Starting in just a week, we’ll be hosting an ENDOW study of Humanae Vitae. It’s never too late to join. Visit here to sign up and buy your book. ENDOW has recently lowered their prices substantially. For only $20, you can learn why the church teaches what it does about birth control and marriage so you can better appreciate the awesome power which is WOMAN!
Anne Costa’s book, Embracing Edith Stein, was my traveling companion on my recent trip to MO. I wish I had spent more than a few hours with her. I fully intend to revisit her someday when I have several days to digest her teachings.
Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I love Edith Stein. I think that she is the mother of the New Feminism whose writings are largely untapped gold. Her teachings currently lives primarily though the voice of John Paul II. As Costa says herself:
Edith’s Essays on Women seem to be so directly foundational to the writings and works of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that the two are like inseparable companions. Together, these two intellectual and spiritual powerhouses have transformed our understanding of human dignity in the context of a worldwide culture that is hell-bent on self-destruction. They are, in the fullest sense of the words, prophets of life who have provided us with a body of knowledge that can lead to a rich and transcendent self-understanding that calls upon women to embrace our potential and exercise our responsibility to “aid humanity in not falling.” – pg. 81
Someday, I hope and pray that her teachings live and breathe through their own right.
This book is an admirable attempt to do just that. Costa makes Edith Stein’s work on the dignity of women digestible for a non-academic audience. She introduces you to Edith Stein’s life and thought. She then breaks down for you the four traits that are part of the feminine genius according to Edith Stein. Each chapter concludes with reflective questions which makes this book ideal for personal or group study.
But enough about the mechanics, Edith Stein, through Anne Costa’s book, points us to the way to become holier, more Christ-like women fulfilling our vocations in this fallen world. First in foremost, we need to be open to God and His will. If we are open to God, God will do all of the rest. We are to be like Mary:
Women are uniquely called to receive Christ and bring him into the world, as Mary did.- pg. 51
If you are like me, you may not initially like that example. Like the lyrics of the hymn, “Gentle woman, quiet light…” You think Mary and you think of the weak, meek woman who is a doormat, the stereotypical docile Marianismo (the female counterpart to machismo). But Mary wasn’t weak. Think about it: Mary could have been stoned to death for being pregnant out-of-wedlock. Mary followed her Son, who everyone thought was crazy, all the way to His death. She watched her Son die. This is not the story of a meek woman. Yes, she was humble in following her Lord, but she was nobody’s doormat.
Why do we need Edith Stein in today’s world? Just as Mary was a woman from 2000 years ago in Palestine, Stein was a woman 70 years ago in Nazi Germany. What does either of them have to say for women in the United States in 2014?
Simply put: We need her wisdom and example. The world is in desperate need of women who understand their inherent value and dignity; faith-filled women who are prepared to shape the world and influence the direction of humanity by who they are. As Edith states, “[God] has called women in all times to the most intimate union with Him: they are to be emissaries of his love, proclaimers of His will to kings and popes, and forerunners of His Kingdom in the hearts of men…[It] is the most sublime vocation which has been given, and whoever sees this way open before her will yearn for no other way.” -pg. 93
Yup, that pretty much covers it.
So, life has been busy lately. Where to begin?
In a little over two weeks, the Blessed Pope John Paul II will be canonized. Here at the JPII Center for Women, we are excited! One of John Paul II’s most important contributions to the Church and society at large is his Theology of the Body. His writings and speeches about the dignity of the human person have been instrumental in helping countless lay people to understand why the Church teaches what it does.
An important part of John Paul II Center for Women is our Gianna Health Care Centers. They are a place for women to get pro-life OBGYN care. We are still working on opening a center in Syracuse, NY. We have been in communication with groups who are seeking to open centers all over the country! It’s really exciting!
[Correction: The Gianna Center in Syracuse does not currently do OB care. For more information about the Syracuse location, visit the doctor’s site here. An official site for it will be made soon.]
Fertility is not a disease that needs to be regulated with pills and devices, it is a gift to be cherished and respected. I think men (yes, men) invented birth control and abortions just because they’re jealous.
Over 50 women gathered on Monday to hear Anne Costa talk about the genius who is Edith Stein. I got a copy of her book and I will write a review as soon as I’m done. Look in the menu above under Nerdy Stuff -> Books to find quotes from Edith Stein.
