Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time A & St. Josaphat, November 12,2017

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time A & St. Josaphat, November 12,2017

Why do the five wise virgins not share their oil with the five foolish ones? Because it is something that simply cannot be shared. The oil is our personal virtue. “The wise maidens represent all those who possess the ensemble of virtues which characterize a complete Christian life. The burning oil lamps which they carry… symbolically portrays Christian wisdom…. This Christian wisdom empowers all those who embrace prudence and the other moral virtues to fulfill the requirements of an integral and holy life” (R. Cessario). “God, through Jesus, will bring with him those who” seek wisdom with the same ardor with which the wise virgins seek the bridegroom. For Christ is the Bridegroom.

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

“Lord, make me vigilant and attentive to your voice that I may heed your call at all times.  May I find joy in your presence and delight in doing your will.” In your Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading I
Wis 6:12-16 – Wisdom is found by those who seek her.

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;
because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them in the ways,
and meets them with all solicitude.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
I will remember you upon my couch,
and through the night-watches I will meditate on you:
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading II
1 Thes 4:13-18 or 4:13-14 – God, through Jesus, will bring him those who have fallen asleep.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive,
who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

The word of the Lord.

Or

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

The word of the Lord.

Gospel
Mt 25:1-13 – Behold, the bridegroom? Come out to meet him?

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily – The wise and foolish virgins click below:

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Members of the wedding

Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:

Download Audio File

According to marriage customs of Jesus’ day, a bride was first “betrothed” to her husband but continued for a time to live with her family. Then, at the appointed hour, some months later, the groom would come to claim her, leading her family and bridal party to the wedding feast that would celebrate and inaugurate their new life together.

This is the background to the parable of the last judgment we hear in today’s Gospel.

In the parable’s symbolism, Jesus is the Bridegroom (see Mark 2:19). In this, He fulfills God’s ancient promise to join himself forever to His chosen people as a husband cleaves to his bride (see Hosea 2:16-20). The virgins of the bridal party represent us, the members of the Church.

We were “betrothed” to Jesus in baptism (see 2 Corinthians 11:2Ephesians 5:25-27) and are called to lives of holiness and devotion until He comes again to lead us to the heavenly wedding feast at the end of time (see Revelation 19:7-921:1-4).

As St. Paul warns in today’s Epistle, Jesus is coming again, though we know not the day nor the hour.

We need to keep vigil throughout the dark night of this time in which our Bridegroom seems long delayed. We need to keep our souls’ lamps filled with the oil of perseverance and desire for God – virtues that are extolled in today’s First Reading and Psalm.

We are to seek Him in love, meditating upon His kindness, calling upon His name, striving to be ever more worthy of Him, to be found without spot or blemish when He comes.

If we do this, we will be counted as wise and the oil for our lamps will not run dry (see 1 Kings 17:16). We will perceive the Bridegroom, the Wisdom of God (see Proverbs 8:22-31,359:1-5), hastening toward us, beckoning us to the table He has prepared, the rich banquet which will satisfy our souls. – Read the source: https://stpaulcenter.com/members-of-the-wedding-scott-hahn-reflects-on-the-thirty-second-sunday-in-ordinary-time/

Reflection 2 – Be alert, keep your eyes open for you know not the day of the hour

An eloquent English evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) once preached on the text, “. . . the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked” (Mt. 25:10). One man in the audience was overheard saying to another, “So what? Another door will open.” But as Whitefield continued preaching, he said, “There may be someone here who is careless and self-satisfied, and who thinks, ‘What does it matter if the door is shut? Another will open.’ Yes, it will–the door to the bottomless pit, the door to hell!” When time runs out, and God shuts the door of salvation, the door to doom, darkness, and despair will open. But today, if you trust in Jesus Christ, you enter the still wide-open door into eternal life. Christ is the only way to heaven; all other ways lead to doom (cf. Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

In the parable of the ten virgins (Mt 25:1-13), Jesus told of five who had prepared for the coming of the bridegroom. When he came, they “went in with him to the wedding” (Mt. 25:10). Later, however, when the five foolish virgins tried to go in, the door was locked! In response to their pleas, they heard him answer, “I do not know you” (v.12). This parable is about the end of the world when Christ will come again in glory. That day no one knows. From the time of St. Paul who wrote to the Thessalonians (4:13-18) to the present has waited for Jesus’ return with patience. In every Mass, we profess after the “Our Father” that “we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” And we hear the priest before communion the declaration: “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” This does not refer to the Last Supper in the past but to the heavenly supper in the future (Revelation 19:9). St. John had a vision of a great wedding supper in heaven. An angel said to him, “Write this down: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9). We are called to be wise waiting patiently for the coming of the Lord. The end of the world seems far but the Lord will come in the moment of our death. We naturally fear death and cling to life. Like the foolish virgins, we say, “Heaven can wait.” But we must be alert and ready to meet the Lord whenever he comes. The Catechism (CCC:1014) urges us to prepare for death every night before we fall asleep. As we are about to go to sleep the church suggests that we have the sentiment which Jesus had as he was about to die: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Holy Communion is a preparation for death. A Catholic who is about to die is entitled to, and directed to receive, communion as “viaticum,” the food for the journey from this life to the next (CCC:1517). Even when we receive communion at Mass we should be mindful of death, but always with faith in our resurrection from the dead. The moral is “Keep your eyes open, for you know not the day of the hour.” Read more “At the very moment of your death, Christ will judge your soul” click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/04/at-the-very-moment-of-your-death-christ-will-judge-your-soul/

Reflection 3 – The parable of the ten virgins

The wise are those who know how to prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Some of us maybe vigilant and quite attentive to the essentials of our soul while there are those who are very pre-occupied with the world and what it has to offer. They think about everything except what is important and what matters in life. Quite a number are so focused on outside appearance: jewels, perfume, clothes while they forget the more essential need for repentance, transformation and prayer. They lose their heads over money and what glitters. They are so focused on power and influence. They totally miss the essence of their existence.  They never realize and forget the very reason God created them.

Sad to say, there are those who have been touched by God and have a deep understanding what we need to do in life. But they are just not ready to accept God and His call. They believe that some good show of faith will be enough. They subscribe to the idea that a good thought at the end of life will settle things for the best. They fail to realize that a life lived in dreadful sin cannot be remedied on the last day and that we will judged based on our own merits and no can ever come to help us. Although God’s desire is to save us and bring us to His kingdom, in the end we will find ourselves holding what we have done, what we have built up or burnt down.

Preparation for our Lord’s return is serious business. Every moment on earth should be considered precious and should be used only for what in the end will add value to our existence, merits for us to enter the Father’s kingdom.

Good and evil stand side by side amidst the free will that we all have. What should be our choice? Christ and Christ alone! Vigilance should be the direction. “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

As Christians, we should be proactively looking out for signs of God in our neighbor: the cry of the poor, the desperate voice of the marginalized, the supplication of those who plead for justice, love, respect!

