Feed on the Word

Colum feasted on God’s Word, and particularly His Law.

My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion of food.

   - Job 23.11, 12

By the grace of God Colum rose to exalted companionship;
awaiting bright signs, he kept watch while he lived.
His lifetime was short,
scant portions filled him.
He was learning’s pillar in every stronghold,
he was foremost at the book of complex Law.

   - Dallàn Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Chille, Irish, 6th century

The life of a Celtic monk like Columba (Colum) was short and spare. Most of his waking time was spent working, either at the ministry of the Word, in one form or another, or providing for the needs of his and his companions’ bodies. 

It would be fair to say of the best of them, like Colum Cille, that they cared more for the Word of God than the conveniences and necessities of the flesh. Indeed, it was fierce hunger for God’s Word that resulted, as one account has it, in Colum’s being exiled from his native land to the barren island of Iona. Caught surreptitiously making a personal copy of the Gospels – strictly against monastic rule – he refused to hand over his treasured cathach (Gospel book) until ordered to do so by the king. Furious at this humiliation, he provoked a war in which many were killed.

Colum sorrowed greatly at this and accepted exile as his penance. As sad as he was to leave his beloved homeland, he grew in joy daily by at last being free to devote himself to the Word and to proclaiming and teaching it with all his strength. As Dallàn notes, though his fleshly diet was scant, he feasted on God’s Word, and particularly His Law, until he became a pillar of truth beloved by contemporaries and successors alike.

How fierce is our love for God’s Word? Would we risk everything to possess more of it? Do we sacrifice comforts and conveniences in order to gain more time with it? Is it evident to all, by the strength of our souls, that we prefer to feed on the Word above all fleshly needs or desires?

When we’re hungry, we eat. When we truly hunger for God’s Word, we’ll find a way to feast more often on it.

Psalm 19.7, 8 (St. Christopher: “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimonies sure;
The simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.

 Lord, as Patrick fed the people of Ireland, feed us tirelessly with heavenly feasts! Give us the words of the Gospel like loaves, multiplied in Your hand like manna. Adapted from Sechnall, Audite Omnes Amantes

T. M. Moore, Principal

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[1] Clancy and Márkus, p. 107.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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