Novena to St Edith Stein murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz – Day 1

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Door into Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Berlin

Saint Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, offered herself as a victim of expiation and died  in Auschwitz – Birkenau. This novena follows her last nine days of life as she prepares to die for her Jewish brothers and sisters and for all mankind. She gave her life during one of the darkest periods of human history – when genocide became industrialised. Ask St Edith to protect us at this time of instability.

Saint Edith pray for us at this dangerous time…

The novena was composed by Elias Friedman, O.C.D., founder of the Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC), who recommends it to all devotees of Saint Edith. The most suitable time to observe it would be from August 1 to August 9, in annual remembrance of the days spent by our saintly martyr in the death train, accompanied by her sister, Rosa, and many other Hebrew Catholics, on the way to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Novena – Day 1, Sat. Aug. 1, 1942

Novena to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Day 1 – Saturday, August 1st, 1942

Carmel of Echt, Holland

It was the last day of freedom for Saint Edith and her sister, Rosa. By then Saint Edith had reached a clear perception of the eschatological nature of the crisis affecting the Jews of Germany and the role she was called upon to play in the drama, as a victim of expiation for her people and for mankind.

As far back as March 26th, 1939, Edith had addressed a petition to her Prioress on a used postcard (for motives of monastic poverty) asking permission to offer herself to Jesus in expiation, that the sway of Antichrist be broken and peace ensue.

“I am asking this, today, because it is already the twelfth hour. I know I am nothing, but Jesus wills it and He will call many more to the same sacrifice in these days.”

The manuscript of her book, Science of the Cross, lay on her table; it would never be finished, because the next day, the Gestapo would come to drag her away from the convent. What we read therein is proof of the clarity and courage with which she grasped the call to expiation, key to her earthly destiny.

Around her, the atmosphere was growing heavy with fear and foreboding. A few days earlier (July 28th), her brother, Paul, his wife Eva and their daughter, were sent off to the Theresienstadt Camp. Hede Spiegel, her god-daughter, depressed and distraught, came to the grille of the convent, to pour out her anxieties for the future, anxieties which were shared by Saint Edith’s fellow-Nuns in the Carmel of Echt, where Edith had been sent by her superiors to take refuge from the persecution of the Jews raging in Germany. Edith, in contrast, maintained a rock-like composure and faith in God, which impressed all those in contact with her. The Church has since defined her virtue as heroic.

 

Gospel Reading

“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, Jesus leading the way; the disciples were filled with foreboding, while those following behind were afraid. He took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was to happen to him. ‘We are now going to Jerusalem,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man will be given up to the Chief Priests and the doctors of the Law. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the foreign power. He will be mocked and spat upon, flogged and killed.’” Mark 10: 32-34

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

(Any suitable prayer or request may be said here)

Saint Edith, Pray for Us!

 

 

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Knowing Christ

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 The Coronation of the Virgin with Adoring Saints c1370-1 attributed to Jacopo di Cione – National Gallery London

Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 16.17

The Church’s foundation is not only Christ but the knowledge of Christ. The tragedy today is that many of us in the Church lack such foundation. We do not know Him. To us He is a theoretical or doctrinal Christ, not a revealed Christ. But theory will not prevail against hell, which is what Jesus declares his church is to do. Have we perhaps forgotten what we are for? Visiting Western homes I have sometimes seen a beautiful porcelain plate, not to put to use on the table, but wired and hung up to the wall as a treasured ornament. Many, it seems to me, think of the Church like that, as something to be admired for the perfection of its form.  But no, God’s Church is for use, not decoration. An appearance of life may seem to suffice when conditions are favourable, but when the gates of hell come out against us, we know well enough, that what we each need above all is a God-given vision of His son. It is first-hand knowledge that counts in the hour of testing

Watchman Nee, A Table in the Wilderness, September 5th

 

The Coronation of the Virgin with Adoring Saints c1370-1 attributed to Jacob di Cione, National Gallery London

Part of the main tier of the high altarpiece of San Pier Maggiore in Florence. The altarpiece was probably designed by Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, a Florentine artist with whom Jacopo di Cione often collaborated.

