Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Edith Stein, who was born into an Orthodox Jewish family and converted to Catholicism, eventually becoming a Carmelite nun and taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In 1942, together with other Jewish Catholics, she was arrested and was put to death in Auschwitz that same year.
Edith was a contemplative, but at the same time an internationally known lecturer, philosolpher, author and advocate for the rights of women who spoke out courageously against injustice. In explaining how she did all that she did, she observed, “[t]he only essential is that one finds, first of all, a quiet corner in which one can communicate with God as though there were nothing else, and that must be done daily…One is to consider oneself totally an instrument, especially with regard to the abilities one uses to perform one’s special tasks…we are to see them as something used, not by us, but by God in us.”
Edith is a model of our lives as Christians. We pray, allowing ourselves to be infused with God’s spirit…aligning our will with that of God, and then we go forth to be God’s instrument in the world.