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Optional Memorial -St. Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr


Gospel Mt 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise ones replied, 'No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.' While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!' But he said in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.' Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."


St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is also known as Edith Stein. She was born in Germany to Jewish parents in 1891 and was the youngest of 11 children. Her father died when she was 2 years but her mother was a devoted Jew.

Edith left her Jewish faith during her adolescence and claimed to be agnostic. During her time in University, she was drawn to a group of Christian students who intrigued her for their spiritual practices and beliefs.

She studied philosophy and graduated from Gottingen University with honors. After she was aware of all the pain and suffering going on during WWI and learned to be a nurse's assistant. She served at an Austrian field hospital during the beginning of the war. She went back to school the following year and received her doctorate degree. Her doctorial thesis was highly praised. Her topic was the phenomenon of empathy.

Edith visited her Christian school friends and found the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and read it in one night. She is quoted saying after she finished the book, "This is the truth." Soon after she became Catholic. Her plan after baptism was to become a Carmelite nun, but her spiritual advisor advised her to wait. She did wait for 11 years.

Meanwhile, she taught in a Dominican school but had to stop teaching during the Nazi's rise to power in Germany. In 1934 she became a Carmelite nun and took the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She wrote, "One can only gain knowledge of the cross if one has thoroughly experienced the cross." She believed that her life's mission was "to intercede with God for everyone." She wrote a study of St. John of the Cross entitled, "The Science of the Cross" which she completed before the Nazis arrested her and her sister and members of her religious community.

"Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." St. Teresa Benedicta and her sister were gassed in Auschwitz in 1942.

During our PAPA Annual Retreat, we learned how important it is to embrace our Cross.

We learned a truth about our Crosses and how they are God's way of helping us to intercede for one another.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross pray for us!



PAPA Foundation
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