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Can You Say Zacheus?

Christ, the Life of the Soul
Blessed Columba Marmion
xxv + 532; paperback

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“Read this — it is the pure doctrine of the Church.”
Pope Benedict xv

The works of Marmion are
“outstanding in the accuracy of their doctrine,
the clarity of their style, and the depth
and richness of their thought.”
Pope Pius xii

Christ, the Life of the Soul by Blessed Columba Marmion is a classic guide to the spiritual life that had a direct influence on several Popes, generations of priests and religious, and countless members of the laity. In clear, inspiring language, Blessed Columba discusses every aspect of our journey to Christ: “the source of all light, all grace, all holiness — the true Life of our life.”

Written for Christians in every walk of life, here are pages of practical knowledge and timeless wisdom — a “how-to” guide filled with rich insight, spiritual refreshment, inspiration and encouragement.

Long out of print, Zaccheus Press is pleased to offer Christ, the Life of the Soul in a vibrant new translation that captures all of Marmion’s depth and spiritual power, while remaining meticulously faithful to the French language original.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a long-time admirer of Marmion, prepared the Foreword for this edition.

About Blessed Columba Marmion
Born in Ireland, Blessed Columba Marmion served for several years as a priest in Dublin before finding a vocation to the monastery. One of the great Catholic authors of the 20th century, his books, acclaimed by Popes and lay faithful alike, sold some 1.5 million copies.

Firmly rooted in the Bible, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Saints and Doctors of the Church, Marmion explores every aspect of Catholic dogma—with penetrating insight—but his great emphasis is on the person of Christ, and the doctrine of Divine Adoption. Indeed, there is hope among his admirers that not only will he one day be declared a saint, but also a Doctor of the Church—the Doctor of Divine Adoption.

Marmion’s long experience as a teacher served him in good stead in his books, as did his work as a much sought-after spiritual director. His writings are marked both by the remarkable clarity of their exposition, and by their keen psychological insight and sensitivity.

As everything in Jesus Christ can be summed up in His Divine Sonship, so everything in the Christian can be summed up in his participation of this sonship, by Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ.
     Our holiness is nothing else but this: the more we participate in the Divine life through the communication Jesus Christ makes to us of the grace of which He ever possesses the fullness, the higher is the degree of our holiness.
     Christ is not only holy in Himself: He is our holiness. All the holiness God has destined for our souls has been placed in the Humanity of Christ, and it is from this source that we must draw. God wills our holiness. He wills it because He loves us infinitely, and we ought to will it with Him. But we can only be Saints according to the measure in which the life of Jesus Christ is in us.
Excerpt from Christ, the Life of the Soul

Blessed Columba Marmion: A Deadly Serious Spiritual Writer, an article by Christopher Zehnder, discusses a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Columba, and includes an interview with Fr. Benedict Groeschel about the relevance of Marmion’s spirituality in today’s world. To read the article, click here.

Praise for Marmion and Christ, the Life of the Soul
“An authentic treasury of spiritual truth...
     May a widespread rediscovery of the spiritual writings of Blessed Columba Marmion help priests, religious and laity to grow in union with Christ and bear faithful witness to Him through ardent love of God and generous service of their brothers and sisters.”
—Pope John Paul II, speaking at Marmion’s Beatification ceremony

“A masterful mixture of theological richness and conversational clarity...
     The beauty of this master’s writing is its ability to communicate dense theological insights to people with zero theological training.
     He seamlessly cites Scripture, conciliar decrees and writings from the doctors of the Church, all with a pastor’s warmth and care. Translator Bancroft provides a number of helpful notes, and the appendixes include information about Blessed Marmion’s cause for canonization, as well as a chronology of his life. Zaccheus Press is to be commended for offering a new generation the opportunity of sitting at the feet of one of the great spiritual masters of modern times.”
—Carl Olson, National Catholic Register

