The Antidote to Auschwitz, July 4, 2001

Father Roger J. Landry
Dominican Monastery, Krakow, Poland
Tertio Millennio Conference
Wednesday of 13th Week, Year I
July 4, 2001
Gen 21:5:8-20; Mt 8:28-34

In today’s Gospel, the inhabitants asked Jesus, who had come to heal them of their demons, to leave town. Today we’re going to focus on that historical period when much of a nation asked Jesus to leave and these demons took over. Built on the denial of the inalienable rights that the Declaration specifies, as Pope John Paul II said June 7, 1979 at Auschwitz.

Auschwitz is modern Golgotha. 4 million people died there, including St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Almost all were Jesus’ fellow Jews and his Christian disciples. And when we go there today, we will probably feel the most we ever did to what those present at the foot of the Cross felt. While the Nazis substituted gas chambers for crosses, the overriding question has been and always will be, “how could man have done such a thing?”

There are several answers. Some say education. But education itself won’t do the trick. A Holocaust survivor, Chaim Ginott recognized this much:

“Dear Teacher,” he said, “I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness: Gas chambers built by learned engineers; children poisoned by Educated physicians; infants killed by trained nurses; women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates. So I am suspicious of education. My request is: help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.”

Without using these words, Ginott was pointing to the need for a specific moral education, to make our children more human. We are living in a world in which our educational systems are focusing more and more on “values education” while our kids are getting less and less moral. That’s because values without the truth are empty. Doctors are using their training to mutilate and destroy children in their mother’s wombs — 4000 times today in America alone — and elderly people at the other end of life.

God himself proposed the antidote, a solution, to this in 1917, when he allowed the Blessed Mother to appear to three young children in Fatima, Portugal. Catholics are not bound to believe this, but it’s obvious that the Pope does, and the prophetic character of the message given to the young people makes it extraordinarily credible even to non-Catholics.

Our Lady described the entire century as a pilgrimage of martyrs up a steep hill with a Cross on top, in which even the “bishop in white” would be shot. She described the blood of the martyrs dripping down from the Cross into aspersoria held by angels. The unity of blood with the blood of Christ.

The antidote was: devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Why? Heart that sees God in all things. Heart that says yes to God in all things. This is more powerful than all the bullets, bombs and hatred of the world. We see this concretely in St. Maximilian Kolbe, who substituted his life for a married man’s where we will go this afternoon. We see this very concretely in the life of JP II, whose motto Totus Tuus, comes from a prayer in St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort: Totus Tuus ego sum et omnia mea Tua sunt. Accipio Te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor Tuum, Maria. He asked for this heart, her heart, her immaculate heart, to see God purely in all things and to say yes to him in all things.

As we ascend that very mountain of Calvary here at this Mass, to receive Christ’s own flesh and blood to which was united all the martyrs of the 20th century, may we make that prayer our own, that we might have Mary’s heart with which to love and to live.