APOSTLES OF THE AXE
At the centre of a small town in the German province of Hesse, about 100 miles north of Frankfurt, there stands a medieval cathedral. In front of that imposing edifice of reddish stone is the statue of a monk on the stump of a freshly felled oak, with a huge Saxon axe in his hand.
The town is Fritzlar, known in ancient times as Geismar. The statue is that of the Anglo-Saxon monk and missionary Wynfrith, known today as St. Boniface, the patron saint of Germany and the Netherlands. And the stump is the remains of the tree which belonged to the highest German god: the Oak of Thor.
In 723, on his way to Thüringia, St. Boniface stopped at Geismar. He had worked for five years as a missionary in Frisia, Hesse, and Thüringia, with limited success. Unfortunately, as his biographer Willibald relates, the spiritual roots of those Germans who converted to the one true Faith were often shallow; while paying lip service to Christ, they would secretly return to their pagan ways, bringing sacrifices to their false gods, practicing divination and incantations. Boniface decided to deal with the problem once and for all by attacking the central idol of the most pagan tribe in Germany.
One morning he appeared at the Oak of Thor with an axe in his hand. Surrounded by a cursing pagan crowd who expected the gods to intervene and kill him, he raised his hand against Thor and delivered the first blow. Immediately, according to Willibald, a strong wind came and blew over the ancient oak. Seeing that Thor failed to kill Boniface and protect his holy tree, the Hessians converted to Christ.
From Hesse, word spread. Other German tribes turned to Christianity as Boniface went from place to place, destroying the altars and high places of the pagans, proving the superiority of the risen Christ over the blood-thirsty German deities.
By the time he was martyred by a group of pagan Frisian warriors some thirty years later, Boniface was the Archbishop and Metropolitan of all Germany, with several bishoprics and other mission sites established by him, and all German tribes with the exception of the Saxons and the Frisians had converted.
It was appropriate, in a fiercely providential way, that the Frisians should finish Boniface off and thereby seal and crown his mighty accomplishments with his blood. For it was the failure of his first mission to the same murderous tribe in 716 which had stiffened his resolve. A few years later, spiritually rejuvenated, his jaw firmly set and aflame with apostolic zeal, the monk Wynfrith had once again left his native England and set off for Rome. There, on 14 May 719, Pope Gregory II gave his sanction and blessing for a second mission.
Carrying this mandate and the new name bestowed upon him by the Vicar of Christ, "Boniface" crossed the Alps and never looked back.
Famously inspired and indefatigable, as revealed in his own letters, he travelled constantly: planting churches and monasteries; encouraging and re-organising existing communities; appointing strong and faithful leaders. He also negotiated with politicians, equally concerned to ensure that the political authorities and rulers became firmly committed Catholics. It was Boniface who crowned Pepin as King of all the Franks (the people of France and Germany), whose son Charlemagne became the first Holy Roman Emperor - a title which endured for a thousand years. Truly has one historian said of this giant of European history:
Everything which has developed afterwards [in Germany] in the realm of politics, the Church and spirituality, is established on the foundation laid by Boniface, whose tomb should be more sacred for us than the tombs of the patriarchs were for the Jews, because he is truly the spiritual father of our people. Boniface has given us, as well as our successors, more than any of our great emperors and kings has been able to contribute.
Everything St. Boniface achieved in the socio-political realm was built upon the spiritual rock and centre of all peace and unity: Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To establish that true and immutable base over and against the shifting sands of strife and discord, however, he first had to smash the fake foundation; to uproot the existing false gods and idols of a pagan land.
After several years of hard missionary graft for a minimal return of fragile conversions, he realised that only an epic face-off against the cruel Hessians would suffice. And so, drawing on his vast reserves of faith and courage, he violated the principal shrine of their religion. He took on the chief adversary: Thor himself. He put his life on the line.
