News and Events

Third Sunday after Pentecost - The Eye as the Light of the Soul - July 10, 2016

posted Oct 10, 2015, 4:12 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 12, 2016, 11:52 AM ]

On July 10, we marked the second Sunday after Pentecost. Today's Gospel was about the eye, and how the eye is the lamp of the body. 

Christians have the greatest responsibility before God, because of Christ's sacrifice for us

Today's Gospel (Matthew 6:22-33) states that the eye is the lamp of the body, and that if the eye is unhealthy, we should pluck it out. This can be a difficult scripture reading. 

Non-believers have only one candle to light their way, which is the mind. 
Believers have 5 candles: the mind, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Saints, and the Holy Spirit.
When you go from bright light to darkness it is more difficult to see than when going from dim light to darkness. 
If a believer departs from the faith and goes by worldly things it would be like someone going from bright light to darkness. 
When a person fails to attend church, it is like the candles being blown out. 
In the light, we can follow the path, but in darkness we will be lost. 
Ephesians 1:18: our eyes of understanding are enlightened. 
To the pure, everything is pure; but without light our soul will enter into darkness
Parents have a special responsibility, and teachers and leaders and clergy, too, to help children and youth stay in the light.
1Corinthians2: we have the mind of Christ. 
Our challenge is to keep up with the activities of daily life (lessons, meetings, etc), and still keep spiritual focus. 
We must remember to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and to spend more time in prayer. 
May the Lord our God keep the light of belief before our eyes of faith!

Father Tom reads today's GospelCensing

Independence Day and the True Independence - July 3, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 5:47 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 12, 2016, 11:33 AM ]

On July 3, we marked the Second Sunday after Pentecost. This was also the Independence Day weekend. 

We certainly enjoy the blessings of freedom, and ought to remember the huge sacrifices made by the people who led the nation to independence. 

But, as nice as it is, earthly freedom is eclipsed by heavenly freedom, as noted in John chapter 8

The Jews were seemingly always in captivity: God gave them a covenant, and their disobedience put them into captivity several times, including the Babylonian and Assyrian captivity.

Christ takes away the root causes of captivity to sin: if the Son makes you free, you shall be free.

This establishes us as sons and daughters of God, who will permanently belong in His household, as contrasted with those who are slaves to sin, who are like servants, in that they are not there permanently.

May the Lord our God grant us freedom from all worldly passions!

The Great Entrance

The Sunday of All Saints - June 26, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 5:43 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 12, 2016, 11:23 AM ]

On June 26, we marked the Sunday of All Saints, which is always observed on the Sunday after Pentecost. 
The gift of the Holy Spirit was required to make the Saints holy. 
The Saints should be our role models. 
Today's heroes are the ones who get rich, but even reknown heroes such as Michael Jordan are only mortal
Who picks their bishop, priest, or even a teacher as their hero?
The Saints were merely humble fishermen and tent makers, but God accomplished great things through them - and He can do much with us as well.
We should read about the Saints and used them as examples and role models. 
We can see that even in our time, people who have a strong faith accept martyrdom rather than renounce their faith.  
People who are lukewarm risk being told "I did not know you"
We have to worry about our mundane lives and how to provide for our families - these concerns are all the more urgent for people who are in the military and first responders, who have to worry about their own survival in addition to the mundane
But God is concerned for, and looks after, even the sparrows
He provided for the families of the Apostles, and many of their family members also evangelized
We can have eternity to learn about the Saints
It may divide us even from our families, but we must love Christ above all else, since he gives us life everlasting.
God is glorious in His Saints!

