Fifteen years ago, when I was living in Germany, I learned the story of the Passion Play at Oberammergau and decided I would attend in 2020 – the year I turned 40 – as a birthday gift to myself. Last year, as soon as tickets were available, I made all my plans for a wonderful pilgrimage to Poland and Germany, including fulfilling my dream of seeing the Passion Play in person. Unfortunately, the pandemic and ensuing travel bans threw a wrench in my grand plans and instead of departing not two weeks ago, I stayed home, worked in my garden, and volunteered at my local blood drive. Not at all what I had envisioned.
Many saints had their plans “ruined,” too, including a saint whose feast day we celebrate this week. Saint Boniface was born in England in the late 7th century to a noble family who had their own plans for their son when he decided to enter the Benedictine abbey of Nutcell, where he was ordained a priest around the age of 30. His desire to evangelize the Frisian people was met with hostility and he returned to his abbey in England to pray and discern his next steps.
After traveling to Rome and consulting with the Pope, Boniface embarked on a journey to what is now Germany and began his evangelization of the Germanic people there. Thousands converted under his tutelage and numerous abbeys were planted to pray and serve the communities. For all of his evangelistic efforts and zeal, Boniface is now known as “the Apostle of the Germans.”
One of the most famous stories of Boniface involves Thor, the Germanic god of thunder. The pagans who worshipped Thor would offer human sacrifice to him near the sacred “Thunder Oak.” Boniface, proclaiming Christ as the Lord of all, stopped the sacrifice from happening one year, then fell the tree with one (according to legend) axe-blow. He then had a chapel built from the wood of the oak and successfully converted many of the local pagans.
Not content with only the conversion of the Germanic peoples, He still longed to convert the people of Frisia and eventually baptized thousands. However, on the evening before the Frisian confirmations were to take place, he and over 50 companions were martyred. His body was returned to the largest of the abbeys he had founded, in Fulda, where his tomb remains to this day. It can be venerated in the former abbey church, now the Cathedral of Fulda, not too far from Frankfurt, the city in which I lived in Germany.
I have visited the shrine to St. Boniface – on a spur-of-the-moment adventure one weekend afternoon. It was one of those unplanned blessings in my life. Looking back over all God has done in my life and reflecting on how He works in each of our lives, I look forward to seeing where His plan will take me in the future. I may not fell a great pagan-worshipped oak like St. Boniface, and my plans for pilgrimage this year may have changed in disappointing ways, yet I take comfort in knowing His plans are greater than mine and life can always be an adventure when we follow Him.
For the past few months, we've all grown used to a "new normal,"
one that takes us away from the world and places us more firmly within our own household.
With so many activities replaced with time spent at the home, you may find that
your living spaces can take on a whole new meaning and become places to be sanctified.
We hope that this FREE eBook, Homes, Hobbies, & Holiness – Living with the Saints in your Domestic Church, can inspire you in different ways to live a prayerful and meaningful life inside the four walls of your home.