Thought for the Day – 9 August – The Memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Thought for the Day – 9 August – The Memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

“Dear brothers and sisters!   The love of Christ was the fire that inflamed the life of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.   Long before she realised it, she was caught by this fire.   At the beginning she devoted herself to freedom.   For a long time Edith Stein was a seeker.   Her mind never tired of searching and her heart always yearned for hope.   She traveled the arduous path of philosophy with passionate enthusiasm.   Eventually she was rewarded:  she seized the truth.   Or better: she was seized by it.   Then she discovered that truth had a name:  Jesus Christ.  From that moment on, the incarnate Word was her One and All.   Looking back as a Carmelite on this period of her life, she wrote to a Benedictine nun:  “Whoever seeks the truth is seeking God, whether consciously or unconsciously”.

Although Edith Stein had been brought up religiously by her Jewish mother, at the age of 14 she “had consciously and deliberately stopped praying”.   She wanted to rely exclusively on herself and was concerned to assert her freedom in making decisions about her life.   At the end of a long journey, she came to the surprising realisation:  only those who commit themselves to the love of Christ become truly free.

This woman had to face the challenges of such a radically changing century as our own. Her experience is an example to us.  The modern world boasts of the enticing door which says: everything is permitted.   It ignores the narrow gate of discernment and renunciation……Pay attention!   Your life is not an endless series of open doors!   Listen to your heart!   Do not stay on the surface but go to the heart of things!   And when the time is right, have the courage to decide!   The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in his good hands.

…St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all:  Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth!   One without the other becomes a destructive lie.
Finally, the new saint teaches us that love for Christ undergoes suffering.   Whoever truly loves does not stop at the prospect of suffering:  he accepts communion in suffering with the one he loves.”…(Excerpt from the Homily of St Pope John Paul for the Canonisation of St Teresa Benedicta – Sunday, 11 October 1998)

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross – Pray for us!

st teresa benedicta pray for us.2



Posted in CARMELITES, Catholic POETRY, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 9 August – The Memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Quote/s of the Day – 9 August – The Memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

“Today I stood with you beneath the cross
And felt more clearly than I ever did
That you became our Mother only there.

But those whom you have chosen for companions
To stand with you around the eternal throne,

They must stand with you beneath the Cross,
And with the lifeblood of their bitter pains,
Must purchase heavenly glory for those souls
Whom God’s own Son entrusted to their care.”

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross – Good Friday 1938

today i stood with you beneath the cross - st teresa benedicta

“Our love of neighbour is the measure of our love of God.
For Christians — and not only for them —
no one is a ‘stranger’.
The love of Christ knows no borders”

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

our love of neighbour is the measure of our love of god - st teresa benedicta


One Minute Reflection – 9 August

One Minute Reflection – 9 August

Have no anxiety at all but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus…Philippians 4:6-7

REFLECTION – “Let go of your plans.  The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the day’s work that He charges you with and He will give you the power to accomplish it.”…..St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

let go of your plans - st teresa benedicta

PRAYER – May St Teresa Benedicta pray for us Lord, as we celebrate with joy her yearly feast, her purity and strength of soul are precious gifts which light us on our way. Through our Lord Jesus Christ in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.   St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, please pray for us that we may manifest strength and courage with our hand in the hand of the Lord, amen.

st teresa benedicta pray for us



Our Morning Offering – 9 August

Our Morning Offering – 9 August

Excerpt from a Prayer
By St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

O Prince of Peace,
to all who receive You,
Your bright light and peace.
Help me to live in daily contact with You,
listening to the words You have spoken
and obeying them.
O Divine Child, I place my hands in Yours;
I shall follow You.
Oh, let Your divine life flow into me.
O my God, fill my soul with holy joy,
courage and strength to serve You.
Enkindle Your love in me
and then walk with me
along the next stretch of road before me.
I do not see very far ahead
but when I have arrived
where the horizon now closes down,
a new prospect will open before me
and I shall meet with peace.
How wondrous are the marvels of Your love,
We are amazed, we stammer and grow dumb,
for word and spirit fail us.

prayer of st teresa benedicta - o Prince of Peace


Saint of the Day – 9 August – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross OCD

Saint of the Day – 9 August – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross  OCD Martyr, Carmelite Nun, Philosopher, Writer, Teacher and Lecturer – (12 October 1891 at Breslaw, Dolnoslaskie, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland) as Edith Stein – gassed on 9 August 1942 in the ovens of Oswiecim (a.k.a. Auschwitz), Malopolskie, Poland).   Canonised on 11 October 1998 by St Pope John Paul II.   Patronages – Europe; loss of parents; converted Jews; Martyrs; World Youth Day.   Attributes – Yellow Star of David on a Discalced Carmelite nun’s habit, flames, a book.


Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891 – a date that coincided with her family’s celebration of Yom Kippur, the Jewish “day of atonement.”   Edith’s father died when she was just two years old and she gave up the practice of her Jewish faith as an adolescent.

As a young woman with profound intellectual gifts, Edith gravitated toward the study of philosophy and became a pupil of the renowned professor Edmund Husserl in 1913. Through her studies, the non-religious Edith met several Christians whose intellectual and spiritual lives she admired.

After earning her degree with the highest honours from Gottingen University in 1915, she served as a nurse in an Austrian field hospital during World War I.   She returned to academic work in 1916, earning her doctorate after writing a highly-regarded thesis on the phenomenon of empathy.   She remained interested in the idea of religious commitment but had not yet made such a commitment herself.   In 1921, while visiting friends, Edith spent an entire night reading the autobiography of the 16th century Carmelite nun St. Teresa of Avila.   “When I had finished the book,” she later recalled, “I said to myself: This is the truth.”   She was baptised into the Catholic Church on the first day of January, 1922.

Edith intended to join the Carmelites immediately after her conversion but would ultimately have to wait another 11 years before taking this step.   Instead, she taught at a Dominican school and gave numerous public lectures on women’s issues.   She spent 1931 writing a study of St. Thomas Aquinas and took a university teaching position in 1932.

In 1933, the rise of Nazism, combined with Edith’s Jewish ethnicity, put an end to her teaching career.   After a painful parting with her mother, who did not understand her Christian conversion, she entered a Carmelite convent in 1934, taking the name “Teresa Benedicta of the Cross” as a symbol of her acceptance of suffering.


“I felt,” she wrote, “that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take upon themselves on everybody’s behalf.”   She saw it as her vocation “to intercede with God for everyone” but she prayed especially for the Jews of Germany whose tragic fate was becoming clear.

“I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death,” she wrote in 1939, “so that the Lord will be accepted by His people and that His kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world.”

After completing her final work, a study of St. John of the Cross entitled “The Science of the Cross,” Teresa Benedicta was arrested along with her sister Rosa (who had also become a Catholic) and the members of her religious community, on August 7, 1942.   The arrests came in retaliation against a protest letter by the Dutch Bishops, decrying the Nazi treatment of Jews.   Edith commented, “I never knew that people could be like this, neither did I know that my brothers and sisters would have to suffer like this. … I pray for them every hour. Will God hear my prayers? He will certainly hear them in their distress.”   Prof Jan Nota, who was greatly attached to her, wrote later: “She is a witness to God’s presence in a world where God is absent.”   On 7 August, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to Auschwitz.   It was too, on 9 August, that Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, her sister and many other of her people were gassed.

When Edith Stein was beatified in Cologne on 1 May 1987, the Church honoured “a daughter of Israel”, as St Pope John Paul II put it, who, as a Catholic during Nazi persecution, remained faithful to the crucified Lord Jesus Christ and, as a Jew, to her people in loving faithfulness.”    St John Paul II canonised her in 1998 and proclaimed her a co-patroness of Europe the next year.




The French Revolution reveals the titanic struggle between good and evil.   During the terror, over 40,000 Frenchmen were executed just for holding fast to the Catholic Faith and objecting to the worst excesses of the Committee of Public Safety.   The blood lost in the years of 1792-1794 staggers the imagination even in the retelling and the campaign against the Church was as diabolical as it was cruel.

