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#lovewins - Lesser known facts about Rajmund Kolbe

It may be that this is the last day of your life.
Live it as if it were, indeed, the last day.
Tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is no longer yours. Only the present belongs to you.
Every action you perform will remain forever.
— Maximilian Kolbe, age 24, few days before his ordination

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 had voluntarily offered his life for an unknown man, Franciszek Gajowniczek, and died as the last convict in the hunger bunker. This is what most people know. But there are many other aspects of Kolbe's life that are not known. Here are some of them:

Rajmund's family was very patriotic family (Poland was under partitions for over 100 years when the boys were small) and talked a lot about Polish history. Brothers liked to run around and paint Polish eagles on fences as a sign of protest and desire for freedom. Patriotic feelings were running deep. 

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 business; because of the political unrest they had to downsize their living quarters to a small one-room apartment and changed locations often. They both worked 12 hours daily, starting with 5:00am Mass, prayed together as a family, and taught their kids that only the following order of life is meaningful: 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.

Before all else, prayer. Some Catholics, less well instructed in the task of perfecting souls, often seem to do the opposite. Work, action... according to them this is the fulcrum of apostolic action. But such is not the case.
Prayer, prayer especially, is the effective weapon to use in the struggle for the liberation and happiness of souls. Why?
Because only supernatural means can lead to a supernatural end.
— Fr. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, 30 year old

The boys were responsible for keeping the apartment clean, they cooked and brought food for their parents twice a day to the factory where they worked, made dinners daily and walked with their parents from the factory to spend time with them in the evening. Marianna helped as a doula after her factory work, and studied in the evenings to become better at helping poor women without medical help. Juliusz supported the local parochial library, made book covers and wrote articles for a local newspaper. He evangelized everyone around, trying to convert even a local Evangelical pastor, and Marianna, feeling inadequate to raise 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 (two of them died early on), Juliusz and Marianna decided to live in chastity.

You must be prepared for periods of darkness, anxiety, doubts, fears, of temptations that are sometimes very, very insistent, of sufferings of the body and, what is a hundredfold more painful, of the soul. For if there were nothing to bear, for what would you go to heaven? If there were no trials, there would be no struggle. Without a struggle, victory would be impossible, and without victory, there is no crown, no reward (1 Cor 9:25). So be prepared from now on for everything.
There is nothing to shrink from, however, for we can and must be victorious.
— Fr. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, 33 years old, on the occasion of the investiture of new brothers
maks i brat.jpg

At the age of 13, together with his brother, Maximilian sneaked through the Austrian/Russian border (Poland did not exist as a country for 124 years; Polish territories was under Russian, Austrian and Prussian partitions) and they joined a minor Franciscan seminary in Lwów. Their youngest brother, Joseph, joined them three years later. After a few years in seminary, they both decided that their service to God and their beloved suffering nation of Poland would make more sense if they join the underground Polish army which would free Poland from its occupants.

A surprising visit of their mother changed their plans. After her arrival she announced that she and their father decided to consecrate themselves to the service of God by joining different monasteries. Marianna decided to move and live in the house of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix and Juliusz wanted to help Franciscan monasteries.  In 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.

Rajmund became novice at 16, at 19 received in a degree in theology, at 21 received doctorate in philosophy from the Jesuit Gregorianum in Rome, at the age 24 became a priest, and at age 25 became a professor.

We can build many churches.
But if we will have no media of our own,
they will be empty.
— St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

He was called "Crazy Max" , because he was always working on new ideas. At 21 (in 1912) he presented his patent for a spaceship called Etereoplan, he also prepared a plan for defending the Polish city Lwów in the East, and built a radio broadcasting station. 


Despite tuberculosis, which he suffered for all his life, his entrepreneurial spirit for God had no boundaries, and he always used cutting edge technology to reach people. In 1939 the City of Immaculata had 13 priest, 18 seminarians in novitiate, 527 professed friars, 82 candidates for friars and 122 boys in minor seminary. Yearly about 1,800 boys and men wanted to enter Niepokalanów, but Fr. Kolbe would receive only 100, personally. During WWII, Fr. Kolbe received over 1,500 Jews and helped them.  "The Knight of the Immaculate" had been published in 221,000 copies, daily magazine reached 137,000, Sunday's magazine 225,000 and Missionary Bulletin 440,000. 

From His journal, a glimpse into St. Maximilian's personal Spiritual Life as a Young Man ("The Kolbe Reader" The Writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe; Commentator: Fr. Anselm W. Romb, OFM Conv.), here is an excerpt from his notes after a retreat in April 21-27, 1918, a strategy of how to do priestly ministry, written a day before he became a priest:

Follow very faithfully the timetable of each day, and you will be safe. 

