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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Catholic News World : Thursday August 14, 2014 - Share!

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Pope Francis fulfills his Missionary Dream in Korea "....proclaiming Jesus..."

Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe - Patron of Drug Addicts - SHARE this Prayer

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis' journey to South Korea is not a "tourist visit," as the Holy Father himself explained to journalists during the 11 hour flight to Seoul. Vatican Radio's Sean Patrick Lovett explains the Pope's missionary dream: Not everybody knows the real reason why Jorge Bergoglio became a Jesuit. He dreamed of being a missionary in the Far East, just like the Jesuit St Francis Xavier. That’s what he himself said last year when speaking to a group of Jesuit school students in Rome.
“Going out…proclaiming Jesus Christ…not staying closed in our structures” – that’s how he described his call within the call. In a sense, that dream was at least partly fulfilled today when the papal plane touched down at an Air Base in Seoul, South Korea. In this specific case his missionary dream is articulated around three main themes: recognizing the role of young people in the Church by celebrating the 6th Asian Youth Day together with them, acknowledging the history of the Faith in this part of the world by beatifying 124 of its martyrs who died for their beliefs in the 19th century, encouraging reconciliation and peace, between North and South Korea, in particular, by praying for that purpose at a special Mass in Seoul.
Speaking to the 72 journalists representing 11 nations who are travelling with him on the flight from Rome, Pope Francis was even more explicit: “This is not a tourist visit”, he said. The Pope greeted members of the press corps individually, and thanked them for their words which, he said, “help unite us to the world”. He also prayed in silence for the Italian journalist and his Palestinian translator who were killed while reporting on the situation in Gaza on August 13th. Finally, the Pope promised to answer journalist’s questions on the return flight - even though, he quipped, he might end up “like Daniel in the lion’s den…although these lions don’t bite”, he added quickly. Pope Francis faced a fairly full schedule on his first day, including official meetings with the President and local authorities and then with members of the Korean Bishops Conference. He’s already said he knows this trip is going to be, in his own words, “very physical”. But then, as we all know, “physicality” is one of the distinguishing characteristics of every good missionary…and of Pope Francis himself.

Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe - Patron of Drug Addicts - SHARE this Prayer

Say once a day for 9 days
Especially on the Feast of St. Maximilian.
 O Lord Jesus Christ, Who said, "greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends," through the intercession of Saint Maximilian Kolbe whose life illustrated such love, we beseech Thee to grant us our petitions. (Mention your intentions here) Through the Militia Immaculata movement, which Maximilian founded, he spread a fervent devotion to Our Lady throughout the world. He gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all men -- a love that was inspired by true devotion to Mary. Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our Heavenly Queen in order to better love and serve our fellow man in imitation of Thy humble servant, Saint Maximilian. Amen.
 Recite three Hail Marys and a Glory Be.

Today's Mass and Readings : Thurs. August 14, 2014

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Lectionary: 416


Reading 1EZ 12:1-12

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious house.
Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on,
prepare your baggage as though for exile,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you live to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house.
You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime
while they are looking on;
in the evening, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness;
cover your face that you may not see the land,
for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.

I did as I was told.
During the day I brought out my baggage
as though it were that of an exile,
and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand
and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness,
shouldering my burden.

Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
This oracle concerns Jerusalem
and the whole house of Israel within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to them;
as captives they shall go into exile.
The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in the wall,
and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.

Responsorial Psalm PS 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And he surrendered his strength into captivity,
his glory in the hands of the foe.
He abandoned his people to the sword
and was enraged against his inheritance.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Gospel MT 18:21-19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Pope Francis "May all of us dedicate these days to peace, to praying for it and deepening our resolve to achieve it." Speech Full Text/Video




