‘How wonderful is God among his saints; come let us adore him.’ (Invitatory antiphon).
One of the most poignant parts of a funeral is time given to the eulogy. This is a speech that pays tribute to someone at the time of death. It is a time to remember the uniqueness of the loved one.
Today’s first reading (Rm 12:1-2, 9-13) and Gospel (Mt 8:18-27) for the feast of St Columba (AD 521-597) (Colmcille) are proclaimed at Mass via the webcam or read from the New Testament. A variety of readings are offered on the Liturgical Calendar for Ireland 2020.
St Columba is venerated as a national patron alongside St Brigid and St Patrick. St Columba was born in Gartan, Co Donegal, in AD 521. He is the patron saint of the city of Derry, where he founded a monastic settlement in 540 AD.
The readings chosen for this feast mirror the life of St Columba, as outlined in the Divine Office.
The second reading from the Office of Readings, from The Life of Columba of Adomnan, (p. 444*) has the sense of a eulogy. The author describes the primacy of God in St Columba’s life. St Columba’s response to God’s call led him in his vocation as abbot and missionary. Columba is also remembered for his great work of reconciliation and was given the title ‘Patron of the Bards’.
The first reading from Romans (Rm 12:1-2, 9-13), offers a plan for the Christian life, a way it seems, St Columba followed. The Gospel (Mt 8:18-27), includes the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples on discipleship and Jesus’ challenge to their faith when the storm arose while they were all on the lake in the boat.
According to Adomnan, from boyhood, St Columba was in ‘search for wisdom’. He was ‘refined in speech, holy in his works, pre-eminent in character and great in counsel.’ At 42 years of age, Columba sailed from Ireland to Britain and stayed on the island of Iona for 34 years. There he spent his time in ‘prayer, reading, writing and doing good works.’ He also kept fast and vigils. He was of a cheerful disposition and he lived with the joy of the Holy Spirit. St Columba’s faith was tested from time to time. At the end of his life, he commanded his monks to live lives of ‘love and peace’.
St Columba’s last written words were: ‘Those who seek the Lord shall want for no manner of good thing.’
At the last communal gathering, St Columba and his monks prayed together and Columba blessed them before he died.
St Columba was single-minded in his love for God and for God’s creation.
SEEK GOD’S LOVE IN THE GROW IN LOVE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMME
From the readings today and the Office of Readings, children might explore a little of St Columba’s life. They recognise God called Columba to be a missionary at 42 years of age, to share the Good News. He is patron saint of Derry and patron saint of schools and churches.
He sailed from Ireland to go to Britain and settled in Iona, where he spent a life of prayer, reading, writing and engaging in good works.
Children might link the Gospel reading of the storm at sea (Mt 8:23-7) with Columba travelling on the boat. The readings today state Jesus words to his disciples ‘Follow me’. The children identify this following of Jesus as a call to every disciple.
They might also associate his life of prayer with St Patrick and St Brigid. St Columba like St Patrick spent whole nights in prayer and he fasted from food. The actions of prayer and fasting might resonate with the Lenten season for the children; and they recognise that Jesus went into the desert and spent forty days and nights in fasting and prayer.
St Columba’s work on reconciliation is well known. This is another aspect of life where children can be invited to engage and reflect on their personal lives. They might like to pray to St Columba for a spirit of peace and reconciliation in the world.
The children recognise that St Columba was a joyful and cheerful person because of his love for God. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Before he died St Columba asked his monks to live together in a spirit of love and peace. On the night he died, Columba got up to pray at midnight as was the custom. He rose before the other monks, went to the Church, knelt, prayed at the altar and he blessed the monks present with him just before he died.
Resources are accessible on the VERITAS website in all programmes to help children understand the lives of the saints. St Columba is not included in the Grow in Love programme, though St Patrick and St Brigid are studied in alternate years through the primary school. Online videos and interactive activities may be helpful.
READ from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
‘The Storm at Sea’ (Mt 8: 23-7)
‘The Apostles’, ‘The Summons’, ‘O Lord, Hear my Prayer’, ‘Go Tell Everyone’.
PRAY with Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
May all the children
In the world
Share friendship and live
In the peace
Of God’s love
Now and forever.
ÁR BPAIDIR MHISIN
Gach páiste ar domhan
Grá agus cairdeas,
Agus go maire siad
I síocháin ghrá Dé
Anois agus choíche.
ACT OF FAITH
O my God, I believe in you
and in all that your holy Church teaches
because you have said it
and your Word is true.
You are the Christ,
the Son of the living God.
Lord, I believe; increase my faith. Amen.
‘The man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’ (Benedictus antiphon).
‘Well done, good and faithful servant, come and join in your Master’s joy.’ (Magnificat antiphon).
‘The mighty may be hungry and in need, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing.’ (Psalm 33: 11).
‘Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed: ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’ (Laudato Si’, no.98).
St Columba, please pray for us.
‘O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’
Sr Anne Neylon