"Just a few hours before his second and final arrest, St. Maximilian Kolbe on February 17, 1941, wrote down his last reflections on the Immaculate Conception. The question, "Who are you, O Immaculate Conception?" occupied his priestly mind and heart forming him to be a living witness of the power of the Immaculate and to die as a living offering of love.
[These are his last reflections in their entirety:]
“IMMACULATE CONCEPTION. These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us in the most precise and essential manner who she really is.
Since human words are incapable of expressing divine realities, it follows that these words: “Immaculate,” and “Conception” must be understood in a much more profound, much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating, commonly gives to them.
St. Paul wrote, quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “Things that the eye has not seen, that the ear has not heard, that the heart of man has not imagined” (Is. 64,4), such are the good things that God has prepared for those who love him (I Cor. 2,9). Here, these words apply fully.
However, we can and should reverently inquire into the mystery of the Immaculata and try to express it with words provided by our intelligence using its own proper powers.
Who then are you, O Immaculate conception?
Not God, of course, because he has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2,7). Not Eve, molded from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2,21). Not the Incarnate Word, who exists before all ages, and of whom we should use the word “conceived” rather than “conception”. Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created “conceptions.” But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by original sin; whereas you are the unique, Immaculate Conception.
Everything which exists, outside of God himself, since it is from God and depends on him in every way, bears within itself some semblance to its Creator; there is nothing in any creature which does not betray this resemblance, because every created thing is an effect of the Primal cause.
It is true that the words we use to speak of created realities express the divine perfections only in a halting, limited and analogical manner. They are only a more or less distant echo- as are the created realities that they signify- of the properties of God himself.
Would not “conception” be an exception to this rule? No; there is never any such exception.
The Father begets the Son; the Spirit proceeds from Father and Son. These few words sum up the mystery of life of the Most Blessed Trinity and of all the perfections in creatures which are nothing else but echoes, a hymn of praise, a many-hued tableau, of this primary and most wondrous of all mysteries.
We must perforce use our customary vocabulary, since it is all we have; but we must never forget that our vocabulary is very inadequate.
Who is the Father? What is his personal life like? It consists in begetting, eternally; because he begets his Son from the beginning, and forever.
Who is the son? He is the Begotten-One because from the beginning and for all eternity he is begotten by the Father.
And who is the Holy Spirit? The flowering of the love of the Father and the Son. If the fruit of created love is a created conception, then the fruit of divine Love, that prototype of all created love, is necessarily a divine “conception.” The Holy Spirit is, therefore, the “uncreated, eternal conception,” the prototype of all the conceptions that multiply life throughout the whole universe.
The Father begets; the Son is begotten; the Spirit is the “conception” that springs from their love; there we have the intimate life of the three Persons by which they can be distinguished one from another. But they are united in the oneness of their Nature, of their divine existence.
The spirit is, then this thrice holy “conception,” this infinitely holy, Immaculate Conception.
Everywhere in this world we notice action, and the reaction which is equal but contrary to it; departure and return; going away and coming back; separation and reunion. The separation always looks foreword to union, which is creative. All this is simply an image of the Blessed Trinity in the activity of creatures. Union means love, creative love. Divine activity, outside the Trinity itself, follows the same pattern. First, God creates the universe; that is something like a separation. Creatures, by following the natural law implanted in them by God, reach their perfection, become like him, and go back to him. Intelligent creatures love him in the conscious manner; through this love they unite themselves more and more closely with him, and so find their way back to him. The creature most completely filled with this love, filled with God himself, was the Immaculata, who never contracted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God’s will. United to the Holy Spirit as his spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature.
What sort of union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the “essence” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This was true from the first instant of her existence. It was always true; it will always be true.
In what does this life of the Spirit in Mary consist? He himself is uncreated Love in her; the Love of the Father and of the Son, the Love by which God loves himself, the very love of the Most Holy Trinity. He is a fruitful Love, a “Conception.” Among creatures made in God’s image the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all (cf. Mt. 19,6). In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being. He makes her fruitful, from the very first instant of her existence, all during her life, and for all eternity.
