Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr

Today’s readings 

St. Boniface was sent by Pope Gregory II to reform the Church in Germany, which had been heavily negatively influenced by the forces of paganism. He sought to restore the fidelity of the German clergy to their bishops, in union with Rome. He also sought to build up houses of prayer throughout the region, in the form of Benedictine monasteries. While he had much success, in the Frankish kingdom, he met great problems because of lay interference in bishops’ elections, the worldliness of the clergy and lack of papal control. During a final mission to the Frisians, he and 53 companions were massacred while he was preparing converts for Confirmation. St. Boniface has been called the apostle to Germany.

One of the great problems in the German Church at Boniface’s time was the worldliness of the clergy. The caution against getting too caught up in the things of this world is well-taken for all of us. Jesus said as much in today’s Gospel reading. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but do not withhold from God the things that are of God. Namely, we owe God our worship and faithfulness, and a spirit of prayerfulness that should imbue everything that we do.

That sense of prayerfulness inspired Tobit to take care of the dead, against the orders of the government. That was a value for him as a Jew, and it seems second nature for us, since it is a corporal act of mercy. But the government was trying to squash the Jewish way of life, so that’s what is at stake here. We will see Tobit’s story play out in the first reading all this week.

May the spirit of St. Boniface’s efforts to reform the Church keep us all from being caught up in anything that is not of God, and may a spirit of prayerfulness pervade our thoughts, words, and actions this day and always.

Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Today’s readings

Saint Boniface was a Benedictine monk in England. Pope Gregory II sent Boniface to a Germany where paganism was a way of life, and where the clergy were at best uneducated and at worst corrupt and disobedient. Reporting all of this back to Pope Gregory, the Holy Father commissioned him to reform the German Church. He was provided with letters of introduction to civil and religious authorities, but even so met with some resistance and interference by both lay people and clergy. Even so, he was extremely successful, centering his reforms around teaching the virtue of obedience to the clergy and establishing houses of prayer similar to Benedictine monasteries. Boniface and 53 companions were finally martyred during a mission, in which he was preparing converts for Confirmation. The success of Boniface’s mission was that he helped the people and the clergy to see what was important: how far they had strayed from God’s plan for the Church.

In his blindness, Tobit came to see what was important, too. We’ve been hearing this story all week, and way back on Tuesday, we heard about Tobit being made blind by cataracts caused by bird droppings. And later in that same story, he scolded his wife for accepting a goat as a bonus on her labor, because he did not believe her story. At that point, Tobit had to learn that charity – for which he was quite well known – begins at home. His period of blindness gave him that very insight, I think, and in today’s story he rejoices in his cleared vision.

Through the intercession of St. Raphael, Tobit regained his sight and was able to see his son safely returned from a long and dangerous journey. He saw also the return of his family fortune. And he saw the union of his son Tobit with his new wife Sarah. There was great cause for rejoicing in all that he was able to see and Tobit didn’t miss a beat in placing the credit where it belonged: on God alone.

And so we praise God today for angels who help us to see what’s really important. We praise God for angels who clear up our clouded vision and help us to see past the obstacles we’ve put in God’s way. We praise God for saints that point us back in the right direction – toward Jesus Christ. We praise God for all those witnesses who help us to overcome our pride and self-righteousness so that God’s way can become clear to us. May we rejoice along with Tobit and Anna and Boniface and his companions, and all the rest that God has brought us back to him, time and time again.

Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Today’s readings

St. Boniface was sent by Pope Gregory II to reform the Church in Germany, which had been heavily negatively influenced by the forces of paganism. He sought to restore the fidelity of the German clergy to their bishops, in union with Rome. He also sought to build up houses of prayer throughout the region, in the form of Benedictine monasteries. While he had much success, in the Frankish kingdom, he met great problems because of lay interference in bishops’ elections, the worldliness of the clergy and lack of papal control. During a final mission to the Frisians, he and 53 companions were massacred while he was preparing converts for Confirmation. St. Boniface has been called the apostle to Germany.

