Boniface, Belloc and the New Paganism

This is the memorial of the great Saint Boniface, whose life story is well recounted by Pope Benedict in an accompanying post, and whose own Christian Faith he owes to the evangelizing efforts of the great bishop back in the 8th century. Boniface himself was just past his 8th decade – an octogenarian – when he boldly faced the pagan horde, and met his own martyrdom by being hacked to death on this 5th day of June in 754, along with 52 of his companions, just as the fearless missionary bishop had cut down the great Donar Oak years before, held sacred to the pagans. They believed that anyone who harmed the tree would die – which was sort of true, but not in the way they thought. A grain of wheat must fall into the ground… We all must meet our end, and would that it were as glorious as Boniface’s. His blood was the seed of the Faith in Germany – those Frisian pagans eventually realized the fullness of Truth was found in Christ, not in false spirits. We could use a dose or two of his courage in our own day.

‘Pagan’ derives from the Latin term for ‘rural’, that is, outside the city, where the wild things be, and came to mean the opposite of Christian who, in the first centuries, congregated in cities. It’s related to the French term ‘sauvage’, from which we derive ‘savage’. At least the old pagans had not rejected Christianity, and many millions were brought into the Church by such men as Boniface.

We now are facing a far worse neo-paganism, a feral faith of a far deeper and more demonic sort, as Belloc predicted nearly a century ago:

Men do not live long without gods; but when the gods of the New Paganism come they will not be merely insufficient, as were the gods of Greece, nor merely false; they will be evil.  One might put it in a sentence, and say that the New Paganism, foolishly expecting satisfaction, will fall, before it knows where it is, into Satanism.