Annual Edith Stein Conference on sacrificial love

The Identity Project of Notre Dame hosted its annual Edith Stein Conference February 16-17, with the theme “Even Unto Death: Embracing the Love of the Cross.” Hosted at the McKenna Conference Center, the conference drew many speakers and participants from inside and outside Notre Dame.

Friday’s presentations included talks by Notre Dame faculty members such as Sister Ann Astell, who spoke on Mary’s role as “Woman at the Foot of the Cross”; and Father Kevin Grove, CSC, who spoke on the theology of Holy Cross, his own order, and its focus on the Cross as a source of hope. Speaking of the way that Christ’s suffering gives meaning to our own suffering, he noted that, “in that moment of exchange, the cross became hope, and He has spoken hope in us.”

The keynote speaker Friday evening was Sam Guzman, the founder and editor of popular website The Catholic Gentleman. His talk, entitled “The Cross: the Revelation of God’s Glory” continued some of the themes found in Grove’s talk: how the Cross ultimately is the place where God’s greatest gifts to us are granted, referencing St. Maximilian Kolbe’s description of the Cross as “the school of practical love.”  

Stressing the urgency of paying attention to the Cross in today’s world, Guzman noted that the Cross reveals that God is “self-emptying humility”—and thus it is in our humility that we follow the way of the Cross and thus the way of love. He concluded poetically, stating that “God’s love is like water—it always rushes to the lowest place.”

Saturday’s talks included presentations by the Rover’s own Bea Cuasay and Stephanie Reuter on Carmelite spirituality and the concept of beauty in the works of writers such as Flannery O’Connor and Joseph Ratzinger, respectively. On the experience of presenting, Cuasay noted, “It was my first rodeo, [but] presenting a paper about Saint Teresa of Ávila was a fun time.”

In addition, Father Terry Ehrman, CSC, a Rover faculty advisor, delivered a talk based upon a recently published book, Man of God, that details advice for young men regarding love, sin, and one’s relationship with God.

Professor of Theology Timothy O’Malley gave a talk later on Saturday on “The Cruciform Nature of Love.” Beginning with an outline of the goods—and the excesses—of natural loves (in marriage, friendship, and so on), O’Malley detailed the way that the Cross transforms and perfects the natural loves: “the problem with natural love is that [it] is not enough to avoid … egoism.” But in light of the Cross and the Incarnation, love becomes related to a person “who I perceive ultimately, in [his or her] destiny, as united to Christ”—in the Sacrament of Marriage, in day-to-day interactions with our neighbors, in love for our children, and so on.  

In keeping with the Catholic nature of the conference, after a keynote address by Dr. Nathaniel Peters, the weekend ended with Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, followed by a banquet for the attendees of the conference. Speaking on the conference as the whole, Bea Cuasay added to her thoughts that, “it was great to gather for a weekend and hear about the salvific nature of suffering to be reminded of Christ’s great love for us—even unto death on the wood of the Cross.”

James Rahner is a junior living in Keenan Hall. He is in love with this Spring-ly weather. Contact him at