Fr. Albert, O.P.

Father Albert, O.P., participated in the annual traditional pilgrimage to the Polish national shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. About 100 traditional Catholics set out from Warsaw to cover the 185-mile distance to Czestochowa in ten days. At the destination, their ranks doubled to 200 of the faithful in attendance for the final Mass in honor of the Immaculata.

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The theme chosen for this pilgrimage is “the universal royalty of the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” As you well know, this is a point which is spoken about already by St. Louis de Montfort in his treatise on the true devotion to Mary, where he says: “It was through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that He has to reign in the world.” [1] And also:

If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ are to come into the world, they will be but a necessary consequence of the knowledge and the kingdom of the most holy Virgin Mary, who brought Him into the world for the first time, and will make His second advent full of splendor.[2]

This theme, however, as you also know, was taken up as well by a saint of your own country, St. Maximilian Kolbe, who followed in the footsteps of the “true devotion to Mary” of St. Louis de Montfort, and in a certain sense went even further. One could compare the two saints to Elias and Eliseus: just as Eliseus received the double spirit of Elias, who came before him, St. Maximilian Kolbe seems to have received the same spirit as St. Louis de Montfort, but with a double portion. Everyone has heard about his heroic sacrifice at Auschwitz, where he took the place of another prisoner condemned to die, but few people know that the root of the spiritual life that produced this heroic act of charity was precisely his consecration to Mary. While still a seminarian at Rome he composed an act of consecration to Mary which became the charter of his whole life and the foundation of the Marian movement he founded, the Militia of the Immaculate. He himself describes Mary as his “idée fixe,” and endeavors to make her become the same for everyone else. Thus he writes to his Brothers:

We live for an “idée fixe”–if someone wishes to call it that–voluntarily chosen and very much loved: the Immaculate! It is for her that we live, that we work, that we suffer, and that we want to die. We desire with our whole soul to implant this “idée fixe” in the hearts of all.[3]

In this act of consecration, the saint explicitly states that its ultimate end is the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. In the second part of the consecration, after having offered himself entirely to Mary, he adds:

Also, if it pleases Thee, use all that I am and have without reserve…in order that in Thy immaculate and merciful hand I might become an instrument fit for making Thee known and increasing Thy glory…in order that in this way the most sweet reign of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus might be extended as much as possible.[4]

The whole life of the saint was nothing but a living out in practice of this act of consecration, a realization of his ideal, his “idée fixe.” Near the end of his life, he writes in a beautiful prayer at the beginning of a book he was preparing on the Immaculate[5]:

Grant that I might praise Thee, O Most Holy Virgin.

Grant that I might praise Thee with my effort and my personal sacrifice.

Grant that I might live, work, suffer, be consumed, and die for Thee, for Thee alone.

Grant that I might lead the whole world to Thee.[6]

Let us look briefly then at the life of this man who gave himself entirely to the task of leading “the whole world” to the Immaculate in order that “the most sweet reign of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus might be extended as much as possible.” Let us remember also that he not only gave his life to this end, but also, as he says in his act of consecration, his eternity as well: “…deign to do with me, with my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases Thee.”[7] Seeing how our Lady has used the life and the death of St. Maximilian in such a marvelous way for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, we can be sure that she will not stop now, and that, according to his wish, she will use his eternity as well, and perhaps in a way even still more spectacular. There is an interesting talk that the saint gave at the very beginning of his apostolate in Poland, where he speaks of how certain saints (like St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, for example) and even our Lord Himself did not see the fruits of their apostolate until after their death:

[God] often permits those who love Him to fulfill their desires [to save souls] after their death, to carry out an apostolic activity here on earth, to pray and to work for the salvation and the sanctification of souls…. Sister Theresa of the Child Jesus said: “If I knew that in heaven, after my death, I couldn’t work any longer for the salvation of souls, I would prefer to remain here on earth until the end of the world….”

