S. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)| S. Romanus| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila (October 15) that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Göttingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protégé of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis.
After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-38), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Blessed John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta in 1987 and canonized her 12 years later.
The writings of Edith Stein fill 17 volumes, many of which have been translated into English. A woman of integrity, she followed the truth wherever it led her. After becoming a Catholic, Edith continued to honor her mother’s Jewish faith. Sister Josephine Koeppel, O.C.D. , translator of several of Edith’s books, sums up this saint with the phrase, “Learn to live at God’s hands.”
In his homily at the canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II said: “Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholics and Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers. Today we remember them all with deep respect. A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue: ‘Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed.’”
Addressing himself to the young people gathered for the canonization, the pope said: “Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide! The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in his good hands.”
Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Romanus, Martyr. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Romanus is mentioned in the “Liber Pontificalis” with three other ecclesiastics as companions in the martyrdom of St. Lawrence. There is no reason to doubt that this mention rests upon a genuine ancient tradition. Like St. Lawrence Romanus was buried in the Catacomb of the Cyriaca on the Via Tiburtina. The grave of St.Romanus is explicitly mentioned in the Itineraries of the seventh century. In the purely legendary Acts of St. Lawrence, the ostiary Romanus is transformed into a soldier, and an account in accordance with this statement was inserted in the historical martyrologies and in the present Roman Martyrology, which latter places his feast on 9 August.
Excerpted from The Catholic Encyclopedia
Saint Romanus was the son of heathen parents, and having reached the years of maturity, he became a soldier in the body guard of the Emperor Valerian. His conversion to Christianity took place through the following circumstances. When the holy Deacon and martyr, Saint Lawrence, was examined by the prefect about his faith and the treasures of the church, Romanus was present, with many other soldiers. The fearless answers of the Saint, the manner in which he opposed the worship of idols, the thorough proofs he cited while defending the Christian faith, gave Romanus the first gleams of Christianity and made him dissatisfied with his belief. When he afterwards saw Saint Lawrence put upon the rack and barbarously scourged with sharp pointed lashes, without manifesting the least pain, the thought took possession of him that the faith which gave such strength to bear the most terrible tortures, must be true. This thought was strengthened when he suddenly saw, beside Saint Lawrence, a youth, undoubtedly an angel, who wiped the perspiration from the brow and the blood from the wounds of the Saint, while at the same time he encouraged and consoled him. At the sight of this heavenly messenger, Romanus became thoroughly convinced that the religion which Saint Lawrence preached must be the true one, in which alone there was salvation, and he resolved to make use of the first opportunity to embrace it. God permitted that the tyrant Valerian should release Saint Lawrence from the rack and send him back to prison, hoping that he might, by still greater torments, be forced to sacrifice to the gods. Hippolytus, who was secretly a Christian, was detailed to guard him. Romanus, taking advantage of this opportunity, went to Saint Lawrence, cast himself at his feet, and informing him of the state of his mind and his resolution, begged to be baptized; he had brought water with him for the purpose. Although rejoiced at this conversion, Saint Lawrence asked him if he was aware of the risk he ran of losing his life by the most terrible torments, if he became a Christian, and if he believed he would have the fortitude not to forsake Christ when suffering martyrdom. Romanus assured him that he was ready to bear anything, and that no danger, nor the most painful death would change him. Saint Lawrence then instructed him, as well as he could in the short time left them, baptized him and exhorted him to be firm. Romanus promised to do so, and faithfully kept his word. It was impossible for him to hide the joy he felt in being ranked among the number of the Christians; his heart was full to overflowing, and he was constantly betraying himself and letting it be clearly seen that he had joined the faithful. The Emperor, on hearing of it, was greatly provoked, as he saw that, by torturing the Christians, he really increased their number instead of lessening them. When Romanus was brought before him, he intended to ask him how far the report of his conversion was true; but the young man, on entering the emperor’s presence, immediately cried out: “I am a Christian! I am a Christian!” This voluntary confession enraged the emperor still more, and he, at once, gave the order, first to scourge the valiant young man, and then behead him. The order was executed. Romanus praised God while he was scourged most cruelly, and cried aloud: “I am a Christian, I am a Christian, and I esteem myself the happiest man on earth, that I am deemed worthy to give my blood in honor of my Saviour, who died so painful a death for me.” After his entire body had been tom by the scourges, he, like a valiant soldier of Christ, ended his life by the sword, on the 9th of August, 258.
Saint Romanus praised the Almighty aloud while he was scourged. You have promised always to praise the Lord, in evil as well as in good days. That you may more easily do so, you must know that we can praise God in two different ways; by words and by deeds. God is praised by prayers, by calling upon Him, by sacred songs, by pious discourses. By deeds we praise God; when we perform good works in His honor; and practice patience and other virtues; when we obey Him and His Holy church, and avoid whatever is displeasing to His Majesty. We cannot at all times praise the Lord in the former of these two ways, because each of us has duties to perform which prevent it; but we can and should praise Him in the latter. The first alone would be insufficient; the second is necessary. “Not only by your words should you praise the Lord, but also by deeds,” says Saint Augustine. “Cease not to live piously, and you wilt always praise the Lord,” says the same great teacher. How have you hitherto praised the Lord? How will you praise Him henceforth?
