Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An Irish Thanksgiving with St. Columbanus (With a Song to St. Cecilia and the English/Scotch Martyrs Along the Way)

"Love does not keep order,
Hence my message is confused ..."
-St. Columbanus

Yes, the O'Tooles have (spiritually) invited St. Columbanus to Thanksgiving, as he is one of the greatest of Irish missionary monks, and his feast day falls on our American holiday as well as two days before the epic battle of the Fighting Irish and
the Southern Cal Trojans. But before we get to our feast, we ask the intercession of Wednesday's saints, for they too have key roles in this week of celebration.

St. Cecilia, third century martyr "sang to God in her heart" to (despite being betrothed) remain a virgin, and in granting this request, Cecilia was named the patron saint of musicians as well. The Notre Dame band will no doubt need her help in belting out several rousing renditions of the Notre Dame Fight Song during the game, as well as a truly spiritual version of "Notre Dame Our Mother" after the contest. And these 85 martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales (who died for their Catholic faith between 1584 and 1679) ... well everyone knows these countrymen are rabid football (soccer) fans, so it's about time we turned them on to the American version, played in honor of the Blessed Virgin as well.

Now, Columbanus. As a sixth century Irish youth, he was attracted (and attractive!) to girls, but as a young man, he turned his eyes to heaven and was nearly always shut up in a monastery, learning or teaching about Christ. In middle age, he set out with 12 companions to the shores of modern day Germany, Austria and France (again the Irish-French connection) and as an old man was still establishing (and personally building, even into his 70s Columbanus helped with the brick laying) monasteries.

While Cecilia's quick flame of a life inspired numerous instantaneous conversions, Columbanus (or Columban depending on the account) as his predecessor St. Paul, preached across a continent, and slowly but surely left Christian converts in every part along the way. Like Paul, he wrote countless letters to his converts, but like many an Irish writer, poetry was what he preferred. "I want to write you a tearful letter," he wrote to the monks at Luxeuil, "but for the reason I know your heart, I have simply mentioned necessary duties, hard of themselves and difficult, and have used another style, preferring to check than to encourage tears. (Inside) the tears flow, but ... outward ... it is better to check the fountain, for it is no part of a brave soldier to lament in battle." Well Columbanus; Gary, our soldier, our son, is home for this holiday, and while it is usually better for men to refrain from tears in battle (or in public), I'm sure you'll agree that for an Irishman it's better to shed these tears of joy with family, provided it's an Irish family of course! Now, Columbanus, if you could just intercede that Gary's leave be extended through Saturday, so he could watch the Notre Dame game with us ...

1 comment :

Jim said...

Viva Cristo Rey!

Congratulations on your new Navy man! In all the excitement of the holiday, the feast day of one of our favorites snuck up on us. November 23 is also the feast day of Blessed Miguel Pro - executed by the communist government in Mexico in 1927. Read more about him and the Cristeros, hundreds of whom were martyred at these sites: