Wednesday, August 28, 2019

This morning we had a later start than earlier days and everyone appreciated that. We boarded the bus and went to St. Stanislaw on the Rock Church for our Mass (homily here). Then we had a 1 1/2 hour drive to Auschwitz. Along the way we prayed and watched a movie and prepared for this gut-wrenching tour.

No one is prepared for what they see there even though it is sanitized compared to what it was like during the holocaust. But Americans need to know and see and remember. There’s a saying that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. In fact, we are repeating it by the slaughter of millions of unborn babies.

We toured both Auschwitz and Birkenau and visited the underground bunker in the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life through starvation as a substitute for a married family man. We talked a lot about that today about what true Christianity really is. Al Kresta gave a talk on his thoughts on Auschwitz (see below).

Al Kresta’s Comments on Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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The Kiss of Mercy

by Steve Ray on August 28, 2019

My daughter-in-law Anna is very insightful about spiritual things, and in raising our grandkids. Couldn’t ask for a better daughter (in-law, though we consider her our daughter by now :-) She put this up on her FaceBook page a while ago and I was compelled to share it again. Janet and I read this with tears in our eyes WHILE WE WERE IN THE CONFESSIONAL LINE this Saturday. Wow!

The Kiss of Mercy

“Kiss me!” – My young son looked up at me with this imploring demand. I look down upon my passionate, impulsive son observing his pain and anguish. His face is contorted and pleading. The pain he is experiencing is emotional, his center of well being is off.

The Father RUNS to his sinful prodigal son

He feels my displeasure at his most recent misbehavior and he desperately longs to restore the relationship. Without hesitation, I reach down, pull his small, tense body into mine and kiss his upturned lips. Instantly, as if a switch has been flipped, his body relaxes and all is restored.

Oh, how our Lord wishes we would behave as this young child! Multiple times a day, my son will behave in a less than virtuous manner. And yet, he does not despair, does not hide his pain and wrongdoing.

He comes running with all of his misery into my merciful arms. At the young age of 3, he has grasped what many of us have not. His sin is not a condemnation, it is an opportunity to receive mercy and healing. It is an opportunity to restore and strengthen the one relationship to him that is his whole world.

How can this be? Because our Lord said it was so. Hear his words, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” See and feel his actions. Focus your heart on his passion.

Call to mind the scourging. The whip is in your hand. Your pride, anger, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, and lust rush upon His body with a fury. He already sees it and knows it, admit to it yourself and become aware of the reality of your sin and misery. 

But don’t let it end there! Once all the dark passion within you is spent, fall to your knees. Look divine love in the face. Fix your gaze on him and let his gaze penetrate yourself. And then say to him, “It was not in vain. Kiss me!”

Allow divine love to hold you, as the sweet pain of that kiss courses through your body. Hold fast in trust, as it probes and burns away the dark places and secret misery within you. Experience the gift of merciful love as he transforms you each moment that you come to him demanding and trusting in that mercy again and again and again.

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Since we are walking through the horror of Auschwitz today I wanted to share the story of one hero who gave his life in exchange for another man–a father and husband. St. Maximilian Kolbe was starved to death – and we visit his death cell today.

Click here for the whole story and pictures…

St. Maximillian Kolbe the Martyr and Auschwitz

St. Maximilian Kolbe was born as Raymund Kolbe on January 8, 1894, in the Kingdom of Poland, part of the Russian Empire. He was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar and a martyr in the German death Camp of Auschwitz during World War II.

On February 17, 1941, his monastery was shut down; Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo and taken to the Pawiak prison. Three months later, he was transferred to Auschwitz.

In order to discourage escapes, Auschwitz had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s bunker escaped. The dreadful irony of the story is that the escaped prisoner was later found drowned in a camp latrine, so the terrible reprisals had been exercised without cause. But the remaining men of the bunker were led out.

‘The fugitive has not been found!’
 the commandant Karl Fritsch screamed. “You will all pay for this. Ten of you will be locked in the starvation bunker without food or water until they die.” The prisoners trembled in terror. A few days in this bunker without food and water, and a  man’s intestines dried up and his brain turned to fire.

The ten were selected, including Franciszek Gajowniczek, imprisoned for helping the Polish Resistance. He couldn’t help a cry of anguish. “My poor wife!” he sobbed. “My poor children! What will they do?” When he uttered this cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped silently forward, took off his cap, and stood before the commandant and said, “I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children.”

Astounded, the icy-faced Nazi commandant asked, ‘What does this Polish pig want?’ Father Kolbe  pointed with his hand to the condemned Franciszek Gajowniczek and repeated “I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.”

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