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Friday, August 14, 2015

Catholic News World : Fri. August 14, 2015 - SHARE

2015

Historic accord signed between Vatican and East Timor

Cardinal Parolin signing accord with East Timor's Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo  - EPA
Cardinal Parolin signing accord with East Timor's Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo - EPA
14/08/2015 12:31

(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin and East Timor’s Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo on Friday (14th Aug.) siged a mutual collaboration accord dealing with the juridical relationship between the Holy See and East Timor. Speaking in an address after the signing of the accord, Cardinal Parolin said the document was a significant sign of the fruitful interaction between Church and State in the nation. He is currently on a 3-day visit to East Timor which this year is celebrating its 5th century of Christian evangelization.  
Please find below the full text of Cardinal Parolin’s address to the East Timorese authorities after the signing of the accord:

Ceremony for the Signing of the Accord
Between the Holy See and Timor-Leste
Dili, 14th August 2015
Your Excellency Mr. Taur Matan Ruak, President of the Republic of Timor-Leste; Your Excellency Dr. Rui Maria de Araujo, Prime Minister;
Your Excellency Mr Vicente Guterres, President of the National Parliament;
Your Excellency the President of the Court of Appeal Mr Guilhermino da Silva; Your Excellency Mr Hernani Coelho, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
Distinguished Members of Parliament and of the Government of Timor-Leste, Distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps and International Organizations; Dear Bishops,
Honourable guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.            A few moments ago, the Prime Minister and I had the privilege of signing the Accord between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.  I use the word “privilege” because the Accord, while being the highest juridical instrument that deals with the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State of Timor-Leste, is ultimately about people, in this case, the beloved people of Timor-Leste.  The entire document focuses on one fundamental objective, that is, how best to assist the people, to advance in their development, their total development, materially and spiritually.

Both Church and State exist precisely to serve the people, and now with this Accord, both commit themselves, as Article 1 affirms, “to mutual collaboration for the integral development of the people in justice, peace and the common good.”

Experience has always shown that the human being is best served when there is collaboration and dialogue among all the components of society and when a culture of encounter is firmly established among those who lead.

In the case of the collaboration and cooperation between the Catholic Church and the State of Timor-Leste, the Accord affirms each other’s responsibilities and relative competencies.  While the separation of Church and State is clearly understood and respected throughout the document, the Accord rests also on two fundamental principles, namely “the values and principles of international law in the matter of religious freedom” (Preamble) and “the guarantee of the freedom to profess and practice the Catholic faith publically” (Article 1).

Based on those two basic concepts, the Agreement offers space and opportunities for the Catholic Church to act in society, in accord with its mission of service to the people and in line with Constitutional norms and local legislation.  It defines specific areas where the Church can serve the people freely and openly, for example providing spiritual assistance in prisons, hospitals, clinics and orphanages (Article 8), to perform works of charity (Article 4), to establish schools at every level (Article 9) and to assist Catholic parents in the education of their children in their own faith (Article 9) and so on.

2.            At the same time, the significance of this particular Accord arises also from the history of Timor-Leste, the very fiber of this society, for

-from the very beginning, for five hundred years, “in its cultural and human dimension, the Catholic Church in Timor-Leste has always known how to assume with dignity the sufferings of its people, placing itself on their side in the defense of their most elementary rights” (Preamble);
-from the very beginning, the Catholic Church has undertaken a role “in the life of the Nation serving the development of the human person, spiritually, socially, culturally and in the area of education, consolidating moral principles in society” (Preamble); 
-from the very beginning the Catholic Church has been radically rooted in the history of the Timorese people who embraced the Catholic Church, not by the force of the sword, but by the openness of their heart.
Today’s act of signing this Accord can be defined as a noteworthy manifestation of the beneficial contact of society with religion.  It is a significant sign of the fruitful interaction between Church and State.  It is an important step on the journey that the Catholic Church and the people of Timor-Leste have undertaken together for five hundred years.  This unique relationship, which is highly valued by the Holy See, is enshrined and clearly affirmed also in the Constitution of Timor-Leste. 