“Magnificient... There is constant recourse to quotations from Sacred Scripture, woven into the text in a masterful way, so as to bring the letter of Scripture alive in the mind of the reader. The figure of Jesus becomes present in all His reality as Lord of Heaven and as living here on Earth for us...
     This is an outstanding book for meditation and spiritual reading.”
—Msgr. John F. McCarthy, Living Tradition

“There are hundreds of books available on spirituality, but few of them are truly classics that will survive the wearing of time. This is a classic...
     There is a simplicity and clarity about his presentation of the spiritual life that is most attractive... I give it a five star rating and recommend it for priests, religious and lay people who want to come closer to Christ and to grow in holiness.”
—Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., Editor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review

“My copy of Columba Marmion’s Christ, the Life of the Soul — heavily underlined and annotated from use on retreats during my youth — is on somebody else’s bookshelf. Years ago I lent it to a friend, never got it back, and now I would love to reread my juvenile spiritual effusions. Marmion’s classic work was one of the most widely read spiritual books in the period before Vatican II. In retrospect, it stands as both a solid book of ‘spiritual reading’ and a serious theological work...
     It is good to have this book back in print at a reasonable price. When it first appeared in English, Cardinal Francis Bourne of Westminster predicted that many readers would rise up and bless the author. As Marmion’s cause proceeds in Rome, that appears to be happening.”
—Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal

“It is easy to see why this book has been a favorite of Catholics, from popes to laymen, for almost a century. It has a very accessible style... one that proceeds in an orderly and thorough way... Built on Christ-centered theology, this work brings in a wealth of scriptural representations for each point, and leads the reader in a study that is conducive to prayer, reflection, and the cultivation of virtue. This must be one of the most Christ-centered books of any age, with the love that the author has for Christ shining forth on every page...
     A spiritual classic... its moving language is a tribute to both the author and the translator.”
—Rosemary Lunardini, New Oxford Review

“A classic of spiritual reading.”
—Fr. Tom Caswell, Inland Register

“An invitation to laity, religious, and clergy to return to the pure waters of life and leave behind the murky creaks and polluted rivers that have engulfed us for much of the last half century.”
—Fr. Benedict Groeschel, writing in the Foreword

“Dom Columba Joseph Marmion, OSB was undoubtedly one of the great spiritual authors of the twentietch century... Here we consider the latest English translation of Christ, the Life of the Soul by Alan Bancroft. Bancroft has produced a very readable and accurate rendition of the original French text, which conveys the nuances of Marmion’s teaching. It is to be warmly commended... and Bancroft is to be congratulated for attempting to bring Marmion to the forefront of Catholic spirituality.”
—Anselm J. Gribbin, O.Praem, Journal of Theological Studies (Oxford University Press, 2007)

“When one considers the spaciousness of his work, the richness and striking nature of his details, the indelible impression remains that one is in the presence of a true master, whose experience and thought are above the ordinary, who gives a new value to everything he touches.”
—Ephrem Boularand, S.J.

“Other great spiritual writers, such as St. Teresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross, analyze, with the penetration of genius, the most sublime states of the soul in the course of the mystical life.
     Nobody is the equal of Dom Marmion in his understanding of the mystery of Christ: the only Son of God, who by His Incarnation has become our head.
     God sends to each age the doctors and the saints of whom the Church has need. The men of today need a God who will look down on their troubles with the heart of a Father.
     Alongside St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who stands before us as the saint and doctor of spiritual childhood, God has raised up Dom Marmion to be the doctor of divine adoption and one of the greatest masters of our time.”
—Fr. M. Philipon, OP

“Always, at each of his pages, one is bathed in a spiritual atmosphere — an atmosphere of prayer. Hence also light, security and peace.”
—Dom Raymond Thibaut

“This is the best book on the spiritual life. Anyone who wants to grow in the spiritual life will find this book invaluable. Catholics will come away with a deeper appreciation of their faith and all that God has done for us his son’s and daughter’s in Christ.”
—Frank Gallinaro (Auburn, NH)