“I am a Christian, and I esteem myself the happiest man on earth,” said Saint Romanus. To be a Christian is, in truth, a great happiness; in fact a much greater happiness than to be the mightiest monarch on earth, without the true faith; for he who is a true Christian, is a child of God, a brother of Jesus Christ, an heir to Heaven. “I am a Christian,” says Saint Bernard, “a brother of Christ.” If I am indeed what I am called, then I am joint heir with Christ, heir of God.” But can you say truthfully: “I am a Christian?” Others call you so, I know. But are you in reality what you are called? Does your conduct harmonize with the name of Christian? If your life is not that of a child of God, of a brother of Christ, do not say you are a Christian. A child of the Almighty, a brother of the Saviour should most highly appreciate the honor he enjoys beyond thousands of others, and he should never do anything contrary to the dignity of his high station. “Recognize, O man, your dignity;” says Saint Leo, u and as you have become a partaker of the Divine nature return not again, through your misconduct, to your original depravity. Recollect whose member you are, and do not forget that you have been turn away from the powers of darkness, and are placed in the kingdom of the Lord. Do not again submit to the will of Satan, as you have been redeemed by Christ’s precious blood.” Saint Thomas of Villanova says: “To be a Christian, is to be a soldier of Christ; a disciple, a follower of the Saviour.” A soldier must die; a disciple must listen with attention and pleasure to the instructions of his master, and must live in accordance with them. A follower of Christ must endeavor to imitate His virtues. Have you hitherto fulfilled this threefold obligation? Have you even as much as seriously thought about it? Let it henceforth be your aim; else renounce the name of Christian. You do not deserve it, nor does it benefit you, if you are not, in reality, a Christian. “It is of no benefit to us to bear the name of Christians, if we do not endeavor to acquire Christian virtues,” says Saint Cyril of Jerusalem; and Saint Augustine tells us: “Be a true Christian; for, to be one in name only, is of little avail.”
Sharing Your Faith:
Pray each day for God to lead you to someone with whom you can share your faith. Be aware of the dignity and needs of people who serve you. You'll brighten their workday, and you might open a door to some deeper sharing.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
I cast myself trustfully into the arms of Jesus. Then let whatever He has decreed take place and He must certainly come to my aid.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Three: 189-236
We continue now to the third notebook that Saint Faustina filled with messages of Mercy from our Lord. As you enter into this notebook, pause and reflect upon all that you have read so far. Has it changed your perspective on life? Has it changed you? If it has, then continue down that same path and trust that the Lord will continue to do great things in your life. If it has not, reflect upon why!
Sometimes we need more than the words we read. We also need true prayer, deep prayer and what we may call “soaking prayer.” Consider this as you read through the reflections flowing from this notebook and allow the words to not only enter your mind, but to also enter deeper. Read them prayerfully and carefully. Speak to our Lord as Saint Faustina did. Read some more of her actual diary in addition to these reflections and learn from her humble and childlike faith.
The Lord wants to do great things in your life! Open the door, through prayer and reflection, and let Him in!
Reflection 221: Glorying in Yourself
Sometimes, those who are quite “religious” speak of many “religious” things. They speak pious language and talk about holy things. But in the end, it may be that all they say and do is actually said and done as a way of glorifying themselves in the sight of others. This is the struggle of the Pharisees. Sadly, those who struggle with this, just like the Pharisees, may even be fooling themselves into thinking they are exceptionally close to God. But their pride has blinded them. The goal of our lives must be to humbly point to God and offer all glory to Him, not to ourselves. This can be very hard, but when done well, as an act of the utmost humility and truth, we realize that God actually does draw us into His glory and allows us to share in the honor that we owe to Him. Only in this way do we come to realize our true dignity as His sons and daughters. And in humbly pointing to God in all things, we are also lifted on high by God Himself (See Diary #1149).
Are you able to give all glory to God rather than trying to lift yourself up for others to see? Reflect upon this in all honesty and humility. The problem is that if you lift yourself on high, you will not be able to lift yourself very high and will actually find yourself in a more humiliated state than you could have imagined. Lift the Lord on high and point to Him as the source of all goodness and leave the elevation of your own life up to Him. He will raise you higher than you could ever do yourself.
Lord, I pray for the gift of humility. I pray that in my humility I will see the truth and proclaim only that truth. I especially pray that I will be able to see the truth that all good things come from You and are accomplished by You. All glory be to You my Lord! Jesus, I trust in You.