Ascending the path

Daily Reading for June 5 • Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, Missionary to Germany and Martyr, 754

We will turn for a time to the general manner of the saint’s daily contemplation and the long continued abstemiousness of his frugality: that, mounting higher and higher, we may more readily relate concisely and briefly his lofty works, and follow to the end the study of his venerable life, and explore it more precisely; and that by a just moderation of the balance Boniface may become an example for us of eternity and a manifest pattern of apostolic learning. Through the examples of the saints, he happily ascended the steep path of heavenly knowledge, and, going on before the people as a leader, he went into and opened the gate of the Lord our God, into which the righteous shall enter.

And from his childhood even to decrepit old age, he particularly imitated the wisdom of the departed fathers, inasmuch as he daily and continually committed to memory the words of the prophets and apostles, written with holy pen, and the glorious passion of the martyrs, put in writing, and also the gospel teaching of the Lord our God; and, in the words of the apostle, whether he ate or drank, or whatsoever he did, he always rendered unto God with heart and voice the commendation of praise and the highest degree of devoted jubilation, according to the word of the psalmist: “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” For to such an extent was he inflamed with ardent desire for the Scriptures, that often he applied himself with every effort to imitating them and listening to them; and the matters which were written for the instruction of the people, he paraphrased and preached to the people with wonderful eloquence of speech and very shrewdly added parables. He had such a right proportion of discretion, that neither was the energy of his rebuke lacking in gentleness, nor the gentleness of his preaching in energy; but as the zeal of energy kindled him, so the gentleness of love made him mild. Accordingly, to the rich and the powerful and to yeomen and slaves he employed an equal discipline of holy exhortation, so that neither did he fawn upon the rich and flatter them, nor did he oppress slaves or yeomen by severity; but, in the words of the apostle, he was made all things to all men, that he might gain all.

From the Life of Saint Boniface by Willibald, translated by George Robinson (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1916).

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