Recently in an online catholic women's group, we got on the discussion about the intercession of the saints. I shared this story about St. Maximilian Kolbe. I've never shared it publicly before, but it seems fitting to do so on his feast day.
If you don't know anything about St. Maximilian Kolbe, you can read his story here. In high school, I heard his story and felt immediately drawn towards this person who willingly gave his life for another in that horrible Auschwitz concentration camp.
I started fervently asking for his intercession. I was in a time in my life where I felt like I was drowning all of the time, and I really just needed a buddy in heaven. So, I prayed and asked him to pray for me when I felt like I couldn't pray.
After about a year, I stopped and kind of just gave up on the intercession of the saints. I felt alone in my personal life, my prayer life. If the saints in heaven can even hear our prayers, why would this holy priest be praying for a silly high school girl?
During my junior year, I was feeling great anxiety about a few things in my life and needed some serious prayer. I emailed a group of cloistered nuns whose core ministry is to receive prayer requests and bring them to prayer for you. How cool to have a whole group of nuns praying for your intentions?! I emailed them a short email about my prayer request with no other personal information except that I was a high school student.
I few months later, I receive an incredible email that about knocked me off of my chair. I had received an email back from the nuns with some words and images they had gotten while praying for me. One of the things in the email was "St. Maximilian Kolbe has been a great intercessor for you."
I think all of the hair on my arms stood on end for about an hour.
And that is how a bunch of nuns who lived thousands of miles away helped convince me that the intercession of the saints is REAL. Or maybe it was St. Maximilian himself sending me a message on behalf of the communion of saints.
And maybe there was a reason I was drawn to him. Maybe we would have, in the words of the great Anne Shirley, been kindred spirits in this world. Maybe, just because I asked, an old dead priest who had seen more horror than I probably ever will, prayed for that silly high school student out of love for a member of the body of Christ who just needed help from someone.
In the words of the man Maximilian Kolbe saved, "“[he] is the patron saint of anyone in need . . . the patron saint of anyone that needs help.”
Happy Feast of Maximilian Kolbe!