In this way, St. Boniface personifies the Catholic showdown with idol worship in every age; a clash essential to breathing supernatural life and freedom into pagan societies enslaved by devilish superstition and fear. All seeing and all powerful, pagan idols "define and determine every relationship, every practice, every institution, every word and sentence, every legal rule, every scientific and educational standard," notes Evangelical writer Bojidar Marinov. Thus, missionaries who refuse to challenge and overthrow idolatrous stumbling blocks which rule and oppress the life of souls do not produce true believers but, rather, future apostates. To save his spiritual children from such apostasy - the contradiction of believing in Christ while living in accord with societal prescriptions determined by an idol - Boniface changed tack. "Instead of breaking the twigs one by one," says Marinov, "he laid his axe at the very root of the German pagan culture. And the result was the turning of whole tribes to Christ."
The Moloch State
Periodic flashes of spine notwithstanding, the pristine faith and fearless Catholic conviction displayed by Boniface, in the apostolic line of St. Peter, is almost entirely lacking among the episcopates of the West. His fervour, courage and clarity of understanding and purpose certainly stands in direct and dire contrast with the local succession. After its brief and treacherous digression under Henry VIII, centuries of fidelity ensued until the English hierarchy again branched off along the Judas line under Basil Hume and Derek Worlock. Ever since, as documented in these pages for several decades, their progeny have eschewed confrontation and denunciation for an easy life of compromise and collusion: effete and deferential genuflections to destructive secular idols, when not openly embracing them.
While paying lip service to the dangers of modern idolatry, episcopal sins of omission and commission betray the rank Modernism: a worldview which really considers idol worship, like Boniface himself, a medieval anachronism. This attitude is not only faithless but wildly mistaken.
Societies today have their sacred oaks. The more developed and advanced a society, the more sophisticated and refined are its idols and, consequently, the more subtle and devious their hold on the souls of men. Along with Science, the State is a major contender.
"Societies like Europe, Latin America, or East Asia - and even the United States - don't have official sacred shrines anymore," writes Marinov. "They have replaced them with a more sophisticated idol: the idol of the welfare state. It has no visible and material shrines, no official sacrifices. But it has its invisible sacrifices and shrines. Whole cultures that pretend to be 'rationalistic' and 'scientific' are caught in the nets of this most irrational of all idols in history; its power is so strong over the minds of men that in those societies there is no opposition to it. Even when the socialist welfare state proves completely incapable of delivering even a single one of its promises, the men and women of these societies still keep laying their trust and hope at the feet of the idol, not even thinking for a moment that their faith is misguided and deceitful."
Mr Marinov blames these divided loyalties to Christ and the welfare state for the regular "disintegration" of Evangelical churches in Europe within a few years of their creation by foreign missionaries. Whatever might be said of that Protestant thesis, obeisance to Big Government is real enough. Britain is emblematic. Very briefly:
More than one in three jobs created in the past thirteen years has been in the public sector. As a result, this entity which shores up the welfare state now employs over 6 million Britons and state spending accounts for 53.4% of GDP (compared with 40% when Labour came to power in 1997, a 50.4% EU average, 41.5% in the US and just 36.6% in Australia).
Levels of state employment in some northern areas are at pre-1989 Soviet levels. There are now more people working in government-funded quangos than trained soldiers. Over 1.4 million work in the National Health Service alone - more than one in 50 people in the country, making it one of the largest employers in the world behind the likes of the Chinese Army. Never mind that the NHS officially wastes around £3 billion a year on unnecessary extra staff or excessive pay for doctors. Or that Brave New World box-ticking has reduced British health care to a roll of the dice; a cure-or-kill game of chance [see CO, May 2009].
Stupendously wasteful; inefficient and ineffective when not utterly inept; a danger to public finances, health, morals and the law abiding; ever more intrusive, tyrannical and corrupting - despite its chronic overreach and dysfunction, and having ceded 83% of British lawmaking to an alien power, the omnipotent welfare state remains sacrosanct because of its untold number of beneficiaries. Stripped of their Christian heritage and spiritually bereft, the pliant masses cannot envision a world beyond handouts - aka "redistribution of wealth" - which socialist dependence they mistake for democratic freedom.
