August 10, 2019 A View from the Rectory Window

Our patron, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, is the patron saint of families, prisoners, journalists, political prisoners, drug addicts and the pro-life movement. Pope Saint John Paul II declared him to be “the patron saint of our difficult century. ” As we know so well, the evils which made the twentieth century so difficult were not left behind as we moved into the twenty-first century. His life, his witness and his death continues to provide us with an example of how to stand in the midst of our troubled times.

On the 20th anniversary of his canonization, the religious order who cared for Saint Maxmilian Kolbe’s writings opened their archives sharing many of his letters.

Among the saint’s manuscripts was the last letter he wrote to his mother:

“Dear Mother,” he wrote. “Toward the end of May I arrived by railway convoy at the Auschwitz concentration camp. All is well with me, dear Mother. You can be at peace about me and my health, because the good God is everywhere and he thinks with great love about everyone and everything. It would be better if you did not write me until I send you another letter, because I don’t know how long I will be here. With kind greetings and kisses, Raymond Kolbe.”

Soon after he wrote this letter, on August 14, 1941, Father Kolbe handed his life over for a fellow prisoner condemned to die and was given a lethal injection in the camp’s death bunker. For the two previous weeks, he had had nothing to eat or drink, surviving along with four of the 16 inmates condemned in reprisal for an escape. Father Kolbe was the last to die. Fellow prisoners and subsequent survivors of Auschwitz recounted that Saint Maximilian Kolbe encouraged the other prisoners to never doubt that, “ . . . the good God is everywhere and he thinks with great love about everyone and everything.”

In our troubled times, ought we not do the same? May Saint Maximilian Kolbe pray for us.

Fr. Pete