Note: This is part of a new serial fiction series focusing on the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, following the life of a fictional character as he encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday! For previous chapter(s), click here.
Preparations for Christmas were beginning to take shape at their City of the Immaculate, and fewer and fewer Nazi soldiers were being tended to in their medical center.
Piotr was starting to get comfortable, easing back into normal monastery life.
Then the trucks started to come.
It wasn’t a single truck, with a handful of refugees. It was truck after truck of starving individuals.
The Nazi commander approached Piotr.
“You there! These worthless people need temporary housing until we can build bigger facilities. We are dropping off 500 vermin for you to house and feed!”
Five hundred! Piotr couldn’t believe his ears or eyes. Crowds of famished men, women and children were being forced off the trucks and into Niepokalanów.
All of them had stars on their clothing.
Piotr worked with the Nazi soldiers, directing the groups of people and showing them where they could stay. A few soldiers would be stationed at the monastery, to ensure none of prisoners would escape.
Piotr was overwhelmed with anxiety. How could we possibly feed this many people? Where will we get the food?
As Piotr was showing the last group of people where they could stay, another convoy of trucks was fast approaching.
What are we going to do? Piotr thought to himself. This is too much!
Another Nazi soldier disembarked from the lead vehicle.
Piotr didn’t respond and motioned to the truck.
“We already have 500 people here. I don’t think we can take any more …”
“You WILL take more! These 1,500 men, women and children are Volksdeutsche, Germans who are living outside the fatherland. They will stay here for one week until we can find them proper housing. We will pitch extra tents outside your little city, give you daily rations and you WILL tend to their needs!”
Piotr was stunned. Not only were their community of friars required to house Jewish prisoners, but also these Germans. What will Father Maximilian think!
As the Germans were unloading their trucks and setting-up tents, Father Maximilian approached Piotr and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Piotr! Look! Christmas is going to be such a joyous occasion this year! We have more people than usual who will be celebrating with us. Isn’t that a blessing?”
Piotr, who normally kept his emotions in check, lashed out at Father Maximilian.
“Father, how can you say such things?! This is a disaster! We barely have enough food to feed ourselves, how could we possibly feed everyone here? I know the Nazis will be providing daily rations to many of them, but what about the rest? Will not everyone die here on Christmas morning?!”
Father Maximilian stepped back, surprised at Piotr’s outburst. Then he closed his eyes and didn’t say anything for five minutes. Piotr was starting to get uncomfortable at the long drawn-out silence.
“Piotr, everything will be fine.” Father Maximilian said with a smile. “The Immaculata has assured me that we will all eat well this Christmas. Here is what we will do. Any friar who is not actively working will walk with me to the neighboring villages. We will beg for food, clothing … anything our Polish brothers and sisters will give to us.”
“Why clothing, Father?”
“Have you not seen the poor clothes our dear friends are wearing? Both the Jews and our German brothers could use some assistance!”
Piotr almost lost it again.
“The Germans too?! They are the ones who are forcing us into this situation! They don’t deserve anything!”
“Piotr, control yourself!” Father Maximilian was starting to get annoyed with Piotr’s anger. He breathed deeply and then started again.
“Christ is among us this Christmas. We should rejoice and be glad for the opportunity to serve Jesus in the naked, hungry and even the lost sheep. Let us not forget the parable of the Good Samaritan. Should we not bind up the wounds of these wayward travelers?”
Piotr hung his head in shame. Father Maximilian was right. Jesus is here. Christmas was going to be different, but wasn’t it in many ways similar? So many of these individuals were cold and there was “no place for them in the inn.”
We will be their stable, Piotr thought.
He wiped the tears that had started to trickle down his face, saddened by his own failure to see God’s providence, and looked up at Father Maximilian.
“Where do we begin?”
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!