Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr, was hacked to death by a band of Frisian idol-worshippers on this day, June 5, 754, along with 52 of his companions. His life was one of tireless struggle to convert the pagans of Germania, steeped in dark, superstitious practices. The famous story of his boldly chopping down the ‘Donar Oak’, which the Frisians held so sacred that any man who harmed the tree would himself die, has become a symbol of the freedom of Christianity, contrasted to the slavery to false gods, which are little more than a mask for deeper, demonic forces, which seem, of late, again to be coming to the fore. .
Winfrid, or Wynryth, was a monk, sent on his missionary journey to the north of Germany by Pope Gregory VII, who renamed him ‘Boniface’, the ‘one who does good’. The Pope’s choice, like Christ’s of Peter’s, was prophetic, for Boniface indeed did much good, more or less converting what we now know as ‘Europe’ (he is one of her primary patrons), dedicating his life to the cause of Truth, and leading others thereto, regardless of the difficulties and labours.
Boniface’s first mission to the pagans was unsuccessful, and it was only after he had received this specific mandate from the Holy Father, that his efforts turned the tide of incipient Germania towards Christianity, culminating in shedding his blood. Our work for God must always bears the most fruit when done under obedience of some sort, manifesting the voluntas Dei through properly constituted authority.
Mediated as it is by fallible human creatures, who as any honest introspection will reveal, are quite imperfect, authority is not often wielded well – I need not belabour the point in our Covidian context. But in the end God brings great good from the submission of our intellect and will, what the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, terms the obsequio animi, the assent of our minds. It is only so that we can in the end fulfill the true ‘good’ that God desires for us and for all.
Without the Faith, as Belloc never tired of pointing out, Europe is simply a geographical expression, dotted with some valuable monuments of past glory, and even these relics are in proximate danger of being lost, torn down by the neo-pagans, or like Hagia Sophia, turned into mosque. I put my own money on the Muslims, but one never knows the future – otherwise, it wouldn’t be the future. Boniface would not be much impressed by what has become of his Germany – he may well have wielded a club at the recent synods.
And before we settle into our own complacence, we should keep in our daily minds that preserving that civilization and culture – all that Christ through His Catholic Church given us – is hard work, requiring that we ourselves read, pray, study, learn, and immerse ourselves in all that is true and good, and ensure our children have the same. Inertia and a laissez-faire complacence will only allow the school system, the state, the media, to re-paganize ourselves and our children, a whole generation bereft of the classics and the catechism. We neo-Catholics immersed in a vague, coddled, environmentalistic syncretism, would have left the Donar Oak standing, and the pagans wallowing in their misery and ignorance.
Without the courage and constancy of Boniface and all who came after him, we would still be mired in meaningless myths, sacrificing our children to false and bloodthirsty gods…to whom to which practices we are now lurching in return, like that rough beast of Yeats’, slouching towards…well, towards what?.
But ’tis never too late to wield our metaphorical axes, and lay them to the root.