Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Josaphat the Malevolent?"

MYTH
Josaphat Kuntsevych was a tyrannical murderer

It is impossible to believe the stories, e.g. those found in "An Anniversary of Mourning: Josaphat the Malevolent" by Nicholas Maas at the anti-ecumenical site of Patrick Barnes orthodoxinfo.com, that St. Josaphat of Kuntsevych (Язафат Кунцэвіч: Ukrainian Greek Catholic wonderworking archbishop of Polotsk and martyr) [1584-11/12/1623] committed murders and other heinous crimes against the Eastern Orthodox when you consider that he (all of the following points are found on his Wikipedia article{1}):
1. prayed often and helped with Church services instead of playing games when he was a kid.
2. prayed and studied whenever he had free time as an apprentice.
3. frequently prostrated himself with his head to the ground while saying the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
4. never ate meat.
5. often fasted.
6. "slept on the bare floor."
7. wore an angular chain and hair shirt.
8. mortified his flesh until he drew blood.
9. favored the religious life over the merchant Papovič's offer of his whole fortune and the hand of his daughter in holy matrimony.
10. wrote several original works of Catholic apologetics after zealously studying "the Slavonic-Byzantine liturgical books" (On the Baptism of St. Vladimir; On the Falsification of the Slavic Books by the Enemies of the Metropolitan; On Monks and their Vows).
11. performed works of mercy for the poor.
12. profoundly devoted himself to the Divine Liturgy.
13. preached and heard confessions in Church, fields, prisons, hospitals, and during personal travels.
14. restored Byzantine Churches.
15. established rules for priestly life.
16. gave a catechism to the clergy and told them to learn it by heart.
17. has incorrupt relics.
18. posthumously worked myriad miracles, as confirmed by the oath of 116 witnesses.
Listen to what our Lord says in Lk 6:43: "For there is no good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit: nor an evil tree that bringeth forth good fruit." Remember the words of the martyred Apostle St. James the Just, the first Bishop of Jerusalem [Jas 3:11-12]: "Doth a fountain send forth, out of the same hole, sweet and bitter water? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear grapes? Or the vine, figs? So neither can the salt water yield sweet."

Glorious Martyr St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, pray to God for the salvation of us sinners and for the imminent return of the Eastern Orthodox to the Catholic fold!

Notes and References
{1} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josaphat_Kuntsevych

2 comments:

Byzantine said...

While still a Roman Catholic, prior to my official transfer to the Byzantine Catholic Church, I took Josaphat as my patron with regard to any and all Ecumenical activity in which I involved myself.

Just this past year, I ran across that article on orthodoxinfo.com and thought about it. Has not the Catholic Church always been pretty careful about who it canonized? But I wondered none-the-less.

Just this past summer, at seminary, I ran across a biography of St. Josaphat. Josaphat put up an airtight defense against his detractors when the Roman Catholic bishop who was overseeing the union contacted him about the complaints of the Orthodox against Josaphat.

There is, I think, a tendency among some people, given our fallen nature, to use any means necessary to justify ourselves when we perceive that something close to us is in danger of being overtaken, even by something which is more correct.

Josaphat Kuntsevych is, in my opinion, a true example of one who was truly Eastern Orthodox, and lived the best of that tradition in full communion with the Pope of Rome.

Let us continue to pray for the unity that Christ desires in His body, a unity born from the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Joseph

John (Ad Orientem) said...

The text for the wiki article on Josephat of Polotsk is almost entirely from the Catholic Encyclopedia. No non-Roman Catholic Church sources are anywhere cited. It should therefor be taken with a rather large grain of salt. I certainly would not regard it is as evidence against Josphat's many atrocities which have been documented by historians with no religious axe to grind (either Catholic or Orthodox). Unfortunately a dispassionate examination of the historical evidence does not leave a very flattering picture of the man. While Mr. Barnes article is highly polemical, it is substantially accurate with respect to facts.

In fairness there was much intolerance in those days. Modern concepts of religious liberty were completely alien to that era and religious minorities were routinely persecuted. Josephat was backed by the power of the state. And he wielded that power ruthlessly in pursuit of what he believed to be the "true faith."

In ICXC
John