It’s World War II, and inside a concentration camp there’s an old Catholic priest with 16670 tattooed on his arm. He was known around the camp to offer secret masses, confession, give his food to younger inmates, and was a very hard worker. This man also had a huge devotion to our Blessed Mother, and started the first Mary militia before the war started. One day a prisoner escaped, so the guards sentenced 10 prisoners to the starvation bunkers. They called one man’s name and he cried “Please no, I have a wife, and children”. Then another voice shouted “Take me instead, I am a priest, I have no wife or kids, let this man go”. Everyone was shocked, and taken back. Here is this priest offering up his life for a stranger, and it would have gone totally unknown to us, had not several eyewitnesses (including guards, inmates, and even the man who was supposed to go) testified of this man’s boldness. This priest was Father Maximillain Kolbe. While in the starvation bunker he led men in prayer, praying constant rosaries. Those walking by would peer in and see Maximillain Kolbe still on his knees praying. Here was this man, who was starving, who had been in the camp for quite some time, and recieved many lashings, yet not once did he deny God’s goodness. He had complete trust in the intercession of the Blessed Mother, that by her grace he would be brought into heaven to be with Jesus. He always said “For Christ I am willing to suffer more “. And he did just that. Finally after two weeks the guards needed to empty out the bunker, and somehow Kolbe was still alive, and still praying on his knees. So on August 14th 1941, they injected him with carboxylic acid. That day he finally received the crown that he had been promised when Mary appeared to him as a child with two crowns. One white for his life of purity, and one red crown for martyrdom. The following day on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother he was cremated.
There’s so many other amazing pieces to this man’s story, I barely have skimmed the surface, but I tell you this story hoping to inspire you to continue to be hopeful, and to lean into a devotion to our Blessed Mother. Maximillian Kolbe attributes most of his success and work (actually probably all of it let’s be honest) to the intercession of our Mother who was constantly making his needs known to her son. About a year or so ago I learned the story of Maximillain Kolbe and was very inspired to grow closer to our Mother. It started with the little things, like trying to pray the rosary more often and begging for help on every exam. I would even go as far as to write JMJ on the top of my exams which is a symbol for through the heart of the holy family, Jesus, Mary, Joseph. (and let me tell you, Mom always came through, even when I messed up she would pull the curve like nobody’s business).
Over the past year or so my relationship with her has only grown stronger. I remember crying in the chapel one night, which if you’ve read my other blogs you know this isn’t surprising. I was crying because I did not want to walk Crossroads for the entire summer, and there was no way I was about to tell my earthly mom that I was not going to see her for the next 12 weeks when I barely see her already. I remember looking up at the tabernacle and asking for two things, and one of them was that if I went that I could grow in a devotion to Mary. I wanted to have a relationship with her like the saints that I admired. I recognized that the more devoted themselves to Mary the more Christ like they became. The allowed themselves to be raised up by the same mother that raised Christ, and I wanted that. And this summer, God certainly fulfilled that…
For starters Crossroads is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe (which is an apparition of Mary in case you didn’t know @my sister)….. Super cool story behind Our Lady of Guadalupe (strongly suggest googling, because I don’t have time for that this week). Anyways, this summer I was with this group and we would pray not just one rosary a day, but several. And as we spent hours walking for the end to abortion and for the sactity of all human life, I definitely found myself growing closer and closer to Mary. I just want to take a moment and point out the obvious, but most of you don’t see it. Jesus died, and then he rose from the dead so that makes him what? Living. And because He rose from the dead what do we now have? Eternal life. Meaning Mary and all the saints are? Living… and therefore are still able to live in relationship with us here on Earth, and they want nothing more than to be united with you in Christ. So to any “You worship Mary” critics out there… Backoff off because my Momma doesn’t bite, but she’s a professional devil slayer. We don’t worship her, we worship God, who has promised eternal life to his faithful servants which would obviously include Momma Mary.
Anyway, I found myself asking Mary to pray for me more and more. There would be days where I really did not feel like praying the rosary and then I would do it anyways and I just felt overwhelming peace. A lot of my friends have told me that they have picked up the rosary more lately, since this whole pandemic, and have noticed a new found peace. So what I’m getting at here is pray the rosary. I have a million things I have to do everyday, but the only thing I NEED to do is pray, and the rosary is key. And don’t rush through it, pray it slowly and with heart, and then whatever is lacking in you will be made up for by Christ. People rush through rosaries like a New Yorker in rush hour, but now more so than ever I promise you don’t have anywhere to be. Even them New Yorkers ain’t going nowhere. So I’m just saying… pray the rosary and truly try your best to meditate on the mysteries of each decade, there is so much fruit there.
Mary loves you so much, you don’t even know. She’s the spouse of the Holy spirit, and the one that was chosen to be Jesus’ Mother, she’s got a lot going for her. I say she has the in, like there’s nobody out there who’s closer to Jesus then Mary. So I don’t know about you, but I want this woman praying for me. I cannot count the number of times Mary has come in clutch for me. She has saved me so many times, she has helped me out of habitual sin, walked me through my conversion, taught me when to take a stand, and when it’s time to kneel. Not only does Mary desire to do that for me, but she also wants to do the same for you.
Sometimes when I’m having a hard time understanding why God is allowing something to happen, or when I feel like He’s not listening I cry out to Mary and say “Show me your son”. And then I meditate for a while on some specific scene, but my favorite is the moment they took Jesus down from the cross. It never fails to make me cry, but there’s such a huge amount of grace there. I can hear Mary say “Come hold my son.” Come hold my son who has died for your salvation. Come feel his cold, lifeless, dead body. You would think in that moment that Jesus was doing nothing for her, He’s dead, but I would argue that in that moment he was doing the very most. He provided Mary the opportunity to hold her bloody, beaten, dead son, and say Jesus I still trust you. I still love you and I know that you have not abandoned me. I trust that you are preparing a place for me, that you will do as you have promised.
Everytime I meditate on this and feel Jesus lay dead in my arms, and feel the weight, the cost of all my sins, the one I love the most, lay lifeless in my arms, I feel that same invitation. That invitation to trust deeply in a God who never fails. To trust that even though I don’t know when this storm will come to pass, that my God still loves me, that I am called above all else to trust. I start to feel at peace. I could stay with Mary forever repeating those words “Jesus, I trust in you”.
So I encourage you to do the same, especially in unknown times like these. Beg for the intercession of our Mother, ask her to show you the way to her son. Give her your heart and she’ll give you hers, so that you may better love Christ. Let her show you that despite your very real concerns and emotions, that Jesus is with you every step of the way. Let her show you like any good mother would, that everything is going to be okay.
Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us.