Pray with Heart and Voice

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 Saint Gildard Convent Nevers, statue of St Bernadette praying

 

He said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. Mark7:21

The question is sometimes asked: Does the exercise of a ministry of prayer, so vital to the Christian, call for utterance, or is it enough if we bear our burdens silently before God? I believe the answer is that if God gives a burden of prayer, he does indeed want it to be uttered. He wants audible expression given to it, however few and disjointed the words we may use. No burden can be discharged without this expression. Even our Lord himself in Gethsemane “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying”. It seems to me that in spiritual things there is an amazing link between faith and utterance. God not only takes account of what we believe, he takes account of what we say. The Syrophoenician woman spoke only a sentence, but as a result of this she returned to her house to find the devil gone!

Watchman Nee – A Table in the Wilderness – September 2nd.

 

Praying in the Mind of God

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La Sagrada Familia Barcelona – from the Passion Wall

 

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 

A couple of nights ago there was the most terrible fire in a twenty-three storey tower block in London called Grenfell Tower. The fire was started by an electrical fault in someone’s fridge and should have been contained within a few flats but it was a hot night and windows were open so flames leapt onto cladding that had recently been installed on the outside of the block. The flames leapt up the side of the building as if a flame thrower was being used and, within 15 minutes, much of the building had been engulfed. The residents at the top of the tower block had no chance of escape because that sort of fire was not supposed to happen and there was no way to rescue them. The whole country is still in shock.

Donations started to flood in and community leaders asked for help during the next day. I don’t live in London but I live nearby and I was able to get to the community centre within an hour to help sort the donations of food and clothes. Everyone was still in shock but I knew that anger would soon follow. The residents in the block were mostly the poorest of the poor and questions were being asked how such a tragedy could occur in a first world country.

On my way home I stood in front of the incinerated block. The experience was nothing like seeing it on the news or in a newspaper.  It was an eerie tomb. The police were already saying that the severity of the fire was such that they may not even find remains for identification. The tower block had become a living crematorium. I was shaken to my core. On my way home I stopped in a catholic church near the railway station and went to see Jesus. I was angry and asked him over and over again – “Where were you? Where were you?” I have often asked for the gift to be able to pray ‘in the mind of God’ so that my prayers are always in His will but I couldn’t find Him at all that night.

The next morning it was announced that the cladding used in the refurbishment of the building was illegal in the US for buildings over about three or four stories because the cladding core was made from inflammable polyethylene. The block cost about 10 million pounds (just under 13 million dollars) to refurbish and it would have cost another 5000 pounds (about 6400 dollars) to buy the more fire resistant panels. I realised that I could have paid that from my savings and saved all those lives.

Suddenly I became very angry – so angry that I wanted to punch someone. I do not know anyone involved and I am not personally affected by the tragedy but my anger was overwhelming. Then I realised that this was God’s anger. He was telling me that He was not distant from what was happening but that His anger was as incandescent as had been the fire.

I went to Mass still looking for answers but I was overcome with sorrow. Weeping I left Mass having found no comfort. Then Jesus spoke to me – “You asked me where I was during that fire? I was there with each and every victim. I experienced the fear, the panic, the pain; I was with every little child calling for Superman to come and rescue his family and with every parent crading their child as the smoke got thicker and the flames got nearer. I experienced everything just as I experience the hunger of the famine victim and the panic and fear of the war refugee. I wasn’t just crucified once. You asked to pray in the mind of God? Well this is what it’s like – so be careful what you ask for.”

I’m not sure I find this message comforting because the emotion is still too raw but I have my explanation. This was not an act of God but an act of man at his most venal. God is angrier than all of us put together and Jesus is bearing the pain.

Deep Calls to Deep

 

 

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 La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, The Passion Wal

 

Deep calls to deep        Psalm 42:7

Only deep can answer deep. Nothing that is merely of the shallows can respond to the depths, and only what goes deep in us can meet the deep needs of others. If we want to help those who are passing through floods, we must have been through floods ourselves. Have we a history of God’s secret dealings, or does what men see represent all we have got? Many of us are shallow. We only seem to grow outwardly, with nothing in reserve. If we choose to live on the surface of things, we may be of some help to folk in need, but the happiness we bring them will pass. We shall not have been really able to meet them where they are. Paul had a secret he kept for fourteen long years, and what help has its eventual disclosure brought! When we have found God speaking to us in the depths, then it is we possess treasures of darkness to share with others in their hour of trial

Watchman Nee – A Table in the Wilderness, June 8th.

