Day 3: Spiritual experience, Conversion
Spiritual Experience and Conversion
Edith follows Husserl through his different assignations, Gottingen, then Freiburg, and finally Breisgau, because she needs his support for her thesis, but also because she becomes his assistant in 1916.
At the same time, Edith grows in her Christian faith, due as much to her encounters as to her readings: in Gottingen, she meets Max Scheler and Adolph Reinach, two professors who will become not only teachers but also intellectual and spiritual supports.
Later, her encounter with Anne Reinach, recently widowed after the death of Adolph at war in 1917, will be an influential event in her conversion: she now perceives the power emanating from the Cross of Christ, such power that carries her friend through the loss of her beloved husband.
Her readings will weigh heavily on her decision to embrace Christian faith: she reads St. Augustine and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
In early 1918, she writes to her friend, philosopher Roman Ingarden, that she has reached "positive Christianity." Her philosophical writings of that time mirror, albeit modestly, her burgeoning Christian faith.
But the decisive event in Edith's conversion is undoubtedly her reading of "the Life of St. Teresa of Avila". During the summer of 1921, while staying at Bad Bergzabern with her friends Hedwige and Theodore Conrad-Martius, she is captivated by the story of Teresa, who relates how she found the Truth of her life in Jesus Christ.
Edith is overwhelmed with emotions: she is Teresa of Avila, a woman thirsting for the Trush. What she hoped to find in her philosophical studies, she finds in Him: Jesus, the Christ, the Truth made man. Edith asks to be baptized into the Catholic Church. She will receive the sacrament of Baptism in the same town, on January 1st, 1922.
A Letter from Edith Stein:
This letter was written in February 1928 to Sister Callista Kopf, a Dominican nun, friend of Edith. In this letter, Edith evokes how she conceives her intellectual work and her spiritual life following her conversion.
“ That it is possible to worship God by doing scholarly research is something I learned, actually, only when I was busy with [the translation of] St. Thomas [of Aquinas 'Questiones de Veritatae' from Latin into German]. Only thereafter could I decide to resume serious scholarly research. "
Immediately before, and for a good while after my conversion, I was of the opinion that to lead a religious life on had to give up all that was secular and to live totally immersed in thoughts of the Divine. But gradually, I realized that something else is asked of us in this world and that, even in the contemplative life, one may not sever the connection with the world. I even believe that the deeper one is drawn into God, the more one must "go out of oneself"; that is, one must go to the world in order to carry the divine life into it.
The only essential is that one finds, first of all, a quiet corner in which one can communicate with God as though there were nothing else, and that must be done daily. It seems to me the best is early morning hours before we begin our daily work; furthermore, [it is also essential] that one accepts one's particular mission there, preferably for each day, and does not make one's own choice. Finally, one is to consider oneself totally as an instrument, especially with regards to the abilities one uses to perform one's special tasks, in our case, e.g., intellectual ones. We are to see them as something used, not by us, but by God in us."
Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Col 4:6