Homily of Pater Edmund Waldstein O.Cist. on the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, ITI’s 26th Dies Natalis

St Thérèse and the Contemplative Heart of the Intellectual Life


Yesterday we already anticipated the Feast of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. And today we celebrate again fittingly giving our patroness a double Feast. From the very beginning of the ITI, her holy countenance has watched over us with generous and benevolent love.

When the ITI was first planted, like a delicate seedling, it more than once seemed that it would wither and fail. On each occasion, the intercession of St Thérèse saved us. For example, one occasion, when the ITI was about to be closed for lack of funds. The president was in America, making a last-ditch effort to find enough donations to keep the Institute going. The students prayed a novena to St Thérèse. And then, quite unexpectedly, help came from St Thérèse’s own country, from France, from Monsieur Michelin, the pious industrialist— a generous gift that kept the ITI in existence.

The patronage of St Thérèse, a cloistered, contemplative nun, has always been a sign and guarantee of the founding vision of the ITI that sees contemplation as the heart and center of the intellectual life. The ITI was originally founded in the remote Charter House of Gaming, where the Carthusian monks once devoted their life to contemplation, and now it is situated in a Schloss belonging to another place of contemplation: my own Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz.

Everything that we do at the ITI is ordered to contemplation. Learning and study are ordered to knowing and understanding, to gazing in humble joy at Him who is Truth itself. Continue Reading…