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
I, Tobit, have walked in paths of truth and in good works all the days of my life. I have given much in alms to my brothers and fellow countrymen, exiled like me to Nineveh in the country of Assyria.
In the reign of Esarhaddon I returned home, and my wife Anna was restored to me with my son Tobias. At our feast of Pentecost (the feast of Weeks) there was a good dinner. I took my place for the meal; the table was brought to me and various dishes were brought. Then I said to my son Tobias, ‘Go, my child, and seek out some poor, loyal-hearted man among our brothers exiled in Nineveh, and bring him to share my meal. I will wait until you come back, my child.’ So Tobias went out to look for some poor man among our brothers, but he came back again and said, ‘Father!’ I answered, ‘What is it, my child?’ He went on, ‘Father, one of our nation has just been murdered; he has been strangled and then thrown down in the market place; he is there still.’ I sprang up at once, left my meal untouched, took the man from the market place and laid him in one of my rooms, waiting until sunset to bury him. I came in again and washed myself and ate my bread in sorrow, remembering the words of the prophet Amos concerning Bethel:
Your feasts will be turned to mourning,
and all your songs to lamentation.
And I wept. When the sun was down, I went and dug a grave and buried him. My neighbours laughed and said, ‘See! He is not afraid any more.’ (You must remember that a price had been set on my head earlier for this very thing.) ‘The time before this he had to flee, yet here he is, beginning to bury the dead again.’
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes and the elders in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug out a trough for the winepress and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce from the vineyard. But they seized the man, thrashed him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another servant to them; him they beat about the head and treated shamefully. And he sent another and him they killed; then a number of others, and they thrashed some and killed the rest. He had still someone left: his beloved son. He sent him to them last of all. “They will respect my son” he said. But those tenants said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and make an end of the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this text of scripture:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
And they would have liked to arrest him, because they realised that the parable was aimed at them, but they were afraid of the crowds. So they left him alone and went away.
“I Tobit, have walked all the days of life on the paths of truth and righteousness…”
The Book of Tobit recounts the story of a Jew who lived in exile in the city of Nineveh, Assyria. At the height of his career, Tobit was adminstrator to the royal household of King Shalmaneser, the father of Sennacherib of Assyria. Despite his high ranking at court, Tobit never forsakes the Law of Moses, and faithfully walks right by God, to the point where it costs him his job. The faithful man is always tested and likewise, Tobit is rendered blind and cast into poverty during the upheaval of King Sennacherib’s reign. Even then, he perseveres in prayer, offers up his life to God and continues to live with self-awareness and mindfulness for his blessings. In the end, God sends the angel Raphael to help Tobit’s son find a wife, and to bring Tobit the just end he deserves for his faithfulness.
God always takes the long view. Tobit’s perseverance is tested to the point where he asks God to take his life – “Do with me as you will. Order my life taken from me, and turn me into dust, because I prefer death to life. In this way free me and let me return to dust (Tobit 3:6)”. It is difficult to see the long view when we’re laid down by our trials. The end is nowhere in sight, the way out obscured from us. God wants us to trust Him during those periods of doubt. He wants us to trust that He will find a way out for us, that He has a plan. Our trials may seem insurmountable, but all things are possible through Him who gives us strength.
I am struggling at the moment with trying to find purpose in what I do. It can feel like all I hit are brick walls on certain days. I see only roads that culminate in dead ends. But my God has never forsaken me; not when my father was ill and funds were running low. Not when my career had stalled and I was stuck in a difficult job. Not even when I arrived in this strange land, and knew no one and had no support system. God has always opened a way up for me. The story of Tobit reminds us that there is always a way forward – His way. Faithfulness, perseverance and mindfulness are required, but we will be rewarded for our patience and trust in Him. To those of us who feel lost and are despairing, I encourage you to read in its entirety, the Book of Tobit. A life well-lived is not one that is safe from distress. Rather it is one that is lived faithfully despite our setbacks in life.
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the fortitude and trust to continue on our paths despite there being no obvious way forward.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, who inspires faith, trust, wisdom and clarity.