Despite her desire for the dramatic and expansive, Therese developed a simple spirituality, based on childlike trust and confidence in God. The spirituality of her "little way" was not about extraordinary things - but rather about doing simple things of life well and with extraordinary love. She believed and taught that "everything is grace" - God's face and presence could be experienced in every person and situation of our lives, if we just attend with love and expectancy. Her struggle, like ours, is to be where God places us in the real life situations of our lives. Therese's is a hands-on, challenging and focused spirituality. This is what made Therese shine, and why she has been declared a Doctor of the Church. Her spirituality is simple, childlike, profound and human - it is refreshing in our confusing and complicated age.
Experiencing the dark night of the senses and spirit refined the power and energy of this young, precocious Carmelite. Her poems and plays reflect her struggle to give all to God. Her love became surrender, as she slowly died of tuberculosis. Her superior asked her to write down her reflections, which became her autobiography, "Story of a Soul." She died at the age of 24, believing that her life was really just beginning for God, promising to spend her heaven doing good on earth. Her promised "shower of roses" began and have become a torrent in the Church ever since.
After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-38), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta in 1987 and canonized her 12 years later.
The writings of Edith Stein fill 17 volumes, many of which have been translated into English. A woman of integrity, she followed the truth wherever it led her. After becoming a Catholic, Edith continued to honor her mother’s Jewish faith. Sister Josephine Koeppel, O.C.D. , translator of several of Edith’s books, sums up this saint with the phrase, “Learn to live at God’s hands.”
In his homily at the canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II said: “Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholics and Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers. Today we remember them all with deep respect. A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue: ‘Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed.’”Addressing himself to the young people gathered for the canonization, the pope said: “Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide! The Lord is waiting for you to put your freedom in his good hands.”