On this day 4 of our preparation for total consecration we will ponder Maximilian's next steps in his journey, and how God began to bless his efforts unimaginably!
"When he returned to Poland as a young priest in 1919, he was appointed professor to the Franciscan seminarians in Cracow. However, because of his failing health and having contracted tuberculosis, he was deemed unsuitable for the task. His superiors, therefore, decided to assign him to the office of confessor. Far from helping his already weakened condition, he became increasingly frail, and was subsequently consigned to the sanitarium of Zakopane.
But his zeal for souls, characteristic of a true saint, did not diminish because of his physical ailments. He provided various spiritual services among his sick companions and instilled in them the love of Our Lady. After having recovered from a long confinement – which served as a period of silence and purification for him – he was prepared to launch a new apostolic endeavor, the likes of which had never before been seen in Poland, or in the world: the City of the Immaculate (Niepokalanów).
It all started in the humble surroundings of the friary in Grodno where Father Maximilian established a printery for the purpose of promoting devotion to the Immaculate. However, the growing number of subscribers to his printing apostolate forced the friars to transfer their location to donated land in Warsaw in 1927, and is where Father Maximilian established the first City of the Immaculate. It was called “city” because the friars numbered almost eight hundred, all working for the Immaculate with the huge mass media apostolate. They lived heroic lives of poverty, continuous prayer, and voluntary penance. They were united in their mission of evangelizing not only Poland, but the whole world! Day and night, the friars spent themselves in promoting Catholic doctrines, particularly those concerning Our Blessed Lady. They did all this in view of cultivating the need for conversion and sanctification of souls, both on the individual and collective levels, via the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For Father Maximilian Kolbe, sanctification always necessitated the mediation of Mary because, for him, only through her and by means of her, the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier of souls, acts in an inseparable way in each individual soul… whether or not that soul acknowledges Mary’s role in this process. But as he explained, the more a soul acknowledges and is conscious of Mary’s important role in the economy of salvation – the surer, easier and faster that soul can become a saint via consecration to her.
Since, unfortunately, there are so few of the faithful who are aware of this wonderful “elevator” to sanctify souls, namely Our Lady ─ there are still fewer working to make her better known and loved. This was the ever-consuming theological and spiritual focus of Kolbe’s apostolic enterprise and, therefore, his reason for launching this work for the cause of the Immaculate, using every possible licit means. Apart from his principal publication, the monthly magazine “Rycerz Niepokalanej” (“Knight of the Immaculate”) that reached its peak of 600,000 copies per issue, he also printed a daily newspaper, the “Maly Dziennik,“ which eventually reached a circulation of one million. Miscellaneous books, magazines, and pamphlets for people in all walks of life were freely circulated by the friars.
What could possibly be the secret of the incredible progress of Kolbe’s work? He himself pointed out to the friars that the true progress of Niepokalanów does not actually consist in constructing more buildings, of adding more printing presses, or of publications becoming more widespread. It consists, rather, in the daily deepening of one’s love for the Immaculate. The success of the work is brought about by Mary’s mediation and assistance. (https://saintmaximiliankolbe.com/biography/)Isn't this all amazing?
Imagining 800 brothers living together in a "city" dedicated completely to Mary and living for her - as they touched millions with their writings - its simply incredible! The more we love Our Lady and give ourselves completely to her, the more she is able to help us bear tremendous fruit as she forms us into other Christs - Christs enflamed with love - who become His Heart and Voice and Hands and Feet in the world!
So it was with Maximilian. He was on fire with love - a love that translated into striving:
“To conquer the whole world for Christ through the Immaculata.”So, even more than this booming apostolate, Maximilian understood the true greatness of their lives was, first of all, in their souls.
[He saw this as possible through] the “total and limitless” belonging to the Immaculata [that] widens toward the passionate search for the heart of man, of all men, of all the billions of hearts beating on earth beyond Poland and Japan (cf. KW 647).
We see how this ideal made him a missionary, caused him to implement pioneering apostolic projects for those days through the mass media, made him the spiritual father of a movement of spirituality and mission in the Church, the Militia of the Immaculata, and led him to give his life for a brother.
What does it mean to live in the footsteps of Mary?
It means to live a Gospel life, as Kolbe did, a life for God and for others, in obedience to God and in service to others.
Biographers recall an episode:
“Niepokalanow is at its best. Maximilian is asking the young friars what, according to them, is the next step to take. After several replies focused on the need to increase the productivity, finally a young friar whispers: ‘We must first increase inwardly, and then the productivity will be a consequence.’
Maximilian was so happy with this answer and added, “The expansion of our work will not be a demonstration of progress. Nor vast new buildings... So what would it take to make progress? What is the real Niepokalanow’s progress? And above all, what is our Niepokalanow? Is it this visible activity? Is it the industrial productivity? Or the circulation of the magazine? No, there is something better! Our Niepokalanow is the inner world of our souls! As a result, even if it were necessary to suspend our work, even if we had to disperse like leaves swept by the autumn wind, if in our hearts the Niepokalanow’s ideal remains and continues to flourish, then and only then we can say that we are in full progress" (cf. L. Faccenda, OFM Conv., Ho visto Padre Kolbe, Edizioni Milizia Mariana,1970, pp. 27-28).http://missionimmaculata.com/images/Documents/preparation_for_consecration/Preparation_for_MI_Consecration_Part_4.pdf
When our souls have become a place of prayer, of love, a place where we are drawn into ever deeper union with Christ...the outward circumstances of our lives matter little. Even if all we've worked for comes to naught and is destroyed (as would happen eventually to their beloved Niepokalanow), still there is joy in our love of Christ - still there is progress!
Thus, may this preparation help us to build a "City of Mary" in our souls. So that, in and through our Total Consecration to her, we are able to give ourselves completely to her and so allow her to raise us up to God in a quicker way than we ever could on our own.
When we are united and given over to Mary in this way, the Holy Spirit flies to us and together they form us into other Christs! Christs set on fire with His love - and so we are able to bear great fruit as we are inspired to strive with all our being to pray, love and grow closer to God and one another.
As an outward sign of this internal consecration and devotion, may we wear the miraculous medal with great fervor and pray the prayer Mary taught us daily (in it's updated form that the Militia prays today):
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all those who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of Holy Church and all those recommended to you.
And pray: Come Holy Spirit, living in Mary, help us to prepare well for our Total Consecration.
St. Maximilian, pray for us and help us live out the wisdom you express and help win all souls for Christ through Mary and the Miraculous Medal!
Be with us and help us understand Mary's place in the Holy Trinity's plan of salvation and give ourselves entirely and without reserve to Our Blessed Mother, so that she, in turn, can draw us ever closer to Jesus and make of us great saints!
We ask this in Jesus's Name, Amen.
© Janet Moore 2019. All Rights Reserved.