Saturday, November 1, 2008
Making Orthodoxy Real
Today, after celebrating the Liturgy for St. Raphael of Brooklyn, we had the huge blessing of making a little pilgrimage to honor him.
Let me give you some background. One hundred years ago, Father Raphael used to travel the country, seeking out "lost" Orthodox Christians who had no parish. He would arrive in a city, sometimes at midnight, only to drop his bags in a hotel and then head back out into the night. Armed with a phone book, he would find Syrian and Lebanese names, then go knock on their doors, offering to serve liturgies, baptisms, or other sacrements.
Near the end of his earthly life, as he was traveling around the country to minister to Orthodox families, some Syrian and Lebanese Christians in our city heard he was coming through on a train on the way to another location. They arranged to meet him at the train station, where he blessed them and their desire for a church in this city. He reposed before the parish could be realized, but we consider this blessing as the beginning of our new little parish that exists today.
No one knows where these original families are now. Maybe they chose to attend Episcopal or Catholic parishes. Wouldn't it be nice to reunite with the descendents of those faithful ones from 1912?
Anyway, today after liturgy we trapsed over to the now-closed old train station, sung hymns to St. Raphael and processed around the building singing the apolytikion:
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, adornment of the holy Church! Thou art champion of the True Faith, seeker of the lost, consolation of the oppressed, father to orphans and friend of the poor, peacemaker and good shepherd, joy of all the Orthodox, son of Antioch, boast of America. Intercede with Christ God for us and for all who honor thee.
The little ones lead the procession, holding icons. It felt like we were taking part in St. Raphael's ministry and like we were somehow "sanctifying" the city.
Thank you, Lord, for a blessed day!
O holy hierarch Raphael, in obedience to the will of God thou didst proclaim the Word to a scattered people, calling together the descendants of those first called Christians. Nurtured in three cultures, and having adopted a fourth, thou didst reach out to all who would hear thy voice. As the first bishop consecrated in the New World, thou art a symbol of unity in the Orthodox Faith. Now by thy prayers help lead us into the kingdom of heaven.
all links and photos from http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/straphaelcanonized/