Monday, November 12

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vol, 8
no. 29

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GOSPEL Reading and Reflections for the Mass of the day

November 11, 1997

Wednesday, November 12:
   Feast of Saint Josaphat,
         Bishop, Religious, and Martyr
    First Reading: Wisdom 6: 2-11
    Psalms: Psalm 82: 3-4, 6-8
    Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 11-19

    Saint Josaphat, Bishop, Religious and Martyr

    In 1580, during the papacy of Pope Gregory XIII- author of the Gregorian Calendar, Saint Josaphat was born as John Kuncevic to an Orthodox family in Vladimir, Poland. Though he was born into the Greek Orthodox Church and a Pole, he became a member of the Uniate Ruthenian Church in Vilna, Lithuania. In the 16th and 17th Centuries the Ruthenian followers were divided into three sects - the Catholic or Latin Church in total union with Rome, the Orthodox Greek Church which answered to the Patriarch of Constantinople and Moscow, and the Greek Uniate Church which the Polish people had discarded because of the lengthy liturgy and the ignorant clergy who were allowed to marry. In a word, respect was non-existent for the latter hierarchy. The Roman Catholic Church had become strong in Poland, but had failed to make headway into Lithuania or Russia, but a synod held by the Ruthenian Church in 1595 opted to be reunited with the Church of Rome pending approval by Pope Clement VIII. So excited with this proposition was John that he became a Basilian monk at the age of 24 at Holy Trinity Monastery at Vilna and was given the religious name of Josaphat. Along with a friend and fellow monk Jozef Rutski, he worked long and hard on bringing reform to the Basilians in anticipation of union with Rome. At the age of 37 Josaphat released an extensive thesis in the Slavic language on the natural roots of unity of the Ukranian Church with the Church of Rome. Through his efforts he started a Basilian monastery that was totally in union with the Catholic Church. When his friend Jozef became metropolitan of Kiev, Josaphat became archimandrite of the monastery which was the same as abbot in the Roman Church, before being appointed in 1617 Archbishop of Polotsk on the eastern border of Lithuania next to western Russia. Because of the state of disrepair in his new diocese and the strong opposition to Rome, Josaphat knew in his heart his mission was to reach out to the Ruthenians and convince them the Catholic Church was the true faith. He carried this out through synods, seminars, and catechesis studies. When some priests rebelled, he exacted sanctions on clergy who were not following the true teachings. This naturally caused dissension and resentment and many of the misguided clergy stirred up opposition to Josaphat, spreading fear among the Ruthenians that if the Latin rite were introduced into their land they would lose everything from their culture to their property. This caused the Ruthenians to rally against Josaphat. It turned to outright hatred when, in 1621 the Byzantine Patriarch of Jerusalem traveled to the Ukraine to consecrate a metropolitan and a handful of Orthodox bishops in the Ruthenian Church. This action further eroded support for Josaphat and the plotters, led by antiarchbishop Metetius Smotritsky, sought to seal his fate by stirring fear in the populace at a time when Poland was being threatened by the Turks from the South and Sweden to the north. In addition, Poland was cautious of coming to Josaphat's aid because Josphat, though in total union with Rome, still insisted on keeping the Byzantine rites and customs in the Ukranian Church as opposed to the Latin rite in Poland. To quell the opposition Josaphat decided to go to Vitebsk, Russia which was then known as "White Russia" and where he had first become an auxilary bishop, to meet face to face with his enemies in hopes of a peaceful dialog. However this was thwarted when a priest named Elias harassed Josaphat and was locked up. The people demanded Elias' release and as they assembled taunts of kill Josaphat rose to a fever pitch. As Josaphat held out his hands to quiet the crowd and speak reasonably to the maddening mob, they stormed the platform and began beating him. As the frenzied mob of Ruthenians roared its approval, one man cleared a path and leveled his rifle at Josaphat killing the saint instantly. They then dispatched of his body by hurling it into the Dvina River. Thus this Eastern saint became a martyred victim of the cruel persecution by the Slav-Ruthenian Church in Russia in 1623. Nearly 250 years later Pope Pius IX canonized Josaphat as the first Eastern saint to formally be canonized in such a process. The efforts begun by Josaphat are being carried out today by Pope John Paul II in uniting the Orthodox Churches with Rome and the Uniate Churches such as the Ukranian Rite and Byzantine Rite which are in union with the Pope, yet maintain an eastern culture in their liturgy and language.

November 13, 1997

Thursday, November 13:
Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin, Religious Founder, Educator and Missionary

      First Reading: Wisdom 7: 22-30; 8: 1
      Psalms: Psalm 119: 89-91, 130, 135, 175
      Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 20-25

    Feast of Saint Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini

       This pioneering educator and missionary Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, better known to all her followers as Mother Cabrini is one of our most modern saints and yet the first American citizen to be canonized a saint. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 7, 1947, only 30 years after her death in Chicago, Illinois in 1917. On November 13, 1950 the Holy Father proclaimed Mother Cabrini "Patroness of Immigrants." Maria Francesca, as she was christened at baptism, was born prematurely on July 15, 1850 as the youngest of 13 children to Augustine and Stella Oldini Cabrini at Sant' Angelo Lodigiano in Italy. She had always had the inborn desire to do something special for God. Though she was on her way to becoming a school teacher, her parents both died in 1868 and she decided to become a nun. After two communities turned her down, the bishop of her diocese Msgr. Serrati asked her to take over a poorly run orphanage in Codogno, Italy which was called House of Providence. Naturally resentment arose from the original foundress Antonia Tondini and the tension-filled conflict caused the bishop of Todi to shut it down. But he realized Frances' zeal and talents and invited her to found a religious organization of nuns devoted to teaching young girls. With seven other young women, Francis remodeled an abandoned Franciscan friary which served as the mother house for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart which the bishop approved in 1880. Vocations became plentiful and soon the order had spread to Milan, Rome and other parts of Italy. Soon word reached across the sea. Realizing the need to minister to the Italians who had immigrated to the United States, the bishop of New York Archbishop Corrigan invited Mother Cabrini to come to America to help the immigrants. She accepted and arrived at the portals of Ellis Island in 1889. For the next 27 years she would establish numerous schools, hospitals, convents and orphanages throughout the vast United States from New York to Denver despite great obstacles. In 1907 her congregation received papal approval. Two years later she became an American citizen. America was definitely the better for it as the Church grew rapidly through the works of those inspired by this Italian saint. Mother Cabrini founded over 65 charitable organizations and houses for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. While still alive she was able to obtain countless special favors through her prayerful intercession. Many accounts of spiritual phenomena accompanied Mother Cabrini. One such account relates to her founding a house just outside of Denver in what is today Golden, Colorado. Surveying the hilly and rocky land above Denver, the owner sold it to her dirt-cheap so-to-speak because there was no water on the land and nothing would grow there. This did not daunt the staunch saint. She took her wooden staff and trekking up the hill, poked at the earth and water gushed forth where it still flows freely today. Returning to Chicago, she fell ill and died on December 22 in the same year as the Fatima apparitions of 1917. Many who come to America's shores from all over the world invoke the intercession of Mother Cabrini today who is considered the "Patroness of Immigrants" as Pope Pius XII declared on November 13, 1950 when he established her feast day for the Church in the United States.

    November 12, 1997 volume 8, no. 29    LITURGY

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