The sense of perfection which came through Edith Stein’s writing was one of the things I found difficult in reading her work. I decided to try and understand what she meant by going back to the founder of her order, Teresa of Avila. Teresa’s book, The Way of Perfection, was written for her community of nuns as a guide for their life together. Like Edith Stein’s work, it has some wonderful passages, but also some which seem to have a hard, demanding edge. I read on, then came to Chapter 8 where Terresa says,
I confess that … I am not as perfect as I should like to be. I must say the same about all the virtues and about all I am dealing with here, for it is easier to write about such things than to practice them.
Such a confession, I realized, was all I was looking for, as it opened up a sense togetherness as vulnerable, fallible humans on a journey to deeply love and engage with the Unseen One. There is so much I admire about the dedication and wholehearted commitment of these women, but it is the echo of the sinner’s prayer, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner,” which allows me to connect more deeply with them. May you, this week, have a sense of togetherness and encouragement with all vulnerable and fallible humans who seek to love and engage with the Unseen One.
18 April 2023
Photo by Donald Tong
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