Thursday, August 14, 2014
When he was ten years old, Maximilian Kolbe had a dream or a vision. He saw the Blessed Virgin Mary holding out two crows for him to choose. One was white for purity, the other red was for martyrdom. Instead of choosing only one, the boy chose both. He went on to enter a Franciscan monastery in Poland. Then he started the Knights of the Immaculata: men devoted to Mary Immaculate. He began a magazine which reached thousands of people with the message of the gospel. He went from Poland to Japan where he began the same work--using the press to spread devotion to Mary Immaculate. Due to health issues he returned to Poland, just as the Nazi regime was taking over his home country. He seen became a target of the Nazi occupiers. They arrested him. Eventually he was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. There he fulfilled his dream of becoming a martyr. He became a martyr of charity when a prisoner escaped and ten men were rounded up to be sent to a starvation bunker as punishment. Kolbe stepped out of the line of prisoners and offered to replace a man who had cried out that he was married with children. Kolbe's offer was accepted. After 14 days in the bunker where he had prayed and encouraged his fellow prisoners, Kolbe was injected with poison. May he intercede for all of us as the world faces new and brutal forces intent on wiping out Christianity and other religions.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Today the Church celebrates the feast of two saints who suffered martyrdom almost at the same time. One was the lawful Pope at the time. His name was Pontian. The other was upset that the Pope--in his opinion--was too lenient in accepting once lapsed Christians back into the fold. The dissenter Hippolytus declared himself Pope and a brief schism occurred. Not long after the Roman Emperor decided to arrest, imprison and eliminate Christians, especially their leaders. The two Popes ended up in the same prison. A reconciliation took place. Soon both died for the one faith they professed in Christ. We can learn from early Christian history that the saints were authentically human. They had their disagreements. They did not always see eye to eye. Yet they all loved Jesus and despite their opinions, loved one another. Their Christian love involved reconciliation, saying "I am sorry," embracing the other, loving from the heart. None of this behavior is easy all the time. With the grace of God, we can behave the same way. We just need to ask. A consoling line in the the gospel of Matthew read today is this: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst."