St Josaphat

Archbishop of Polotsk (Belarus), martyr (entered heaven in 1623)

Dear Josie,

You know, of course, how much I admire you.  Of all my nieces I believe that you have received a special vocation.  And now that I see you falling prey to the seductions of Californian culture, it makes my stomach turn.  Certainly it is only to be expected, since you opted to go west for your studies, but that doesn’t make it less worrisome.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not berating your moral or religious practices, which seem to be holding strong, thanks be to God (and to your mother’s prayers, I am sure).  Rather, I am concerned about your worldview, your Weltanschauung, as they call it in philosophical circles.  Though California may seem to be the pinnacle and epicenter of civilization (especially when you experience it from the Edenic precincts of a coastal college campus), it really isn’t.  To inure yourself against succumbing to the narrow minded and comfortable mindset that is slowly numbing your universal sensibilities, I recommend keeping abreast of the wide spectrum of Church affairs – which includes academia and California, but doesn’t exclude the rest of the world.  Take, for instance, the issue of Christian unity, which was the heartfelt concern of today’s saint.

You see, Josaphat was the son of a Catholic father, but he lived in an Orthodox region.  (You remember, I presume, that the Orthodox Christians, most of whom live in the eastern Mediterranean or in Slavic countries, have rejected the primacy of the Roman Pontiff ever since the unfortunate falling out of 1054.)   Early on he felt a call to serve the cause of unity by dedicating himself to the priestly ministry, which he did with great success in the Ukraine, Poland, and finally in Belarus, where he was made bishop of the Eparchy (diocese) of Polatsk.  Upon his arrival the entire eparchy was in a deplorable state of relaxed morals and ecclesiastical disarray.  His prudent pastoring and passionate preaching initiated a vibrant reform in every aspect of the community.  In Polatsk as elsewhere, his great cause was reestablishing union with the Successor of St Peter, the Bishop of Rome, and because of his exemplary virtue and tireless charity, he won the whole Eparchy to this all-important cause.  Soon, however, Orthodox dissidents established a parallel hierarchy in the aftermath of the Union of Brest (politics often seems to get in the way, doesn’t it?) and sent their own archbishop to Polatsk, one Moletius Smotritsky.  Smotritsky energetically set about undoing the good work accomplished by Josaphat, and soon had raised a vociferous anti-Catholic party with members throughout the diocese.  Such was their ire at the saintly archbishop who insisted on returning to union with the ancient Church that they eventually stormed his quarters and murdered him, throwing his mutilated body into the river.

And that, my dear niece, is the kind of thing that still goes on throughout this embattled world.  Do keep abreast of such events, and expand the geography of your prayer to include them.  This, I believe, will help immunize you against the lotuses of the Californian, collegiate Weltanschauung.

Yours always,

Uncle Eddy

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