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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. 



pro-life Bush killing people in Iraq

Does it matter to the pro-life cause whether a President is pro-life or not? Does it matter how many pro-life people are elected to Congress?


1) Appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. The appointments resulted in the upholding of the federal partial-birth abortion ban by a 5-4 decision.

2) Reinstituted the Mexico City Policy, begun by the Reagan Administration and reversed by the Clinton Administration (when Congress tried to reinstitute the policy, Clinton vetoed the bill), that bars foreign aid funding to groups that perform or advocate for abortions. In 2003, the Bush Administration expanded the Mexico City Policy to include not just funds dispensed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), but also the State Department.

3) Discouraged advancement of pro-abortion legislation by announcing early in his administration that he would veto legislation that threatened pro-life policy.

4) Signed the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which made it a federal crime not to treat babies who survive abortion.

5) Signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban of 2003.

6) Signed Unborn Victims of Violence Act, recognizing the unborn child as a separate crime victim if injured or killed during an assault.

7) Cut off all federal funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for its involvement in China’s one-child policy which includes forced abortion and sterilization. President Bush sent a fact-finding mission to China which found that the nation’s one-child policy was indeed coercive in nature and that the UNFPA was an integral part of implementing that policy, placing the UNFPA in clear violation of the Kemp-Kasten Amendment that prohibits any aid to any program that involves forced abortion or forced sterilization. Tens of millions of dollars that otherwise would have gone to the UNFPA were redirected to maternal and child health programs.

8 ) Thwarted efforts at the United Nations to promote abortion by instructing U.S. delegates to state at every appropriate opportunity that America does not regard anything in any document before the U.N. to establish any international right to abortion.

9) Issued Executive Order banning the use of new lines of embryonic stem cells in federally funded experiments. Later vetoed legislation passed by Congress to permit federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

10) Signed the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, which will fund research using umbilical cord and adult stem cells. The measure provides funding to increase the inventory of cord blood units available to match and treat patients and to link cord blood banks so that doctors have a single source to search for cord blood and bone marrow matches. It also reauthorizes the National Bone Marrow Registry.

11) Launched public awareness of adoption campaign, working with the National Council for Adoption and pregnancy help centers across the country. The campaign sponsored conferences encouraging faith based communities to promote adoption and produced public service announcements featuring the First Lady urging the adoption of foster children.

12) Established the first federal government and national website listing and showing children available for adoption across the country (

13) Increased the tax credit for adoption related expenses from $5,000 to $10,000; for special needs children, the credit was raised from $5,000 for qualified adoption related expenses to $10,000 for any adoption related expenses. This was done as part of the President’s tax relief bill.

14) Annually declared Sanctity of Human Life Day.

15) Issued a federal regulation allowing states to include unborn children in the federal/state S-CHIP program, which provides health insurance for children in poor families. This allowed states to include pre-natal care in the health insurance they offer to poor children under the program.

16) The Bush Administration did what it could to stop assisted suicide from taking further hold in Oregon. The state of Oregon passed an assisted suicide law that allows doctors to prescribe federally controlled drugs in lethal amounts to certain of their patients who say they want to die. Federal law holds that federally controlled drugs may only be prescribed for legitimate medical purposes. During the Clinton Administration, Attorney General Janet Reno decreed that assisted suicide was a legitimate medical purpose in those states that permit it.

During the Bush Administration, Attorney General John Ashcroft changed that ruling, saying that assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose, thereby barring doctors from prescribing lethal drugs. A lawsuit was filed and ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing the drugs to be used for assisted suicide.

17) Signed legislation making it possible for a federal court to hear whether Terri Schiavo’s constitutional rights had been violated by being denied hydration and nutrition.

18) Dramatically increased funding for abstinence education through the Department of Health and Human Services, although Congress did not approve the full amount the Bush Administration requested.

All of the above is taken from Political Responsibility Center page.

My insignificant thoughts on the argument that Bush is pro-life, but kills people in Iraq:

I lived in the Middle East when 9/11 happened. No one protested when Bush has taken the troops to Afganistan. Until that moment, not many knew, what was really happening in this remote country, and that the Taliban's regime was prospering there. So the whole world (well, the Western world) took a sight of relief when the Allied troops were freeing Afgan citizens after years of opression.

Iraq had a similar story in the beginning. I mean, in the western media.

We flew over to USA from Qatar, departing one minute before the attacks on Baghdad. The plain had to take different route than usually, and we just hoped that the missiles will not aim at our plain by a mistake, as they did before (like in Pakistan, instead of Afghanistan).

I couldn't believe the propaganda in the US TV against Iraq, with all of the stories about weapons of mass destruction. For me, after living for few years in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the reason was obvious: oil (read: money - think about US connections with Saudi house etc., plenty of sources to learn now from on the subject). So simple. Anyway.

So, what we had in USA, was a story about a society terrorized by a tyran (true), and the argument about chemical weapons, which worked. Now, Bush believed his CIA agents, and I am not sure, if his primary motive to invade Iraq, was to free and help people of Iraq and rescue the world from chemical attacks OR if he saw that window of opportunity to secure the oil market for the future (because what's gonna happen after the Saudi king dies, or if Islam revolution tales place in that country). I think it was much more complicated than that, but for my little brain, everything in politics (unfortunetly) is about power or/and money.

