Novena to Saint Edith Stein Murdered by the Nazis August 1942 Day 2

 

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Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, prisoners had wrists ties behind their backs and were hung on these spikes sometimes for days.

 

 

Novena – Day 2, Sun. Aug. 2, 1942

Day 2 – Sunday, August 2nd, 1942

Carmel of Echt, Holland

What happened that day in the Carmel of Echt, is now known the world over; but the circumstances need to be recalled.

The Catholic Bishops of Holland had issued a joint protest against the deportation of Dutch Jews by the Nazis, which they instructed was to be read out at every Mass in all churches on Sunday, July 26th. Prior to that, the Bishops had procured an exemption from deportation for Catholics of Jewish origin, from the Nazi authorities, who accorded the privilege on condition that the persons concerned had belonged to a Christian organization before January 1941.

The pastoral letter of the Bishops created apprehension about the possibility of a Nazi reaction; it was soon forthcoming. On August 2nd, Christians of Jewish origin of every religious community in the country were arrested and carried off by the Gestapo. The General-Commissar Schmidt announced publicly, that he was taking reprisals for the pastoral letter of the 26th July. He specified, saying:

“We are compelled to regard the Catholic Jews as our worst enemies and consequently see to their deportation to the East with all possible speed.”

The savage reaction of the Nazis to the pastoral letter of the Dutch Bishops is what motivated His Holiness, Pius XII, to withhold and destroy his own protest which he had already composed. If such be the reaction to the protest of the Dutch Bishops, he argued, what might not be the reaction to a protest of the Pope. On his orders, the monasteries and convents throughout Italy had taken in Jewish refugees fleeing the persecution of the Germans. The Vatican itself was fill to overflowing with Jews who had come to its doors seeking refuge.

In execution of the decision of General-Commissar Schmidt, two S.S. men turned up at the Carmel of Echt to carry off our Saint Edith and her sister, Rosa, in a police-van.

The deportation of our Martyr and her sister was an act, undertaken in hatred of the faith, as a reprisal for the condemnation of the Nazi persecution of the Jews by the Catholic Hierarchy of Holland; that our Martyr was of Jewish origin, would not in itself, have furnished a sufficient cause for her deportation and death.

 

Gospel Reading

“Turning to the Chief Priests, the officers of the temple police and the elders who had come to seize him, he said: ‘Do you take me for a bandit that you have come out with swords and cudgels to arrest me? Day after day, when I was in the temple with you, you kept your hands off me. But this is your moment – the hour when darkness reigns!’ Then they arrested him and led him away.” Luke 22: 52-53

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
(Any suitable prayer may be said here)
Saint Edith, Pray For Us!

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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!

 

 

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.

The Jumping-off Place

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 The Friars Maidstone from The Stations of the Cross

 

The Lord himself has told us in what the perfection of charity consists: ‘Greater love has no man, than to give his life for his friends’. But how can one attain to that level of love?

Well, now we know where its perfection lies, let us see where it begins. St John says if a man is rich, and sees his brother in need and hardens his heart, the love of God is not in him. That is where charity begins. If you can’t as yet lay down your life for your brother, at least give him some of your goods – not to show off but from overflowing mercy.

He, your brother, was redeemed as you were by the blood of Christ: he is hungry, in need, perhaps pressed by a creditor and you have plenty of this world’s goods. You say ‘That’s no affair of mine. Am I expected to rescue him from distress with my money?’

If that is your attitude, your heart is empty of God’s love, you are not a child of God.

Your glory in being a Christian – yes, that is what you are called but not what your deeds answer to. If you don’t live like a Christian, what is the point of being called one?

The Heart at Rest – Daily Readings with Saint Augustine – edited by Dame Maura See OSB

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.

Jesus as King and Warrior

 

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 Ugolino di Nerio Panel from the Santa Croce Altarpiece c1324-5 National Gallery London

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  Revelation 1: 14-16

In the book of Revelation God shows us an aspect of His Son not shown to us in the gospels. In the gospels we see Him as Saviour, in Revelation we see Him as King. The one displays His love, the other His majesty. In the upper room Jesus girds Himself about His waist for service: at Patmos He is discovered girt about the breasts for war.  In the gospels His mild eyes melt Peter; in Revelation they are as a flame of fire. There His voice is gentle, calling His own sheep by name, and gracious words proceed out of His mouth; here His voice is terrible as the sound of many waters, and from His mouth a sharp two-edged sword strikes death to His foes. It is not enough that we know Jesus as Lamb of God and Saviour of the world; we must also know Him as God’s King, God’s Judge. When we see Him as Saviour we exclaim “How lovable!” and lean on his bosom. When we see Him as Monarch we cry “How terrible!” and fall prostrate at His feet.

Watchman Nee, A Table in the Wilderness, June 9th

Jesus pours out His love on us but He also fights our corner.

 

Ugolino di Nerio, Panel from the Santa Croce Altarpiece, c1324-5, National Gallery London

This panel comes from an altarpiece painted for the high altar of the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence. The altarpiece was dismantled in the 16th century but its original appearance was recorded in an 18th century drawing. Many of the panels are now lost.