Monday, August 31, 2009
(Essays on Woman ICS Collected Works of Edith Stein p. 201)
Friday, August 28, 2009
" The body of woman is fashioned 'to be one flesh' with another and to nurse new human life in itself. A well-disciplined body is an accommodating instrument for the mind which animates it; at the same time, it is a source of power and a habitat for the mind. Just so, woman's soul is designed to be subordinate to man in obedience and support; it is also fashioned to be a shelter in which other souls may unfold. Both spiritual companionship and spiritual motherliness are not limited to the physical spouse and mother relationships, but they extend to all people with whom woman comes into contact." (Essays on Woman, ICS Edith Stein Collected Works Vol. 2 p. 132)
The soul of woman must be expansive: "open to all human beings". Women naturally are interested in others and relationships. This natural bent can become one of curiosity and could lead to delving into areas of peoples lives and circumstances that degrades into unfruitful things like gossiping. But if the woman's soul goes out to others in search of and in order to bring out the hidden treasure that rests in every human soul, profit will come to her. It will also profit her if she is able to search and bring out the burden that is laid on every human soul. This requires the soul to go out of itself, not remaining outside, but seeking the other and the other's good.
The soul of woman must be quiet: if a woman's soul is constantly in commotion, filled with noise and easily agitated it will be unable to have the ears for those soft imperceptible voices that seek refuge in her soul so that they can find peace. Souls in commotion feel the urge to express the agitation within them and no other soul will want to be near it. It is in quiet women that others seek refuge from their disquiet and noise in order to find the rest and peace they need.
The soul of woman must be empty of self and self-contained: there will be room and quiet in the soul when the agitated self is gone and once quiet the soul can make oneself perceptible to others. To be empty of all selfishness and self-love is something no soul can do of itself. God must do it. Once emptied then the soul is capable of receiving. This is what God wants, to give Himself completely to her. Once He is there her soul can give Him to others.
The soul of woman must be warm: women come by this naturally, although not constantly. Often the soul fails to be warm when it is most needed. Instead of being warm, sparks fly! Thus, becoming fire destroying what should have been warmed. It is the heavenly fire of Divine love that consumes what is impure.
The soul of woman is clear: once all impurities have been removed and the soul illuminated by the Divine Light then all is bright, pure and clear. Contrary to this, the soul of woman appears dark and opaque to others and to herself.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
"Whoever relinquishes himself unconditionally to this formation, not only will nature in its purity be restored in him but he will grow beyond nature and become an other Christ."
Since her interest was on woman she drew for us a picture of woman's soul that would correspond to the eternal vocation of woman. She termed the attributes of woman's soul as expansive, quiet, empty of self, warm and clear.
"Now I am asked to say something regarding how one might come to possess these qualities. I believe that it is not a matter of a multiplicity of attributes which we can tackle and acquire individually; it is rather a single total condition of the soul, a condition which is envisaged here in these attributes from various aspects. We are not able to attain this condition by willing it, it must be effected through grace. What we can and must do is open ourselves to grace; that means to renounce our own will completely and to give it captive to the divine will, to lay our whole soul, ready for reception and formation, into God's hands."
(Essays on Woman, Edith Stein) St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
May God's love transform our hearts and may our love of God grow, blazing like fire, burning gently.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
St. Teresa of Jesus is well known for her commentary on the 'Our Father' that takes up the latter part of her work The Way of Perfection. In speaking of the 'Lord's Prayer', St. Teresa stresses the importance of this prayer being an act of love and to have the understanding of who this Father of ours is and "who the Master is who taught us this prayer". (Way of Perfection ch 24)
Let's consider how Jesus taught others. "You already know that His Majesty teaches that it be recited in solitude. This is what he always did when he prayed, and not out of any need of his own but for our instruction." (Way of Perfection ch 24)
Our Lord taught His disciples by His words and more importantly by His example. Consider, for example, how He taught others about mercy in the story of the woman caught in adultery and how He never used the word "mercy". He merely demonstrated the virtue in who He was and what He did. (John, chapter 8) When reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture it is good to always keep in mind that the Lord is teaching us something through His speech, actions, inaction or His silence.
