Wednesday, August 14, 2013

TODAY'S SAINT: AUG. 15: ASSUMPTION OF MARY - SOLEMNITY - HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION


MARTYR

Feast: August 15




Information:
Feast Day:
August 15
The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don't know how it first came to be celebrated.
Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as in honor of Jupiter.
For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.
After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the "Tomb of Mary," close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.
On the hill itself was the "Place of Dormition," the spot of Mary's "falling asleep," where she had died. The "Tomb of Mary" was where she was buried.
At this time, the "Memory of Mary" was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.
For a time, the "Memory of Mary" was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the "Falling Asleep" ("Dormitio") of the Mother of God.
Soon the name was changed to the "Assumption of Mary," since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.
That belief was ancient, dating back to the apostles themselves. What was clear from the beginning was that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of her death. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)
At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that "Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven."
In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: "Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth."
All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. Her whole being throbbed with divine life from the very beginning, readying her for the exalted role of mother of the Savior.
The Assumption completes God's work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God's crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.
The feast days of the Church are not just the commemoration of historical events; they do not look only to the past. They look to the present and to the future and give us an insight into our own relationship with God. The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.
The prayer for the feast reads: "All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory."
In 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution , Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words: "The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven."


With that, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.




TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. AUG. 14, 2013

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 622


Reading 1             RV 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”

Responsorial Psalm                    PS 45:10, 11, 12, 16

R. (10bc) The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father’s house.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
They are borne in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

Reading 2                   1 COR 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death,
for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

Gospel                       LK 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

NOVENA TO OUR LADY : OFFICIAL FOR ASSUMPTION FEAST - PLENARY INDULGENCE

Assumption painting by Mateo Cerezo courtesy of Wikipedia

To all faithful Christians who, in private or public, in church or in their own houses, shall keep any of the following Novenas, in preparation for the principal feasts of most holy Mary, Pope Pius VII., at the prayer of several holy persons, granted, by Rescripts issued through his Eminence the Cardinal-Vicar, Aug. 4 and Nov. 24, 1808, and Jan. 11, 1800 (all of which are kept in the Segretaria of the Vicariate) -
i. An indulgence of 300 days, daily.
ii. A plenary indulgence to all who shall assist at these Novenas every day, and who shall afterwards, either on the Feast-day itself, to which each Novena respectively has reference, or on some one day in its Octave, after Confession and Communion, pray to our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin ac cording to the pious intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.
OFFICIAL RACCOLTA PRAYER WITH INDULGENCE:

Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.
Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.
TRANSLATION.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
HYMN.
O gloriosa Virginum,
Sublimis inter sidera,
Qui te creavit, parvulum
Lactente nutris ubere.
Quod Heva tristis abstulit,
Tu reddis almo germine:
Intrent ut astra flebiles,
Coeli recludis cardines.
Tu regis alti janua,
Et aula lucis fulgida:
Vitam datam per Virginem,
Gentes redemptae plaudite.
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.
TRANSLATION.
O Queen of all the Virgin choir,
Enthroned above the starry sky;
Who with pure milk from thy own breast
Thy own Creator didst supply.
What man hath lost in hapless Eve,
Thy sacred womb to man restores;
Thou to the sorrowing here beneath
Hast open’d Heaven’s eternal doors.
Hail, O refulgent Hall of light!
Hail, Gate sublime of Heaven’s high King!
Through thee redeem’d to endless life,
Thy praise let all the nations sing.
O Jesu! born of Virgin bright,
Immortal glory be to Thee;
Praise to the Father infinite,
And Holy Ghost eternally.