Contemplative religious communities had been among the first targets of the fury of the French Revolution against the Catholic Church.   Less than a year from May 1789 when the Revolution began with the meeting of the Estates-General, these communities had been required by law to disband.   But many of them continued in being, in hiding. Among these were the community of the Carmelite nuns of Compiegne, in northeastern France not far from Paris – the fifty-third convent in France of the Carmelite sisters who followed the reform of  St. Teresa of Avila, founded in 1641, noted throughout its history for fidelity and fervour.   Their convent was raided in August 1790, all the property of the sisters was seized by the government and they were forced to discard their habits and leave their house.   They divided into four groups which found lodging in four different houses all near the same church in Compiegne and for several years they were to a large extent able to continue their religious life in secret.   But the intensified surveillance and searches of the “Great Terror” revealed their secret and in June 1794 most of them were arrested and imprisoned.

They had expected this; indeed, they had prayed for it.   At some time during the summer of 1792, very likely just after the events of August 10 of that year that marked the descent into the true deeps of the Revolution, their prioress, Madeleine Lidoine, whose name in religion was Teresa in honour of the founder of their order, by all accounts a charming  perceptive and highly intelligent woman, had foreseen much of what was to come.   At Easter of 1792, she told her community that, while looking through the archives she had found the account of a dream a Carmelite had in 1693.   In that dream, the Sister saw the whole Community, with the exception of 2 or 3 Sisters, in glory and called to follow the Lamb. In the mind of the Prioress, this mean martyrdom and might well be a prophetic announcement of their fate.

Mother Teresa had said to her sisters: “Having meditated much on this subject, I have thought of making an act of consecration by which the Community would offer itself as a sacrifice to appease the anger of God, so that the divine peace of His Dear Son would be brought into the world, returned to the Church and the state.”   The sisters discussed her proposal and all agreed to it but the two oldest, who were hesitant.   But when the news of the September massacres came, mingling glorious martyrdom with apostasy, these two sisters made their choice, joining their commitment to that of the rest of the community.   All made their offering; it was to be accepted.

After their lodgings were invaded again in June, their devotional objects shattered and their tabernacle trampled underfoot by a Revolutionary who told them that their place of worship should be transformed into a dog kennel, the Carmelite sisters were taken to the Conciergerie prison, where so many of the leading victims of the guillotine had been held during their last days on earth.   There they composed a canticle for their martyrdom, to be sung to the familiar tune of the Marseillaise.   The original still exists, written in pencil and given to one of their fellow prisoners, a lay woman who survived.

On July 17 the sixteen sisters were brought before Fouquier-Tinville.   All cases were now being disposed of within twenty-four hours as Robespierre had wished;  theirs was no exception.   They were charged with having received arms for the émigrés; their prioress, Sister Teresa, answered by holding up a crucifix. “Here are the only arms that we have ever had in our house.”   They were charged with possessing an altar-cloth with designs honouring the old monarchy (perhaps the fleur-de-lis) and were asked  to deny any attachment to the royal family.   Sister Teresa responded: “If that is a crime, we are all guilty of it; you can never tear out of our hearts the attachment for Louis XVI and his family. Your laws cannot prohibit feeling; they cannot extend their empire to the affections of the soul; God alone has the right to judge them.”   They were charged with corresponding with priests forced to leave the country because they would not take the constitutional oath; they freely admitted this.   Finally they were charged with the catch–all indictment by which any serious Catholic in France could be guillotined during the Terror: “fanaticism.”   Sister Henriette, who had been Gabrielle de Croissy, challenged Fouguier-Tinvile to his face:  “Citizen, it is your duty to respond to the request of one condemned;  I call upon you to answer us and to tell us just what you mean by the word ‘fanatic.”   “I mean,” snapped the Public Prosecutor of the Terror, “your attachment to your childish beliefs and your silly religious practices.”   “Let us rejoice, my dear Mother and Sisters, in the joy of the Lord,” said Sister Henriette, “that we shall die for our holy religion, our faith, our confidence in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.”

