“There is no such thing as half-way virtue.” Antonio Cardinal Bacci
I reflected on August 14th with several memorials of some great people. St. Maximilian Kolbe was one of them. What a remarkable man! He grew up in a pious family and his father was killed for being a ‘traitor’ and his mother became a Benedictine nun. His brother was a priest as well. St. Maximilian found himself in Poland during the Nazi invasion. He was eventually sent to Auschwitz, and he gave his life for another when there was an escape from the camp. He humbly accepted his fate in prison, which only angered the guards even more. He said mass with smuggled bread and wine and even heard confessions while he healed in the prison hospital. After an escape at the camp, prisoners were chosen to die as retribution. He gladly offered to die instead of a married man with children. Such honour in death.
“For Jesus, I am prepared to suffer still more.” St. Maximilian Kolbe
How much more would be my question.
Also that day, I reflected on the Martyrs of Otranto, Italy. Antonio Primaldi was a cloth shearer when the Ottoman Turks arrived. They gathered 812 men and Antonio and demanded that they renounce Christ and convert to Islam. They refused! Antonio told the invaders that “our town chooses Christ!” What conviction! They all died, and the women and children were scattered. The doomed men comforted each other and despite seeing their bishop killed among others at the Cathedral, they did not yield. Miraculously, Antonio Primaldi stood standing until all the men were killed. One of the executioners converted to Christianity on the spot and he was also impaled. Their strewn bodies lay there for a year until the town was relieved and the Ottomans driven out. The bones were collected and placed in the Cathedral. It is remarkable that they were immediately thought of as saints. They were officially canonized in 2013.
“Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience.” St. John Climacus
Recently, some new readers signed up to help at daily mass. Young people are always refreshing. It helps me to see people returning to the faith. There is such a challenge in encouraging people to see their faith for what it could bring them. The examples of St. Maximilian and Antonio Primaldi are only two of many. The Church needs help now and, in each generation, God will raise up people as He needs them. We cannot despair. There is only hope in the church, but we cannot give in to mediocrity. Now, more than ever, we must cling to prayer. I saw some friends move away for various reasons. Work is usually the main reason. God continues to call His people. We must be ready to listen. This is done through prayer.
“Prayer is the wing, wherewith the soul flies to heaven and meditation, the eye, wherewith we see God.” St. Ambrose