The Doctor of Divine Adoption | Foreword to Abbot Columba Marmion's "Union with God" |
Fr. David L. Toups, S.T.D. | IgnatiusInsight.com
The Doctor of Divine Adoption | Foreword to Abbot Columba Marmion's
Union with God | Fr. David L. Toups, S.T.D.
Editor's note: Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923) was a Benedictine monk who wrote
several works that are considered spiritual classics.
He was born in Dublin, Ireland, to an Irish father and a French mother.
Given the name Joseph Aloysius, he entered the Dublin diocesan seminary
in 1874 and completed his theological studies at the College of the Propagation
of the Faith in Rome. He was ordained a priest on June 16, 1881. Several
years later he entered the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium.
He would eventually author Christ the Life of the Soul (1917), Christ
in His Mysteries (1919), Christ the Ideal of the Monk (1922), and Union With God: Letters of
Spiritual Direction by Blessed Columba Marmion (c. 1933, posthumously).
Union With God was first compiled ten years after Abbot Columba Marmion's death in 1923, and then,
as now, it brilliantly captures his insights into the spiritual life. This work
is a collection of letters of spiritual direction which only can be described
as being very simple yet very deep, encouraging childlike confidence in God as
our loving Father. Blessed Columba's letters simplify the complexities of life
and helped his spiritual directees stay focused on what Jesus was asking of
them in the present moment. His letters are effective, because he himself
strove to live in attentiveness of God's love and presence in his own daily
life. Marmion is referred to as the "Doctor of Divine Adoption." He emphasized
that Christians are truly adopted children of God through baptism and are thus
to abandon themselves into the loving hands of the Father at all times. To
entrust oneself to the Father and model oneself on the life of Christ was
everything to Dom Marmion.
Abbot Marmion's writings were a staple of
spirituality in the twentieth century for the generation preceding the Second
Vatican Council. Recently, a resurgence of interest has been occurring,
which recognizes that this master of spirituality has something profound to
offer Christians today in the twenty-first century. He was dedicated to writing
to his spiritual children and encouraging them in their struggles to keep
moving forward on their journey of faith. He helped countless men and women draw
ever closer to Christ.
It is well documented by classmates of
Karol Woytyla, the future Pope John Paul II, that he was an avid reader of
Marmion's writings. Columba Marmion was beatified during the Jubilee Year 2000.
In the homily at the beatification, Pope John Paul II stated: "May a
widespread rediscovery of the spiritual writings of Blessed Columba
Marmion help priests, religious and laity to grow in union with
Christ and bear faithful witness to him through ardent love of God and generous
service of their brothers and sisters." This recognition by the Church
Universal reveals not only Marmion's personal sanctity, but also the profundity
of his writings.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta considered Union
with God to be her
favorite work from which she drew great solace. It should be no surprise that
Marmion's teaching of childlike trust in Divine Providence and abandonment to the
will of the Father would find in Mother Teresa such a devotee. The entire order
of the Missionaries of Charity continues to draw inspiration from Marmion's
works. Mother Teresa would quote from him extensively, even citing him in her
original hand-written copy of the Constitutions of the Missionaries of
Charity. In an early
letter to her sisters dated 1961, she paraphrases Marmion: "Fidelity to the
rule is the most precious and delicate flower of love we religious can offer to
Almighty God." In 1967 she wrote: "In reading Dom Marmion I find in him so much
of what our Society expects of us, Holiness!" Marmion's theme of joyfully
persevering in the midst of struggles was Mother Teresa's attitude for the
order which she founded and to which she herself subscribed.
Marmion's uncomplicated yet insightful wisdom, as
found in the pages of this book, should be a gift for many in today's seemingly
complicated world. His very readable presentation of the gospel truths for
everyday life is as relevant now as when it was first written. This work will
edify all readers to be more faithful to Christ, to His Church, and to their
vocation in life. There is encouragement in these pages to live as children of
our loving Father and to be ever more faithful to Him in both the simple and
the profound moments of life. The whole of the Christian life is to be one of
union with God. The key for Dom Marmion was abandonment to the will of the
Father in all things, doing all for the love of God.
Fr. David L. Toups, S.T.D., is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Saint
Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.
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Union With God: Letters of Spiritual Direction by Blessed Columba Marmion
Selected and Annotated by Dom Raymond Thibaut
One of Mother Teresa's favorite books, Union with God is a collection of letters written by Blessed Columba
Marmion to the many persons who sought his spiritual counsel with questions about prayer, faith, temptation, suffering,
and the struggles of daily life.
Marmion excelled in the art of letter-writing and his advice was always simple and
direct, yet profound. In his letters we see him bringing to bear his great depth of theological knowledge in a practical
and human way. Union with God offers warm, practical counsel from a spiritual master whom Popes and Bishops looked to
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