This very day begin to serve God. It may be that this is the last day of your life. Live it as if it were, indeed, the last day. Tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is no longer yours. Only the present belongs to you.
There is an ear which hears all, an eye that scrutinizes all the most secret movements of the heart, a hand which takes note of all. 
Not being punished is the most terrible chastisement of all. 
Every action you perform will remain forever. 
Make up by fervor for the time you have lost. 
Be a man, a Christian, a religious. 
Be a man: 
Don’t blush for your convictions. Do unto others what you would wish them to do to you. 
Have a sense of duty, fulfill it well, without being concerned whether anyone is watching you. Act instead with a noble ambition. 
Every action you do is noted down. Nothing will fail to be either rewarded or punished. 
You might die this very day!
Be recollected: whoever pours himself out on exterior things quickly loses the graces he has acquired. A full jewel box is always kept closed.

(this is not even half, get the book to read them all). 

We do not intend to attempt any industrial ventures, because that would not be in keeping with our monastic spirit in general, and especially the spirit of our Franciscan Order, which since its origin is founded on poverty and trust in divine providence.
The only aim of our work, including the publishing of the periodical, is to spread the cult of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, which in our estimation is an effective remedy, for the contagion of immorality, which today is spreading to a terrifying degree in both private and public life. Neither profit nor profit yielding enterprise ever was or will be our goal.
(...) We don’t even demand this low price at all times (for the “Knight of the Immaculate”). Because we would like to be of service to everyone, we send the magazine to everyone who wants it, regardless of whether they are able to pay or nt. To make up the deficit we accept voluntary donations. We ourselves live in wooden barracks, depend on alms for our livelihood and deny ourselves even the most primitive comforts. (...) We do not hire any laymen to do any part of the work, because we cannot afford it, nor do we accept any orders from outside, because we do not intend to run a printer’s establishment requiring a legal permit and having legal rights.
— Fr. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Letter to the Governor of the Warsaw Province

"The Last Letter of Kolbe to His Mother" composed by Paweł Łukaszewski:

The last letter of Fr. Kolbe to Him mother, May 28, 1941:

My dearest Mom,

Towards the end of the month of May I reached the concentration camp of Auschwitz (Oświęcim) by rail convoy. Everything is going well with me. Beloved Mom, don't worry about me or about my health, because the good God is everywhere, and with immense love he thinks about all of us and about everything. It would be best not to write to me until I send you another letter. I don't know how long I shall remain here. 

With heartfelt greetings and a kiss. 


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Can't Allah forgive? part 2

continuation of Part 1

Forgiveness is stronger

The Old Testament endorsed the stoning of adulterers (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) and fornicators, including a monetary fine and stoning, depending on the circumstances (Ex. 22:16-17; Deut. 22:23-26; 28-29). But there came a moment in the human history, when the law was fulfilled in a Man, who's words brought healing instead of stoning.

Because stoning as a form of punishment was recognized and ordered by Mohamed in the hadiths, there is still a strong base for it's validation. In my comparison list between Mohamed and Jesus, the two worlds, according to their teachings and life examples, collide in many areas, and the stoning reveals one of the aspects of a quite different Word of God they preached and practised.

stoning in Afghanistan

When Jesus came, He changed the world upside down. He revealed the truth about His Father's heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, which is Christianity 101, He touched upon the sins of adultery and lust in a way that changed the perspective on men's righteousness completely.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matt. 5:27-28

This statement was soon followed by an incident which we can read about in the Gospel of John, chapter 8. The smart and intelligent scholars (teachers of the law) and the religious leaders (Pharisees) caught a woman in adultery. In reality they were preying on Jesus, trying to corner Him and expose His luck of, according to their way, cohesive teaching. But the whole story turned into something unexpected, life changing, mind bugling. After dragging her to Jesus' feet they left the power for her life and death in His hands. Jesus replied:

"He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

adulterous woman scene from the movie "The Passion of Christ"

The verdict which was expected to be imposed upon the fallen woman, was turned upon the accusers' consciousness. There were probably few things that could happen then, but the most bizarre happened, and it was recorded in the Gospel. One by one, they all left. Was it, because the spoken Word penetrated their hearts? Was is because they realized their hypocrisy? Was it because they decided they can't win their tricky game this time? was it because the fear of God fall upon them? Was is because they had a glimpse of God who is just and merciful?

This one moment changed the universe forever. The power of forgiveness was installed in the human race. It was cried out not in a moment of speech or preaching, but in the moment where someones destiny was about to be overturned.

"Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?"

Jesus spoke to a condemned woman. That was a shocking reality by itself. The question He asked was for her to realize, that the accusers lost their ground. There were no more threats. And then comes the punching line, that is the quintessence of God who is Justice and Mercy at once.

"I do not condemn you either, go, from now on sin no more."

This is the way to a human heart and the root of the sin. The spiritual solution is forgiveness without condemnation, with the encouragement. Later on, Jesus fulfilled the law by taking the penalty for our sins on Himself.

How different from Mohammed's form of justice - stoning and flogging. Did these kinds, still used in some countries as a "Muslim way" of dealing with the criminals, ever work? As far as I am aware, in Judaism, there is no more stoning imposed as a punishment for the sins or committed crime. Christian based judicial systems are not allowing such cruelty. But in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, it's still a different story. It just torns families apart, deprives the children of the parent, causes damage to the child's life, brings shame without resolution, drives the sin underground, does not offer any healing to the families or the society. If it would work in theses controlled societies, is the sin purged out of the hearts of people?

