Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Martyr of Charity

St. Maximilian Kolbe

In my spiritual travels I spent a summer with the Conventual Friars at their original Marytown in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  As a kid I was enrolled in the Militia of Mary Immaculate, the sodality founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe after his studies in Rome.  In Rome he witnessed the Masonic anti-Catholic actions against the Catholic Church, and this moved him to form the Knights of the Immaculata, Mediatrix of all Graces, in defense of the Catholic faith.  For well defined details, please visit this site.

I was attracted to St. Maximilian as a kid on account of his devotion to Our Lady, and of course, his martyrdom at Auschwitz.  As a child, Maximilian had a vision of Our Lady, who offered him two crowns, one for chastity, the other for martyrdom.  He explained:
"... the Blessed Mother appeared to me holding in her hands two crowns: one white the other red. She looked at me with tenderness and asked me if I wanted these two crowns. The white one signified that I would preserve my purity and the red that I would be a martyr."
In 1973 Paul VI beatified him and in 1982 John Paul II canonized him as a Martyr of Charity. - Source
St. Maximilian offered his life in exchange for a prisoner who was to be executed.  he died by lethal injection, after many days of starvation.  Kolbe's death was truly a heroic act of the most perfect charity by which he won his martyr's crown.  Since his canonization, the Saint's intercession is often sought for people addicted to drugs because of the manner in which he died.  However, I see his death foreshadowing the growing practice of euthanasia we hear about in our times: withholding nutrition and hydration, as well as lethal injection.  That is exactly how Kolbe was put to death - although much more cruelly, no clinical pretensions to comfort.  On account of this, Kolbe must be considered a major patron of the pro-life movement.  

̈“Charity should be open to all without discrimination; her only limit should be whatever is possible, which because of its spirit of sacrifice- should reach to the extreme.” (St.Maximilian)


  1. Did you enroll yourself in the "Militia of Mary Immaculate"? How did you find out about it as a boy? I visited the beautiful Chapel of adoration at Marytown in Libertyville, IL a few summers ago. What a beautiful place.

    1. No - you had to be enrolled. I found out about it because I went to Catholic school and the Conventuals had a formation house in Chaska - where I was also enrolled as a Cordbearer of St. Francis in 5th grade.

  2. Oh! I know exactly where the Conventual house was in Chaska at the bottom of the hill from Eden Prairie. It was long since closed when I saw it. That was a great grace for you. It's why you are not in the clutches of the devil today. It's why you are faithful to Our Lady.

  3. "Let us imagine that we are a brush in the hand of an infinitely perfect artist. What must a brush do to make the painting turn out most beautiful? It must allow itself to be guided as perfectly as possible . . . When Eternal Wisdom, God, uses us as an instrument, then we shall act most fruitfully . . . when we permit ourselves to be directed most perfectly and entirely."

    - St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

  4. +JMJ+

    For the past few years, when I think of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the first association that comes to mind is a favourite singer of mine who developed a substance abuse problem. When he was in rehab, I happened to learn that his Confirmation saint was St. Maximilian--who is, of course, patron of drug addicts. Yet more "evidence" for my theory that the saints choose us as much as we choose them--although they are wiser than we, and likely choose as God does, preferring our weaknesses to our strengths and our foolishness to our wisdom.


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