December 19, 2010

Edith Stein in Frankfurt

One of the greatest encouragements to my own vocation is to read something from one of the saints and find in it a confirmation of my own experience. Yesterday was a good example.

A couple of weeks ago I posted my inspiration to begin to read Edith Stein. One of my confreres, in his charity, saw the post and immediately sent me a copy of her edition in the Orbis Books "modern spiritual masters series." Yesterday I arrived at this autobiographical passage, about a visit to a friend in Frankfurt:

But the deepest impressions were made on me by things other than the Römerweg and the Hirschgraben. We stopped in a the cathedral for a few minutes: and, while we looked around in respectful silence, a woman carrying a market basket came in and knelt down in one of the pews to pray briefly. This was something entirely new to me. To the synagogues or to the Protestant churches which I had visited, one went only for services. But here was someone interrupting her everyday shopping errands to come into this church, although no other person was in it, as though she were here for an intimate conversation. I could never forget that. (89-90)

In my 'seeking' phase, in the school year before I became a catechumen, I visited a lot of different churches, sometimes for services but more often when nothing was going on. I was struck and then intrigued by the same sight described by Edith Stein. Only in the Catholic churches did I ever see people praying when nothing else was going on. There they would be, all sorts of people, sitting or kneeling in the darkness and quiet. They knew about something of which I was still ignorant. Or better, they had been given a way to understand something to which I had always been attracted, but without understanding my desire.


Anonymous said...

You are so right Friar a protestant I have seen this also. Although some churches are opening their doors..The world needs more Churches to open their doors..God Bless you ..

Sara said...

I never knew that I could just show up in church for "no reason" until a few months after I became Catholic. It made me so happy to realize that this was allowed and that people did it all the time.

pennyante said...

Our church is always locked during the day... as are most I think. I often said to our former pastor, how fortunate he was, because he could come over to the church anytime from the rectory across the street and pray there in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

If I take Communion to our shut-ins during the week (I have a key), I always come early enough so that I can pray a few minutes. I am grateful for that time...