“Truly a spirtual classic. Would recommend to any person sincerely serious about understanding and gaining progress in spiritual development. Christ’s life in our soul is REAL, and is our true LIFE.”
—Richard Dunnebacke (Upper Michigan)

“I first read Blessed Columba Marmion’s classic Christ, the Life of the Soul while at the Benedictine monastery of Mount Angel Abbey... and I re-read the book repeatedly in the following three years. One of my great regrets at moving away was that I no longer had access to my (new) favorite spiritual reading, because none of Marmion’s books were in print any longer, despite having been written in the 20th century and being praised by popes. Only his recent official recognition for holiness by the Catholic Church has lifted his words from obscurity.
     Marmion’s thoughts are easy to understand and speak to the heart, which is all the more amazing in that they were written by a scholar of Scripture and the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. Perhaps one reason why they are clear and captivating is that they were originally spiritual talks given by the author, who although an English-speaking Irishman by birth was a Benedictine abbot of a French-speaking monastery in Belgium. He was a gifted and popular speaker in both the U.K. and western Europe, and he was also a compassionate spiritual director. The talks engage the reader like the words of a true spiritual guide and fellow pilgrim.
     There is nothing dry in his ‘talks,’ and reading it always set my heart on fire for God and holiness. I also, by the way, have never found a better description of the nature of the Blessed Trinity than in his writings. He had a knack for helping people grasp the vital truths of Christianity with both the heart and the head.
     If you love the Bible, enjoy both passion and reason, and would like to grow in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Son of God, then please consider this book.”
—J. Rieping (California)

“You and I now are adopted sons and daughters of God, with the privilege of calling the Father, our Father.
     There is one difference between earthly adoption and adoption into the Divine Family, though – a difference I recently stumbled across in a book a Benedictine monk named Columba Marmion wrote called Christ, the Life of the Soul. Marmion, whose beautiful writings on the subject earned him the title ‘Doctor of Divine Adoption,’ explained that while earthly adoption unites a family in every way except biology, divine adoption goes even deeper. That’s because while our family relationships are natural, God is supernatural. Adoption in Christ transforms our souls – and at the end of time, our bodies, too - so that we truly become God’s children, heirs of His kingdom and sharers in eternal life with the Holy Trinity.”
–Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor

“Blessed Columba Marmion’s Christ, the Life of the Soul deserves to be on every Catholic’s reading list.”
—Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

“A spiritual powerhouse of a book... The chapters on the Eucharist, Mary, prayer, and the sacraments are spiritually packed and make you see many things anew. This book is a spiritual retreat all on its own.”
–Jeff Miller, The Curt Jester weblog

“This work is one of the great spiritual classics of the 20th century, along with St. Maria Faustina’s Divine Mercy in My Soul, Blessed John XXIII’s Journal of a Soul, Paul Claudel’s I Believe in God and Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey’s The Spiritual Life.
     It treats of our realtionship as adopted sons & dauhgters of God (a theme central to Blessed Marmion’s writing) in a way that is enlightening, enriching and accessible.
     Christ, the Life of the Soul will become a life long companion, as it has already become for me. Its interpretations of the nature of the Triune God, the Church & Her sacraments and the whole of spiritual life are illuminating and rewarding in a manner that is to be cherished and embraced. I cannot recommend this volume more. When I discovered Story of a Soul by St. Therese, I considered myself blessed that I had found one special book (along with Scripture, of course) that had transformed and enhanced my spiritual life. I now consider myself doubly blessed to have discovered Christ, the Life of the Soul by Blessed Columba Marmion as well. Read this book, and then pass it on to someone you love.”

“I just love Christ the Life of the Soul. Reading it is like immersing oneself in the most beautiful oasis. Wonderful for parched souls!”
—K.V. (St. Cloud, MN)

Christ The Life of The Soul is a treasure of a book. I started reading it for Lent and I cannot put it down.”

