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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

St. Maximilian, JPII and 12/8

During the month of All Saints/souls, my second son was born: Maximilian Kolbe-Joseph Roeble (No Pressure).  My wife and I agreed on that name soon after we finished the Saint’s specific Marian Consecration, and I am so profoundly impressed with the Saint’s understanding of the Immaculate Conception that I use it in my daily rosary.  That is, St. Maximilian Kolbe understood there to be essentially two personally distinct Immaculate Conceptions: Mary and the Holy Spirit.  One human and one Divine, one created and one Uncreated. 

While awaiting execution at Auschwitz, St. Maximilian received the answer to a question he had long wondered, “Who are you, O Immaculate Conception?”.[1]  Here is the answer he received just before his martyrdom:

This eternal ‘Immaculate Conception’ (which is the Holy Spirit) produces in an immaculate manner divine life itself in the womb (or depths) of Mary’s soul, making her the Immaculate Conception, the human Immaculate Conception.[2]

After all, Mary did tell St. Bernadette at Lourdes, I am the Immaculate Conception.  That is, the identity of her person just as the Tetragrammaton was revealed to Moses on Sinai.  So too, St. Maximilian Kolbe understood the identity of the person of Holy Spirit to be the uncreated “Immaculate Conception”.

St. John Paul II references this same understanding, along with a story of the Saint’s acceptance of two “crowns” from the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Maximilian prepared for this definitive sacrifice by following Christ from the first years of his life in Poland. From these years comes the mysterious vision of two crowns-one white and one red. From these our saint does not choose. He accepts them both. From the years of his youth, in fact, Maximilian was filled with the great love of Christ and the desire for martyrdom.

This love and this desire accompanied him along the path of his Franciscan and priestly vocation, for which he prepared himself both in Poland and in Rome. This love and this desire followed him through all the places of his priestly and Franciscan service in Poland and in his missionary service in Japan.

The inspiration of his whole life was the Immaculata. To her he entrusted his love for Christ and his desire for martyrdom. In the mystery of the Immaculate Conception there revealed itself before the eyes of his soul that marvelous and supernatural world of God's grace offered to man.[3]

I find it particularly fitting on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception today 12/8/15, that I can celebrate with my family, the very community for which St. Maximilian offered his life.  That is, when he saw that Jewish father and husband had been selected by the Nazis for execution, Father Kolbe offered his life instead.  That is how highly he esteemed marriage and family.  And, the man he “saved” (Francis) went on to tell his story to everyone he met.  Not only that, but he and his family personally attended the Beatification of St. Maximilian in Rome.


[1] Rev. Michael Gaitley's 33 Days to Morning Glory, esp. section on St. Maximilian Kolbe pp.49-64.  Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 2013.
[2] H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, OP, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit. Libertyville, IL: Franciscan Marytown Press, 1977.
[3] John Paul II, HOMILY For THE CANONIZATION OF St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, October 10, 1982

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