FRIDAY OF THE EIGHTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME AUGUST 9, 2019--Memorial Saint Teresa Benedicta of th
A reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 16:24-28
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.
REFLECTION: ”For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Edith Stein was a German Jewish philosopher who converted to Roman Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. Her religious name was Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
In 1919 her Catholic friends greatly influenced her to read Catholic literature. The autobiography of Saint Theresa of Avila inspired her to embrace the Catholic faith.
In a journal dated June 6, 1939, she prayed for salvation and peace; “I beg the Lord to take my life and my death…for all concerns of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary and the Holy Church, especially for the preservation of our Holy Order, in particular, the Carmelite monasteries of Cologne and Echt, as atonement for the unbelief of the Jewish people. And that the Lord will be received by His own people, and His kingdom shall come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world, at last for my loved ones, living and dead, and for all God gave to me: that none of them shall go astray.”
She transferred to the Netherlands to avoid the Nazi persecution but when the government opposed the Nazi government, in retaliation Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and her sister Rosa, a Carmelite tertiary, were arrested.
She and her sister were exterminated in the gas chambers at Auschwitz seven days after their arrest for being Jewish converts.
Many of us read this gospel passage and then read St Teresa Benedicta's life and wonder if we would ever be so willing to lose our lives in such a horrific way. She offered her life in reparation and atonement of sins.
Do we have to love God in such earth shattering ways? We can approach God in small steps always knowing that God is all knowing and wants only what is best for us. We can "pray for God to enter our hearts as we would pray to have us give ourselves to Him." (St Alphonsus Liguori).
For now we can begin in small ways--offering our sacrifices to God. We can get up the minute the alarm goes off so as to get more praying time in, clean up, drink only one cup of coffee, say another rosary, go to Adoration, clean up after your spouse without complaining, say no to gossip, feed the poor, visit the sick, make contact with friends we have not seen, connect with a smile to strangers, communicate with non catholics the love Jesus has for them, become part of someone's life and share lunch and listen to their stories, and then create beautiful memories. All offered up to God for His beloved children here on earth as well as in atonement for sins.
Maybe perhaps God has bigger and more earth shattering plans for us, but for now, pending the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, we do what we can do to create a beautiful community of lovers of God.