Tag Archives: Blessed Columba Marmion

Christ has become our neighbor

Christ has become our neighbor; or rather, our neighbor is Christ who presents himself to us in this or that form. He presents himself to us, suffering in those who are sick, destitute in those in want, a prisoner in those who are captives, sad in those who mourn. But it is faith that shows him to us thus in his members. And if we do not see him in them, it is because our faith is weak, our love imperfect. That is why St. John says that if we do not love our neighbor whom we see, how can we love God whom we do not see? If we do not love God under the visible form in which he presents himself to us, that is to say in our neighbor, how can we say that we love him in himself, in his divinity?

Blessed Columba Marmion, OSB
Christ the Life of the Soul

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

De La CaridadOn this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a meditation from Blessed Columba Marmion is good for us to reflect upon today:

“At the supreme farewell hour, when Christ Jesus spoke for the last time with his Apostles before entering into his sorrowful Passion and sacrificing himself for the world’s salvation, what is the exclusive theme of his discourse and the first object of his prayer? Spiritual charity. ‘A new commandment I give unto you… by this shall all men know that you are my disciples… Father… that they may be one, as we also are one, I in them, and you in me, that they may become perfectly one.’ That is the testament of Christ’s Heart.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

Colomba MarmionIf 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.

Blessed Columba Marmion

Today –at least in the Benedictine world– is the liturgical memorial of Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923). Dublin born and educated, Joseph Marmion first found his vocation as a secular priest before giving himself as a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. In 1909, Dom Columba Marmion was elected of Abbot of Maredsous.

The cause for possible sainthood was opened on 7 February 1957. The Church authorities certified miracle at Marmion’s intercession of a Minnesota woman in 1966. When Blessed John Paul beatified Marmion in 2000, he determined this date, that of his abbatial blessing, rather than on the day of his death, as the day the Church would honor the holy abbot.

Blessed Columba is the author of Christ, the Life of the Soul (1917), Christ in His Mysteries (1919), Christ, the Ideal of the Monk (1922) –all which is a revealing Christology. Blessed Marmion has helped us focus on the Lord and to keep before our eyes our redemption through His merciful love.

Let’s pray for the Benedictine monks, nuns, sisters and oblates, but let’s particularly pray for Abbot John and the monks of Marmion Abbey (Aurora, IL) on their patronal feast.

John Brahill elected 5th abbot of Marmion Abbey

John Brahill.jpgFather John Baptist Brahill, 61, was elected by his confreres of Marmion Abbey (Aurora, IL) to the 5th abbot. Abbot John succeeds Abbot Vincent de Paul Battaille who has served Marmion’s abbot for the last 18 years.

The newly elected abbot of Marmion Abbey is a 1967 graduate of Marmion Academy and has been a member of the Benedictine community since 1978 and a priest since 1982.

A little more than a year ago Abbot John returned to Marmion Abbey after serving for many years (1992-2009) as prior of San Jose Priory in Guatemala. Most recently he has served as the master of novices and as the liaison for Abbey Farms.

Abbot John will serve an indefinite term as abbot. The election was confirmed by Abbot Peter Eberle, the Abbot President of the Swiss-American Congregation. He’ll receive the abbatial blessing from the Bishop of Rockford, Thomas G. Doran, at some point in the future.

Abbot Vincent has oversee many significant projects at Marmion including the building of the abbey church (St Augustine of Canterbury), various renovation projects at the same and at the Academy. Likewise the community has grown with a number of vocations.

Marmion was settled by monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in 1933. The monks of operated a military acdaemy, staffed a few parishes and founded a community of monks in Guatamala at the request of Pope John XXIII who asked religious communities to sacrifice 10% of their community to do missionary work. Since 1965, Guatemala’s San Jose Priory educates high school seminarians in the Benedictine spirit.

You may be familiar with the name Marmion, the 19/20th century abbot who is now known as Blessed Columba Marmion. Marmion lived in the years of 1858-1923. Of Irish and French heritage the young Marmion was first ordained a secular priest for the Dublin Archdiocese before becoming a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. His gifts recognized Marmion was a founder and later appointed prior of Mont Cesar (Louvain) and later elected abbot of Maredsous 1909, a position he held until his death.

For me, this is amazing series of events because a saintly abbot whose cause for canonization was not begun until 1957 and yet not 10 years after his death Marmion caught the eye of a monk of Saint Meinrad enough to name a monastic foundation for. Now we ask the Lord raise Blessed Columba to sainthood.

You may be interested in viewing the Abbey’s vocation video: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Fidelity to the Monastic Way of Life, Stability, Obedience and Monastic Priesthood.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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