Happy Anniversary James and Susan!

One year ago today my brother James married his best friend – Susan! Their wedding was in San Diego, CA. It was a beautiful day and they were surrounded by family and friends as they pledged their love to each other before God for the rest of their lives. These pictures are in memory of their special day. They are credited to Robert Wagner Photography. Check out his work – he is an amazing photographer.

Happy anniversary to James & Suzy! I love you both so very much!! Thank you for being such a marvelous witness to me!







 











Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz Form “Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League”

Several weeks ago as I flipped through a local magazine, I came across a page that said, “Beautiful Positive You – Call today to schedule your appointment at Vanderbilt Center for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery.” Oh my goodness gracious! That couldn’t be further from the truth, I thought to myself.

I thought of a beautiful quote from Karen Doyle who wrote a little book brimming with quotes about the feminine genius. She opens the Genius of Womanhood by saying,  Our culture today is suffering from a deep crisis caused by confusion over the true meaning of femininity and womanhood. A sea of conflicting images and expectations has meant that this confusion not only affects women individually but goes right to the heart of society, affecting men and children in a profound way. 

Her expression of Truth couldn’t be more exquisite. What women today need is education about their dignity as God’s daughter. God is a God of order, nothing is just here, He created us out of His masterful order. As His sons and daughters we possess His dignity for we are created in His image and likeness.

I love the ocean, it’s one of my favorite places to be. There is something about the vastness that leaves me breathless. If I’m not in the water riding the waves, I love to just sit in the sand and watch the waves break and see the white foam that forms after they crash, it’s magnificent. Each wave is orchestrated to be a certain size and break at a given time, similar to the way in which God designed us. Each one of us is unique and comparing yourself to others is not healthy. You are you, and what our society needs is to embrace this fact.

Plastic surgery is like saying, sorry God, but you didn’t make me good enough. I think I should help you out there and make a few changes. Satan throws lies at our insecurities all the time saying we aren’t “good enough.” But confidence in God can and will combat those lies. In order to do that, you need to be firmly rooted in who you are.

Someone once told me they wanted me to get plastic surgery. It devastated me. Thoughts and feeling raced through my mind such as, Does this mean I’m not beautiful? Why do they want to change my body? I must be pretty ugly huh, because if I was really beautiful they wouldn’t have said that. 

I never even considered doing it, but I still felt gross. And at first their words deeply wounded my sensitive heart. But through it I learned about who I am as God’s daughter. It was a long journey and I am still learning. But let me tell you nothing compares to the beauty, the confidence, the Truth and the joy of knowing that you are created with a purpose, created by a loving Father, and that you are beautiful because you have His hand print on your soul.

I don’t need a man to tell me I’m good enough, or that I’m beautiful. Sure it’s nice to hear that you are beautiful, but true confidence is believing it in your heart. You need to get comfortable in who God created you to be, before you would even believe what a man told you anyway.

Today I can look in the mirror and say that I’m beautiful because I’m created in the image and likeness of God. No one could make me change my body and if someone were to mention it I wouldn’t flinch, because I know who I am.

I am a daughter of God and I’m beautiful, because He created me. God doesn’t created ugly; it would be against His very nature. He can only create beautiful and that’s what I am.

That’s what you are.

Yesterday I saw this article. Check it out! I think it’s very positive for women to see that there are actress that promote natural beauty.

Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz Form “Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League” by US Magazine

 
 

Natural woman!

Embracing her curves is nothing new to Kate Winslet, but now the actress is taking an active stand against the pressure in Hollywood for women to undergo cosmetic surgery.

The 35-year-old actress told London’s The Telegraph that she and fellow British Oscar-winners Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz have formed what she describes as the “British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League.”

“I will never give in,” she said. “It goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty.”

While the women’s resolve not to go under the knife is real, their league might be more of a way to speak out against ageism than an active organization.

While the women’s resolve not to go under the knife is real, their league might be more of a way to speak out against ageism than an active organization.

“I am an actress, I don’t want to freeze the expression of my face,” Winslet said.

Thompson, 52, agreed. “I’m not fiddling about with myself,” she exclaimed. “We’re in this awful youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60.”

Let’s all have a little faith in Tebow

I have always admired Tim Tebow’s love for the Lord. When I was a missionary with Varsity Catholic I use to think it would be amazing if he converted to the Catholic faith and became a missionary with FOCUS. I would pray for it all the time.

This morning I read this article from FOX Sports about him. It is well worth the read and I think it’s very encouraging to see stellar athletes praise God for their talent. The world needs more role models like Tebow for athletes. Enjoy the read and BE BOLD for Christ. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

Let’s all have a little faith in Tebow
by Jen Floyd Engel
FOX Sports
August 12, 2011
 

Tim Tebow’s opening drive Thursday dripped with every criticism ever hurled in his vicinity.

Quick to run. Slow to set up, read, release. Lacking accuracy.

And because this was Tim Tebow rather than, say, Brady Quinn, we heard an “amen” from an angry congregation of sports fans reveling in his fail. If Schadenfreude needs a corporate sponsor, call Twitter. Fans and journalists alike unloaded on the Broncos quarterback and his faith 140 characters at a time early and often during Thursday’s preseason festivities.

Tebow in game. Let’s see if he can cure leprosy.

God has decided to wait until regular season to start assisting Tebow.

God flipping over from GOP debate to watch Tebow.

All were in stark contrast to Tebow’s “Joshua 1:9″ pregame tweet that loosely translates to “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” depending on your Bible of choice.

I am not a preacher. And this is not a sermon.

My message actually is just a question: Why? What about Tebow brings out such meanness in us?

Because this seems strangely personal, like some folks want him to fail, just to be able to ask, “Where’s your Messiah now?” — also seen on Twitter on Thursday. I have seen columns already calling him a failure, predicting his imminent demise, detailing why he fails, ripping his practice, his preparation, telling missionaries to save a seat for him because he’ll be joining them soon, questioning if maybe God wants him to be a backup. His Christianity and his performance linked together, both used as punch lines.

After the game, I asked him why he thought criticism of him was so fierce, so wildly personal, so often faith-based.

“Well gosh, I’m not sure. It’s hard to say,” Tebow said. “My faith has been a big part of my life and it’s something that I feel like I show, but I don’t feel like I am ever too outward about it as far as putting other people down or preaching.”

“Preachy” seems to be a favorite criticism, anyway. Overhyped, overexposed, preachy and not really good all get mentioned. I witnessed none of that Thursday. Admittedly, the sample size was small, but the sincerity of the kid almost knocked me over. He’s a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time national champion and a good kid.

So we kill him. And by “we,” I really mean y’all.

Full disclosure: I like this kid for all the reasons many seem to despise him. I like how he wears his faith proudly. I like how he seems to practice what he preaches. I like how he believes in himself despite waves of doubt coming from all corners. I like how he delivers punishing hits. I like what he stands for. I like his heart. And I am not so convinced Merril Hoge is right in giggly dismissing his chances of being an NFL quarterback. I believe Tebow may just turn into a quarterback despite his flaws. I have this thing about not betting against winners.

Or at least I am unwilling to rip him for believing he can.

If the worst thing that can be said about a kid is he believes he’ll be an NFL quarterback because he believes in God, he’s doing all right. He’s not saying God has guaranteed him a starting job, rather that his faith in himself comes from his belief in God. I read once where Pastor Rick Warren said, “God wants to turn your test into a testimony; your mess into a message.” Tebow recognizes failure can be a testimony as well, depending how one wears it.

And let’s dispense with this idea that somehow Tebow already has established himself as a failure and does not belong in a Broncos QB discussion that includes Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. All three look better equipped to step into a J Crew ad than John Elway’s shoes.

This is not simply about Tebow’s play, this is personal.

And even if he ends up being the worst quarterback in the history of quarterbacks, why are we OK with turning his Christianity into a punch line? If Tebow were a devout Muslim, would we snark about tenets of his religion? Or if he were Jewish? Or Buddhist? Or atheist? Or Espicopalian?

Maybe, but those cracks would be flagged by the PC crowd almost immediately. Christianity is fair game.

