A tireless Irish missionary monk working in Europe, Columbanus established two main foundations, at Luxeuil and Bobbio. He was no stranger to hardship, persecution and controversy. He was also known for the strictness of the Rule of Life that he and his followers observed; this rule was widely adopted.
In his ‘Letter to a Young Disciple’ he gives advice, including: Be helpful when you are at the bottom of the ladder and be the lowest when you are in authority. Be guileless in friendship, astute in the face of deceit. Keep your options open when there is no problem, but dig in when you must choose. Be pleasant when things are unpleasant, and sorrowful when they are pleasant. Disagree where necessary, but be in agreement about truth. Be slow to anger, swift to learn, slow also to speak, as St James says, equally swift to hear. Be up and doing to make progress, slack to take revenge, careful in word, eager in work. Be gentle to the weak, firm to the stubborn, steadfast to the proud, humble to the lowly. Never be greedy, but always generous – if not in money, then in spirit. Be persistent in study, unshaken in turmoil, joyful in suffering. Be respectful to the worthy, merciful to the poor. Be mindful of favours, unmindful of wrongs. Be a lover of the ordinary man, and do not wish for riches. Obey your seniors, keep up with your juniors, equal your equals, emulate the perfect. Do not envy your betters, or grieve at those who surpass you, or censure those who fall behind, but agree with those who urge you on. Weep and rejoice at the same time – out of zeal and hope.
Teach me, my Lord, to be true to the calling I have from You, true to the Rule I have promised to follow, and true to all the people You give me to love and serve. So may I show Your goodness, truth and love in every part of my life. Amen.