And so, as provider, nanny, nurse and enforcer, the State, like all central idols, now defines and dictates every aspect of life from cradle to grave: "every relationship, every practice, every institution, every word and sentence, every legal rule, every scientific and educational standard."
To challenge the idol is to risk all, especially for members of a Labour tribe in hock to the trade unions; the keepers of the statist shrine. These have sent a staggering £88.5 million to Labour Party HQ in the last eight years (nearly two-thirds of all Labour funding), while receiving £120 million in return since 1998 (for union "modernisation" and "training"). For daring to question the sacred object of this criminal quid pro quo by touting welfare reform, Labour MP Frank Field was anathematised and cast out by his worshipful brethren.
Yet if Labour built the idol, the Tories lie prostrate beside them. Elections are academic. Even the massive national debt and deficit threatening the country's all important AAA credit rating has not imperilled the suicidal cost of the bloated totem. Terrified of the militant unions and being seen as an axe-wielding 'nasty party,' Tory leader Cameron not only promised more billions for the black hole of NHS ineptitude, he also pledged to continue Labour's multi-million pound taxpayer funding of the union shrine-keepers - who will simply continue recycling the money to cement their power over the Labour tribe!
The financial capitulation is one thing. Episcopal fear and timidity, however, is quite another; above all the non-response to totemic abortion-on-demand, the diabolical dead heart of the Moloch State.
The ongoing holocaust of babes in the womb has seen seven million butchered since 1967 and thousands more added each and every passing day. So where is the episcopal outrage before the sacrificial offering of these innocents on the pagan altar of unfettered "choice"? Where are the mass protests against mass murder? It was not until the very end of his life, and even then probably at belated Vatican behest, that Basil Hume bothered to lead a modest walk for Life on the streets of London. What a mockery of the holy and senior office he occupied for so long. Yet typical of the man himself, and all his cowed and cowardly brethren.
No wonder the bishops find themselves marginalised, ever reacting to events. Reduced to doing deals late in the day with much smarter adversaries, they pursue red-herrings and self-defeating strategies, like motions to reduce abortion term-limits. Their craven attitude is far from that of their militant Spanish counterparts.
It is wholly indicative, for example, that while Queen Elizabeth signed off the 1967 Abortion Act with nary an episcopal murmur, last March Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla publicly condemned King Juan Carlos for actively cooperating with the evil of abortion by signing a bill into law that liberalises abortion in Spain. He said the king could have refused to sign the law, adding that it would also lead to an imposition of sex education and gender ideology in schools. Additionally, he and his Spanish brothers responded to the new law by erecting 13,000 pro-life billboards in 37 cities, depicting the various stages of development in the womb and a newly born child resting in a pair of outstretched hands.
Buoyed by such frontal attacks from the top, the Spanish public responded, taking to the streets in protest. Close to one million Spaniards in cities across the country took part in the International March for Life 2010 day, organised by more than 300 different pro-life groups.
In view of the faith, calibre and commitment of pro-life Catholics in this country there is no doubt that similar tough talk and decisive action by their Shepherds would mobilise the English faithful in the same striking fashion. Alas, despite the manifest ongoing danger to souls and Catholic faith posed by false gods, courageous Boniface-like confrontation is unknown here. The rhapsodic gratitude of pro-lifers for minimal shows of episcopal support betrays the pathetic lowering of expectations.
Worse still, the bishops, like the "conservative" Tories, have positively embraced other strategic objects of state veneration like sex education, "human rights" and the "gay" cult, to name a few.
As a measure of their ardent and longstanding complicity, we need only reflect on the sex ed despoiling Catholic classrooms and ruining souls across the land. For all practical purposes, this renders somewhat irrelevant the recent government bid to up the ante and introduce compulsory sex education in our schools (now on temporary hold owing to a combination of protests and the general election). Cardinal Hume promoted insidious AIDS education (i.e "gay" propaganda) with gusto. And Bishop Konstant's notorious Education in Sexuality was so corrupting that the late Archbishop Couve de Murville of Birmingham publicly condemned the programme, banning its use in his archdiocese. Much like Frank Field, for this refusal to deviate from the straight and narrow apostolic line he was alienated from his totem-worshipping brothers.
