The Spirit of MI Leadership
Written by Katherine Martin, MI
Membership in the Militia means complete dedication to the Kingdom of God
St. Maximilian Kolbe, MI founder and hero, wrote, “Every conversion and every step on the way of holiness are the works of grace, while the dispenser of all the graces that flow from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus is none other than his Mother, the Immaculata; for this reason, the more one draws near to her, so much the more does one draw up these graces. Consequently our fundamental mission is that of drawing souls to her and to bring her to souls.”
To find Christ is to find meaning, purpose, connection, love and holiness. Our mission is to reach those souls searching for meaning and purpose, searching for a connection, searching for love and ultimately searching for holiness. We must take advantage of every opportunity to introduce them to Definitive Love Himself through the heart of our Blessed Mother.
As Christians, and specifically as MI members, we belong to a family where no one is left behind. Our supreme goal is not only to get ourselves to heaven, but to bring as many souls with us as possible.
This life is a spiritual battle for souls. It is the same battle that was fought in the Garden of Eden and has continued with every passing generation. But someday when the battle is over, when Our Lady crushes the head of the serpent with her heel, when we as tired and weary soldiers follow her into heaven, unworthy though we are, we can humbly tell Our Lord that we did our best: We followed His Mother, we stood under her banner and her name was our battle cry. With her hands guiding ours, we rescued as many souls as we could.
“So until the end of the world,” St. Maximilian wrote, “the serpent will continue to tempt, obstruct, exert himself and fight but only as much as the Immaculata allows, in other words, as much as will be needed for us to grow in merit. We will always be sure of victory if we remain under her banner and work with her, through her, for her and in her.”
Truly, the battle is already won.
St. Maximilian and the Four Pillars of MI Consecration: Interior Life, Obedience, Suffering Willed Out of Love, Heroic Charity
According to the General Statutes of the MI, “Militia members strive to communicate love for the Immaculate by their witness in the various spheres of social activity, permeating every human reality with evangelical spirit. Consequently, they are called to carry out every activity with particular dedication, to promote the protection of life, in service of the integral dignity of the person, while proposing values of fraternity, justice and solidarity.”
For St. Maximilian, living as a servant completely dedicated to Our Lady meant that everything he did was steeped in prayer. “Prayer is the best way to reestablish peace in our souls, to reach happiness, since it serves to draw us closer to God’s love,” he said. Not only did he cultivate his interior life through constant prayer, daily renewing his consecration and frequenting the sacraments, but his entire life, every moment and whatever he did was offered as a prayer to Our Lady to be used as a means of bringing about the conversion of souls.
St.Maximilian determined Our Lady’s will for him through holy obedience to his superiors; he did nothing without their express permission, trusting that if he embraced their directives, he would be embracing Our Lady’s will. “The perfection of the virtue of obedience,” St. Maximilian said, “is a practical knighthood of the Immaculata.” But obedience is not blind nor stupid, as St. Maximilian points out: “This does not mean that one should lack initiative, on the contrary one can and must freely tell his superiors the thoughts and desires of his heart, provided he is ready with calm resignation of will (for nature at times can rebel) to accept the decision of obedience, whether it is according to, against or beyond our desire.” There is a zeal that belongs in a unique way to each and every MI Knight; channeled through obedience, this zeal—our unique gifts, talents, ideas and even our failings—will be used for the greater glory of God through the hands of the Immaculate.
Nothing good comes easily, and St. Maximilian saw that more clearly than most. In the MI’s first year, two of the seven founding members died, and the movement was a simple one of prayer and evangelizing by handing out Miraculous Medals. As the MI grew, St. Maximilian was often forced to stop work on the movement because of his tuberculosis. He offered all of it to Mary and embraced every difficulty as her will. “You say: ‘Per aspera ad astra’ (‘through harsh paths to the stars’),” he wrote to a fellow priest. “Certainly he who works for the Immaculata must suffer much. And the Immaculata has also suffered much. But then love really is nourished with crosses.” As MI knights consecrated to Our Lady, we willingly and lovingly embrace our own crosses, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her at the foot of the One Cross and take part in the redemptive mission of her Son.
Standing with her, we see ultimate example of heroic charity, of someone who loved deeply and selflessly in both small and great things. She is our role model; Christ has given her to us and we are to give ourselves to her and guide others to her maternal care. “He who has known the Immaculata,” St. Maximilian said, “loved her, dedicated himself to her so completely that he left nothing for himself and did not make any reservations; he who strives to belong more and more to her under every aspect; he who in his solicitude for her kingdom in souls desires that others dedicate themselves to her and on his part does all he can toward this goal and strives not to omit any means, even if it cost him very much and even if it would come to sealing this ideal with blood—such a person is the perfect Knight of the Immaculata.”
In John 15:13, Christ said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man gives up his life for his friends.” St. Maximilian lived this, in small ways in his daily life as he suffered and sacrificed for others and in Auschwitz when he gave his life for another prisoner. In his own words, St. Maximilian said, “[The MI Knight] considers it the greatest happiness, the culminating point of his dreams to make a total sacrifice of his own life for the conquest of all souls for her. This includes all men wherever they are, to whatever nations or race they belong and wherever they live now or in the future—he is the perfect Knight of the Immaculata.”
This is our founder, this is our hero.
To be MI is to live a constant spirit of prayer, of evangelization, of love; let us never stop praying, let us never stop loving and let us never be silent when Our Lady calls us. This is the self-giving love that will allow Our Lady to use us, imperfect and unworthy though we are, to win the battle and turn hearts to her Son.
Be strong in faith and live with enthusiasm the commitments of the Militia of Mary Immaculate, to which you belong, following the teaching and examples of Father Maximilian Kolbe. “To suffer, work, love and rejoice”: this was his program and the summary of his life. May it be also for you, with the help of the Blessed Virgin. And may my blessing, which I impart with great affection to you and to all the members of your Militia always accompany you.
–Pope John Paul II, October 18, 1981
p. 5, The MI in the Words of Its Founder, compiled by Fr. Bernard Geiger, ofm Conv.
p. 19, The MI in the Words of Its Founder, compiled by Fr. Bernard Geiger, ofm Conv.
Article 14, Militia of the Immaculate General Statuesp. 9, The MI in the Words of Its Founder, compiled by Fr. Bernard Geiger, ofm Conv.