Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Josaphat, a Catholic of the Ruthenian rite. Born in the then Polish region of Lithuania of Orthodox parents, he became a Catholic and a Ukrainian Basilian monk. Chosen bishop, he worked faithfully for the unity of the Church until he suffered martyrdom at the hands of an angry mob in Russia. His feastday in the Extraordinary Rite is celebrated on November 14.

via Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year.

Reflections from the Saints: Josaphat on the Supremacy of the Papacy

I am ready to die for the holy union, for the supremacy of Saint Peter, and of his successor the Supreme Pontiff.

– St. Josaphat

St. Josaphat


St Josaphat depicted wearing the pallium and holding the palm of martyrdom. Image via Wikipedia.

Josaphat Kuncewitcz was born about the year 1580 at Vladimir, Volhynia, [part of the Polish province of Lithuania at the time] and given the name John at baptism. While being instructed as a child on the sufferings of our Savior, his heart is said to have been wounded by an arrow from the sacred side of the Crucified. In 1604 he joined the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (Basilians), lived as a monk in a very mortified life, went barefoot even in winter, refrained from the use of wine and flesh-meat, and always wore a penitential garb. In 1614 he was appointed archimandrite of Vilna, Russia and four years later archbishop of Polotzk; in this position he worked untiringly for Church reunion. He was a great friend of the poor, once even pledged his archepiscopal omophorion (pallium) to support a poor widow. The foes of union decided to assassinate him. In a sermon, he himself spoke of his death as imminent. When he visited Vitebsk (now in Russia), his enemies attacked his lodging and murdered a number of his companions. Meekly the man of God hastened toward the mob and, full of love, cried, “My children, what are you doing? If you have something against me, see, here I am.” With furious cries of “Kill the papist!”, they rushed upon him with gun and sword. Josaphat’s body was thrown into the river but emerged, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. His murderers, when sentenced to death, repented their crime and became Catholics.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Ukraine.

Things to Do:

  • Read Pius XI’s Encyclical Ecclesiam Dei on St. Josaphat and Pius XII’s encyclical Orientales Omnes Ecclesias (On The Reunion Of The Ruthenian Chuch With Rome) .
  • Learn more about the different Eastern Rites which are in union with the Pope.
  • Josaphat is the patron saint of Ukraine, but his life has Russian, Polish and Lithuanian influences. The recipes section has several highlighted recipes from these different regions.
  • via Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year.

    Read the Bible at Mass

    First Reading: 2 John 1:4-9

    [Chosen Lady:]

    4I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children following the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father.

    5And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we follow his commandments; this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you follow love.

    7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son. (RSV)

    Responsorial: Psalm 119 [118]:1-2, 10-11, 17-18

    R. 1bBlessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    1Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the LORD!

    R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart.

    R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    10With my whole heart I seek thee;
    let me not wander from thy commandments!

    R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    11I have laid up thy word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against thee.

    R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live
    and observe thy word.

    R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    18Open my eyes, that I may behold
    wondrous things out of thy law. (RSV)

    R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

    Gospel: Luke 17:26-37

    Jesus said to his disciples:

    26As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. 27They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28Likewise as it was in the days of Lot — they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, 29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — 30so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.

    31On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. 32Remember Lot’s wife. 33Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.”

    [36] 37And they said to him, “Where, Lord?”

    He said to them,

    “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (RSV)

    [36]The inclusion of Luke 17:36 “There will be two men in the field; one will be taken, the other left behind,” in some Western manuscripts appears to be a scribal assimilation to Matthew 24:40.

    My Comments:

    The Scripture readings for today’s Eucharist are very poignant and relevant as always. To read these as part of the memorial celebration of a bishop and martyr is something that should place the words of Saint John the Evangelist, the Psalms of David and even the prophecy of Our Blessed Lord Himself square into our mind: those who at their heart deny Christ and His commandments of love for God and neighbor also deny His Word and as such shall not be left behind.

    I use my words, “left behind,” in this context not out of error but in proper understanding along with the heart and mind of Holy Mother Church. For the passages in the Gospel message for today are often used by those who reject the Magestirum and ascribe to their own personal interpretations that spawned the recent invention of the rapture. Those who ascribe to this doctrinal fad misunderstand and misapply the words found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

    16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.  (1 Thessalonians (RSV) 4)

    Often, these two verses are used as proof texts to describe the Second Coming of Our Lord in terms not taught by the Church, which can be described somewhat as a-millenialism. These “rapture” passages coincide with pre-millenialism that if thought out properly actually number the final return of Jesus as a third coming and not the sole Second Coming.

    How is this? The answer is not as simple as I would like but it is no less clear when understood in the entire context of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

    In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that the eschaton or end-times, will be, “As it was in the days of Noah.” When the flood came to punish the inhabitants of the world (or at least the known world, a Christian can legitimately believe either) those who were left behind to repopulate the earth were Noah and his family. Jesus parallels the saved with the very same during the flood. That is to say that those who are attained salvation by His Grace will be left behind.

    This does not actually deny a type of rapture, however. For as Noah was lifted and floated on the ark then it can be equally understood by the analogy present in the Gospel today, that the saved will also be carried in an archetype of the ark whether physical or not (probably not). Actually, the more accurate way to describe the event of a rapture would be a “gathering together to be with Christ…though…[Catholics] do not generally use the word “rapture” to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term “rapture” is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—”we will be caught up,” [Latin: rapiemur])” (Catholic Answers: The Rapture).

    Further commenting on the Scripture passages for today and the reality of salvation as presented in the Gospel of Luke, consider the words of Saint John the Evangelist above:

    For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward. Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son.

    What we read here is a warning against falling prey to those in opposition to Jesus Christ. These “antichrists” were already in existence at the time of the Jesus and especially afterwards thriving and serving in places even within the Body of Christ itself. Today these same persons manifest themselves in many ways. For example we see the denial of Jesus in the resurgence of gnostic theology concerning Our Blessed Lord. These often deny the very incarnation of God and seek to destroy the reality of our salvation by the suffering, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Equally antichristian are those who profess faith and fellowship with Our Lord but do not follow His commandments, His laws as stated in the Responsorial Psalms for today.

    In this vein I bring to mind scandalous priests and bishops who both commit grave sin and lead others into the same through their faithless instruction. Then there are those who willfully remain out of communion with the fullness of the Body of Christ, that is the Holy Catholic Church. I do not include in this group those who, through no fault of their own, remain apart from the Body. Yet we must keep these words of Jesus in mind, in speaking to His Apostles:

    “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke (RSV) 10:16)


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