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The Theologian of Auschwitz
St. Maximilian M. Kolbe on the Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church

Peter Damian Fehlner

“Who are you?” “I am a Catholic priest.” This terse conversation satisfied the acting camp commander to switch Fr. Maximilian Kolbe for František Gajovniček for the starvation bunker. In that trade, the power of love overtook the insidious opponents that are outside of and inside of us, ridicule and shaming to an unimaginable degree. All are vulnerable to two fonts of western civilization, the power of ridicule and shaming. František said: “I knew when Fr. Kolbe gave his life for me one day I would die, but to be spared at that moment, gave me and many prisoners what we needed most, hope.” To this day and ever to be remembered is the inconvenient truth of Auschwitz. In The Theologian of Auschwitz, Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, writes in an Augustinian ecclesial sense and masterfully gets the reader to think about the darkest days of history in the twentieth century without loss of having Christ as one’s measure and the Spirit as one’s power. Fehlner is not analyzing history which scholars of every conviction are called to do but getting the reader into a position to think about what may happen to anyone, of any conviction, who pledges to truth or one’s life to truth. No one is excluded. No event is insignificant. The human dignity of the person, especially the poor and disabled, divine existence, the immortality of the soul and blessedness are important stakes analyzed in this volume, which was the last will and testament of Fr. Fehlner, as I can personally attest.

Rev. Dr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conv.
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, although one of the holiest priests of the twentieth century, was most notably a theological genius, ardent promoter of consecration to the Immaculata, and Martyr of Charity. This Franciscan saint still has a message for us today. The Theologian of Auschwitz contains an extraordinary synthesis of the mind, heart, and mission of the great Polish saint. I very highly recommend that everyone read this book!

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
Author, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father
ISBN:978-1-943901-13-5
LCCN:2019955273
Format:6.14x9.21” B&W soft cover
Size:362 pages
Publication:February 11, 2020
Price:$ 36.95 USD

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More Endorsements for The Theologian of Auschwitz: St. Maximilian M. Kolbe on the Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church

From his earliest exposure to the thought of his fellow Franciscan Conventual Maximilian, Fr. Peter Damian’s brilliant and synthetic mind focused upon a critical question. He situated Maximilian Kolbe at the zenith of a trajectory which arched from the Seraphic Father Francis of Assisi, through Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, their scholarly friar-commentators towards a modern synthesis. When the 87-year-old Fr. Peter Damian died in 2018, his Franciscan confreres, and all who knew him, regarded the venerable theologian as a spiritual embodiment of that Franciscan synthesis.
During his final years he composed this long-maturing and synthetic text of The Theologian of Auschwitz. His earliest theological insights on the “primacy of charity” in St. Bonaventure’s thought now cascaded into a fresh Kolbean optic which, for the aged Fr. Peter Damian, recapitulated all Franciscan thought. As I witnessed the chapters of this text being written, I sensed an illumination which could only be termed supernatural, or mystical.
In the text itself of this book, Fr. Peter Damian poses the “critical question” which has exercised the minds of thinking truth-seekers from time immemorial: Can the quest for truth, and its coefficient “love of learning,” be reconciled with the quest for holiness, and its coefficient “desire for God”? Exploring all the many facets of this question, not only in Bonaventure and Aquinas and their schools, but in Descartes and Kant and their rationalist heirs, Fr. Peter Damian builds an argument for their reconciliation—reconciliation through sanctification of the intellect.
Fr. Peter Damian uses the modern philosopher-theologian St. Maximilian Kolbe in order to sharpen the argument for this holy mode of embracing objective truth. In scores of rich texts cited from his conferences, letters, articles, and testimonies, the Martyr of Auschwitz illustrates this Franciscan thesis that eternal truth can be sought, found, and embraced in love. Fr. Peter Damian notes that the originality of St. Maximilian Kolbe is to extend this approach to the study of Mary as Mother of God.
St. Maximilian Kolbe shows how God puts theological truth at the service of one’s personhood, and one’s personal spiritual life at the service of others—in a dynamic of love without limits, grounded in revealed and changeless truth. Fr. Peter Damian sees this Kolbean-Marian paradigm as nothing less than Divine love in action—the primacy of supernatural charity—working to upbuild the Church as an instrument of love for the transformation of the world.

Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.
Minister Provincial
Our Lady of the Angels Province

In The Theologian of Auschwitz, Peter Damian Fehlner establishes the historical and theological context of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s stupendous insights into the theology of the Church in its deepest Pneumatological and Marian dimensions. Fehlner draws out the implications of Kolbe’s thought and spirituality, showing Kolbe’s dependence upon and development of the broader Catholic and Franciscan tradition, especially St. Francis, St. Bonaventure, and Bl. John Duns Scotus. At the heart of Fehlner’s argument is Kolbe’s outline for a never-completed text on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Based upon his comprehensive knowledge of Kolbe’s writings as well as his deep knowledge of Francis, Bonaventure, and Scotus, Fehlner presents Kolbe as a genuine theologian with insights and riches to offer the Franciscan Order as well as the entire Church and the world. For Fehlner, the absolute priority of Jesus Christ essentially conjoined with his Immaculate Mother, so much emphasized by Kolbe, must not only be believed but actually lived in the context of both the Church’s inner dimension as well as in its evangelical mission to the nations. Only through fully incorporating the mode of life of Christ the King and the Immaculate Queenship of Mary will the New Evangelization and ecclesial renewal, so desired and emphasized by the Second Vatican Council and each of the popes following the council, be realized.

Dr. Jared Isaac Goff, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Dogmatic Theology
Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius

Purchase

To purchase single or small quantities of the softcover edition either use the BUY SOFTCOVER button below to pay with your credit/debit card (faster method), or call us to place an order and pay by check through the mail. For bookstores and bulk purchases, please contact our Textbook Adoption »

Exam Copy

To purchase at reduced price an examination copy to ascertain applicability for use in your post-secondary course, click here »

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