In 1964, newspaper photos of Pope Paul VI embracing Athenagoras I, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, marked a significant step toward the healing of a division in Christendom that has spanned more than nine centuries.
In 1595, when today's saint was a boy, the Orthodox bishop of Brest-Litovsk in present-day Belarus and five other bishops representing millions of Ruthenians, sought reunion with Rome. John Kunsevich (who took the name Josaphat in religious life) was to dedicate his life and die for the same cause. Born in what is now Ukraine, he went to work in Wilno and was influenced by clergy adhering to the Union of Brest (1596). He became a Basilian monk, then a priest, and soon was well known as a preacher and as an ascetic.
He became bishop of Vitebsk (now in Belarus) at a relatively young age, and faced a difficult situation. Most monks, fearing interference in liturgy and customs, did not want union with Rome. By synods, catechetical instruction, reform of the clergy and personal example, however, Josaphat was successful in winning the greater part of the Orthodox in that area to the union.
But the next year a dissident hierarchy was set up, and his opposite number spread the accusation that Josaphat had "gone Latin" and that all his people would have to do the same. He was not enthusiastically supported by the Latin bishops of Poland.
Despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk, still a hotbed of trouble. Attempts were made to foment trouble and drive him from the diocese: A priest was sent to shout insults to him from his own courtyard. When Josaphat had him removed and shut up in his house, the opposition rang the town hall bell, and a mob assembled. The priest was released, but members of the mob broke into the bishop's home. He was struck with a halberd, then shot and his body thrown into the river. It was later recovered and is now buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.
His death brought a movement toward Catholicism and unity, but the controversy continued, and the dissidents, too, had their martyr. After the partition of Poland, the Russians forced most Ruthenians to join the Russian Orthodox Church.
Surrounded by an angry mob shortly before his death, Josaphat said, "You people of Vitebsk want to put me to death. You make ambushes for me everywhere, in the streets, on the bridges, on the highways and in the marketplace. I am here among you as your shepherd and you ought to know that I should be happy to give my life for you. I am ready to die for the holy union, for the supremacy of Saint Peter and of his successor the Supreme Pontiff."
The seeds of separation were sown in the fourth century when the Roman Empire was divided into East and West. The actual split came over customs such as using unleavened bread, Saturday fasting and celibacy. No doubt the political involvement of religious leaders on both sides was a large factor, and doctrinal disagreement was present. But no reason was enough to justify the present tragic division in Christendom, which is 64 percent Roman Catholic, 13 percent Eastern Churches (mostly Orthodox) and 23 percent Protestant, and this when the 71 percent of the world that is not Christian should be experiencing unity and Christ-like charity from Christians!
Daily Prayer - 2015-11-12
I reflect for a moment on God's presence around me and in me.
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit Lord,
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted?
The Word of God
Reading 1 Wis 7:22b--8:1
In Wisdom is a spirit
Responsorial Psalm PS 119:89, 90, 91, 130, 135, 175
R. (89a) Your word is for ever, O Lord.
Alleluia Jn 15:5
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 17:20-25
Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come,
Some thoughts on today's scripture
How has God's Word moved me?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Memorial)
The Kingdom of God is among you. (Luke 17:21)
Sometimes hidden forces are the most powerful. Think about the work that goes into digging a canal: huge machines, lots of noise, noticed by everybody. Now compare that with the Grand Canyon. It's a slower process, and at least at first you wouldn't even notice what was happening, but the final results are much more impressive. No excavation crew could ever have completed such a beautiful project!
In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches us about the most powerful unseen force of all: the kingdom of God. He explains that the coming of this kingdom isn't accompanied with a lot of fanfare, and many don't notice it. Rather, Jesus' humble coming in the flesh was the inauguration of the kingdom, and that was a very quiet beginning. But from that point on, everything was different. The kingdom's forces are now at work in a new way, and it's only a matter of time before Jesus takes up his reign in a much more public way.
So we live in an "already, but not yet" time. God's kingdom truly is among us, but it is not yet fully visible. This isn't always easy for us. We want to see more; we want to experience more, but God is asking us to exercise our faith and trust in his unseen presence and his invisible power. He wants us to live in hope—not a wistful denial of reality, but a sure and certain assurance that his kingdom truly is with us. We can be peaceful and trusting, knowing that Jesus, our King, is in control, and we will eventually see his very public return in glory.
So our time is one of both rest and activity. We rest in God and his promises, but we are also active as agents of the kingdom. Sometimes our work is nothing more than admiring the work of the mighty river as it carves out the magnificent architecture of the kingdom. But at other times, we can point out this work in progress to someone else. And at all times, we can give thanks to our King, who is always at work in the world around us.
"Lord, I believe that your kingdom is here, now. And still I pray, 'Let your kingdom come'!"