GLORY OF MARY AFTER DEATH.
In her patronage of man.
Let us meditate how glorious Mary is in heaven, by reason of her patronage of man, and for the power she has to aid him, with great watchfulness in all his necessities; wherefore with lively confidence, in having for our patroness the very Mother of our God, let ns implore her:
i. Mary, our most powerful Patroness, whose glory it is in heaven to be the advocate of man; O take us from the hands of the enemy and place us in the arms of our God and Creator.
Three Ave Marias.
ii. Mary, our most powerful Patroness, who, being in heaven the advocate of man, wouldest that all men should be saved; make it thy care that none of us despair at the sight of our past relapses into sin.
Three Ave Marias.
iii. Mary, our most powerful Patroness, who, to fulfil thine office, dost love to be invoked by men; obtain for us such true devotion, that we may ever call upon thee in life, and above all at the awful moment of our death.
Three Ave Maria’s.
Now with all our hearts let us celebrate the glories of Mary; and consoled at having Mary for our advocate in Heaven, let us join the ninth choir of the angels in praising her while we sing:
The Litany of Our Lady :

Lord, have mercy on us. (Christ have mercy on us.) 
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. (Christ graciously hear us.) 
God, the Father of heaven, (have mercy on us.)
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, (have mercy on us.)
God the Holy Ghost, (have mercy on us.)
Holy Trinity, one God, (have mercy on us.)
Holy Mary,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of the Church
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renouned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary.
Queen of the family,
Queen of Peace,
p
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f
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Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (spare us, O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (graciously hear us O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, (have mercy on us.) 

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. (That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.)

Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto us Thy servants, that we may rejoice in continual health of mind and body; and, by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness. Through Christ our Lord. (Amen.)

V. Exaltata est Sancta Dei Genitrix.
R. Super choros angelorum ad coelestia regna.
Oremus.
Famulorum tuorum, quaesumus Domine, delictis ignosce: ut qui tibi placere de actibus nostris non valemus, Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri intercessione salvemur.
Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen
TRANSLATION.
V. The holy Mother of God is exalted.
R. Into the heavenly kingdom above the angel choirs.
Let us pray.
We beseech thee, Lord, pardon the shortcomings of Thy servants; that we who by our own works are not able to please Thee, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ.. Who, & c.
Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. AMEN

TODAY'S SAINT: AUG. 15: ST. TARSICIUS


  

Information:
Feast Day:
August 15
Died:
3rd century
Major Shrine:
San Silvestro in Capite, Rome
Patron of:
altar servers and first communicants
Martyr. The only positive information concerning this Roman martyr is found in the poem composed in his honour by Pope Damasus ("Damasi epigrammata", ed. Ihm, 14). In these lines Damasus compares Tarsicius to the protomartyr Stephen: just as the latter was stoned by the people of Judea so Tarsicius, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, was attacked by a heathen rabble, and he suffered death rather "than surrender the Sacred Body [of Christ] to the raging dogs". This tradition so positively asserted by Damasus is undoubtedly historical. Nothing definite is known concerning the personality of this martyr of the Eucharist. He may have been a deacon, as Damasus compares him to Stephen. An addition to the sixth-century legend of the martyrdom of Pope St. Stephen makes Tarsicius, for some unknown reason, an acolyte; this addition, however, is based on the poem of Damasus. It is evident that the death of this martyr occurred in one of the persecutions that took place between the middle of the third century and the beginning of the fourth. He was buried in the Catacomb of St. Callistus, and the inscription by Damasus was placed later on his tomb. In the seventh century his remains rested in the same grave as those of Pope Zephyrinus; according to Willpert they lay in the burial vault above ground (cella trichora) which was situated towards the west over the Catacomb of St. Callistus. The feast of the saint is observed on 15 August.




