Sunday, August 29, 2010

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
1891-1942 Nun, Discalced Carmelite, Martyr
Memorial:  August 9

There are many Catholic saints who were converts and many who died in the concentration camps of World War II.  One of the most "famous" is St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.  Well known? you say.  Never heard of her?  Of course not, because, for some reason in her case, people keep using her non-Christian name--Edith Stein.  Even Catholic publishers keep publishing the "Works of St. Edith Stein" or simply have the by line "Edith Stein."  Out of respect for this wonderful, intelligent saint, why do we not use her Christian name?  It has really been puzzling me for quite some time now.  Let me make this point clear, the lady's name is Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

She was "A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila (October 15) that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross."  (You can read the rest here.)  She changed her name out of respect for St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (of and for whom she wrote "The Science of the Cross", one of her many great works.)  You can read more about her here

I know there was some controversy about her Jewish heritage when the Church contemplated the process for sainthood.  But really, why should her Jewish heritage be a problem any more than say, St. Martin de Porres, or even St. Augustine?  She became a Christian, a discalced carmelite (the order founded by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross), and then a martyr.  Was it her Jewish heritage or her Christianity that made her a target for the Nazis?  The simple answer is both.  The good sisters and brothers of the Church had been hiding Jews in their abbeys and monasterys so, Nazis were targeting Jews while searching abbeys in Northern and Central Europe.  St. Teresa was eventually found and sent ultimately to Auschwitz, where another well-know Catholic saint lost his life--St. Maximilian Kolbe.  He was imprisoned because he was a Catholic priest, not a Jewish convert, and died a very painful, lingering death in someone else's place.

The Vatican web site's biography on St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross can be read here.  She was a fascinating woman.  And, though I am not of Jewish heritage, I can identify with her spiritual journey to the Church founded by our Lord, Savior, and Messiah that was so foreign to my upbringing.  The Church was a mystery to me growing up but a wonderful discovery and a blossoming joy to me now.  If a woman so intelligent can find her way to His Church, we all can. 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross......pray for us.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Saint for Oklahoma

Portrait of Father Rother
Wow! We heard a great talk from our deacon Sunday about the "cause" for Fr. Rother. It was quite interesting to hear about the more than a decade he has been involved in the cause. The last three years were the most critical, as the historical research, witness interviews, and paperwork were all put together for Fr. Rother's cause. Just about two weeks ago, the crate holding the two copies of the over 7,000 page document was sealed up. Our deacon told us about how he had to make sure the boxes had to be wrapped in brown paper, and tied with a red ribbon. He had to insure that the wax seal on the ribbon made it to Rome, intact. He had to make sure the crate containing the wrapped boxes went out and spent the minimum time in a warehouse in the three digit July weather here in Oklahoma. He did that, but found out that when it did reach Rome, via FedEx, it got stuck in customs for a week. It is now at the Vatican. It may not be opened for a year or more. So, we just keep praying.

Image of Fr. Rother, Okarche, Ok
The "cause" for Fr. Rother is there and now all we can do is wait. However, most of us know that he is already there. He was, after all, a martyr for Christ. Many saints are already in Heaven whether the Church has made a declaration or not. But the declaration does point out the special, heroic virtue of the few that people here loved, admired, and looked up to as examples of Christ's love for us. Father Rother is one of those. God Bless you Servant of God Father Rother.

You can read the Sooner Catholic article about the official beginning of his "cause" on Oct. 5, 2007, and information on Fr. Rother and his cause at the Oklahoma Archdiocese website.
Fr. Rother display for CWV Memorial Post 168, Del City, Ok

Friday, August 6, 2010

Five Favorite Devotions

Well, the Mom tagged me for a "meme".  Believe it or not I have no idea what a meme is, but I'll have a go. 