Can't Allah forgive?


PBS Frontline story about Saudi princess executed for adultery (1980)

Islam and stoning

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Can't Merciful Allah forgive? part 1

Stoning - such a cruel death.

Throwing stones at someone's humiliated body, until the person gives out their last breath, seems inhumane. But throughout the history of humankind, stoning has been practiced by many cultures and imposed as community justice or as a judicial form of capital punishment.

In today's world, there are countries that defend exercising this kind of justice upon it's citizens. Incidents of stoning are reported frequently from: Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria.

Some time ago, in his expose, then Saudi Ambassador to London, Ghazi Al-Qusaibi (present Minister of Labor in Saudi Arabia) stated:

[In Islam] punishments have been set, and no matter what we say, the West will see them as barbaric and primitive. According to the Western view, flogging is illogical. Execution is unacceptable, and the same goes for amputating hands and stoning. These are things that in Muslim eyes are at the core of the Islamic faith."

Islamic scholars are not unified on this. Stoning (rajm) is not found in the Quran, but plenty of it in the hadiths (oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad), which causes much trouble to Muslim scholars. Muhammad's words concerning executing stoning ordered by him are quoted several times throughout the hadiths.

"Muhammad, on the other hand, believes in imposing sexual holiness from the outside of a person’s mind by flogging and stoning. But this has never worked throughout human history because sexual sin is too deeply entrenched in human nature. (...) Muhammad’s harsh punishments do not bring healing to a family and subsequently to society, but they tear the family and society apart. Also, it is only logical that such punishments would drive the sin underground; indeed, according to reliable hadiths that Maududi cites, Muhammad encouraged his early followers to keep their sins or "crimes" a secret. This is no long-lasting solution, either." (more here)

According to an Islamic scholar, Maududi, there is enough evidence in three hadiths, that Muhhamed advised criminals to hide their crimes rather then admitting them in order to escape the consequences.

"If any of you is guilty of any immorality, he should better remain hidden under the curtain of Allah, but if he discloses it to us, we shall certainly enforce the law of Allah on him" (Maududi 3:305).

This does not make a good case with the purposeful cruelty of the punishment for certain sins in Islam. Such executions as beheadings, stonings, amputations, should enforce the fear of Allah and in consequence, chastisement of the society.

One of the strongest arguments of Muslims to keep validating these punishments, is that this is the only way to produce a strong, Allah-fearing society and to prevent it from collapsing, as it has in the western cultures. That's why officially they go hard after the perpetrators of the Sharia law. There is no mercy, no reconciliation offered. The law is harsher in many instances toward women in these situations (raped women are condemned to death, or become the victims of honor killings; men usually are flogged and put to prison).

Muslim believers will not escape the example of their model Prophet. The law stands stronger than forgiveness.

So are these controlled societies better off now days? Is the nature of their faith engraved in their hearts?

Sharia law (Islamic religious law) institutes stoning as a penalty for adultery. And most of Islamic countries follow Sharia law (there are five different schools influencing shaping Sharia differently in different regions, although they are broadly similar).

Last year, Mohammad Javad Larijani the head of the Iranian judiciary human rights committee defended the use of execution by stoning after a sentence was carried out on an adulterer, saying the punishment was legal and in line with Iranian's human rights commitments. He said, the judiciary supported the principle of stoning after confirmation last week of the stoning sparked international condemnation. (more here)

"Stoning is based on Islamic Sharia law and it is not contrary to any of our international obligations ... We have signed four important treaties on human rights. None of them has any opposition to stoning".

While Muslims in the West are trying to soften the whole issue (by the way, how can you mercifully and compassionatly stone someone?), the acts of stoning remain undebatable.

Here is a film of an actual stoning from Iran. (Absolutely not to be watched by children!)

In Iran, stoning is included in the Islamic Penal Code. Raped women are also to be stoned, as they are seen to be offenders.

A stoned victim is wrapped in linens, buried half way in the ground, and then put to death. The whole act might take a few minutes to half an hour. In Iran, the victim theoretically might escape this gruesome death by wiggling their way out of the dirt. But look at the Iranians protocol below:

Article 102 states that a man who is sentenced to death by stoning is to be buried to his waist, while a woman who is to be stoned must be buried up to her chest.

Does it take a lot of intelligence to guess who has a better chance? The reports show that the victims who escaped the ditch, are dragged back and stoned again or shot on the spot.

Another interesting detail:

Article 104 defines the size of stones and stipulates: In stoning to death, the stones should not be so large that the person dies upon being hit by one or two of them, neither should they be so small that they cannot be called a stone.

I don't know who collects the killer-stones, who decides about the diameters or weight of a rock to be qualifies as a stone.

In the next part of this subject, I will talk about God who offers forgiveness that changes hearts.

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