Give over our hearts to joy, the day of glory has arrived.
Far from us all weakness, seeing the standard come;
We prepare for the victory, we all march to the true conquest,
Under the flag of the dying God we run, we all seek the glory;
Rekindle our ardour, our bodies are the Lord’s,
We climb, we climb the scaffold and give ourselves back to the Victor.

O happiness ever desired for Catholics of France,
To follow the wondrous road
Already marked out so often by the martyrs toward their suffering,
After Jesus with the King, we show our faith to Christians,
We adore a God of justice; as the fervent priest, the constant faithful,
Seal, seal with all their blood faith in the dying God….

Holy Virgin, our model, August queen of martyrs, deign to strengthen our zeal
And purify our desires, protect France even yet, help; us mount to Heaven,
make us feel even in these places, the effects of your power. Sustain your children,
Submissive, obedient, dying, dying with Jesus and in our King believing.

While in prison, they asked and were granted permission to wash their clothes.   As they had only one set of lay clothes, they put on their religious habit and set to the task. Providentially, the revolutionaries picked that “wash day” for their transfer to Paris.   As their clothes were soaking wet, the Carmelites left for Paris wearing their “outlawed” religious habit.   They celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in prison, wondering whether they would die that day.

It was only the next day they went to the guillotine.   The journey in the carts took more than an hour.   All the way the Carmelite sisters sang: the “Miserere,” “Salve Regina,” and “Te Deum.”   Beholding them, a total silence fell on the raucous, brutal crowd, most of them cheapened and hardened by day after day of the spectacle of public slaughter.   At the foot of the towering killing machine, their eyes raised to Heaven, the sisters sang “Veni Creator Spiritus.”   One by one, they renewed their religious vows.   They pardoned their executioners.   One observer cried out: “Look at them and see if they do not have the air of angels!   By my faith, if these women did not all go straight to Paradise, then no one is there!

Sister Teresa, their prioress, requested and obtained permission to go last under the knife.   The youngest, Sister Constance, went first.   She climbed the steps of the guillotine With the air of a queen going to receive her crown,” singing Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, all peoples praise the Lord.”   She placed her head in the position for death without allowing the executioner to touch her.   Each sister followed her example, those remaining singing likewise with each, until only the prioress was left, holding in her hand a small figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   The killing of each martyr required about two minutes.   It was about eight o’clock in the evening, still bright at midsummer. During the whole time the profound silence of the crowd about the guillotine endured unbroken.

Two years before when the horror began, the Carmelite community at Compiegne had offered itself as a holocaust, that peace might be restored to France and the Church.   The return of full peace was still twenty-one years in the future.   But the Reign of Terror had only ten days left to run.   Years of war, oppression and persecution were yet to come but the mass official killing in the public squares of Paris was about to end.

The Cross had vanquished the guillotine.

These sixteen holy Carmelite nuns have all been beatified by our Holy Father, the Pope, (Pope St. Pius X, 27 May 1906) which is the last step before canonisation.    Blessed Carmelites of Compiegne, pray for us!

relic of the 16 martyrs of compiegne - pray for us!


One Minute Reflection – 17 July

One Minute Reflection – 17 July

Although you have not seen him, you love him;  even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls…..1 Peter 8-9

1 peter 8 9

REFLECTION – “Let us rejoice, my dear Mother and Sisters, in the joy of the Lord, that we shall die for our holy religion, our faith, our confidence in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.”……Sister Henrietta O.C.D. (one of the 16 Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne)

let us rejoice-sister henrietta

PRAYER – Holy God and Father, help us to not only love our Holy Faith but to follow Your Divine Son, happily and with complete trust to the Cross.   Blessed Martyrs of Compiegne, pray for us that we may be graced with your courage and conviction at every moment of our lives, that we may live and die for Christ our Lord, amen.

blessed martyrs of compiegne - pray for us