OREMUS: 14 August 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Aug 13 17:00:01 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Thursday, August 14, 2008
Maximilian Kolbe, Friar, Martyr, 1941, and All Martyrs of World War II

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord,
from the rising of the sun to its going down,
your Name is praised,
for you have raised us from the dust and set before us
the vision of your glory.
As you bestowed upon us the dignity of a royal priesthood,
you lift up our hearts to celebrate your praise.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 144

Blessed be the Lord my rock!*
 who trains my hands to fight and my fingers to battle;
My help and my fortress,
   my stronghold and my deliverer,*
 my shield in whom I trust,
   who subdues the peoples under me.
O Lord, what are we that you should care for us?*
 mere mortals that you should think of us?
We are like a puff of wind;*
 our days are like a passing shadow.
Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down;*
 touch the mountains and they shall smoke.
Hurl the lightning and scatter them;*
 shoot out your arrows and rout them.
Stretch out your hand from on high;*
 rescue me and deliver me from the great waters,
   from the hand of foreign peoples,
Whose mouths speak deceitfully*
 and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.
O God, I will sing to you a new song;*
 I will play to you on a ten-stringed lyre.
You give victory to kings*
 and have rescued David your servant.
Rescue me from the hurtful sword*
 and deliver me from the hand of foreign peoples,
Whose mouths speak deceitfully*
 and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.
May our sons be like plants
   well nurtured from their youth,*
 and our daughters like sculptured corners of a palace.
May our barns be filled to overflowing*
 with all manner of crops;
May the flocks in our pastures
   increase by thousands and tens of thousands;*
 may our cattle be fat and sleek.
May there be no breaching of the walls,
   no going into exile,*
 no wailing in the public squares.
Happy are the people of whom this is so!*
 happy are the people whose God is the Lord!

A Song of Christ's Appearing (1 Timothy 3.16;6.15,16)

Christ Jesus was revealed in the flesh  
and vindicated in the spirit. 
He was seen by angels  
and proclaimed among the nations. 
Believed in throughout the world,  
he was taken up in glory. 
This will be made manifest at the proper time  
by the blessed and only Sovereign, 
Who alone has immortality,  
and dwells in unapproachable light. 
To the King of kings and Lord of lords  
be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. 

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

FIRST READING [Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10]:

All wisdom is from the Lord,
   and with him it remains for ever.
The sand of the sea, the drops of rain,
   and the days of eternity who can count them?
The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth,
   the abyss, and wisdom who can search them out?
Wisdom was created before all other things,
   and prudent understanding from eternity.
The root of wisdom to whom has it been revealed?
   Her subtleties who knows them?
There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared,
   seated upon his throne the Lord.
It is he who created her;
   he saw her and took her measure;
   he poured her out upon all his works,
upon all the living according to his gift;
   he lavished her upon those who love him. 

Words: William Watkins Reid, Jr. (c)
Tune: Llangloffan

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O God of every nation,
of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
with your almighty hand;
where hate and fear divide us
and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us
and heal our strife-torn world.

>From search for wealth and power
and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower
destruction through the night,
from pride of race and nation
and blindness to your way,
deliver every nation,
eternal God, we pray!

Lord, strengthen all who labor
that we may find release
from fear of rattling saber,
from dread of war's increase;
when hope and courage falter,
your still small voice be heard;
with faith that none can alter,
your servants undergird.

Keep bright in us the vision
of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
when truth and justice reign
and Christ shall rule victorious
o'er all the world's domain.

SECOND READING [Romans 14:13-end]:

Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to
put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in
the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks
it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer
walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.
So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and
drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves
Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes
for peace and for mutual edification. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of
God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what
you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your
brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before
God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what
they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do
not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

The Benedictus (Morning), 
the Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Eternal God,
you have raised Jesus Christ from the dead
and exalted him to your right hand in glory,
and through him called your Church into being,
that your people might know you,
and that they might make your name known.

