Stripped of Everything Except Love

Jesus CrucifiedThere is Jesus upon the Cross, “stripped of everything except His love”, as our Foundress, Saint Magdalene of Canossa would say. The dipiction of Christ is what compelled me to take my vows, wanting to follow in the footsteps of the Crucified One. This past Sunday we celebrated much more than Superbowl; in the Church we commemorated Jesus being presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, and their meeting of old Simeon and the prophetess Anna, and the astonishing things they said about the child. The Church shares this day with all men and women who have taken vows of consecration: chastity, poverty and obedience. It led me to reflect on my own consecration and a prayer:

In my consecration I gave all to Mary and I stand before Jesus stripped bare. No merits to show. No clothing to make me attractive. Nothing by which to hide my flaws. All is revealed. This applies too to my daily life. All the graces I experience are from God. All successes in my ministry is from God. Any signs of love I demonstrate is from God. I have nothing. All belongs to God and I entrust it to Mary. All I hope for, I pray, is God’s grace and that I may love with a heart like Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

You willed that Mary
be at the Foot of the Cross
sharing in the Sacrifice of Your Son.
Grant us, through her intercession,
to bear within ourselves
the image of Christ
Crucified and Risen,
and to spend ourselves
with untiring Charity
for the good of our brothers and sisters. Amen.

(Said every morning before Lauds by Canossian Sisters around the world).

God Speaks to the Heart

On the feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), the first reading is taken from the book of the prophet Hosea (2,16.17b.21-22):

“Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will lead her into the desert and I will speak to her heart. She will respond to me as in the days of her youth, as when she came up out of the land of Egypt. I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.”

With love and benevolence, God unites himself to His people and thus, to each soul. He speaks intimately to each heart, in the silence of the “desert”, away from the worldly clamor.

Let St Teresa be an example for us today. She was a woman of keen intelligence, a fine career, but her heart was captured by Christ Crucified. It is only there she was satisfied – to give herself to a life of loving and studying the Greatest Love. There, in the desert of the Carmel – the cloister – did she find her greatest treasure: St Teresa Benedicta wrote:

“One can only gain a scientia crucis (knowledge of the cross) if one has thoroughly experienced the cross. I have been convinced of this from the first moment onwards and have said with all my heart: ‘Ave, Crux, Spes unica’ (I welcome you, Cross, our only hope).”

Edith Stein was arrested by the Gestapo on 2 August 1942, while she was in the chapel with the other sisters. On 7 August, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. It was probably on 9 August that Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cruce, her sister and many other of her people were gassed. Biography