"Fulfill quickly, O grace-giving Lord, your promise that there shall be one flock and one Divine Shepherd of Your Church..."1
When I inquired of a Russian rite in the Eastern Catholic world while speaking with Fr. Theodosius, a priest that serves at the local Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish near me, he replied that they were very tiny, but they do exist. No wonder, as Orthodox Christianity is dominant in that country, and has been for almost a millenium or so. Enter Bl. Leonid Feodorov.
Born to Orthodox parents, it seems that after much searching and pondering, he decided to join the Catholic Church. I wish his writings concerning this period were readily available to me, as I would dearly love to know why he rejected the Russian Orthodox Church and turned to the Catholic Church instead, merely for my own research. Nonetheless, his story, as with many Eastern Catholics, is a tragic one - going back into Russia with the blessing and support of the Servant of God Andrey Sheptytsky in order to aid and minister to the tiny Russian Catholic Church.
He was later imprisoned by the Communists, and sentenced to ten years in prison; he died three years later. I found this neat little write up on Wikipedia of all places:
"Dressed in the traditional Russian black cassock, with his long hair a beard often described as 'Christ-like', Feodorov was a man of the narod, of the ordinary Russian people for whom the Revolution had been fought. His presence put the lie to the usual description of Catholicism as 'the Polish religion.' His presentation -- a moving testimony of Russian spirituality and the history of the Church in that country -- evoked the best of Russian Christendom."2
"Grains of wheat, when ground in the mill, turn in to flour. With this flour we make the wafer of the holy Eucharist. Grapes, when crushed in the wine press, yield their juice. This juice turns into wine. Similarly, suffering so crushes us that we turn into better human beings."3
St. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu is the very first saint of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. A Poor Clare nun and teacher, her life was one marked by much suffering from health problems, as well as the added pain due to having deformed feet from an accident when she was young. She had miraculous healings happen to her through the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux, as well as one Bl. Kuriakose, and after her death later on, numerous healings began to occur through her intercession in turn.
The lives of many Eastern Catholics are often marred by much horror at the hands of persecutors, and Bl. Basil Velychkovsky is no exception. A Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Bl. Basil spent much of his adult life in and out of various prisons, being tortured for his faith. He ministered to prisoners and never backed down in spreading the Catholic faith; when offered to join the Russian Orthodox Church in exchange for his freedom from prison, he refused rather than give up his allegiance to the Catholic Church.
4. Bl. Basil Hopko
"I became only a shadow of a human being, hardly able to walk. I lost even the desire to live. Only my faith and prayers kept my mind sound. But finally the good Lord saved me from my indescribable distress."4
Another Ukrainian Catholic saint who endured tremendous suffering, Bl. Basil Hopko endured much torture at the hands of Communists, continually refusing their offers to join the Orthodox.
What is strange is how Communists wanted other Christians to become Orthodox, when Communism itself is an entirely atheistic movement that seeks to do away with religion period. So why was Orthodox Christianity state-approved? And if so, for how long? I would be curious to know the answers if anyone is knowledgeable on the subject.
Back to Bl. Basil - his sufferings are endless when one reads about his life: solitary confinement in dark cells, forced marching without rest for 122 days, torture, and all the rest. But it is bravery that is to be commended in the face of it all - over one hundred nuns whom he ministered to later in his life, who were also imprisoned, called him "Our Golden Man."5
The saint whose intercession was responsible for miraculous healings in St. Alphonsa's (above) own life, Bl. Kuriakose was another great figure in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. A priest of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, he did much to foster education among the poor in India. Under his direction, he founded new convents and initiatives in education as well.
6. Bl. Tarsykia Olha Matskiv
A member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, the same order of active nuns founded by Bl. Josaphata Hordashevska. According to the Patron Saints Index, she vowed to offer up her life for the conversion of Russia to the Catholic Church. She ended up doing just that in a sense - when Bolsheviks came knocking upon her convent's door, she was the one to open it. She was immediately shot and killed, becoming a martyr for the Catholic faith.
7. Bl. Nicholas Charnetsky
Like many other Ukrainian Catholic saints, Bl. Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky's life was one marked heavily by suffering. According to a brief bio on this Redemptorist priest found here, he spent many years in prison and had a great passion for "reconciliation of Christians"6. He suffered much torture at the hands of persecutors, and was often seen in ecstacy when at prayer. During his many years of confinement in prison camps, I read in the above biography that he knew all the names of his fellow prisoners and was a source of spiritual strength and encouragement for them.
1 - From HERE.
2 - Father Christopher Lawrence Zugger, The Forgotten: Catholics in the Soviet Empire from Lenin through Stalin, 186. Qtd on his entry on Wikipedia.
3 - From HERE.
4 - From HERE.
5 - ibid.
6 - From HERE.