This eternal “Immaculate Conception” (which is the Holy Spirit) produces in an immaculate manner divine life itself in the womb (or depths) of Mary’s soul, making her the Immaculate Conception, the human Immaculate Conception. And the virginal womb of Mary’s body is kept sacred for him; there he conceives in time- because everything that is material occurs in time- the human life of the man-God.
And so the return to God (which is love), that is to say the equal and contrary reaction, follows a different path from that found in creation. The path of creation goes from the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit; this return trail goes from the Spirit through the Son back to the Father; in other words, by the Spirit the Son becomes incarnate in the Womb of the Immaculata; and through this Son love returns to the Father.
And she (the Immaculata), grafted into the Love of the Blessed Trinity, becomes from the first moment of her existence and forever thereafter the “complement of the Blessed Trinity”.
In the Holy Spirit’s union with Mary we observe more than the love of two beings; in one there is all the love of the Blessed Trinity; in the other, all of creation’s love. So it is that in this union heaven and earth are joined; all of heaven with all the earth, the totality of eternal love with the totality of created love. It is truly the summit of love.
At Lourdes, the Immaculata did not say of herself that she had been conceived immaculately, but, as St. Bernadette repeated, “Que soy era immaculada councepciou”: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
If among human beings the wife takes the name of her husband because she belongs to him, is one with him, becomes equal to him and is, with him, the source of new life, with how much greater reason should the name of the Holy Spirit, who is the divine Immaculate Conception, be used as the name of her in whom he lives as uncreated Love, the principle of life in the whole supernatural order of grace?”
(Sketch: Feb. 17, 1941")https://www.piercedhearts.org/hearts_jesus_mary/heart_mary/max_kolbe_immaculate_conception.htm
To help us, let's read further of the exuberant joy that comes from contemplating the greatness of God's love and His plan of salvation:
With Mary on a Mission
“Everywhere Is Love!”
“Scrutinizing with ecstatic admiration the divine plan of salvation, whose origin is the Father who freely willed to communicate to creatures the divine life of Jesus Christ revealed wondrously in Mary Immaculate, Father Kolbe, fascinated and enraptured, exclaims: ‘Everywhere is love’ (KW1291).
The gratuitous love of God is the answer to all doubts.‘God is love,’ says St. John (1Jn 4:8)”. These words, pronounced by Pope St. John Paul II during his homily of December 8,1982, at Santa Maria Maggiore, two months after the canonization of Father Kolbe, hold the key to understanding mission in the perspective embraced and lived by St. Maximilian.
Mission, in fact, it is all about love: the “excessive” love of God the Father who dreams of the happiness of every creature and gives His Son for us (cf.Jn 3:16). It is about the “excessive” love of Christ, who became man for us in Mary's womb, let His Heart be pierced on the Cross to quench our dry and hard hearts with the living Water of His Spirit, with His Body broken and his Blood poured forth for us (Jn 19:17-37). It is about the humble love of the young woman of Nazareth, who offered her womb and heart to God in the abandonment of faith, so that in time and in history He could realize this plan of salvation and love (cf.Lk 1:26 -38).
With the depth of the mystics and saints, Maximilian, follower of St. Francis, understood that the infinite love of the Triune God for humanity was fully revealed through Jesus Christ. In the mystery of the Incarnation and the Cross, God humbled Himself, became poverty, weakness, flesh. The Lord Jesus stripped / emptied Himself of everything and surrendered to our hands (cf. Phil 2:6-7):
He is totally-given Love...
St. Maximilian, however, did not forget that the mystery of this “emptying” took place in the womb of Mary, as St. Paul reminds us: “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law”(Gal 4:4). For a special gift of grace, we could say for a unique “charism,” Maximilian was allowed to grasp and accept with great clarity the mystery and mission of Mary in God's plan.
