Keep your Lamps Burning – Columbanus

Columban. also known as Columbanus, here shows passionate fire of his Celtic monastic spirituality.  Commenting on Luke 12:37-38 where Jesus praises those servants who stay awake, their lamps brightly burning in expectation of the master’s return, Columban asks that the light of his lamp would burn brightly in God’s temple and never go out.

How happy, how lucky are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes! How blessed it is to be wakeful and watching for God, who created all things, who fills them with being and exceeds all of them in greatness!

I am a lowly creature but I am still his servant, and I hope that he will choose to wake me from slumber. I hope that he will set me on fire with the flame of his divine love, the flame that burns above the stars, so that I am filled with desire for his love and his fire burns always within me!

I hope that I may deserve this, that my little lamp should burn all night in the temple of the Lord and shine on all who enter the house of God! Lord, I beg you in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and my God, give me a love that cannot stumble so that my lamp can be lit but can never go out: let it burn in me and give light to others.

And you, Christ, our gentle savior, in your kindness light our lamps so that they shine for ever in your temple and lighten our darkness and dispel the shadows of the world.

I beg you, my Jesus, fill my lamp with your light. By its light let me see the holiest of holy places, your own temple where you enter as the eternal High Priest of the eternal mysteries. Let me see you, watch you, desire you. Let me love you as I see you, and before you let my lamp always shine, always burn.

Beloved Savior, show yourself to us who beg a glimpse of you. Let us know you, let us love you, let us love only you, let us desire you alone, let us spend our days and nights meditating on you alone, let us always be thinking of you. Fill us with love of you, let us love you with all the love that is your right as our God. Let that love fill us and possess us, let it overwhelm our senses until we can love nothing but you, for you are eternal. Give us that love that all the waters of the sea, the earth, the sky cannot extinguish: as it is written,love that no flood can quench, no torrents drown. What is said in the Song of Songs can become true in us (at least in part) if you, our Lord Jesus Christ, give us that grace. To you be glory for ever and for ever. Amen.

This post on staying awake with lanterns burning is an excerpt from an instruction by St. Columbanus, Abbot (Instr. De compunctione, 12, 2-3; Opera, Dublin 1957, pp. 112-114) is used in the Roman office of readings for Tuesday of the 28th week in ordinary time.

Columbanus , St.

Born in Ireland in AD 543, the same year St. Benedict died at Monte Cassino, St. Columbanus (from the Latin word meaning “dove”) entered an Irish Monastery. At the age of 40, he received permission to depart with several disciples to preach the gospel on the continent. After establishing monasteries in what is now France, he traveled to Northern Italy where he was given a desolate parcel of land between Milan and Genova. The monastery of Bobbio, which he established there, became the center of orthodox Christianity in Northern Italy, where stubborn remnants of the Arian heresy still lingered. Columbanus wrote on many topics. His monastic rule, much shorter than the rule of St. Benedict, reflects the Celtic monastic tradition and its distinctive customs. The impact of his writings and his work as abbot was great– his disciples are credited with founding over 100 monasteries all over Europe. He died in AD 615 at Bobbio, where his relics remain to this day.