Blen reads today's EpistleFather Tom reads today's GospelThe Great EntranceFather Tom gives the Blessing

Pentecost and Father's Day - June 19, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 5:41 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 12, 2016, 12:05 PM ]

On June 19, we marked Pentecost. We looked at the icon of Pentecost and discussed its symbolism:
The icon reflects the final work of revelation of the Holy Spirit.
The icon's primary colors are gold and red - gold=divinity, and red=a sign of the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit
On the right side are shown Paul, John, Luke, Andrew, Bartholomew, and Philip
On the left side Peter, Matthew, Mark, James, Simon, and Thomas
Peter and Paul are at the top as they were the leaders 
They are all facing each other, which reflects the understanding that all Bishops are equal 
Matthew and Luke were not there, but are depicted as representing the entire church
The Evangelists are depicted holding books
The central seat in the middle is shown vacant, as this was the seat of the Lord, who had ended His earthly ministry
The youngest Apostles Philip and Thomas are shown at the bottom (in a kind of junior ranking), and are beardless, showing the continuous renewal of the Church
The tongues of fire above each Apostle show the Holy Spirit on them
The building depicted is where the Upper Room was
The four pieces of cloth represent the four corners of the world
The figure at the very bottom (seemingly in the basement), is the Elderly King Cosmos, who represents the world in darkness; his robe is red, stained so by sin; he is holding a white cloth with 12 scrolls. 
The descent of the Holy Spirit was intended to sanctify the entire world
We must pray that the Holy Spirit will come and cleanse us.  

Today was also Father's Day. 
There are different kinds of father figures, but all work for the best.
Psalm 103:13-14 - Fathers must have compassion: must give discipline, but not push kids too hard
Fathers must be Christlike
The actions of fathers speak a lot to kids - much more than mere words
Malachi 4:6 - the relationship between parents and their children can be life-giving and life-sustaining
Men need to be lifted up, that we might benefit from them, and that their lives might echo that of the Father. 

The homilyCensingThe Great EntranceThe Kneeling Prayers

The Ascension of the Lord - June 12, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 5:39 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 9:45 PM ]

On June 12, we marked the Ascension of Our Lord to Heaven. Both the Epistle and the Gospel dealt with the Ascension - He walked with the Apostles to Bethany, and raised his hands to bless them, and was carried up to Heaven. Ascension is how we enter into God's Kingdom - otherwise, we are left on earth. 

When Christ ascended, He did not ascend as He came down: He took with Him His human body, mind, and soul, but no sin. Throughout all His earthly ministry, Christ in His humility did not use His Divine attributes, but in the Ascension, He did use His Divine powers. There were few witnesses to His Resurrection, and likewise few witnesses to His Ascension. All His victories came through humility. He gave instructions to His Apostles to do two things: pray and fast to be ready for the Holy Spirit, and go and make disciples of all nations. He promised in John Chapter 14 to "prepare a place for you, so where I am, you can also be."

After the Liturgy, we honored our 3 High School graduates: Nina, Nahom, and Sirak

Father Tom reads the Eothinon Gospel during MatinsThe Great EntranceThe Offering of the GiftsHonoring our graduates

The Sunday of the Man Born Blind - June 5, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 5:38 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 9:02 PM ]

On June 5, we marked the Sunday of the Man Born Blind. The man was born blind not because of any sin, but so that the Lord could minister to him. In many ways, left to our own devices, we would all be blind; it is only through the enlightenment brought to us through baptism that we can see with eyes of faith. 

Father Tom's homily also touched on today's Epistle reading, which was from Acts 16, which was written by Luke, who was a Gentile physician. Paul had a dream instructing him to go to Macedonia (which was where Alexander the Great was from), and when Paul and Silas went there, they found Lydia, who brought her family for baptism, and whose house became the central meeting place for Christians in that town. They met a slave girl who had a spirit possessing her; she could prophesy, but we have to be careful about the message and its source: sometimes things which seem right, but come from the wrong person can be aimed at misleading us. Paul cast that spirit out of her, which made her owner angry and Paul and Silas were cast into prison, where they sang hymns and praises. When an earthquake shattered the walls of the jail,  the jailer was sure that his life would be over, and asked Paul and Silas about God; he brought them to his house and took good care of them. Paul and Silas remind us that there will always be a dark night of the soul, and that we must always be prepared for difficulties and persevere. 

