Monday 29th May 2017

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

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Trump Is Pushed and Pulled on Climate Change, A Year After Pledging to Cancel Paris Deal

(CNSNews.com) – Exactly one year after pledging in a speech to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement, President Trump will attend a Group of Seven summit Friday in Sicily where he’s expected to come under sustained pressure from his counterparts to…Continue Reading

St. Louis archbishop resists law requiring Catholics to hire abortion activists: ‘We will not comply’

LOUIS, Missouri, May 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, led by the Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, has drawn a line in the sand for the protection of innocent human life. In February, the city…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Closing Multiple Abortion Clinics in Iowa After State Defunds It

The abortion chain Planned Parenthood announced plans Thursday to close four Iowa clinics as a result of a new state law that defunds it. At the end of June, Planned Parenthood facilities in Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City, Iowa will…Continue Reading

Graduates walk out on Pence at Notre Dame commencement

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Dozens of graduates and family members silently stood and walked out Sunday as Vice President Mike Pence began his address at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony. Pence, the former governor of Indiana, was invited to speak…Continue Reading

Trump nominates Callista Gingrich for ambassador to the Vatican

President Trump has nominated Callista Gingrich, the wife of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), as ambassador to the Holy See, the White House announced Friday. The nomination comes just five days before Trump is set to meet with Pope Francis…Continue Reading

The murder case of Blessed Oscar Romero has been reopened

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 19, 2017 / 01:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A nearly 40 year-old murder case was reopened this week to properly prosecute the suspected killer behind the Salvadorian archbishop’s martyrdom. Because of an amnesty law that prohibited…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Protest of Pence Twists Catholic Social Teaching

This Sunday, vice president Mike Pence will return to his home state of Indiana to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. For the third time in several years, the school’s graduation ceremony will be plagued by…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood is Ditching the Failed “Pro-Choice” Label. Here’s Why

The “pro-choice” label has not been working out so well for the abortion chain Planned Parenthood. The labels pro-choice and pro-life have been used for decades to help identify people’s positions on abortion, but young adults seem to be moving…Continue Reading

Bishop Conley: The Pro-Choice Political Dictatorship of Relativism

In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would soon be elected Pope Benedict XVI, preached that “we are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and…Continue Reading

These Republicans Voted Against the Bill to Defund the Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

Republicans in the House of Representatives yesterday voted for a Reconciliation bill that would defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business. This was the second attempt to get enough votes on the reconciliation bill that would not only defund the nation’s…Continue Reading

Cecile Richards Comes Unglued After House Defunds Planned Parenthood: Republicans Hate Women

Planned Parenthood abortion business president Cecile Richards it’s not happy that the House of Representatives voted yesterday to defund Planned Parenthood. The main response of the CEO of the nation’s biggest abortion conglomerate can be summed up in three words:…Continue Reading

Despite pro-life provisions, healthcare bill raises serious concerns

Vatican City, May 4, 2017 / 05:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The House passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement health care bill on Thursday, but one bishop warned that the new bill poses serious problems for…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

US bishop says Trump budget at odds with Catholic, American ideals

Louisville, Ky., May 26, 2017 / 05:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The former head of the US bishops decried President Trump’s budget plan, claiming its cuts to social services conflict with both the Catholic faith and American principles. “Whether through Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps or foreign aid, our nation has recognized that our worth is judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky said in a May…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller on Amoris Laetitia, Paul Ehrlich, Antonio Spadaro and the Three Dismissed Priests

muller

Yesterday, 25 May, the Catholic channel EWTN aired an interview of Raymond Arroyo’s The World Over which was conducted a week ago with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In this interview – which was conducted in English – the German cardinal touches upon several important matters which are of interest to the larger Catholic world. When Raymond Arroyo asks Cardinal Müller about the post-synodal exhortation…Continue Reading

‘Comfortable’ Catholics are ‘unwilling’ to see dangers facing Church: Scholar

ROME, May 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Too many Catholics are caught up in a “comfortable” Catholicism that makes them unwilling, and even unable, to see the “grave problems” currently besetting the Church, said a renowned theologian and one of the world’s top Catholic experts on the Church Fathers. “Most Catholics seem to live their life on a sort of comfortable zone, just the way that a lot of bishops live in a sort of safety-first…Continue Reading

Catholic bishops denounce a Trump budget championed by Mulvaney – a lifelong Catholic