“Masterful... indisputably a classic of Christian spirituality.... An earlier generation of readers agreed that Marmion’s work had been a kind of liberation for them, that it shifted the balance of their attention and effort from subjectivity to Christ. Marmion succeeded in sharing with them in their search for God the exhortation of Saint Benedict: ‘Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.’ He has the gift of enabling truth to strike you as it obviously struck him.... It is always perfectly lucid. [Translator] Alan Bancroft succeeds admirably... We are in his debt for this ‘vibrant new translation’ of a spiritual work of perennial value.”
—Nicholas Madden, OCD

“Thank-you for your prompt response. The books arrived today. I can’t wait to settle in and read them. What an exquisite presentation of the book Christ The Life of The Soul!! I am very pleased with your service and products.”
—Natasha (Greenwood, Indiana)

“Zaccheus Press brings to light treasures of the spiritual life that should be looked at again. I would like to see the other Marmion books re-released -- it looks like this is being done.”
—N.A.B. (Montgomery, Alabama)

“Blessed Marmion’s writings are awesome! May the Lord prosper the work of your hands!”
—L.K. (Sacramento, California)

A Special Grace From Overlooked Beatification: Abbot Columba Marmion
Published November 3, 2000
by Robert F. Drinan, S.J.

When I learned in the summer of 2000 that Benedictine Abbot Columba Marmion (1858-1923) was to be beatified I rejoiced. Finally I related personally and strongly to one of the 996 persons that have been beatified by Pope John Paul II.

When I was 22 and a Jesuit novice I discovered the three books of Marmion. They informed and inspired me. I copied paragraphs from them in a notebook. I prayed over many of the sentences. I remember vividly today the sense of discovery and elation I experienced as I tried to assimilate Marmion’s synthesis of the gospels, the 13 epistles of St. Paul and the church fathers.

The three books Christ: The Life of a Soul, Christ in His Mysteries and Christ the Ideal of the Monk were put together by the Benedictine monks who listened to the conferences Marmion presented at his monastery in Belgium.

One of the many striking things emphasized in Marmion’s books was the directive of Christ at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I have loved you.” I have tried to adapt that in speaking to countless audiences. I was pleased to learn that these beautiful words are on the tombstone of Mother Teresa.

After I read of his beatification Sept. 3, I borrowed one of Marmion’s books from the Georgetown University library. The same rich material was there, but the magic I experienced years ago did not return. I knew this material well. It constitutes the basic ingredients of Christian spirituality.

But I am still very happy that a priest whose works and writings had meant so much to me is now beatified. I was also pleased to learn that it was the Irish Jesuits, whose school in Dublin Marmion attended, that initiated the move in 1936 for his canonization.

Joseph Marmion was born in Ireland in 1858 of a prosperous merchant and a French mother. His father met his future wife when she was an official in the French embassy in Ireland. The couple had nine children, three of whom became nuns. Joseph became a diocesan priest and a professor at a seminary but at the age of 30 joined the Benedictines in Belgium. There was no Benedictine abbey at that time in Ireland. He took the name Columba after the famous Irish saint.

Marmion’s books, which came towards the end of his career, were translated into 15 languages and went into many editions; they had a preface made up of the enthusiastic approval of Pope Benedict XV, Cardinal Bourne of Westminster and Cardinal Mercier of Belgium.

John Paul II put it well at the beatification when he said that Marmion left “an authentic treasury of spiritual truth.”

The Benedictines understood the exceptional quality of Marmion. Ten years after his death, a Benedictine monastery named Marmion was established in Aurora, Ill. The miracle cited for the beatification came in 1966 when a woman from St. Cloud, Minn., visited Marmion’s tomb in Belgium and was cured of terminal cancer.

The beatification of Marmion was for me a special grace... The beatification of an intellectual and a theologian like Abbot Marmion raises the hope that the Holy See will soon act on the cause of Cardinal John Henry Newman. The Vatican did not act on the occasion of the centennial of his death. Can we hope that soon we will be able to pray to Newman as to we can now pray to Blessed Columba Marmion?