(Vatican Radio) After his arrival in Seoul on Thursday morning, Pope Francis began his Apostolic Voyage to South Korea with private Mass at the Apostolic Nunciature in Seoul.
Following Mass, the Holy Father proceeded to the Presidential Palace, known as the “Blue House,” where he was greeted by President Park Geun-hye. The two leaders met for a brief courtesy visit, which included an exchange of gifts.
Pope Francis then met with civil authorities, including Korean political leaders, a representative of the Diplomatic Corps, and other leaders.
“It is a great joy for me to come to Korea,” the Pope said, “the land of the morning calm, and to experience not only the natural beauty of this country, but above all the beauty of its people and its rich history and culture.”In his address, Pope Francis spoke of the two occasions that have brought him to South Korea: the Sixth Asian Youth Day, and the Beatification of 124 Korean martyrs. “These two celebrations complement one another,” the Holy Father said. “Korean culture understands well the inherent dignity and wisdom of our elders and honors their place in society. We Catholics honor our elders who were martyred for the faith because they were willing to give their lives for the truth which they had come to believe and by which they sought to live their lives.”
But, the Pope continued, “A wise and great people do not only cherish their ancestral traditions; they also treasure their young, seeking to pass on the legacy of the past and to apply it to the challenges of the present. Whenever young people gather together, as on the present occasion, it is a precious opportunity for all of us to listen to their hopes and concerns.”
With regard to the challenges and opportunities facing the world today, the Pope said “it is especially important for us to reflect on the need to give our young people the gift of peace” – an appeal that resonates strongly in Korea, “a land which has long suffered because of a lack of peace.” The quest for peace, he said, is especially incumbent on political leaders, who must recognize that “peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms, and displays of force.” Political leaders, he said, direct their efforts to the goal of building a better, more peaceful, just, and prosperous world for our children.”
Pope Francis stressed the importance of letting “the voice of every member of society be heard” as Korea struggles to deal with the important issues of the day. And once again, he called for a “special concern” to be shown “for the poor, the vulnerable, and those who have no voice.”
The Holy Father concluded his address by quoting Pope St John Paul II, the last Pope to visit Korea, who was convinced that “the future of Korea will depend on the presence among its people of many wise, virtuous and deeply spiritual men and women.” Making those words his own, Pope Francis assured Korea’s leaders “of the continued desire of Korea’s Catholic community to participate fully in the life of the nation.”
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ address:
Madam President, Honorable Government and Civil Authorities, Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear Friends, It is a great joy for me to come to Korea, the land of the morning calm, and to experience not only the natural beauty of this country, but above all the beauty of its people and its rich history and culture. This national legacy has been tested through the years by violence, persecution and war. But despite these trials, the heat of the day and the dark of the night have always given way to the morning calm, that is, to an undiminished hope for justice, peace and unity. What a gift hope is! We cannot become discouraged in our pursuit of these goals which are for the good not only of the Korean people, but of the entire region and the whole world.
I wish to thank President Park Geun-hye for her warm welcome. I greet her and the distinguished members of the government. I would like to acknowledge also the members of the diplomatic corps, the civil and military authorities, and all those present who by their many efforts have assisted in preparing for my visit. I am most grateful for your hospitality, which has immediately made me feel at home among you.
My visit to Korea is occasioned by the Sixth Asian Youth Day, which brings together young Catholics from throughout this vast continent in a joyful celebration of their common faith. In the course of my visit I will also beatify a number of Koreans who died as martyrs for the Christian faith: Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 companions. These two celebrations complement one another. Korean culture understands well the inherent dignity and wisdom of our elders and honors their place in society. We Catholics honor our elders who were martyred for the faith because they were willing to give their lives for the truth which they had come to believe and by which they sought to live their lives. They teach us how to live fully for God and for the good of one another.
A wise and great people do not only cherish their ancestral traditions; they also treasure their young, seeking to pass on the legacy of the past and to apply it to the challenges of the present. Whenever young people gather together, as on the present occasion, it is a precious opportunity for all of us to listen to their hopes and concerns. We are also challenged to reflect on how well we are transmitting our values to the next generation, and on the kind of world and society we are preparing to hand on to them. In this context, I think it is especially important for us to reflect on the need to give our young people the gift of peace.
This appeal has all the more resonance here in Korea, a land which has long suffered because of a lack of peace. I can only express my appreciation for the efforts being made in favor of reconciliation and stability on the Korean peninsula, and to encourage those efforts, for they are the only sure path to lasting peace. Korea’s quest for peace is a cause close to our hearts, for it affects the stability of the entire area and indeed of our whole war-weary world.
The quest for peace also represents a challenge for each of us, and in a particular way for those of you dedicated to the pursuit of the common good of the human family through the patient work of diplomacy. It is the perennial challenge of breaking down the walls of distrust and hatred by promoting a culture of reconciliation and solidarity. For diplomacy, as the art of the possible, is based on the firm and persevering conviction that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force.
Peace is not simply the absence of war, but “the work of justice” (cf. Is 32:17). And justice, as a virtue, calls for the discipline of forbearance; it demands that we not forget past injustices but overcome them through forgiveness, tolerance and cooperation. It demands the willingness to discern and attain mutually beneficial goals, building foundations of mutual respect, understanding and reconciliation. May all of us dedicate these days to peace, to praying for it and deepening our resolve to achieve it.
Dear friends, your efforts as political and civic leaders are directed to the goal of building a better, more peaceful, just and prosperous world for our children. Experience teaches us that in an increasingly globalized world, our understanding of the common good, of progress and development, must ultimately be in human and not merely economic terms. Like most of our developed nations, Korea struggles with important social issues, political divisions, economic inequities, and concerns about the responsible stewardship of the natural environment. How important it is that the voice of every member of society be heard, and that a spirit of open communication, dialogue and cooperation be fostered. It is likewise important that special concern be shown for the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice, not only by meeting their immediate needs but also by assisting them in their human and cultural advancement. It is my hope that Korean democracy will continue to be strengthened and that this nation will prove to be a leader also in the globalization of solidarity which is so necessary today: one which looks to the integral development of every member of our human family.
In his second visit to Korea, twenty-five years ago, Saint John Paul II stated his conviction that “the future of Korea will depend on the presence among its people of many wise, virtuous and deeply spiritual men and women” (8 October 1989). In echoing his words today, I assure you of the continued desire of Korea’s Catholic community to participate fully in the life of the nation. The Church wishes to contribute to the education of the young, the growth of a spirit of solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged, and the formation of new generations of citizens ready to bring the wisdom and vision inherited from their forebears and born of their faith to the great political and social questions facing the nation.
Madam President, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you once more for your welcome and hospitality. May God bless you and all the beloved Korean people. In a special way, may he bless the elderly and the young people, who, by preserving memory and inspiring courage, are our greatest treasure and our hope for the future.