TODAY'S SAINT: AUG. 15: ST. STANISLAUS KOSTKA


Feast: August 15

  

Information:
Feast Day:
August 15
Born:
October 28, 1550, Rostkowo
Died:
August 15, 1568, Rome
Patron of:
Jesuit novices, students, Poland
Born at Rostkovo near Prasnysz, Poland, about 28 October, 1550; died at Rome during the night of 14-15 August, 1568. He entered the Society of Jesus at Rome, 28 October, 1567, and is said to have foretold his death a few days before it occurred. His father, John Kostka, was a senator of the Kingdom of Poland and Lord of Zakroczym; his mother was Margaret de Drobniy Kryska, the sister and niece of the Dukes Palatine of Masovia and the aunt of the celebrated Chancellor of Poland, Felix Kryski. The marriage was blessed with seven children, of whom Stanislas was the second. His older brother Paul survived him long enough to be present at the celebration of the beatification of Stanislas in 1605. The two brothers were first taught at home, the main feature of this early education being the firmness, even severity, of their training; its results were the excellent habits of piety, modesty, temperance, and submission. After this they were sent to Vienna with their tutor to attend the Jesuit college that had been opened four years before, reaching Vienna, 25 July, 1564. Among the students of the college Stanislas was soon conspicuous not only for his amiability and cheerfulness of expression, but also for his religious fervour and angelic piety. This spirit of devotion continued to grow during the three years he remained in Vienna. His brother Paul said of him during the process of beatification: "He devoted himself so completely to spiritual thing that he frequently became unconscious, especially in the church of the Jesuit Fathers at Vienna. It is true," added the witness, "that this had happened at home to my brother at Easter when he was seated at table with our parents and other persons." Among other practices of devotion he joined while at Vienna the Congregation of St. Barbara, to which many students of the Jesuit college belonged. If the confidences he then made to his tutor and later to a fellow-member of the Society at Rome are to be believed, it was Saint Barbara who brought two angels to him during the course of a serious illness, in order to give him the Eucharist. So much piety, however, did not please the older brother Paul; his exasperation led him to treat with violence the innocent Stanislas. The latter finally lost patience, and one night after Stanislas had again suffered the harsh comments and blows of his brother he turned on Paul with the words: "Your rough treatment will end in my going away never to return, and you will have to explain my leaving to our father and mother." Paul's sole reply was to swear violently at him.
Meantime the thought of joining the Society of Jesus had already entered the mind of the saintly young man. It was six months, however, before he ventured to speak of this to the superiors of the Society. At Vienna they hesitated to receive him, fearing the tempest that would probably be raised by his father against the Society, which had just quieted a storm that had broken out on account of other admissions to the Company. Stanislas quickly grasped the situation and formed the plan of applying to the general of the Society at Rome. The distance was five hundred leagues, which had to be made on foot, without equipment, or guide, or any other resources but the precariouscharity that might be received on the road. The prospective dangers and humiliations of such a journey, however, did not alarm his courage. On the morning of the day on which he was to carry out his project he called his servant to him early and told him to notify his brotherPaul and his tutor in the course of the morning that he would not be back that day to dinner. Then he started, taking the first opportunity to exchange the dress of gentleman for that of a mendicant, which was the only way to escape the curiosity of those he might meet. By nightfall Paul and the tutor comprehended that Stanislas had turned from them as he had threatened. They were seized with a fierce anger, and as the day was ended the fugitive had gained twenty-four hours over them. They started to follow him, but were not able to overtake him; either their exhausted horses refused to go farther, or a wheel of their carriage would break, or, as the tutor frankly declared, they had mistaken the route, having left the city by a different road from the one whichStanislas had taken. It is noticeable that in his testimony Paul gives no explanation of his ill-luck.
Stanislas stayed for a month at Dillingen, where the provincial of that time, the Blessed Peter Canisius, put the young aspirant's vocation to the test by employing him in the boarding-school. Subsequently he went on to Rome, where he arrived 25 October, 1567. As he was greatly exhausted by the journey, the general of the order, St. Francis Borgia, would not permit him to enter the novitiate of Saint Andrew until several days later. During the ten remaining months of his life, according the testimony of the master of novices, Father Giulio Fazio, he was a model and mirror of religious perfection. Notwithstanding his very delicate constitution he did not spare himself the slightest penance ("Monument hist. Societatis Jesu, Sanctus Franciscus Borgia", IV, 635). He had such a burning fever his chest that he was often obliged to apply cold compresses. On the eve of the feast of St. Lawrence, Stanislas felt a mortal weakness made worse by a high fever, and clearly saw that his last hour had come. He wrote a letter to the Blessed Virgin begging her to call him to the skies there to celebrate with her the glorious anniversary of her Assumption (ibid., 636). His confidence in the Blessed Virgin, which had already brought him many signal favours, was this time again rewarded; on 15 August, towards four in the morning, while he was wrapt in pious utterances to God, to the saints, and to the Virgin Mary, his beautiful soul passed to its Creator. His face shone with the most serene light. The entire city proclaimed him a saint and people hastened from all parts to venerate his remains and to obtain, if possible, some relics (ibid., 637). The Holy See ratified the popular verdict by his beatification in 1605; he was canonized on 31 December, 1726. St. Stanislas is one of the popular saints of Poland and many religious institutions have chosen him as the protector of their novitiates. The representations of him in art are very varied; he is sometimes depicted receiving Holy Communion from the hands of angels; sometimes receiving the Infant Jesus from the hands of the Virgin; or he is shown in the midst of a battle putting to flight the enemies of his country. At times he is depicted near a fountain putting a wet linen cloth on his breast. He isinvoked for palpitations of the heart and for dangerous cases of illness ( Cahier, "Caractéristiques des Saints").
This account has been drawn almost exclusively from the depositions of witnesses cited for the process of canonization of Stanislas (cf. Archivio della Postulazione generale d. C. d. G., Roma). The accompanying portrait is by Scipione Delfine and the oldest of St. Stanislas in existence. Having probably been painted at Rome the year of his death, perhaps after death, it may be regarded as the best likeness. The face is strikingly Slavonic, a fact that is not noticeable in his other portraits.




