The Latin phrase “Ave Crux, Spes Unica!” means “Hail Cross, Only Hope!” In September of 1939, Edith Stein wrote a short article on this exclamation. Earlier that month, war had broken out across Europe, and Stein repeatedly writes in her article “the world is in flames.” I hear her anguish and wonder why she chose to write about this phrase. It is thought to come, I discovered, from a verse of a tenth century Latin hymn that says,
O hail the cross, our only hope
in this passiontide,
grant increase of grace to believers,
and remove the sins of the guilty.
Stein had a deep sense that her enclosed life, which she described as a life of prayer and “living penitentially,” was on behalf of the anguished world. While I am not living penitentially in the way Stein and many others have lived, I have a new sense that my small act of giving up something for Lent is not just for me but is on behalf our deeply anguished world. May you, in your journey through these final weeks of Lent, find your sense of prayer and penance also embracing our deeply tormented world.
21 March 2023
Image from Pixabay
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