|Abstract (english)|| |
What motivated the undertaking of the present study of Edith Stein's conversion is her personage. Her life expresses breadth, unity, and depth of view. The correspondence and penetration between life and thought is her characteristic. She lived in a historical moment of particular complexity, serious tensions and increasing threatening conjunctures, which highlight her significance. Edith Stein poses herself before us as an example of the integration of tensions, the assumption of the load that these bring and the suffering they require. In front of the constant trend that follows the walk of man and mankind of partiality looking at history, our own and of others, the temptation to exclude aspects that instead constitute it and give it a true interpretation, our author stands out for her passion for the truth, be it about herself, as about the lives of others. The life of Edith Stein becomes a vector of humanity that draws on original depths, where unity is constituted by the wholeness of experiences, by what she called the flow of consciousness as a phenomenology, which welcomes all experiences and continuously updates them as all significant, which increasingly reveals the person to himself. Born and raised amongst the Jewish people, her manner and thinking reflects her origins, which can be summarized as a unique and passionate search for the truth. We seek to understand how her passion for the truth and her earning for the full meaning of life have found perfect congruity in knowing and recognizing Jesus Christ. We want to understand, in what sense Edith Stein felt that the Cross of Christ and the Scientia derived from the reality of the Cross was recognized by her as a way to the authenticity of her being. This is a goal that has to pass through a person’s human structure to whom Edith had dedicated her greatest effort in philosophical research since her youth. We have structured the present study starting from the definition that Edith Stein gives of Scientia crucis, the science of the Cross in her last work. There, she defines it as truth, both real and active, a vital principle placed as a seed deep within the interior of every person and which constitutes its uniqueness. A active principle that tends to expand from the inside out, from the depth to the outside, involving and forming the whole person according to the truth of its being. We have thus considered Edith Stein's conversion as a progressive and continuous approach to this truth that has totally formed her, trying to recognize and highlight her most significant nodal passages. In delving into the search for the deep connections of the spirit that marked her individual path, she guided and safeguarded us from taking steps that would reduce her figure. In fact it was important that one could investigate her eclectic existence, keeping in mind all the complexity: her Jewish origins, her youthful distancing from the faith of her forefathers, her passion for philosophical research, her openness to deep relationships, the existential need to belong to her people and to her time, the choice of a life consecrated to God in the world up to the walls of Carmel and her death in Auschwitz. We let ourselves be guided by Edith Stein herself. If we accept that the Scientia crucis is a vital reality placed as a seed in the intimacy of each one of us then this has the potential to lead every human life to its fullness. Edith herself has introduced us to the need to open the door to the inner path and to remove existing obstacles, so that a person can recognize in himself this seed that is the truth of his own being. Therefore, we have undertaken our research, carrying it out essentially under this epistemological-cognitive aspect. In the first chapter, the whole course of Edith Stein's existence was considered, looking for deep movements of the spirit present in the course of the events. On the basis of sources such as her autobiography and letters, as well as other writings that could reveal her personal maturation, we have tried to grasp aspects and events that seemed crucial to us and directly connected with the progressive opening towards her most authentic inner self. We stated that the deepest steps towards maturity were made precisely in correspondence with painful existential experiences. In the midst of them Edith experienced the intervention of a strong hand that saved her. She recognizing it as the divine presence of a Present, Almighty God, truly able to completely support her as she had never experienced before, and able to give her strength from a source from which she was not aware of until then. Under the sign of the Cross the whole of her subsequent existential path unfolded until the fulfillment of the gift of herself to Auschwitz. To understand the existential passages, they have been of great help to us authors who have deepened, not only rationally the knowledge of Edith's life, but who have done it in an empathic way, looking for deep connections of meaning. The existential aspect addressed in the first chapter received further expansion and deepening in the second chapter when we dealt with her phenomenological contribution to the study of the cognitive capacity of a person, considering its limits. Here, above all, using her phenomenological texts, we have acquired a vision of the structure of the person, of peculiarities with respect to other beings, which highlighted how the most peculiar dimension of the human being is the dimension of the spirit, understood as that which must form the body, acting through the center of the personal soul. The emerged dimension is that of individuality, due to the active principle, which she called Kern or core of the soul, which directs each formation in a truly personal way, marking its steps towards maturity. Edith does not understand the core in the sense of determinism, but rather as a possibility. To support or not one's own core, to listen to it or ignore it, to position oneself on the surface of own soul or in its depths, this is and remains a question of the freedom of the person for Edith. Thus through personal freedom the human being prepares himself to accept grace or not. Faced with the reality of the limit which, due to the fallen nature, marks every human existence, the third chapter brought the anthropological integrations that Edith received with her adherence to faith. Due to it, a person is given back the possibility of penetrating into the authentic meaning of things which intellect alone had not been able to grasp the reality of, and thus also the reality of his own being. The path of formation of the soul takes place according to Jesus Christ, the fullness of humanity and way towards the progressive conquest of that unique part of participation in His entire image, that each person has received as a gift, a task, and a responsibility. At this point, the question arose regarding the individual identity of Edith Stein, who became Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Edith recognized that the choice of becoming a Christian placed her in a new identity context and revealed a new name, a new essence. What then guarantees the unity of life between before and after conversion? It was necessary to address the question of Edith Stein's individuality by trying to clarify how the progressive union of the person with God takes place, as well as if and how the personal individuality continues to be present. Edith Stein showed us how the relationship of the union of the person