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Lesser known facts about st. Maximilian Kolbe

Rajmund Kolbe had a vision of Mary at the age of 12 – she brought him two crowns, white-symbolizing purity and red-symbolizing martyrdom. He received both. At the age of 13 he joined minor Franciscan seminary, became novice at 16, at 21 received doctorate in philosophy (in Jesuit Gregorianum) in Rome, at 19 in theology. At 21 he presented his patent for spaceship, at the age 24 became a priest and at age 25 became a professor.

Marianna Kolbe

His parents, who were educated only in elementary schools, belonged to the third order Franciscans, they home schooled during early years, helped the poor (not being well of themselves) and sick. Looking for jobs, they ended up in a big industrial city of Łódź, but soon after decided that because of the kids they need to move to the little village nearby. They ran a small store and gave away so may things to the poor that they lost the store. Because of the political unrest they downsized to a small one room apartment and changed apartments often. They both worked 12 h daily, went to the Mass daily at 5 am, prayed together as a family, and thought their kids this order of life: work, study and play only if you have time.  They belonged to a rosary group and every Sunday attended Eucharistic adoration, which they themselves organized.

The boys were responsible for keeping the apartment clean, they cooked and brought food for their parents twice a day to the factory, and they made dinners daily and walked parents from their factory to spend time with them at the evening. Marianna helped as a doula after her factory work, and studied herself at the evenings to become better help for the poor women without medical help. Juliusz supported local parochial library, and made book covers, and wrote articles for a local newspaper. He evangelized everyone around, trying to convert even local Evangelical pastor, and Marianna, feeling inadequacy for raising her boys, constantly called upon Mary’s help. Her conversations had only one focus: God. She was very firm and expected nothing but the best from the boys. After having five sons, they decided to live in chastity.

Young Rajmund Kolbe

They were very patriotic family (Poland was under partitions for over 100 years when the boys were small) and talked a lot about Polish history.

After their three boys went to to the seminaries (two boys died while young), both parents decided to consecrate their lives only to God. Marianna lived in the house of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix and Juliusz helped Franciscan monasteries.  Marianna’s words: “I loved my sons and husband more than my life, but not more than God.” She survived all of her sons and husband, and died in 1946.

Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname

Saint Pacian (310—391 AD), bishop of Barcelona and Church Father in his Epistle I explains that “Catholic” marks the unity of the people that were uncorrupted:

But under the Apostles, you will say, no one was called Catholic. Be it thus. It shall have been so. Allow even that. When after the Apostles heresies had burst forth, and were striving under various names to tear piecemeal and divide the Dove and the Queen of God, did not the Apostolic people require a name of their own, whereby to mark the unity of the people that were uncorrupted, lest the error of some should rend limb by limb the undefiled virgin of God? Was it not seemly that the chief head should be distinguished by its own peculiar appellation? Suppose, this very day, I entered a populous city. When I had found Marcionites, Apollinarians, Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the kind who call themselves Christians, by what name should I recognise the congregation of my own people, unless it were named Catholic? Come tell me, who bestowed so many names on the other peoples? Why have so many cities, so many nations, each their own description? The man who asks the meaning of the Catholic Name, will he be ignorant himself of the cause of his own name if I shall enquire its origin? Whence was it delivered to me? Certainly that which has stood through so many ages was not borrowed from man. This name “Catholic” sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors.

st. Pacian

Many things the Holy Spirit hath taught us, Whom God sent from Heaven to the Apostles as their Comforter and Guide. Many things reason teaches us, as Paul saith, and honesty, and, as he says, nature herself. What! Is the authority of Apostolic men, of Primitive Priests, of the most blessed Martyr and Doctor Cyprian, of slight weight with us? Do we wish to teach the teacher? Are we wiser than he was, and are we puffed up by the spirit of the flesh against the man, whom his noble shedding of blood, and a crown of most glorious suffering, have set forth as a witness of the Eternal God? What thinkest thou of so many Priests on this same side, who throughout the whole world were compacted together in one bond of peace with this same Cyprian? What of so many aged Bishops, so many Martyrs, so many Confessors? Come say, if they were not sufficient authorities for the use of this name, are we sufficient for its rejection? And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.