US invaded, Iraqi's looked happy on the footage shown to the world. Then the ancient conflicts, which were present before, but dormant for a while, exploded. And now the world is wondering, was it worthed to open this Pandora box? Were we better with Hussain, or are we better now with never ending stories of terrorism.

But the answer is, that the answer does not lie in the political decisions, but in people's hearts. And I know how it sounds...

Anyway, this is what I think that I think. So, the argument, that president's pro-life stand is just a political stand, because he does the opposite in Iraq, is not a good one. The situation in Iraq would look the same, or worse, if Iraqis would kill Saddam themselves or if, let's say, other Muslim's would assassinate him.

Shame on American political advisers, who thought, that the religious-political situation in Iraq could be stabilized in few months or so, and were shortsided on the issue of Sunni-Shi'a realtions (let's not forget Kurds). Shame on them thinking that the western secular democracy can substitute Saddam's ideas.

So (if ot is not clear yet), I think that the argument for pro-life Bush killing people in Iraq is a weak one, because he did what he did, knowing what he knew; only he knows the motivation for that decision (let's not forget Congress, media world and "the people of USA", who backed him on that one). He just don't know what to do with the mess, but he wants to get out of there, I am sure.

The proof for his stand on pro-life issues are above.

For thinking: Media controls the world. Who controls media?

As for Iraqi Pandora box, hope is still there.

Pray for wisdom. Seek God. Serve the people.

Good night.




Finally I watched "Bella".

Vivid colors, seems like a slow pace story, but how truly resembles the reality of time passing, decision making, consequences revealing. Cool shots and nice music wrap ups.

The message is so innocently positive, although the story has many hidden tragedies, that it is hard not to think about celebrating life given as a gift to live it fully once again.

Vary few movies can express such passions without relating to some extreme scenes, in order to lure the public. Very few can depict family's history as this in one scene, portraying it with hope and charismatic love.

It's not an action, adventure movie. It does not have a plot which will keep you on the edge of your seat. But it has something that I needed. Hope in goodness, charity, love. It brings healing.



in the shadows of gray

Reminiscing is not easy. Sipping my cup of tea, I'm trying to distinguish between the reality that was awaiting me and the far surpassed life given me as a gift I don't deserve. I came to this world as a rather fearful, somewhat disoriented, internally intrigued and at the same time outwardly sound-minded heart. My first memory is saturated with the color of gray walls in the building where I spent the first years of my earthly pilgrimage. The beam of lights cutting through this deserted place are also present in my memories, invigorating the sadness and overwhelming heaviness.

My mom and I lived in an old building surrounded by 3 sides with similar giant, obscure, upraised old German apartments. These ancient dominating buildings were always there and everywhere. My apartment was on the third floor. From the balcony, I could see another gray giant, with it's windows starring at me.

Some windows were inhabited by people recognizable to this small gray community. One window had a man with a loud puzon (trombone). The man would practice daily at different times of the day. I don't even know if he belonged to some orchestra or was it just his hobby. His window seemed loudly disturbing. The lace curtains decorating it would fly open quite often, revealing pieces of old-fashion furniture. But there was not enough light in our yard to distinguish the interiors of his living place.

There was another interesting window across. This one was always occupied by someone from the family. Mostly by the mother and one of the daughters. It was incredibly amazing how they could be so well informed about the whereabouts of most of the occupants just from observing and watching. They were mobilized if a new person would pass by, they would be vigilant at evening times, they would listen attentively to the echoes of the voices bouncing in between the buildings, trying to decipher the meaning of the words, to feed their hunger for gossips. I was thinking often, when do they have time to cook, to clean and to do other "normal" things of life. They were probably bored. They were waiting with anticipation for something great or even less then great to happen. Something that would change the monotonous existence within the scratched walls.

Every time I stood in front of these buildings I was diminished and conquered by their firm and depressive presence. They reminded me of the times we lived in. These old tenement houses supported the idea of the ruling system, proclaiming loudly the common share, common property, common life as a massive blurb of otherwise not important individuals, working for the better tomorrow in the land of common satisfaction. The patches with falling paint, pieces of bricks and whatever else might stick to them in the last 100 years, were slowly giving in under the pressure of time.

The yard was ugly. Squeezed in between monster buildings, there was black dirt, beater (for cleaning the carpets) and the doors leading to the outside world of streets, cars, shops and people. Nothing else.

Looking from my balcony, to my left, there was a piece called the "Jewish yard", to my front and right was "our yard", and behind my building was the "Gypsy yard". The last one had a story and a social right to be named in such a way. Gypsy families were living nearby, their numerous children would play in there, making constant noise by loud laughter, songs and frequent fights in a language not understood by the rest of us.

This is the back view of my building from the "Gypsy yard". On the left would be the "Jewish yard", to the right and in front - "our yard".

But every space called yard around my building, was the same. It brought the same feelings, the same disappointing "luck of hope and the future" message banging over our heads, falling straight from the sky, sinking deeply into our very conscious and alert minds. No escape was the refrain of this chant soaking daily into our existence, trying to penetrate to the very bone of leftover faith in humankind's goodness.

The only thing you could do in that place called yard was to imagine. Therefore creativity blossomed exponentially. There is a limit to the number of times you can play hide and seek or jumping ropes. Beyond these familiar games there was a wide open world of unrestricted imagination. And the kids were freely exploring this childhood universe without boundaries and borders. But today is late and I need to go to sleep...

These 3 picture are not of the place where I actually lived, but were taken in Poland and depict accurately the feeling of the times.