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 we must persistently pray for what is right. There is still a great divide today between the Latin and Orthodox churches. We must never stop praying that Saint Josaphat’s vision would be fulfilled.