If you ask monks and priests of an older generation about today’s Blessed, you will likely hear that he was a spiritual master and a man faithful to his vocation and the venerable theological teaching of the Church. You will hear people say that “Marmion is still alive and well and doing great things for people.” And in a certain real sense he is very alive with a new mission given to him by the Trinity. I “met” Dom Columba through friendship with a monk and also at the Illinois monastery named to honor him.
Dom Columba was abbot of Maredsous Abbey in Belgium. Ordained as a diocesan priest of Dublin, he entered the monastic life when he was 30, and by 28 September 1909 his brother monks elected him their abbot–a monastery of more than a 100 monks at the time; he served in that capacity until his death on January 30, 1923.
Marmion authored three books based upon his extensive retreats. These works give a deep insight into his spirituality: Christ, the Life of the Soul (1917), Christ in His Mysteries (1919), and Christ the Ideal of the Monk (1922). His is a spirituality centered on Christ and our divine adoption as children of God. Translations of these works exist in many languages, and many consider them to be spiritual classics.
Saint John Paul II beatified Abbot Columba as a Blessed of the Church on September 3, 2000, and considered him pivotal in his formation. In fact, among the few personal books in his papal library one found the works of Marmion. It was the Holy Father who told one of his aides: “I owe more to Columba Marmion for initiating me into things spiritual than to any other spiritual writer.”
Franciscan Father Groeschel notes that “Abbot Marmion in some ways was the beginning of a movement that became known, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as the ‘New Evangelization.'”
I would like to remember in prayer my monk-friends at Marmion Abbey, Aurora, Illinois.