In her chapter 'Letting God’s Plan Guide Us', St Edith Stein makes some
key observations about how each human person engages with three different
beings: the fleeting, the enduring and the eternal.
The first being she says is our fleeting self: the frazzled elements of a
tension-filled life that hurtles from moment to moment. This being challenges
us, expressing the transience of life and the irrational elements of our
existence. The hallmark of this fleeting self is an anxiety that overtakes us
threatening to engulf everything in pathological pain.
To balance this fleeting self we have our enduring being. This is a knowledge
that holds us fast, steadies our steps and springs us from a trap of thinking
the fleeting self is our only reality. Our enduring being stabilizes our life
and its agenda; this reassuring being embraces the close family and friends who
guide our journey.
The third being is the eternal being, God’s presence in our lives. The eternal
being is an overarching presence that answers the riddles of my life, the
seesawing juggle of our fleeting and enduring beings. Scripture calls this
presence God’s saving light, God’s word that steers us toward truth. St Edith
writes that we engage with the eternal being not through philosophical
knowledge but by sheer and simple faith. The image of eternal being she offers
is the security that a child feels in having in hand a strong parent to pilot
the way ahead.
The simplicity of these concepts offers a Christian perspective in these
Edith Stein (1891-1942) was the youngest of eleven children in her devout
Jewish family. A brilliant scholar who excelled at high school and university
and she converted to the Roman Catholic religion in 1922 and entered the
Carmelite Convent in 1934. In the 1940s the Nazis pursued all Jewish people who
had converted to Catholicism. Sr. Teresa was arrested and died at Auschwitz on