Our Lady of Sorrow, Pray for us.
My five favorites devotions:

1.  The Divine Mercy Chaplet
2.  The Holy Rosary
3.  Chaplet of the Way of the Cross
4.  Stations of the Cross
5.  Novena to St. Walburga

Thanks for thinking of me, the Mom.  I have no idea who to tag.  I don't know that many people in the blogging world.  Let's see, I could tag CathApol, Smaller Manhattans, Catholic Fire, Ask Sister Mary Martha, and wdtprs.  The first two guys read my blog on occasion.  The other three don't even know I exist, but I'm a big fan and I'd love for anyone reading my blog to go check theirs out.

God bless.  Happy praying.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Religious Education

This year I embark on a new adventure in religious education--what used to be called CCD (for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine).  I suspect the name was dropped because (1) no one really knew what it meant, and (2) they weren't really teaching doctrine in the 70s, 80s, 90s...  Whenever I say I teach CCD, just about everyone gives me a funny look.  The in vogue term is now R.E.  Anyway,  I've been teaching 1st grade R.E. for three years now, and now I'm diving into the deep end of second grade and the sacraments. 

I am now busy formulating a plan to eject the wishy-washy, cum by ya curriculum we are currently using for a more concrete catechises.  I won't mention the name of the program we are using now because it is perfectly adequate for the use in school when supplemented with other materials.  However, I only have an hour a week with the kids that mostly go to public school.  I am using a different curriculum with a more concrete basis.  It may be difficult because I'm also trying to make sure I hit all the points on the Archdiocese's RE requirements.  Such things as 'social justice' and 'being peacemakers' and 'community' may be difficult to fit into my intended goal of actually teaching these kids the Biblical background to Christ's coming, dying, and resurrection; the sacraments and how they relate to what they learned about the bible; and what the Eucharist is and how it is the same sacrifice of Christ.  I would like them to actually learn Catholic doctrine at their level.  I don't want the kids in my class to someday say, "I don't know what the point of Mrs. D's class was, I didn't learn anything about my Faith."

Now my problem is that I have too much material.  I have a great catechetical curriculum for second grade but I must fit it in with the souvenir sacramental books the parish uses every year.  I need to wheedle down the terrific reinforcement activities, stories, and DVDs I now have and make it easy going and hopefully easy to remember the important matters.  I now have cds with Catholic prayers set to music for young kids (original music not set the ABC song or anything like that), which I plan to use to help them learn their prayers.  Music is a wonderful tool with kids, especially if they are not getting the reinforcement or the practice they need at home.  I have visual aids for more visual learners.  I have orthodox story books to relate the sacraments, the ten commandments, and penance to their everyday life.  I have lots of puzzles and activities lined up.  Now, I need to narrow things down and make up my lesson plans.   It is a daunting task at this time, since I am also a week and a half away from starting school for my five kids.  However, those lesson plans are already set up for me.  I just adapt them to our real life and off we go.

For anyone else out there starting on this adventure too, I pray for you.  Please pray for me. 

Litany for our little school and our family:
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.
St. Nicholas, pray for us.
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.
St. Walburga, pray for us.
St. Florian, pray for us.
St. Brendan, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Patrick, pray for us.
St. Clare, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. Francis, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
Fr. Rother, pray for us.

Monday, August 2, 2010

'Nother Movie Review

Well, we went to see Toy Story 3 last Friday.  We were almost late.  I had a couple of coupons for free popcorn/coke combos, and off we went.  It was a fun movie.  There is a scene in which the toys are in danger of being ground up and then burned up in a recycling plant.  It was a little intense for my 5 year old.  However, the rest of the movie kept his attention which indicates the entertainment level of the movie.  He didn't sit still for our last outing (see previous review).  The story started out a little slow.  Why the other toys still don't trust Woody's word, I didn't understand, but as a result they need to be rescued by Woody from a daycare.  Andy's toys end up being the victims of some evil toys there.  Woody comes to the rescue and the toys end up in a place well suited to them.  I would recommend this one to anyone with kids.  It was fun, had enough story line to keep the adults interested (one immature one in front of me kept talking to the screen), and enough action to keep the kids entertained.  Thumbs up from me.