Remembering St. Edith Stein on her feast day

August 9th is the day that Catholics recall St. Edith Stein, or as she is more formally known under her Carmelite name, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.


The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre wrote a book about Stein’s early life, entitled, Edith Stein: A Philosophical Prologue, 1913-1922, in which on page 4 he remarked:

“Imprisoning philosophy within the professionalizations and specializations of an institutionalized curriculum, after the manner of our own contemporary European and North American culture, is arguably a good deal more effective in neutralizing its effects than either religious censorship or political terror.”

MacIntyre then went on to contrast Stein, who lived out her philosophy, with Martin Heidegger during the Nazi era. A sample of Prof. MacIntyre’s book is available at the link I’ve provided above. I highly recommend pages 4-7 on the Stein-Heidegger comparison if you don’t have time for a longer read.

Garry Wills, in his 2000 book, Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, raised a particularly bitter objection to Edith Stein’s canonization which I hope he reconsiders.

In 1933, Stein wrote Pope Pius XI–

As a child of the Jewish people who, by the grace of God, for the past eleven years has also been a child of the Catholic Church, I dare to speak to the Father of Christianity about that which oppresses millions of Germans. For weeks we have seen deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity, not to mention love of neighbor. For years the leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of the Jews. But the responsibility must fall, after all, on those who brought them to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in the face of such happenings.

Everything that happened and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself “Christian.” For weeks not only Jews but also thousands of faithful Catholics in Germany, and, I believe, all over the world, have been waiting and hoping for the Church of Christ to raise its voice to put a stop to this abuse of Christ’s name.

It is not known whether Pius XI read Stein’s letter, but he did issue an encyclical against Nazism, Mit Brennender Sorge, in 1937.

Stein’s book, Finite and Eternal Being, will be read for centuries beyond the writings of Prof. Wills.

© Copyright 2009, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


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4 Responses to “Remembering St. Edith Stein on her feast day”

  1. […] to St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) biographer and former novice mistress Renata Posselt (Sr. Teresia Renata de Spiritu Sancto), this […]

  2. […] from St. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta a Cruce): We are a spiritually impoverished generation; we search in all the places the Spirit ever flowed […]

  3. […] Husserl, in the early years of the Twentieth Century, shortly before another Husserl protege, St. Edith Stein. Von Hildebrand was a friend of the philosopher Max Scheler, who assisted von Hildebrand in his […]

  4. […] more background on this controversy, please see my 2009 post, and my second 2010 post on St. Edith Stein. For all of my posts on St. Edith Stein, please see the […]

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