The Beatification 3rd September 2000
Speeches / Homelies
His Grace Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin
Letter to be read at all Masses on Saturday/Sunday,
2nd/3rd September 2000 (English)
My dear People,
On account of the beatification of Abbot Columba Marmion, this weekend brings exceptional joy to priests, religious and people of the diocese. Apart from the martyrs, he is the first of our priest to be accorded this title of "Blessed".
Joseph Marmion was born in Dublin's North City Centre in 1858, baptized
in St. Paul's, Arran Quay, educated at Belvedere College and admitted to
Clonliffe to begin preparation for the priesthood. Sent to the Irish
College, he was ordained priest in Rome in 1881.
After ordination he was appointed curate in Dundrum. Care of parishioners and chaplaincy service to the newly-established Carmelite Convent in Kilmacud, to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart at Mount Anville, and to Dundrum Mental Hospital, lent this priesthood a rich variety of pastoral experience. He was then appointed to teach philosophy and theology at Clonliffe and to serve the Redemptoristine contemplative Sisters as chaplain.
In 1886 he obtained permission from Archbishop Walsh to enter the Belgian Benedictine monastery at Maredsous and began his formation as a monk with Columba for his name. In 1889 he was appointed Prior of the new Benedictine foundation in Louvain and remained there until 1909, when he was elected Abbot of Maredsous. His term of office as Abbot was deeply affected by the German invasion and occupation of Belgium during the First World War. He escaped to Ireland and suffered greatly in his attempts to provide for his community. He managed to return to his Abbey in 1916, and after the war was over he gathered his monks around him one more. He died in 1923. His great wish for a Benedictine Foundation in Ireland was eventually fulfilled with the founding of Glenstal Abbey.
Abbot Columba was one of the great spiritual masters of the twentieth century. Through the holiness of his life and the publication of his writings, he exercised enormous influence worldwide. The person of Christ, the Son of God made man, is the center of all his teaching. Because Christ is God, the death he endured in his human flesh made reparation for our sins. United with him we are raised up to share in his dignity as children of God and called to be faithful to that dignity in the way we live. The knowledge of Christ, about which I wrote to you earlier this year, is the very heart of his whole apostolic mission. Blessed Columba tells of the many people "narrow, tormented, troubled" who were taken out of themselves and restored to peace of heart when Christ was brought into their lives.
I cannot in a brief letter enter into the detail of Abbot Columba's
teaching. But there is one thing he said that has special relevance for us
today : "A person's worth is judged by what that person seeks".
Blessed Columba sought God first and before all, and his worth is judged accordingly. His life, entailing many difficulties and much suffering, offers encouragement and inspiration to us all, even though we seek God in the very different form of life to which he has called us.
It is not easy to put God first when we are tempted to do what displeases him. The important thing is not to lose our conviction that God should come first. Even though we may fail through weakness he is always there to raise us again if we repent, and to help all who are seeking to find him. Let us not be dazzled by the new and welcome opportunities offered by our expanding economy. In making use of the good things around us we must not be so foolish as to forget that God has made us for himself and that our hearts are restless until they rest in him. It is in Christ that God gives himself to us and enables us to make the gift of ourselves to him and to others.
May Blessed Columba, a priest of our diocese, obtain for us an increase in priestly vocations.