Feast Day: August 14
Canonized: October 10, 1982
Beatified: October 17, 1971
Venerated: January 30, 1969
Raymund Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. His family was very poor, but they were rich in spirit. In 1914, his father was captured and killed by the Russians for fighting for Polish independence.
In 1941, Maximilian was arrested by the Nazis, who soon sent him to Auschwitz concentration camp.
In July of that year, several prisoners escaped, and as punishment, the camp commander picked 10 men to be starved to death. Franciszek Gajowniczek, a husband and father, was one of these sentenced to death. Father Maximilian Kolbe offered his life in the man's place. Each day, he celebrated Mass for the other starving prisoners and prayed and sang with them. When he outlived many of the other men, he was killed by lethal injection.
On October 10, 1982, Pope John Paul II canonized Maximilian Kolbe as a “martyr of charity.” Present at the ceremony was Franciszek Gajowniczek, the Auschwitz prisoner whose place Maximilian had taken in giving his own life. Gajowniczek lived for 54 years after St. Maximilian Kolbe had taken his place in death.
Kissing the Altar at Mass
Why do priests kiss the altar at the start of Mass?
Our churches and chapels are filled with symbols. We might think of the more common symbols (like the crucifix, statues, stained-glass windows, vestment color and altar cloths) as well as major symbols (such as the paschal candle and the baptismal font). But there are some things that we can take for granted in our sacred spaces, because unfortunately, they seem to just be part of the building, including three of the main symbols of our liturgy: the ambo (lectern), the chair for the priest celebrant, the altar.
These three objects are placed in a specially designated area called the sanctuary. They are the places where the Word of God is proclaimed, where the priest prays and presides at the celebration, and where the bread and wine are offered by the priest during the Eucharistic Prayer. Although each of these objects is sacred because of the role they play in our worship, the altar holds a special place. In a document containing the rules and instructions for the Mass — the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” — we read: “The altar on which the Sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs is also the table of the Lord to which the People of God is called together to participate in the Mass, as well as the center of the thanksgiving that is accomplished throughout the Eucharist.
One of the ways that we recognize the importance of the altar is when the priest and deacon kiss the altar at the beginning of Mass. Kissing is an ancient act of devotion. Remember, we also kiss the cross on Good Friday, and the deacon or priest kisses the “Book of the Gospels” after the Gospel is proclaimed. This act of devotion reminds us that the altar is a symbol of Jesus, the “living stone” (see 1 Peter 2:4), the foundation stone of our faith. It is a symbol gesture, but it is a powerful reminder of the One on whom our faith is built and in whose name we gather as the “household of faith” (see Galatians 6:10).
“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as
the opportunity to do what is right.” —Peter Marshall
St. Anthony, who was baptized Ferdinand, received an apparition of the Infant Jesus. St. Anthony, before going to bed for the night, was reading his Bible. Suddenly, the Infant Jesus appeared resting on the Bible and in the arms of St. Anthony. The Infant Jesus stroked St. Anthony’s face. Here the Word of God appeared to the man who had so well preached His Word. For this reason, most images of St. Anthony depict him holding a Bible with the Infant Jesus. This beloved saint died on June 13, 1231, at the age of 36.