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Thursday, 5 June 2014

St. Bonfice - Standing up and Defending the Church



From a letter by Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr
St. Boniface
 
The Careful Shepherd watches over Christ’s flock
 
In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses.  Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.
The ancient fathers showed us how we should carry out this duty.  Clement, Cornelius and many others in the city of Rome, Cyprian at Carthage, Athanasius at Alexandria.  They all lived under Emperors who were pages; they all steered the Christ’s ship—or rather his most dear spouse, the Church.  This they did by teaching and defending her, by their labors and sufferings, even to the shedding of blood.
I am terrified when I think of all this. Fear and trembling came upon me and the darkness of my sins almost covered me. I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church which I  have accepted if I could find sucha an action warranted by the example of the fathers or by holy Scripture.
St. Boniface Icon
Since this is the case, and since the truth can be assaulted by never defeated or falsified, with our tired mind let us turn to the words of Solomon: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and dod not rely on your own prudence.  Thon on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps.   In another place her says: The name of the Lord is an impregnable tower. The just man seeks refuge in it and he will be saved.
Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial.  Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him: O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.
Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us.  What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ.  For he is all-powerful and he tells us: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Let us continue the fight on the day of the Lord.  The days of anguish and tribulation have overtaken us; if God so wills, let us die for the holy laws of our fathers, so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them.
Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf.  Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock.  Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as Saint Gregory writes in his book of Pastoral Instruction.
 
Who is Saint Boniface?
 
(Latin: Bonifatius) (c. 675? – 5 June 754), born Winfrid, Wynfrith, or Wynfryth in the kingdom of Wessex, probably at Crediton, was an Anglo-Saxon missionary who propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He is the patron saint of Germany, the first archbishop of Mainz and the "Apostle of the Germans". He was killed in Frisia in 754, along with 52 others. His remains were returned to Fulda, where they rest in a sarcophagus which became a site of pilgrimage. Facts about Boniface's life and death as well as his work became widely known, since there is a wealth of material available—a number of vitae, especially the near-contemporary Vita Bonifatii auctore Willibaldi, and legal documents, possibly some sermons, and above all his correspondence.
 ...Through his efforts to reorganize and regulate the church of the Franks, he helped shape Western Christianity, and many of the dioceses he proposed survive today. After his martyrdom, he was quickly hailed as a saint in Fulda and other areas in Germany and in England. His cult is still notably strong today. Boniface is celebrated as a missionary; he is regarded as a unifier of Europe, and he is seen as a German national figure.
 
St. Boniface felling the oak tree that was venerated as a God
The Incident at Thor's Oak 
To show the heathens how utterly powerless were the gods in whom they placed their confidence, Boniface felled the oak sacred to the thunder-god Thor, at Geismar, near Fritzlar. He had a chapel built out of the wood and dedicated it to the prince of the Apostles. The heathens were astonished that no thunderbolt from the hand of Thor destroyed the offender, and many were converted. The fall of this oak marked the fall of heathenism. Tradition tells us that Boniface now passed on to the River Werra and there erected a Church of St. Vitus, around which sprang up a town which to the present day bears the name of Wannfried. At Eschwege he is said to have destroyed the statue of the idol Stuffo. Thence he went into Thuringia.
Check out this website for more detailed information regarding this great saint.