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The Letter to the Ephesians exhorts us:

“Be a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to serve unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”

Today, the 12th of November, we remember Saint Josephat Kunsevych, born in 1580 in the Ukraine; a man who took these words of St Paul to heart. He was raised in the Orthodox tradition and was trained as a merchant’s apprentice. He was attracted, though, to the rigors of religious life, with a desire for a deeper spiritual life. During his youth, he experienced first-hand the separation by the Orthodox churches from the Holy See, and longed to see all Christians united under Christ.

On the 300th anniversary of St Josephat’s martyrdom, Pope Pius XI wrote the Encyclical, Ecclesiam Dei (The Church of God, promulgated on 12 November 1923):

The Church of God, by a wondrous act of Divine Providence, was so fashioned as to become in the fullness of time an immense family which embraces all men. The Church possesses—a fact known to all—as one of its visible marks, impressed on it by God, that of a world-wide unity… Since this communion of all the peoples of the earth in a world-wide unity is, above all things, the work of God, and therefore to be had only with the divine help and assistance, let us have recourse with all care to prayer, following in this both the teachings and example of St. Josaphat, who, in his apostolate for unity, trusted above all else in the power of prayer. Ecclesiam Dei, #1, #23.

The deep longing St Josaphat experienced, for Christian Unity, is the call of every Christian who has found the deep treasure of Salvation through Christ. May we one day be able to share our joy in union with our brothers and sisters at the Table of the Lord.

Lord,

fill your Church with the Spirit

that gave Saint Josaphat courage

to lay down his life for his people.

By his prayers

may your Spirit make us strong

and willing to offer our lives

for our brothers and sisters.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Josaphat, Pray for us!

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More on this topic:

St. Josaphat, martyr for Church unity, to be remembered Nov. 12

Biography of St. Josaphat Kuncevyc

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On Christian Unity:

The restoration of unity among all Christians

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