitely not mere chance.  She a convert.  I a convert.  She a student of phenomenology in the early 20th century.  I a student of phenomenology in the late 20th century.

She was a philosopher.  She translated Aquinas from Latin into German.  She gave lectures.  She wrote books.

And then she was killed.

This world is temporary for us all.  How can we best use our God given talents in the short time we're here?  How will we prepare for the eternity which inevitably follows our passing?  How will we seek justice for those who are voiceless and oppressed?

"Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother's hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.

-St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, from Verses for a Pentecost Novena

Saints and Scripture Sunday

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  1. I was given St. Gianna Molla as a patron saint years ago. Like, three children ago., I try not to think about her or speak with her unless I'm already pregnant.

    Just to be on the safe side.

  2. What a beautiful verse! A friend of mine is going through the "finding a name" phase of her pregnancy, and her daily tweets and emails crack me up - it's a huge decision, but a lot of fun to make :)

  3. Edith and I have been friends in Christ for a long time. If I'd had another child, I mighta picked her....As it stands, she is patron of my blog.

  4. I really do love St. Edith Stein. I've always had a profound respect for her. On another note...a little baby named Theresa or Benedicta (kind of fun) or even Edith would be so precious ;) Good luck with the rigorous naming process!

  5. "You are the space that embraces my being..." How lovely. Charles painted an icon of St. Edith Stein. I'll try to find an image of it and email it to you!

  6. Theresa Benedicta could work. Although I stand behind my earlier suggestion of Annaliese. If you haven't already, read The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. I promise you will love it. I'm inspired to be a better person every time I read it. Annaliese is a young Jewish woman during WWII that the Ten Boom family is helping hide from the Nazis. When asked by the SS if she is Jewish, she says yes. She refused to lie or deny her faith. She is an example of honesty and perfect trust in God, traits I hoped my daughter would have. So far, so good :)

    Also, Anne Frank's full name is Anneliese.

  7. Those conversations are pretty funny and sound eerily familiar, except I'm the one who is determined that the names honor both a family member and a saint! Luckily most of our family members that we want to honor do have a saint's name! Good luck. I look forward to reading about Edith. I'd actually never heard of her!

  8. One of my daughter's has an "X" name. It is a lovely name and means 'golden' (or yellow...but golden is prettier!). Our name conversations always seemed to degenerate into bedtime laugh-fests..."Cletis" was always one that got me going. I am certain that the most perfect and most fitting name for your sweet new baby will find you :) I am a proponent of selecting a few options and then meeting baby before settling on The One. Wishing you the very best :)

  9. I love St. Edith Stein, too. It must be my penchant for Carmelites. I wish you the best in finding a good saint's name for your baby.

  10. Ahem -- I believe Angie is discussing me, as her friend who talks about baby names a LOT! I'm just glad I'm not the only one who stresses about it!!

    Simcha Fisher just had her ninth baby ... and I know that one of the baby's names is Benedicta. :)

    We're leaning a little more Irish in our family - go figure!

    I'm off to read more about Edith Stein now and expand my vocabulary with words like phenomenology.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up this wonderful post to Saints and Scripture Sunday! Hope you're feeling good, and hope to see you again soon!

  11. Our second daughter is Teresa Benedicta! She has phases where she just calls herself Benedicta. And sorry that I am making random comments years after your posts, but I just found your blog last summer and am only now reading through it all. Which means random comments will be made! :)


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