Mass for the staff of the Archdiocese, Tuesday 12 November 2013
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE,
ON TUESDAY, 12TH NOVEMBER 2013, FOR THE STAFF OF THE ARCHDIOCESE
My dear Friends,
Saint Josaphat, the Archbishop of Polotsk, was a fearless apostle of unity and service. Today’s first Letter from Saint Paul to the Ephesians reminds us that we have one Lord, one faith and one baptism, so that the work that we do builds up the Body of Christ and draws us to unity of faith and knowledge.
Saint Josaphat is a shining example of unity. He was born in 1584 in Volodymyr, a city of ancient Poland, but he was a Ukrainian Catholic. He was a man of great prayer, a student and at the age of 20 he became strongly aware of the divisions which existed in religion in Poland. The Ruthenian Eastern Church was divided into two contending parties; those who were united with Rome, and those who were schismatic.
He saw divisions growing in the Church and that few people were remaining to the Holy See and to true teaching and the eastern rites. From the time of his ordination he preached in various churches, bringing back many dissidents to the faith. He restored monasteries, built a convent and converted even the most zealous of those who were separated from Rome. By 1614 he was Prior of a monastery in the city of Vilna, developing the ability to teach and guide. He was only 38 when he was made Archbishop of Polotsk on the very day when six years later he would witness to the faith with his blood.
Because of the opposition of King Sigismond of Poland and the people of Vitebsk gradually came to hate him, notwithstanding his great work. What he could not do in life he did by the giving of his blood, so that four years later many of those separated in schism came back to the true faith, led by Saint Josaphat’s prayers and intercession in heaven.
Today’s Gospel is a strong reminder of the value of witness. When Jesus prayed at the Last Supper not only for his apostles, but for those who through their words would come to believe in him, he gives us an invitation that our faith guided by prayer, our work which is the giving of ourselves and the service we render, like Josaphat, is something which should draw people to know the Lord and to find a new and I rejoice in the fact that many people who have come to work among us are inspired by the sense of unity and service for which we constantly strive and by the example of many members of the Archdiocese who put their exceptional talents at the service of others in our parishes, institutions and communities. May I thank you for your example, as now we come before the Lord who knows our hearts and in offering this Mass find the ability to remain in his love, so that in his time and his way we may bear much fruit.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.