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maximiliankolbeI’m looking ahead this morning to an overnight out of town for work, knowing I will be without internet service tomorrow morning. I was prepared to comment on the psalm for this morning (113) which contains a good mantra-like line that can really stand alone as a prayer for the day. It says, “From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised.” Good enough as a message, yes?

I couldn’t leave it there, however, because tomorrow is the feast of another modern saint, Maximilian Kolbe, who was murdered at Auschwitz in 1941. His story became known because he had offered himself to the Nazis in place of a man with a wife and family. That man had been chosen at random as one of 10 men marked for death because one prisoner had escaped. As the replacement, Kolbe starved and was ultimately injected with carbolic acid. His body was then incinerated.

Reading the story of Maximilian Kolbe’s life reminds me of the verse from today’s psalm. Unlike the random action of the Nazi commandant, Kolbe had begun at an early age to live every day as an act of praise to God. One commentary states that Father Kolbe’s death was not a sudden, last-minute act of heroism. His whole life had been a preparation. His holiness was a limitless, passionate desire to convert the whole world to God.

In addition to his bravery what struck me this morning was the fact that Kolbe was born in Poland, near the city of Lviv (Lvov) which is now part of Ukraine. Perhaps, then, remembering his lovingkindness and courage today and tomorrow is a good opportunity to offer prayer and acts of generosity for the people of Ukraine who are suffering in the present conflict there through no fault of their own.