I posted this on my birthday in 2009. Since it's once again my birthday today, I am re-posting.St. Maximilian Kolbe
There, I concede, ends the comparison, although I do hope my efforts here have and continue to raise awareness about the injustices and the tortures suffered by those imprisoned in Cuba because of their political, religious and other beliefs. I think I have made a difference.
Canonized as a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1982, Kolbe was a Polish priest murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz. He had volunteered to take the place of a Jewish prisoner condemned to death by starvation as a reprisal after another prisoner escaped.
Held in punishment cell with nine other condemned prisoners, Kolbe regularly lead the group in songs and in recitations of the rosary. "I had the feeling I was in a church," one eyewitness, a janitor at the prison, later said.
After two weeks of torture, Kolbe was the only survivor, and since the cell was needed for other prisoners, he was brought to another room, where on Aug. 14, 1941, he was injected with carbolic acid and died.
Back to me.
A little more than four and half years ago, not too long after my 38th birthday, I started blogging about Cuba, especially those imprisoned because of their political beliefs, and their faith in democracy, freedom, human rights and their fellow Cubans. It's not a subject I had planned to cover when I started Uncommon Sense, it's just the direction, I am convinced, I was lead in by an invisible hand. Besides the fact that I am Cuban, I have no other explanation for why at times I have been consumed by the task of their telling their stories.
As a somewhat faithful Catholic, I have known for some time that St. Maximilian Kolbe and I share the same feast day. But just recently, I learned something I didn't know about this martyr of the church.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, as his own story might suggest, is the patron saint of political prisoners.
Or, as my faith suggests, something not so easily explained?
I am no St. Maximilian Kolbe.
At times, the plight of Cuban political prisoners seems hopeless, and I want to give up.
But as the example of St. Maximilian Kolbe shows, in the face of evil, whether at Auschwitz in Poland or Combinando del Este or Kilo 5 in Cuba, we are each called to love another, we are each called to act, whether it be with a prayer or a blog post, to demonstrate the faith that goodness will prevail.
Otherwise, our birthdays are nothing special.
help me in my plight
Introduce me to Mary, the Immaculata,
Mother of God. She prayed for Jesus in
a Jerusalem jail. She prayed for you
in a Nazi prison camp. Ask her to comfort
me in my confinement. May she teach me
always to be good.
If I am lonely, may she say "God is here."
If I feel hate, may she say "God is love."
If I am tempted, may she say "God is pure."
If I sin, may she say "God is mercy."
If I am in darkness, may she say "God is light."
If I am unjustly condemned, may she say "God is truth."
If I have pain in soul or body, may she say "God is peace."
If I lose hope, may she say: "God is with you all days, and so am I."
Even though we are not political prisoners, this is a prayer we all can say.
Other prayers to and by St. Maximilian Kolbe can be found here.
A version of this post was originally published July 12, 2009.