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Model for true ecumenism – Saint Josephat November 14, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Liturgical Year, manhood, martyrdom, persecution, Saints, sanctity, scandals, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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In the traditional liturgical calendar, today is the feast of the great Saint Josaphat, the man who understood true ecumenism as union with the Catholic Faith and saw to it that countless numbers of souls were returned to Her bosom.  I write his biography as contained in the Roman Martyrology, I wish I had more time:

Josaphat Kuncewicz was born of noble Catholic parents at Vladimir in Volhynia.  When a child, as he was listening to his mother telling him about the Passion of Christ, a dart issued from the image of Jesus crucified and sounded him in the heart.  Set on fire with the love of God, he began to devote himself with such zeal to prayer and other works of piety, that he was the admiration and the model of his older companions.  At the age of twenty he became a monk under the Rule of Saint Basil, and made wonderful progress in evangelical perfection.  He went barefoot even in the severe winter of that country; he never ate meat, drank wine only when obliged by obedience, and wore a rough hair-shirt until his death. The flower of his chastity, which he had vowed in early youth to the Virgin Mother of God  he preserved unspotted. He soon became so renowned for virtue and learning, that in spite of his youth he was made superior of the monastery of Byten; soon afterwards he became archimandrite of Vilna; and lastly, much against his will, but to the great joy of Catholics, he was chosen archbishop of Polotsk.

In this dignity he relaxed nothing of his former manner of life; and had nothing so much at heart as the divine service and the salvation of the sheep entrusted to him.  He energetically defended Catholic faith and unity, and labored to the utmost of his power to bring back schismatics and heretics to communion with he See of blessed Peter.  The Sovereign Pontiff and the plenitude of his power he never ceased to defend, both by preaching and by writings full of piety and learning, against he most shameless calumnies and errors of the wicked.  He vindicated episcopal rights, and restored ecclesiastical possessions which had been seized by laymen.  Incredible was the number of heretics he won back to the bosom of mother Church; and the words of the Popes bear witness how greatly he promoted the union of the Greek and Latin churches. His revenues were entirely expended in restoring the beauty of God’s house, in building dwellings for consecrated virgins, and in other pious works. So bountiful was he to the poor, that, on one occasion, having nothing wherewith to supply the needs of a certain widow, he ordered his Omophorion, or episcopal pallium, to be pawned. [How many bishops today possess such charity?  Heck, any of us?  Would I pawn my most sacred possession to help someone in need?]

The great progress made by the Catholic Faith so stirred up the hatred of wicked men against the soldier of Christ, that they determined to put him to death.  he knew what was threatening him; and foretold it when preaching to the people. As he was making his pastoral visitation at Vitebsk, the murderers broke into his house, striking and wounding all whom they found. Josaphat meekly went to meet them, and accosted them kindly, saying: “My little children, why do you strike my servants? If you have any complaint against me, here I am.”  Hereupon they rushed on him, overwhelmed him with blows, pierced him with their spears, and at length dispatched him with an axe and threw his body into the river. This took place on the twelfth of November, 1623, in the forty-third year of his age.  His body, surrounded with a miraculous light, was rescued from the waters.  The martyr’s blood won a blessing first of all for his murderers; for, being condemned to death, they nearly all abjured their schism and repented of their crime.  As the death of this great bishop was followed by many miracles, Pope Urban VIII granted him the honors of beatification.  On the third of the Kalends of July, 1867, when celebrating the centenary of the princes of the apostles, Pius IX in the Vatican basilica, in the presence of the College of Cardinals, and of about five hundred patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops of every rite, assembled from all parts of the world, solemnly enrolled among the Saints this great defender of the Church’s unity, who was the first Oriental to be thus honored. Pope Leo XIII extended his Mass and Office to the universal Church.

———End Quote——–

The sad tale is that Saint Josaphat’s enormously successful efforts to bring Ruthenian Orthodox into the Church, which by the time of his death had resulted in many hundreds of thousands returning to unity, were later squandered by political machinations and a substantial share fell back to Orthodoxy.  As Dom Prosper Gueranger notes, this repression of the “uniate” Greek Catholics by Polish Latin Catholics hastened – or may have directly caused – the later collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire and the subjugation of all its territories to Orthodox Russia and protestant Prussia.  Oh how short sighted men are!  Such a glorious reunion, purchased at the price of a martyr’s blood, wasted due to worldly ambitions and short sighted prejudice.

Thankfully several million did remain in union with the See of Peter and they persist today, greatly increased, as Greek Catholics in western Ukraine, parts of Romania and Poland, and scattered about in other locales.  Saint Josaphat was a model of true ecumenism, not the false variety bandied about today, and should be a model for all future efforts are union with schismatic Churches.

 

Comments

1. Veiling Mom - November 14, 2014

Thank you for this! Where can I find an accurate, traditional liturgical calendar? I wish for a printed calendar, but understand if it is only online. Thanks for your help!

Woody - November 14, 2014

Many traditional orders are out with their 2015 calendars. Look for them on line. I obtained one last year from the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. It was beautiful. They’re on the internet.

Marc - November 15, 2014

The Institute of Christ the King has one as well. Actually for 2015 they will have a page-a-day desktop for their 25th anniversary in addition to the usual wall version . They did that five years ago and it was great!

Tim - November 15, 2014

Angelus Press has excellent calenders each year. Also try the Seraphim Company in Colorado….they have the best Traditional Calenders that I have seen.


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