Your character in an epitaph

Do you ever think about what you might like others to say about you after you die?

I do not mean to ask whether you are concerned with being praised posthumously. The point is: Does what you want to have been true about you inspire you practically in your character and conduct now?

November 17th is the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. There is a wonderful piece by St. Edith Stein about her titled, “On God’s Mercy: The Spirit of St. Elizabeth As It Informed Her Life.”

In it, there are several sentences that speak to St. Elizabeth’s character in such a way that is eminently attractive and yet, upon any serious consideration, is grasped as being deeply countercultural.

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The Triumph of the Cross

The September 14th feast day of the Triumph of the Cross (also known as the Exaltation of the Cross) is a reminder of the paradox that the greatest tragedy became the greatest triumph.

To think that the Nazi propaganda film The Triumph of the Will was released in 1935, four years before a Jewish-Catholic named Edith Stein wrote the following words in addressing her religious community on the September 14th feast…

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Vocation Grasped in Retrospect

Today is the feast day of St. Edith Stein, a Jewish-Catholic saint and martyr born one century before me and to whom I have special devotion and affection.

In fact, I even spent one month a few years ago living in her former childhood home in Wroclaw, Poland (formerly Breslau, Germany).

Edith Stein was a German Jewish philosopher who became a Catholic nun and patron saint of Europe. Martyred in the Holocaust, she has been on my mind as I reflect on the meaning of vocation.

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How the Cross Can Be A Gift

This evening I have been watching some of the coverage of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq. He is the first pope to ever visit the birthplace of Abraham.

It’s fascinating to see how the country is welcoming him and my Iraqi friend tells me that Iraqis wish he would either stay longer or come more often given how the pope’s visit is bringing the country together and even putting it into order in amazing ways.

Gifts are naturally an important part of hospitality, but what to get the pontiff who took the name of one about whom it’s been said, “It is doubtful that anyone desired riches as greatly as [he] desired poverty”?

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