Wednesday, August 14, 2013

St. Maximilian Kolbe

In the Catholic Church we choose a particular saint
to draw life experiences from for our Confirmation name.
When I was a kid, we just chose someone because they were pretty or neat.
Not this generation.
What did that person do and how can their life help me to follow Christ more fully.
My son chose this man as one that he would like to study more in depth.
Since that time I have come to appreciate his sacrifice and that of his order.

People are confused about Saints and why Catholics cherish their memories.
We believe that our souls live on. By being baptized we enter the community of saints- declaring ourselves as followers of Christ.
Some of us- within the community of Saints which we all aspire to be in- are more overt in our walk with the Lord. They are declared "Saints" and given a day of remembrance. Those Saints were just normal people---like you and me--- who chose a path as close to Christ as possible in one way or the other.

As Catholics we believe that the living and the dead help guide our lives. By studying those who have gone before and asking them to help us to walk a more righteous path, we are addressing them the same way we would an elder, wiser adult. That is what prayer is--- communication for understanding and praise. The praise itself is reserved for God---but the wisdom can be gleamed from anyone.

Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan.   In his early years he felt that Mary (whom we do not believe is God - but the human mother of God), had appeared to him. He started a group called "Army of Mary, to work for conversion of sinners and enemies of the Catholic Church, specifically the Freemasons, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary".  
Maximilian served for six years in Japan as a missionary and then returned to Poland.
From Wikipedia:

After the outbreak of World War II, which started with the invasion of his nation by Nazi Germany, Kolbe provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów.[15]On 17 February 1941, he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. On 28 May, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.[16]
At the end of July 1941, three prisoners disappeared from the camp, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker in order to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, "My wife! My children!", Kolbe volunteered to take his place.[17]
In his prison cell, Kolbe celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns with the prisoners.He led the other condemned men in song and prayer and encouraged them by telling them they would soon be with Mary in Heaven. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied and they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at the injection say that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection.[18] His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.[2]"

This was an interesting choice of a Saint for my son to study and take his name as my son is now a soldier.  I feel that choosing a man like Kolbe to watch for example helps my son in his leadership of being compassionate and certain of his actions.
I constantly look for leadership in my path. Finding saint who learned how to follow Christ in an everyday walk helps me to see that my walk can also follow Christ. On this feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe I am called to step up and serve others- even when it is not necessarily the path I would normally take.


estetik drew said...

The post is very informative. It is a pleasure reading it. I have also bookmarked you for checking out new posts.

Barb said...

Janette we left wing Episcopalians do not treat the saints in quite the same manner. That said, the church has a new book out called Saints and Holy People, and my Wednesday bible discussion chooses a saint or saints each week.