As one of the leaders of a Militia of the Immaculata Village in Peoria, the “School of Mary at the Little Garden,” I led a discussion recently in our group about the Marian manner that St. Maximilian Kolbe employed in his work with the MI movement he founded in 1917. As we approach his feast day on August 14, it might help to highlight this strategy in order to advance effectiveness in our pro-life work, especially in a post-Roe and Casey world.
As a patron of the pro-life movement, St. Maximilian has something to offer us as we battle against the scourge of abortion. This strategy appears in Behold Your Mother! The Path to Total Consecration to Our Lady in the Spirit of St. Maximilian Kolbe published by the MI National Center—USA. The quotations I will use below come from a section entitled: “Collaborating in Her Maternal Mission,” pgs. 36-38.
St. Maximilian is well known as a pioneer in the dissemination of the printed word and the founder of the Franciscan friaries of Niepokalanow (City of the Immaculata) in Poland and Japan. Though very gifted in his own right as an organizer and spiritual force for good, he gave all the credit for his success to Mary, his Immaculata. What I want to highlight here is the Marian manner that “animated and characterized these apostolic achievements, particularly three aspects: 1.) passion for others; 2.) dialogue; and 3.) the gift of self.” We can also call upon Mary, our Immaculata, and use these aspects in our work as pro-life warriors.
Maximilian made a decisive choice in responding to his missionary call: “he put man at the center of his missionary action, man created in the image and likeness of God.” His passion for others drove him to win every person for God through the Immaculata. Following his example, we must also put the sanctity of human life at the center of our pro-life work. That includes the unborn child in the womb and the mother and father of the child. Now that Roe is overturned, we must increase our efforts to provide the care and support needed by mothers, especially, in crisis pregnancies.
The second aspect of the saint’s Marian manner is dialogue. Kolbe was aware that the first step in evangelizing is personal, friendly contact with the other. This form of evangelizing demands that we “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).” We must be prepared with our own testimony when we are challenged to defend our belief in the sanctity of human life.
Dr. Steven Christie in his book, Speaking for the Unborn: 30 Second Pro-Life Rebuttals to Pro-choice Arguments states that we should prepare a one minute testimonial of why we are pro-life. He also shows you how to craft 30 second rebuttals to Pro-choice arguments to make our dialogue more effective with those who oppose our position on the sanctity of life.
The last aspect of Kolbe’s Marian manner for apostolic achievements is the gift of self. Few of us will make the supreme sacrifice of giving up our life so that another person could live as Maximilian did at Auschwitz in 1941. His heroic act of self-sacrifice is our model when we are faced with a growing hostility from those in favor of abortion.
It is a frightening reality that there are segments of our population calling for violence, even threatening the lives of Supreme Court justices, and we hear no condemnation of these threats from those in the highest levels of our government and law enforcement. The destruction of property including pro-life pregnancy centers and Catholic churches runs rampant and is barely covered in the secular media. The Women’s Care Center in Peoria has reached out in an urgent appeal asking donors for additional financial support to cover the cost of hiring a security guard to secure their new building overnight due to potential threats made by extreme pro-abortion groups.
In spite of the threats of violence and destruction from those supporting abortion, we must not shrink from our God-given task to speak up for the unborn. We can take heart from the command of the Lord to Jeremiah: “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” (Jer.1:7-8) Let’s call on St. Maximilian Kolbe and Mary, the Immaculata, to lead us to demonstrate our passion for the sanctity of life, prepare to dialogue with others about this issue and offer a gift of ourselves to protect life, especially the most vulnerable, the unborn child.