Saint August 14 : St. Maximillian Kolbe : Patron of Drug Addicts, Pro-Lifers and Journalists

  

Information:
Feast Day:
August 14
Born:
7 January 1894 at Zdunska Wola, Poland
Died:
August 14, 1941, Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland
Canonized:
10 October 1982, Rome, Italy by Pope John Paul II
Major Shrine:
Basilica of the Immaculate Mediatrix of Grace, Niepokalanów, Poland
Patron of:
20th century, Pro-Life Movement, drug addiction, drug addicts, families, amateur radio
His name wasn't always Maximilian. He was born the second son of a poor weaver on 8 January 1894 at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland, and was given the baptismal name of Raymond. Both parents were devout Christians with a particular devotion to Mary. In his infancy Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but we are told that one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child's behaviour. Later he explained this change. 'That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.' Thus early did the child believe and accept that he was destined for martyrdom. His belief in his dream coloured all his future actions.
In 1907 Raymond and his elder brother entered a junior Franciscan seminary in Lwow. Here he excelled in mathematics and physics and his teachers predicted a brilliant future for him in science. Others, seeing his passionate interest in all things military, saw in him a future strategist. For a time indeed his interest in military affairs together with his fiery patriotism made him lose interest in the idea of becoming a priest, The fulfilment of his dream would lie in saving Poland from her oppressors as a soldier. But before he could tell anyone about his decision his mother announced that, as all their children were now in seminaries, she and her husband intended to enter religious life. Raymond hadn't the heart to upset his parents' plans and so he abandoned his plans for joining the army. He was received as a novice in September 1910 and with the habit he took the new name of Maximilian. From 1912 to 1915 he was in Rome studying philosophy at the Gregorian College, and from 1915 to 1919 theology at the Collegio Serafico. He was ordained in Rome on 28 April 1918.
The love of fighting didn't leave him, but while he was in Rome he stopped seeing the struggle as a military one. He didn't like what he saw of the world, in fact he saw it as downright evil. The   fight, he decided, was a spiritual one. The world was bigger than Poland and there were worse slaveries than earthly ones. The fight was still on, but he would not be waging it with the sword. At that time many Catholics in Europe regarded freemasonry as their chief enemy; and it was against the freemasons that Maximilian Kolbe began to wage war. On 16 October 1917, with six companions, he founded the Crusade of Mary Immaculate (), with the aim of 'converting sinners, heretics and schismatics, particularly freemasons, and bringing all men to love Mary Immaculate'.


