Wednesday 29th July 2015

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Maximilian Kolbe

August 12, 2014 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

During the Final Discourse, our Lord speaks to His disciples at the Last Supper about union with Christ, union with the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit with the theme of love woven throughout the night’s sharing. “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Martyrdom is an act of the will which one can suffer by giving one’s life, or by willing to do so even if not actually giving one’s life. When Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982, he told those present that the saint had lived these words in an absolutely literal manner. He freely accepted death as an act of unbounded charity, a love for both God and man.
Maria and Julius Kolbe welcomed Raymond into their life on January 8, 1894 In Zdunska-Wola, Poland, which was under Russian occupation at the time. The family, though poor, was cheerful, working hard to provide a meager living. Of their five sons, two died from fevers before the age of five, the other three were raised to be holy and were educated thanks to the patronage of family and a local pharmacist.
In the area of Poland where the Kolbes lived, there were no religious houses or convents, so the Franciscans came through looking for promising young men to join them in Lvov, a part of Poland which at the time was under the Austrian Empire. Much to the delight of their parents, both the eldest son, Francis, and the second son, Raymond, were chosen to enter the seminary.
The family moved to Lvov where the third son, Joseph, was placed in a boarding school. The devout parents then separated to enter the religious life. Julius soon discerned the life was not for him, joined the fight in World War I, was captured by the Russians, and put to death.
As a child, Raymond demonstrated a strong will, which is so needed to become a saint. Although some claim he was obstinate and unruly, an event dramatically changed him into a pious and obedient young man. At the age of nine, Mary appeared to him offering him two crowns: a white crown for purity or a red one for martyrdom. He responded that he wanted both, developing a deep love that lasted the rest of his life. This deep devotion became evident in the many ministries he undertook as a Conventual Franciscan.
In 1910, he took the name of Maximilian when he entered the novitiate of the Franciscans (presumably after a martyr of the third century). By 1912, the Franciscans transferred him to Rome for further study. While there, he excelled in all subjects, frequently assisting his fellow students as he became known for his keen intellect as well as his charitable outreach.
He excelled so well in the sciences and mathematics that many thought it a waste of his gifts for him to become a Franciscan. When he took his final vows in 1914, he added the name of Mary, in honor of the Blessed Virgin, to his own name.
Maximilian earned two doctorates: one in philosophy in 1915 and another in theology in 1919 from the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure in Rome. During this time, the activities of the Freemasons affected him so deeply that he established the Militia Immaculata to counteract and convert the enemies of the Church.
His devotion to Mary and his belief in the Miraculous Medal motivated him to write a prayer for the new group: “O, Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. And for all those who do not have recourse to thee; especially the Masons and those recommended to thee.”
Ordained in 1918, he continued to expand the work of the Immaculata by publishing magazines, newspapers, and catechetical tracts as well as by using radio programs to speak out against the Nazis in later years.
He returned to Poland in 1919, where despite his frailty after losing a lung to tuberculosis, he began a magazine in 1922. In 1929 he founded a monastery in Niepokalanow, which became a major publishing center. This monastery became one of the largest in the world with nearly 800 inhabitants.
After seven years in Poland, he then went to Japan in 1930. Maximilian spent six years there where he again began a publication center and established a monastery near Nagasaki, one of the cities which would later be so devastated by the atom bomb. Although the monastery had been built on the wrong side of the hill, according to the Japanese, it was saved from the effects of the bomb because it had been built on the side away from where the bomb exploded.
In 1936, Maximilian returned to the monastery in Niepokalanow, which had grown in both size and respect during his absence. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the monastery’s establishment, he wrote a letter to the Pope asking for his blessing on an enterprise that “published a monthly magazine, The Knight of the Immaculata, circulation 780,000, another periodical for young people, The Little Knight, circulation 180,000, and a daily issue, The Little Journal, circulation 130,000.”
Four years later, on February 17, 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the prison camp in Pawiak. In May, the Germans moved him to Auschwitz, giving him the number 16670 to further strip him of his name and his dignity. However, the priest remained serene and peaceful during the final days of his life.
Two months later, after three prisoners escaped from the camp, the Germans decided to punish the other prisoners and set an example for them by selecting ten men to be killed. As they selected Franciszek Gajowniczek, the man cried out in anguish for his wife and his children. Maximilian Mary Kolbe stood up and volunteered to take his place so that his wife and children would not lose him.
As the ten men in the cell slowly starved to death, Kolbe celebrated daily Mass, led them in song, and encouraged them with prayer. After two weeks, only he remained still alive, either standing or kneeling in prayer, so the soldiers killed him by lethal injection, calmly received by the saint.
His body was cremated on August 15, 1941, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.
Although some believe he was not strictly speaking a martyr, Pope Paul VI referred to him as a martyr of charity when he beatified him in 1971. When St. Pope John Paul II canonized him as a martyr rather than as a confessor, St. Maximilian Kolbe could wear the two crowns that Mary had offered him when he was nine years old — both the crown of purity and the crown of martyrdom. His feast day is August 14.
Dear St. Maximilian, by your example and by the work you began, still in existence to this day, may we work to convert the enemies of our Church with the heroic charity you preached and lived by laying down your life, proving your great love for both God and your neighbor. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Catholic officials, others react to Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly gay leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The top leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have made an uneasy peace with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision July 27 to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks…Continue Reading

