The Donar Oak, Europe and Boniface

Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr, was hacked to death by a group of idol-worshippers on this  day, June 5, 754. His life was one of tireless struggle to convert the Frisians, early inhabitants of Germania, steeped in paganism and idolatry.  The famous story of his boldly chopping down the ‘Donar Oak’, which the pagan Frisians held so sacred that any man who harmed the tree would himself die, has become a symbol of Christianity’s dominance over idolatry.  Of course, pagans could respond that there is no strict correspondence between violations of the supernatural order and effects in the natural earthly sphere.  After all, many modern day pagans, heretics, apostates and even plain old sinners, amongst which last group I most firmly place myself, commit all sorts of outrages against God everyday, yet go about their business as though nothing was awry. We will only see the full justice of God at the end of time, when all history, and all the choices of each and every individual man, are fulfilled.

More to the point, Boniface is hailed as a hero of sanctity, dedicating himself 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 a specific mandate from the Holy Father, along with the name of ‘Boniface’, one who ‘does good’ – his birth name had been Winfrid – 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.

This is not easy, for authority mediated by fallible human creatures often is quite imperfect.  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, in the big picture, with Saint Boniface, as his name implies, fulfill the true ‘good’ that God desires for us and for all.

As one of her primary patrons, all that we know of as ‘Europe’ owes much to Saint Boniface, for without Christianity – and, by that, I mean the full, Catholic sort – which is becoming more attenuated in the hearts, minds, souls and culture of her people, Europe is simply a geographical expression, dotted with some valuable monuments of past glory. That is, before the neo-pagans tear them all down, or, like Hagia Sophia, they are converted into museums that unbelieving schoolchildren will tour, perhaps with some degree of indefinable nostalgia, a ‘future’ that is already largely upon us.

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. Even self-proclaimed good Catholics are in proximate danger of losing all of this, subtly and almost imperceptibly, as we 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, and immersed in a vague, coddled, environmentalistic syncretism that 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, would still be mired in meaningless myths, sacrificing our children to false and bloodthirsty gods…

Wait a minute…