"All that I Do is Done for the King": Edith Stein on the Feminine Vocation with a Special Emphasis on Spiritual Maternity
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Edith Stein is a name with many connotations—scholar, philosopher, convert, teacher, and saint. Raised an orthodox Jew, Stein lost her faith at a young age and eventually converted to Catholicism. After her conversion to Catholicism, Stein turned her philosophical pursuits towards answering the question of what it means to be a Catholic woman. In her collection of essays and lectures Essays on Woman, Stein claims that the feminine vocation is towards spousal love and motherhood. However, where does this leave women who choose virginity or cannot have children? In response to this concern, Stein says that such women are called to express the feminine vocation through spiritual maternity. In this thesis, I examine how Stein defines the feminine soul and the feminine vocation. Stein uses Scripture, tradition, psychology, and biology to argue for the feminine vocation of being a spouse and mother. In my final chapter, I will investigate Stein’s argument for spiritual maternity as a legitimate—and, in fact, the highest—expression of the feminine vocation. Throughout her philosophy of the feminine vocation, Stein upholds the Blessed Virgin Mary as the model for all women, but especially for spiritual mothers.