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St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross – Jesuits in Britain

August 9, 2018

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Jer 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Written on our hearts

Jeremiah speaks of God’s promise of a new covenant, superseding that which was made to our Jewish ancestors.  God commitment is so strong that the law will be written in our hearts. Think of that! A promise to be with us in such an intimate way that his law and love are at our very core.  We are not God’s mere acquaintances, God says “they shall be my people.”

Edith Stein, who became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, understood the old and new covenants.  Born to a German Jewish family, she stopped believing in God as a teenager before encountering the writings of St. Teresa of Avila.  She was baptized, later became a Carmelite nun, and was sent to the Netherlands to try to protect her from the Nazis. Believing that she wouldn’t survive the war, she wanted to offer herself “to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.”  God’s covenant was written on her heart. St. Teresa Benedicta ultimately died in Auschwitz.

The way we live out God’s promise in our own lives may not look as extreme as it did for her, but how are we fundamentally changed because God has written on our hearts?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.


Whatever did not fit in with my plan
did lie within the plan of God.
I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing
is merely an accident when seen in the light of God,
that my whole life down to the smallest details
has been marked out for me
in the plan of Divine Providence and has a
completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes.
And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory
wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.

—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

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