We pray for the church
the Church universal, and local, especially....
the unity of the Church....
the ministries of the Church....
the mission of the Church....
the renewal of the Church....
all Christians in this place....

Eternal God, we give you thanks

for the apostolic gospel committed to your Church,
the continuing presence and power of your Spirit,
the ministry of Word, Sacrament and Prayer....

for the divine mission in which we are called to share,
the will to unity and its fruit in common action,
the faithful witness of those who are true to Christ....

for all works of compassion
and every service that proclaims your love.

In peace and unity
may your people offer the unfailing sacrifice of praise,
and make your glory known;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal God,
whose Son struggled against the forces
which enfeeble and enslave your people:
shield us from evil and all deception,
that we may enter your truth
and enjoy the abundance of his risen life;
who with you and the Holy Spirit
is alive and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

O God,
we bless you for the witness of your martyrs
who walked in the bitter path of the Cross
and gave their lives that others might live.
Grant that our devotion may issue in the deeds of love,
and our confession of your holy Name
in a readiness for justice;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

Calm our fears and strengthen our faith
that we may never doubt the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord,
but proclaim him as your Son, risen from the dead, living for ever and ever.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The
Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The closing sentence uses phrases from a prayer in _Revised Common Lectionary
Prayers_, copyright (c) 2002 Consultation on Common Texts. The opening
prayer uses phrases from _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary
Language_. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

Hymn (c) 1958, Renewed 1986 by The Hymn Society (admin. by Hope Publishing
Co., Carol Stream, IL  60188).  
All rights reserved.  Used by permission.
For permission to reproduce this hymn, contact:  Hope Publishing Company, 

 Raymond Kolbe (who took the name Maximilian when he became a friar) is known
chiefly for the manner of his death, but his life was also noteworthy. He was born in 1894
near Lodz (51:49 N 19:28 E) in a part of Poland then under Russian rule, of parents who
worked at home as weavers. In 1910 he became a Franciscan, taking the name
Maximilian. His parents then undertook the monastic life, his mother as a Benedictine
and his father as a Franciscan. His father left the order (I assume before taking life vows)
to run a religious bookstore, and then enlisted with Pilsudski's army to fight the Russians.
He was captured and hanged as a traitor in 1914.

Maximilian studied at Rome and was ordained in 1919. He returned to Poland and taught
Church history in a seminary. He left the seminary (1) to found an association named for
the Virgin Mary and dedicated to spreading the Roman Catholic faith and assisting those
who held it to learn more about it; and (2) to establish a printing press and publish a
periodical for the members of his association, consisting largely of Christian apologetics.
He built a friary just west of Warsaw (52:15 N 21:00 E), which eventually housed 762
Franciscans and printed eleven periodicals (one with a circulation of over a million),
including a daily newspaper. In 1930 he went to Asia, where he founded friaries in
Nagasaki (34:25 N 129:52 E) and in India. In 1936 he was recalled to supervise the
original friary near Warsaw. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he knew that the
friary would be seized, and sent most of the friars home. He was imprisoned briefly and
then released, and returned to the friary, where he and the other friars sheltered 3000
Poles and 1500 Jews, and continued to publish a newspaper encouraging its readers.

In May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken
to Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners, chiefly at carrying logs.
Maximilian carried on his priestly work surreptitiously, hearing confessions in unlikely
places and celebrating the Lord's Supper with bread and wine smuggled in for that

In order to discourage escapes, the camp had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would
be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe's bunker escaped. The remaining
men of the bunker were led out and ten were selected, including a Sergeant Francis
Gajowniczek. When he uttered a cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped forward and said, "I
am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children." The
officer had more use for a young worker than for an old one, and was happy to make the
exchange. The ten men were placed in a large cell and left there to starve. Maximilian
encouraged the others with prayers, psalms, and meditations on the Passion of Christ.
After two weeks, only four were alive, and only Maximilian was fully conscious. The
four were killed with injections of carbolic acid on 14 August 1941. [James Kiefer]

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