with God involves human capacities to the maximum, purifying them as through fire, and thus transforming the person. It has been clarified that the purification that concerns the life of the one who responds to God is a necessary passage to reach the authenticity of his own being, where authenticity is the individual Christ-like form. This is why it is a passage like through the night, the darkness, because of the senses, intellect, will, and memory must become capable of rising from this world to recognize the ultimate truths and enter into the Life of God. We concluded our research by dedicating the second part of the final chapter to highlight the aspects that can better contribute to the reflection on the foundations of morality starting from the existential path and the reflection of Edith Stein. From the present research some aspects of Edith Stein's conversion have emerged that we would like to underline: 1. We have come to the realization that Edith Stein's conversion truly corresponds to the journey made towards her most authentic personal being, which has come to its fulfillment thanks to the acquisition of the Science of the cross. This touches upon an ontological level, as the conversion has revealed to her a deeper understanding of her own authentic being and vocation, to which she had access to thanks to the knowledge of herself gained in God. It also illuminates the anthropological level, since Edith Stein has found, thanks to faith, the light that completed the picture of what is authentically human. The acquisition of the Science of the cross also touches on the existential level as it presents itself as a path of integration of the polarization and tensions of life. This was the way through which Edith came to acquire that breadth, unity, and depth that her life expressed. 2. In the consideration of the journey of conversion made by Edith Stein, more than the aspect of the sinfulness of her previous life which moreover Edith does not neglect, emerges more prominently the fullness of truth found in Christ, from which she felt drawn to new life. The ontological clarity received by the living relationship with God resulted in a very high active potential of moral response. In fact, due to the possibility of using freedom to place oneself at the center of the deepest personal interiority, a person can see the birth of decisions and actions corresponding to the call of the human being, which is a vocation to the gift of self in love. 3. It is not secondary to point out that Edith Stein belonged to the Jewish people and that at a time in her life had distanced herself from the faith of her forefathers. During the course of study we have found elements that we can trace back to her Jewish origins: a passionate search for the truth, and in it a distinctly realistic approach to the knowledge of reality, never settling for answers that are not deeply verified and founded, which would reduce the meaning of things; Edith's perspective is a radically positive view on creation and on the human person, so much so that her youthful way of thinking about the human condition, profound and noble, remains a valid foundation for subsequent theological and mystical knowledge; she considers freedom a constitutive and an inalienable element of the human being, indispensable for him to respond to his vocation to love; understanding that the spiritual dimension is the one which characterizes the human Edith succeeds in maintaining a profound unity between human and divine: the deeply accepted human is ready to bring God. Edith Stein expresses a profound balance between personal identity and belonging to the community, individuality, and relationship. 4. Her empathic approach, considered a sui generis cognitive act, seems to be of considerable importance. Empathy, as understood by Edith, does not cancel differences, yet it does not create conflict. In fact, it allows each person to be what he is, without reducing the uniqueness of each individual, drawing from each other mutual enrichment. We see it as a way of meeting and peace. Expanding empathy to the relationship with Christ, we understand that the source of unity of Edith's life draws on the mystery of Christ. The mysteries of His life are inextricably linked to one another. And this unity rebounds over the life of Edith Stein and reveals that it is a question of the mystery of Christ in her, who gathers her from within. Asking what aspects are awaiting further study and further research regarding the profound movements that have marked Edith Stein's steps towards conversion, an open field to the investigation would include more in-depth study of the influence that thinkers close to her, such as Adolf Reinach, Hedwig Conrad Martius, and Erich Przywara, had on her. As well as that of her spiritual father, Abbot Walzer, who was spiritually very close to her. In her last years outside of Carmel, she met and lived in friendship with the couple Maritain. We believe that the aspect of authentic friendship that bound Edith to these people had a profound influence on her spiritual movements. A point that seems to deserve to be developed, is to face on the basis of the philosophical and theological-mystical anthropology of Edith Stein a complete foundation of the presuppositions of moral theology. Her anthropology, which recognizes Kern as a vital principle internal to the soul and the presence in it of God himself, would illuminate the invitation expressed by the Second Vatican Council, which expected that moral theology would clarify the call of the faithful to bear fruit for the life of the world. The aspect of individuality seems particularly noteworthy and a starting point for further study, as developed by Edith Stein. Such a concept of individuality expresses the uniqueness and unrepeatability of every human person created by God. The completely personal relationship that He has towards every person grounds the ultimate dignity of every human being and opens him to the possibility of the full and authentic development of his being. We believe that this understanding of the individuality and the concept of the bottom of the soul could constitute a valid and solid help to illuminate, for example, an extremely topical subject such as that of addictions, being able to guide to understand them, despite their diversification, as the expression of a lack of openness to one's personal being, and thus of a lack of fullness of life, which instead inhabits every human interiority. We realized that Edith Stein is fully inserted into the panorama of the XX. century. We could say that she is among those who with their existence and openness to the Spirit have prepared the conditions for the Second Vatican Council. An element that confirms its significance and relevance is also the choice of the Church to proclaim Edith Stein Copatroness of Europe. Her capacity for grounded and balanced views between the individual and the community, the constant maintenance of polarizations that the differences create, the look that rises from this earth, without however forgetting at all the concrete situations, make her particularly current and significant today, and invite to draw on to her reflections and her life experience. Her testimony, above all of how she experienced the personal answer in the greatest darkness, becomes a guarantee of truthfulness: even the most difficult situation, which seems without openness and without hope, finds in Edith a sure guide to cross any existential darkness following the Cross.