3rd November – Memorial of St Malachy

Saint Malachy (c.1094 – 1190) was a priest in Armagh (Ireland) and in 1123 he was sent toStMalachy the abbey of Bangor in Co. Down, then in urgent need of reform, as its abbot. He was made Bishop of Connor in 1124 and did much to revive that neglected diocese. He was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1132, with a similar aim, but it took him two years to obtain possession, since the Archbishopric of Armagh had become hereditary, and the family that owned it objected to an outsider taking over. He restored order to the Church and Christian morals to the people, and founded monasteries, including the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, at Mellifont. On a journey to Rome he stopped at Clairvaux to visit his friend St Bernard, fell sick and died in his arms.

The following is the funeral homily of St Bernard. The title is “Pleasing to the Lord was his minister’s purity of intention.” In it he speaks about how Malachy tried to learn and do God’s will in everything he did. This is worthy of our highest esteem and imitation!

Acceptable and well pleasing to the Lord was his minister’s purity of intention, and grateful and well pleasing was the fruit of his ministry. But even though Malachy’s ministry had been less fruitful, the Lord would still have had regard for him and for his works, for the Lord loves purity and delights in single-mindedness. In his righteousness he weighs the work by the intention, and he judges the state of the whole body by the soundness of the eye. Great indeed were the works of the Lord that Malachy’s every will and desire sought out; great and manifold and exceedingly good in themselves, but made still better because of their good beginnings in a pure intention.

Was there any work of piety that Malachy ever failed to do? He was poor towards himself, but rich to the poor. He was a father to the orphans, a husband to the widows, the protector of the oppressed. A cheerful giver, he never asked for anything and it embarrassed him to receive. With deep concern and great success he laboured to restore peace between enemies. Who was as tender as he in compassion, who was as ready with help, who was as fearless in correction? He was full of zeal, but not lacking in that knowledge that must govern zeal itself. While he could be weak with the weak, he was nevertheless mighty with the mighty. He withstood the proud, he beat down the tyrant, he was a master and director of kings and princes. As if he were the father of all, so did he live for all. He made no distinction of sex or age or condition or rank. He never failed anyone, for his heart overflowed with sympathy for them all.

Garfield’s “intentionality” is all about looking after #1!