In the same way, we also can nourish the hope that if now we imitate these saints…, if we burn with a desire to save souls, after our death the Immaculate will complete her own work by using us, and even more, it is only then that we will be able to console the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus much more than we have done on earth where, while extending a hand to help others, we must be careful to not fall ourselves.[8]

So, in [reading] the life of this saint, remember that he is still living, and even much more living than before, and even more desirous to “lead the whole world” to Mary, and more capable too, because now, as he says, he can work “with two hands”! Let us ask him to help us work for this goal too.

You are all no doubt familiar with the life of St. Maximilian, so we will be able to pass quickly over certain things that you already know and concentrate on the things that relate more directly to our specific topic, namely, the theme of our pilgrimage and the way in which he can help us bring about the reign of Christ through the Immaculate. Thus, we do not have to stop and recount the famous vision he had of the Blessed Virgin when he was about ten years old in which she offered him the two crowns. Let us simply underline the primordial importance of this event. His mother writes, in the letter to Niepokalanow where she reveals for the first time this vision:

The extraordinary change in the child attested to me the truth of what he said. He was constantly penetrated by it and very often alluded to this martyr’s death that he desired.[9]

Two years later he enters the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans, but he does not know yet if it is there that he will serve the heavenly Lady who appeared to him. Much later he will write about this in a memoir he wrote at the order of his superiors about the origins of the Militia of the Immaculate:

At the minor seminary, while we were assisting at Holy Mass in choir, prostrate with our faces on the ground, I promised the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose portrait was over the altar, that I would combat for her. How? I didn’t know, but I was thinking of a fight with material arms, and for this reason, when the time came to enter the novitiate, I confided to the Master of novices my difficulty to enter religious life. He transformed the decision I had made into the obligation to recite every day the “Sub tuum praesidium.” Even now I still continue to recite this prayer every day, even though I know now what was the battle the Immaculate wanted.[10]

This little incident reveals a very important aspect of Fr. Kolbe: he is a warrior. When he uses the term “knight of the Immaculate” it isn’t just poetry. His fundamental inspiration is to fight for the Immaculate, really fight for her–to the point that he considered this promise an obstacle to entering religious life. The ultimate source of this inspiration goes back to the garden of Eden, when God said to the serpent: “I will put enmities between you and the Woman. You will lie in wait for her heel, but she will crush your head.”[11] There is a war between the devil and the Immaculate, a war that will last till the end of time. Archbishop Lefebvre often quoted this text to show that the true Catholic spirit is a spirit of combat. In a retreat he preached to us at Avrillé in 1989, he spoke to us about how this was one of the key errors of the Second Vatican Council. They tied the hands of the priests so that they couldn’t fight anymore.

Sent to Rome for his studies, it is there that the Immaculate shows St. Maximilian the form that this battle he must wage for her will take. He writes in the same document just quoted:

While at Rome Freemasonry was manifesting itself more and more openly, bringing their banners beneath the windows of the Vatican, with St. Michael the Archangel depicted on their black flag beneath the feet of Lucifer, the idea was born to found an association that would do battle against Freemasonry and the other servants of Lucifer.[12]

One of his fellow seminarians at that time reports the reflections that Bro. Maximilian made about this:

Is it possible that our enemies be so active, to the point where they have the advantage, while we remain idle, occupied at most at just praying, without doing anything? Don’t we have more powerful arms than they do, the protection of heaven and of the Immaculate Virgin? The Immaculate, victorious and triumphing over all heresies, will not cede the place to the enemy who rears up his head if she finds some faithful servants docile to her orders: She will gain new victories greater than anything we can imagine.

Certainly the Immaculate has no need of us; but she deigns to make use of us in order to give us the possibility to merit, and also in order to render more astonishing a victory won by such poor persons and with means which, according to the world, are so inapt as are the spiritual arms which it mocks and despises.[13]

Later, when he will have launched the weapon of a truly Catholic press against the Freemasons in Poland, it will be a veritable war, as he writes to a fellow priest in 1938:

Here, thanks to the Immaculate, everything is going better and better. Freemasonry by its various tentacles fights against Niepokalanow with an ever more frenzied fury, but the Immaculate also, using her Niepokalanow, crushes the head of this serpent in ways that are more and more spectacular. Everything happens exactly like in a real battle; constantly new attacks and counterattacks, fears, instinctive agitations, exultations for victories, prayers and thanksgiving addressed to the Immaculate.[14]