St. Therese of Lisieux, in her Story of a Soul, desired a director or teacher such as St. Teresa of Jesus would recommend, that is, a director that has knowledge and virtue. One day a good priest told her, "My child, may Our Lord always be your Superior and your Novice Master". Who other than Jesus could be said to have knowledge and virtue? The saint quickly took Jesus to be her Director and said "it was He who taught me that science hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to little ones". (Story of a Soul, chapter 7)
Of course we should not forget those who teach us and have the duty to do so; both saints had recourse to this thought. "There is a large difference in teachers; but it is even a greater misfortune if we forget those who teach us her below. Especially, if they are saints and spiritual masters and we are good disciples." (Way of Perfection ch 24) St. Therese was quick to say: "I don't mean by this that I close my soul to my Superiors; far from it, for I tried always to be an open book to them. However, our Mother Prioress, frequently ill, had little time to spend with me." (Story of a Soul, ch 7)
It is wise to seek out and find wise and prudent spiritual people to help us in our spiritual life. But always keep in mind that Jesus is the Master Teacher.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
To teach does not mean to merely give what we have but rather what we are. What we are should be Christ. Christ should be in our thoughts and actions.
Of course to speak of teaching we must consider what is meant by the term education. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) defined education as the formation of the human person and notes that "the first fundamental formation happens within the soul".
The purpose of education is to bring what is already there in seed form to its full potential. Edith Stein describes the process of education as taking place on three levels. She writes that the development of the human person is based on the person's humanity, gender, and individuality.
Teachers, therefore, will pay special attention to the uniqueness of their pupil, taking into consideration their natural qualities, and abilities, as well as, their limitations. This is something parents will need to do as they educate their children. In fact, we will all need to take these into consideration when working and collaborating with others.
In order to have any influence on someone there must be love. "Love and trust are necessary rudiments for every educational influence. The teacher must love consistently thereby winning this love and trust."
"Truly supernatural forces are needed to offer such equal, mothering love to all, even to the unlovable, the difficult, the intolerable...especially to them because, indeed, they are in the most need of it."
(The Collected Works of Edith Stein vol. 2, Eassys on Woman)
Teachers shape mankind.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"To those who want to journey on this road and continue until they reach the end, which is to drink from this water of life, I say that how they are to begin is important - in fact, all important. They must have a great and very determined determination to persevere until reaching the end, come what may, happen what may, whatever work is involved, whatever criticism arises, whether they arrive or whether they die on the road, or even if they don't have courage for the trials that are met, or if the whole world collapses." (The Way of Perfection 21:2)
Prayer takes effort and the courage to continue despite any criticisms. So begin. Pray. Pray faithfully, everyday, always, at all times and never give up.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Distance, dates, times, costs and the particular theme of a retreat may make it impossible to get away and partake of a much need break and time to rest. Below are some suggestions and ideas for planning your own private retreat. They are only suggestions and, hopefully, a springboard to encourage and inspire a planned time to come away to rest for a while.
First, keep in mind the purpose of a retreat. This is to be a time away from the ordinary activities that fill our days to pray and commune with God. It will be your hope to come away from your retreat renewed, purified, converted and to give yourself an opportunity for some spiritual growth. Remember to maintain silence as much as possible during your retreat. This will include no television, radio, Internet and talking on the phone. You want to spend your time talking and listening to God.
Then begin to plan your private retreat.
Keep things simple.
Pick your dates and place. Find dates that will work for you and your family. Remember this is to be time for you to be alone and in solitude and silence. The place you choose can be a hotel, vacation spot or even your own home. The length of your retreat can be a day, a weekend or a week.
