|Father Boniface, O.S.B.|
Saturday, June 11, 2016
By way of followup to last week’s post about Fr. Boniface’s death, I should note that his funeral was held on Wednesday, June 15, in the abbey church. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many folks at a monk’s funeral. Three faculty members joined me as music ministers for the mass and combined to make a beautiful sound for the Lord and for Fr. Bon. We chose a couple of pieces of music with Boniface's Irish heritage in mind, but for me the most touching moment was when the head of our music Department played a plaintive Irish tune on the penny whistle during the offertory.
We held his wake in the church Monday evening and all day Tuesday, allowing many alumni from 50 and more years ago to join relatives and friends in trading memories and stories about the deceased. If you like, you can read Abbot Melvin’s eulogy.
I would like to share a simple thought that struck me just a few minutes ago when I was writing an email to a cousin. I was about to put an exclamation point at the end of a sentence when I remembered the half-serious warning of an editor of mine: “You’re only allowed four exclamation points per book.” (Notice how I didn’t put an exclamation point on that sentence.) He felt that exclamation points lose their punch if you toss them around too freely, and I’ve since found that I can get along fine without them. Which brings me back to Fr. Boniface.
From the world’s point of view his life received no exclamation points (e.g. honors, high offices, or noted accomplishments): he lived very simply in the monastery his whole life, faithful to the Lord, to his vows, his monastic brothers, his family, his various jobs, and to the New York Giants and the Yankees.
As I heard former students, friends and family repeating the same words to describe him, I realized that he was a indeed a great man, but none of the adjectives used about him would bear the weight of a worldly exclamation point. Notice how strange this looks: He was kind! He was gentle! He was a good soul! He was straightforward! He cared about people!
But, despite my editor’s prohibition, maybe in this case those exclamation points belong there; those traits, with God’s grace, brought Boniface Treanor the reward of eternal life in heaven, where he is now experiencing indescribable happiness with family, friends and scores of former students. As an accomplishment, that one seems to me to deserve the largest exclamation point ever!