As he entered what was to be the most creative period of his life, Fr Maximilian's health had already begun to deteriorate. He was by now in an advanced state of tuberculosis, and he felt himself overshadowed by death. His love for Mary Immaculate now became the devouring characteristic of his life. He regarded himself as no more than an instrument of her will, and the only time he was known to lose his temper was in defence of her honour. It was for her that he strove to develop all the good that was in him, and he wanted to encourage others to do the same.
When Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919 he rejoiced to see his country free once again, a liberation which he typically attributed to Mary Immaculate. Pius XI in response to a request from the Polish bishops had just promulgated the Feast of Our Lady Queen of Poland, and Fr Maximilian wrote: 'She must be the Queen of Poland and of every Polish heart. We must labour to win each and every heart for her.' He set himself to extend the influence of his Crusade, and formed cells and circles all over Poland. The doctors had by now pronounced him incurable; one lung had collapsed and the other was damaged. Yet it was now that he flung himself into a whirlwind of activity. In January 1922 he began to publish a monthly review, the , in Cracow. Its aim was 'to illuminate the truth and show the true way to happiness'. As funds were low, only 5,000 copies of the first issue were printed. In 1922 he removed to another friary in Grodno and acquired a small printing establishment; and from now on the review began to grow. In 1927 70,000 copies were being printed. The Grodno Friary became too small to house such a mammoth operation, so Fr Maximilian began to look for a site nearer to Warsaw. Prince Jan Drucko-Lubecki offered him some land at Teresin, west of Warsaw, Fr Maximilian promptly erected a statue of Mary Immaculate there, and the monks began the arduous work of construction.


On 21 November 1927 the Franciscans moved from Grodno to Teresin and on 8 December the friary was consecrated and was given the name of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate. 'Niepokalanow', said Fr Maximilian, 'is a place chosen by Mary Immaculate and is exclusively dedicated to spreading her cult. All that is and will be at Niepokalanow will belong to her. The monastic spirit will flourish here; we shall practise obedience and we shall be poor, in the spirit of St Francis.'
At first Niepokalanow consisted of no more than a few shacks with tar-paper roofs, but it soon flourished. To cope with the flood of vocations all over Poland, a junior seminary was built at Niepokalanow 'to prepare priests for the missions capable of every task in the name of the Immaculate and with her help'. A few years later there were more than a hundred seminarians and the numbers were still growing. Before long Niepokalanow had become one of the largest (some say largest) friaries in the world. In 1939 it housed 762 inhabitants: 13 priests, 18 novices, 527 brothers, 122 boys in the junior seminary and 82 candidates for the priesthood. No matter how many labourers were in the vineyard there was always work for more. Among the inhabitants of Niepokalanow there were doctors, dentists, farmers, mechanics, tailors, builders, printers, gardeners, shoemakers, cooks. The place was entirely self-supporting.


Not only the friary but the printing house had been expanding. More modern machinery had been installed, including three machines which could produce 16,000 copies of the review in an hour. New techniques of type, photogravure and binding were adopted. The new machinery and techniques made it possible to meet the growing demand for —which had now reached the incredible circulation figure of 750,000 per month—and to produce other publications as well. In 1935 they began to produce a daily Catholic newspaper, , of which 137,000 copies were printed on weekdays and 225,000 on Sundays and holydays.


Maximilian did not rest content with mere journalistic activity. His sights were set even further. On 8 December 1938 a radio station was installed at Niepokalanow with the signature tune (played by the brothers' own orchestra) of the Lourdes hymn. And now that there was so much valuable equipment around, Niepokalanow acquired its own fire brigade to protect it against its enemies. Some of the brothers were now trained as firemen.
There was no doubt that Niepokalanow was going from strength to strength, a unique institution within Poland. The results of the work done there were becoming apparent. Priests in parishes all over the country reported a tremendous upsurge of faith, which they attributed to the literature emerging from Niepokalanow. A campaign against abortion in the columns of the (1938) seemed to awaken the conscience of the nation: more than a million people of all classes and professions ranged themselves behind the standard of Mary Immaculate. Years later, after the war, the Polish bishops sent an official letter to the Holy See claiming that Fr Kolbe's magazine had prepared the Polish nation to endure and survive the horrors of the war that was soon to follow.


