Thursday, August 09, 2018

Teresa Benedicta a Cruce

Today is the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta a Cruce, also known as Edith Stein. Born into a Jewish family, she became an atheist as a teenager, and went on to study philosophy with Edmund Husserl. She was one of the more important students associated with him, helping him to put his notes in order for publication. She was unable to continue a career in academic philosophy, however; there were not that many opportunities for women, and the rise of the Nazis would soon put an end to what few there were. Reading the works of St. Teresa of Avila, she converted to Catholicism, and, with her sister Rosa, joined the same order as St. Teresa, the Discalced Carmelites. As the Nazi menace expanded, the order moved the sisters to the Netherlands in the hope of getting them out of the reach of the anti-semitic government. The Netherlands were invaded, but it was not until 1942 that the Nazis, angered by a statement by the Dutch bishops condemning Nazism, began a massive crackdown on Jewish converts to Catholicism. The two sisters were caught and shipped to Auschwitz on August 7. There are no records of what happened then, but it is generally thought that they were gassed in the gas chamber, with a great many others, on August 9. She was beatified in 1987 and canonized in 1998, both by Pope St. John Paul II.

From Potency and Act, her phenomenological study of the concepts of Thomistic philosophy:

I am conscious of myself in my actual being, and I am conscious of this being. My being is momentary, but it cannot be as purely momentary. Actual being emerges from a potential being and passes into a potential being, but all potentiality is phenomenally upheld [halten] by actuality and it cannot uphold [Halt geben] actuality. What upholds me in my temporally discrete existence between being and nonbeing? When I have pressed ahead into the transcendent sphere, I may conceive of the substance evinced in my flowing actual being as the bearer of this being.

...Can anything uphold [Halt geben] my frail [hinfällig] being, which touches upon genuine existence [Existenz] only from one instant to another, save true being wherein nothing of nonbeing is found and which stands changeless by itself alone, unable to have, nor needing, any other upholding [Halt]? And does not the very frailty of my own being lend certainty--not only to the idea but to the reality [Realität] of this pure, true, "absolute [absolut]" being?

[Edith Stein, Potency and Act, Redmond, tr., ICS Publications (Washington, DC: 2009) pp. 20-21.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.