Bishop & Martyr
Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord,
the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat
as he laid down his life for the sheep,
so that through his intercession
we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit
and not be afraid to lay down our life for others.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. And His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Gospel: John 17:20-26
"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me. 26 I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
The following is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia
Born in the little town of Volodymyr in Luthiania in the year 1580, young Josaphat proved himself to have zeal for God at a young age. As a boy he shunned the usual games of childhood, prayed much, and lost no opportunity for assisting at the divine services. Children especially regarded him with the greatest affection, and found him a worthy model. Both parents contributed to implant the seeds of piety in the heart of their child.
Owing to the straitened circumstances of his parents, he was apprenticed to the merchant Popovyc at Vilna. In this town, remarkable for the corruption of its morals, and the contentions of the various religious sects, Josaphat seemed specially guarded by Providence and became aquainted with certain excellent men under whose direction he advanced in learning and virtue.
As an apprentice, he devoted every leisure hour to prayer and study. At first Popovyc viewed this behavior with displeasure, but Josaphat gradually won such a position in his esteem, that Popovyc offered him his entire fortune and his daughter's hand.
But Josaphat's love for the religious life never wavered. At the age of twenty-four he entered the Basilian monastery of the Trinity at Vilna, and brought with him the same piety and zeal for God. His favorite pious exercise was to make a poktony (i.e., a reverence in which the head touches the ground) with the ejaculation: "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner". Never eating meat he fasted much, wore a hair shirt and an angular chain, slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set boundaries to his austerities.
In 1609 after private study under the Jesuit Fabricius, Josaphat was ordained priest. He subsequently became superior in several monasteries, and on November 12, 1617, was reluctantly consecrated bishop of Vitebsk, with right of succession to the Archbishopric of Polotsk. He became archbishop in 1618.
Josaphat had lived most of his life during a time of great schism and while each succeeding year saw fresh evidence of his fruitful labors, it also witnessed the steady growth of the schismatic party. Finally on November 12, 1623, an axe stroke and a bullet brought Josaphat his martyr's crown.
After numerous miracles had occurred, a commission was appointed by Urban VIII in 1628 to inquire into the cause of Josaphat, and examined on oath 116 witnesses. Although five years had elapsed since Josaphat's death, his body was still incorrupt. In 1637 a second commission investigated the martyr's life and in 1867, twenty years after his martyrdom, Josaphat was canonnized.
As deacon, priest, and Bishop he was distinguished by his extraordinary zeal in the service of souls. Not alone in the church did he preach and hear confessions, but likewise in the fields, hospitals, prisons, and even on his journeys. Even where his words of instruction might by themselves have failed, his entreaties and tears ensured him success.
This zeal united with his kindness and extraordinary love for the poor, won numbers to the Catholic faith. Among his converts were included many important personages such as Ignatius, Patriarch of Moscow, and Emmanuel Cantacuzenus who belonged to the family of the Greek Emperor Palaeologus. As archbishop he restored the churches; issued a catechism to the clergy with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various dioceses, and firmly opposed the Chancellor when he wished to make concessions in favor of schismatics.
Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his exemplary life as a religious, and never abated his zeal for self-mortification and prayer. He awaited death with a certain yearning, refusing to avail himself of the opportunity of flight afforded him. After his death his influence was still greater: conversions were numerous, and veneration for him continued to extend.
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