August 14, 2009

St. Maximilian

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.


Qualis Rex said...

The story of St Maximillian Kolbe is so controversial and has so many levels. Much of it was distorted and tarnished by the communists who ruled Poland for 40+ years in order to diminish the role and indeed oppress the power of the church, and specifically the Franciscans, in the iron curtain. And now most (if not all) the facts are out, so there is no room or hard evidence anymore to suggest that Kolbe, the Franciscan order or Pius XII did anything but try to work towards peace and helping others in the face of utter evil. But rumors are like nails in a tree-- you can take the nails out but the damage is done. Let's just hope that when thinking about St Maximillian, the church, Franciscans and Pius XII the next generation will think clearly and consider the evidence and not simply regurgitate slanderous propaganda.

Julia said...

What a beautiful and inspiring saint.

I especially love his experience as a child, already so devoted to Our Lady: "That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, pray for us!