What did you add to the current today? How have you changed the flow of cosmic grace that connects humanity and all God’s creation? These are the questions that tug at my conscience daily. They aren’t the product of some New Age guru; they reflect the mystical thinking of the brilliant German philosopher, educator and Catholic saint Edith Stein.
I am a Carmelite and a student of Edith Stein, the Jewish convert to Catholicism whose life was cut short by the gas chambers of Auschwitz in World War II. Before her untimely end, Edith found faith precisely through her intellectual investigations; she is a role model of sorts for me and for all who love the intellectual life. For many people, brainy pursuits seem to lead to atheism, or perhaps it’s better to say these pursuits lead to faith in the rational: in science and in the mind. For Edith, it was the opposite. She found God at the foundation of her mind, of her being. Upon reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila, Carmel’s great teacher of prayer, Edith declared “this is the truth,” and in time she became a Carmelite nun herself.
Edith Stein was really ahead of her time. Without even knowing about entanglement—the quantum physics phenomenon in which two objects are mysteriously entwined across great distances—Edith knew that all creation is interconnected. She believed that there is a current of consciousness that flows in creation, and that each person can change our reality by what he or she places on that current. Placing love on the current not only enlivens the present and graces the future, it can also redeem the past. Put apathy on the current, and there is a deadening effect. Edith believed each person has a tremendous obligation and potential to transform the world, through the action of God’s grace.
I’ve found her insights to be true. A shift in my heart can radically change the tenor of any situation. When I intend love, those present can move from hostility to peace. I’ll bet you’ve had the same experience. Edith gives that experience context. She has so much to offer, but unfortunately her writing is fairly inaccessible, one might even say impenetrable at times. She is perhaps the most disorganized writer I have ever encountered. It’s really too bad, because her thinking is so relevant to current events, to the episodes of our lives, to the day-to-day living out of virtue.
Since becoming a Carmelite, my one dream has been to help people benefit from Carmelite spirituality in their daily lives, to show its relevance and transformative power in the mundane. I hope to illuminate how Edith’s contributions to this ancient charism help us see that everything is charged with spiritual power, from the smallest gesture of friendship to a life-changing sacrifice. I want to strip away the special vocabulary and insider terminology and translate her profound insights to make a real difference in our daily lives.
I invite you to join me in this effort to charge the current of consciousness with contemplative awareness. Please share your thoughts, ask your questions, use your power to make our current reality the seedbed of new life.