St Maximilian Kolbe | Westminster Abbey

I have a sweatshirt with this quote, not so much as to insult everyone else, but as to remind myself of when I am most at peace within my own skin. I am most at peace when I am unconditionally serving others. By service, I do not mean anything grand.

Service comes in many shapes and sizes. When I intentionally am looking out for the greater good of others, without expectation of reciprocal return, my life tends to be happier. It is easy to do this when things are going well. Harder when life’s misfortunes are at my doorstep. However, that is when I need this strength and spirit the most. Caving into any misery or misfortune by falling into the trap of “what about me” and the thousand versions of martyrdom that may accompany my anger, disappointment, and other feelings that accompany when life does not meet my expectations, is only selfish consolation, good for a momentary breath of acknowledging my sense of entitlement.

Most of the time, the situation and consequences are not about me. We often are victims of collateral damage by the actions of others in this world. It may feel personal and direct at the time, but often is just a byproduct of multiple interactions and complex dynamics creating an unfortunate outcome for us personally. It is insulting to our ego that it is not about us at all when these things happen: Health care crisis like COVID, MVCs resulting in life loss (motor vehicle accidents), job loss by organizational restructuring, or like the Ukraine people are experiencing now, War.

Maximillian Kolbe experienced this personally. He was eventually given sainthood for his faith and sacrifice at the hands of Nazi Germany. He was also made the patron saint for people suffering from and living with addiction.

The latter at first was confusing to me. He received this honor as the Nazi persecutors killed him with a lethal drug. However, on deeper dive, his teachings speak often to our attachments being given undue influence. His life was not an easy one, nor his death.


I am thinking of and praying today for the Saints living and fighting in Ukraine today. Many are giving their all knowing only death awaits. They know today better then we all know that life is not about them. Putin, NATO, and other international influences are not putting the Ukraine people first. Mothers, fathers, and Children are needlessly being killed today.

Maximillian would not flee Ukraine today. Nor would he lift a rifle. He would however bear witness to the evil, serve the suffering, and sacrifice himself for his brother.

I must read more about him. His story reminds me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also killed by the Germans. War brings out the worst in us, but also the bravest souls.

This article, “Be a Man: St. Maximillian’s Rule of Life” capture some teachings we could learn from today.  The Sober Catholic also has a piece on him.

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