The Responsorial Psalm for today’s Mass, “Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire,” is certainly appropriate for the man whose feast we celebrate today. Maximilian Kolbe was ordained a Franciscan priest in his native Poland in 1918 and much of his energy and passion went into promoting “The Army of the Immaculate,” which sought to form men and women with knowledge and zeal to convert sinners under the protection of Mary. He published a monthly periodical to foster the cause of “The Army of the Immaculate.”
His community sent him to found Franciscans monasteries in Japan and India and, while illness caused him to be returned to Poland in 1936, the Poland to which he returned was not at all well. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland and most intellectuals and priests, including many Franciscans, were rounded up and arrested. Kolbe was released three months later and he returned to his monastery. His courage knew few bounds. He began publishing pamphlets critical of the Nazi ideology and used his monastery to hide refugees, including 2,000 Jews. He was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. It was there that he exhibited his last act of courage in asking to he be allowed to replace a man who had a family and was sentenced to starvation. Father Kolbe died in the prison camp on August 14, 1941. Truly he was a man who could proclaim, “Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire.”
Perhaps today we might reflect on one of Kolbe’s evocative quotes, “The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.” Pope Francis has also preached often on our indifference to the poor, the immigrant, those who live on the peripheries. To whom are we indifferent?
LET US PRAY
Lord, you raised up your servant Maximilian Kolbe and you filled his heart with the fire of courage and devotion to Mary and to the Eucharist. May we receive a portion of that fire that we too might more courageously witness to your presence in the least of our brothers and sisters. AMEN
Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)