November 10, 2019

As Holy Eucharist Parish in Winnipeg is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of its founding and the consecration of the first parish church, it held a number of special events, including some academic-historic conferences. At one such gathering on 20 June 2019, Sr. Oresta Svorak, SSMI delivered a fascinating talk on the Eucharistic spirituality of the co-founder of her religious congregation - Blessed Josaphata. The talk was given at the time in Ukrainian, with a partial summary translation provided by Sr. Theresa Slota, SSMI. What follows is the full text (in English translation) of Sr. Oresta's talk. She alludes to the fact that this same year, the Church worldwide is commemorating the 100th Anniversary since the death of Blessed Josaphata.

The Eucharistic Spirituality

of Blessed Sr. Josaphata Hordashewska

By the time of her death, in the 27th year of her religious life, there were over 400 Sisters and 40 homes.

Uniting two significant dates - the 100th anniversary of Holy Eucharist Parish, and the 100th anniversary of the death of Blessed Sister Josaphata - I have the unique opportunity to tell you about the Eucharistic spirituality of Blessed Josaphata.

Spirituality is a category of ethics that determines the moral dimension of human activity, a living fountain of limitless virtues, moral ability and lofty values that foster heroism!

Blessed Josaphata is a phenomenon of Christian spirituality who, with constant humility, self-evaluation and self-awareness of her own sinfulness, admitted the need for the presence of Christ, giving Him her entire will, actions, ideals, beauty, faith, love and patient life.

The Eucharistic spirituality of Blessed Josaphata was based on the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity, which, during the course of her life, forged yet other virtues which beautified the interior of Blessed Josaphata's heart.

In general, the virtues of Blessed Sister Josaphata can be classified into the following:

-- spiritual (or Eucharistic), which united her the most with God. These are faith, hope and charity (with the common root, as with the Holy Eucharist, being love).

-- moral, which characterized her human qualities and mannerisms. These include humility, wisdom, justice, discretion, leadership, mercy and others.

-- physical, which underlined her strong, purposeful character. These include courage, moderation, peace, joy and self-control.

Today, I shall speak about the first group of virtues, the Eucharistic virtues!


This Faith gave her the strength to bear the difficulties and sufferings which arose from human jealousy, ingratitude and rejection from the very ones who should have supported and assisted her. Three types of prayer had major roles in strengthening Blessed Josaphata's faith:

1) Prayer to decipher the will of God and His plans. For example, when Basilian Father Jeremiah Lomnytzkyj presented his idea -- that she be the first member of the Community of Sisters Servants - she prayed very long in order to understand God's plan and desires for her, and finally set aside her original plan to enter the Order of Sisters of St. Basil the Great.

2) Prayer as a source of spiritual energy, and support in times of difficulty and trials of life. When Sisters who were younger than she - at the time when there were already 60 Sisters - obtained permission to make their final vows, her own request to make final vows was rejected... twice! It would seem that such an unbelievable situation would be almost impossible to bear, but Blessed Josaphata does not give way to despair, just humbly and implicitly trusts Divine Providence, for It works all things for the good!

Sister Christophora (Kachkowska), who was a witness, confirms this: "Sister Josaphata was often a victim of intrigue and human jealousy.... She accepted all that happened as coming from the Will of God... She entrusted herself to Divine Providence and the Protection of the Mother of God, often in a heroic manner."

3) Prayer as a method of intimate union with God, and the means of glorifying Him. In her writings, we read: "Search for God in everything and you will find Him. Have no other desire than to meet Him; no other joy than to find Him and then you will find true peace."

Thus, to be deeply united with the Lord meant for Blessed Josaphata to put God in first place; that is, to be like the impoverished Jesus in everything.

Glorifying the almighty God, even in the most vexatious moments of life, she was grateful for even the smallest of things, even the tiniest ray of light that the Lord might send her way. She writes: "My gratitude to You, O my God, impels me to love and rejoice in You, for You alone are the source of joy and worthy of a thousand hearts!"

Having the great gift of prayer, which had first place in her life, she used these favourite methods of uniting herself with Christ:

a) kneeling before the Crucified. Sr. Diohena (Diogenes) Kushnyts, one of the orphans, confirms that: "I often had the privilege of living in the same home as Sister Josaphata, and I.... saw how she would pray before the crucifix."

b) adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Sister Yakova (James) Fedorniak confirms: "Sister Josaphata was a true religious nun... she arose at night... would take another Sister along with her and went for adoration of the Holy Eucharist while the others were sleeping." (Lviv)

c) spending free time in contemplation of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This method of prayer was the source of the strength and energy for spiritual renewal, a remedy for spiritual weakness and a means of deepening her unity with God, as she writes: "My entire attention was focused on God as if in the whole world, only He and I existed."

Thus, Blessed Josaphata fully understood that perfection of faith and renewal of soul are possible only by prayer, which is the food and air of perfect consecration to God. It is impossible to live an interior life united with God, and understand all that goes on around us, without conversing with Him, without piercing the most intimate of Hearts. Therefore, filled with supernatural faith, she saw clearly the call of the Creator and understood His mission for her, complete with sufferings, difficulties and failures.