TODAY'S SAINT: AUG. 15: BL. ISIDORE BAKANJA


  

Information:
Feast Day:
August 15
Born:
1887 at northeast Republic of the Congo
Died:
8 or 15 August 1909
Beatified:
24 April 1994 by Pope John Paul II
One of "the least brothers" of Jesus, was born in northeast Zaire (then, Belgian Congo) sometime between 1885 and 1890. His baptismal record is the first document about him, as he was attracted to Christ when he was about 18 years of age, working for white colonizers as an assistant mason. He never forgot the lessons taught him by the Trappist missionaries from Westmalle Abbey in Belgium: a follower of Jesus should be characterized by prayer and witness. He should be recognized by the rosary and scapular (Mary's habit, as it was rendered in Isidore's native tongue). Mild, honest, respectful by nature, Isidore worked conscientiously and prayed faithfully, as many non-Christian witnesses attested. Often with rosary in hand, he looked for opportunities to share his new-found faith with others, to the extent that many thought of him as a catechist. He definitively left his native village because there were no fellow followers of Christ there. In a larger settlement, he found employment with the agent of a Belgian company that controlled the rubber plantations in the region. He was hired as a domestic boy. Many of the agents were avowed atheists, who hated the missionaries because of the latter's defence of the natives' rights and their denouncing of injustices perpetrated against them. "Mon pere" was a pejorative name given to priests and to all that had to do with religion. Isidore soon experienced the hatred of the agents for Catholicism. He asked for leave to return home; permission was refused. He was told to stop teaching his fellow workers how to pray: "You'll have the whole village praying and no one will want to work", one agent shouted at him. Isidore was told to discard his scapular. When he did not, he was twice flogged. The second time, the agent flew into one of his rages. He jumped at Isidore, tore the scapular from around his neck and threw him to the ground. He had two servant boys hold Isidore by his hands and feet and a third domestic flogged him. The whip was made of elephant hide with nails protruding at the end. The writhing Isidore asked for mercy. "My God, I'm dying", he muttered. But the colonizer kept kicking Isidore in the neck and head, and ordered his domestic to scourge him harder still. After 100, those assisting lost count of the number of blows. Isidore's back was one open wound; some of his bones were exposed. After scourging he was thrown, legs chained, into a hut for processing rubber. He could not even move to relieve himself. Since an inspector was due, Isidore was banished to another village. But because he could not walk, he fell by the wayside and hid in the forest. He dragged himself before the inspector, who was horrified at the sight of this modern Job. The inspector himself left a written account of his impression: "I saw a man come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me -he wasn't walking; he was dragging himself". The agent appeared on the scene and tried to kill "that animal of mon pere", but the inspector even physically prevented him. He took Isidore to his own settlement, hoping to help him heal. But Isidore felt death in his bones. He told someone who had pity on him: "if you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet the priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian". Two missionaries spent several days with him. He devoutly received the last sacraments. He told them the reason for his beating: "The white man did not like Christians.... He did not want me to wear the scapular.... He yelled at me when I said my prayers". The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he had already done so and that he nursed no hatred for him. This "animal of mon pere", this convert of two-and-a-half years proved that he knew what it meant to follow Jesus - even to the point of being flogged like him, even to the point of carrying the cross, even to the point of dying. The missionaries urged Isidore to pray for the agent. "Certainly I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much". His agony - more painful than the actual flogging - lasted six months. He died on either 8 or 15 august 1909, rosary in hand and the scapular of Our Lady of Mt Carmel around his neck.




