Letter of St. Maximilian Kolbe to Bro. Mateusz Spolitakiewicz, October 10, 1935

Introduction

In the following letter, St. Maximilian, writing from the City of the Immaculate in Japan, answers a series of spiritual questions sent to him by br. Mateusz Spolitakiewicz from Niepokalanów in Poland.

Not being able at all times to feel, to understand, or to remember Our Lady’s Maternal Mediation in his own spiritual life was troubling the brother – to the point of his speaking of “nightmarish thoughts” which he had to struggle with.

St. Maximilian’s main emphasis in his reply is on the essence of the love of God being in the will, not in our emotions. The peace that Marian devotion engenders in a soul truly and unlimitedly consecrated to Her comes from its wanting to belong to Jesus through Mary – not from understanding, remembering, or feeling it.

Our Lady’s role as Mediatrix is a “lofty truth.” With our human minds we are not able to fully grasp it. Even less so is our imagination capable of depicting it in any satisfactory way. But despite this our limitation, it is necessary not to ever lose peace. Turmoil does not come from God, the Saint reminds us, as he often does in his writings and conferences. God knows of all the limitations we are subject to.

What is essential is wanting in all things to fulfill the Will of Our Lord; wanting to receive grace in the way in which He Himself wants us to receive it. If we desire this, then at all times and in all that we do we are going to Jesus through Mary, whether we realize it or not. If we desire this, then we belong to Immaculate at all times, and through Her at all times we belong to Jesus. We might not feel anything, we might not understand completely[1], we might not even remember this at all times – but these are all just limits of our human condition. Things do not change because of our limited understanding of them.

A humble soul will soon enough realize the truth of this on its own: “he will notice… that he strives to fulfill the Will of God ever more perfectly; to correct himself ever more of infidelities against this Holy Will. And he will notice more and more peace even amidst tempests…” He will learn and become personally convinced “that he who belongs to the Immaculate will not perish, but the more that he will be Hers, the more he will belong to Jesus…”

While on earth we must trustingly and lovingly accept our humble and limited condition of little children of Our Blessed Mother – strive to love Her, and then let Her do the rest. Only when we attain the fulfillment of all desire in heaven will we understand completely, as St. Paul reminds us: “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child … At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known” (1Cor 13:11-12).

J[esus] M[ary] J[oseph] F[rancis]

Nagasaki, 10 October 1935

Dear Child,

I’ll answer you following the order of your letter, with a heavy delay, however, because I have a lot of work.

I read your letter not just once, but several times and I understand you thoroughly […]

You write: “I cannot reconcile these two things in my soul, namely loving Jesus and Mary at the same time.” And were you able to love your father and mother at the same time? And in addition to that your brothers and sisters as well? Surely, our aim is God, the Most Holy Trinity, but this does not impede us from loving God the Father as God the Father, God the Son as God the Son, the Most Holy Spirit as the Most Holy Spirit, Jesus as Jesus, the Mother of God as the Mother of God and one’s own father, and mother, and relatives, and the Angels, and the Saints, and all men. And clearly not one after the other, but everyone at the same time. It is just that we can’t think about everyone at the same time, but this does not impede truly loving everyone and at the same time.

You write: “I go before the tabernacle, I speak with Jesus, etc.” and you ask: “And where is Mary? She without whom it is difficult to approach Jesus…? She who is the shortest way?” I have to add here that not only is it “difficult,” but it is not possible to approach Jesus without Mary. Why? Without even mentioning the fact that it is She who gave birth and brought Jesus up for us, approaching Jesus is without a doubt a grace, and all graces come to us through Her, just as Our Lord Himself came through Her. Here perhaps you will say: Well, can I speak directly with Jesus then, when I’m not thinking of Mary? My dear, it is not a matter of feeling or thinking, but of the very fact that this is the way things are, even though this might not come into your mind at all. If you really love Our Lord, then above all you try to fulfill His Will in everything, and to receive grace in the way in which He Himself has established. Being so disposed, with all ease you can and should turn to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, being convinced that you will receive everything. If, however, someone were to say to himself: “I don’t need any mediation, I don’t need the Blessed Mother, I can honor and worship the Sacred Heart of God myself and obtain what I need” – would not Our Lord rightly reject him for such unbearable pride?

