**Opening Prayer to St. Maximilian
O St. Maximilian Kolbe, faithful follower of St. Francis, inflamed by the love of God you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue and to works of the apostolate. Look down with favor upon us who devoutly confide in your intercession. Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, you inspired countless souls to a holy life and various forms of the apostolate in order to do good to others and to spread the kingdom of God. Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors to draw many souls to Christ.
In your close conformity to our Divine Savior you reached such an intense degree of love that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner. Implore God that we, inflamed by such ardent charity, may through our living faith and our apostolic works witness Christ to others, and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God. Amen.
**Day 1: Maximilian’s Call to Holiness
Reading: Raymond Kolbe was born of poor parents in Poland on January 7, 1894. Raymond came to love the Blessed Virgin quite early in life. This devotion did not prevent him from getting into trouble. His lively nature tried the patience of his mother. Once she remarked in exasperation, “Raymond, what is going to become of you?” After this incident there was a noticeable change in his behavior. His mother became worried. Upon questioning him, she found Raymond at first reluctant to tell her his “secret.” Finally he told her how much her reproach had troubled him. He had prayed to Mary, and asked her the same question, “Mother of God, what will become of me?” She took compassion on the miserable boy and appeared to him holding in her hands two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked Raymond which one he would choose; the white signified purity, the red martyrdom. “I choose both” he answered.
Meditation: Every genuine conversion experience be it that of a mischievous child or that of a hardened adult involves the individual’s humble recognition of his own weaknesses and capacity for sin. May Maximilian’s humility be ours in our pursuit of Christian holiness through ongoing conversion.
Novena Prayer for St. Maximilian’s Intercession**
O Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends,” through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose life illustrated such love, we beseech you to grant our petitions. (Pause here to mention the special requests you have.)
Through the Militia of the Immaculata movement, which Maximilian founded, he spread a fervent devotion to Our Lady throughout the world. He gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all people, a love that was inspired by true devotion to Mary.
Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our heavenly Queen in order that we may better love and serve our neighbor in imitation of your humble servant, Maximilian. Amen.