For Maximilian, Mary is not only the creature whom God chose as His Mother to enter into the world: she is the Immaculata, the new Woman, the redeemed humanity dreamed of by God. She is, even today, the Mother of God who became man, called to continue to work with the Holy Spirit in generating the Son in the hearts of men. (emphasis mine)
“... And the Word was made flesh (Jn 1:14) as the result of the love of God and the Immaculata. So He became the firstborn, the Man-God, and souls are not reborn in Christ by any other way, other than through the love of God toward the Immaculata and in the Immaculata.” (KW1296)
Just as Jesus became incarnate through Mary and the power of the Holy Spirit, so Christ is made incarnate again in each of us through the same eternal exchange of love of the Holy Spirit and the Immaculata!
It is a great mystery, which at its heart can be summed up:
"Everywhere is love!"
All life, all existence, all grace is the excessive unbounding love of God, which the Immaculata alone receives and incarnates perfectly - not only in and for herself - but in all those who unite themselves perfectly - (fully) to her!
(I pray this summation of these great mysteries does justice to them...)
St. Maximilian further explains in practical ways how Mary's love perfects our offerings:"... It is true that we love the Father in the Son, in Jesus Christ, and to Him we must give all our love, in order that in Him and through Him all our love might be received by the Father. But it is not any less true that our acts, be they even as holy as possible, are not without blemish, and if we want to offer them to Our Lord pure and immaculate, we must direct them straight to Her who alone is Immaculate, and give them to Her as Her property, so that as Her own property She might give them to Her Son. Then they will become without blemish, immaculate. Having then received an infinite value through the Divinity of Jesus they will worthily honor God." https://saintmaximiliankolbe.com/the-essence-of-marian-devotion/
Lastly, here is one last quote which, again, in practical terms expresses what complete abandonment to the will of God through Mary looks like in our lives:
Let us work with prudence, patience, and humility, but with perseverance, purifying continuously our intentions, to fulfill only the will of God through the Immaculata, helping each other by prayer, advice and action.
Let us be led, let us be quiet, quiet, let us not claim to do more than she wants, or faster [than she wants it]. Let her carry us; she will take care of everything, she will provide for all our needs of the soul and the body; let us give to her any difficulty, displeasure, let us trust that she will take care of them better than we could. Therefore peace, peace, a lot of peace in unlimited confidence in her. We did not make the MI; we do not know nor can carry it forward. If the MI belongs to our Heavenly Mother, the obstacles will make it stronger, and if not, let it fall; why should we meddle? If even our Heavenly Mother would not want the MI to last, but be content with what it has done so far, she is Our Lady; may she do whatever she likes. Let us take care of things, but let us not worry about them. We need that the external and internal tribulations, the failures, the listlessness, the fatigue, the jeers, the misfortunes, and other crosses purify and strengthen us. It takes a lot of patience even with ourselves and even with the good God, who tries us out of love."
This abandonment of everything into the hands of Mary is another way of expressing our abandonment of everything to God and His Holy Will;
for it is His Will that we give ourselves completely to Mary so she and the Holy Spirit can form us into other Christs...
When and if we do so,
we come to trust ever more fully that all is love, which is another way of saying with all trust that "all things work together for good for those who love God" (Romans 8:28)
When we understand this, we can be filled with true joy and peace
even when all our plans fail,
even when we are ridiculed, rejected, tested and tried...
even when we are called to give up our life -
in a thousand tiny ways throughout each day or ultimately in martyrdom -
for we truly understand that it is in dying we are born to eternal life!
It was this abandonment to God, through Mary the Immaculata, which enabled Maximilian to be filled with the grace and peace and love of God in the midst of a "struggle [that] is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens" (Eph 6:12).
It can do the same for us.
If we also give all we are to Mary (for the love of God), their love will form us, too, into living offerings of love and witnesses of the power of the Immaculata.
St. Maximilian, be with us and help us to live this total consecration through prayer, mortification and Charity in the midst of this great battle for our souls and the souls of all God's children.
Intercede for us to become great saints in and through the Immaculata, our advocate - as we attend Mass, pray the mysteries of the rosary and wear the miraculous medal - not only in preparation for our Total Consecration, but from now on daily (to the extent that it's possible), praying:
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.
© Janet Moore 2019. All Rights Reserved.