JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
Today marks a beautiful memorial of a more modern-day saint who has captured the world's attention, due to his willingness to lay down his life for a stranger. When at Auschwitz, Maximilian volunteered to take a Jewish family man's place in the starvation bunker with 9 other men, which was punishment for a failed escape attempt of another prisoner. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for one's friends." [Jn. 15:13] Maximilian indeed accomplished some great deeds in life by establishing a magazine dedicated to the Immaculata, establishing a missionary presence of his Conventual Franciscan friar order in Japan and India, and founding an evangelical movement known as Militia Immaculata which encourages members to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to defeat evil in the world and enemies of the Church, and to usher in the triumph of the united hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Despite, these undeniably grand accomplishments, St. Maximilian referred to St. Therese's Little Way and Oblation to Our Lord's Merciful love in his letters and notebooks frequently. He saw this little saint as a key component and exemplar of the movement of consecration to Jesus through Mary, by the writings and spirituality that she taught and lived so heroically. He was so impressed by her life, that he visited the Basilica at Lisieux dedicated to her, while it was still being constructed. He set foot inside the monastery church where she died and noted that, "on the main altar the statue of St. Therese has been lit up; beside her tomb, at the foot of the Immaculata - yes- I prayed. In my mind, I commended everyone and everything..." [Daily Notes, Notebook III 1930 #990 C]
When he arrived in Southeast Asia in 1933 seeking to establish mission churches there, he sought to head "first to the church of St. Therese of the Child Jesus" which the Chinese of Singapore had recently built in her honor...Inside, he reports that Jesus was in center in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and there was 'a large statue of the little saint against the backdrop of a stained-glass window, depicting episodes of her life.' He comments on how hihs prayer time was spent speaking with this young girl who was 'Patron of all missions' and noted that 'She was able to carry out missionary work, so much so that the yellow, almond-eyes citizens of the far away Singapore even built her a temple. Yet she never cast her gaze beyond the walls of the small convent in Lisieux." [Daily Notes, Notebook IV 1930-1933 #991 T]
He viewed St. Therese as a great intercessor working with Our Lady to bring lost souls to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart. He noted that a terminally ill patient was resisting receiving confession and extreme unction and was close to death, despite the hospital nurses' best efforts. He was asked to convince the stubborn man to prepare his soul for his seemingly certain, impending death. He first gave him a Miraculous Medal and then prayed to St. Therese to interceded for this patient, in order for him to come to the Fountain of Merciful Love. Indeed, when he returned the next day, it seemed that the patient's heart was changed, he became willing to wear the Miraculous Medal and to have his confession heard. Yet another Pranzini snatched from death without the contrition. [Rycerz Niepokalanej "The Victories of the Immaculata" August, 1924 p. 148-150]
In another article written for his calendar of Rycerz Niepokalane in 1926, St. Maximilian called St. Therese "The Little Flower of the Divine Mother" [p. 62-83, Articles #1109] It is of such import and shows his devotion and pure belief in the help of our little Carmelite saint that it bears being copied here:
Who does not know the 'little Therese'? St. Therese of the Child Jesus, secluded for most of her life in the solitude of a monastery, has, today, sent from heaven in every part of the world a 'shower of roses,' of graces. Like all saints, so too this 'little flower of the Divine Mother" - as she wished herself to be called - grew in love for God and perfected this love under the powerful protection of the Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth. Here are her confessions, relative to the most importants of her life.
- In childhood the Divine Mother heals her back to health.
- After the first Holy Communion, she consecrates herself to the Blessed Virgin.
- She entrusts to the Divine Mother the problem of her entrance into the monastery.
- During the trip to Rome she visited Paris, where, however, nothing interests her except the Blessed Virgin.
-During her last illness, she expresses her love for Jesus and Mary. [p. 1110]
What a beautiful kinship and connection these two saints offer to us, as we seek to ponder the Face of Jesus by imitating the ways of Our Lady and consecrate ourselves to Her Immaculate Heart.
St. Maximilian Kolbe...Pray for us...
St. Therese of the Child Jesus...Pray for us!