Today is the feast day of Maximilian Kolbe.
Maximilian Kolbe was born at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland in 1894. His parents were Franciscan Tertiaries and, beginning his training for ordination in 1907, Maximilian joined the Franciscan noviciate in 1910. He studied at Rome but, suffering from tuberculosis, he returned to Poland and became a lecturer in church history. After suffering a severe illness, he resolved to publish a magazine for Christian readers and this soon gained a huge circulation. Soon his community was producing daily and weekly journals. After the Nazi invasion of Poland, Maximilian was arrested as an 'intellectual' and taken to Auschwitz in May 1941. There he continued his priestly ministry, secretly celebrating the eucharist. When, after an escape, a prisoner was chosen to forfeit his life as an example, Maximilian stepped forward to take his place and be put to death. Two weeks later he was injected with phenol and died on this day in 1941. (link)
I've been spending the morning thinking about Fr. Kolbe and the American University. I know. Why these two? Well, it came from this opening prayer from Oremus.
O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you,
as the day rises to meet the sun.
Jesus said, "Do not fear those
who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
Let us worship God.
Blessed are you, God of all power,
your sovereign word comes to us in Christ.
When your Church is in danger,
your Spirit makes firm our trust;
when your people falter,
your Spirit steadies our faith.
We thank you for Jesus,
whom we acclaim as Lord,
and who has shown your power to save.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!
Yesterday I posted a link to an article about the destruction of the American University, How the American University Was Killed: In Five Easy Steps. It seems that we've hamstrung ourselves. People decry the injustices implied in the shift in models for higher education. It's a serious problem. The article is long, but take the time. Corporatism, a misapplication of public education, a 2,000% increase in tuition costs in the last 40 years, and other issues plague higher education. Don't go thinking that this guy is exaggerating. Here in my Ph.D. program we spend a surprising amount of time talking about how to get jobs once this is all over. The GTU and Cal both are working overtime to wake up their students and help us all develop skills to navigate the new market (or lack thereof). "No, your Ph.D. from Berkeley does not guarantee you a job. It's not a hindrance, but..." Interdisciplinarity, creativity, entrepreneurship, polyvocationality...It's all there now. Challenging stuff.
I posted and whined about it yesterday. Sometimes I am daunted by the challenges of the future. Congregations are struggling. We're closing churches left and right. There are more pastors than there are pulpits in my denomination. Similarly, there are more Ph.D.'s than there are positions available. I hope to pull together various paying positions to live in a way that serves me and Spouse.
This morning's reminder from Oremus put things in perspective, of course. Kolbe met adversity with courage. Kolbe knew that there are no promises in this world but the promise of God's grace and that God's grace is not the same thing as economic stability, political fairness, or peace. Grace is God's gift that comes no matter what injustice or hardship might come. And they will come. No question. But Grace is greater than these.
I will work for justice. I will seek to be more creative and, I pray, show the vitality of the mind and a life of faith through my work. And if it all collapses in some way, I shall rest in the Grace of God.
Right. Someone remind me I said this, okay? Thanks.