I asked for and received a t-shirt for Christmas that features a drawing of St. Maximillian Kolbe and the words, “Your life is not about you.” St. Maximillian Kolbe, you may already know, was a Polish priest imprisoned at Auschwitz; he offered to take the place of a married man who had been ordered to starve in a bunker along with other prisoners. According to Christian Today, all of the other prisoners in the bunker died of starvation; Kolbe survived for two weeks but eventually was killed by an injection of carbolic acid.
The t-shirt is from Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire website. Bishop Barron is an author and theologian who sometimes appears to be speaking directly to me. Like, when I’m having a bad day and I’m mad at the world, I read something from Bishop Barron that kicks some sense into me.
The t-shirt has been sitting on a chair in my bedroom since the day after Christmas. I haven’t found the right moment to wear it. Work? No. The grocery store? No. It’s one of those fashion conundrums. When is it cool to wear a t-shirt featuring a dead priest and a statement declaring that your life is not your own? Still, I look at it every morning and every evening, and it makes me think.
It’s an odd concept for sure, telling yourself that your life isn’t about you. Well, who the heck is it about then? Why am I living this life if I’m doing it for someone else? It’s an uncomfortable statement until you mull it over, twist it every which way, and figure out how it pertains to you.
What does my t-shirt have to do with today’s Mass? Today was the Mass for Life at the Cathedral. Many times during the service, I thought about that t-shirt. Your life is not about you. How hard it is to think like that all the time. To be willing to starve to death so someone else can live. To have a baby that you didn’t plan.
Heck, sometimes I find it hard to give up the last piece of pizza to one of my kids, so who am I to tell other people that they should give up their lives as they know it and live instead for others? But that’s why I wanted the t-shirt. So I could be reminded. Maybe if we all reminded ourselves, we’d have more respect for life, our own and everyone else’s, at every stage.