Writings and life of Edith Stein shed light on what "Communion with Christ" really means

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PrintWhat does it mean to be in true communion with Christ? Pope Saint John Paul II declared that the great challenge for the Church in our day is to become “the home and school of communion.” Saint Teresa Benedicta, known to many as Edith Stein, is a sure guide to attaining the communion for which every human heart longs.

A new book, Communion with Christ: According to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross by Sister M. Regina van den Berg,F.S.G.M., considers Saint Teresa’s life and writings in the context of the “spirituality of communion.” As a philosopher she was directed towards attaining communion with the Truth, and she discovered that Truth was a Person, Jesus Christ. As a Carmelite nun she gave up everything for communion with him.

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, in the foreword, says Edith Stein’s message “is above her time” and that the author, Sister M. Regina van den Berg, “is well qualified to write such a book.” Sister Regina explores in detail Edith Stein’s theory of empathy as developed in her doctoral dissertation, as well as her theory of community. Sister Regina has also used a number of Edith Stein’s writings which, until this work, have not yet been available in English translation.

Each chapter explores an aspect of “communion”, richly revealing how Edith Stein, “a Jew who became a philosopher . . . a convert to Catholicism who became a Carmelite nun and crowned her life with martyrdom.” Stein’s work “provides insights that can help us grow in the spirituality of communion, first by presenting to us the truth about the human person’s nature and vocation and then by showing us how we can arrive at a spirituality of communion in the various aspects of life.”

Colleen Carroll Campbell, author of My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, declares, “Philosopher, convert and martyr Edith Stein is enjoying a well-deserved revival of interest these days. Readers of this clear and careful study will come away with a stronger sense of the depth and breadth of Edith Stein’s thought, which is as relevant today as ever.”

“This is an ideal introduction for anyone wishing to learn how one of the greatest saints of our time envisioned and lived the ‘science of the Cross’”, says Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, S.C.D., author of Artist and Image: Artistic Creativity and Personal Formation in the Thought of Edith Stein, says that “Sister Regina presents a deeply mature and incisive analysis of the heart of Stein’s teaching on communion as a union of hearts and minds ultimately united towards one eternal goal and divine destiny.”

“Sister Regina unveils the depths of Edith Stein’s insights, revealing Stein’s nuanced account of community between women and men, human and angelic communities, membership in the Mystical Body, etc. An impressive achievement that teaches much about how to be more fully human”, says Sarah Borden Sharkey, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College.

Fr. John Sullivan, O.C.D., from the Institute of Carmelite Studies, claims that “this book will help the reader deepen an appreciation for the significance of Teresa Benedicta/Edith Stein in contemporary debates.”

About the Author:

Sister M. Regina van den Berg, F.S.G.M., obtained her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America. She has served in various apostolates for her religious community and currently resides in Rome.

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