The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Would He Step Up

Yesterday was the feast day of a saint I've recently discovered, St. Maximilian Kolbe. The short version of his story was that the he was a Franciscan priest during World War II who was thrown into the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Nazis. During his time in the camp he ministered to Christians and Jews alike.

When a prisoner escaped, the Nazi in charge of the camp chose at random ten men to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a father of five children. Death was administered by starvation, and Father Kolbe ministered to each of the other nine who were thrown into the starvation chamber with him. They prayed the rosary. Sang Marion songs. All of this to the dismay of the Nazis. Slowly, men began to die. Father Kolbe was the last one left after about two weeks of starvation, and the Nazis frustrated by his endurance executed him.

As I reflected upon his story, I wondered how many priests I know would step up and give their lives in a similar circumstance? What heartens me is that I can think of at least three that I am acquianted. Good men, who if the situation arose, would step up like Father Kolbe. And this is not to disparage anyone who didn't have the courage to rise to the challenge. I would hope I would, but one doesn't really know until one is faced with the situation. After all, St. Peter ran away like a little girl during Christ's passion and by all accounts he was a very strong man.

Another interesting thing about St. Kolbe is that he lived at around the same time as St. Faustina and Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II), and all of these great souls came from the same area of Poland. On my next trip to Europe, I believe I will have to visit this area and see the ground where such devout souls once stood.

Don't forget today is a holy day of obligation as we celebrate Our Lady's Assumption into Heaven. Franciscans believe that Mary was 72 years old, which is why there are 72 beads on a Franciscan rosary. Just a little fact to share at your next cocktail party.


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