Direction

Focus on works that are aligned to God and His ways.

Prayer

Heavenly Father bring us your word in all our works so that we may be made trustworthy, be able to love justice and what is right and fill the earth with your kindness as we prepare for our Lord’s return. In Him, we pray. Amen.

Reflection 4 – Wasting Time

Imagine this scenario. When you wake up each morning, your account in the bank receives $86,400 for that day. But at the end of the day, when you sleep, the amount is gone. So, during the day, you have to spend the whole amount. Furthermore, the bank can close your account at any time without warning. Hence, it is all the more necessary for you to spend that money on that day. But $86,400 is a big amount to use up for one day. So you may need to spend it for your loved ones and other people as well, even those you do not know.

Actually, this is not an imaginary scenario. It is the reality! Each of us possesses such a magical bank, which we oftentimes take for granted. This magical bank is TIME!

Each morning when we wake up, we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life. And when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us. What we have not lived up that day is forever lost. Yesterday is forever gone. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve our account at any time, without warning! Death comes suddenly. So, what shall we do with our 86,400 seconds? Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars. (Anonymous)

The parable of the ten virgins is about the wise use of time. Five of the virgins were wise – they certainly took their time in bringing along with them flasks of oil for their lamps. The other five virgins were foolish because they did not bring provisions for their lamps. They must not be serious in the task entrusted to them. And worse, while idly waiting for the bridegroom, they did not use their time to fill up their lamps with oil. So, when he arrived, they had to scamper in the night, looking for oil. But they were too late. When they returned, the door was closed, and they were not anymore allowed to enter the wedding feast.

Christ is the Bridegroom who is coming. The virgins represent mankind. The time of waiting is a symbol of our life on earth. We are an advent people, eagerly and patiently waiting for the coming of the Lord. In this period of waiting, we are reminded to make use of our time to prepare well for the coming of Christ. Our preparation is not in terms of material provisions, but spiritual and Christian virtues necessary to make ourselves worthy to join Jesus in His wedding banquet in heaven. This is what the oil symbolizes. It is an internal character – a personal virtue, a personal condition of readiness and preparedness. That is the reason why the wise virgins could not share their oil with the other five.

In the meantime, while we still have the time in the world, we have to make the necessary preparations to meet the Lord. Unfortunately, many people are like the foolish virgins. They have all the time in their hands, but they are not using it for their spiritual preparation.

What are the ways of preparation that we need to spend our time on? First, study. Most of us have spent many years in school, studying science, mathematics, communication arts, history and many others. But all these fields of study are aimed at preparing ourselves only for our life in this world, and nothing beyond. On the other hand, how much time have we spent studying catechism, the sacraments, and the Bible? These are matters that are necessary for our entry into eternal life, but we unfortunately take for granted and neglect.

Second, prayer. Many people go about their daily affairs without even finding time to pray. Their usual excuse is because they are too busy. What they fail to realize is that, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the Lord guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch” (Ps 127:1). Prayer is our way of staying connected with God. The Lord Jesus himself said it: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). As St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “Those who pray are surely saved. Those who do not pray are surely lost.” Needless to say, the Mass is the most perfect form of prayer. Regularly receiving the Body of Christ in Holy Communion helps us establish an intimate relationship and union with the coming Bridegroom.

Third, good works. Jesus said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Acts of charity and generosity towards others, especially the poor and underprivileged, are the heavenly treasures that we ought to accumulate while we still have time and opportunities. In fact, Jesus identified himself with the poor: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Being close to the Lord through our loving service to the poor will surely prepare us for his imminent coming.

These are the three things we must seriously and generously invest our time on, the three feet (tripod) on which every Christian stands: prayer (worship), study (education) and good works (service). These are the oil that will keep our lamp of faith continually burning bright until we meet the Bridegroom, ready to enter his eternal Wedding Feast. (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422)

Reflection 5 – The foolish will miss heaven’s wedding feast

Are you missing out on what’s most important in life? Being unprepared can lead to unnecessary trouble and even disaster! What good is a life-jacket left on the shore when the boat is sinking? Jesus’ story of ten single ladies waiting for a wedding procession in the middle of the night seems strange to most westerners today. But Jesus’ audience knew all too well how easily this could happen to them.

Don’t miss the most important engagement of all
Wedding customs in ancient Palestine required extra vigilance and preparation for everyone involved. (Some near eastern villages still follow this custom.) The bride and groom did not go away for their honeymoon, but celebrated for a whole week with their family and friends. It was the custom for the groom, in company with his friends, to come at his discretion and get his bride and bring her to their new home. They would take the longest route possible so that many villagers along the way could join in the wedding procession. Once they arrived and closed the doors, no one else could be admitted. If the groom decided to come and bring his bride at night, then lights were required by necessity to guide the travelers through the dark and narrow streets. No one was allowed on the village streets at night without a lamp!

To show up for a wedding party without proper attire and travel arrangements is like trying to get into a special event today that requires a prearranged permit or reservation. You just don’t get in without the proper pass. Can you imagine the frustration travelers might experience when going abroad and finding out that they can’t get into some country because they don’t have the right visa or a valid passport.

The consequences of being unprepared to meet the Lord
Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared. There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment. For example, students cannot prepare for their exams when the day of testing is already upon them. A person cannot get the right kind of character, strength, and skill required for a task at hand unless they already possess it, such as a captain with courage and nautical skills who must steer a ship through a dangerous storm at sea.

When the Lord Jesus comes to lead you to his heavenly banquet will you be ready to hear his voice and follow? Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing, and many have trained themselves to not hear. We will not be prepared to meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his heavenly banquet table. Are you ready?

“Lord Jesus, make me vigilant and attentive to your voice that I may heed your call at all times. May I find joy in your presence and delight in doing your will.” – Read the source:    http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/nov12.htm

Reflection 6 – Let true wisdom be your guide

Imagine what it was like to have lived in Israel two thousand years ago, when the Gospel of Matthew was being written. What would it be like to live in a time without television, radio, internet, cars, busses, or bicycles? Imagine living in a time when walking was a necessity, when walking was, in fact, the only way to reach the city, a walk which was both long, and sometimes dangerous. The excitement builds up as the city gates draw closer. When I reach the city gate, I see the wise woman. She is always there, sitting at the gate, greeting people as they come and go. Very few people stop to talk to her, though. Most are drawn into what lays beyond the gate: the sights, and the smells. Excitement continues to build as I explore the streets. There are vendors on every side, shouting to get my attention. There are musicians, too, and performers, all clamoring for attention, distracting me from the purpose of this trip. But, this is actually a welcome distraction after a long journey. I linger and pass the day in all the excitement. I enjoy it, and linger too long, and I realize I won’t be home on time; I’ll be late. After a long day in the city, on my way out, now knowing that I’ll get home very late, the woman is still there, still sitting. Today, of all days, she hands me a scroll. This is a rare and very special gift. I smile, stuff the scroll into my bag and continue the long walk home.

