I gave my website the title The Kolbe Report in honor of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. I was set on this title from the moment I decided to write a blog. I knew two things about Kolbe: (1) is the patron saint for journalists and (2) he gave himself up to the Nazis in the Auswitch concentration camp in 1941 so that Polish Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek could be spared. Despite surviving for two weeks in a starvation chamber, the Nazis executed Kolbe by means of a lethal injection of carbolic acid and burned his body in the crematorium on August 14, 1941.
Since I am acting somewhat as a journalist with my blog, I thought Kolbe would be an appropriate choice to honor with my title. What I have come to learn over time is how relevant Kolbe’s legacy lives today in the lives of Catholics who are struggling to deal with issues in the Church, and I am not just talking about the recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. I will be the first to tell you that my disgust in reading the Grand Jury report left me seriously pondering leaving the Church. Those who know me will tell you that although I was not physically abused by the clergy in the Catholic Church, I have been spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically raped. When I discuss my problems with my good friend who happens to be a priest, he always asks me to tell him what is God telling you? For weeks I respond with that same blank stare conveying a look of “I don’t know.” Perhaps I am finally hearing something, and I would like to think it is to read about the life of Saint Maximilian Kolbe and to pray to him and ask him to be my intercessor.
What I have come to learn is that Maximilian’s birth name is Raymund. At the age of 10, he had a vision of the Blessed Mother who offered him a red crown representing martyrdom and a white crown, purity. He chose both. In 1910 Kolbe entered the Conventual Franciscans and was given the religious name of Maximilian. In 1917 while studying in Rome, he founded the Militia of the Immaculata (MI). The official site of the MI says the organization “is a worldwide evangelization movement that encourages total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society. The MI movement is open to all Catholics over 7 years old. It employs prayer as the main tool in the spiritual battle with evil. Members of the MI also immerse themselves in apostolic initiatives throughout society, either individually or in groups, to deepen and spread the knowledge of the Gospel and our Catholic Faith.”
In the 1930s, Kolbe went to Nagasaki, Japan. In The Japanese Legacy of Saint Maximilian Kolbe Monique Ocampo writes, “Even though he didn’t know any Japanese, he was able to create a Japanese version of his magazine Knight of the Immaculate. It grew to a circulation of 65,000 in 1936. He also founded a monastery in Nagasaki and decided to build it on what the locals believed was the “inauspicious” side of the mountain. When the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, that monastery miraculously survived because the other side of the mountain took the majority of the blast.” Kolbe also traveled to China and India where he established missions. Kolbe mission then as it is today is to use the power of prayer as opposed to guns against the evils of the world and to encourage humanity to become “saints.”
Kolbe is the right choice for whom this blog is named in honor. A person who lived during a dark time in history, and though we are not in the midst of World War III, this is a very dark time for Catholics and the Catholic Church. As easy as it would be for me to leave the Catholic Church, I have decided to remain and I pray for a peaceful world and Church. Blessings.