You write: “She must receive something from me as well, She must be my breath, by means of Her I must live, I must consecrate myself entirely to Her, think of Her… But – but Jesus is the source of grace and Love, He invites us to Himself, He gives Himself in Holy Communion – Mary only helps in this.” My dear, clearly, the source of all good, in any order, whether natural or supernatural (that is of grace), is God the Father, who through the Son and the Holy Spirit is always working, that is the Most Holy Trinity. It is true that the only Mediator to the Father is the Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, God and man together, through whom our homage given to the Father turns from human into divine, from finite into one of infinite value, and thus truly worthy of the majesty of the Father. It is true that we love the Father in the Son, in Jesus Christ, and to Him we must give all our love, in order that in Him and through Him all our love might be received by the Father. But it is not any less true that our acts, be they even as holy as possible, are not without blemish, and if we want to offer them to Our Lord pure and immaculate, we must direct them straight to Her who alone is Immaculate, and give them to Her as Her property, so that as Her own property She might give them to Her Son. Then they will become without blemish, immaculate. Having then received an infinite value through the Divinity of Jesus they will worthily honor God.

The response to these graces, which through the Son and the Most Holy Spirit have flowed down upon the creature, return to God by the same way, i.e. through the Holy Spirit and the Son, that is through the Immaculate Spouse of the Most Holy Spirit and through Jesus hypostatically united with the nature of the Son
[2].

And in practice? My child, you can even be completely unaware of these beautiful truths, you can not understand them, you can completely not remember them, or not be able to imagine them humanly by means of your finite mind and imagination; if you want to always fulfill the will of God (that is the Will of Jesus, that is the Will of the Immaculate) then you can give yourself freely to all the devotions to which you feel drawn.

Indeed, precisely because we have given ourselves without limits to the Immaculate, despite our evils we approach the Most Sacred Heart of God with all the greater confidence.

In reality, then, we are completely and totally, and exclusively consecrated to the Immaculate with all our actions, and then in Her and through Her completely, totally and exclusively to Our Lord; in Him lastly and through Him completely, totally and exclusively to our Father in heaven[3].

Without even thinking of this at all, not even feeling it, we can freely give ourselves to any devotion approved by the Holy Church.

The essence of the love of God, however, will always be not feeling, not memory, not thinking, understanding, imagining, but solely fulfilling in every moment of our lives the Will of God and resigning ourselves completely to this Will. All devotions then have as their aim helping us to fulfill this same Will of God.

You write further: “Just as you cannot approach the Father – or rather to do so would be to show a lack of respect – without the mediation of Jesus, in a similar way it is not fitting to approach Jesus without Mary.” – “Hence I cannot speak with Jesus heart to Heart…” You can, just do not forget about Mary[4]. “Whereas I cannot give my attention to both at the same time.” From the previous explanations you will draw the answer that you can tranquilly forget and give your attention [but] not to many at the same time, because God alone thinks of everything at the same time[5]. There will be no lack of respect either in directly and freely turning to the Father if you belong to Jesus, nor to Jesus if you belong to the Immaculate, but to do this it is not necessary to remember it – it suffices that that’s simply the way things are.

You write that you would like to “love one thing alone and be immersed in it.” Clearly, our Father in heaven is the One in whom we are to be immersed, but we will not be able to do this without the Son and the Mother, because we’re finite, and sinners.

“Nightmarish thoughts,” you write. My dear, these are lofty things and we, with our human minds, and even less so with out imagination, often are not able to arrive at understanding them, but for this reason too, it is necessary not to ever lose peace. God is a God of peace. Turmoil does not come from God…

It seems that I’ve gone through your whole letter now.

Your difficulty comes from the fact that you confuse feeling, remembering or understanding with the will. If only our will wants everything to be according to the Will of God, then by that very same fact it is so, even if we were not to understand or remember this, nor to feel it. At a given moment we can think of one thing alone, develop our feelings in one direction alone. Give yourself freely then to the devotion which at a given moment you’re drawn by, but remember that the essence of the love of God lies exclusively in fulfilling the Will of God in every moment. The more difficult this fulfillment will be, the more disgust and repugnance [we have to overcome], the greater will the manifestation of love be. But not even these difficulties belong to the essence [of love], and without them there can be an equal love. They serve only to manifest this love.