That was the past. Let’s look at today. Is life today very different from back then? Well, the distractions are still there for certain. Instead of street vendors and street-side entertainers, we have television, radio, internet, and cell phones, always available. On the other hand, we can move greater distances in far less time. Instead of walking, we have other choices. Most have cars, others have access to buses, bicycles, or other modern means of transportation. Maybe we drive or take a bus to the city. Maybe we bypass the city altogether and switch on the internet to conduct our business or do our shopping virtually now. Life has indeed changed in some ways, while in other ways, things are very much the same. The woman is still there, sitting at the gate, greeting us as we come and go. Today, we know her as the Church, the source of wisdom, the source of our knowledge of the ways of God. Maybe today she might hand us a book, instead of a scroll. But her message often meets the same competition as of old, whether in the city, or on the internet, or on television. There are still, especially today, those who use many varied means to get our attention, and they still often distract us from our true purpose, of growing stronger every day in the goodness and integrity of our lives to which Christ calls us.

My own personal journey into the Church is very similar to that ancient journey into the city. I had that encounter with the woman. She handed me the rarest of gifts, the scroll. I stuffed it into a small corner of my life, and went on living, with all my myriad distractions, those distractions that took me away from my true purpose in life. But one day I opened the scroll, and began to read. Was it a coincidence? The scroll contained the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. The scroll was in reality, a book, our Bible. And that woman, the one who handed me the book, goes by the name of Wisdom.

Our first reading, from the Wisdom of Solomon starts off: “Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her.” Wisdom comes from many places, some places are better than others. There is wisdom, as in the wisdom of the world. Sometimes there is value to be found here, and sometimes there is not. Then, too, there is Wisdom, as in the Truth that flows from Christ. There is always value to be found here. It wasn’t that long ago when I began to reflect on this gospel parable. When I did, I came to the realization that it was the wisdom of the world that was fueling my lamp. It was the wisdom of the world (and more often than not, the distractions of the world) to which I devoted most of my time. That wisdom of the world took my life down certain streets, and not others. And I came to realize what today’s gospel passage has to say to me.

Our gospel reading begins: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.” Matthew is the only gospel where the phrase “kingdom of heaven” appears, and it appears often. It is a very important theme for Matthew’s gospel. It is for us today, as well. What we do with our time while we wait for the kingdom of heaven is important. What we do with our time when we are not here at the Lord’s Table is important. You see, the bridesmaids in Matthew’s gospel represent us, as Christians. There were ten Christians, five of them foolish, and five of them wise. We can imagine characteristics of the wise Christians. These are the ones who pray often. They study scripture, they study the writings from Francis, our Pope, which speak to the issues and concerns of our time. The wise ones are the ones active in Church, proclaiming the gospel to the world, each in their own way, perhaps even bringing people to this altar to meet in communion, with the King of Heaven. But, when I read this passage, eleven years ago, I found that I was one of the foolish Christians, filling my life with the empty distractions and wisdom of the world. That was where I fit into this gospel passage. The good news for all of us is that we can always change; we can always devote more time to growing closer to Christ, and being a better Christian, and we can devote less time to the distractions of the world. Distractions can sometimes be good and healthy; we all need appropriate recreation. Fun is a good thing. Sometimes however, our pursuit of pleasure can take over our lives, a little bit at a time. It’s a matter of balance. I can happily say that I’m now working seriously towards setting aside the distractions of the world, and becoming that better, wiser Christian whose primary focus is on Christ and His Kingdom.

The world is shaped by the wisdom that is within our hearts. As the Church year comes to a close, and the season of Advent approaches, listen carefully to what today’s gospel passage has to say to you. Where did you get the wisdom that fed your inner lamps this year? How much of the year did you devote to distractions that took you away from your purpose in life? Have you stopped to talk to the “woman” to receive the wisdom she holds? Do we seek her out? The wisdom of the Church is truly unfading. Soon, we will approach this altar, and receive the Eucharist, the source of all Wisdom. Following the miracle that is the Eucharist, we will again renew our purpose: to go out into the world, and witness to the gospel, to bring news of Christ to the world that is so sorely in need of it. Let true Wisdom be your guide. – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2017/10/homilies-for-november-2017/

Reflection 7 – Locked out!

Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. –Matthew 25:10

I can still remember the night I locked myself out of my house. My wife and son had just left for the evening, and I had gone outside to close up the garage. When I went back to the house, I discovered that the door had blown shut. Everything was tightly secured. I had no choice but to remain out in the chilly air until my family returned.

As I sat there for several hours, I thought about how dreadful it will be for all who are “locked out” of heaven for eternity. Having waited too long and having never received Christ, they will suddenly face the terrifying reality that the door of salvation is closed to them forever!

In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus told of five who had prepared for the coming of the bridegroom. When he came, they “went in with him to the wedding” (Mt. 25:10). Later, however, when the five foolish virgins tried to go in, the door was shut! In response to their pleas, they heard him answer, “I do not know you” (v.12).

If Christ should return right now, millions would share a similar fate. What about you? Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (Jn. 10:9). Have you accepted forgiveness through faith in the Savior? Don’t risk being “locked out”!  — Richard De Haan

The day of life is passing by,
Soon night your soul will hide;
And then “too late” will be your cry
If you are just outside! –Rowe

It’s never too early to receive Christ, but at any moment it could be too late! (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 8 – We must wait in hope of his second coming

“It is not enough for us, then, to be content with his first coming; we must wait in hope of his second coming.”– St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Matthew 25:1-13: ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him. At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out. But they replied, There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves. They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. Lord, Lord, they said open the door for us. But he replied, I tell you solemnly, I do not know you. So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

Christ the Lord Jesus and his apostles are still sitting on the slope of Mount Olivet, looking down on Jerusalem as his passion draws near. The Lord has given his ambassadors a briefing on what will happen in the messianic age, which he was even then inaugurating. In Chapter 25, St Matthew shows our Lord stressing the lessons he wants his disciples to glean from their privileged knowledge of what is to come. He has painted the future in broad strokes: persecution, transformation, dissension, and through it all the glorious sign of the Son of Man shining over the redeemed world through the marvelous growth of the Church. His Kingdom will triumph. It may start small, like a mustard seed, but it will grow to immense proportions, until it attracts the very birds of the air – the farthest nations of the earth – to come and dwell in its branches. His assurance is breathtaking. Perhaps he only spoke this discourse to his Twelve because only they knew him well enough to take seriously such colossal claims – that he knows the future, governs it, and sends the leaders of his Church to conquer the entire world for his Kingdom. If Jesus had left any room for doubt about his being the Lord, he removes it here. No mere philosopher, reformer, political revolutionary, or even prophet could speak so definitively; this Lord is worthy of our faith.