OVERNIGHT ON A BEACH FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY FROM AUSTRALIA

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE RELEASE: 
Overnight at Copacabana

Brendan Lindsay, Kairos, Volume 24 Issue 15

Word spread quickly through Aussie Central, the place of accommodation for most Australians during the World Youth Day (WYD) week in Rio: ‘The Vigil sleep-out was back on!’

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the original venue for the WYD Vigil, sleep-out and final Mass had been changed. The Brazilian WYD committee decided on Copacabana Beach for these important events after the beach had successfully hosted the Opening Mass, Welcome of the Pope and Stations of the Cross earlier in the week.

Initially, with the change of venue, there was to be no sleep-out between the Vigil on Saturday and final Mass on Sunday, but the Brazilian Government decided to support a sleep-out and to allow pilgrims to sleep overnight on the beach.

For our Victorian pilgrimage group this meant an 8am start on Saturday with bags packed ready to begin our walk to Copacabana Beach. With the late change there were many unknowns to what lay ahead for the coming 24 hours.

The initial steps began in the rain. It did not really cross people’s minds that Rio de Janeiro, the city of sun and surf, could experience rain, but for most of WYD week it did.

Heading out in this rain we marched along the main road, Avenida Rio Branco, to join thousands of pilgrims on the road to Copacabana. After a quick stop for breakfast and a small wait for our overnight meal packs, we followed one of our Victorian pilgrims with their huge flag pole and four adjoining flags: the Australian flag, Victorian flag, Vatican flag and Boxing Kangaroo flag.

The sun was out by this stage and it was not long before we were nearing Copacabana. With no designated pilgrim areas and a narrow entrance through one tunnel to the top of the beach, we were getting anxious. What would we find on the other side? Would there be any space left on the beach? Would we find ourselves in a side street with no chance of touching the sand? Would we be able to see the Holy Father drive through on his way to the main altar?

By this time the Victorian group had split in two; the first group powering on to claim our spot, the second group falling away after a long toilet break. Finding myself among the laggers, I marched through the final tunnel.

The chanting and cheering of different nations bounced off the walls of the tunnel as the excitement of arriving at Copacabana Beach intensified. We passed the ‘1km to go’ sign as we walked out of the tunnel and back into the Brazilian sun, which we had anticipated in our preparation for WYD. Hitting a bottleneck of crowds we detoured down a side street and along a parallel road and after a further walk pushed out onto the beach to find our giant four flags swaying in the wind, connected to a sound tower.

