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Following in the footsteps of St Columba

June the 9th is the Solemnity of St Columba or Colmcille, a Saint revered in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and in other parts of the world where the Gaelic diaspora set down. He is man worth reflecting on - not least because God used him as a pillar in the building of the Christian Church in Scotland. There is much information about him, and below you will find some of that but I just wanted to think about his legacy and example for us in 21st Century Scotland. In 1975 St Pope Paul VI released Evangelii Nuntiandi and at the beginning the document asks us three questions:

1) In our day, what has happened to that hidden energy of the Good News, which is able to have a powerful effect on Man’s conscience? 2) To what extent and in what way is that evangelical force capable of really transforming the people of this century? 3) What methods should be followed in order that the power of the gospel may have its effect?

These are potent questions and challenges to us. When St Columba crossed the Irish Sea he came with the zeal of conversions in mind, the zeal of seeing those living a life without God and an eternity to come in Hell to hear the beautiful gospel of God. God who has a love that surpasses all knowledge, a mercy that flows freely for all. God had sent St Columba to win souls for heaven. The sad truth is, for many Catholics this zeal does not exist. Dampened by fear, lack of knowledge and confidence but also because we ourselves struggle with embracing the love of God. Yet, this is a zeal our country needs right now. The words ‘God loves you’ is easy to type, and easy to read - but not easy to really believe. Do you know God had a plan to have you in his family from deep before time? That He died for you because He loves you?

The Gospel of God was fully and finally revealed 500 yrs before St Columba was born because God chose to reveal Himself to Man through Jesus Christ because love always goes out, and man always seeks it; as Fr Aidan Nichols wrote in this week’s Crombie Burn Reader:

…divine revelation answers to a human need – even if that revelation not only fulfils that need but super-fulfils it, going beyond not only the concepts, or even the imaginings, of the human mind, but beyond human aspirations themselves...

God’s revelation fulfills all our needs and this St Columba carried with him to Scotland. On this anniversary year of St Columba, why not use this moment to reflect on your own relationship with God, let us ask ourselves challenging questions, let us run to the deep fountain which is our Lord and drink deeply. Then, let us go out and have a vision for our land. Whether you are in Edinburgh or Stornoway - Jesus is still at work, He still desires to see many more Souls in heaven, and like St Columba - you have been sent to do your part. But do not mistake me, this part we play, we do not do out of obligation or fear but primarily because we are loved by God and that love embraced cannot but spill over into our communities and workplaces.

Eric Hanna

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