Fr Maximilian was a restless spirit, and his activities could not be confined to Poland. His junior seminary had been started in 1929 but he didn't intend to wait for its first priest to be trained before he himself set out for the mission lands. To those who pointed out that Niepokalanow wasn't yet up to undertaking foreign apostolic work, he quoted the example of St Francis, who had risked himself on the mission fields when the other Orders had remained uninvolved. With the blessing of his Father General, Maximilian prepared his expedition. Asked whether he had money to finance it, he replied: 'Money? It will turn up somehow or other. Mary will see to it. It's her business and her Son's.'
On 26 February 1930 Fr Maximilian left Poland with four brothers from Niepokalanow on a journey to the Far East. They travelled by way of Port Said, Saigon and Shanghai, and on 24 April they landed at Nagasaki in Japan. Here they were given episcopal permission to stay. In fact Archbishop Hayasaka received them very warmly when he learned that Fr Maximilian had two doctorates and would be able to take the vacant chair of philosophy in the diocesan seminary in exchange for a licence to print his review.
The going was hard. The Poles' only shelter was a wretched hut whose walls and roof were caving in. They slept on what straw they could find and their tables were planks of wood. But despite such hardships, and the fact that they knew no word of the Japanese language, and had no money, on 24 April 1930, exactly a month after their arrival, a telegram was despatched to Niepokalanow: 'Today distributing Japanese . Have printing press. Praise to Mary Immaculate.' After that, it was scarcely surprising that a year later the Japanese Niepokalanow was inaugurated, Mugenzai no Sono (the Garden of the Immaculate), built on the slopes of Mount Hikosan. The choice of this site in the suburbs had been dictated by poverty, but it proved a lucky one. People thought Fr Maximilian was crazy to be building on steep ground sloping away from the town; but in 1945, when the   atomic bomb all but levelled Nagasaki, Mugenzai no Sono sustained no more damage than a few broken panes of stained glass. Today it forms the centre of a Franciscan province.
Despite his passionate zeal in the cause of Mary, Fr Maximilian proved to be a wise missionary. He did not attempt to impose Western ideas on the Japanese. He respected their national customs and looked for what was good in Buddhism and Shintoism. He entered into dialogue with Buddhist priests and some of them became his friends. In 1931 he founded a noviciate and in 1936 a junior seminary. And of course he continued to publish his beloved magazine. , the Japanese , had a circulation six times that of its nearest Japanese Catholic rival. This was because it was aimed at the whole community, not just Catholics. The first 10,000 copies had swollen to 65,000 by 1936.


Father Maximilian's health was rapidly deteriorating, but he didn't allow this fact to diminish his zeal or his restless energy. Although he often complained of the lack of manpower and machines needed to serve the people of Japan, in 1932 he was already seeking fresh pastures. On 31 May he left Japan and sailed to Malabar where, after a few initial difficulties, he founded a third Niepokalanow. But his superiors requested him to return to Japan, and as no priests could be spared for Malabar that idea had to be given up. On another of his journeys he travelled through Siberia and spent some time in Moscow. Even here he dreamed of publishing his magazine-in Russian. He had studied the language and had a fair acquaintance with Marxist literature. Like Pope John XXIII he looked for the good elements even in systems which he believed to be evil; and he tried to teach his friars to do likewise.
In 1936 he was recalled to Poland, and left Japan for the last time. He had thought that he would find martyrdom there; and indeed he had found martyrdom of a kind. He was racked by violent headaches and covered with abscesses brought on by the food to which he could not grow accustomed. But these things were only pinpricks: the real martyrdom awaited him elsewhere.
Just before the Second World War broke out Fr Maximilian spoke to his friars about suffering. They must not be afraid, he said, for suffering accepted with love would bring them closer to Mary. All his life he had dreamed of a martyr's crown, and the time was nearly at hand.
By 13 September 1939 Niepokalanow had been occupied by the invading Germans and most of its inhabitants had been deported to Germany. Among them was Fr Maximilian. But that exile did not last long and on 8 December the prisoners were set free. From the moment that he returned to Niepokalanow Fr Maximilian was galvanized into a new kind of activity. He began to organize a shelter for 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. 'We must do everything in our power to help these unfortunate people who have been driven from their homes and deprived of even the most basic necessities. Our mission is among them in the days that lie ahead.' The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them, and brought all their machinery into use in their service.
Inevitably the community came under suspicion and was closely watched. Early in 1941, in the only edition of which he was allowed to publish, Fr Maximilian set pen to paper and thus provoked his own arrest. 'No one in the world can change Truth', he wrote. 'What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is an inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?'


