Head of UGCC: “Saint Josaphat - martyr for the unity of Christians and Church”

Tuesday, 27 June 2017, 23:17

Today we came to this great temple during the world pilgrimage to commemorate a person who we glorify as a star, who gave himself, his soul, his life as a Good shepherd for his sheep. We have gathered here in a place where the relics of saint Josaphat are placed and we thank God and the Holy Father for the opportunity to glorify this great saint of our Church on the 150th anniversary of his canonization.

It was here, at this temple in 1867, on the Feast of saints Paul and Pater, June 29, the holiness of our bishop and martyr for Christian unity enlightened the whole world.

Father and Head of UGCC said in his homily during the Divine Liturgy of Ukrainian Byzantine rite, which he headed at the main altar of Saint Peter Basilica in Vatican on occasion of 150th anniversary of canonization of saint Josaphat whose relics are stored in this temple.

“Today we are thanking God that despite years and centuries, his spirit, his example, his personality is able to gather thousands of people at the same place of his canonization, so to unite through him with God”, the preacher said. Then, His Beatitude Sviatoslav suggested to look at the other side of holiness of saint Josaphat: “We glorify him as a bishop and martyr, and we do this fairly. However, his martyrdom is marked with a peculiar life-giving and holy concept. He is a martyr for Christian unity and Christ’s Church”. At this point Head of Church recalled how Metropolitan Andrey on the 300th anniversary of saint Josaphat martyr’s death said that “God, by the Holy Spirit, frequently calls great people for accomplishing great deeds”.

“Holiness, light and majesty of saint Josaphat have two dimensions”, he mentioned. Primarily, God let saint martyr Josaphat with a deepness of his spiritual life soak a spiritual history of Kyiv Church, which remembers the unity of Christ’s Church of the first century. “It was a heart of this holy bishop, which the Holy Spirit chose for bestowing vigor, ardor, desire to restore this unity. Interestingly, because he penetrated that concept, deepening in the spiritual life in his monastic community. He lived a life of a praying liturgical heritage of Kyiv Church and the concept of uniting Churches. Namely in our Kyiv tradition, God preserved for us in the personality of saint Josaphat that vigor, memory, prayer and desire to restore the unity of all Churches of Volodymyr’s baptism on our lands”. And, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit raised Josaphat above his epoch, sometimes even above the relationships among different Churches. “Long before the Second Vatican Council, he was full of the spirit which we call ecumenism today. The sense is to search the ways and methods to restore the total unity of Christ’s Church”, His Beatitude Sviatoslav explained.

Head of UGCC assumes that we have to free the personality of saint martyr Josaphat from various biases of ideological mystifications and fill with holiness and spirit of this great saint of Christ’s Church.

“We received a special privilege and gift from God today. Because in this pilgrimage we brought to this church pain, tears, blood and sufferings of Ukraine. With the special permission of the Holy Father we want to put everything what the body of our nation lives by at this altar of apostle Peter”, Head of Church referred to the pilgrims. “Today we are asking for transforming our pain and suffering into the pure bloodless sacrifice of our Saviour by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And out of here, out of the tomb of apostle Peter, like a pure odorous smell of thurible rose to the heavenly altar. Today we are asking saint Josaphat in unity with apostle Peter for a prayer for Ukraine. Here, we want to pray for peace in Ukraine, peace that comes down from heaven, what the world doesn’t have. We want to build free and independent European Ukraine, enlightening it with the power and light of Gospel. Today we are asking the Lord for filling hearts of all Ukrainian Christians with vigor, desire of saint Josaphat for unity, - “that they may all be one”, similarly how our Saviour prayed for that”, His Beatitude Sviatoslav said.

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Photo by Mykola Mudryk

Video by Radio Vatican

The UGCC Department for Information