St. Josaphat, whom the Church honours on November 27, was the son of Abenner, King of the Indies. This pagan King, fearing that his son might become a Christian (for he had been warned by a certain astrologer that this would happen), took the most severe measures to keep him from the knowledge of the Christian religion. He shut him up, even in his earliest childhood, in a large castle with no one but his tutor to live with him, who was instructed to bring him up a pagan, like his father, and never, under pain of death, to speak to him of the Christian faith, and to see that nothing would be put in his way that would ever make him hear about it or inquire into it.
The tutor obeyed his orders to the letter, and for many years the young Prince never saw but the castle in which he dwelt, and the fields which surrounded it.
One day, however, when he had already reached the age of manhood, his father at length yield to his oft-repeated request that he might be allowed to go forth into the great world to visit it. He had not gone far, when he met a poor man bent nearly to the ground through old age. Josaphat was astonished at this sight so new to him, and he asked his tutor what had brought the man to that sad condition. The tutor answered that it was the effect of old age.
"And shall we also, when we are old like this man have the same infirmities?" said the Prince.
"Yes, all men must follow in the same path which leads to old age, then to death."
"And shall I also have to die one day?" asked Josaphat. "And if so, what will become of me after my death? What will happen to my soul?"
"Ah! as to that," replied the tutor, "it is a problem which it impossible for anyone to understand, and which we must not try to solve; it is a mystery which God Himself has covered with a veil."
This answer did not satisfy the young Prince, and only made him the more desirous of discovering that which his tutor wanted to conceal from him. All his thoughts from that moment were fixed on death, and the state after death. He felt that God, Who had created him, could not leave him without letting him know what was to happen to him after this life was over. "It cannot be possible," he thought, "that God could refuse to enlighten me upon that important subject if I humbly ask Him in prayer."
So he besought God in fervent prayer to make him know the truth. God heard his prayer, and in a wonderful way answered it by sending to Him a humble anchorite named Barlaam.
That holy man came to him under the disguise of a pearl merchant, who, presenting himself at the castle, was admitted, that the Prince, who was exceedingly fond of such things, might admire them and perhaps purchase some of them.
As the Prince was admiring the lustre of some of the pearls, Barlaam took the opportunity of a moment in which he was alone with him to tell him of another pearl which was more beautiful and precious than any of those he had just seen. Josaphat wanted to see it at once.
"It is a pearl that cannot be seen with the eyes," said the old man. "The pearl of which I speak is called Truth."
"Truth," exclaimed the young Prince, "that is just what I am looking for, and what I wish to possess at all price. I beseech you, O stranger, to tell me what is Truth."
Then Barlaam spoke to him of Jesus Christ, and of the eternal happiness which He purchased for us by His death. This was for the young man the light which for he had been seeking. He opened his eyes to it at once,and soon afterwards, having, by the grace of God, found means of secretly escaping the vigilance of his guard, he fled from the castle, left the kingdom of his father, and at length found the place in the desert where Barlaam dwelt. There, forgetting the crown of the earthly kingdom which was his inheritance, and all the worldly things that were to be his, he thought only of practising the holy religion of Jesus Christ, and thus became Saint. He is now reigning with Jesus Christ in Heaven, and the Church on earth venerates him as one of her powerful intercessors before the throne of God.
When a person throws away this great gift of God, or does not accept it when God offers it to him, he may never get it again, and so will lose his soul.
Source; The Catechism in Examples- Imprimatur; 1908.