#BreakingNews 11-year-old Girl in Paraguay gives Birth after Rape by Step-Father after Controversy

An 11-year old girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather has given birth.Neither the girl nor her daughter experienced health complications during delivery. About 600 girls aged 14 or under become pregnant in the country every year.   The girl, known by the legal pseudonym “Mainumby”, gave birth to a girl weighing 3.55kg (7.8lbs) at the Reina Sofia maternity hospital, a facility run by the Red Cross in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital. The baby was delivered by Caesarean section. Neither the mother nor the child are reported to have experienced any health complications. “It was like any other Caesarean, but with the age difference,” Reina Sofia Director Mario Villalba told local radio.
 The case first came to media attention when the girl’s mother took her to hospital in late April because she had begun to experience swelling and stomach pain. At that point, she was only 10 years old and was already over 20 weeks into her term. Her mother had reported as early as January 2014 that her partner was abusing her daughter, but received no response from the authorities. The girl, her two siblings, mother and stepfather shared a rented room in Luque, a town on the outskirts of Asunción. After doctors indicated that the girl was pregnant, her mother requested an abortion but Paraguay, prohibits the procedure unless the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Public Health Ministry  that there was “no reason to interrupt the pregnancy”, and argued that it would be “even more dangerous for the girl to undergo a procedure”. Both the girl’s mother and father were arrested, and the girl was taken into the Red Cross hospital. Her mother was subsequently released pending further investigation, and has spent the past 10 days at her daughter’s bedside, according to Elizabeth Torales, Mainumby’s lawyer.  When Pope Francis visited the country in July he avoided any mention of the case, instead dwelling on the role played by Paraguay’s women in rebuilding the country after successive wars, calling them the “most glorious in the Americas" by Paraguay’s women in rebuilding the country after successive wars, calling them the “most glorious in the Americas”.  At least 600 girls aged 14 or under become pregnant in Paraguay every year – whose population numbers little more than six million people.   Red Cross are currently treating two pregnant 12-year-old girls, as well as many others who had been the victims of sexual abuse by relatives.Edited from The Guardian

#BreakingNews Massive Explosions in #China leave 50 dead and 700 injured - Please Pray

Tianjin, explosion in industrial warehouse compared to "atomic bomb"
 The two explosions the equivalent of 3 and 21 tons of TNT. A dozen firefighters have died, perhaps from fumes from deposits containing hazardous materials. Buildings burned, containers ripped apart, cars destroyed , collapsed ceilings, broken glass.

Tianjin (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A huge double explosion in a chemicals warehouse has killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 700, transforming a part of the city of Tianjin into an apocalyptic landscape. Many people commented on social networks, comparing the explosion to an "atomic bomb".
Firefighters, arrived shortly after the explosions, but had to halt operations this morning after several dozen of them fell ill and about ten died from the fumes. In fact the precise content of the warehouse is still unknown and it is feared that it contains not only explosives, but also poisonous products.
The blasts occurred in the industrial area to the northeast of the city port. The first, at about 11.30 last night, produced by a fire that broke out among a load of explosives. The flames soon spread to a deposit of "dangerous chemical material" resulting in a second, even more terrible, blast less then thrity seconds later.
According to the Chinese Center for monitoring earthquakes, the first explosion had a magnitude equal to three tons of TNT; the second was equivalent to 21 tons of TNT.
The two major explosions were followed by other smaller explosions, that have devastated the district.
Many buildings in the industrial area of ​​Binhai were reduced to ashes; many containers were ripped apart by the blast; a 1000 new cars in a near by autopark were destroyed; the windows in many apartments we were shattered and the ceilings collapsed.
This morning there were still flames in different areas. Many residents were injured by debris or broken glass and were admitted bleeding to hospitals in the city that are struggling to accommodate all those in need of care.
According to state media, 11 firefighters died trying to extinguish the fire. The operations were stopped this morning until the content of deposits that exploded are known. The Beijing News said that 33 firefighters are missing.
The container port of Tianjin is the 10th in the world for trade and has become the clearinghouse for mineral products, coal, cars and crude oil to northern China. The city with more than 15 million inhabitants, is home to several manufacturing and foreign idustries.

President Xi Jinping sent a message calling for "very effort" to be meade to rescue the victims and to contain the fire. Meanwhile, Ruihai Logistics executives, who own the warehouse where the explosions originated, are being questioned by the authorities.

Exposure to cyanide poisoning feared in aftermath of Tianjin explosions
by Wang Zhicheng
Some 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide used in the mining industry were stored in the warehouse that blew up. Traces of cyanides and other chemicals have been found in two underground drainage systems. A nuclear, biological and chemical rescue team tries to isolate and secure hazardous material. Death toll reaches 50 with 700 wounded, 71 critically. A young firefighter that went missing yesterday is found. The government continues to filter media coverage.


