Voices Online Edition
Pentecost 2001 --- Volume XVI No. 2
Verses for a Pentecost Novena
By Saint Edith Stein
Near the end of her life, Saint Edith Stein (Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Cross), wrote several meditative works, which have only recently been translated into English and published. The young German philosopher entered a Carmelite monastery, where she continued to write. She was killed at Auschwitz in August 1942, and was canonized October 11, 1998.
Among her final works is an incomplete "novena" for Pentecost, consisting of seven stanzas in poetic form, collected in The Hidden Life, hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts, Volume IV of the collected works of Edith Stein, translated into English by her great-niece, Waltraut Stein, and published in 1992 by the Institute for Carmelite Studies, Washington DC. The work is copyrighted by ICS Publications and is available on its web site
(www.karmel.at/ics/edith/stein.html - broken link). It is reprinted here with permission. - Editor.
1. Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother's hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!
2. Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son's heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!
3. Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge's throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!
4. Are you the spirit's fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God's eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgement ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!
5. Are you the master who builds the eternal
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God's molding hand!
6. Are you the one who created
the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty's throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!
7. Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes
of each and every being?
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!
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