Skip to main content

Be Careful What You Pray For


I am weak and sinful. (Aren't we all? The key is recognizing this in ourselves and not just others.) I pray. I don't pray well, nor do I pray often enough. But I pray.

I have been praying for persecuted Christians everywhere. I see pictures in my head of the Syrian children clinging to life in tiny boats, and one small body washed up on the shore. I hear the screams of terror from the slain Sisters of Charity. I weep for those who've lost loved ones in the violence that pervades our own society. I pray for peace and understanding.

God always takes our prayers seriously. I know this, not only because of my own experience, but the experience of the many, many souls who have come before me. One of them is St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

She was born Edith Stein, a German Jew. She was exceptionally bright, going on to study the philosophical field of phenomenolgy. (Look it up. It's tough stuff.) As a woman and a Jew in the early 20th century, she could not find a teaching position at the university level.

She also was a convert to Catholicism. Her intellect guided her: she was seeking Truth and nothing but. She also longed to join the Carmelite order, but her conversion was very difficult on her mother, a devout Jew. Edith's spiritual director told her to delay her entrance into the monastery for the sake of her mother.

As Edith's spiritual life was deepening, her nation was collapsing. Hitler became the leader of a Germany that was coming undone. She taught for awhile at a girls' school, and then eventually entered her beloved Carmel.
In 1930, Stein wrote of her foreboding sense of divine mission. “After every encounter in which I am made aware how powerless we are to exercise direct influence, I have a deeper sense of the urgency of my own Holocaustum.”
 Stein’s use of the word Holocaustum in 1930 was radical. What did she imagine was the urgency of her “own Holocaustum”? She literally saw herself as offering her life as a sacrifice, but a sacrifice to what, and why? Was she a mystic who saw the end of German Jews? Stein first wrote about the meaning of her future death in her last will and testament, composed on June 9, 1939: I pray to the Lord that he may accept my living and dying ... as an atonement for the Jewish people’s unbelief and so that the Lord may be accepted by his own and that his reign may come in glory, that Germany may be saved and that there be peace in the world.
 As I said, be careful what you pray for. Stein was wholly aware that she would die at the hands of the Nazis, but wanted to offer herself up as atonement.

I won't get into all the theology of this idea of atonement, especially in Jewish thought. However, die she did, along with her sister, in Auschwitz.

Back to my prayers for persecuted Christians. I am no saint, although I aspire to sainthood. God has gifted me with some suffering to bring a bit more "bang to my buck" when it comes to these prayers. I have cysts on my spine that are causing me a great deal of pain. I have been referred to a state university neurosurgery center for treatment of these rare cysts, known as Tarlov cysts.

I consider Edith Stein to be a close friend, a sister in Christ. I beg her intercession for my health, but I also follow her lead in offering up suffering for those around me. Be careful what you pray for.

Comments

  1. Would you like to take a look at my web site?
    http://todaysmartyrs.org/
    Bless you, and yes, let's be careful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Tom! Lovely website, and good resource.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

I love comments, even if you don't agree, but please don't leave anonymous posts. A well-mannered reader leaves a name!

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

So close to Jesus

This past Sunday, at Mass, Dear Husband and I had the great good fortune of having a dad, toddler and infant sit next to us in the front pew.

"Good fortune?" you say. Sounds horrible. Kids are so distracting. Put 'em in the nursery.

Nope. We sit up in the front pew, and always invite parents with young kids to come and sit with us. Having raised 5 hyper kids, we can pretty much ignore anything, plus kids do much better when they can see what's going on.

I have to admit, I wanted the toddler to act up a bit so I could whisper to the dad, "I'll watch the baby if you have to take him out."

Instead, we saw something rather remarkable.

Oh, the toddler (not quite 2) was a toddler. He was a bit anty. He wasn't quite sure that he liked seeing his mommy in front, cantoring, where he couldn't get to her. He whined and fussed a bit.

But during the Consecration, his enormous blue eyes locked onto the priest. That baby boy saw Jesus up there. You could just…

Fading Into Friday

It's been a long week. Monday was just ... bad. I ticked off our IT guy at work by opening up one of those d*%$ emails that as soon as you click on it, you think, "Oops." So I trotted over to his office, and he promptly yelled at me. Like I was a child. Or stupid. Or a stupid child.

This was after I found out that every imaginable driving route from my home to office and back home again is under construction. Can't get there from her. Orange barrels. Must as well sleep in the office.
This, combined with the fact that I am now the ONLY person on the planet who stills checks their blind spot before changing lanes, makes me want to quit my job and go live in a yurt.

Our health insurance company sent us these gloom and doom letters that Dear Hubby and I HAD to go online and fill out a health assessment NOW or OUR INSURANCE WOULD BE CANCELLED!!! They were SERIOUS! So, I went online Wednesday. Their system was down for maintenance.

Tried again yesterday. I swear I could n…