Tianjin (AsiaNews) – Fires are still burning at the site oftwo massive explosions in the Chinese city of Tianjin, some 36 hours after the original blasts. Both authorities and residents are concerned about possible exposure to cyanide poisoning through both soil and water contamination.
The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, said that emergency services were "trying to remove all the 700 tons of sodium cyanide" stored at the site.
The environmental ministry has found traces of cyanides and other chemicals in two underground drainage systems three to eight times safety limits. With rain forecast, air-borne pollutants could pass into water systems.
In fact, many residents have gone on social media to say that they had difficulty breathing. The authorities however have reported that pollution levels in the city remained acceptable.
At least 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, a toxic chemical often used in mining to extract gold, were kept in wooden boxes and metal containers at the blast site. Many residents wonder how the company could keep such a dangerous material so close to residential areas.
Tianjin officials said at a press conference that the Ruihai International Logistics’ warehouse was allowed to store hazardous goods, including sodium cyanide, for only 40 days whilst they were in transit.
In view of the dangerous situation, the authorities have sent a nuclear, biological and chemical rescue team to the area in order to isolate and secure hazardous material.
Meanwhile, the death toll is up.  At least 50 people are known to have died as a result of the twin blasts. An additional 700 have been injured, 71 critically. The dead include 17 firefighters, who arrived after the first explosion and were hit by the second blast, or possibly by toxic gases generated.
A firefighter was found alive this morning after he went missing yesterday. Zhou Ti, 19, was one of the first firefighters to reach the warehouse. No details were given about how he was found or what condition he is in.

For its part, the government continues to filter the news. A panel of officials at a Thursday press conference were peppered with questions about what chemicals were in the tanks that exploded, but they refused to provide details, and the briefing ended abruptly with officials rushing off stage. Shared from AsiaNewsIT

Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe - Patron of #Drug #Addicts - SHARE #Miracle #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 Readings and Video : Fri. August 14, 2015


Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Lectionary: 417


Reading 1JOS 24:1-13

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges and their officers.
When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people:
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:
In times past your fathers, down to Terah,
father of Abraham and Nahor,
dwelt beyond the River and served other gods.
But I brought your father Abraham from the region beyond the River
and led him through the entire land of Canaan.
I made his descendants numerous, and gave him Isaac.
To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau.
To Esau I assigned the mountain region of Seir in which to settle,
while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.

“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and smote Egypt with the prodigies
which I wrought in her midst.
Afterward I led you out of Egypt, and when you reached the sea,
the Egyptians pursued your fathers to the Red Sea
with chariots and horsemen.
Because they cried out to the LORD,
he put darkness between your people and the Egyptians,
upon whom he brought the sea so that it engulfed them.
After you witnessed what I did to Egypt,
and dwelt a long time in the desert,
I brought you into the land of the Amorites
who lived east of the Jordan.
They fought against you, but I delivered them into your power.
You took possession of their land, and I destroyed them,
the two kings of the Amorites, before you.
Then Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab,
prepared to war against Israel.
He summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you;
but I would not listen to Balaam.
On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him.
Once you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho,
the men of Jericho fought against you,
but I delivered them also into your power.
And I sent the hornets ahead of you that drove them
(the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites,
Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites)
out of your way; it was not your sword or your bow.

“I gave you a land that you had not tilled
and cities that you had not built, to dwell in;
you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves
which you did not plant.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 136:1-3, 16-18, 21-22 AND 24

R. His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the LORD of lords,
for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.
Who led his people through the wilderness,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who smote great kings,
for his mercy endures forever;
And slew powerful kings,
for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.
And made their land a heritage,
for his mercy endures forever;
The heritage of Israel his servant,
for his mercy endures forever;
And freed us from our foes,
for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.

AlleluiaSEE 1 THESS 2:13

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but, as it truly is, the word of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying,
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”
He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator made them male and female and said,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh
?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
They said to him, “Then why did Moses command
that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?”
He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
(unless the marriage is unlawful)
and marries another commits adultery.”
His disciples said to him,
“If that is the case of a man with his wife,
it is better not to marry.”
He answered, “Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Saint August 14 : St. Maximillian Kolbe : Patron of Drug Addicts, #ProLifers 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.






Catholic #Quote to SHARE St. Pope John Paul II "Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception..."


SHARE St. Pope John Paul II "Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception. Christ is with you: Be not afraid!" ‪
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