‘Prayer is the communication of the soul with God. God is love, and love is goodness giving itself away. It is a fulness of being that does not want to remain enclosed in itself, but rather to share itself with others, to give itself to them, and to make them happy. All of creation exists thanks to this divine love spending itself. However, the highest of all God’s creatures are those endowed with spirit, able to receive God’s love with understanding and to return it freely: angels and human souls. Prayer is the highest achievement of which the human soul is capable. But it is not merely a human achievement. Prayer is a Jacob’s ladder on which the human spirit ascends to God and God’s grace descends to people. The stages of prayer are distinguished according to the measure in which the natural efforts of the soul and God’s grace participate. When the soul is no longer active by virtue of its own efforts, but is simply a receptacle for grace, one speaks of a mystical life of prayer.’
– St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Edith Stein is fast becoming one of my favourite saints. She was born in a German Jewish family, lost faith by her teenage years, earned a doctorate in philosophy, converted to Catholicism, was important in the German Catholic women’s movement, became a Discalced Carmelite nun, and was martyred by the Nazis in Auschwitz. She was distinguished by a great mind and a great heart.
The quote is taken from Edith Stein: Essential Writings, in which it is part of a larger selection taken from a “bio-historical sketch” of St. Teresa of Avila, her namesake in the religious life.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us!