The Remnant REALLY? . . . Is This How We Support Fellow Catholics Battling A Cause We Should All Be Behind?

Planned Parenthood Hires PR Firm to Run Damage Control After It’s Exposed Selling Aborted Babies

The Planed Parenthood abortion business is so desperate to put out the public relations fires that have developed in the wake of it being caught numerous times selling the body parts of aborted babies that it has hired a top…Continue Reading

More than Half of Young Catholic Families Are Latino Despite Recent Decline

More than half of young Catholic families (53 percent) identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic compared with 32 percent of all Catholics, according to a recent survey. Could the presence of Hispanic families in the Catholic Church indicate Latino congregational…Continue Reading

New York Catholic churches closing after decades of service

Parishioners in New York are losing their churches as the Catholic Archdiocese carries out an aggressive consolidation plan. The cuts are driven by declining membership, fiscal insolvency of churches, and fewer priests, according to church officials. While there are 2.8…Continue Reading

Kenyan President to Obama: You Will not Impose The ‘Gay Rights’ Agenda In Kenya

We need to speak frankly about these things” says President Kenyatta in response to Obama’s statement that Kenya must share the same values as the United States on sodomite rights issues. Kenyatta, at the press conference this morning in Kenya,…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi: Ignore Planned Parenthood Selling Aborted Babies, Investigate Pro-Lifers

nancyp

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has no interest in digging deeper into the revelations that the Planned Parenthood abortion business is selling the body part of aborted babies Instead, she wants the Obama administration to investigate the pro-life activists who…Continue Reading

Carly Fiorina to Planned Parenthood: You Deny Ultrasounds to Show Women Life Within Them, but Use Ultrasounds to Preserve Organs of Their Dead Babies

Venezuela’s bishops caution against the adoption of no-fault divorce

The Venezuelan bishops last week warned that marriage and families in their nation will be weakened as a result of a court decision ruling that spouses can divorce without any evidence of wrongdoing on either’s part , Christian Telegraph reports…Continue Reading

Rationing? Obamacare Health Care Plans Have 34 Percent Fewer Doctors, Hospitals

According to the Washington Examiner, a new study reveals that Obamacare plans have 34% fewer doctors and hospitals than other health insurance plans. The information was released today by Avalere Heath and proves that exchange networks actually provide fewer heart…Continue Reading

Cdl. Vincent Nichols to Expand LGBT Ministry

WESTMINSTER, July 21, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales, is pushing to expand the Church’s ministry to those in the LGBT community. Monsignor Keith Barltrop, parish priest of St. Mary…Continue Reading

LA gets three new auxiliary bishops, including Fr. Robert Barron

Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 21, 2015 / 07:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Known for his online videos which tackle everything from the saints, to the “new atheism,” to the latest blockbuster film, Fr. Robert Barron will have a new responsibility: auxiliary…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Multiply good works like the loaves and fishes

pope113

(Vatican Radio) Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer before the faithful in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis recalled Sunday’s Gospel about the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. The Pope explained that “Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but the most profound of hungers, the hunger for meaning in life, the hunger for God.” He went on to say that  “in the face of suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people,…Continue Reading

How PPFA Manipulates Women Into “Donating” Their Babies’ Organs

By DAVE ANDRUSKO (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission from National Right to Life News Today, July 15, 2015. All rights reserved.) + + + We’ve discussed at some length a shocking hidden-camera video in which two undercover investigators are shown discussing with a high-ranking PPFA official how these supposed “procurers” of fetal tissue could work with Planned Parenthood affiliates to harvest intact baby body parts. I would also like to talk about…Continue Reading

