Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Homily 5 June 2007 Saint Boniface

In the early days of June 1813, Captain James Lawrence, in command of the U.S.S. Chesapeake, engaged the British frigate H.M.S. Shannon just outside Boston Harbor.
After a short, bloody battle, the Chesapeake was seriously damaged and Captain Lawrence lay mortally wounded.
Reportedly, Lawrence died with his last command still on his lips:
"Tell the men to fire faster. Fight 'til she sinks, boys. Don't give up the ship."
The Americans lost the battle and were compelled to surrender the Chesapeake, but Lawrence's dying words lived on.
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who is frequently and incorrectly credited with being the source of the phrase, had Lawrence's words – "Don't give up the ship" - stitched onto a battle flag. Commodore Perry flew that flag in the Battle of Lake Erie later in the same year – 1813.

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Boniface…"The Apostle to Germany."
Saint Boniface…born around the year 673…professed vows as a monk in England
Went to preach the Gospel in Germany.
Through his tireless efforts…
many were converted to the Christian faith…
several diocese were founded or restored…
and the Church in Germany sprouted and grew.
In a letter that is found in today’s Office of Matins…
Saint Boniface writes these words:
"In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course."
He continues later in the letter, reflecting on the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel:
Let us not be "silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf.
Instead let us be careful shepherds…Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to men of every rank and age…in season and out of season."

In the hall outside the chapel of Saint Vincent Seminary…
there is a statue of Saint Boniface, the patron of Saint Vincent’s founder.
He is depicted holding a Bible.
Thrust through the Bible and into his heart is a sword.
Saint Boniface was killed in 754 while preaching the Gospel to the Germanic people.
He went to his death calling for conversion…for victory in Christ.
He went down with the words of Christ on his lips…his own "battle orders."
If…as Saint Boniface writes…
the Church is a great ship tossed in the waves in the ocean of the world…
then each of us is called in our own way stand fast…
to maintain course and never fail to preach the truth of Jesus Christ…
in and out of season…and always with love.

In short… "Don’t give up the ship."

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