Jun 5 – Memorial for St. Boniface, bishop and martyr
Educated at the Benedictine monastary at Exeter, England where he became a monk, Boniface (c.673–754) was a missionary to Germany from 719, assisted by St. Albinus, St. Abel, and St. Agatha. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites.
He was ordained a bishop and later became Archbishop of Mainz. He reformed the churches in his see, and built religious houses in Germany. He ordained St. Sola. He founded the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. He evangelized in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans and he and 52 of his new flock, included St. Adaler and St. Eoban were martyred.
Once, in Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshipping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six-foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, “How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun.
One tradition about St. Boniface says that he used the customs of the locals to help convert them. There was a game in which they threw sticks called kegels at smaller sticks called heides. Boniface brought religion to the game, having the heides represent demons, and knocking them down showing the purity of spirit.
He is the patron of many groups, including World Youth Day.
– Patron Saint Index
2 Tim 3:10-17
“You have followed my teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, and sufferings,”
The bible tells us that living the Christian life will bring about all sorts of trouble and persecutions. In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. If this was a job description for being a Christian, I don’t think that those who have not encountered Christ would respond to this call.
Today, Christians are being persecuted all over the world. Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East are being tortured and killed. They are suffering for their faith by death.
In December last year, I was blessed to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land – such a dichotomy. A land where Jesus Christ walked. However, Christians are not only a minority there, but are being persecuted as well. I saw how divided the land was. I didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation until one evening. Fr. Lionel, a Singaporean Franciscan Priest who has been living in Israel for many years, came to share with us pilgrims the conflicts and what Christians face in this land, ‘A glimpse of what the tour guides will not tell you.’
In a primarily Jewish state, only 2 % or 200,000 are Christians in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Just within the Catholic Church, there are 10 different sects, of which the Latin (Roman) Church is but one of them.
Fr. Lionel is not attached to any parish. I suppose with only 32,200 Roman Catholics in Israel, the flock are somehow scattered. His mission there as a priest is to look out for the needs of the flock – provide help and resource for needy families, be it finding them shelter, food or education for children. He often solicits donations from the lay faithful like us to help in his mission.
Due to poverty, many Catholic families are forced to send their children to Jewish or Muslim schools, as education is free for them. There are several occasions where Fr. Lionel and some nuns risk their lives and pulled these Catholic children out of these schools, to place them in Catholic facilities. Not all parents are grateful, but Fr. Lionel and the nuns do everything within their power to safeguard the flock and also evangelize. He told us stories of priests and nuns who have been executed, threatened, watched. Even his own life has been threatened.
I ask myself why he would continue to do so and live in a country that is so unsafe. The answer is that they are living a more godly life in Christ Jesus than I am. They choose between life and death. If we are really going to live for Jesus Christ, we need to embrace persecution.
How do we live a life in Jesus Christ? In these difficult times, have we practiced faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions?
Are we faithful to His word? This is God’s promise for our salvation.
Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, grant that our hearts might be malleable. Open up our minds and hearts so that when we read your Word, may the words take root in our hearts. Teach us, Lord, to live lives worthy of you. Help us never to be afraid to proclaim your word and to speak of your name!
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for the gift of scripture – our life book and love letter!