The precise date of the conception of this idea of a spiritual army to fight for the Immaculate is January 20, 1917, which was the 75th anniversary of the apparition of our Lady at Rome to the Jew Alphonsus Ratisbonne and his subsequent conversion. That morning, as the subject of the meditation in common, the rector reads and comments on this apparition, and a light illumines the soul of Bro. Maximilian. One of his companions will testify at the process of beatification:

From that moment on, Bro. Maximilian was so convinced and inspired with regard to what he had to do that he spoke to me with a face shining and overflowing with joy about the power of the Virgin Mary manifested in the conversion of Ratisbonne, and he told me, with a smile, that we had to pray in order that she triumph over all heresies and especially Freemasonry.[18]

During the following months he gathers together a little group of seminarians and obtains the permission of his superiors to found an association. On October 16, 1917, is held the first meeting of this association that he calls the Militia of the Immaculate. He will describe the scene himself in an article written several years later:

Four hundred years after the rebellion of Luther and 200 years after the beginnings of Freemasonry,[16] in a poor little cell…in Rome, seven young clerics, girded with the cord of St. Francis and armed, on their sides, with spiritual sabers (that is, with rosaries), examine the points of the first statutes of the Militia of the Immaculate. Above them, between two lit candles, was placed a little statue of the Immaculate.[17]

Bro. Maximilian had written their statutes on a little piece of paper:

End: Seek the conversion of sinners, heretics, schismatics, Jews, etc., and especially Freemasons, and the sanctification of all, under the protection and by the intermediary of the Immaculate B.V.M.


1) total consecration of oneself to the Immaculate, as an instrument in her immaculate hands;

2) wear the miraculous medal.

The end, then, is the conversion and sanctification of all, but the means to reach this end is the unlimited consecration of oneself to the Immaculate. The saint explains this in a later writing:

He who wishes to consecrate himself to the sanctification of souls must first of all begin with himself. For that, he must begin by approaching closer to the Immaculate in order to receive from her the graces by which, at each moment of his life, he will be able to progress more perfectly in the love of God. He approaches Mary perfectly who gives himself to her as her thing and her property. Thus the first and essential condition: the total offering of oneself to the Immaculate.[18]

It is clear, then: the consecration to Mary is what characterizes the movement. The saint writes, for example:

The essence of the Militia of the Immaculate is the unlimited consecration of oneself to the Immaculate. We must be her servants, sons, slaves, etc., etc., etc. In a word, we must belong to her under every aspect, be hers in the strictest and the most perfect way possible, be, in a certain sense, her herself.[19]

But why this so great importance attached to Mary? The reason is that Mary has been placed by God Himself as the way which must lead us to Him. She is, in the proper sense of the term, Mediatrix. The saint writes:

The end of every man is to belong to God through Jesus, our Mediator with the Father, and to belong to Jesus through Mary, Mediatrix of all graces.[20]

In saying this he does no more than repeat the teaching of the Church, expressed, for example, by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Octobri Mense in 1891 as follows: “Just as no one may approach the eternal Father except by His Son, in a similar way no one may approach Christ except through His Mother.”

The Militia of the Immaculate finds here, then, its foundation: “The activity of the Militia of the Immaculate is based precisely on this truth, namely, that the Immaculate is the Mediatrix of all graces, because if this were not true, all our work and all our efforts would be in vain.”[21] “For,” he says elsewhere, “if the Immaculate weren’t the Mediatrix of all graces, there wouldn’t be any need to conquer the whole world and each soul in particular to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through her, because souls could get to heaven by another road.”[22] That is why the saint often lets out certain complaining sighs, like this one at the beginning of the book he was writing on the Immaculate:

