Poor Max Got Stuck with the People Like Me
Celebrating the Feast Day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe (August 14)
One day I was talking with a friend about addiction and we were discussing how my recovery was going.
“There must be a patron saint for addicts,” she said “but I am not sure who.”
“It’s Maximilian Kolbe,” I said.
“How the hell did poor old Max get stuck with you lot?” She asked, which was a pretty epic response. I would have flipped her a bird, but we were speaking via phone and it would have been a waste.
Being the patron of addicts was how I first met Max, he’s a pretty cool bloke. I’ve cried and asked him to send up some prayers for me in those times when I wanted to use but also didn’t want to.
Maximilian Kolbe was born in Poland. His mother named him Raymond, but when he took his vows as a Franciscan he did so with the name Maximilan Maria Kolbe. He was a priest who eventually became a martyr in The Holocaust when he was arrested and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp.
He died there in Auschwitz because he asked to be allowed to take the place of another prisoner who had a wife and children at home. The Nazi’s attempted to starve him to death with the nine other men chosen for this torture, but after two weeks, with Kolbe still alive, they got impatient and gave him a lethal injection. He died on August 14, 1941, at the age of 47.
The Nazis cremated his body the next day, which was the feast of the Assumption of Mary. So not only is he the patron of addicts, he also died a martyr to let another man go free, and loved and was completely devoted to my mother, Mary.
When I did my consecration to Jesus through Mary, I learned how much he loved Mary. Not only did he love her, but he had a fair bit to say about her too. Michael E. Gaitley calls him one of the greatest Marian saints in history in his book 33 Days to Morning Glory (p. 54). Kolbe’s Marian theology was deep, his relationship with Mary beautiful and intense. He has become known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.
Mary told Saint Bernadette at Lourdes that she was the Immaculate Conception, and Kolbe’s theology explained in detail what this title of Mary actually meant. Incidentally, Our Lady of Lourdes feast day was the day I did my consecration.
Two hours before Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo, Gaitley says, he wrote the most important theological work of his life, explaining the title Immaculate Conception (p. 51).
I’m thankful for the life of Maximilian Kolbe, for his intercession, and for his devotion to Mary.