Fr. Kolbe lived in a time of growing totalitarianism. The German people had voted in the Nazis, and the Russian people had not done enough to resist the Soviets. In 1941 Hitler and Stalin had signed a secret “non-aggression pact” to dominate all of Europe, with aspirations for a global government under their joint control. I have no doubt that the powers of the earth have done the same in our own time, but as both the Nazi and Soviet Socialist regimes collapsed, so will all totalitarian powers, in God’s good time.
Was Fr. Kolbe’s usual joy defeated as he saw his homeland invaded by Nazis from the west and Soviets from the east? Did he give into fear or negativity when he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz? It seems that he wasn’t. Fr. Kolbe sent a letter to his mother, dated June 15, 1941, from the extermination camp, the last letter he ever wrote. “My dearest Mother,” he wrote. “Towards the end of the month of May I reached the concentration camp of Auschwitz (Oswiecim) by rail convoy. Everything is going well with me. Beloved Mom, don’t worry about me or about my health, because the good God is everywhere and with immense love he thinks about all of us and about everything. It would be best not to write to me until I send you another letter. I don’t know how long I shall remain here. With Heartfelt greetings and a kiss.” He often said to fellow prisoners that “Our Lady has brought us here for some good purpose.”
Kolbe was not pretending to be “fine” to his mother and other prisoners. He knew that “everything is going well” in the death camp, because he knew that “the Good God is everywhere.” That’s the good news that Christians are supposed to believe, because it’s the truth. The fact is, we live under friendly skies. Life is good, and then we die (that is, we go to heaven). We have been created in God’s image, and we are fundamentally good. Jesus Christ is Lord, and He provides. We will always have enough. There is a rational order to the universe, and we have the capacity to choose the good, the true, and the beautiful. These are the true facts of life, but it’s not what you hear on “the news.”
If it’s always bad news you hear on mainstream media—"the pandemic is worse than ever,” “the planet is overheating,” “the vaccines are not working,” “the economy is in trouble,” “America is irremediably racist” —you know they are lying. There is, in fact, no reason to be afraid or discouraged or angry. Behind the media’s lies is the Father of Lies who uses fear to destroy people. If we are in a state of perpetual fear and sadness, know for sure that we have come to believe in a lie.
If the news you watch is mostly bad, don’t watch it. It’s a lie. Train your intellect on what is true, and good, and beautiful. There’s plenty of that around. Might I suggest reading a biography of St. Maximilian Kolbe, perhaps A Man for Others by Patricia Treece. God has filled the universe with goodness, so please don’t be discouraged.
“Finally, brothers,” wrote St. Paul in Philippians 4, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”