Reactions to Brother Joseph's Murder

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Schema-Archimandrite Macarius Bolotov's thoughts, expressed by telephone on 8 November 1997, on the tragic death of José Muñoz, the guardian of the Wonderworking Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, and on the confusion of minds that is evoked by sensational reports:

"The Mother of God loves her chosen one, Brother Joseph. Such a death was allowed so that he would carry his life's struggle through to the end and be crowned with a martyr's crown."

"And concerning all these reports, each person judges to the extent of his own depravity. The pure in heart will never believe this."

The editorial staff of the English-language journal, "The Sentinel", commented on José's death thus:

"As we were going to press, we learned of the murder of José Muñoz. As so many know, José was the selfless caretaker of the Myrrh-streaming and Wonderworking Iveron-Montreal Icon of the Most Holy Lady Theotokos. For many years, he has travelled the world to bring this Icon to bless thousands of Orthodox.

"After the initial shock, tears, and disbelief ebbed, we are left with sifting through the rumors (where is the Icon he so lovingly tended for so many years?) to get to the truth.

"Some may think the truth lies in apprehending the assailant and bringing him to justice (preferably the death penalty) to answer for his crime. "Others know the truth can be found in the abiding mercy of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. That no matter how "insane" we may think this act to be, there is a reason for it, and, in time, that reason will be revealed for all to know.

"Those who knew José, even only through reputation, knew that, above all he truly loved God and the Theotokos, whom he so unselfishly served. We may be weeping from our selfishness of having lost a remarkable example of Christian piety, but José is rejoicing, for he has achieved something which we all long to achieve. He is now numbered among the Church Triumphant.

"With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Thy servant, José, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.

"May he intercede on our behalf for the salvation of our souls."

From Father Victor's sermon on the 16th of November (on the Gospel theme of the rich man and Lazarus):

"…Let us remember, finally, the quite recent example given us in the image of the martyred guardian of the Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, Bother Joseph Muñoz. He was not a rich man. But people gave him their donations, and no sooner did he acquire these monies, than right there he gave them away, and the Lord and His Most Pure Mother, through their mercies, never left him, and his hand never knew scarcity.

"Brother Joseph was poor in spirit. He understood well that without God he is nothing. And, for this his spiritual poverty, he was vouchsafed a martyr's end.

"Some of us were able to be at Brother Joseph's burial at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. Hundreds of people came there from the USA, Canada and other countries of the world, and they testify to the special grace which was felt while standing at his coffin. Unfortunately, I was not able to be at this spiritual banquet, but I viewed the video tape of his funeral attentively and saw his tortured body.

"In this connection, I wish to share with you some important details of the farewell to Brother Joseph.

"The guardian of the Myrrh-streaming Icon of the Portaitissa was buried on the thirteenth day after his brutal murder in Athens. Fearing that, after so protracted a period, there would be an odor of corruption, they wanted to chant his funeral with the coffin closed. But God judged otherwise. The coffin was opened and this gave everyone an opportunity to evaluate with his own eyes the extent of the sufferings which he endured alone during that fateful night in Athens, completing his earthly ministry to the Mother of God.

"The coffin was open and there was no stench or corruption whatsoever. Is this not a miracle? Is this not a continuation of those visible signs of God's grace that appeared to the world through the passion-bearer Joseph, who was poor in spirit?

"Brother Joseph carried the wondrous Icon around the whole world and shared with everyone the joy of the Mother of God's protection and everywhere left those remarkable bits of cotton wool filled with the Divine Myrrh. And now, after his death, the Lord has rewarded His chosen one with a martyr's crown for his faithful service to Him.

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