09 August, 2019. Saint Teresa Benedicta

1st Reading: Hosea 2:16-17; 21-22

God’s love for the people is like a husband’s love for a wife

On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.”
For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. On that day I will answer, says the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth;
and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel.”

Responsorial: Psalm 51

R.: Create a clean heart in me, O God

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. (R./)
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you. (R./)
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

On being ready for Christ’s return: the wise and foolish bridesmaids

Jesus said to his disciples
“The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. ‘ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves. ‘ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us. ‘ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do no know you. ‘ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.


Saint Teresa Benedicta Stein, virgin and martyr

She grew up as Edith Stein in her observant Jewish family in Wrocław/Breslau (then in Lower Silesia under Prussian rule but since 1945 part of Poland.) The young Edith became an atheist in her teenage years. After studying philosophy and holding a teaching position at the University of Freiburg she became a Catholic and later a Discalced Carmelite nun, taking the new name Sister Teresa Benedicta. In 1938, she and her sister Rosa, also a convert and an religious sister, were sent for their safety to a Carmelite monastery in Echt, the Netherlands. They were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber one week later. (1891-1942)
Sharing the destiny of God’s suffering people
In his homily at the canonization of Teresa Benedicta (Oct, 1998) the pope stressed her understanding of how the love of Christ and human freedom are intertwined, because love and truth have an intrinsic relationship. “The quest for truth and its expression in love did not seem at odds to her; on the contrary she realized that they call for one another. In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority. St Teresa Benedicta says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love that lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie. This saint teaches us that love for Christ undergoes suffering. Whoever truly loves does not stop at the prospect of suffering, but shares in suffering with the one he loves.
Loyal to her Jewish origins, Edith Stein identified with the pain of her people: “Beneath the Cross I understood the destiny of God’s People,. Indeed, today I know far better what it means to be the Lord’s bride under the sign of the Cross. But since it is a mystery, it can never be understood by reason alone”. The mystery enveloped her whole life, spurring her to the point of the supreme sacrifice. As a bride on the Cross, she not only wrote profound pages about understanding the Cross, but was thoroughly trained in the school of the Cross. Many of our contemporaries would like to silence the Cross. But nothing is more eloquent than the Cross when silenced! The true message of suffering is a lesson of love. Love makes suffering fruitful and suffering deepens love.”
Through the experience of the Cross, Teresa Benedicta found the way to a new encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith and the Cross were inseparable to her. Having matured in the school of the Cross, she found the roots to which the tree of her own life was attached. She understood that it was very important for her “to be a daughter of the chosen people and to belong to Christ not only spiritually, but also through blood”.
The Lord said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. What he gave his attentive listener we also find in the life of Edith Stein, in her ascent of Mount Carmel. The depth of the divine mystery was revealed to her in the silence of contemplation. Gradually, throughout her life, as she grew in the knowledge of God, worshiping him in spirit and truth, she experienced her specific vocation to ascend the Cross with Christ, to embrace it with serenity and trust, to love it by following in the footsteps of her beloved Spouse. May she be an example to us in our commitment to freedom, in our search for the truth.


Saint Nathy, bishop

Saint Nathy was a 6th century Irish saint, born in the barony of Leyney, in present-day Co. Sligo. He is said to have studied under St Finnián of Clonard, under whose guidance he founded a monastery in Achad Conaire (Achonry) in the district of the Luigne. The foundation gave its name to what in the 12th century would become the diocese of Achonry.

Saint Felim, bishop

Felim (or Feidhlimidh), born in County Meath in the mid sixth century, was an Irish Christian hermit and priest. His hermitage was near Kilmore, Co. Cavan, where he later founded a monastery in the townland of Domnach Mor (Big Church). He is patron saint of the Kilmore diocese.

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