In a league fraught with all kinds — sinners and saints, good guys and great talent, dog killers, vehicular manslaughterers, adulterers and a whole bunch of other “–ers” we have chosen to ignore — we hate him.

All I can figure is we just want our athletes to say sound bites about “giving all the glory to God” and leave it at that. We do not want to hear about them actually living this, and we snark on them if they do.

But I am preaching now. And this is not a sermon.

This is about a young quarterback who, after a shaky first drive, finished 6 for 7 for 91 yards and generally acquitted himself decently, who believes he’ll be a starting NFL quarterback one day and who puts his faith in God.

So, by all means, go ahead and hate him. Just ask yourself why.

Because hating him seems to say more about the congregation than the Evangelical quarterback.

Wednesday’s Inspiration

Although I write about many topics on my blog, the main reason I started it is to promote my ministry that I’m planning to start called Made in His Image. If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! Here is what Made in His Image will be all about. Made in His Image will work to help girls and women alike who have been abused, raped, suffered from mental illnesses, eating disorders, the effects of addictions and low self-esteem. Made in His Image will educate women on God the Father’s unwavering love, mercy and healing Hands. It will teach women about the dignity we all possess as His daughters, being created in the image and likeness of God.

This weeks Wednesday’s Inspiration is for women struggling with an eating disorder. First of all, know how precious you are in God the Father’s eyes. For you are closest to Him in your struggles, place your heart in His tender and gentle Hands. Secondly, know that I pray for you daily. You can always email me with specific requests as well. I have felt your pain in a unique way and my heart goes out to you. Here is a prayer that I wrote when I was really struggling many years ago and I thought you might like it.

Dear Father in Heaven,
I desire to be free from these shackles which bind me so tightly. 
Stay with me. 
I’m scared. I’m scared of exposing my sin. I’m scared of what others may think. Im scared of gaining weight. I’m scared of feeling full and gross. I’m scared of being alone. 
Stay with me. 
When I think of how others have hurt me, sometimes it suffocates me. The pain is everywhere. 
Stay with me.
Take my tears. Take my fear. Take my heart.
Stay with me. 
Hold my hand through the pain, through each meal and through each step of my recovery. 
Stay with me. 
I have sinned and hurt you deeply. Increase in my heart a Godly sorrow.
Stay with me. 
You see beauty in me. Let me see it to Father. 
Stay with me. 
I can’t do it without You. I ask for Your grace.
Stay with me. 
Let me feel Your loving embrace. 
Love, 
(and insert your name). 
text copyright c 2011, Maura Byrne

Running advice from Clare

Contrary to popular opinion Clare is my younger sister. Yep, that would be correct, I am older than Clare. For some weird reason people always assume that Clare is older; I guess I need to start acting my age more huh? Anyway I am a year and a half older than Clare, shocking I know. I have asked Clare to be a guest writer for my blog to give advice to more advanaced runners because she is a two time marathon runner and knows a thing or two when it comes to running.

Clare is a former NCAA Division 1 athlete. She ran for the cross country and track teams at Seton Hall University. In the fall of 2010, she completed the Harrisburg Marathon and then last year the Marine Corps Marathon. Currently, Clare is training for her third marathon this fall in upstate NY. In short, Clare is amazing! The following is written by Clare. And she will be a regular writer for this section of my blog.

Clare (right) and our friend Megan after completing the Marine Corps Marathon.

Hello, and welcome to Maura’s blog. I am so happy to be writing for I fight Him with love. I am even more excited about my sister’s ministry Made in His Image. When her clinic is built I am going to head up a running group for girls recovering from eating disorders and help educate them on running in moderation. For now, here is what I have for you. Thanks for reading.

At times I feel compelled to ask myself why I have this innate drive within me to get up at four a.m. to complete a 20 mile run for marathon training. I mean goodness gracious at times it is difficult for me to get up at the crack of dawn to a delicious cup of espresso, but a three and a half hour run? Why put yourself through 18-weeks of strenuous training to only conclude with a 26.2 mile race? However, from the time I finished my first short race, the challenge of a 26.2 mile race always hovered in the back of my mind. For sure, the 5-K race is pleasant, the 10K race is commonplace, and the half-marathon a definite self-esteem propelling long distance race, but in my mind none of these have the mere distinction that a marathon has alone. It was a feat I always wanted to accomplish, had to accomplish, and ultimately did accomplish. Why, one might ask? Because for a runner the achievement of a marathon is always something left to undertake. It gives someone an opportunity to test the limits of their perseverance and accomplish something extraordinary when you don’t think you have it within yourself to take one more step.

So to all of my running friends out there who want to undertake this grand and glorious endeavor I have jotted down a few tips for marathon training that I have learned…

Pre-long run : Starting out with sufficient energy reserves is vital, but it’s best to allow one to four hours after eating a proper meal before setting off, otherwise your body may not have had time to digest the food properly. I normally complete my long run in the morning, so I get up ½ to hour earlier before start running. If you’re heading out first thing, think about grabbing a quick snack like a banana or energy bar, perhaps a slice of toast or half a bagel. Alternatively, a few swigs of a sports drink can give you a quick boost – these are easier to digest than solid food, and are a good source of carbohydrate if you can’t stomach anything more substantial. I normally just eat a Cliff energy bar (Chocolate Brownie are my favorite!) Keeping hydrated while training is also an absolute must. As a rough guide, try to drink 500ml of water, diluted juice or a sports drink hour before a run, and another 150ml just before you leave.

During long run: If you plan to run for less than an hour, plain water should be all you need to top up your fluid levels while you’re out. Exercise for longer, though, and you may find sports drinks helpful. These usually contain sugar and electrolytes (including sodium) to help replenish fluid loss.  For long runs (over 60 minutes), consider taking a snack with you so you’re not left running on empty. Energy gels washed down with water will give you an added boost, as will jelly beans or a banana. Few runners are able to tolerate anything more while on the run. Running is a high intensity activity. The body uses a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fat to burn energy. However, carbohydrates are the most efficient form of fuel available to burn. Carbohydrates are nothing but sugar and they store and transport energy. If the body runs low on carbohydrates, runners commonly experience hitting the wall, which is no fun!! I love the power-gel brand that has an espresso flavor that has a shot of espresso in it. My kind of boost if you ask me! If you’re planning to eat or drink during a race, try doing so a few times in training beforehand. There’s no way of predicting how your body might react to anything new and you don’t want any nasty surprises!

Post-run: Replacing fluid after a run is just as important as before and during. Drinking around 500ml of water or diluted juice in the first 30 minutes after your run should be plenty, but if you have a headache or feel nauseous you should have more. After hard sessions, especially if you plan to train again the next day, think about having a recovery drink. The carbohydrate-protein ratio of these drinks will speed up muscle repair, rehydrated you quickly and also give your immune system a boost. Energy bars are also good for topping up your fuel reserves when you get back. Like recovery drinks, they contain a mixture of carbohydrate and protein that will help your muscles recover faster. Other good post-run snacks include eggs on toast, a fruit smoothie and a tuna sandwich. If you can, try to eat within an hour of completing your run, as this will maximize the benefits.

So my friend’s marathon training is no simple achievement. It is an epic adventure that I am sure you will not regret. The harder the struggle the more glorious the triumph is what I always say. Stay posted on more tips. St. Sebastian (patron saint of athletes), Pray for us!

This and that from the weekend

I couldn’t help myself and tried that recipe for the granola bars that I posted a few days ago. I made them when I came home Friday night. Weird to some I know, but when I get a recipe I haven’t tried I can’t help myself. And if I have all of the ingredients in the house then there is no turning back. It’s like giving an artist new brushes, a vibrant assortment of paint and a stark white canvas – of course they are going to start painting. A few followers asked for pictures and here they are.

Since I had never tried this recipe before I didn’t know what to expect. A few kitchen notes: the peanut butter was a little overpowering. The recipe called for 1 cup. I would add a half cup next time.