He would never know that kind of defeat; but a more obvious defeat was near. On 17 February 1941 he was arrested and sent to the infamous Pawiak prison in Warsaw. Here he was singled out for special ill-treatment. A witness tells us that in March of that year an S. S. guard, seeing this man in his habit girdled with a rosary, asked if he believed in Christ. When the priest calmly replied 'I do', the guard struck him. The S. S. man repeated his question several times and receiving always the same answer went on beating him mercilessly. Shortly afterwards the Franciscan habit was taken away and a prisoner's garment was substituted.
On 28 May Fr Maximilian was with over 300 others who were deported from Pawiak to Auschwitz. There he received his striped convict's garments and was branded with the number 16670. He was put to work immediately carrying blocks of stone for the construction of a crematorium wall. On the last day of May he was assigned with other priests to the Babice section which was under the direction of 'Bloody' Krott, an ex-criminal. 'These men are lay-abouts and parasites', said the Commandant to Krott, 'get them working.' Krott forced the priests to cut and carry huge tree-trunks. The work went on all day without a stop and had to be done running—with the aid of vicious blows from the guards. Despite his one lung, Father Maximilian accepted the work and the blows with surprising calm. Krott conceived a relentless hatred against the Franciscan and gave him heavier tasks than the others. Sometimes his colleagues would try to come to his aid but he would not expose them to danger. Always he replied, 'Mary gives me strength. All will be well.' At this time he wrote to his mother, 'Do not worry about me or my health, for the good Lord is everywhere and holds every one of us in his   great love.'
One day Krott found some of the heaviest planks he could lay hold of and personally loaded them on the Franciscan's back, ordering him to run. When he collapsed, Krott kicked him in the stomach and face and had his men give him fifty lashes. When the priest lost consciousness Krott threw him in the mud and left him for dead. But his companions managed to smuggle him to the Revier, the camp hospital. Although he was suffering greatly, he secretly heard confessions in the hospital and spoke to the other inmates of the love of God. In Auschwitz, where hunger and hatred reigned and faith evaporated, this man opened his heart to others and spoke of God's infinite love. He seemed never to think of himself. When food was brought in and everyone struggled to get his place in the queue so as to be sure of a share, Fr Maximilian stood aside, so that frequently there was none left for him. At other times he shared his meagre ration of soup or bread with others. He was once asked whether such self-abnegation made sense in a place where every man was engaged in a struggle for survival, and he answered: 'Every man has an aim in life. For most men it is to return home to their wives and families, or to their mothers. For my part, I give my life for the good of all men.'
Men gathered in secret to hear his words of love and encouragement, but it was his example which counted for most. Fr Zygmunt Rusczak remembers: 'Each time I saw Father Kolbe in the courtyard I felt within myself an extraordinary effusion of his goodness. Although he wore the same ragged clothes as the rest of us, with the same tin can hanging from his belt, one forgot this wretched exterior and was conscious only of the charm of his inspired countenance and of his radiant holiness.'
There remained only the last act in the drama. The events are recorded in the sworn testimonials of former inmates of the camp, collected as part of the beatification proceedings. They are as follows:
Tadeusz Joachimowski, clerk of Block 14A: 'In the summer of 1941, most probably on the last day of July, the camp siren announced that there had been an escape. At the evening roll-call of the same day we, i.e. Block 14A, were formed up in the street between the buildings of Blocks 14 and 17. After some delay we were joined by a group of the Landwirtschafts-Kommando. During the count it was found that three prisoners from this Kommando had escaped: one from our Block and the two others from other Blocks. Lagerfuhrer Fritzsch announced that on account of the escape of the three prisoners, ten prisoners would be picked in reprisal from the blocks in which the fugitives had lived and would be assigned to the Bunker (the underground starvation cell).' Jan Jakub Szegidewicz takes up the story from there: 'After the group of doomed men had already been selected, a prisoner stepped out from the ranks of one of the Blocks. I recognized Father Kolbe. Owing to my poor knowledge of German I did not understand what they talked about, nor do I remember whether Fr Kolbe spoke directly to Fritzsch. When making his request, Fr Kolbe stood at attention and pointed at a former non-commissioned officer known to me from the camp. It could be inferred from the expression on Fritzsch's face that he was surprised at Fr Kolbe's action. As the sign was given, Fr Kolbe joined the ranks of the doomed and the non-commissioned officer left the ranks of the doomed and resumed his place in his Block; which meant that Fritzsch had consented to the exchange. A little later the doomed men were marched off in the direction of Block 13, the death Block.'
The non-commissioned officer was Franciszek Gajowniczek. When the sentence of doom had been pronounced, Gajowniczek had cried out in despair, 'O my poor wife, my poor children. I shall never see them again.' It was then that the unexpected had happened, and that from among the ranks of those temporarily reprieved, prisoner 16670 had stepped forward and offered himself in the other man's place. Then the ten condemned men were led off to the dreaded Bunker, to the airless underground cells where men died slowly without food or water.
Bruno Borgowiec was an eye-witness of those last terrible days, for he was an assistant to the janitor and an interpreter in the underground Bunkers. He tells us what happened: 'In the cell of the poor wretches there were daily loud prayers, the rosary and singing, in which prisoners from neighbouring cells also joined. When no S. S. men were in the Block I went to the Bunker to talk to the men and comfort them. Fervent prayers and songs to the Holy Mother resounded in all the corridors of the Bunker. I had the impression I was in a church. Fr Kolbe was leading and the prisoners responded in unison. They were often so deep in prayer that they did not even hear that inspecting S. S. men had descended to the Bunker; and the voices fell silent only at the loud yelling of their visitors. When the cells were opened the poor wretches cried loudly and begged for a piece of bread and for water, which they did not receive, however. If any of the stronger ones approached the door he was immediately kicked in the stomach by the S. S. men, so that falling backwards on the cement floor he was instantly killed; or he was shot to death ... Fr Kolbe bore up bravely, he did not beg and did not complain but raised the spirits of the others.... Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Fr Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the S. S. men. Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Fr Kolbe was left. This the authorities felt was too long; the cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sick-quarters, a German, a common criminal named Bock, who gave Fr Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Fr Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the S. S. men with the executioner had left I returned to the cell, where I found Fr Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways. His face was calm and radiant.'
The heroism of Father Kolbe went echoing through Auschwitz. In that desert of hatred he had sown love. Mr Jozef Stemler, former director of an important cultural institute in Poland, comments: 'In those conditions ... in the midst of a brutalization of thought and feeling and words such as had never before been known, man indeed became a ravening wolf in his relations with other men. And into this state of affairs came the heroic self-sacrifice of Fr Maximilian. The atmosphere grew lighter, as this thunderbolt provoked its profound and salutary shock.' Jerzy Bielecki declared that Fr Kolbe's death was 'a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength.... It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.'
His reputation spread far and wide, through the Nazi camps and beyond. After the war newspapers all over the world were deluged with articles about this 'saint for our times', 'saint of progress', 'giant of holiness'. Biographies were written, and everywhere there were claims of cures being brought about through his intercession. 'The life and death of this one man alone', wrote the Polish bishops, 'can be proof and witness of the fact that the love of God can overcome the greatest hatred, the greatest injustice, even death itself.' The demands for his beatification became insistent, and at last on 12 August 1947 proceedings started. Seventy-five witnesses were questioned. His cause was introduced on 16 March 1960. When all the usual objections had been overcome, the promoter spoke of 'the charm of this magnificent fool'. On 17 October 1971 Maximilian Kolbe was beatified. Like his master Jesus Christ he had loved his fellow-men to the point of sacrificing his life for them. 'Greater love hath no man than this ... and these were the opening words of the papal decree introducing the process of beatification.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Please Help Christians in Pakistan - Tortured for their Faith in Christ