To put this particular betrayal in truly satanic perspective: it was the Hungarian Communist Commissar of Public Education who in 1919 first introduced sex education, specifically to foster promiscuity and undermine Christian marriage; International Planned Parenthood, perhaps the most evil organisation on earth, declared from the outset that mandated classroom sex ed was the key to gaining public acceptance of abortion; the entire Culture of Death Establishment is engaged in the universal sexualisation of infants, as with the recent pornographic International Guidelines on Comprehensive Sexuality Education produced by UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and UNAIDS.
As for the the "gay" cult, the episcopal prostration is everywhere apparent: in the infamous celebration of a 2001 "anniversary Mass" for a sodomite "couple" - one employed by the episcopate, the other an ex-Carmelite priest; in their politically correct Equality and Diversity guidelines, now quoted approvingly by the godless EU itself; in the passive nod by some diocesan adoption agencies to the delivery of children to homosexual "couples" long before its unjust "legalisation"; in the use of Orwellian "gay" newspeak to avoid calling sodomites by their name, thereby deflecting attention from their filthy and deadly addictions.
Recently, speaking for the Episcopal Conference, Fr. Marcus Stock even denied the existence of "empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to child sexual abuse”! He was immediately contradicted by American psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons who confirmed that the link between homosexuality and child abuse is "completely supported" by studies and "clinical experience" - including his own extensive treatment of clerical sexual abusers of children in every single case. As official spokesman, of course, Fr Stock is primed to ignore the two ton lavender elephant on the sanctuary. It's the party line. His mendacious masters tell whoppers in the process of waving away regular evidence of the propagandistic and sacrilegious nature of radical "gay" Masses they sanction.
Apostles of the Axe
The touting of condoms as an AIDS preventative by their aid agency CAFOD was a defining episcopal moment [see CO, Jan. 2005]. But now that "all epidemiologists" agree with the Pope that condom use aggravates the AIDS crisis and consider his assessment "simply realistic" and an "epidemiological reality," as recently attested by René Ecochard of Lyon University, we can surely expect the Bishops' Conference 1) to apologise to Christian Order for publicly attacking our accuracy and integrity during the CAFOD controversy, and 2) to start preaching Humanae Vitae from the rooftops.
Well, maybe not. At least no more than we should expect them to dust off Summorum Pontificum and start promoting the Traditional Mass in every parish, or suddenly to proclaim and insist upon the Social Kingship of Christ, or to revive Scholastic Philosophy and promote Thomistic studies.
Such momentous initiatives - moral, liturgical, metaphysical and socio-political - would require the English bishops to get off their knees, pick up their prayer mats and take an axe to the very roots of the sacred oaks they worship. Clearly, that will never happen. Only a new breed of orthodox, intelligent, wise and fearless prelates will suffice; Apostles of the Axe in the missionary mould of St. Boniface, prepared to confront the neo-pagans and strike down their idols at risk of their lives.
Though exceedingly rare, such clerics do exist and it is way past time for Rome to fast track them to Western bishoprics and gift at least one to England: a man with the drive and character of the late Fr. Paul Marx. This Benedictine monk also left his abbey to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and set men free from their suicidal worship of murderous gods. Indeed, as reflected in the following tribute, his travelling, evangelising, organising and idol-smashing confrontations with the worldlings (not to mention worldly bishops and wayward Vatican officials!) all mirrored the life, faith and courage of the great missionary Saint himself.
The Trades Union Congress has warned that "Whoever wins the general election will have to think very carefully before they reach for the axe." But who will swing it? Thatcher is long gone. They need not worry. Just as our Modernist hierarchy can rest easy until such time as a priest of the calibre of Fr. Marx is sent to redress their idolatrous appeasement and complicity; to reignite the flame of apostolic fidelity and missionary zeal they snuffed out long ago.
With all due respect to St. George, since Boniface was not only a great Englishman but also, for a period of three hundred years, the patron saint of England, we should seek his powerful intercession for this singular miracle. Oremus.