Since there are so many delicious items in there you don’t want to take a bit and only taste the peanut butter. My favorite are the cranberries inside them. I also brushed the walnuts with a little cinnamon before adding them, which makes them extra delicious. It’s really easy to do – lay the walnuts on a cookie sheet and brush with a generous amount of well beaten egg whites, then coat with cinnamon sugar and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

These bars were very chewy, so if you want them to taste like a traditional granola bar I would cook them for 10-15 minutes longer than what the recipe calls for. Also, you could vary the contents by adding chocolate chunks, coconut, etc. They are delicious! Enjoy!

On Saturday during my break at the bakery I spoke with my graphic designer. My logo is being designed!! I am so incredibly excited!!! She got me all fired up for this ministry – man oh man I just can’t wait. I felt like a little child who wakes up at 4am on Christmas morning, pushes back their covers, runs into their parents room and jumps on their bed telling them that Santa came and that it’s time to get up to open presents.

She asked me a few more questions about my life story and what I want people to feel/think when they see this design. She conveyed her thoughts to me and I told her that I trust her ability very much. When I got back into the bakery, I wept joyful tears of thanksgiving. What God has done in my life is a miracle. I thought back to an exceedingly dark night when I literally fell to the ground and begged Him that my suffering wouldn’t go in vain, that He would use it for His glory. Made in His Image is for His glory and I can’t wait to share this ministry with the world.

When I got back inside the bakery after talking to her I forgot about the pain, I would go through it again, if it would help just one woman know her dignity. It not that I don’t remember it either, for we will always have our memories, but I choose not to dwell on it. God’s healing Hands are stronger than the deepest wounds of our hearts, even our physical wounds. What He can do, what He will do for you is beyond your biggest comprehension. Give Him your wounds today, give Him your heart. Let His Hands touch your heart. Let His glory transform your pain into healing.

Saturday evening I went out to dinner with Karissa and Sarabeth – two of my best friends in Nashville. We were celebrating Karissa! She just got into Nursing School, which is most definitely a cause for a celebration. Mango mojitos and many laughs were had by all. I am so proud of Karissa and love her very much! She is such a beautiful inspiration in my life!

Sunday was the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe! I mean it doesn’t get much better than that. I was a little concerned though as I drove to Mass Sunday night. I thought because it was a Sunday that the priest wouldn’t mention St. Kolbe in his homely. But just as the first note was played for the opening hymn I saw that my favorite priest was celebrating the Mass – Father Baker. At once I knew it was going to be okay, after all Father Baker is not one to miss an opportunity to tell a story or two about this heroic saint.

As usual his homily left me on the edge of my seat with much to ponder. He talked about the sacrifice that Saint Kolbe offered for the man he died for and how Jesus did the same for each one of us. The man who lived because of Saint Kolbe’s sacrifice could only thank Saint Kolbe with his eyes, but we can thank Jesus for His sacrifice with lives of holy and humble service to Him and His Church.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven – which is when Mary was taken to Heaven both body and soul. Below is part of a beautiful reflection on this glorious feast day from you guessed it – In Conversation with God. 

The Chapel inside the home of the Missionaries of Charity, Bronx, NY. Some of my fondest memories in college were going there to spend Sundays with the Sisters. They let me serve the homeless with them after 6am Mass. One of my favorite days to be there was Easter. We cooked a feast for the homeless and sang songs with them. I miss those days.

We often contemplate the Assumption of Our Lady in the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary: The mother of God has fallen asleep…But Jesus wants to have His mother, body and soul, in Heaven. And the heavenly court, arrayed in all its splendour, greets our Lady. You and I – children after all – take the train of Mary’s magnificent blue cloak, and so we can watch the marvellous scene. The most blessed Trinity receives and showers honours on the Daughter, Mother and Spouse of God. And so great is the Lady’s majesty that the Angels exclaim: Who is she? We too, full of admiration, rejoice with the angels, and we congratulate her on her feast day. And we feel proud to be sons and daughters of so great a Lady. 

The Assumption of Mary is a wonderful precursor of our own resurrection. It is made possible through Christ’s rising from the dead. He will refashion the body of our lowliness, and conform it to the body of His glory. Today on this feast, our petitions are full of confidence. Our Advocate rose up to heaven, so she will arrange for our salvation as Mother of the Judge, the Mother of Mercy. 

