Note: During a chat on June 1, Brs. Leland, Brenden and I talked about the school year. It was interesting what everyone shared. Here is the first part of my highlights and struggles during my first year in theology.
During the school year, I received suggestions for a possible thesis. One possibility was a study of the Marian consecration of our founder, Venerable Lanteri. But I thought that I wasn’t ready to read Lanteri’s works and Oblate commentary in the original Italian or French. That sounded like a licentiate.
But Father Tim suggested a comparison of Marian consecrations between Sts. Louis de Montfort and Maximilian Kolbe. Then I could pull in Oblate contributions from Lanteri and more contemporary Oblates. When I suggested the idea to Father McManus, the professor in charge of master’s program, he said that was too ambitious for a master’s program. Maybe, he said, I should focus on one of these Marian saints. Well, there was something in the back of my mind about Kolbe.
In June 2017, my fellow novices and I were visiting Father Mike Gaitley in Stockbridge, Mass. We and the novices from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception listened to him read his latest manuscript, Consoling the Heart of Mary. The more I listened, the more I was inspired to deepen my devotion to the Holy Spirit through my Marian consecration. Father Mike had begun to write the book after reading the recent English translation of all of Kolbe’s works. Someday, I would like to read them, I thought.
In March 2018, all the Oblate theology students went to the Trappists in Spencer, Mass., for a day of recollection. Among the books in the retreat library, Br. Leland found Immaculate Concpetion and the Holy Spirit, a book about Kolbe’s thoughts about the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. He pointed it out to me. I read most of it during the recollection. How Kolbe wrote about Mary and the Spirit intrigued me. This could be a possible thesis. But I thought it would be too much work. Best to keep this in the back of my mind.
When I was asked whether there was something would interest me, Kolbe kept coming back. The more I talked about Kolbe, the more I got excited. Also, Father McManus was intrigued by the topic. I was allowed to apply for the master’s program. While I awaited for the approval, I asked for the recent English translations of Kolbe’s work. I was hoping that volumes would come in before I left for New York.
During the spiritual direction workshop, Kim, a participant allowed me to hold onto and pray with her Kolbe relic. I kept it in my chest pocket. I prayed to Kolbe, asking that if God wanted me to do a thesis, then the volumes must come soon. On May 31, two days before my departure, I found a prayer card in the morning and a small box in the afternoon on my workshop seat. The volumes arrived. Thank you, Kolbe and Mary.
More than 2,000 pages of material await me. Today, I read a few sections. I’m so stoked to work on this project. Whatever the answers to my research may be, this will be an exciting adventure. St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for em.