Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Maximilian Kolbe, a saint who would not stand idle as his brothers suffered
The story of Maximilian Kolbe is well known to Catholics, but I was not sure how well it is known to everyone else. I thought he was a good man to mention, since is a sign to us to do what we can for our brothers and sisters, no matter what differences we have.
When I was young my mother had alot of religious catalouges. I was looking though one and saw a book called No greater Love: The Story of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I aked my mother what it was and she looked and made a worried face. I was eight and she told me she would tell me some other time, but basically Father Kolbe had given his life for another.
When I grew up I realized that mom did not want to go into great detail because Fr. Kolbe had given his life at Auschwitz for one of ten men who were to be executed after another prisoner escaped. The can be difficult to explain the Holocaust to an eight year old.
St. Kolbe once wrote:
'No one in the world can change Truth'What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is an inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, love and sin. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?'
When a prisoner escaped at Auschwitz ten were executed. As they chose the men to die that day, they chose a young married man. At that point, this is what happened:
Near the end of July, a prisoner apparently escaped, and men from Kolbe's bunker were paraded in the blazing midday sun, knowing what to expect. One man from each line was selected at random, including a sergeant, Francis Gajowniczek. He cried out in a despairing voice, "My wife, my children, I shall never see them again!" Then a man stepped out from the ranks and offered to take Gajowniczek's place. He was prisoner 16670, Father Maximilian Kolbe. The SS man, "Butcher" Fritsch, did not care who went to the Bunker, so long as there were ten of them, so he nodded. "Who are you?" he asked carelessly. "I am a Catholic priest. I wish to die for that man. I am old; he has a wife and children." Father Kolbe and the nine others were led off to the death chamber of Cell 18.
and what of the man who lived, Francis Gajowniczek?
Francis Gajowniczek, the man for whom Maximilian Kolbe gave his life, survived the war and was present at the 1971 beatification (blessing) ceremony of Father Kolbe. Gajowniczek died in 1995.
Links for info on St. Maximilian
My Hero Project
Patron Saint Index
Posted by DavidNic at 10:42 AM