Edith Stein

We reach God, she says, not only through faith and contemplation but ‘by thinking’

Edith Stein Potency and Act

Edith Stein continues to be my refuge in the philosophical storm raging on us from the modern world. She is my mentor. One can fight the raging fire of Nietzsche, the presumptuous Spirit of Hegel, or the depressing Utopia of Marx only for so long before needing proper sustenance. I was delighted (as I quite often am when reading Edith Stein) at the following from the Introduction to Potency and Act:

“We reach God, she says, not only through faith and contemplation but ‘by thinking,’ using ‘logical reasoning’ both from the world without (as in St. Thomas’s ‘five ways’) and from the world within (‘the way of St. Augustine’) when we see the need for being that upholds our own- moreover, God’s existence is a ‘purely formal conclusion.'”

I purposefully do not follow a path of anti-intellectualism as some I know do. Not that one needs philosophy to reach the Kingdom. Faith, Hope, and Love are the only requirements. However, our mission in the world, specifically given to us as, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, ON EARTH (emphasis added) as it is in Heaven,” requires that we engage this world through the use of our intellect.

Yet, Edith Stein is saying something a bit more and different. She is saying that God has created us as whole beings, mind, body, and soul, i.e., intellect, body, and heart. To be whole is to use all of our faculties, including our intellect, to reach the Kingdom. Grace is required for this. Without grace, one does not enter the gates. Though, grace requires our cooperation. To be whole, we must cooperate with grace as it unifies us in all of our faculties. There is my thankfulness for the blessing that is Edith Stein.

This wholeness does not require education. We are not speaking of academia. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, though a top student as a child, never had a formal higher education. Yet, Thérèse’s writings are imbued with some of the most beautiful and profound Platonic expressions one will find in any university. She was uneducated formally but powerfully intellectual in her spirituality. Her intellectual expressions were the fulcrum of the lever that finally opened my heart.

Yes, ‘by thinking’… ‘we see the need for being that upholds our own.’


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