Week 9 Persecution of the Church
75th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe Week 9. October 9 – 16
Persecution of the Church
While St. Maximilian was studying in Rome to be a priest, public attacks and persecution of the Church was prevalent everywhere, as Enlightenment and Marxist Philosophy, Atheism, and Masonic teaching were very popular. The Church and the Papacy were also viewed as enemies of Italian Unification and Independence because the Pope did not want to give up the Papal States. All of these elements led to open and public persecution of the Church and its teachings.
One of the earliest experiences Maximilian had of this was as a seminarian. While he and another friar were praying the rosary on their way back to the Seraphicum after the Immaculate Conception novena at Santi Apostoli Basilica, the Mother Church of the Conventual Franciscans in Rome, he was accosted by youth who were cursing the Virgin Mary. Maximilian immediately to ask them to cease. They not only refused but continued even more when they saw tears well up in the eyes of Maximilian as his “Mamusia.” His Blessed Mother was ridiculed.
When they returned to the seminary(The Seraphicum), Maximilian went to the chapel to pray for the youth he encountered. As he knelt in front of a painting of St. Francis kneeling before the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque he prayed,
“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, reveal Thyself to these youths. O Blessed Margaret Mary, intercede for those so hostile to our Church. O Saint Francis, demonstrate thy love and humility in our world of hate and hubris.”
Rather than become bitter and angry at those who blasphemed his Blessed Mother and persecuted the Church, he prayed for them and their change of heart. It was this attitude of prayer and forgiveness for his persecutors that he exemplified to all those who attacked him and persecuted the Church especially in Auschwitz which was the ultimate test of his love for his enemies and prayer for those who persecuted him. Lk. 6:27
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, reveal yourself to all those who persecute the Church and make me an instrument of Thy Peace, Love, Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Amen.
Meditations and Questions:
1. Where and when have I experienced persecution, especially of my Faith?
2. How did I respond?
3. Did I pray for my persecutors?
4. What does Jesus teach about enemies and those who persecute us?
5. How do I express my love for my enemies?