Mary strengths our hope. We are still pilgrims, but our Mother has gone before us, and is already pointing to the reward of our efforts. She reminds us that it is possible to reach it, and that if we are faithful, we will in fact do so. Let us then be filled with hope and confidence. In spite of our shortcomings, we can be saints, if we struggle one day after another, if we purify our souls in the Sacrament of Penance, and if we frequently receive the Eucharist. – In Conversation with God, 95.

“I would like to take his place…”

The sun hasn’t risen yet in Nashville, it’s black outside, there aren’t even any stars. Night really is a world lit by itself, it’s going to be a gorgeous day. Today is the feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe! Saint Kolbe is one of my favorite saints and his feast day is very dear to my heart. His intercession in my life is mind-boggling. The miracles that this dear saint has asked God to perform for me take my breath away.

Saint Kolbe is also one of the patron saints of God’s ministry that He has asked me to build – Made in His Image. Saint Kolbe is the patron saint of families, addictions, and eating disorders. When my clinic is built one of the first things patients and visitors will see upon entering is a statue of him.

Saint Kolbe once said, No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?

This quote is so relevant to every human being. A very wise and holy man once told me that one of our greatest struggles in life is getting out of ourselves. To stop thinking about me, me, me and to think about others. When we truly get out of ourselves we can embrace and love others more fully, the way God intended us to love, the way Saint Kolbe loved. Below is the story of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. It is well worth the read, one of the most inspiring stories ever told.

The story begins on 8 January, 1894 – Raymond Kolbe was born the second son of a poor weaver at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland. In his infancy Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child’s behavior.

In 1910 he became a Franciscan, taking the name Maximilian. He studied at Rome and was ordained in 1919. He returned to Poland and taught Church history in a seminary. He built a friary just west of Warsaw, which eventually housed 762 Franciscans and printed eleven periodicals, one with a circulation of over a million, including a daily newspaper.

Inevitably, the community came under suspicion and was watched closely. Then in May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken to the death camp Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners.

Prisoners at Auschwitz were slowly and systematically starved, and their pitiful rations were barely enough to sustain a child: one cup of imitation coffee in the morning, and weak soup and half a loaf of bread after work. When food was brought, everyone struggled to get his place and be sure of a portion. Father Maximilian Kolbe however, stood aside in spite of the ravages of starvation, and frequently there would be none left for him. At other times he shared his meager ration of soup or bread with others.

In the harshness of the slaughterhouse Father Kolbe maintained the gentleness of Christ. At night he seldom would lie down to rest. He moved from bunk to bunk, saying: “I am a Catholic priest. Can I do anything for you?”

A prisoner later recalled how he and several others often crawled across the floor at night to be near the bed of Father Kolbe, to make their confessions and ask for consolation. Father Kolbe pleaded with his fellow prisoners to forgive their persecutors and to overcome evil with good. When he was beaten by the guards, he never cried out. Instead, he prayed for his tormentors.

A Protestant doctor who treated the patients in Block 12 later recalled how Father Kolbe waited until all the others had been treated before asking for help. He constantly sacrificed himself for the others.

In order to discourage escapes, Auschwitz had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s bunker escaped. The dreadful irony of the story is that the escaped prisoner was later found drowned in a camp latrine, so the terrible reprisals had been exercised without cause. But the remaining men of the bunker were led out.

‘The fugitive has not been found!’ the commandant Karl Fritsch screamed. ‘You will all pay for this. Ten of you will be locked in the starvation bunker without food or water until they die.’ The prisoners trembled in terror. A few days in this bunker without food and water, and a man’s intestines dried up and his brain turned to fire.

The ten were selected, including Franciszek Gajowniczek, imprisoned for helping the Polish Resistance. He couldn’t help a cry of anguish. ‘My poor wife!’ he sobbed. ‘My poor children! What will they do?’ When he uttered this cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped silently forward, took off his cap, and stood before the commandant and said, ‘I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children.’

Astounded, the icy-faced Nazi commandant asked, ‘What does this Polish pig want?’

Father Kolbe pointed with his hand to the condemned Franciszek Gajowniczek and repeated ‘I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.’

