When choosing Saints that your family wants to celebrate throughout the calendar year, it is helpful to have some criteria. Otherwise you may find yourself overwhelmed with so many Saints to choose from.
- Is this Saint someone we named a child after or someone’s confirmation Saint?
- Does our family have a connection to this Saint because of where he or she is from or where they lived their life?
- Or has our family had an encounter with this Saint that makes him or her someone we want to learn more about and celebrate?
Saint Maximilian Kolbe piqued our interest after my mother-in-law went on a pilgrimage to Poland. She had the opportunity to see where this Saint was born, lived out his priestly vocation, and gave his life to save another. He became a favorite Saint of my husband and I after we learned about him and his relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Marian Consecration “33 Days to Morning Glory”.
A Little Bit About St Maximilian
Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary began at a very young age. He had a vision of her offering him two crowns: a white one, representing purity and a red one, representing martyrdom. Kolbe chose both crowns which was a foreshadowing of his life as a priest and his death as a martyr. His love of the Blessed Virgin Mary and his desire to prevent religious indifference was what fueled Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s mission. Because of his devotion to Mary, he organized a group dedicated to her called, the Militia of the Immaculata. This group, started in 1917, still exists today. Their mission is to encourage Catholics from all walks of life to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with Mary, the mother of God.
Saint Maximilian Koble worked hard to evangelize others by creating a magazine publication and utilizing radio to reach people as well. These were new forms of media that had not been used for evangelization before.
He was arrested by the Nazis and taken to a concentration camp in Auschwitz. There he sacrificed himself for another prisoner who was sentenced to death. He did not despair, but instead it is said that he led his fellow prisoners in prayers and songs during the time before they died. Amazingly, the man who St. Maximilian Kolbe took the place of was honored with being present at both Saint Kolbe’s beatification and canonization!
Pray the Rosary as a Family
I started to pray the Rosary daily with my husband after we completed the consecration “33 Days to Morning Glory”. Truthfully, for me it took doing the consecration twice before I really felt compelled to pray the Rosary consistently every day. Introducing something like the Rosary to your family can be fruitful yet challenging, especially if like me, you have young children who do not understand the beauty of all the mysteries. We do not expect our children to pray the Rosary with us every day, but we do make a point of including them and giving them the experience of praying it. Our hope is that they can develop a relationship with Mary and Jesus.
The feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe is a great day to make it a point to pray the Rosary as a family. We find it helpful if each child has a Rosary of their own so that they are holding something while we pray and can follow along with the different prayers. Another tool we have are flowers that my mother-in-law knit for our family. She made ten red flowers and one white flower to use as something to keep hands occupied. Even if your family is only able to make it through one decade of the Rosary together, trying this activity on the Feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe is a great way to honor him and his love for Mary.
St Maximilian Inspired Dinner
Since both my husband and I have Polish ancestry, choosing a Polish dish to prepare for Saint Maximilian Kolbe is a must. One of our favorite recipes is a soup called Kapusniak. This soup brings together smokey pork, onions, cabbage, and potatoes. When looking for a recipe for Kapusniak you will find that there are many different variations of this traditional dish. We usually follow J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe from Serious Eats.
You start by cooking bacon and kielbasa (polish smoked sausage) in a pot. Once the fat is rendered out and the meat starts to brown, you add in onions and carrots. Next goes in cabbage, then stock, potatoes, and herbs. An alteration we do from the Serious Eats recipe is that we wait until the potatoes are cooked to add in the sauerkraut. Finally, you thicken it a little with a cornstarch slurry (mix a little cold water with cornstarch, then stir it into the simmering soup) and top with fresh dill. Some crusty bread on the side and you are good to go.
Since there are so many variations on this dish, feel free to change things to suit your tastes by adding or removing different ingredients. Even though soup is not what you think of making in the middle of August, it is a wonderful, hearty meal to share with your family and celebrate this selfless Saint. Enjoy the Feast of Saint Maximilian Koble and Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!
If you are looking for more ways to bring the rich traditions of the Catholic Church's liturgical year into your family life, be sure to check out the Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney (you can find it here with our other selection of books). If you have no idea what the liturgical year is, but want to bring your faith home from Sunday Mass—in every season, all year long—this is the book for you. These are a best seller and I know you'll love it.