Plan meals that will be are already prepared or just need to be reheated or that would be very simple to prepare. Include some healthy snacks and drinks.
Choose a theme or select some part of scripture you would like to meditate and reflect on or a spiritual book to use during your retreat. Another idea would be to select an audio or video of a good spiritual speaker to use as your "conferences" throughout the time of your retreat.
Here are some suggestions for "conferences":
Universal Call to Contemplative Prayer
by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S. M. CD retreat talks
I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux
by Jean C. J. d'Elbee
Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Pere Jacques
by Francis J. Murphy
Here are some suggestions for spiritual reading:
Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Heaven in Faith by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
One of the Epistles from the New Testament
Spend time in prayer and meditation. Pray the rosary, pray for your family, friends and needs of the world. If possible pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament at a nearby church or chapel.
Get outdoors, if possible, for a quiet walk and fresh air in some natural surroundings and enjoy God's creation.
Take a nap. Remember this is a time to rest and renew.
Keep a journal of any thoughts or insights you may have during your retreat.
Get to Mass and confession during the time of your retreat.
Be sure to thank God for this time and for any blessings you may have received.
Friday, August 14, 2009
After his Baptism in the Jordan and before he began his public ministry, Jesus went out in the desert to spend time in solitude praying and fasting. In imitation of Jesus, we can spend some time on retreat which will benefit our own personal ministry among our family, friends and coworkers.
What is a retreat?
A retreat is a period of time spent in solitude away from the ordinary activities that fill our days. It is a period of time away from the usual surroundings and duties to a place of solitude in order to spend time in meditation, self-examination and prayer.
Many times a retreat is designed around a particular theme from scripture or some spiritual writing that is suited to the needs of the individuals involved. There are many different kinds of retreats; some are preached, others are directed or private. In a preached retreat the leader preaches through conferences scheduled throughout the time of the retreat, will lead prayers and be available for one-on-one counseling. A directed retreat consists of meeting with a spiritual director who will suggest scripture passages to the retreatant to pray and reflect upon. A private retreat is made without the aide of a leader or spiritual director. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are well known and are used to come to the realization of and surrender to God's plan of salvation through a time of prayer and discernment usually thirty days in length.
Most retreats maintain a certain degree of silence with time for relaxation, healthy eating and some exercise. The emphasis however is always on prayer. The time spent on retreat allows one the opportunity to reflect on and examine their spiritual life. Time spent on retreat can become a time of recommitment, purification, conversion, and growth.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Once you view the first video the other parts can be found in the sidebar on the right of the screen.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
St. Teresa of Jesus describes contemplation in The Way of Perfection (Ch 25) as:
"The soul understands that without the noise of words this divine Master is teaching it by suspending its faculties, for if they were to be at work they would do harm rather than bring benefit. They are enjoying without understanding how they are enjoying. The soul is being enkindled in love, and it doesn't understand how it loves. It knows that it enjoys what it loves, but it doesn't know how. It clearly understands that this joy is not a joy the intellect obtains merely through desire. The will is enkindled without understanding how. But as soon as it can understand something, it sees that this good cannot be merited or gained through all the trials one can suffer on earth. This good is a gift from the Lord of earth and heaven, who in sum, gives according to who He is . What I have described, daughters, is perfect contemplation."
Monday, August 10, 2009
"But if the soil is still hardened in the earth and has a lots of briers,...and is still not so removed from occasions and if it doesn't have the gratitude a favor as great as this deserves, the ground will dry up again. And if the gardener becomes careless and the Lord soley out of His goodness does not desire to let the rains come again, the garden can be considered as lost."
And it is for this reason that St. Teresa often exhorts in her writings that one should ....
Never give up or abandon prayer or the practice of virtue!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
St. Teresa refers to this second degree of prayer as the "prayer of quiet". In this prayer the soul begins to become recollected and then something supernatural happens. She says this is supernatural because the soul in no way can acquire this prayer through its own efforts.