Embracing Edith Stein: Wisdom for Women from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross by Anne Costa


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Do you ever sense the Holy Spirit introducing you to people so they can help you on your journey? I often do. And thanks to the Holy Spirit I’ve met many great saints and writers – Julian of Norwich, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Catherine of Siena, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, St. Maximillian Kolbe – I could go on. A few years ago, I kept coming across Edith Stein. Her story fascinated me, a convert from Judaism who became a Carmelite nun and was killed in Auschwitz. I knew about the facts of her life but had not looked into her writings. Enter Anne Costa.

Anne wrote a book that introduces us to the writings, no the wisdom, of a great woman. Much of Edith Stein’s “thinking and writing focused on the formation and true vocation of women and it is still relevant and valuable for us today” (pg. xvii).  I wholeheartedly agree.

We learn the story of Edith’s life, how her work helped the author in her own faith journey and read some of Edith Stein’s writing. Anne weaves in biographical and historical information that provides the backdrop to the formation of St. Teresa Benedicta. Anne provides questions for reflection at the end of each chapter and they are particularly insightful if you take the time to answer them. After reading the book I knew more about both women and left me with a desire to learn more about the work of this great saint.

Like many women today, I often feel overwhelmed by the “to do” list. This is not a new phenomenon. Edith was admired for by her ability to work, pray, and serve others. How did she do it? “I don’t use any extraordinary means to extend my working time; I just do whatever I can. Apparently, what I can do increases in proportion to the number of things that have to be done. When nothing urgent is called for, my energy gives out much faster. Heaven evidently has a sense of economy…It all depends on having a little quiet corner where you can talk to with God on a daily basis as if nothing else existed…and regarding yourself completely as an instrument, so that you treat your most frequently demanded talents, not as something that you use, but as God working through you”(pg. 13). If I read no further in the book and mediated on that passage every morning, I’d gain much truth about how to live my life!

I highly recommend this book.  If you are looking a something to read on your own or with a group, this book would be a great choice. If you read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

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Deanna Bartalini

Deanna Bartalini

Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, and educator. She serves on the retreat team at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center. Deanna loves teaching about Catholicism and how it fits into our daily lives. She writes at DeannaBartalini.com, serves as the editor of the NewEvangelizers.com blog, and is a contributor there as well as at AmazingCatechists.com. Deanna contributed to A Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion published by Ave Maris Press. She is the author of “Invite the Holy Spirit into Your Life: Growing in Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control” published by Our Sunday Visitor. Deanna is available to lead retreats and speak at catechist and ministry events.

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