O Immaculate!…There are some who, even today, don’t know your name at all….Still others think they have no need of you in order to attain the purpose of their life. There are many who love you to a certain extent, who nourish a certain devotion towards you, but how few are those who, for the love of you, are ready to do anything, to accept labor, suffering, and even the sacrifice of their life? O Lady, when will the day come when you will reign, sovereign over the hearts of all and of every man in particular?[23]

Before going on, we must sadly point out that this doctrine of the mediation of all graces of our Lady–which is, we have just seen, the very foundation of the MI–is called into question by the present president of the Militia of the Immaculate in the Conciliar Church, Fr. Galignano. In the preface to a recent book in French on St. Maximilian, he writes:

[Mary’s mediation of all graces] does not rest on any explicit text in Scripture nor on any definition or official document of the magisterium of the Church. It is simply a beautiful doctrine, debated among theologians, that is received more and more by the sensibility of the faithful, and that constitutes a problem for modern-day ecumenism, which is attentive to certain susceptibilities.[24]

It would take a whole conference to refute all the non-truths contained in these two phrases. Let us limit ourselves to saying that it is simply not true (as we have already seen) that the mediation of Mary “does not rest on any official document of the magisterium.” All the popes, from Leo XIII, whom we have already quoted, up to and including Pius XII, explicitly teach that our Lady is the Mediatrix of all graces. The theologians before Vatican II taught even that to deny this doctrine was at least temerarious[25] because of the overwhelming number of witnesses in its favor in Tradition,[26] and over 300 bishops at the Council expressed the desire that it be solemnly defined as a dogma. This request was refused, however, because of ecumenism. And ever since the new conciliar Church refuses this doctrine for the same reason. That is why Fr. Galignano can make the incredible statement that there is no “official document of the magisterium” that teaches this truth because, for the conciliarists, all the documents before the Council, when their Church came into being, have no value.

Five years ago, Pope John Paul II solemnly confirmed this way of acting by refusing a request made to him by a large number of the faithful to define this doctrine. In fact, what happened precisely is that he passed the question on to a congress of Mariology held at that time at the sanctuary which is the destination of our pilgrimage, Czestochowa. The theologians replied without saying a single word either about the teaching of the magisterium before the Council or about the constant witness of Tradition from the fourth century affirming this doctrine. The only two reasons given were: 1) “One must not abandon the theological line followed by Vatican II”; and 2) “The theologians, especially the non-Catholics, were sensitive to the ecumenical difficulties that would be raised by such a definition.”[27]

Remembering this outrage against our Lady perpetrated at Czestochowa itself, the spiritual heart of Poland, let us offer up our pilgrimage in reparation for it, and ask God to permit that soon the Church might finally define this doctrine as a dogma of faith, and thus give to our Lady the honor that is due to her. And in the meantime let us realize the necessity of remaining, in appearance, “outside” the official Church and of raising up parallel structures to continue the tradition of the Church that the conciliarists have abandoned. A perfect example is the establishment of a traditional Militia of the Immaculate, which has been undertaken by Fr. Stehlin. If, as we have just seen, the president of the conciliar Militia denies, or at least puts in doubt, the mediation of our Lady, which St. Maximilian clearly stated to be the foundation of the movement, it is obvious that if the movement is to continue it has to start again, outside the official structure.[28] It is a question of simple survival. Our community of Dominicans at Avrillé has had to do the same thing: the conciliarists completely changed the constitutions and abandoned the tradition of the Order, so we had to start again outside their structures.

[To be concluded in the December 2006 issue.]

Fr. Albert, O.P. is a member of the traditional Dominican monastery at Avrillé, France, several of whose members were ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. He is a professor of Philosophy and Theology. Title page picture taken from the over of The Death Camp Proved Him Real (published by Prow, 1971).

1. True Devotion to Mary, n.1.

2. Ibid., n. 13. Cf. also n. 49, 158, 217, and 262.

3. SK 325, letter to Fr. F. Koziura, March 5, 1931. (SK = Scritti Kolbiani, the critical edition in Italian of the writings of the saint.)

