Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe
By Sr. Maria Lydwine
St. Maximilian or Raymond was born on January 8, 1894. He was the second of five brothers. He was baptized without delay as a child of God and of Mary. His mother did not want to kiss her baby until he was first freed from original sin. Something all parents should learn is to have their babies baptized as soon as possible in order to deliver them from the stain of original sin and make them children of God and of Mary.
His parents were Julius Kolbe and Mary Dabroska, both from Zdunska-Wola. They came from good, humble families.
Julius and Mary had a confessor and spiritual director. They took care to entrust the boys to him so that they might receive accurate religious formation and instruction. It is something Christian parents need to give attention; namely, providing not only for children’s physical growth, but also—and more importantly—for their spiritual development.
During His childhood years, the Madonna appeared to him, holding two crowns in her hands, one was white and the other was red. “She looked at me kindly and asked if I wanted the two crowns. The white one meant that I would remain pure and the red one meant that I would be a martyr. I answered that I would accept them. Then the Madonna looked sweetly at me and disappeared.”
Raymond received the name Maximilian during his novitiate.
He stood out as an edifying model. “He was truly a saint in the exact sense of the word, very observant, even in the smallest provisions of the Rule. At the first signal from the superior or first sound of the monastery bell, he would promptly become silent, stopping even in the middle of a word... as for piety, his love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament reached the deepest fibers of his heart .”
He had a boundless confidence in the value of the Rosary for saving souls. He said “More Rosaries are prayed, more souls are saved.” He had always a supply of Miraculous Medal in his pocket and called them “Bullets” or “little bombs” to open breaches in men’s hearts.
He celebrated his first mass at the altar of the Madonna, and stood as a living model of Mary’s priest. Let us ponder the two of them—the Madonna and Maximilian—Jesus’ Mother, and the priest acting for the person of Christ the Priest. How lovingly must the Madonna have looked upon that first celebration and assisted at it! And how fondly must Maximilian have regarded her and glorified her, the Queen, the Mediatrix, the Immaculate Mother of his priesthood!
In Jesus every priest should and can become Mary’s priest in the measure in which he lets Jesus flood his heart and mind with His own heavenly love for the Mother of God.
Saint Maximilian’s fondness for the altar and his boundless devotion for the Eucharist will always be a great example for all souls who want fervently to love Jesus in the Eucharist, especially for priests.
Saint Maximilian was a perfect Marian victim, a perfect Marian holocaust. The Immaculate Virgin gave him his whole reason for being what he was.
When He was a prisoner he encouraged his fellow-sufferers, raising their morale with songs, prayers and discourse. “Everything that we suffer is for the service of the Immaculate Mother.” He was going through his way of the cross, and was doing it in company with the Immaculate Mother, as Jesus did in His painful journey to Calvary.
Fr. Kolbe used to crawl on the hospital’s floor to get to the bedside of the sick, who would go to confession and receive his consolation. The prisoners would crawl on the floor to go to the bedside of St. Maximilian at night , in order to confess their sins. When he was a patient in the infirmary, his bed was near the entrance. He took advantage of this opportunity to give his blessing and conditional absolution to all those apparently dead.
St. Maximilian gave himself to the Immaculate Virgin and put himself in her pure hands. The Immaculate Virgin made him the model priest. He become a model of love, of zeal, of sacrifice, of immolation, because he entrusted himself entirely to the hands and Heart of the Immaculate who is the Mother of Jesus, the Supreme High Priest.
Pope Paul VI brilliantly told how Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe must be placed “among the great Saints and enlightened spirits who have understood, venerated, and sung the mystery of Mary.”
Not only is he the Saint of the Immaculate, but the Saint infatuated with her, the holy “fool for the Immaculate.”
His example and teaching of love for the Immaculate Virgin rose to delightful heights. He achieved in himself perfectly what he longed to have others do: to reach the point of “breathing” Mary’s life, of “being consumed” for her, of “changing our substance” into hers.
And the Immaculate made him “ conformable to the image of her Son Jesus” among the sons of St. Francis of Assisi, in his life of virginal chastity, his life of poverty, his life as one crucified, as one who died for love amid blood and torments by the death he, Maximilian, freely chose, just as Jesus freely chose His; “He was sacrificed because it was His own will.” How wonderfully this is fulfilled, when the most ardent devotion for the Madonna brings one to a glorious likeness to Jesus.
We can ask any favor to St. Maximilian, but there is one we should not fail to ask: an infatuated love for the Madonna. He can grant it to us, and he wants to do so.
St. Maximilian wants to bring us to this love. He would fully satisfy us and exhilarate us with it. We can thus hear him continually repeating to us: “Love the Immaculate, and she will make you happy.”
“Do not be afraid of giving the Immaculate Mother too much love; for you will never come to love her as Jesus did..”