Defeat the Demons Within You

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 St Michael triumphs over the devil c 1468, Bartolomé Bermejo National Gallery London

 

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 

 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.  “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7: 14-23

Demons come from within. They are our thoughts and emotions – the thoughts and emotions of unclean spirits – and the nearer we get to God the more troubling they become. It is much easier to battle an outside enemy than see the enemy within.

The Desert Fathers, in their solitude, found that they encountered their own thoughts, feelings and emotions and they began to discern the good from the bad; the positive from the negative; those that lead us to God and those that block our path to God. The negative ones they called demons. They discovered that first we have to identify the demon to see what is working against us and they found eight primary demons of which we should be extra aware: gluttony; avarice; sloth; fornication, sadness, pride, anger, vainglory.

So, what is working in our lives to separate us from the presence of God? What is there that is not of the Holy Spirit in my life; that wants my good, my peace, my healing, my love. What is in my life that is hidering the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22

There are motions in our hearts that do not lead us to God. They start with a thought – shall I go to the fridge and open that tub of ice-cream? Shall I surf the internet and see if I can find that picture? Nobody is interested in me, they never phone. She is so stupid, she deserves what she gets. If he does that again I swear I’ll hit him….and so on.

So be aware and capture that negative thought…’we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’. 2Corinthinas 10:5

I know that in my case I have a critical spirit. I am an ultra-organised person and it drives me crazy when others are disorganised. I criticize and snipe and that causes discord.  Forgiveness is another difficulty for me – again coming from the same root – expecting too much from others and being disappointed and critical when I don’t get it. These two faults do not come from the Holy Spirit and they hinder His work in my life. They are my principle demons.

So –  first identify the demons that trouble you. Screen your thoughts and discern whether there are spirits within you that are negative, counter productive and blocking the work of the fruit of the spirit. We all have various negative scripts in our head – I’m not good enough; I’m not fit enough; I’m not clever enough; people don’t care about me – and so on. Name these negative thoughts and inspirations and then you have control.

Firstly work at the heart of the matter on the negative thoughts – capture them and reject them as soon as they trouble you. Remember that thoughts can come from without as well as within so do not panic if you find yourself troubled by really awful thoughts. They are an attack to try to stop your progress. Just reject these thoughts remembering that God is your shield. Then you can make a conscious decision to replace them with good and positive thoughts.

The way to do this is to ‘talk back’ to the negative spirit by using scripture passages that personally inspire you and touch your heart. They can be used as a weapon and protection. Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and it conquers bad spirits. Demons tell falsehoods and try to lead us astray but the Holy Spirit puts everything back in order and heals us.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28: 7

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 21:1

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 32:6

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Finally, find good rituals and routines that keep you close to God – prayer, reading scripture, eucharist and fellowship. Remember that the Holy Spirit is stronger and more powerful than any negative spirit and all things are possible with God.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 St Michael triumphs over the devil c 1468, Bartolomé Bermejo, National Gallery London The Archanger Michael is shown defeating the devil, a monstrous creature, part reptile, part bat. The kneeling donor is Antonio Juan, Lord of Tous. His prayerbook is open at two penitential psalms (51 and 130). This is the centrepanel of an altarpiece formerly in the parish church of Tous, near Valencia, Spain. One of the leading Spanish painters of the 15th century, Bermejo was active in Valencia and Barcelona. His mastery of the Netherlandish technique of oil painting suggests that he may have trained in the Netherlands.

Daily Examen

 

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Cologne Cathedral

This is an excellent examen from Laudate:

What do I want to thank God for and what gifts have I received?

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind what needs to be reviewed.

Look at places you’ve been; things you’ve done; people you’ve been with.

Look for moments of energy and light where you’ve received gifts of the spirit: love; joy; peace; patience; kindness; goodness; trust; gentleness; self-control.

When did you most fully co-operate with God and when did you feel most fully alive. Become aware of the times you were out of tune with God. When did you feel least alive? Just notice.

What do you want to ask forgiveness for?

When have you chosen distance over closeness to God? Perhaps when your own preoccupations have taken centre stage and crowded out others needs? Receive forgiveness and healing with confidence

What do you want to ask God for?

What do you need to strengthen the way you are being drawn by the Spirit?

Ask God to open your heart for whatever surprises may come; to open you eyes to see God in unexpected places; to open your ears to become tuned into God’s voice.