The fact that one consecrated totally and unlimitedly to the Immaculate, though he knows that he belongs to Her, even though he might not think of it, when going to visit Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, often explicitly gives the whole visit to the Immaculate just the same, be it even by means of just one [invocation] “Mary,” is another matter; he knows that in such a way he will bring to Our Lord the greatest possible pleasure, that then all the more She performs this visit in him and through him and he in Her and through Her.

Similarly, there is no better preparation for Holy Communion than that of giving the whole matter to the Immaculate (at the same time doing everything we can on our part, of course). She will prepare our hearts in the best way and we will be certain that we will procure Our Lord the height of happiness, that in such a way we will show Him the greatest love. And similarly in many other activities. I repeat though: even without at the present moment giving ourselves [to the Immaculate] we still belong to Her, because we have consecrated ourselves to Her and we have never revoked it.

One more thing. Our Lord has said that we will know a tree by its fruits [cf. Mt 7:20]. If something then causes you confusion, and all the more – as you write – if it was the cause of a cooling of fervor, then certainly it does not come from God. Hence all of this lack of peace is heavily suspect and it is necessary to always strive for fidelity in fulfilling the Will of God, even in the smallest things, and for peace. Our Lord has also said: “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you” [Jn 14:27].

If on the other hand something were to detract you from Our Lady under whatever pretense, even if for the sake of a higher devotion, take it as a suspect ploy, though it seem to be ever so holy.

In Her and through Her we certainly arrive at the Heart of Jesus, but without Her (according to the above meaning [of without Her]) everything is only a deception of Satan calculated to leading a soul to ruin. A beautiful illustration of this is the vision of St. Francis of the two ladders, the red and the white, which the brothers were climbing to heaven…[6]

May the Immaculate hold you ever closer to Her Immaculate Heart.

Br. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe

PS – Whatever might be written anywhere else, be sure[7] that he who belongs to the Immaculate will not perish, but the more that he will be Hers, the more he will belong to Jesus, and to the Father. Whether he feels this or not, or whether he is even unaware of it, is a different matter. He will notice, however, that he strives to fulfill the Will of God ever more perfectly; to correct himself more and more of his infidelities against this Holy Will. And even amidst tempests he will enjoy ever greater peace. In Her time, She will gradually reveal to him all the secrets of the Heart of Jesus. And he will become a child of Our Lord. His soul will become a spouse of Jesus, his Older Brother, under the loving care of Mary, their Mother, and of their Father in heaven. But the soul must not lunge [at this goal], but must let itself be guided humbly and in peace.

Footnotes

[1] – It is important to note and remember always that though our faith surpasses our intellects, it never contradicts them. The truths of faith, all truths of faith, are understandable, though our finite human intellects might not be able to understand them fully. We will never find in the truths of faith any contradiction, though we will find in them difficulties which a human intellect inevitably runs into when faced with divine truths.

[2] – In theology the hypostatic union means the union of two natures, the Divine and the human, in the one Divine Person of Jesus Christ. In other words, in virtue of the hypostatic union Jesus Christ is one Divine Person with two natures, the human and the Divine, hence He is true God and true man.

[3] – By belonging to the Immaculate with the will, we see illumined by a Marian light the words of St. Paul: “… all things are yours… and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1Cor 3: 21-22); whatever devotion we embrace, because we belong to the Immaculate, it leads us to our Father in heaven by the same path – all things are ours, and we are Hers, and She is Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

[4] – That is do not exclude Her – St. Maximilian emphasizes throughout this letter that our minds and memories are unable to attend to two different objects at the same time; what is essential is never deliberately excluding Our Lady’s mediation, even if we cannot recall it at every moment, either because we’re thinking of something else (e.g. Jesus Himself) or because we cannot understand it completely (e.g. we cannot find the theological explanation for Our Lady’s mediation in a particular situation).

[5] – St. Maximilian’s sense here is: Without anxiety or scruple give your full attention to the one object your attention can handle at a given moment – it’s impossible to try to fix your attention on two things at once, even in prayer; neither Jesus nor Mary are deliberately excluded or offended in this way.

[6] – From The Little Flowers of Saint Francis.

[7] – In the original, St. Maximilian underlined this word three times.

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