In a timely video posted Monday on Facebook, on the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Catholic evangelist and lay leader Chris Stefanick asks what is the Catholic response to salutes of hatred?
The video comes on the heels of a weekend filled with horrific images from Charlottesville, Virginia: of violent clashes between protesters and counter-protesters, between white supremacists and antifa groups; of a car plowing into a tightly-packed group, leaving one dead and nineteen injured; and of hate-filled signs, chants and Nazi salutes.
St. Maximilian Kolbe: inspiration during troubling times
The story of St. Maximilian Kolbe offers an antidote to the divisiveness and hate-filled accusations dominating our newsfeeds.
Kolbe was a Polish priest who was arrested and sent to the Auschwitz death camp for having spoken out against the Nazi regime. A few months after his arrival, another prisoner from his barracks escaped and so 10 men were chosen at random to die by starvation in order to deter future escape attempts.
When one of the 10 chosen pleaded to live in order to take care of his wife and children, Kolbe bravely stepped forward and offered himself in exchange for this man’s life.
Despite suffering from dehydration and starvation over the course of many days, “instead of hearing howls of pain and curses from the starvation bunker,” the Nazi captors and fellow prisoners “heard people singing hymns of praise to God.” After 12 days, Kolbe was the only one left alive, and so they injected him with carbolic acid to euthanize him. Kolbe’s final act was to bless the men who executed him.
Fr. Kolbe was canonized by St. Pope John Paul II, a fellow Pole, in 1982.
The Papal decree announcing Kolbe’s beatification began with Jesus’s own words, taken from John 15:13, “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Real Life Catholic
Stefanick is founder of Real Life Catholic, whose purpose is “to ignite a bold, contagious faith in the heart of every Catholic in America, by building a movement of Catholics who share the beauty, power and truth of the Gospel with a world that has largely forgotten.”
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has called Stefanick “one of the most engaging young defenders of the Christian faith on the scene today.” Chris speaks to more than 50,000 teens, young adults, and parents every year.
At the end of the short video, Stefanick says, “All the powers of empire, they rise and fall around us, they come and go. But acts of charity, they endure forever.”
Stefanick concludes, “And people who lay down their lives in love and service of humanity, they blaze like the sun for all eternity. St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.”