Rescue Christians is a Life Saving Organization... We began in 2010, and primarily work in Pakistan. We are a rescue mission, and have a team on the ground in Pakistan. Rescue Christians helps Christians who are pursued by mobs, or are wanted by the government. We bring them out of Pakistan, usually to Sri Lanka or Thailand. But now because of the recent government prevention of Pakistani Christians in these two countries, we are now forced to search for new terrain. We have also transported others into different safe houses within Pakistan. So far we have managed to rescue around 2000 Christians from persecution.
 One of the most rememberable missions we did, was the rescue mission of Tania Rubecca. She was kidnapped by Muslims and told to convert to Islam. When she refused they sold her into sex slavery. Her captives would, almost on a daily basis, tie her to a tree, cut her body with blades, burn her flesh with cigarettes, and rape her.  It was the most horrifying case we dealt with. We rescued her and her mother out of danger and got her hospitalized, and also paid her medical bills. 
 Part of her testimony can be found here: http://vimeo.com/74998437
 Our website is Rescuechristians.org 
Save a Life by Donating: 
We allow people to give however much money they want. 
Please consider Donating to this Organization and help save Christians from Danger or Death...
You can give $5, $10, $50, or more. 
All of the money goes directly to saving Christians in Pakistan.

We are Shaped by Who we love - We have a Choice....

St. Clare said that who we love shapes us.

Some human beings consider themselves to be simply an organism whose shape is predetermined by genetics. When they become human is based on subjective analysis. Perhaps a human being starts when the shape is identifiable, or maybe when the first breath is taken postpartum, or when we can recognize in form and structure a viable life. Or maybe in defective shape, or inconvenient circumstances what is in the womb isn't even human -- at least to some.

This subjective take on the human person makes it easy not to love. It entombs the heart, squashes faith and submits an isolated and emotionally unprepared mind to defective reasoning. And so, when termination of a "fetus" or viability or disability in a "pregnancy" are spoken of, the emotion of love is removed -- the "who" is displaced by the "what". Thus, the heart and mind are moved to fear; and not a holy fear of an uncertain future, but an irrational/self-centered fear that is counseled about the "whatness" -- lifestyle changes that will be difficult if not impossible to manage, that will interfere with the ability to do what you want. It denies and ignores the protection of the "who" (mother, father and child) deserving of love and compassion.