4. For the Italian translation of the original act of consecration, cf. SK 37. The Latin text itself reads, at this point: Utaris etiam, si hoc tibi placet, me toto et totaliter…ut in tua immaculata et misericordissima manu aptum sim instrumentum ad cognitionem tui…excitandam et gloriam tuam quam maxime augendam et ita dulcissimum regnum Sacratissimi Cordis Jesu quam maxime extendendum.

5. The saint was arrested by the Gestapo before the book could be completed.

6. SK 1305. The text was published in the Rycerz Niepokalanej of April 1938, pp.129-30, but the last verse was omitted.

7. “…et de me, de tota vita, morte et eternitate mea, quidquid tibi magis placeat, facere digneris.”

8. SK 1248, which gives the original manuscript of a conference given by the saint on November 15, 1919, to the clerics of the convent of Conventual Franciscans at Cracow.

9. Cited in A. Ricciardi, O.F.M. Conv., Maximilien Kolbe pretre et martyr (Paris: Médiaspaul, 1987), p.25.

10. SK 1278. This text was written in about 1935 when the saint was in Japan, at the order of his superior there, Fr. Czupryk.

11. Gen. 3:15.

12. Ibid.

13. Ricciardi, Maximilen Kolbe, p.59.

14. SK 794, letter to Fr. G. Kolodziejczyk, May 8, 1938.

15. Ricciardi, Maximilen Kolbe, p.62.

16. And he might have added had he known: “at the very moment when Communism was coming to power in Russia.”

17. SK 1277, an unpublished text written in Japan in October 1934 for the 17th anniversary of the foundation of the Militia of the Immaculate.

18. Ricciardi, Maximilen Kolbe, pp.80-81.

19. SK 634, letter to Bro. Salesio Mikolaiczyk, July 28, 1935.

20. SK 1329, text which was prepared for the book the saint was writing on the Immaculate. It was published in the newspaper Maly Dziennik, December 8, 1937.

21. Conferences of Fr. Maximilian M. Kolbe, collected by Arnold Wedrowski, O.F.M., Conv., and Innocenty Wojcik, O.F.M., Conv. (Niepokalanow, 1976), p.41.

22. Ibid. p.80. Cf. also SK 1029 (Rycerz Niepokalanej, March, 1923, p.45): “The Militia is founded precisely on this truth” (i.e., her mediation of all graces).

23. SK 1307.

24. Jean-François de Louvencourt, O.C.S.O., Saint Maximilien Kolbe ami et docteur de la prière (Rome: Centro Internazionale “Milizia dell’Immaculata,” 1998), p.8.

25. It is the term employed by Fr. Merkelbach in his Mariologia, p.348: “ad minus temerarium.”

26. A Capuchin Father at Morgon, in France, has collected over 1200 texts of popes, bishops, saints, and theologians from the fourth century which affirm this doctrine. Merkelbach states that the witness of T6radition for the mediation of Mary is stronger than the evidence of Tradition for her Assumption, which was, nevertheless, defined as a dogma on the basis of this evidence (since neither for it is there an “explicit text” in Scripture that affirms it).

27. L’Osservatore Romano, French edition, June 24, 1997, p. 9.

28. In a conference given to his Brothers December 31, 1938, St. Maximilian himself seems to foresee the treason of those who were to come after him. The whole conference could be quoted, but we will simply cite a few lines: “And even if wise and learned theologians come and preach wise and sublime things, but teach you something else than what I have taught you, don’t believe them. And even if–I don’t know how–saints come who are saints four times over, if they teach you something else, don’t believe them….Listen to what St. Paul says in his letter to the faithful: ‘Even if an angel of heaven were to come and teach you something other than what I have taught you, let him be anathema!’ (Gal. 1:8-9). In the same way I repeat to you, if someone rises up among you who does not want to honor the most holy Mother in a special way, if he dissolves the close link that unites us to the Immaculate and teaches you something else than what I have taught you, let him be anathema….We believe that the Immaculate exists and that she leads us to our Lord Jesus Christ, and if someone teaches otherwise, let him be anathema! Let him be anathema!” Konferencje Swietego Maksymiliana Marii Kolbego (Niepokalonow: Wydawnecetwo, 1990), n. 204, pp. 322-34.
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