Pray to Edith Stein. It couldn’t hoit!

I don’t know what my problem is, but I have a problem with novenas.  I guess I’m overly cautious about superstition — maybe I’ve seen too many of those classified ads:  “Force the Sacred Heart of Jesus to grant your top wishes!”  I may be an idiot, but even I know better than to drag the Holy Spirit into a pyramid scheme.

But seriously, I do understand the theology behind a novena.  You’re just kind of proving to God that you really, really mean it, like the woman in Luke 18 who wouldn’t leave the judge alone, so he finally said, “[B]ecause this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me.”  My kids know this method, too, and that is how I found myself at the cash register at Walmart, shelling out genuine cash dollars for three hideous Lisa Frank lunch boxes that they really, really, really, really wanted a lot.

Recently, someone heard that my husband was out of work, and she suggested a novena to Edith Stein.  I don’t know what the connection could be between Edith Stein and employment, and I couldn’t actually find a very good novena online.  The one that we ended up with turned out to be kind of a sacrifice in itself:  it’s so awkwardly and pretentiously written, I can’t decide if it was translated by a computer from another language, or just written by a sadist.

But my husband had been out of work for eight months, and we happened to get this tip about the novena on the day before Edith Stein’s feast day.  Not wanting to annoy God, who was clearly trying to get our attention, we started the novena.

He got a job on day 2.  We added a couple of other guys on, and they both got interviews — and they didn’t even get the full nine days!

So–what can I say?  As Edith Stein’s old Jewish grandmother used to say,* “It couldn’t hoit!” Here’s the novena we’re saying.  Maybe someone can suggest a better one?


I didn’t start with a photo of Edith Stein, because I couldn’t find the only nice one I’ve ever seen.  Normally, she looks crabby and irritated–not at all someone you’d ask for help–but I once saw a photo of her playing with a baby niece or someone, and she looked relaxed and happy.
Here’s an explanation of the picture at the top, according to the CASE website:

This beautiful painting of Our Lady protecting Europe illustrates the Christian roots of Europe, and shows Our Lady surrounded by six patron saints of Europe: SS Cyril and Methodius , St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), St Benedict, St Bridget of Sweden, and St Catherine of Siena. Robert Schumann, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, looks on. St Benedict offers the monastery of Canterbury to the Blessed Virgin, and St Cyril writes of the conversion of the Slavs.

The painting is by John Armstrong, who is involved in a forthcoming celebration of religious art in Liverpool:  see Vision of Hope.

(cross-posted at The Anchoress)


  1. Cool, Jews for Jesus has a Catholic sector! Is the Novena that text, and the few prayers at the bottom? That’s different. It sure is a good story, though.

  2. Thanks, Simcha, for this post. Your story confirms a hunch I’ve had about Teresa Benedicta: that she’s the sort of saint who will really kick in.

  3. My qualms about “pray this, get that” schemes have become more pronounced after living in or near Atlanta for a while. There’s more than a couple “prosperity gospel” operations there, and the “name it and claim it” (a.k.a. “blab it and grab it”) ethos is widespread. Hate doing anything that reminds me of that.

    On the other hand, is it really better for me to *not* ask for help instead (which is all too typical of me)? Better to be needy than proud I think. So a novena to Edith Stein–for my fiancée who needs to find a teaching job–it is. Thank you for the inspiration.

  4. What a cool story. Some friends of ours recently found work after seven months of unemployment after doing a novena to St. Josemaría Escrivá.

    Also, thanks for the shout-out to my cousin (Br. Claude), Kristen! I got to tour his studio when I visited him at Mt. Angel a few weeks ago. You should see some of his other work — AMAZING.

  5. I am convinced that St. Josemaria Escriva has come through for me on the employment front also 🙂

    I was hired for my ideal full-time job (which brings college tuition benefits for my kids) even though I am 50 years old and had been out of the workforce for 13 years.

    St. Josemaria and Bishop Alvaro Portillo, gracias and ora pro nobis.

  6. Hello, just wanted let you know that the Vision of Hope link didn’t work! The error page says the server could not be found.

    I couldn’t find any help via Google, either.

  7. I pray novenas pretty sparingly — mostly because I’m lazy and/or forgetful. But I have to say….I prayed one last month and my prayer was answered beautifully on day six. It was crazy cool.

  8. This post struck me the other day (I love Edith Stein) but I wasn’t sure what to say. I thought you were just being yourself in saying that “she looks crabby and irritated” and immediately set off looking for pictures that I thought might meet your demanding standards. I couldn’t find any, so I settled for reading the first part of the novena and puzzling out “what the connection could be between Edith Stein and employment.”

    Apparently Dear Teresa Benedicta likes skeptics who don’t even really pray because I got a job with no effort after looking since November. Or maybe she was just worried that I’d get desperate and turn to St. Josemaria. 😉

    In any case, thanks for passing this along with your usual flair. And I’ll let you know if I ever find a picture of Edith Stein that I think will meet your standard of the sort of person one would go to for help.

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