I was introduced to St. Maximilian's story by Father Michael Gaitley just over 3 years ago at our local Men's Conference. His martyrdom, offering his life in a concentration camp as ransom for another man, struck me as a powerful witness to the faith. Not long after this encounter, I completed my Consecration to Our Lady, and I remember thinking to myself at the time that I accepted it on faith because I did not nor could not fully understand how to live out this consecration. I have since come to understand better how a strong devotion to Mary leads us to the foot of the cross and no other place because of her own deep humility and love for Jesus Christ her son, she can lead us nowhere else.
I urge all men to consider consecrating their life to Christ through Mary. For those who have already done so, please renew that consecration today, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception
After developing 3 cities of the Immaculata in 3 separate countries, St. Maximilian returned to where it all began in the city of Niepokalanow. Not long after his return, in September of 1939, the Germans invaded Poland and on September 19th St. Maximilian along with many of his brothers were imprisoned and the city of Niepokalanow was quickly decimated by German soldiers. Despite this seeming defeat, Father Kolbe maintained a fatherly smile that brought hope to all captured. On December 8th, he was released and upon returning to Niepokalanow, immediately established adoration and restored to the entrance of the city a statue of Our Lady. Within months, the little city was operational again, seminary courses were being taught again, and it was suggested to Father Kolbe to request permission to begin printing The Knight again. He applied for permission, and it was granted.
And so it was that on December 8th, 1940, just one year after his release and returned to his city that was all but destroyed, St. Maximilian Kolbe along with the help of hundreds of brothers and residents of Niepokalanow printed and distributed what would be his last article, will, and testament to his knights around Poland. Below you will find the full transcript of that short and powerful declaration. I encourage you to read it in full on this day, almost 80 years later, reflect on the profound and simple message, think about the state of their world at that time and the realization that 9 months later he would be put to death in Auschwitz. St. Maximilian Kolbe was canonized on October 10th, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.
Once again, December 8th is approaching, the Feast of The Immaculate Conception.
Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance. Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or the reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure.
Therefore, this desire is good: to purify our souls on the feast of her whose soul was never stained.
Those souls who have the privilege of knowing her intimately, love her fervently. Most carefully they seek continually to purify and refine their conscience and in this way to resemble her more and more, to attach themselves to her, to please her.
But in what does the evil which stains the soul consist?
If virtue consists in the love of God and of all that which springs from love, evil will be all that which is opposed to love. This the soul should always fear; it should therefore desire to be ever more immaculate, after the example of its beloved Lady and spiritual Mother.
Those souls consecrated to her in a special way ought to renew their offering on that day. Also, the members of The Militia of Mary Immaculate should renew their act of consecration—by which they may gain a plenary indulgence, that is, the remission of all the punishment which, after the sin has been forgiven, they must expiate here on earth or in Purgatory.
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, having received the Sacrament of Penance and having made the act of consecration, and also having thereby gained the remission of punishments, the soul should more easily find interior peace, even joy, for the soul knows that no cross, whether from within or from without, can come without God’s permission, which is that of a truly loving Father. He allows only what is for the greater good of souls as far as eternal salvation is concerned.
May the fruit of this feast be an ever greater purity of conscience and an ever deeper peace. May it be a peace of resignation to Divine Providence. May it be an ever more generous readiness in the most perfect fulfillment of duty, thereby giving tangible proof of love for our spiritual Mother and our heavenly Father.
[Signed] Maximilian Kolbe
This is excerpt can be found in the remarkable book entitled, St. Maximilian Kolbe: Knight of the Immaculata written by Rev. Fr. Jeremiah J. Smith.