Go read the full post over at A Holy Experience. so so so profoundly powerful.
“And behind Gajowniczek, a man breaks rank… And he steps forward so all can see his face —- Maximillian Kolbe — a Jew who converted to Christianity. The Jew who was known to give up his food rations to those less hungry than he was. A Christian known to give his blanket to those not as cold as he was. Maximilian Kolbe, he was known to these incarcerated Jews as the Christ of Auschwitz… and he steps forwards silently, takes off his cap, and before the commandant he says,
“Let me take his place. He has a wife and children. I am not married. I am not a father. He is young. I am old. Take me.” I turn around so that I can see the kids’ faces. “Maximilian Kolbe was only 6 years older than Gajowniczek — 47.”
Kolbe spent the next 14 days singing hymns and praying with those nine other men, as one by one, all of them starved to death… And only one month prior to Kolbe being dragged off to starve, on June 15, 1941, — Maximilian Kolbe had written this to his mother:
‘Dear Mama, I am in the camp of Auschwitz. Everything is well in my regard. Be tranquil about me and about my health, because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love.’”
I had memorized that line of the letter. Because if a man in the midst of one the most hideous scenarios known in the history of the world could write a line like that — not from a bad day at the office or a hard day with the kids, but from the death stench of Auschwitz — how can anyone deny this ultimat,e iron-clad testimony : A Good God is everywhere — and provides for everything with love.
If Maximilian Kolbe could stand in Auschwitz and write “Be tranquil — because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love” — is there ever really anything that should make one lose tranquility? It could be like a song for all the doubters and anxious: The good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love.
“At the end of the 14 days, when Kolbe was still alive — still alive and still singing and breathing and giving thanks to God — the Nazi’s plunged a lethal injection into Maximillian Kolbe.”
“Because of Maximilian Kolbe, I can’t act frivolously — because every single moment is pregnant with meaning. Because it was a gift to me from that one who died that I might breathe this breath, that I might act today, that I might embrace this moment — I could never take another moment for granted.”
That lump in my throat. Forget the glossy catalogues and the mindless distractions and the frivolous frittering away! Because One died for me that I might breathe this breath…
It’s all a gift.