The front group had succeeded in securing a space of sand that was next to a sound tower, had a giant screen in front of it and was within a short walk of the toilets. The remainder of our group secured their piece of sand, which would be their sacred space for prayer, Mass, Adoration, meals and sleep. It was a given that all belongings would become overtaken by the soft sand of Copacabana Beach. It was also the first ever vigil that allowed pilgrims the opportunity to go for a swim while participating in a beach-wide flash mob dance as we awaited the arrival of the Holy Father.

It seemed a distant memory thinking of the beginning of that day. Standing in a warehouse looking out at the rain with heavy backpacks in hand and a level of uncertainty of what lay ahead. By the end we were basking in the sun, chatting with pilgrims from Brazil, Chile, America, Italy and many other nations. Our final mission as a Victorian pilgrimage group was complete.

It is estimated that more than 3.5 million pilgrims joined us that night on the beach. What an amazing experience to be able to be part of a prayer vigil and Papal Mass with that many young people.

The challenge now that we pilgrims are home, set by the Holy Father, is to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’—a task that we will undertake with the new fire lit by our beloved Papa Francisco.

Brendan Lindsay is Director and World Youth Day Coordinator, Archdiocesan Office for Youth.

Photo: Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. and Brendan Lindsay on Copacabana Beach. Picture courtesy of AOY
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE

CATHOLIC CHURCHES ATTACKED DURING VIOLENCE IN EGYPT

ASIA NEWS REPORT: The attacks are connected to the evacuation of Islamist sit-ins by the police. At the moment there is no data about any deaths or injuries. Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesperson of the Egyptian Catholic Church, spoke of at least seven Catholic churches attacked, and another fifteen Coptic Orthodox and Protestant churches


Cairo (AsiaNews) - The Muslim Brotherhood's anger for the forced evacuation of the pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-ins has been unleashed against Christians. In the last few hours, the Islamists have attacked seven Catholic churches and a full fifteen religious structures of the Coptic-Orthodox Church and the Protestant church. The attacks took place in Cairo and in the governorate of Sohag (Upper Egypt). The news was announced by Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesperson for the Egyptian Catholic Church, who underlined the fact that the Western media has remained silent about the attacks. At the moment it is unclear whether any persons have been injured or killed.
The reprisal occurred immediately after last night's clashes in the neighborhoods of Nadha and Rabaa al-Adawiya, in the capital, and in Alessandria, el-Fayum and Suez, where the police brought in bulldozers to level the camps organized in the last few weeks by the Muslim Brotherhood. 95 persons died in the attack, according to army sources.

To avoid chaos, the Egyptian government has declared a state of emergency. (S.C.)

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. AUG. 14, 2013

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Lectionary: 415


Reading 1           DT 34:1-12

Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,
the headland of Pisgah which faces Jericho,
and the LORD showed him all the land—
Gilead, and as far as Dan, all Naphtali,
the land of Ephraim and Manasseh,
all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea,
the Negeb, the circuit of the Jordan
with the lowlands at Jericho, city of palms,
and as far as Zoar.
The LORD then said to him,
“This is the land
which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
that I would give to their descendants.
I have let you feast your eyes upon it, but you shall not cross over.”
So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the LORD,
died as the LORD had said; and he was buried in the ravine
opposite Beth-peor in the land of Moab,
but to this day no one knows the place of his burial.
Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died,
yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.
For thirty days the children of Israel wept for Moses
in the plains of Moab, till they had completed
the period of grief and mourning for Moses.

Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom,
since Moses had laid his hands upon him;
and so the children of Israel gave him their obedience,
thus carrying out the LORD’s command to Moses.

Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses,
whom the LORD knew face to face.
He had no equal in all the signs and wonders
the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt
against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land,
and for the might and the terrifying power
that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.

Responsorial Psalm                    PS 66:1-3A, 5 AND 8, 16-17

R. (see 20a and 10b) Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God: “How tremendous are your deeds!”
R. Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
Bless our God, you peoples;
loudly sound his praise.
R. Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
R. Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!

Gospel              MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

TODAY'S SAINT: AUG. 14: ST. MAXIMILIAN MARY KOLBE



  

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.