One polish man is hoping and praying that they do not call his name. Franciszek Gajownicszek thinks to himself: Out of hundreds, I just have to escape being one of the 10 names.
The Nazi commandant starts calling names. First, second, third, fourth. Gajownicszek is thinking about his children. Seventh, eighth, ninth...
Gajowniczek falls to the ground, peels back any shred of dignity left and begs, "No, I am married! I have children! I am young! I beg of you."
Behind Kajowniczek, a man breaks rank, steps forward so all can see his face - Maximillion Kolbe. A man known to give up his food rations and blankets for those who were more hungry and colder than he was. A man know as the Christ of Auschwitz. He takes off his cap and before the commandant he says,
"Let me take his place. He is married and has children. I am not married. I am not a father. He is young. I am old. Take me."
Gajowniczek, lying there in the dust on that July morning, could only thank him with his eyes.
Kolbe was dragged off to a wire box like a dog kennel with the nine other men left to starve. He spent the next 14 days singing hymns and praying with those nine other men, as one by one, all of them starved to death.
One month prior to this event, June 15, 1941, Maximillion Kolbe had written to his mother:
"Dear Mama, I am in the camp of Auschwitz. Everything is well in my regard. Be tranquil about me and my health, because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love."
If a man facing one of the most hideous scenarios in history could write those words, how could anyone deny his testimony? A good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love.
At the end of the 14 days, when Kolbe was still alive - still alive and still singing and breathing and giving thanks to God, the Nazis killed him with a lethal injection.
After reading, meditating, and retelling this story, I know I am blessed.