"In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy..." and the list of the beauties of wisdom goes on. As the first Holy Scripture went on, I though of many that this scripture matched, from our lives to saints' lives, to the mother of our Lord who reflects the sun. How can you get this gift of Wisdom? It is said that when our Lord asked King Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted, King Solomon asked for one thing...wisdom. With this request, it gladdened the heart of our Lord so much that he allowed King Solomon o be the richest man on earth, and wise beyond comprehension to which even the queen of the south came to be blessed with this. But was this the wisdom we heard about today? Because the wisdom I heard about was resounding and pounding in my heart screaming "It's Grace!". You can have a very poor man blessed with this wisdom, and know more about the reality of life than a brain surgeon. Grace gives you intelligence, fortitude, the light to live in a true connection with God. So how can you get this? LOL, it's like I told a class last week, you have to be open to it, like a player catching a ball, the only way to get the ball is to be ready for it. And our Lord launches it perfectly, every time, and constantly. Grace is available and in very special ways in the Holy Sacraments. The first is baptism, then there are several more, reconciliation, The Holy EUCHARIST, confirmation, marriage, Holy Orders and annointing of the sick. Would you rather have all the riches in the world, or this grace of God? Because with so much knowledge, King Solomon eventually focused on those riches he obtained...and started losing track of our God in the simplest grace.
The Psalms pray "Your word, O LORD, endures forever; it is firm as the heavens." It is true, isn't it? His Word has already endured 2,000 years of our faith, and our Catholic faith, and before that several thousand years it was enduring, longer than any other institution in the world, it is evidence of Truth. It is then, the Word that puts our God among us...the Holy Spirit pervades, and remains no matter what! And this is absolutely amazing. Have you been amazed by our Lord lately? If so, give thanks and dwell on it over and over. If not, then you haven't made yourself available to catch the ball...the grace that has been made available through the Holy Sacraments...gifts of our Heavenly Father, who makes His Kingdom among us. In truth, Jesus was to be Emmanuel, which means God is with us, yet the archangel told our Blessed Mother to name Him Jesus, which means "He Saves". Put the two together and we have "He Who Is Among Us Saves". It is better to consult with our savior with spiritual direction from a priest or the like than with your friends. And even better to participate with humility and partake of the Holy Sacraments. This is too much for some, but for others with a simplicity of faith, it is easy, as easy as taking a step forward.
Our Heavenly Father, our Lord speaks today, how awesome! "...behold, the Kingdom of God is among you." Say whaaaat? But there is so much evil and darkness, so much violence, so much infidelity! Yeah, that's what people say...those that have not the Kingdom of God, the wisdom in their hearts. Realize when it said today " And she, who is one, can do all things, and renews everything while herself perduring" this is faith in grace, doing all things through Christ who strengthens us. What is impossible to the world, the the faithless, is possible to those in His kingdom in faith. As I was about to write to you this morning, I heard them talking in my office about a priest and a family, who were praying for a little girl for 10 days straight with the doctor, for her shortened leg, born abnormally. On the 10th day as they prayed, her short leg got hotter, and started to grow and grow. Shocking, beyond medical science, and the moral of the story was...faith. This is wisdom too. To know God. To Serve God. To Love God. That is our duty as citizens of His Kingdom. That is why the Lord's prayer says:
Our Father- which means we are together under one Father.
Who art in Heaven-for His Heavenly Presence we adore.
Hallowed be thy name- Holy (in wisdom, purity, holiness) is His presence which we can never take away His holiness or add to it.
Thy KINGDOM come- let your Kingdom be in my heart, where You LORD JESUS are my KING of Kings of all the universes.
Thy Will Be Done- Let the King's will be done in my life, use me, let me be your servant of LOVE
On earth as it is in Heaven- Let this what I do be binding, as You Lord, gave the keys to Heaven to our first Pope!
Give us this day our daily bread- We've nothing else to depend on or live off of than Him, the Word made flesh, especially in the Holy Eucharist!
And forgive us our trespasses- for we live only by His Word...mercy we depend on to live, now and forever
As we forgive those who trespass against us- This is binding, forgive me to the degree I forgive others, watch how you forgive and love, you can do more, you can do better!
And lead us not into temptation- we pray that we can remain in the wisdom of God, the grace and be kept from being tempted beyond our ability to take...especially that of losing our faith, or loved ones...souls.
But deliver us from evil- take us away from evilness. Give us holiness, I want to be Yours, and Yours I want to be...let thy Kingdom and the power and the glory be YOURS forever and ever!
I tell my kids to not be afraid when they are alone, like last night. My 3 yr. old boy said "I saw a ghost", and it riled up the other little ones, my 4 yr. old curly hair girl said right after "can someone walk with me to the Kitchen". LOL, apparently what I said hadn't soaked in yet. Do not be afraid, no matter what...you are not alone. If you suffer, you don't suffer alone. If you despair, the Lord is with you. He suffered too, He knows that you can not do it alone. Now, make yourself available to catch. How? Holiness, purity, all things we prayed to be delivered into, away from evil. Now, and here, you will begin to see the Kingdom of God because you will begin to see Jesus in your life...who was always there, already there, when I began to open my eyes...and then when I began to see...
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