On the day that President Donald Trump met with Pope Francis in Rome, a top administration official defended a proposed budget that America’s Catholic bishops have strongly criticized for hurting the poor. The Trump administration official in the hot seat: budget chief Mick Mulvaney, a lifelong Catholic who grew up in Charlotte. Speaking Wednesday to the House Budget Committee, Mulvaney called Trump’s budget plan a “moral” document that puts “taxpayers first.” And he defended the…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Receives US President Donald J. Trump

Pope Francis received President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, today, May 24, 2017, at about 8:30 a.m. in the Apostolic Palace, before Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The meeting was broadcasted by Vatican Television and can be watched via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVCm1-toVFg According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions, which lasted about 30 minutes, were cordial.

Fr. John Paul Erickson… Calls On Catholics To Live The Cardinal Virtues

By PEGGY MOEN MINNEAPOLIS — “There was always something,” Fr. John Paul Erickson told his audience of 150 at the Church of St. Helena on May 18. “Always a struggle between light and darkness” ever since Adam and Eve took the apple and we’ve never had “a golden era.” With gender ideology and other aberrations,…Continue Reading

Serious Hitchcock Errors… Mean That Book Must Be Corrected

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — I loved to read St. Louis, Mo., historian James Hitchcock’s opinion column some decades ago in the National Catholic Register, when I also wrote for that paper. I was pleased, of course, when he occasionally referred favorably to something I’d written. In his August 30, 1981, Register column, Hitchcock cited…Continue Reading

The Blessed Virgin And St. Joseph… A Marriage Truly Made In Heaven

By JAMES MONTI For several centuries there was on the liturgical calendars of several religious orders a feast day that few know of today — Desponsatio beatae Mariae Virginis — the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a celebration of the marriage of Our Lady to St. Joseph. Although the Sacred Scriptures recount scarcely more…Continue Reading

A New Birth Control Commission?

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: At this point, reports about a possible new birth control commission are unconfirmed. This commentary first appeared on http://nfpandmore.org/wordpress/.) + + + The week of May 13th started wonderfully with widespread efforts to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Fatima. The work week was quickly dimmed,…Continue Reading

Wanda Poltawska… The Stubborn Insistence On Being Human

By DONALD DeMARCO The city was Toledo, Ohio. The year was 1990. The venue was the dining room in a private home. The audience consisted of several pro-life people, including myself. The speaker was Wanda Poltawska who was relating a series of events in her life that we were most privileged to hear. In 1962,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… The Most Awkward Conversations Are The Most Important

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK There’s nothing more intense than being invited to share in the most intimate details of the life of another soul or family. Of course it is not done gratuitously. When a person is distressed or grieving and reaches out for help, it is often the priest to whom they turn for healing. Most commonly people…Continue Reading

Our Savior And Redeemer… The Redemption

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 9 In his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II made a few interesting statements about Islam, which I quote in the following two paragraphs: “Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible…Continue Reading

Penance As A Laborious Kind Of Baptism

By DON FIER Sin, its dire consequences, and man’s continual need for conversion are realities that are often dismissed or even outrightly denied in modern secularized societies enamored, as they are, with materialistic pursuits. As noted last week, recent Roman Pontiffs, beginning with Pope Pius XII in 1946, cite as an underlying reason for this troubling phenomenon a “loss of…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In his parish bulletin recently, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City recalled the famous words of the great jazz singer Al Jolson: “You ain’t heard nothing yet” and compared them with the words of Jesus: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John…Continue Reading

Discover God’s Gifts And His Will

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Pentecost Sunday (YR A) Readings: Acts 2:1-11 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13 John 20:19-23 In the first reading today we hear about the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles as they were gathered in prayer. The event was marked by some extraordinary phenomena: the noise like a driving wind filling the house and the tongues of fire.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Sanz And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1748, the Viceroy of Peking with great frustration asked, “What are we to do with these men? Their lives are certainly irreproachable. . . . Their jailers and their families become their disciples and embrace their religion. To prolong this state is only to give them the opportunity of increasing the number of Christians.” Thus Peter…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Pope St. Celestine V

By CAROLE BRESLIN After the death of Pope St. John Paul II, faithful Catholics rejoiced at the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the next Vicar of Christ. The German prelate took the name of Benedict XVI for two reasons: in memory of Pope Benedict XV who led the Church during the turbulent times of World War I, seeking peace…Continue Reading