II) HOPE and Trust in God

A person cannot believe in God without the desire to love Him with all one's heart, nor be without hope of meeting Him in eternity! This sentence and indeed way of life and Eucharistic spirituality is again from the writings of Blessed Josaphata. For her entire life, she kept her spiritual sights on heaven, and her hope in God grew exponentially to heroic heights. Placing unshakeable faith in the Lord, and trusting His Providence, she is not shaken by judgmental accusations of others, she does not become disheartened by jealous injustices, she is not broken by trials and failures, she does not permit evil to trouble her heart. Instead, she overcomes these with humility, courageously understanding that these are permitted by God as a means of strengthening and maturing her soul. Her freedom of spirit and joyful trust - these are the fruits of her obedience to the will of God; this is the complete surrender of self to His every whim and desire. This is the heroic consecration of self to the last drop of blood and the last heartbeat.

Blessed Josaphata valued bitter suffering in union with Jesus, as a gift of God's love, a mission of prolonging the Agony of Christ. Therefore, she begged the Lord: "Take me from this world at the age when I will be the best prepared!" During her last illness, in tremendous pain, she gave no sign of impatience, but understanding the significance of the heavenly Jerusalem, she longed to see God, rejoice in Him and never cease to love Him! She suddenly wants to speed up the arrival of Christ at the end of her earthly wanderings, and with grand faith awaits the blissful moment of reunion with Him Who was her entire Treasure, Comfort, Wisdom, Source of energy and mighty support. The heroic virtue of faith of Blessed Josaphata reaches its supreme height when she begs Jesus: "Come and do not delay any longer!... and say, "Peace be to you!" ... and free me from these tempest waves ... and uncover my desire for the Table of Happiness... to rest in Your embrace, O my God!"

III) CHARITY -- the Sanctity of Blessed Josaphata

Blessed Josaphata reached the heights of spiritual perfection because, daily trusting in Divine Providence, she lived to carry out unceasing works of love for God and her people.

As the foundress of the Congregation of Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, according to its charisma, she changed herself, giving others an example of a life of sacrifice and service, without fear (a slave's attitude) and without expectation of reward (a servant's attitude), strove to glorify God in her heart like a child with never-ending love. As she wrote, "O Jerusalem beloved... be for me my only comfort, that I may lift my eyes to you... the desire of my heart... and I want to hear of nothing else, to speak of nothing else.... only of You... my God! I want to see You and rejoice in You.... I dream of the day when there will be no more enemies or temptations; no more sin or offense against God; and the day when no one will ever forget Him nor cease loving Him!"

She expects to have a true faith that will never lose its dearest Treasure of joy and light, Who Jesus was for her! What tender melody of the heart! what lofty notes of love that wove with melodic strings of petition and desire of her interior soul, this simple servant of God Josaphata, in which had developed such ocean-deep supernatural spirituality.

The virtue of charity evidenced itself throughout Blessed Josaphata's entire life via three aspects:

1) love of God, as mentioned above, in perfect consecration of self by the three monastic vows -- poverty, chastity and obedience - about which she says: "Urged by the desire to serve You, I want to love You as You deserve... Only because I love You, I want to reach great perfection! O Lord, grant... that I love You...and never want any other reward than to love You even more...!"

2) love for her people - Together with the other people in the orphanage, she prayed the Stations of the Cross during the Great Fast, molebens and akafists to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to Jesus Christ; reads the Holy Scriptures to the illiterate (15 times); heals the sick with herbal remedies she gathered and prepared herself. For this latter, she taught herself the different medicinal uses of herbs to alleviate pain and various illnesses. As well, she took active part in the raising and education of the children entrusted to their care in sadochky, orphanages and schools, ensuring they were also taught religion, embroidery, crocheting and other handicrafts.

3) love for her religious Sisters - Blessed Josaphata demonstrated great care for their spiritual life as well as their physical health. Even on her deathbed, she promised her Sisters that when she arrived in heaven, that she would pray for each one of them the grace of sanctity. Holiness, according to her, meant always to cooperate with the will of God. She wrote, "Jesus, You have given me so many graces, give me just one more: to have many Sisters... My holy duty is to pray for each one." Caring for the health of the Sisters, she protected and defended their dignity and dedication, when Father Kyrylo (Cyril) Seletsky sent the Sisters to hard work in the fields, or as servants for local families.

Aware that her very existence is a great mystery of God's love for her, Blessed Josaphata asks the Blessed Virgin Mary: "Teach me to love Jesus!" Thus, for her entire life, she strove to show her love for God with constant prayer and dedicated service, ever strengthening her love for her neighbour and her people.


Having studied the life of Blessed Josaphata, it can be said that she was a "Religious Nun" written in capitals, for her dedication, her self-sacrifice, apostolic work and service touched the hearts of thousands of people. Demonstrating treasures of Christian virtue, self-discipline, self-organization, faith, hope, love and mercy, she continues to us today by her life lived according to the evangelic counsels. She preaches not with words but by the grace of God. She shows us how not to give in to evil and selfishness that surround us from all sides; how to convert our knowledge into active love of neighbour; how to grow in perfection on the road of truth and justice.

She is a "woman for all times", speaking to the world by her purity of heart, humility of thought, luminescence of understanding, generosity of conscience, and mortification of body and impulses. The greatest indication of her purity of heart, completely united with God, is that even in the wilted flowers that the Sisters sent her from Brazil, she sees the great Omnipotence of God, who can give such magnificent colour to all things created by Him! Her personality is like a magnet that draws youth to approach God with joy, bring Him their purity, and offer their services generously to the needs of the world as they follow Christ and bring the Gospel to all by their own example. Blessed Josaphata knew how to leave her footprints on this earth by being deeply united with God, doing everything for His glory, and not wishing to become renowned, respected, praised or rewarded. But the time came for the Lord to reward her modesty upon the altars of our holy Church, and showed the whole world her shining virtue! Amen.

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