Inspiration for Self-Sacrifice
“The Queen shines, O Lord, at your right hand!” This is what the Church sings today, while it is jubilantly in awe at the extraordinary event of the Assumption of the Virgin, body and soul, into heaven.
This solemnity, in the heart of summertime, is a fitting occasion to meditate on the reality that goes beyond earthly existence.
Contemplating the Madonna in her heavenly glory, we understand better that the obligations and exhaustion of each day should not totally absorb us, because the scope of life is not limited to this earth. In her, she who today gleams with light, we see fully realized all that the heavenly Father promises to those who generously serve him — extending their fidelity, if necessary, to the point of offering the supreme sacrifice of their life.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, gave courageous witness to this fidelity. He was always inspired by Mary, whom he loved to call “dearest Mamma.” He was a worthy spiritual son of St. Francis, dying Aug. 14, 1941, precisely on the vigil of the solemnity of the Assumption, in the sadly familiar bunker of that infamous Auschwitz.
This year is the 60th anniversary of his dramatic and heroic martyrdom. After unspeakable suffering, he was done away with by “an injection of poisonous acid in the left arm” — as recounted by the medical report of the one who verified his death — and his body was burned in the ovens of the crematorium on the next day.
He offered himself enthusiastically in place of a father of a family who had cried out: “My wife and my children! I'll never see them again!” His extraordinarily generous deed can be seen symbolically as a “gift to the family,” whose fundamental mission in the Church and society he had thoroughly described. With this intention, he wrote that “the mutual love of the persons who unite themselves to form a family is an authentic echo of the divine love” (SK 1326).
May the memory of this martyr of charity help all believers to follow Christ and his Gospel without hesitation or compromise. As a devoted son of the Virgin, Saint Maximillian especially encourages families and young people to find in the Mother of God support for difficult times and a secure guide toward holiness.
He always allowed the Immaculate One to take him by the hand, convinced, as he loved to repeat, that “Mary will think of everything for us, and taking away every distress and difficulty, she will promptly see to all our corporal and spiritual needs” (SK 25.56).
(Translation by Register)
- August 26 - September 1, 2001