St. Pope John Paul II called St. Maximilian Kolbe the ‘saint for our troubled age.’ Most of us are familiar with his death as a Martyr in Auschwitz and a casualty of WWII.
However, Maximilian Kolbe’s story of sainthood is much more than a single heroic decision. Kolbe is a modern saint who proves that holiness is possible today. Long before he was a prisoner in the German concentration camps, he was preparing to be a Saint, and thankfully, he wrote about his spiritual journey in his diary.
In preparation for his ordination, Maximilian practiced a series of self-guided spiritual exercises. Thankfully, he recorded some of his key reflections in his journal from April 21-27, 1918. The young Maximilian sketches out a plan, a rule of life that every Christ-follower should imitate. It is rich with wisdom on the spiritual life, and it is a profound glimpse into the mind of one of the last century’s greatest saints.
Below are his beautiful words, edited for brevity. Any emphasis is from Maximilian himself.
The Rules of St. Maximilian Kolbe
Follow your daily schedule very faithfully and you will be saved.
Start serving God this very day.
This may be the last day of your life. Live as if this day were your last.
Tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday no longer belongs to you, only the present is yours.
There is an ear that listens to all things, an eye that peruses all the most secret emotions of your heart, a hand that notes down each thing.
Not being punished is the worst of punishments.
“I judged no one, therefore I trust God will not judge me either” [cf. Mt 7:1]
St. Francis de Sales: “Loyalty in the observance of rules is the most pleasing sacrifice to God: it is mortification and penance.”
Be in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Each of your actions will be recorded forever.
Choose the worst things in eating, dressing, and in tasks, and you will be dear to Jesus.
Souls in purgatory. For sinners, for the Holy Church: pray and work.
Make up for wasted time with fervor.
Maximilian, be holy; if others have managed, why could you not do it as well? If you believe it, if you desire it, with God’s help you may still become a saint. Yes, you can, you can.
Be a man, be a Christian, be a friar.
Be a man.
Do not be ashamed of your convictions.
Do unto others what you wish were done unto yourself.
Have a sense of duty, perform it well, without worrying that someone is watching (with noble ambition).
Do not worry about the evil that is in others.
Be a Catholic.
When you kneel before the altar, let people know that you are aware of Whom you are kneeling before.
Be a religious.
Good intention in work is like the number “1” in front of zeroes.
Men deprive themselves of great treasures when they work without good intention.
As you rise up, so you will spend the whole day.
Your every action is recorded. Nothing is left without punishment or reward.
You could die even today!
Be collected; he who breaks away soon loses the graces he as acquired. A full drawer is always closed.
Kolbe, M. (2016). The writings of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe
Download a PDF of Kolbe’s Rules for Life
Print these out and put them somewhere you will see them. Pick one each day to practice throughout the day. Download here.
The Kolbe Shirt
Want a great reminder of the example of Maximillian? We’ve designed a shirt, inspired by this great Saint.
This design was inspired by the vision Maximillian Koble had of his life. When he was young, he had a vision. In the vision, he was approached by an angel of the Lord who presented him with two crowns. A Red Crown, representing a Martyrs' death, and a White Crown, representing purity. St. Maximillian was asked to choose one of them, and he took both. 16670 was his concentration camp prisoner number.
See more apparel designs here.
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