This is an old post that I have revised for today’s feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate. The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world. The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.
They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause. The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist. St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them.
Finally, the saint’s perseverance paid off and by December 8, 1940 this only edition of the magazine published during the occupation reached the reading public. St. Maximilian contributed an article called: “Truth.” (As far as I know, the article has never been published in English in its entirety, so I present here a translation from the Italian–a translation of a translation, but it’s the best I can do.) You might say that it was St. Maximilian’s persistence to publish coupled with what he wrote that sealed his fate and ultimately led to his final arrest on February, 17, 1941.
St. Maximilian was canonized a martyr of charity because he gave his life for a man he did not even know. He offered his life because he had the charity blessed by the Lord Himself as that no greater than which can be conceived (Jn 15:13). It seems to me that this final act of charity was a seamless development of his true commitment to the common good, which led him, like Christ to say what needed to be said, even if it was dangerous to do so. Like Christ, St. Maximilian died for love and like Christ he was killed because he told people the truth, no matter what.
In his article, he makes several proposals which he explains and illustrates: the truth is one; the truth is powerful; religious truth is also one; truth must be acknowledged, failure to acknowledge it does not change it; only truth can make us happy.
In simple terms the saint explained Catholic metaphysics and epistemology, grounding human thought on the principle of non-contradiction, namely, on the fact that a thing cannot both exist and not exist at one and the same time, and therefore that one and the same thing cannot be both true and not true at one and the same time and under the same respect. Common sense tells most of us that this principle is self-evidently true, but unfortunately, there are many today who had common sense brainwashed out of them. For instance, Freemasonic mumbo jumbo, with its assertion of religious convictions and simultaneous pretense of being a non-confessional system, is a fundamental violation of the principle. I have even had a Freemason on this blog scoff at the principle of non-contradiction.
Those who are willing to engage in dishonest propaganda have always been among us. The pharisees used it to silence Our Lord. Freemasons have used it to silence the Church, and the Nazis used it to silence St. Maximilian and his like; however, where their are real men who stand up and oppose the lie, it is never completely successful, because such men are not silent and even when we can no longer hear their voices with our ears, their deaths are an even louder and more eloquent testimony.
The picture above is the cover of The Knight of the Immaculate for January 1922 and depicts the Immaculate Queen flanked by two swords impaling the serpents of the propaganda of heresy and Masonry. (Click here for full picture.) This was nearly 20 years before St. Maximilian published his last article. His mind was fixed, his will was steeled, and his intention unbending. He knew that the truth was the only way to real happiness:
There is no one to be found in the world that does not search for happiness; indeed, in all of our actions happiness presents itself to us, in one form or another, as the end toward which we naturally tend. However, a happiness which is not built on the foundation of truth cannot endure, because everything else is a lie. The truth can be and is the only the unshakable foundation of happiness, for individuals and of all humanity.
But happiness comes at a cost and sometimes men have to sacrifice their personal contentment and safety so that others might live and prosper. But for them, this is in itself an honor and a cause of true joy. For St. Maximilian, who was so committed to living and dying by the truth, there was a particular truth which both inspired him and motivated him to “live, work, suffer and die,” without counting the cost. That was the truth of the Immaculate Conception. In the tradition of the Franciscan Order, there were in earlier centuries, before the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, friars who had taken “the vow of blood.” This was a solemn promise before God that they would defend the truth of the Immaculate Conception and the honor of She who is the Immaculate, even at the cost of their life.
The canonization of St. Maximilian was by Blessed John Paul II was an unprecedented act, because, even though St. Maximilian was sent to Auschwitz for defending the truth, he did not explicitly die for the faith, but for the love of his neighbor. But one might also consider it the fulfillment of his own “vow of blood,” his consecration to the Immaculate. He was transformed into a mirror of the coredeeming love of Our Lady. He suffered with the other nine men who died with him and He shepherded them into paradise by his compassion and solidarity. And that is a truth, which this patron of our difficult age, proclaimed in continuity with all the Franciscan saints in the face of the horrors of modern godlessness. Blessed—soon-to-be-canonized—John Paul II in his own way, mirrored the same coredeeming charity by giving witness to the truth of the dignity of every human person, as he offered his own suffering and debilitation as a proclamation that that truth.
May these to great modern examples of holiness inspire us to draw ever closer to the Immaculate so that we might also become saints, and give heroic witness to both truth and charity.