Jesus, however, is more than a Lord; he is also a Bridegroom. The image of a wedding banquet, already present in the Old Testament, appears multiple times in his own preaching. Each soul is his bride; the Church is his bride; and the goal of each individual life and of human history is a spousal union, a complete communion of persons, of hearts, between the Lord and his subjects. The parable reminds us of what Jesus thinks about those he came to save and to rule, and it reminds us that he is looking forward to his wedding day. Are we?

Christ the Teacher  The parable of the ten bridesmaids is the first of three St Matthew records in Chapter 25. Each one amplifies the previous discourse, where Jesus explains the coming destruction of the Temple and the events leading up to and surrounding it – a historical reality that, as we have seen, is prophetic: it foreshadows what will happen to the entire cosmos throughout the messianic age before Christ’s Second Coming; it also sets the pattern for what will happen in the life of each person as death approaches. These three levels of meaning (the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of history, and individual death) overlap and reinforce one another. Each of the three parables brings special light to bear on one level of meaning, while still being relevant for all levels.

This first parable illustrates most especially the coming destruction of the Temple and the Old Covenant. The Messiah is Israel’s bridegroom. The people of Israel are the bridesmaids: as the Chosen People, they were given a special invitation to accompany the nuptial celebration. In the time of Christ and during the first wave of evangelization before 70 AD (the destruction of the Temple), the Bridegroom arrives and, through his passion, death, and resurrection, consummates the promised communion between mankind and God. Many contemporary Jews (like the apostles) recognize Christ’s coming, accept him, and enter into the joy of the Kingdom – the wise bridesmaids. Many others, however, reject him (especially the leaders of the Holy City), and they suffer exile after the Romans destroy Jerusalem – the foolish bridesmaids. The wise bridesmaids stand for those who not only believed in God’s promises (this faith is symbolized by the lamp), but also strove to live a life of humility and virtue – of godly actions and good works (symbolized by the extra oil). The Pharisees and Sadducees, on the other hand, had faith, but no virtuous acts; their religion was superficial, and so when the Messiah came they were caught unawares and missed him.

Likewise for every believer: faith in Christ must lead to a life increasingly like Christ’s. As St James puts it, “Faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead” (James 2:17). Jesus wants us all to be integral, mature Christians, ready for his coming at any moment. He warns us as clearly as he can not to be foolish, and he gives us the secret to wisdom. The lamp in this sense stands for a living knowledge of him,friendship with him, a vital and personal relationship with him, a relationship that has been lived and cultivated throughout our terrestrial pilgrimage (the extra oil refers to the ongoing cultivation of that relationship). Because of this friendship, this life of grace, how would he ever be able to say to us, “I do not know you”? He will not, and we will find ourselves with lighted lamp in the family of God as it celebrates the wedding of the Lamb.

Christ the Friend Christ also paints quite a lively picture of heaven in this passage, and in other similar passages. What produces more intense joy than a wedding and its celebration? In human terms, it is hard to come up with something to top it. When we think of heaven, Christ wants us to think in those terms: joy, delight, pleasure, the communion of hearts and minds, a celebration. Even our wildest imaginary exaggerations will fall almost infinitely short of the reality, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about it. The great Christian virtue of hope allows us to envision in our mind’s eye the total fulfillment of all the deepest yearnings of our heart upon arrival to the Father’s house. Keeping heaven in mind and activating our faith in what Christ has revealed about it should motivate us in our battle to be his faithful friends, to build and spread his Kingdom. After all, it was to open heaven’s gates – which sin had closed – that Christ became a man, lived, died, and rose again; and so, to let heaven fade out of our thoughts would be a monstrous insult, at the very least.

Christ in My Life Open my mind to know you better, Lord. I want to know your love as it really is. Only your love for me can cast out my fears and fill me with peace, confidence, and lasting joy in the midst of life’s troubles. Why can’t I see you more clearly? Show me your face, Lord; show me your heart. I want to see you!…

Am I ready, Lord? Am I really living out my faith, or has it grown cold, superficial, or overly intellectual? Does it give light and meaning to everything I do, to every relationship? If you told this parable to your apostles, it’s because you knew they needed to hear it. I am sure I need to hear it too. I’m already good at being foolish, Lord, so help me to be wise…

You tell this parable because you love us. You want us to know how to enter into your grace now and for all eternity. Please pour that same love into my heart, so I will be creative and courageous in spreading your good news. Why doesn’t my heart burn more ardently to save souls? With the love of your heart, Lord, inflame my heart… – Read the source:   https://www.spiritualdirection.com/2017/11/08/staying-ready-matthew-25-1-13

Reflection 9 – Trusting an illogical God

This Sunday’s Gospel reading shows us what it means to be truly foolish. We believe in Christ — good! We pray — good! We put time into our faith growth and we value opportunities for more faith formation — very wise! And we say that we trust God — wonderful!

But what happens when God doesn’t answer our prayers fast enough? What if we need Christ’s loving embrace or his protection from evil and yet we’re suffering with no end in sight? Where is Jesus then?

Usually, God’s timing is not ours. We think we have the right idea about how soon God should intervene when we ask for his help. Right now is a good time for it, right? Of course! But perhaps not from God’s perspective. (Why do we want to leave God in charge anyway, if he doesn’t see things our way, huh?)

When we despair over unanswered prayer, the reality behind it is that we’re emotionally unprepared for any timing that’s different from what we think it should be. The foolish bridesmaids thought the groom would arrive before their lamps burned out. They thought they understood the situation. Do we?

Furthermore, if God’s plans are illogical — if they don’t make sense to us — we distrust them. And then we get ourselves into the mess of trying to handle things apart from God.

We cannot trust our logic. We cannot trust our perception or our understanding of the situations we’re in. The sooner we decide to enjoy the absurdity of being a Christian, the sooner we will find out that God’s ways are awesomely much, much better than anything we can imagine!

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What have you resisted doing because it doesn’t make sense? What can you do, where can you turn, to whom can you go for help in discerning whether or not it’s God’s plan for you?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How do you know when an illogical plan is really what God wants you to do? What’s happened in your life that has taught you to trust the Holy Spirit’s surprises? Share a lesson you learned when you weren’t ready for God’s plan because you didn’t believe it. – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-11-11

Reflection 10 – Jesus Exhorts: “Watch, therefore, for You Know Neither the Day nor the Hour”

CTV Screenshot

This Sunday’s Gospel (Cf. Matthew 25:1-13), points out to us the condition to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and it does so with the parable of the ten virgins: it’s about those bridesmaids who were in charge of receiving and accompanying the bridegroom to the wedding ceremony and, as at that time is was customary to celebrate it at night, the bridesmaids were equipped with lamps.

The parable says that five of these virgins were wise and five foolish: the wise, in fact, brought oil with them for the lamps, while the foolish didn’t bring any. The bridegroom was delayed in arriving and they all fell asleep. At midnight the arrival of the bridegroom was announced. Then the foolish virgins realized they had no oil for the lamps, and they asked the wise for some. However, the latter answered that they couldn’t give them any because there wouldn’t be enough for all. So when the foolish went to look for oil, the bridegroom arrived. The wise virgins went in with him to the banquet, and the door was shut. The five foolish ones returned too late. They knocked at the door but the answer was: “I do not know you” (v. 12) and they remained outside.

