August 14, St Maximilian (Maksymilian) Maria Kolbe

August 14
(In the Archdiocese of Gdańsk: August 12)
SAINT MAXIMILIAN MARIA KOLBE, PRESBYTER AND MARTYR
Obligatory memorial

Maximilian Maria Kolbe was born in Zduńska Wola in 1894. He became a Franciscan friar and was ordained in 1918. A zealous advocate of the Blessed Virgin, he founded an association called the Militia Immaculata and set up publishing houses in Poland and Japan. In 1941 he was placed in the concentration camp in Oświęcim by Germans, where he became known as a paragon of patience. He voluntarily accepted death in a starvation bunker instead of a fellow prisoner. He died on 14 August 1941, finished off with an injection.

Common of One Martyr, or of Missionaries, except:

[PDF Version]

OFFICE OF READINGS

HYMN

There is no greater love
Than the one which makes
May lay down his life
For his friends

When a grain of wheat
Falls into the good ground
It produces much grain
And feeds everyone with itself.

Where the Lord after his Passion
Shines with eternal glory
The servant will obtain
A reward for his faithfulness.

Praise, glory and thanksgiving
To the Triune God,
Who in human hearts
Lights the bright love. Amen.

SECOND READING

From John Paul II’s homily on the canonisation of Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe
(AAS 64 [1982] 1219-1224)

The Martyr of Love

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

From today on, the Church desires to address as “Saint” a man who was granted the grace of carrying out these words of the Redeemer in an absolutely literal manner. All this happened in the concentration camp at Auschwitz where during the last war some four million people were put to death. Disobedience to God-the Creator of life who said, “Thou shalt not kill”– caused in that place the immense holocaust of so many innocent persons.

Father Maximilian Kolbe, himself a prisoner of the concentration camp, defended in that place of death an innocent man’s right to life. Father Kolbe defended his right to life, declaring that he was ready to go to death in the man’s place, because he was the father of a family and his life was necessary for his dear ones. Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe thus reaffirmed the Creator’s exclusive right over innocent human life. He bore witness to Christ and to love.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” These are the words we have repeated in today’s responsorial psalm. It is truly precious and inestimable! Through the death which Christ underwent on the Cross, the redemption of the world was achieved, for this death has the value of supreme love. Through the death of Father Maximilian Kolbe, a shining sign of this love was renewed in our century which is do seriously and in so many ways threatened by sin and death. Death undergone out of love-in the place of one’s brother-is an heroic act of man. It is an act through which, together with the one already beatified, we glorify God. For from God comes the grace of such heroism, of this martyrdom. Therefore let us today glorify God’s great work in man.

Maximilian prepared for this definitive sacrifice by following Christ from the first years of his life in Poland. 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 marvellous and supernatural world of God’s grace offered to man. The faith and works of the whole life of Father Maximilian show that he thought of his cooperation with divine grace as a warfare under the banner of the Immaculate Conception. This Marian characteristic is particularly expressive in the life and holiness of Father Kolbe. His whole apostolate, both in his homeland and on the missions, was similarly marked with this sign.

What happened in the starvation bunker in the concentration camp at Oswiecim (Auschwitz) on August 14, 1941? The reply is given in today’s liturgy. “God tested” Maximilian Maria ”and found him worthy of himself.” God tested him “like gold in the furnace and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted him.” Even if “in the sight of men he was punished,” yet “his hope is full of immortality.”

So what happened in the starvation bunker, on August 14, 1941? There were fulfilled the words spoken by Christ to the Apostles that they “should go and bear fruit and that their fruit should abide.” In a marvelous way the fruit of the tragic death of Maximilian Kolbe endures in the Church and the world! Maximilian did not die but “gave his life…for his brother.”

In that death, terrible from the human point of view, there was the whole definitive greatness of the human act and of the human choice. He spontaneously offered himself up to death out of love. And in this human death of his there was the clear witness borne to Christ: the witness borne in Christ to the dignity of man, to the sanctity of his life, and to the saving power of death in which the power of love is made manifest. Precisely for this reason the death of Maximilian Kolbe became a sign of victory. This was victory won over all systematic contempt and hate for man and for what is divine in man – a victory like that won by our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary: “You are my friends if you do what I command you…”

Or:

From the works of Saint Maximilian Maria Kole
(St M. M. Kolbe, Wybór pism, Warsaw 1973, no 362)

Let Me Praise You, O Blessed Virgin

Who are you, O Lady? Who are you, O Immaculate? I cannot fathom what it means to be God’s creation. It is beyond me to understand what it means to be an adopted child of God.

And you, O Immaculate, who are you? Not only creation or an adopted child, but God’s Mother; what is more not only an adopted /Mother, but the real Mother of God.

It is not an assumption, a possibility, but a certainty, a dogma of faith.

And are you still God’s Mother? The title of mother does not change. God shall forever call you “my Mother.” The giver of the Fourth Commandment will praise you forever, always. Who are you, O Divine?

And he, the Incarnated God, took a liking to calling himself Son of Man. People however did not understand it. And today still so few souls, and so imperfectly, can grasp it.

Let me praise you, O Blessed Virgin.

I praise you, our Father in heaven for you bestowed your Only Begotten Son in her purest womb. I praise you, Son of God, for you agreed to enter her purest womb and became her real Son. I praise you, most Holy Spirit, for you formed in her immaculate womb Son of God’s body. I praise you, Holy Trinity, O Triune God, for such a divine elevation of the Immaculate.

I will not cease to most humbly, bowing down, immediately upon waking up, praise you, Trinity, saying thrice: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.”

Let me praise you, O Blessed Virgin.

Let me praise you at my own cost. Let me live, work, suffer, ruin myself and die for you and only for you. Let me lead the whole world to you. Let me contribute to your greatest elevation possible. Let me bring you such glory that no one has ever brought to you. Let others outrun me in the zeal for elevating, and me outrun them so that in that noble completion your glory may increase deeper, faster and mightier, as is desired by the One who elevated you above all creation.

In you only God became more glorified than in any other saint.

God created the world for you. He created me too for you. So much joy!

Let me praise you, O Blessed Virgin.

RESPONSORY Ephesians 5:1-2; John 15:13

Be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love as Christ also has loved us and given himself for us, and offering and a sacrifice,
For a sweet-smelling aroma.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends,
For a sweet-smelling aroma.

CONCLUDING PRAYER as in Morning Prayer.

MORNING PRAYER

HYMN

A Day of redemption has come,
The dark passion has ended,
Heavens have bent towards the earth
So that a disciple may go to his Master.

How to praise you, dear saint,
If the tongue is humbly silent
In the face of great suffering
That made the love grow.

You became brother for a stranger,
Giving your life up for him,
For where the Lord dwells
His servant will also reign.

The warrior of the Immaculate
By the Mother of God’s throne
Feel sorry for our weakness
Help us in our trials.

To the Father, the Son, and the Spirit
May there be glory for ever;
We give thanks for the example
of Maximilian’s sacrifice. Amen

CANTICLE OF ZECHARIAH

Ant. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

O God,
thanks to your grace Saint Maximilian Maria, z zealous advocate of the Immaculate Virgin, patently endured the torments of prison and gave up his life for his neighbour,
grant through his intercession that we may testify to your love with our own life and death.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

EVENING PRAYER

HYMN There is no greater love as in Office of Readings.

CANTICLE OF MARY

Ant. By this we know love, because Christ laid down His life for us, and we also ought to lay down lives for the brethren.

CONCLUDING PRAYER as in the Morning Prayer.

 

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