It's a wonder that we have such trouble loving others around us, why we live in a world where inflicting pain has become a past-time, where we can turn a blind eye or even rationalize barbaric behaviors that exist in our midst. True, we may be horrified by events, but do we see the "who" -- do we love the "who" -- are we shaped by the "who" in those circumstances?

For instance, the genocide of Christians in Iraq is a martyrdom that has caused many a good soul outside the region to suffer as they witness the atrocities via the Internet. A collective Western gasp of horror over the events is audibly heard. Yet, very little is being done by any nation, to include our own anemic air strikes (perhaps for fear of another terrorist attack on our own soil). Did we simply need to look as if we've made some effort; to do something to alleviate some deep, nagging, yet inexplicable guilt in our conscience that has lost its meaning through years of neglect? Does it help us to suggest that we took care of the "what" in the situation? -- we calmed the fighting; we slowed the progression; we protected the region...

Did we love the people? Are we willing to make sacrifices to save the lives? Were our actions shaped by the "who"?

We can witness these crimes against humanity, be sickened by them in the moment and yet, because they are not happening here in our midst, we somehow feel immune to their effects because it is a "what" and not a "who" with which we are dealing. We insulate our emotions and move forward as if it doesn't have any impact on our lives. But it does, and it will have lasting effects if we continuously desensitize our hearts and our minds to evil while systematically rejecting love as a motivating force.

But, how can this be? How can we watch and turn away. Surely, we are not so desensitized as to not realize that these are people being tortured, raped and murdered.

To most, these are isolated images; they are no more a part of their reality than a zombie slaying cable show. There is no "who" -- only "what".

And so we are shaped; our culture is shaped by a philosophy devoid of a person being a person regardless of where or why they end up in a circumstance, be it the womb or at the hands of terrorists in Iraq. We are shaped by a culture that forgets that Love is a person, and without Him, we cannot possibly hope to rectify any atrocity; neither abortion nor genocide will see a decline as long as we continue to ignore the "who" -- formed in image and likeness -- involved and allow ourselves to be shaped by rationalizations and fear of losing our material situations.

Who we love shapes us. Not what we love, but Who we love.

We have a choice, a clear one: allow our lives to be shaped in the absence or Love, or let Love shape us so as to see Love in everything and everyone around us. 
About the Author: Professor Kathy Vestermark, MA Theology
Professor Kathryn VestermarkProfessor Kathy Vestermark is a wife and mother of six children, one with significant special needs. She worked for 13 years in medical education at USUHS on a project to include families of children with special needs as faculty and advisors to medical education. She received her MA in Theology from CDU, and has put it to use as a Coordinator/Instructor of RCIA at her parish, Women's Bible Study facilitator, lecturer, writer of a Catholic blog and contributor to other Catholic/Secular books and publications. Professor Vestermark also serves as a Student Life Coordinator for the CDU Online Student Center.Her Blog: http://faithonthehighwire.blogspot.ca/

Pope Francis leaves Vatican for 11 hour Flight to Korea but 1st Visits Our Lady's Basilica and Prays

Pope Francis boards plane for Seoul
13/08/2014



Radio Vaticana Report: Pope Francis has just left Rome for Seoul at the start of his pastoral visit to Korea, the first papal visit to the country in 25 years. His plane is due to touch down in the South Korean capital at 1030 local time on Thursday.  His five-day visit coincides with the Church’s 6th Asian Youth Day gathering, while other highlights of his trip  include an open-air mass in Seoul’s World Cup stadium and the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and a Mass for peace and reconciliation on the divided peninsula..
Our correspondent travelling with the Pope to Korea is Sean Patrick Lovett who earlier today visited a shrine to  some of those Korean martyrs who died for their faith. He told us how Korea is steeped in the blood of its martyrs who died during the waves of persecutions against Christianity in the 18th and 19th centuries. Shared from Radio Vaticana
POPE FRANCIS VISITS OUR LADY BEFORE TRIP

Pope Francis at St Mary Major
13/08/2014

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on Wednesday morning, just hours before his scheduled departure for Korea. The Holy Father reached the church - which is the largest dedicated to the Mother of God in the city, and the place where the founder of the Society of Jesus, St Ignatius Loyola, said his first Mass - at 11 AM. He arrived quietly, in his usual, low-profile conveyance, without a motorcade and without fanfare. He paused in prayer for a little more than a quarter-hour, and left behind a small bouquet of flowers. Pope Francis has visited St. Mary Major several times during the course of his Pontificate, starting with one on the day after his election. He has visited the Basilica before each of his international voyages, as well.
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