I have been meaning to write a review of Blessed Columba Marmion’s Christ the Life of the Soul. His feast day was on Oct 3rd and Father Stephanos, O.S.B wrote a short post where he said this book "deserves to be on every Catholic’s reading list."
I received this book as a review copy from Zacchues Press. The few books I have received from them have all been wondrous. Christ the Life of the Soul is no exception. I wish I could write the review this book deserves, but I will write as I can.
Blessed Marmion was someone I had never heard of and he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry yet. He was a Benedictine and the third abbot of Maredsous Abbey in Belgium and a noted spiritual author and retreat master. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000.
The book is almost 500 pages of a packed and powerful Christology. The book is like the Tardis in Dr. Who in that the book is larger on the inside than the outside. The majority of the book is on the doctrine of divine adoption and gives a thorough account on this subject. This is not an aspect I had put much thought into before and I am glad this book put an end to that error. This subject has just so much fruit of which to nourish contemplation. The appendix of the book mentions that some think he should be made a Doctor of the Church based on his theology of adoption and I certainly concur with that.
The translation into English I believe does not diminish the writing of Blessed Marmion. I say that based just on the the fact that I can hardly imagine the thoughts expressed being more powerful. The translator provides many helpful footnotes on the translation and in cases where what Marmion wrote needed some clarity.
The book is divided into two segments the first is What God has designed: The Divine Designs which mainly focuses on divine adoption. Book 2 is Life for God which focuses on the Christian life. The chapters on the Eucharist, Mary, Prayer, and the sacraments are also spiritually packed and make you see many things anew. This book is a spiritual retreat all on its own. I probably absorbed only about .01 percent of what Blessed Marmion has to teach, but even that was potent indeed. This is a book that I will re-read and re-read to gleam more of its treasures. The book came out of a talks on the retreats he gave and you can certainly see why he was such a popular retreat master. Being a master in talking on these subject also makes the book tightly focused.
As Father Stephanos said this book needs to be on every Catholic’s reading list and in fact should be bumped up tot the top of their reading queue.