Monday, September 28, 2009

The trip to Poland (part 1)

Greetings world,

This blog entry is part one of an entry. I am currently writing from Cay's house in Vienna. It's good to be away from work, and it's good to have some time to reflect on the things that happened this past weekend.

I wrote in a previous blog that I have been working tirelessly to plan a University trip to Poland. Well the trip happened, and thank the Lord it was a success. We stuck very close to the schedule and everyone made it back in good condition, which is a huge accomplishment with 160 college students.

The trip brought us from Czestohowa to the concentration camp of Auschwitz. We then made our way to Krakow and then to Wadowice, the birth place of John Paul II.

The place that probably caught your eye was Auschwitz. This weekend was my second time to make it to that place, and it still rattles the core of my being. From my experience at Auschwitz this past weekend, I had two major realizations:

1) The Mystery of Evil

There have been six million reported deaths from the holocaust in World War II. Many of the deaths took place in Auschwitz. These were not simple deaths; these deaths usually occurred in the extremes of starvation, hanging, shooting, and suffocation through deadly gasses. Six million people were eradicated in these fashions. I ask myself how could this happen???

Furthermore, how could a good and loving God allow this to happen? If this God is really a Father that loves the world so much, how could He have let six million people suffer such gruesome deaths, and let alone allow millions more to survive to tell the tale? Where is the love in this?

As I walked from the train station that brought hundreds and thousands of Jews to this concentration camp back to our charter busses I realized something very profound. Some evil just can't be explained. There is no logical explanation for the kind of horrors that happened throughout history and continue today.

There is a mystery in evil, and the only answer to this mystery is another mystery that is far greater in comparison. The mystery that triumphs that of evil is the mystery of love. this brings me to my next point.

2) The mystery of love

I hear the cliche term that love is a mystery at least several times a year. But what does that mean? I think we can best understand this mystery in the context of God, who is love in it's fullest definition. I would like to say that God and love are synonomous.

I said earlier that evil is a mystery, but a far greater mystery is love. Why? Because in the end, it is not evil that triumphs, but love. I came to this conclusion when I thought of the person of Saint Maximillian Kolbe. St. Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who was sent to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Priests, during the holocaust, were targets for the SS because of their definance to the Nazi party and their aid to the Jewish people during their persecutions. Priests were often given a pink triangular patch on their clothes in the campus. This was to be a patch of ridicule and were treated more severely that normal prisoners in the camp. During an attempted escape, one of the prisoners was caught and then sentenced to death. The man cried out that he had a family to take care of, thus Father Maximillian Kolbe asked the guards if he could take the place of the man trying to escape. He sacrificed his life for the another. Kolbe was sent to an underground holding cell where he was starved for 2 weeks. He would not die, and instead he sang songs to the Lord and lead others in the accompanying cells in prayer and song.

St. Kolbe's example shows me what it means to love in the face of such great evil. It is a mystery to how Kolbe could do what he did. The mystery of love overcame the mystery of evil. What an amazing feat.

Sometimes in life we don't need explanations, because no explanation is possible. Sometimes what we need is not an answer, but an example. St. Kolbe shows us the example of how to overcome the hardships of life. Thank you for that St. Maximillian Kolbe. Pray for us.

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