St. Edith Stein

My reflections will be shared through a series of short quotes from St. Edith Stein, through which I’ll present her life and witness to the Gospel. 

I consciously decided, of my own volition, to give up praying.” 

st edith stein
  • Born in 1891 
  • Raised in a Jewish family 
  • Gave up her faith willingly 

My reflection: Her own assessment of her loss of faith reflects the extent to which our own decision-making impacts our faith. Our faith is not simply a feelings-based experience. It involves concrete history through the Incarnation and Christ’s Church, decisions that we make, and an on-going assent to God’s will. 

Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all.” 


Conversion Story: Two Key Turning Points 

  1. Experience at the Frankfurt Cathedral 

“During this period she went to Frankfurt Cathedral and saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer. “This was something totally new to me. In the synagogues and Protestant churches I had visited people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation.” 

2. Reading St. Teresa of Avila 

One evening Edith picked up an autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and read this book all night. “When I had finished the book, I said to myself: This is the truth.” Later, looking back on her life, she wrote: “My longing for truth was a single prayer.” 

  • Baptized in January 1922 

My reflection: St. Edith Stein remained open to the workings of God, and when she heard God calling her, she responded. God spoke through the simple moments in her life. So, too, will God speak in our lives in the seemingly insignificant and passing encounters. 

If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.” 

  • Sought to join a Carmelite Convent 

o Initially denied
o Combined scholarship and faith in her life at the university 
o Later forced out of scholarship by the Nazis
o Allowed to join a Carmelite Convent 

  • Rounded up by the Nazis in 1942 and killed several days later 

My reflection: She used her life’s work and witness to shine a light on Christ, not herself. This is the attitude of a saint. Any light that seems to shine from us is but a reflection, a mirroring, of the light that Christ produces. 

St. Edith Stein, pray for us! 

Our guest podcaster today is John Brahier. John teaches high school math and theology and enjoys engaging students in dialogue about their faith to introduce them to the richness of the Catholic Church. He is married to Annie and has a one-year-old son named Stephen. John created his own Apple podcast, “The Lamb and the Scroll,” for parents of his students so that they could follow along with what they’re learning in class. They are short and power-packed with inspiration as well – so go give those a listen. 

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