We are now in the middle of a grace filled fortnight! A week last Friday, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis invited us to pray that our priests may become holier. The following day (9th June) we celebrated the feast of our diocesan patron, St Columba. Then on Wednesday Ronald Campbell was ordained as a deacon in Rome. Finally, this coming Thursday Deacon Emmanuel Alagbaoso will be ordained as a priest in St Columba’s Cathedral. God is abundantly blessing our diocese during these precious days. I think that reflecting on St Columba’s example will help us to properly respond to what God is offering us.
Columba or Colum Cille means ‘dove of the Church’. St Columba came from Ireland to Iona in 563. He was not the first person to preach Christianity in our area but he is the most famous. His personal holiness, charisma and integrity attracted many followers during his lifetime. His monastery of Iona left a legacy of spirituality, learning and culture that benefited not only Scotland, Ireland and England but much of mainland Europe. For example, the Book of Kells (written on Iona but transferred to the Irish monastery of Kells for safe keeping during the Viking attacks), is a book of the Gospels. It is widely considered as one of medieval Europe’s masterpieces. The book’s inks came from many places including Afghanistan! Today we see Iona as remote but there was nothing inward about Columba’s monastery.
This year I was actually on the Isle of Canna for St Columba’s Feast day. A Symposium on St Columba had been organised by the National Trust for Scotland. It explored Columba’s connection with Canna. Many claim that Canna may be the island formerly known in Gaelic as Hinba, which is where Columba often retreated for quiet prayer. I was invited to lead the participants in prayer at a 7th century Celtic Cross. I recalled that before all else Columba preached the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus and so brought people the hope that only comes from knowing we are loved by God.
Today there is a temptation to think that we are too busy to pray. Columba was incredibly busy as his legacy demonstrates but it must not be forgotten that everything Columba did was rooted in prayer. Likewise today some claim that there is no place for faith in learning or culture. Columba not only showed that this is false thinking but that a deep relationship with God is necessary for helping us both to reach out to others in love and to achieve our own true fulfilment.
As we progress through this blest fortnight God offers our diocese many graces. However, we have to agree to accept and use them. If we imitate Columba’s example of being rooted in Christ then our lives will produce much fruit