What does Jesus want to teach us with this parable? He reminds us that we must be ready for our encounter with Him. Jesus often exhorts in the Gospel to watch and He does so also at the end of this story: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13). However, with this parable, He tells us that to watch doesn’t mean only not to sleep, but to be ready. In fact, all the virgins slept before the bridegroom’s arrival, but when they awakened, some were ready and others not. Here, therefore, is the meaning of being wise and prudent: it’s about not waiting for the last moment of our life to collaborate with God’s grace, but to do so already from now on. It would be good to think a bit: one day will be the last. If it were today, how prepared am I? But I must do this and that … One must be prepared as if it were the last day: this does one good.

The lamp is the symbol of faith that illumines our life, while the oil is the symbol of the charity that nourishes, makes fruitful and credible the light of faith. The condition to be ready for the encounter with the Lord is not only faith but a Christian life rich in love and charity for our neighbor. If we let ourselves be guided by what seems to us more comfortable, by the pursuit of our interests, our life becomes sterile, incapable of giving life to others, and we don’t accumulate any oil stock for the lamp of our faith; and the latter — faith — will go out the moment of the Lord’s coming, or even before. If, instead, we are vigilant and we seek to do good, with gestures of love, of sharing, of service to our neighbour in difficulty, we can remain at peace while we await the coming of the bridegroom: the Lord can come at any moment, and even the sleep of death doesn’t scare us, because we have the reserve of oil, accumulated with the good works of every day. Faith inspires charity and charity guards faith.

May the Virgin Mary help us to make our faith ever more operative through charity, so that our lamp can shine already here, on the earthly journey and then forever, at the wedding feast in Paradise. – Read the source: Pope Francis https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-parable-of-the-five-wise-and-five-foolish-virgins/

Reflection 11 – St. Josaphat (1580?-1623 A.D.)

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.

Story:

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.”

Comment:

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!

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1197

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Born of Ruthenian parents in present-day Ukraine, Josaphat eschewed a marriage and career to enter the monastery in 1604 A.D. After his election as archbishop of Polotsk, he sought ways to bring his fellow Ruthenians who clung to the Orthodox Church into the Catholic communion. In 1620 A.D., a rival archbishop arose, challenging Josaphat. On November 12, 1623 A.D., the supporters of this rival killed Josaphat and threw his body into the river. Soon thereafter, the schismatic bishop and many of his adherents sought union with Rome.  In 1964, the Second Vatican Council taught that the Eastern Catholic Churches have “the right and the duty to govern themselves according to their own special tradition, and seem to be better suited to the customs of their faithful and to the good of their souls.” Three centuries earlier Saint Josaphat anticipated this teaching in his episcopal preaching and his martyr’s death. “The blood of Saint Josaphat even today, as it was three hundred years ago, is a very special pledge of peace, the seal of unity” (Pope Pius XI). He is invoked as the “Apostle of Unity.”

Published on Nov 15, 2013

The Feast of St Josaphat (14-Nov) the patron of Unity to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. He spent his life trying to re-unite the Russian Orthodox back to Rome. In this sermon you’ll hear Pope Pius XI’s comments from an encyclical he wrote on our saint. Also, some profound quotes by Dom Prosper Gueranger & Fyodor Dostoevsky on the conversion of Russia. For more please visithttp://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/201… & please remember to say 3 Hail Marys for the priest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josaphat_Kuntsevych

“Saint Josaphat” redirects here. For the 3rd or 4th-century saint, see Barlaam and Josaphat.
SAINT
JOSAPHAT KUNTSEVYCH
O.S.B.M.
Archeparch of Polotsk
St Josaphat Saint of Ruthenia.jpg
CHURCH Ruthenian Catholic Church
DIOCESE Archeparchy of Polotsk
APPOINTED 1618
TERM ENDED November 12, 1623
PREDECESSOR Gedeon Brolnicki (pl)
SUCCESSOR Anastazy Antoni Sielawa (pl)
PERSONAL DETAILS
BIRTH NAME Ioann Kuntsevych
BORN c. 1580
VolodymyrVolhynian VoivodeshipPolish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
DIED November 12, 1623
VitebskVitebsk Voivodeship, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
SAINTHOOD
FEAST DAY November 12 (Latin Church andRomanian Greek Catholic Church)
November 14 (Latin Church, extraordinary rite)
November 25 (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church)
TITLE AS SAINT Bishop and martyr
BEATIFIED May 16, 1643
Rome
by Pope Urban VIII
CANONIZED June 29, 1867
Rome
by Pope Pius IX
PATRONAGE Ukraine

Josaphat KuntsevychO.S.B.M., (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623) (BelarusianЯзафат Кунцэвіч, Jazafat Kuncevič,PolishJozafat KuncewiczUkrainianЙосафат Кунцевич, Josafat Kuntsevych) was a monk and archeparch(archbishop) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who was killed at Vitebsk,[a] Vitebsk Voivodeship, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (now in Belarus), on 12 November 1623. He is “the best-known victim” of sectarian violence related to implementing the Union of Brest,[2](p57)[3][page needed] and is declared a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church.[b]

Life[edit]

Early life[edit]

He was born Ioann Kuntsevych in 1580 or 1584 in Volodymyr,[c]Volhynian Voivodeship, in the Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown (now in Ukraine). He was baptized into an Eastern Orthodox Church. He was born while theRuthenian Church was nominally unified.

King Sigismund III Vasa‘s policy for the Counter-Reformation in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was to reunite, “through missions to non-Catholics, both Protestant and Orthodox,” all Christians into the Roman Catholic Church.[5](pp302–303) After preliminary negotiations with Sigismund III and with Grand Chancellor and Great Hetman of the Crown Jan Zamoyski, a delegation of bishops from the Eastern Orthodox Metropolitanate of Kiev (1458–1596) (uk)was sent to Rome in 1595 to accede to the Union of Florence on condition that their rituals and discipline were left intact.[6](pp202–203) Most Eastern Orthodox bishops within the Commonwealth, including Michael Rohozametropolitan of Kiev – but at Vilnius,[d] Vilnius Voivodeship, the capital city of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – were signatories of the Union of Brest in 1596 which brought the Metropolitanate of Kiev into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Two ecclesiastical factions, those Eastern Orthodox bishops who were signatories and those Eastern Orthodox bishops who were not signatories, met and excommunicated each other, but those who did not assent were in a much worse position than before, because they was no longer officially recognized.[6](p204) The Union resulted in two sectarian groups:

  • Eastern Orthodox adherents who did assent to the Union of Brest articles became Eastern Catholic and were known as “Uniates“, or “unici” in Polish.[7](p174)[e] They were considered as “schismatics and traitors” by the Orthodox Church.[8](p69)[f]“About two-thirds of the Ruthenian population” were Uniates by 1620.[9](p88)The northeastern voivodeships became predominantly Uniate.[1](p42)[10](p42)
  • Eastern Orthodox adherents who did not assent to the Union of Brest articles remained Eastern Orthodox and were known as “Disuniates (pl)“, or “dysunici” in Polish; they were considered religious dissidents by the government.[7](p174)[g] The southeastern voivodeships became predominantly Disuniate.[1](p42)[10](p42) Disuniates were subjected to varying degrees of religious persecution by the state with the active support of Uniate and Latin Rite Catholic clergy.[8](pp95–97)[11] The Disuniates were leaderless until a reestablished Eastern OrthodoxMetropolitanate of Kiev (1620–1685) (uk) hierarchy was consecrated in 1620, which the government legalized in 1632.[3][page needed]

Although a descent of Ruthenian nobility (szlachtaKuncewicz family), his father had embarked in business, and held the office of town-councilor. Both of Kuntsevych’s parents encouraged religious participation and Christian piety in the young John. In the school at Volodymyr he gave evidence of unusual talent; he studied Church Slavonic, and memorized most of the Horologion, which from this period he began to read daily. From this source he drew his early religious education, because theclergy seldom preached or gave catechetical instruction in that period.[clarify][h]

Owing to his parents poverty, Kuntsevych was apprenticed to a merchant named Papovič in Vilnius. In Vilnius, divided through the contentions of the various religious sects, he became acquainted with men, such as Josyf Veliamyn Rutsky, a Calvinist convert to the Latin Church who transferred to the Byzantine Rite. Rutsky supported the recent union with Rome,and under whose direction he furthered his interest in the Catholic Church.[clarify]

Monk and archbishop[edit]

In 1604, in his early 20s, Kuntsevych entered the Monastery of the Trinity of the Order of Saint Basil the Great in Vilnius, at which time he was given the religious name of Josaphat. Stories of his sanctity rapidly spread and distinguished people began to visit the young monk.[examples needed] After a notable life as a layman, Rutsky also joined the Order. When Josaphat was ordained to the diaconate, his regular services and labor for the Church had already begun. As a result of his efforts, the number of novices to the Order steadily increased, and under Rutsky—who had meanwhile been ordained a priest—a revival of Eastern Catholic monastic life began among theRuthenians (Belarusians and Ukrainians).[clarify] In 1609, after private study under Jesuit Valentin Groza Fabricy, Josaphat was ordained a priest by a Catholic bishop. He subsequently became the hegumen (prior) of several monasteries. On November 12, 1617, he was consecrated as thebishop of the Eparchy of Vitebsk (possibly a titular see created for him),[clarify] and coadjutor for the Archeparchy of Polotsk.[i] He succeeded as archeparch in March 1618.[12] During his episcopacy, the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk was rebuilt in 1618–1620.

Kuntsevych faced a daunting task of bringing the local populace to accept union with Rome. He faced stiff opposition from the monks, who feared liturgical Latinisation of the Byzantine Rite. As archeparch, he restored the churches: he issued a catechism to the clergy, with instructions that it should be memorized; composed rules for priestly life, and entrusted deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Grand Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of LithuaniaLew Sapieha, who wished to make too many concessions to the Eastern Orthodox.[examples needed]Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his religious devotion as a monk, and never abated his desire for mortification of the flesh. Through all this he was successful in winning over a large portion of the people.[13]

Discontent increased among the inhabitants of the eastern voivodeships. In 1618, Disuniates at Mohilev,[j] Vitebsk Voivodeship, who apparently assented to the Union of Brest, openly resisted its implementation and replaced Uniate clergy with Disuniate clergy. They substituted the names of Pope Paul V and Sigismund III in the Liturgy with those of Timothy IIpatriarch of Constantinople, and Osman IIsultan of the Ottoman Empire.[k] The resistance at Mohilev led to increased government intervention against Disuniates, and a 1619 judicial decree condemned the leaders of the insurrection to death and devolved all the previously Eastern Orthodox church buildingsat Mohilev to the Eastern Catholic Archeparchy of Polotsk.[14](pp190–191)[l]

Norman Davies wrote, in God’s Playground, that Kuntsevych “was no man of peace, and had been involved in all manner of oppressions, including that most offensive of petty persecutions – the refusal to allow the Orthodox peasants to bury their dead in consecrated ground;”[7](pp174–175) in other words, he prohibited burial of Disunites in Uniate cemeteries.[1](p42)[further explanation needed]

The Disuniates did not collapse; in 1620, they assembled in synod at Kiev, protected by Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyhetman of Zaporizhian Cossacks, and elected new Eastern Orthodox bishops, including Meletius Smotrytsky as archbishop-elect of Polotsk, all of whom were consecrated “in great secrecy” at Kiev byTheophanes III (pl)Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Neophyte, metropolitan of Sofia, and Avramios, bishop of Stagoi. Thus a rival Disuniate hierarchy was established.[5](p305)[9](p90)[14](p191)Sigismund III accused Theophanes III of being a covert agentworking on behalf of the Ottoman Empire and ordered his arrest and arrest of those consecrated by him.[9](pp89–90)

That changed in 1620, when, with Cossack aid, an rival unlawful Eastern Orthodox hierarchy was set up bythe Orthodox Church,[clarify][3][page needed][16] with Smotrytsky (who later himself entered into communion with the see of Rome)[17][18] being appointed the Orthodox Archeparch of Polotsk.[3][page needed]

Smotrytsky publicly claimed that Kuntsevych was preparing atotal Latinization of the Church and its rituals.[clarify][13][not in citation given]

After 1620, according to Orest Subtelny, in Ukraine, sectarian violence over ownership of church property increased and “hundreds of clerics on both sides died in confrontations that often took the form of pitched battles.”[3][page needed]

The government imposed a settlement on the “unsettling and destructive” conflict in 1632 by legalizing the Disuniate hierarchy and redistributing church property between Uniates and Disuniates.[3][page needed][m]

Death[edit]

Martyrdom of Josaphat Kuntsevych(c. 1861) by Józef SimmlerNational Museum in Warsaw

John Szlupas wrote, in The Princeton Theological Review, that the Lithuanian Protestants were also the secret instigators in the murder of Kuntsevych, and Smotrytsky, the chief agent in the murder, was in constant communication with them.[19](pp263)

In October 1623 Kuntsevych ordered the arrest of the last priest who was clandestinely holding Orthodox services at Vitebsk,[18]where Kuntsevych had a residence.[20] Enraged at this, some Orthodox townspeople lynched Kuntsevych on 12 November.[18][21]Witnesses of the event described it as follows:

The ringing of cathedral bells and the bells of other churches spread. This was the signal and call to insurrection. From all sides of town masses of people – men, women, and children – gathered with stones and attacked the archbishop’s residence. The masses attacked and injured the servants and assistants of the archbishop, and broke into the room where he was alone. One hit him on the head with a stick, another split it with an axe, and when Kuntsevych fell, they started beating him. They looted his house, dragged his body to the plaza, cursed him – even women and children. … They dragged him naked through the streets of the city all the way to the hill overlooking the river Dvina. Finally, after tying stones to the dead body, they threw him into the Dvina at its deepest.[22](p121)[20]