Father Tom censes the altarThe Great EntrancePrayers before the GiftsFather Tom reads the day's Know Your Faith quiz

The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, and the Wedding of Felicia Ayoub and Randy Livingston - May 29, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 5:34 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 8:41 PM ]

On May 29th, we marked the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, whom we have come to know as Photini.. Jesus visited her village of Sychar, to drink from Jacob's well, and He met her there when she came in the middle of the day to draw water - an odd time for a job which would normally have been done in the cooler early morning: this woman was an outcast, who didn't dare come to the well when the rest of the women in the village would have been there, for fear of having to hear their criticism. It was also unusual for men to speak to women who were not in their family, and for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, who were considered unclean. And yet, Christ saw into her soul, telling her all the details of her life, and she accepted that He was the Promised One, left her buckets and went to the town and told everyone about Christ. It was on the strength of her faith that many were led to belief. 

Later in the day, we celebrated the Wedding of Felicia Ayoub and Randy Livingston in Purcellville. Many Years!

Father Tom reads today's GospelFather holds aloft the cloth which represents the cloud of angels who attend in the Heavenly KingtonYour own of Your own we offer You, from what is already Yours, always and everywhereFather Tom gives the Blessing at the end of the LiturgyThe Bride makes her entranceA candid shot of the newlyweds and Father Tom

The Sunday of the Paralytic, the Baptism of Randy Livingston, and farewell to the Serafys - May 22, 2016

posted Sep 27, 2015, 1:56 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 8:01 PM ]

On May 22, we marked the Sunday of the Paralytic. The paralytic waited for the Spirit of God to come stir up the water, and for someone to help him get into the water. In many ways, we end up paralyzed by our sin: we get used to it, comfortable with it, and even enjoy it, and it separates us from the Living Water of our Baptism. 

Today, we did not have a homily; instead, we celebrated the Baptism of Randy Livingston. Many Years!

And, we also bade farewell and godspeed to the Serafy family, as they move to California.

Blen reads today's EpistleFather Tom reads today's GospelPrayers in preparation for Randy's baptismWe bade farewell to Caleb, Kacee, Ceecee, and Abigail Serafy, who are moving to California, and wish them every blessing.Godspeed to the Serafy family!

Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women - May 15, 2016

posted Jan 14, 2015, 8:50 PM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 6:28 PM ]

We marked the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women on May 15th. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome came to the tomb very early in the morning, to anoint the Lord. They were worried about moving the big, heavy stone which had been rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. In today's homily, Father Tom quoted St. Ignatius Branchianinov, and reminded us that our heart is like a temple, and the heavy stone is insensibility, the deadening of the spiritual life which gets overcome by the material and by neglect of the spritual life: we lose track of our mortality, and get used to the life of pleasure. Who then shall roll the stone away for us? A person must be patient and dedicated to overcoming insensibility, to gain the compunction needed to move away the stone. We bring our myrrh by having good intention and dedicating ourselves to service to God. 

At the end of the Liturgy, Caleb Serafy was presented an icon and service book in honor of his service to the parish as Chanter and Singer

Yahne reads today's EpistleFather Tom reads today's GospelFather Tom gives today's homilyCaleb is presented with a gift in honor of his service to the parish

Thomas Sunday and Mother's Day - May 8, 2016

posted Nov 22, 2014, 11:35 AM by SaintRaphael WebAdmin   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 6:38 PM ]

  On May 8, we marked Thomas Sunday, on which the Apostle Thomas encountered the Risen Lord, and expressed his doubt that it really could be the Lord he was seeing; but, when the Lord invited him to probe His wounds, Thomas at once realized that it truly was Jesus whom he encountered, and acknowledged Him as "My Lord and My God".
   This Sunday was also Mother's Day, and in the introduction to his homily, Father Tom noted that we should honor our mothers, and that the Theotokos is the ultimate mother. 
A mother's love is genuine, and so must our faith be genuine - there is no bluffing, and we cannot say that other people believe something, we have to answer for and with our own faith, even as Thomas did. 
    After the Liturgy, we adjourned to Sts. Peter and Paul, for the baptism of Abigail, the daughter of Caleb and Kacee Serafy. Many Years! 

Yahne reads today's EpistleFather Tom reads today's GospelFather Tom gives today's homily
Father Tom prepares Communion
The sponsors and the parents prepare for Abigail's baptism
The Living Water
Prayers after Baptism
The Procession

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