Tag Archives: Blessed Columba Marmion

Fr 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.

Blessed Columba Marmion


God, our Father, you called your servant, Columba, to the
monastic life. You bestowed on him the grace to understand the mysteries of
your Son and to make him known as the ideal for all who have been baptized.
Grant that we may learn from his example to live in Christ by opening our
hearts in joy to the Spirit of your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Church observes
the feast of Blessed Columba Marmion today. He was an Irishman who became a monk in Belgium,
a diocesan priest who fell in love with the Benedictine way life, its emphasis on seeking God and who served as abbot. Dom Columba died on January
30, 1923. Marmion’s liturgical memorial, however, is observed not on his anniversary
of death but on the anniversary of receiving the abbatial blessing, October 3,
1909. At that time the first Sunday of October was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Rosary
of the Blessed Virgin Mary; in this era the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is
observed on October 7th.

Two pieces to reflect up on…

whole of the Christian life consists in carrying Christ to birth within us and
in having Him live there’. This, of course is nothing more than a paraphrase of St. Paul’s
injunction in Gal. 4:19: ‘until Christ is formed in you’. For Marmion this is not just our
final goal, it is our daily, essential task:  to form Christ within us, through the Graces of the
sacraments and our daily encounter with God in prayer. (Mark Tierney O.S.B,
“The Life and Times of Columba Marmion”)


… Revelation teaches us that there is
an ineffable paternity in God. God is a Father: that is the fundamental dogma
which all the others suppose, a magnificent dogma which leaves the reason
confounded, but ravishes faith with delight and transports holy souls. God is a
Father. Eternally, long before the created light rose upon the world, God
begets a Son to whom He communicates His nature
, His perfections, His beatitude
His life, to beget is to communicate [By the gift of a similar nature ] being
and life. You are My Son this day have I begotten You [Ps 2:7; Heb 1:5; 5:5],
from the womb before the day – star, I begot you [Ps 110:3]. In God, then, is
life, life communicated by the Father … Creatures can only lisp when they
speak of such mysteries… the Father, and the Son, with one same and indivisible
Divine Nature, and both, although distinct from one another [on account of
their personal properties, ‘of being Father’ and ‘of being Son’] are united in
a powerful, substantial embrace of love, whence proceeds that Third Person, Whom
Revelation calls by a mysterious name: the Holy Ghost

Such is as far as faith
can know it, the secret of the inmost life of God; the fullness and the
fruitfulness of this life are the source of the incommensurable bliss that the
ineffable Society of the three Divine Persons possesses.

And now God – not in
order to add to His plenitude, but by it to enrich other beings – exceeds, as
it were, His Paternity. God decrees to call creatures to share this Divine
, so transcendent that God alone has the right to live it, this eternal
life communicated by the Father to the Only Son, and by them, to the Holy
Spirit … To these mere creatures God will give the condition and sweet name
of children
. By nature, God has only one Son; by love, He wills to have an innumerable
multitude: that is the grace of supernatural Adoption. (Dom Columba Marmion,
OSB, Spiritual Writings.  Ed. P.
Lethiellex. Maredesous Abbey, 1998.)

A very brief note on the canonization
process of Dom Columba can be read here

Columba Marmion: the canonization process


Following the progression of saint-making is interesting, though it can be tedious. If you are interested, there is an article in the March 2009 issue of The American Benedictine Review (60:1) by Dom Oliver Raquez, OSB: “Memoirs of the Postulator for the Cause of Blessed Columba Marmion.” The author takes you through Marmion’s canonization process from beginning to the present including the miracles and future work that would make Blessed Columba more known.

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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