Saturday, 19 April 2014

"The Deepest Longing of a Woman's Heart...."

The deepest longing of a woman's heart is to give herself lovingly, to belong to another, and to possess this other being completely. This is revealed in her outlook, personal and all-embracing, which appears to us as specifically feminine. But this surrender becomes a perverted self-abandon and a form of slavery when it is given to another person and not to God; at the same time it is an unjustified demand which no human being can fulfill. Only God can welcome a person's total surrender in such a way that one does not lose one's soul in the process but wins it. And only God can bestow Himself upon a person so that He fulfills this being completely and loses nothing of Himself in so doing. That is why total surrender which is the principle of the religious life is simultaneously the only adequate fulfillment possible for woman's yearning.

--Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), "The Ethos of Women's Professions" (1930).

10 comments:

Clare said...

Beautiful. I have never heard this quote before, but it really spoke to me. Thank you!

Seraphic said...

It leapt off the page at me. Every college-trained English-speaking woman should read Stein's "Woman" (ed. Gelber & Leuben), ICS, 1996. German-readers should read "Die Frau" (1959).

Athena W said...

I'm currently doing a research report on Edith Stein but I've never heard this quote either. This is beautiful and inspiring!

Nzie said...

beautiful.

Sherwood said...

Oh my goodness, I just realized this in 21st century language and in terms of all humanity, not just women. I was stressing out about what to do with my life when I realized, near the end of the Good Friday service, that it's Not. My. Life. And the answer to the question is not what I want to do with my life, but what God wants me do to with His life. Only when we realize that our lives are not our own, only when we surrender the stranglehold we have on our fate and offer to God the life given by Him, can we truly be happy. It's the great paradox - "he who loses his life for Me, will save it, and he who saves his life, will lose it." Perfect timing. And Happy Easter!

Sara said...

This quote is very upsetting. Does it mean that religious life is a better vocation than marriage or singleness? Please do explain.
Why would God call some women to marriage or singleness if religious life is "better" and the other two are "perversions"? :-(

Seraphic said...

No, it means that the only way a woman can be truly happy is to surrender completely to God's will.

Surrendering completely to God's will is simultaneously the principle of religious life.

Actually religious life is better than single or married life, but only in that having a priceless gift is better than not having the priceless gift. If God calls you to a religious life, that is a really good gift. And the rest of us can't complain, especially if we've been gifted with a relatively wealthy and comfortable life instead of the existene of a wretched and hungry North Korean.

Seraphic said...

Oh, and you can--and should-- surrender totally to God's will whatever your state in life. St. Edith would want me to make that totally clear.

A good example of a single woman who did that was Blessed Natalia Tulasiewicz. And St. Gemma Molla was a good example of a married lady who did that.

Magdalena said...

I like St Edith Stein so very much! I am currently reading her collected letters (to family members, nuns, priests, philosopher friends, students, and so on). She had such a large acquaintance, even when she had already been in the Carmel for years. And you get a very personal view on those horrible times in Germany in the last century.
Her writing on women has opened my eyes to a lot of new aspects of women's nature and calling.

A very happy Easter to you, Auntie, and to all readers!

Julia said...

If I may humbly correct you, Seraphic, I think you mean St Gianna Molla (I only know this because I'm reading a biography on her).