In our first reading today, we have one of the great first apostles, Saint Paul, for whom apostleship is becoming quite real.  Nearly torn to pieces by the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, the Lord comes to him with some dubious consolation. “Take courage.  For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

For both Saint Boniface and Saint Paul, discipleship cost them something, namely their lives.  And they’re not the only ones.  For all of those who take up the call to discipleship, it will cost something.  Maybe not our lives, but certainly our comfort or our point of view or our status at work or in the community.  Living the Gospel and bringing the presence of Christ to the world means we often have to give sacrificially and love unconditionally.

Our hope and safety is in God, and giving sacrificially is possible for us because our Lord has done it first.

St. Boniface

Today’s readings

Boniface was a Benedictine monk in England. He gave up the real possibility of being elected abbot of his community in order to reach out to the German people. Pope Gregory II sent Boniface to a Germany where paganism was a way of life, and where the clergy were at best uneducated and at worst corrupt and disobedient. Reporting all of this back to Pope Gregory, the Holy Father commissioned him to reform the German Church. He was provided with letters of introduction to civil and religious authorities, but even so met with some resistance and interference by both lay people and clergy. Yet, he was extremely successful, centering his reforms around teaching the virtue of obedience to the clergy and establishing houses of prayer similar to Benedictine monasteries. Boniface and 53 companions were finally martyred during a mission, in which he was preparing converts for Confirmation. The success of Boniface’s mission was that he helped the people and the clergy to see how far they had strayed from God’s plan for the Church.

In his blindness, Tobit came to see what was important, too. If we remember all the way back to Tuesday, we heard about Tobit being made blind by cataracts caused by bird droppings, and later in that same story, he scolded his wife for accepting a goat as a bonus on her labor, because he did not believe her story. I mentioned then that Tobit had to learn that charity – for which he was quite well known – begins at home. His period of blindness gave him that very insight, I think, and in today’s story he rejoices in his cleared vision.

Through the intercession of St. Raphael, Tobit regained his sight and was able to see his son safely returned from a long and dangerous journey. He saw also the return of his family fortune. And he saw the union of his son Tobit with his new wife Sarah. There was great cause for rejoicing in all that he was able to see and Tobit didn’t miss a beat in placing the credit where it belonged. He said,

Blessed be God,
and praised be his great name,
and blessed be all his holy angels.
May his holy name be praised
throughout all the ages,
Because it was he who scourged me,
and it is he who has had mercy on me.

And so we praise God today for angels who help us to see what’s really important. We praise God for angels who clear up our clouded vision and help us to see past the obstacles we’ve put in God’s way. We praise God for saints that point us back in the right direction – toward Jesus Christ. We praise God for all those witnesses who help us to overcome our pride and self-righteousness so that God’s way can become clear to us. May we rejoice along with Tobit and Anna and Boniface and his companions, and all the rest that God has brought us back to him, time and time again.

St. Boniface, bishop and doctor

Today's readings | Today's saint
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Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God,
a workman who causes no disgrace,
imparting the word of truth without deviation.

St. Paul encourages his friend Timothy today to remain faithful to God and the Gospel and to be a tireless worker for the Truth.  Those qualities make this reading such an appropriate one for the feast of St. Boniface, bishop and martyr.

Boniface was a Benedictine monk in England.  He gave up the real possibility of being elected abbot of his community in order to reach out to the German people.  Pope Gregory II sent Boniface to a Germany where paganism was a way of life, and where the clergy were at best uneducated and at worst corrupt and disobedient.  Reporting all of this back to Pope Gregory, the Holy Father commissioned him to reform the German Church.  He was provided with letters of introduction to civil and religious authorities, but even so met with some resistance and interference by both lay people and clergy.  Yet, he was extremely successful, centering his reforms around teaching the virtue of obedience to the clergy and establishing houses of prayer similar to Benedictine monasteries.  Boniface and 53 companions were finally martyred during a mission, in which he was preparing converts for Confirmation.

What guided Boniface, what guided Paul and Timothy, was the words of today’s Gospel reading, those words which tell us the greatest of the commandments:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

And:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

When we love as we are loved, we cannot help but remain close to God and be vessels of grace to others and of life to the Church.  Boniface, Paul and Timothy were men who loved this deeply.  We are called to love that way too, today and every day, for the honor and glory of God.