In January 1624, a commission presided over by Sapieha investigated Kuntsevych’s murder and sentenced 93 people to death for their involvement in the conspiracy,[2](pp57)[n] and many were banished and their property confiscated. The townhall and the disuniate churches were destroyed, and the franchises of the city abolished, but restored under the subsequent reign.[14](pp193–194)With Kuntsevych’s death the Disuniates were completely broken up in Lithuania, and their leaders were severely punished. The Disuniates lost their churches in Vitebsk, Polotsk, Orsza, Mogilev, and other places, and Smotrytsky joined the Uniates in order to escape punishment, and turned his pen against the Disuniates whose weaknesses were not secrets from him.[19](pp263) The body was recovered from the river and lay in state in the cathedral of Polatsk. Beatification followed in 1643, but canonization did not take place until 1867, more than two centuries later.[16] The body is now in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, placed under the altar of Saint Basil the Great.[13]

Legacy[edit]

Hagiography[edit]

As a boy Kuntsevych was said to have shunned the usual games of childhood, prayed much, and lost no opportunity to assist at the Church services. Children especially regarded him with affection. As an apprentice, he devoted every leisure hour to prayer and study. At first Papovič viewed this behavior with displeasure, but Josaphat gradually won such a position in his esteem, that Papovič offered him his entire fortune and his daughter’s hand. But Josaphat’s love for the religious life never wavered.

Kuntsevych’s favourite devotional exercise was the traditional Eastern monastic practice of prostrations, in which the head touches the ground, while saying theJesus Prayer. Never eating meat, he fastedmuch, wore a hair shirt and a chain around his waist. He slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set some bounds to his austerities.

From Kuntsevych’s zealous study of the Church Slavonic Byzantine Rite liturgical books he drew many proofs of Catholic doctrine and wrote several original works.[o]Throughout his adult life, he was distinguished by his extraordinary zeal in performing the Church services and by extraordinary devotion during the Divine Liturgy. Not only in the church did he preach and hear confessions, but likewise in the fields, hospitals, prisons, and even on his personal journeys. This zeal, united with his kindness for the poor, led great numbers of Eastern Orthodox confession Ruthenians to a religious conversionto the Eastern Catholic confession and Catholic unity. Among his converts were many important personages such as deposed Patriarch Ignatius, of Moscow, andManuel Kantakouzenos, who belonged to the imperial family of the Byzantine Emperor Palaeologus.[clarify]

Canonization[edit]

After numerous miracles attributed to Kuntsevych were reported to Church officials, Pope Urban VIII appointed a commission in 1628, to inquire into his possiblecanonization, which examined 116 witnesses under oath. Josaphat’s body was claimed to be incorruptfive years after his death. In 1637, a second commission investigated his life and, in 1643, Josaphat was beatified. He was canonized on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX.[23] The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churchcelebrates his feast day on the first Sunday after the Julian CalendarNovember 12 (Gregorian Calendar November 25). When, in 1867, Pius IX inserted his feast into theGeneral Roman Calendar, it was assigned to November 14, which was the first free day after November 12, which was then occupied by the feast of “Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr.” In the General Roman Calendar of 1969, this latter feast was moved to Pope Saint Martin’s dies natalis (birthday to heaven), and Saint Josaphat’s feast was moved to that date, his own dies natalis.[24] Some Traditionalist Catholics continue to observe the General Roman Calendar of 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, or the General Roman Calendar of 1960, in which the feast day is on November 12.

Kuntsevych’s canonization process began in the interval of the January Uprising of 1863–1865 against the Russian Empire and was “understood in many circles, including Polish, Russian, and Ruthenian circles, as a papal gesture of moral support for the insurgent Poles.”[16](p31) A Russophile Ruthenian newspaper, Slovo (uk), published several negative articles about Kuntsevych.[16](pp29–30)[p] This antagonism to his canonization “makes sense within the context of the Russophilehegemony in Ruthenian public opinion” and was seen as insult to Imperial Russia.[16](p31) The Russian government responded, in 1875, with further Russificationand forced conversion of the Eastern Catholic Chełm Eparchy, the last Eastern Catholic eparchy in the Russian Empire.[16](p32)

Veneration[edit]

The Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Kuntsevych could be thought of as a patron “of ecumenical endeavour today.”[27]

Churches

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych is the patron saint of a number of Polish and Ukrainian churches and parishes in the United States and Canada including:

Society of St. Josaphat

A group of Ukrainian Catholics, who oppose the changes made in the Ruthenian Rite to reduce Roman influence, have formed the Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat. They are linked to the Society of St. Pius Xwhich has not recognized the authority of the Second Vatican Council.

