Two years ago today was one of the last days of our perpetual profession pilgrimage. We had just returned to Rome from San Giovanni Rotondo, and were given a free day before flying home. As it is today, it was the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I decided to start my day by walking over to St. Peter's Basilica for Mass. When St. Peter's opens in the morning, all the various groups of pilgrims are deposited at various altars by the businesslike altar boys. So there's this wonderful period early in the morning, before the crowds of tourists show up, when Masses are being offered left and right in every language you can think of. Since it was the feast of St. Maximilian, I thought I would go to Mass in Polish. I knelt, saying my rosary by the door to the side sacristy, until I heard a group of Polish pilgrims emerge, and then followed them to their side altar and joined them for Mass.
This morning I'm just grateful for my Franciscan brother St. Maximilian, not only in his generous martyrdom, but also in his strenuous ministry of fostering devotion to Our Lady. It was an important moment in my own life as a Christian and a minister of Christianity, when I realized that the primary purpose of ministry is not social progress or individual psychological health, but the glory of God, from which the flourishing of both society and individuals flows.