Saturday, April 27, 2013
Edith Stein and Women's Professions
For over twenty years, my husband and I spent an hour every Wednesday evening in the Blessed Sacrament chapel in our parish. When he was diagnosed with cancer, friends began to join us, and since he died, one couple has joined me every week so I won't have to pray alone. This week, as I read a meditation from Anne Costa's Refresh Me, Lord, I reflected upon the words of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (known in the world as Edith Stein). They seemed particularly apropos as I pray to find a new path after working with my husband in World Wide Marriage Encounter for over thirty years, and other areas of ministry to marriages and families. "...feminine nature in its purity can embrace all things, and the image of God's Mother at the wedding of Cana is a perfect example of this: how discreetly she prevents the embarrassment of others; how she discerns where there is a need; how she intervenes without being observed. Such a woman is pertinent at all times like a good genius."
For some reason, the phrase "the merry widow" kept coming to mind, when I was most grief stricken and despairing after losing my beloved husband, and I kept assuring God that I was not merry at all and couldn't really imagine every being so again (and "merry" was not really an adjective that most people would use to describe me before I became a widow). But after I read the words of Edith Stein, and prayed to her for counsel and enlightenment, I realized that I am called to be a "Mary" widow and model myself on her genius, striving to become more discreet, discerning, and helpful without being a managing busybody who dispenses advice without really listening.
And in pondering all these things, I found myself, if not feeling merry, at least with an unbidden smile as I recalled that it is only because I am a Texan that I can hear God's voice in these words that I know as homonyms. For my husband from the East Coast, "merry," "Mary," and "marry" each had a separate pronunciation. I suppose that means God not only speaks to us in our own language, but even uses our local accent to get his message across.