Relic

There is a relic of the saint in the “catacombs” of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Chicago.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Vitebsk was an important town built at a portagebetween the Daugava River andDnieper River along the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks.[1](p7) It was granted Magdeburg rights in 1597. Those Magdeburg rights were divested from Vitebsk in 1624 as a punishment for Kuntsevych’s murder.[2](p57)
  2. Jump up^ “Polemical assessments still dominate the church literature” about Kuntsevych. According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine at Ukrainian Catholic University, “the circumstances of his life and his murder have been heavily researched and are devoid of religious myths” but “known only by a narrow circle of scholars.”[4]
  3. Jump up^ Volodymyr was granted Magdeburg rights in 1431.
  4. Jump up^ Vilnius was granted Magdeburg rights in 1387.
  5. Jump up^ “Greek Catholic Confession of the Slavonic Rite”.[7](p174)
  6. Jump up^ The conflict between the two sectarian groups “has lasted into the 21st century.”[8](p69)
  7. Jump up^ “Greek Orthodox Confession of the Slavonic Rite”.[7](p174)
  8. Jump up^ The “flagrant and manifold abuses” in the Eastern Orthodox Church within the Commonwealth, seemed according to Bain, “to justify the necessity of its union with the better-ordered and instructed Roman Church. All contemporary evidence describes its condition in the darkest colours. The bishops, with scarce an exception, were robbers and ruffians; the lesser clergy followed the unedifying example of their ecclesiastical superiors. Konstanty Ostrogskivoivode of Kiev, the chief pillar of the Orthodox church, bitterly complained that the common people hungered in vain for the word of God,” and Smotrytsky “declared that he could not lay his hand on three Orthodox preachers, and that, but for the aid of Catholicpostils, there would have been no preaching at all.” An attempt by Jeremias II of Constantinople, in 1588, “to reform these abuses only made matters worse and raised a storm of protest.”[6](pp202–203)
  9. Jump up^ Polotsk was an important town built at a junction of key trade routes fromnorthern Europe to Constantinople.[1](pp5–6) It was granted Magdeburg rights in 1498.
  10. Jump up^ Mohilev was granted Magdeburg rights by Stephen Báthory in 1577.
  11. Jump up^ Walerian Krasiński believed this demonstrated “what a strong feeling must have existed” against the Tsardom of Russia: when oppressed on account of their religion, they turned to the distant Islamic Ottoman Empire rather than the nearby Eastern Orthodox Tsardom of Russia.[14](p190)
  12. Jump up^ Bohdan Sobol, the father of Spiridon Sobol, was among the executed people.[15]
  13. Jump up^ Bain noted that, c. 1632, the nobles and clergy owned most of the land in theKingdom;[clarify] the clergy owned 160,000 villages out of a total of 215,000, and paid no taxes at all.[6](p196)
  14. Jump up^ According to Kempa, 74 of the 93 people sentenced to death were sentenced in absentia.[2](pp57)
  15. Jump up^ On the Baptism of St. Volodymyr. On the Falsification of the Slavic Books by the Enemies of the Metropolitan. On Monks and their Vows.
  16. Jump up^ For example, portions of a 1622 letter from Sapieha to Kuntsevych were published by Slovo. According to Himka, “Slovowas insinuating by publishing this letter that” Kuntsevych was not a martyr but was murdered “as a natural consequence of his own violent actions.” The canonization was used to “shape and reinforce” the emotional character about “a key Russophile argument” – that an Eastern Catholic Church was not beneficial to Ruthenians.[16](pp29–31) Krasiński included only an English translation of an extraction from the Sapieha letter.[14](pp192–193)While Alphonse Guépin (fr) included a French translation of the entire Sapieha letter and the entire Kuntsevych response to Sapieha.[25](pièces justificatives) Neither letter was included in an abridged Polish translation of Guépin by Walerian Kalinka.[26]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b c d e Wilson, Andrew (2011). Belarus : the last European dictatorship. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300134353.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d Kempa, Tomasz (2010). “Religious relations and the issue of religious tolerance in Poland and Lithuania in the 16th and 17th century” (PDF). Sarmatia Europaea 1. Wrocław ?: Instytut Historyczny Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego ?. pp. 31–66. ISSN 2082-5072Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-12-02. Retrieved 2014-12-02.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f Subtelny, Orest (2009). Ukraine: a history (4th ed.). Toronto [u.a.]: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1-44269728-7.
  4. Jump up^ “Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church”Religious Information Service of Ukraine. Lviv: Institute of Religion and Society of the Ukrainian Catholic University. 2011-08-15. Archived from the original on 2013-03-20.
  5. Jump up to:a b Crummey, Robert O. (2006). “Eastern Orthodoxy in Russia and Ukraine in the age of counter-Reformation”. In Angold, Michael. Eastern Christianity. The Cambridge history of Christianity 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 302–324. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521811132.014ISBN 9780521811132– via Cambridge Histories Online.
  6. Jump up to:a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, R. Nisbet (1908). “The first Romanovs and Wladislaus IV, 1613–1648”Slavonic Europe : a political history of Poland and Russia from 1447 to 1796. Cambridge historical series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 187–210. OCLC 599828337.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d e Davies, Norman (1982). God’s playground : a history of Poland 1. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 174–175. ISBN 0-231-05350-9.
  8. Jump up to:a b c Sužiedėlis, Saulius. Historical dictionary of Lithuania. Historical dictionaries of Europe 80 (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. ISBN 978-0-8108-4914-3.
  9. Jump up to:a b c Medlin, William K.; Patrinelis, Christos G. (1971). Renaissance influences and religious reforms in Russia : Western and post-Byzantine impacts on culture and education (16th-17th centuries). Études de philologie et d’histoire 18. Genève: Librairie Droz. ISBN 9782600038942.
  10. Jump up to:a b Skinner, Barbara (2009). The western front of the Eastern Church: Uniate and Orthodox conflict in 18th-Century Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press. ISBN 9780875804071.
  11. Jump up^ Pike, John, ed. (2012-09-25). “Union of Brest (1596)”GlobalSecurity.org. Alexandria, VA. Retrieved 2014-12-10. This is atertiary source that clearly includes information from other sources but does not name them.
  12. Jump up^ “Archbishop St. Jozafat Kuncewicz, O.S.B.M.”Catholic Hierarchy. RetrievedNovember 12, 2012.
  13. Jump up to:a b c “St. Josaphat”AmericanCatholic.org. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  14. Jump up to:a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainKrasiński, Waleryan (1840). Historical sketch of the rise, progress and decline of the reformation in Poland 2. London: J. L. Cox and Sons. OCLC 714971939.
  15. Jump up^ Makarīĭ, Metropolitan of Moscow“Борьба православия с унией при митрополите Велямине Рутском” [The struggle of Orthodoxy with the Unia under Metropolitan Velyamine Rutsky]История Русской Церкви [History of the Russian Church] (in Russian) 5.
  16. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Himka, John-Paul (1999). “The canonization of Iosafat Kuntsevych and its reception in Galicia”Religion and nationality in western Ukraine : the Greek Catholic Church and the Ruthenian National Movement in Galicia, 1867-1900. McGill-Queen’s studies in the history of religion. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. pp. 28–32. ISBN 978-0-77351812-4.
  17. Jump up^ Plokhy, Serhii (2006). The origins of the Slavic nations : premodern identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-13945892-4.
  18. Jump up to:a b c Katchanovski, Ivan; Kohut, Zenon E.; et al. (2013). Historical dictionary of Ukraine. Historical dictionaries of Europe (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 586. ISBN 978-0-81087847-1.
  19. Jump up to:a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSzlupas, John (Apr 1907). “Lithuania and its ancient Calvinistic churches”The Princeton theological review (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press) 5 (2): 242–280. ISSN 1945-4813.
  20. Jump up to:a b Magocsi, Paul R. (2010). A history of Ukraine : the land and its peoples(2nd, rev. and expanded ed.). Toronto ; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-1-44269879-6.
  21. Jump up^ Taft, Robert F. (2013). “Perceptions and realities in Orthodox-Catholic relations today : reflections on the past, prospects for the future”. In Demacopoulos, George E.; Papanikolaou, Aristotle. Orthodox constructions of the West. Orthodox Christianity and contemporary thought. New York: Fordham University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-82325192-6.
  22. Jump up^ Zinkevych, Osyp; Sorokowski, Andrew, eds. (1988). A thousand years of Christianity in Ukraine : an encyclopedic chronology. New York: Smoloskyp Publishers and the National Committee to Commemorate the Millen[n]ium of Christianity in Ukraine. pp. 117–119, 121–122, 124, 130, 135, 148, 157. ISBN 978-0-91483458-8.
  23. Jump up^ Blazejowsky, Dmytro (1990). Hierarchy of the Kyivan Church (861-1990). Sacrum Ucrainae millenium 3. Rome. p. 281. OCLC 22834909.
  24. Jump up^ Catholic Church (1969). Calendarium Romanum (in Latin). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. p. 149.

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