Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr

Today’s readings

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Josaphat, who was born in what is now Poland to Orthodox parents. He later became a Basilian monk, and was chosen bishop of Vitebsk, in what is now Russia. His task was to bridge the divide between the Roman and Orthodox Church, but this was not easy, because the Orthodox monks did not want union with Rome; they feared interference in liturgy and customs. But over time, using synods and other instruction, he was able to win many of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

But the fight was far from over. A dissident faction of the church was formed, and they fomented opposition to Josaphat. Eventually the mob murdered him and threw his body into a river. The body was recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s basilica. Josaphat is the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

Josaphat had an insurmountable task to accomplish. But he had faith that God would give him what he needed to accomplish the mission. He knew well Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel: that the smallest seed of faith has power to uproot trees and plant in places where nothing like faith grows.  In just the same way, a small seed of faith on our part can cause awesome growth in improbable places, if we let it.

Saint Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr and Notre Dame Day of Service

Today’s readings

This morning we gather in the presence of a merciful and compassionate God, not a dishonest judge. We gather in prayer knowing that those prayers are heard and answered in God’s way, in God’s time. The exercise of perseverance in prayer is not so much to change God’s will as it is for us to come to know God’s will and to further our relationship with him. People of faith get answers to their prayers all the time: maybe not the answers they expected, but always the answers that are for their good, in the long run.

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Josaphat, a sixteenth century Basilian monk and Orthodox bishop of the church in what is present-day Belarus. He joined five other bishops in a cause seeking reunion with Rome. Other Orthodox monks, however, did not want union with Rome; they feared interference in liturgy and customs. But over time, using synods and other instruction, he was able to win many of the Orthodox in that area to the union. But the fight was far from over. A dissident faction of the church was formed, and they fomented opposition to Josaphat. Eventually the mob murdered him and threw his body into a river. The body was recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s basilica. Josaphat is the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

So Josaphat’s mission of unity in the Church continues to this day. This task requires open dialogue and discussion, but also persistence in prayer. Every day more and more doors are being opened, and we continue to have faith that one day, Josaphat’s mission, and the mission of so many others, will finally achieve unity and will re-establish the one Church that Jesus came to establish.

Today, on our Day of Service, we take our persistent prayer and manifest it in our work. As we come together to visit the nursing home or Ronald McDonald House, or make cards for those in military service, or make rosaries for the sick, our presence and concern may be the way God is answering someone’s prayers. As we engage in whatever we have signed up to do today, God may give us gifts that answer prayers we didn’t even know we had in our hearts. One thing is certain: when we pray persistently and work for the kingdom of God, God can take our faith and do great things with it. He did with Saint Josaphat, and he will with us.

Saint Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Josaphat, who was born in what is now Poland to Orthodox parents. He later became a Basilian monk, and was chosen bishop of Vitebsk, in what is now Russia. His task was to bridge the divide between the Roman and Orthodox Church, but this was not easy, because the Orthodox monks did not want union with Rome; they feared interference in liturgy and customs. But over time, using synods and other instruction, he was able to win many of the Orthodox in that area to the union.
But the fight was far from over. A dissident faction of the church was formed, and they fomented opposition to Josaphat. Eventually the mob murdered him and threw his body into a river. The body was recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s basilica. Josaphat is the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome. 
Josaphat had an insurmountable task to accomplish. But he had faith that God would give him what he needed to accomplish the mission. He knew well Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel: that the Kingdom is here and now. We don’t have to go searching for hidden signs or look for hidden messages in Scripture. So since the Kingdom is here and now, our job is to do everything possible to make sure nothing gets in the way of people entering into it. 

Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr

Today’s readings

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Josaphat, who was born in what is now Poland to Orthodox parents.  He later became a Basilian monk, and was chosen bishop of Vitebsk, in what is now Russia.  His task was to bridge the divide between the Roman and Orthodox Church, but this was not easy, because the Orthodox monks did not want union with Rome; they feared interference in liturgy and customs.  But over time, using synods and other instruction, he was able to win many of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

But the fight was far from over.  A dissident faction of the church was formed, and they fomented opposition to Josaphat.  Eventually the mob murdered him and threw his body into a river.  The body was recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s basilica.  Josaphat is the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

Josaphat had an insurmountable task to accomplish.  But he had faith that God would give him what he needed to accomplish the mission.  Jesus calls us to have faith even the size of a mustard seed, in order that we might accomplish insurmountable tasks in his name.  We may have to give more than we know in order to accomplish our calling.  But by faith, God can use us to do mighty deeds.   Through the intercession of St. Josaphat, let us face the impossible.

Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr

Today’s readings



Saint Josaphat was born in what is now Poland to Orthodox parents.  He later became a Basilian monk, and was chosen bishop of Vitebsk, in what is now Russia.  His task was to bridge the divide between the Roman and Orthodox Church, but this was not easy, because the Orthodox monks did not want union with Rome; they feared interference in liturgy and customs.  But over time, using synods and other instruction, he was able to win many of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

But the fight was far from over.  A dissident faction of the church was formed, and they fomented opposition to Josaphat.  Eventually the mob murdered him and threw his body into a river.  The body was recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s basilica.  Josaphat is the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

Sometimes our message of peace is not one that will be accepted readily.  We may have to give more than we know in order to make peace a reality.  Through the intercession of St. Josophat, let us bring the Prince of Peace to the world.

St. Josaphat, bishop and martyr

Today’s readings

Saint Josaphat was born in what is now Poland to Orthodox parents.  He later became a Basilian monk, and was chosen bishop of Vitebsk, in what is now Russia.  His task was not an easy one, because the orthodox monks did not want union with Rome.  They feared interference in liturgy and customs, but over time, using synods and other instruction, he was able to win many of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

But the fight was far from over.  A dissident faction of the church was formed, and they fomented opposition to Josaphat.  Eventually the mob murdered him and threw his body into a river.  The body was recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s basilica.  Josaphat is the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that before the coming of the Son of Man in all his glory, he must first suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.  That was true for Jesus, of course, and clearly true for Josaphat.  Those who take up their cross and follow Jesus will usually have to deal with rejection and suffering.  None of us will be immune to it.  Let us pray for the grace to follow Christ anyway, as Josaphat did, to the praise and glory of God.