Enlisting in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Militia

Enlisting in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Militia

My friend, Stephen Herreid, offered this article to me. He is a freelance writer whose articles are seen at Stream.org, Crisis Magazine, Aleteia.org, CatholicVote.org, The Intercollegiate Review Online, and other publications.

I was stunned when he asked, because I have been doing some behind the scenes planning to launch a nationwide campaign to get as many as possible to seek Marian Consecration, particularly through St. Maximilian Kolbe’s consecration and invitation to join the Militia Immaculata.

I’ve even drafted a second edition to my 54 Day Basic Training in Holiness book that now includes the Kolbe Consecration on Day 54. This will all occur during our 2nd annual “Novena for Our Nation” from August 15 to October 7.

I’ll write more about that later but, first, let’s take some time to see what Stephen Herreid has to say about this …


By Stephen Herreid:

Enlisting in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Militia

The Militia of the Immaculata Heads to Europe for its 100th Anniversary

100 years ago, St. Maximilian Kolbe founded the Militia of the Immaculata, an apostolate of religious and laypeople dedicated to “[winning] the whole world for Christ through the Immaculata, Mother of God and of the Church.” He was just 25 years old.

The young Polish Franciscan was only beginning his journey into the heart of the darkest, bloodiest century in human history. By the time of his death, when he offered his life for a family man in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Fr. Kolbe had become one of the most memorable heroes of his time. Pope Saint John Paul II canonized him on October 10th, 1982, calling him a “patron saint of our difficult century.”

In 2017, the darkness that confronted Fr. Kolbe is regathering. But his Militia marches on, with members all over the world. And from October 10th to 19th, the Militia of the Immaculata will commemorate their 100th anniversary with a pilgrimage to Sienna, Assisi, and Rome.

By the way, the deadline to join them is Friday, July 7th. I can’t attend, so if any of you readers can, please go and take my prayers with you.

NOTE: The linked flyer states that the deadline for registration is July 12. That deadline has been updated to July 7th.

Our Lord Jesus Christ: The Original Militiaman of the Immaculata

One of my favorite themes in Christian art and literature is the Harrowing of Hell, when the crucified Lord descended into Hades to bring salvation to the dead. Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance paintings of the Harrowing depict Christ as a heroic, almost a soldierly figure. It’s exhilarating to meditate on those images.

When Christ “descended into Hell,” as the Apostle’s Creed puts it, He wasn’t going among the damned. He went among the worthy souls who had left earthly life but had nowhere to go.

St. Peter wrote that Christ “went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Peter 3:19) Our Lord came to proclaim that He had saved the world and opened the doors to Heaven.

The Harrowing of Hell was a rescue mission.

The Harrowing of Hell on Earth: St. Maximilian Kolbe to the Rescue

In 1917, St. Maximilian Kolbe embarked on another kind of harrowing when he founded the Militia of the Immaculata. He and his Militia marched courageously into the hell of modern, progressive brutality, and “preached unto the spirits” dominated by it.

They founded publications. They evangelized courageously where it was dangerous to do so. They used the most advanced media technology available to shine the light of truth. Fr. Kolbe even planned to establish a film studio.

But the same Christlike zeal that moved Maximilian to rescue souls would also move him to save the lives of those living under a modern regime that many called “Hell on Earth.” His work would inevitably bring him face to face with evil, and ultimately to his death soon after the Nazi invasion of Poland. As the Militia of the Immaculata’s website summarizes:

Despite a ban on Kolbe’s publications, he managed to convince the Nazis to allow a final printing of one of the magazines in 1940. During this period of oppression, the friars turned to Eucharistic Adoration as their primary apostolate. In February of 1941, the Nazis arrested him again, and ordered him to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. He was given the registration number 16670.


In late July 1941, a prisoner escaped from St. Maximilian’s barracks. In retaliation, the Nazis selected ten prisoners to starve to death. One of the ten, Polish Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek, cried out in agony over the fate of his family without a father. To the astonishment of prisoners and captors, Maximilian stepped forward from the ranks and stood before the Commandant.


…”I am a Catholic priest. I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.”


…Maximilian then entered the starvation chamber with nine other men. He spent the last two weeks of his life encouraging his nine companions by praying and singing hymns with them in the block 13 starvation bunker.


On August 14, 1941, the vigil of the feast of the Assumption, Maximilian was one of four prisoners still alive. His impatient captors executed him by means of a lethal injection of carbolic acid and burned his body in the crematorium.

What Would Maximilian Do? A Spiritual Exercise for Our Time

Today, St. Maximilian Kolbe is considered a patron saint of the pro-life movement and of journalism—especially amateur radio. My friends at EWTN Radio, pro-life filmmaker Jason Jones’s Movie to Movement, and RomanCatholicMan.com consider Fr. Kolbe to be a personal patron. So do I.

But while we should certainly pray for Fr. Kolbe’s intercession, we should also honor him by learning to be earthly intercessors ourselves. Where is “Hell on earth” today? Where are the “spirits in prison” to whom we can bring the light, the truth, and the comfort of Our Lady, Our Lord, and the Church?

Do we know people mired in the darkness of self-destructive sin? What would Maximilian do for them? Would certain truths endanger our careers or our popularity if we were to speak them? What would Maximilian do in the face of that adversity? Is a local church leading a prayer vigil outside of an abortion clinic near you? What would Maximilian do with that opportunity?

For my own part, I’ll take the step of becoming a member of the Militia of the Immaculata. And again, though I can’t make it to the Militia’s pilgrimage in October, I ask any readers who can register by July 7th to please go and pray for my intention: That Our Lady will give our own benighted century a thousand St. Maximilian Kolbes. We will need every one.

A very rare first class relic. Given to me by my friend, Fr. Carlos Martins.


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