Speaking of books, I went on an interesting research tangent today. Thinking about birth control made me think about Margaret Sanger. Thinking about Margaret Sanger made me think about all of the horrible things I’ve heard about her and I wonder how pro-choice people defend her. I looked her up and what I found was interesting. Like all historical figures, she was neither the satan-incarnate that some pro-lifers think she is nor was she the saint some pro-choicers think she is. She was a card-carrying eugenicist, who condemned Hitler. (She was a proponent of “negative eugenics,” meaning basically sterilizing anyone she deemed unfit, not killing them outright.) She dedicated her whole life to promoting birth control, but condemned abortion. As much as we wish to, you cannot depict anyone with simple brush strokes.
Then, it dawns on me, that she was a contemporary of Dorothy Day and for a significant period of time, they lived in the same part of New York City. They were both socialists. They were both part of the Greenwich Village bohemian crowd. They were both trained as nurses. I wondered if they had ever crossed paths. Yes, they did! We have proof of at least two instances. Once when Sanger was released from prison, Day was the only journalist who was able to interview her when she got home. Later (and this was before Day became a Catholic) Day wrote to Sanger asking for a job. Now, it needs to be noted that Dorothy Day condemned Margaret Sanger directly in some of her writings later on in life.
It fascinates me how two people can come from so similar roots with such different results. Yes, Dorothy Day discovered Jesus Christ and that probably does explain a lot of it, but I still want to look at all of this deeper. Maybe even write a book. Would you read it?
I am a pro-life feminist. I have some personal reasons why. I’ve always been a feminist. I’ve always thought women and our reproductive powers were pretty stinking cool. I’ve always been pro-life. I’ve been anti-abortion since I’ve been old enough to have an opinion on the issue (Long before I became a Christian, by the way). For me, it’s always been a seamless garment. I’m against abortion, war, death penalty, euthanasia, and anything that discriminates against the disadvantaged. It’s only been in recent years that these two views of mine have come together and come alive in dedicated activism. Women don’t need to “earn” their equality off the blood of our children. We’re already freaking awesome, we just need our awesomeness to be recognized and respected.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
“Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning. Lifeless matter, the fact, can hold primary interest for her only insofar as it serves the living and personal, not ordinarily for its own sake.”
-Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions
“The deepest longing of a woman’s heart is to give herself lovingly, to belong to another, and to possess this other being completely…But this surrender becomes a perverted self-abandon and a form of slavery when it is given to another person and not to God; at the same time, it is an unjustified demand which no human being can fulfill. Only God can welcome a person’s total surrender in such a way that one does not lose one’s soul in the process but wins it.”
-Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions
“When we entrust all the troubles of our earthly existence confidently to the divine heart, we are relieved of them. Then our soul is free to participate in the divine life. Then we walk by the side of the Savior on the path that he traveled on this earth during His earthly existence and still travels in His mystical afterlife. Indeed, with the eyes of faith, we penetrate into the secret depths of His hidden life within the pale of the godhead. On the other hand, this participation in divine life has a liberating power in itself; it lessens the weight of our earthly concerns and grants us a bit of eternity even in this finitude, a reflection of beatitude, a transformation into light. But the invitation to this transformation in God’s hand is given to us by God Himself in the liturgy of the Church. Therefore, the life of an authentic Catholic woman is also a liturgical life. Whoever prays together with the Church in spirit and in truth knows that her whole life must be formed by this life of prayer.”
-Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions
“But also, given man’s fallen nature, this one-sided endeavor to achieve perfection easily becomes a decadent aspiration in itself; our desire for knowledge does not respect limits placed on it but rather seeks by force to go beyond these limits; human understanding may even fail to grasp that which is not essentially hidden from it because it refuses to submit itself to the law of things; rather, it seeks to master them in arbitrary fashion or permits the clarity of its spiritual vision to be clouded by desires and lusts. In the same way, the decay of man’s dominion is seen when we consider his relationship to the natural riches of the earth: instead of reverential joy in the created world, instead of a desire to preserve and develop it, man seeks to exploit it greedily to the point of destruction or to senseless acquisition without understanding how to profit from it or how to enjoy it. Related to this is the debasement of creative art through the violent distortion and caricature of natural images.”
– Edith Stein, The Separate Vocations of Man and Woman According to Nature and Grace
I think she covers just about everything in this quote. Pollution and exploitation of the earth. Ignoring ethics in medicine and science. Our desire to control everything and everyone. In that last sentence, I even think she’s alluding to pornography. This is one of my favorite Edith Stein quotes.
By the way: