Wednesday 13 November 2019

Maximilian Kolbe Martyr of Charity - Fr James E. McCurry, OFM Conv.

Maximilian Kolbe: Martyr of Charity
Fr James E. McCurry, OFM Conv.
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860828713
eISBN 9781784693008
CTS Booklet B753

I doubt very many people in the church and maybe even in western culture who are not at least familiar with the story of Father Maximillian Kolbe. His sacrifice is taught in both religion classes and in history classes. But what this wonderful little booklet does is an amazing job of giving us a quick overview and introduction to the man, his ministry and his martyrdom. The booklet can easily be read in an afternoon over a large cup of tea. The chapters in the volume are:

The Militia of Mary Immaculate
Return to Poland
Magazine Publisher
The City of the Immaculate
Mission to Japan
Poland Again

We are told in the introduction that the definition of a martyr was expanded so that Kolbe could be canonized as one.

“Never before had the Church elaborated a saint’s dying for the faith to include the freewill laying down of one’s life in love for another. Pope John Paul chose to expand the definition of martyrdom - divine love in action.”

We are also told that during the canonization mass on October 10th 1982 that:

“Franciszek Gajowniczek held a prominent place. The eighty-one year-old survivor of Auschwitz had come from his native Poland in testimony to the fact that it was he whom Fr Kolbe’s self-sacrifice had spared. His old white head now ruddy under sunny skies, Mr Gajowniczek, beneficiary of charity, sat beside Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a living icon of charity. Both devotees of the new saint-martyr would receive Holy Communion from the Pope.”

The introduction ends with these words:

“No one four decades earlier - least of all Fr Kolbe’s Nazi captors - could have envisioned this moment. In an astonishing reversal of fortune, the vilified inmate of an obscure prison camp was now being glorified among the ranks of the saints, forevermore to be honoured by billions of Catholics on altars throughout the world.”

And that is really the end of this story. From there we journey back with the author and examine the childhood, and life of this saint. This is the second book about this saint I have read. The other was geared for a younger audience. But this volume can be read with or to school age children and they will be fascinated by the story. The story follows Kolbe as he grows, discovers his calling. Begins a media mission. And even travels to Japan. But ultimately it goes back to Poland and his writings and stand against the Nazi regime. His arrest, his time at the concentration camp. And his love and service to other inmates, including volunteering to take Franciszek place in the death chamber.

It is a powerful and moving story. It is a story we need to remember. And to be challenged by. I have read nearly 100 booklets from the Catholic Truth Society over the last two years. There are some incredible reads. But the biographies of the saints are among my favorites. An excellent read for all ages.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Other books about Maximilian Kolbe:
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight - Patricia Edward Jablonski and Karen Ritz - Encounter the Saints Series Book 10
The Saints Pray for Us
Maximilian Kolbe, F. Jagerstatter, K. Leisner, R. Mayer: Victims of the Nazis - Franz Jagerstatter
Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv: Priest Hero Of A Death Camp - Mary Craig

Maximilian Kolbe: Martyr of Charity - Fr James E. McCurry, OFM Conv

No comments: