St. Maximilian Kolbe

On this date in 1941, Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan priest,  died at Auschwitz.  In reprisal for an escape from Auschwitz, ten men were chosen to be starved to death in an underground bunker.  One of the men cried out, “my wife! my children!” and St. Kolbe volunteered to take his place.  He was the last survivor on August 14 and was given an injection of carbolic acid to hasten his death.  His remains were cremated on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If I keep this in mind today, I don’t think I have any problems.  My only problem is my self.  But as St. Kolbe tells me:

“How many times have we heard resigned or even desperate expressions such as:  I can’t succeed, I can’t make it, I lack the strength!

Undoubtedly, in the physical field the energies we have are limited:  it would be useless for someone to try to lift a weight of a few tons with only one hand.

But also in the moral field, we sometimes happen to hear this same lament:  I cannot get rid of this fault; I’m too weak to decide to acquire this virtue; this is too much for me!

But is it really true we cannot make it, as we claim?  If we listen to St. Paul, he expressedly says:  “I have strength for everything!”  Still, the complete phrase says: “In him who is the source of my strength… I have strength for everything!” (Phil 4:13).  And “For apart from me,” Jesus himself says, “you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

And why?

Because if God asks something from us, he surely provides us with the energy we need to carry out his will, on condition that we do not neglect to do our part.

We require God’s grace in order to function, and our soul can surely obtain that grace through prayer.”

— St. Maximilian Kolbe

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17 Responses to St. Maximilian Kolbe

  1. atomicmomma says:

    Wow. He was amazing. That is true courage and giving of yourself.

    You’re a good woman, Mary. I hope you start to feel better soon from your depression. I admire how you soldier on in a time where people give up.

  2. patty says:

    I love this post Mary. Have a great day!

  3. Jessie says:

    This is one of the stories that was told in a class I took while exploring faith and was a large moment of conversion for me. I still tear up at the absolute faith and love displayed by one man, and my faithlessness and selfishness in the light of that.

  4. shadowlands says:

    Good inspiring words! Thankyou.

  5. Mary LA says:

    So many extraordinary people, saints and martyrs, featured in the liturgy right now — and such terrible times. I think of those in Aleppo right now who may be giving their lives for others or fighting to protect those they love. Earlier I was looking at a little card sent to me by a friend showing a painting by Piero della Franceso of the Scourging of Christ and thinking about how we need to remember the Passion, how that has inspired goodness, courage and self-sacrifice, self-giving in faith.

    Hoping this is a good week for you, Mary Christine.

    • Thank you so much Mary. I am finding great solace in the liturgy right now. Those we remember centuries later are not remembered for their huge 401k, fat bank accounts, and super high credit scores. I have put my values in the wrong places, although I didn’t know it at the time. Those saints are working on me!

  6. luluberoo says:

    Oh, I love this! I just watched a documentary, In Darkness (
    about a Polish Catholic sewer worker who hid a group of Jews in the sewers of Lwow, Poland for over a year. He took incredible risk, and he was just an ordinary man who knew morally wrong when he saw it. That any of the Jews survived in the rat infested, feces, germs, etc is another miracle. One of the survivors wrote a book, “the Girl in the Green Sweater” available on Amazon.

    An inspiring story of how one person doing the right thing can change the destiny of many others.

  7. Ellie says:

    This post has been in my head all day and will probably stay for some time to come.

    Hope you had a good Tuesday.

  8. Pam says:

    I love this. I forgot that I knew this story. Now I’m going to have to go look it up all over again. Between you and Maryinafrica, y’all have me jumping these days.

  9. Syd says:

    Remarkable sacrifice of self for the greater good. We need more of such courage in our midst today.

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