Analyzing The Heterodoxies Of The “Shadow Council”

By MAIKE HICKSON As some readers might recall, on May 25, 2015, the presidents of the German, Swiss, and French Bishops Conferences had organized a private conference at the Gregorian University in Rome. This “Shadow Council,” as it soon was called, was criticized for its secrecy and obliqueness. The suspicion arose that this meeting was intended for preparing some revolutionary strategies and argumentation in order to promote the liberalizing agenda at the upcoming October 2015…Continue Reading

In the meeting on climate change and modern slavery, the Pope warns against the idolatry of technocracy

Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis greeted the participants in the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of cities” and in the Symposium “Prosperity, people and planet: achieving sustainable development in our cities ”, held in the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose chancellor is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The events were attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various…Continue Reading

Aggressive Obama, Passive National GOP . . . Is Third-Party Option Starting To Look Better?

By DEXTER DUGGAN House Speaker John Boehner said the recently released sting video of a national Planned Parenthood official at lunch, munching away and chatting about how to “crush” unborn babies to harvest their organs for money, was “disgusting.” Republican Boehner finally seemed to have found his voice in a Washington where he usually blends…Continue Reading

Is This What Determines Our Position On Common Core?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK The mail that we receive at First Teachers is overwhelmingly opposed to Common Core, the federal government’s effort to establish education standards for the country. Certain of our correspondents object to what they see as a liberal bias in Common Core’s curriculum, while others object to what they believe are confusing…Continue Reading

When Trump Talks, People Should Listen

By REY FLORES How many of you recall the old E.F. Hutton television commercials where everyone on an airplane would stop and listen to one man when he says, “My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says….” The voiceover would then state: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Donald Trump can do the same…Continue Reading

Thinking About The Church And Our Lives As Catholics

By PHILIP TROWER (Editor’s Note: This essay is an abridged version of a 2009 talk Philip Trower gave to the David Foster Summer School in England.) + + + I want this evening to share some thoughts with you about what being a Catholic has come to mean to me since I was received into…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Like A Prophet Warning Of A Nightmare

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, by Anthony Esolen (Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Wilmington, DE, 2015); 222 pp. Available through www.isibooks.org. When many hear the word compulsion, they think of a totalitarian society or a state of imprisonment or associate the word with some addiction like drugs…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Like Love, Assent To Faith Is A Matter Of The Will

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Reaction to my column last week titled “Where Is There Room to Disagree With Jesus? In Hell!” included the following note from a Facebook follower. Kim wrote, “Perhaps the question posed to you was not worded correctly. How about this onea. . . . Is there a line where Catholic teachings are not something Catholics…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . Why Is The Gospel Message Unique Among Religions?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 12 In this series of articles on apologetics, we have followed a logical sequence, moving from the simpler to the more complex. So, first we saw how it makes sense that truth is objective, and not subjective; that is, our minds do not create the truth, they learn it, discover it, and grasp it from…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Catholicity

By DON FIER Part 3 As we continued to examine the third mark of the Church last week, that she is catholic (or universal), we saw that all mankind is called to belong to the one true Church, the new People of God. Christ’s clear mandate to His apostles was to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. In our parish it is a custom following the final blessing at Mass for the priest to lead the congregation in a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and a Hail Mary. This past Sunday during that prayer, I was reminded of the tradition in the late 1940s and the 1950s to offer prayers for the conversion of Russia following…Continue Reading

Put On The New Self

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 Eph. 4:17, 20-24 John 6:24-35 In the second reading today St. Paul calls his Ephesian converts to a deeper conversion, emphatically stating: “I declare in the Lord.” He could not have used any language that would have been stronger to make his point. And what…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Martha

By CAROLE BRESLIN A popular pilgrimage among the Catholics of southern France takes visitors to the Grotte de la Sainte-Baume, located in the hills of Provence about 20 miles east of the port of Marseilles. To reach this holy site, the driver must cover miles of winding, ascending roads to the foot of the mountain. Then the pilgrim ascends a…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bridget

By CAROLE BRESLIN One of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s most quoted sayings would fit with this column’s saint, “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” What encouraging words for anyone seeking to do God’s will, knowing that the cross, the setbacks, and the obstacles are all part of working for the Kingdom of…Continue Reading