And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, “Catholic” is ‘every where one, or, (as learned men think,) “obedience in all,” i. e. all the commands of God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye he obedient in all things; and again, For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient . He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. But if also the word Catholic means ‘every where one,’ as those first think, David indicates this very thing, when he saith, The queen did stand in a vesture of gold, wrought about with, divers colours; that is, one amidst all. And in the Song of Songs the Bridegroom speaketh these words, My dove, My undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her. Again it is written, The virgins shall be brought unto the King after her. And further, Virgins without number. Therefore amidst all she is one, and one over all. If thou askest the reason of the name, it is evident.

Bridegroom shares His cross

Jesus now hath many lovers of His celestial kingdom:
but few bearers of His Cross.
He bath many who are desirous of consolations:
but few of tribulation.
He findeth many companions of His table:
but few of His abstinence.
All desire to rejoice with Him:
Few wish to endure anything for Him.
Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread:
but few to the drinking of the cup of His Passion.
Many reverence His miracles:
few follow the shame of His Cross.

[The Imitation of Christ] – Thomas a Kempis

Wielu ma dzisiaj Jezus tych, co kochają Jego Królestwo niebieskie, ale mało takich, którzy dźwigaliby Jego krzyż. Wielu ma spragnionych Jego pocieszenia, lecz mało pragnących dzielić z Nim ból. Wielu znajdzie przyjaciół do stołu, ale mało do postu.
Wszyscy chcą się z Nim cieszyć, mało pragnie dla Niego i z Nim cierpieć. Wielu idzie za Jezusem do momentu łamania chleba, lecz niewielu aż do wychylenia kielicha męki. Wielu podziwia Jego cuda, mało postępuje za hańbą krzyża.

[O naśladowaniu Chrystusa] – Tomasz z Kempis

Tell the world that we perished

Go, passer-by, and tell the world
That we perished in the cause,
Faithful to our orders.

The Warsaw Uprising in August-September of 1944 was the largest and perhaps most heroic underground campaign of World War II. It was also one of the most desperate and little known battles of the war. Yet even as the Poles rose up against the Germans in the heart of Warsaw, they were callously betrayed. Not by their enemies but by their allies. Watch their fight, their lives, their faith and how they liberated one Jewish concentration camp.

My grandfather died during Warsaw Uprising.

Two fictitious profiles on FB – Kostek and Sosna – made for youth to interact and read about the lives of two young Poles living during the uprising, 24 hours non stop updates, pictures etc, live virtual diary. GREAT IDEA!

CNN Warsaw Rising web site

Warsaw Uprising website with lots of resources

Warsaw Rising Museum in Warsaw

Miasto Ruin – world’s first digital reconstruction of the destroyed city

BBC Battle for Warsaw web site and the movie:

Nuns instead of Lady Gaga

Couple of years ago the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz made an album “Chant: Music For Paradise” which sold more than one million copies, after climbing to the top of European charts with their Gragorian chants.

Today’s story is similar, but about the Benedictine nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation, from France ear Avignon. They have signed a deal with Decca Records, part of Universal Music, which counts Lady Gaga and U2 among its acts.

Their album “Voice: Chant from Avignon”, is scheduled for release in November 2010

How to die to see God

Mystical Prayer in the Holy Spirit

St. Bonaventure – Doctor of the Church

This reading on mystical (contemplative) prayer, taken from St. Bonaventure’s Journey of the Mind to God (Cap. 7,1 2.4.6: Opera Omnia, 5, 312-313), is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast (liturgical memorial) of St. Bonaventure on July 15.

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

This is an interesting read, because in our times everything points to the opposite way of believers reaching to God’s presence. Christians are trying to find God mostly by experiencing Him, and the cavalcades of worldly distractions might suggest that the same intensity of emotional engagement with “spiritual” things (think: cool, relevant Christian church) will overpower the former and bring the soothing presence of God (with His blessings = answers to my prayers). Not so, says St. Bonaventure, and many mystics. Cherishing death is the way.