Observers believed in horror that the commandant would be angered and would refuse the request, or would order the death of both men. The commandant remained silent for a moment. What his thoughts were on being confronted by this brave priest we have no idea. Amazingly, however, he acceded to the request. Apparently the Nazis had more use for a young worker than for an old one, and were happy to make the exchange.

Franciszek Gajowniczek was returned to the ranks, and the priest took his place …

Gajowniczek later recalled:

‘I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me – a stranger. Is this some dream?

I was put back into my place without having had time to say anything to Maximilian Kolbe. I was saved. And I owe to him the fact that I could tell you all this. The news quickly spread all round the camp. It was the first and the last time that such an incident happened in the whole history of Auschwitz.

For a long time I felt remorse when I thought of Maximilian. By allowing myself to be saved, I had signed his death warrant. But now, on reflection, I understood that a man like him could not have done otherwise. Perhaps he thought that as a priest his place was beside the condemned men to help them keep hope. In fact he was with them to the last.’‘

Father Kolbe was thrown down the stairs of Building 13 along with the other victims and simply left there to starve. Hunger and thirst soon gnawed at the men. Some drank their own urine, others licked moisture on the dank walls. Maximilian Kolbe encouraged the others with prayers, psalms, and meditations on the Passion of Christ. After two weeks, only four were alive. The cell was needed for more victims, and the camp executioner, a common criminal called Bock, came in and injected a lethal dose of carbolic acid into the left arm of each of the four dying men. Kolbe was the only one still fully conscious and with a prayer on his lips, the last prisoner raised his arm for the executioner. His wait was over …

So it was that Father Maximilian Kolbe was executed on 14 August, 1941 at the age of forty-seven years, a martyr of charity. The death certificate, as always made out with German precision, indicated the hour of death 12.30.

Father Kolbe’s body was removed to the crematorium, and without dignity or ceremony was disposed of, like hundreds of thousands who had gone before him, and hundreds of thousands more who would follow.

The heroism of Father Kolbe went echoing through Auschwitz. In that desert of hatred he had sown love. A survivor Jozef Stemler later recalled:

“In the midst of a brutalization of thought, feeling and words such as had never before been known, man indeed became a ravening wolf in his relations with other men. And into this state of affairs came the heroic self-sacrifice of Father Kolbe.’ Another survivor Jerzy Bielecki declared that Father Kolbe’s death was ‘a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength … It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.”

The cell where Father Kolbe died is now a shrine. Maximilian Kolbe was beatified as Confessor by Paul VI in 1970, and canonized as Martyr by Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Granola Bars

Last night Kathleen, one of my sweet roommates showed me this recipe for Granola Bars. It’s from a blog called Homemade Incredible. Check it out homemadeincredilbe.wordpress.com.

This recipe for Granola Bars looks awesome. I’m going to try it tomorrow and will let you know how they turn out. Granola Bars are a good breakfast on the go with a Banana (or any fruit) and make very healthy and delicious snacks. I have made granola before, but never bars so I’m excited to try this out.

Here is the recipe:

  • 3 c oats
  • 1/2 c wheat germ or ground flax seed
  • 3/4 c flour or ground oats
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c honey

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, wheat germ/flax, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Make a “well” in the center of the oat mixture; pour wet ingredients into well and stir together until just combined. Grease a large (13×9″) pan with butter and press mixture firmly into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, then cut into bars. I recommend freezing half the batch!

Try it and let me know how you like it!

The Dollhouse- Nashville

Attention Nashville – tomorrow night at The River there is a contemporary dance performance “The Dollhouse” to benefit victims of Human Trafficking. Come! It’s a wonderful cause to support. The Dollhouse is an original production created by The Story Collective, a Wilmington, NC based non-profit organization* that gathers artists to use creativity to inspire others to take personal action against Human Trafficking. 

Friday, August 12 at 8PM
The River - 141 Belle Forest Circle
Nashville, TN
100% of the profits from these performances will go directly towww.love146.org to assist in their fight against Human Trafficking. Tickets can be purchased at the door the evening of the show for $15. Please visit http://thestorycollective.​org/ to find out more information!