Archive for the ‘St. Raphael of Brooklyn’ Tag

Feast of St. Joseph of Damascus (July 10)   1 comment

Above:  Christian Quarter, Damascus, Syria, Ottoman Empire, July 1860

Image in the Public Domain

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YOUSSEF IBN JIRJIS MOUSA IBN MOUHANA AL-HADDAD (MAY 15, 1793-JULY 10, 1860)

Syrian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1860

Also known as Joseph George Hadad Firzli

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I planted the seed in the true vineyard of Christ, and I am waiting for the harvest.

–St. Joseph of Damascus

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St. Joseph of Damascus comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and his connection to the family of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (1860-1915).

St. Joseph, born in Beirut on May 15, 1793, came from a poor and devout Orthodox family.  He was intelligent and intellectual, but poverty interrupted his formal education.  Nevertheless, our saint read deeply and widely.  He mastered Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek, for example.  St. Joseph translated parts of the Bible into Arabic.  Our saint, a weaver from his youth and a married man at age 19, fathered three sons–Moses, Abraham, and Joseph.

St. Joseph, ordained to the priesthood in 1817, when 24 years old, ministered at the old Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, located in the Old City, Damascus, Syria.  Starting in 1836, he was the Director of the Patriarchal School, Damascus.  St. Joseph built the school into the leading institution of Orthodox higher education in the Middle East.  He trained many church leaders.

St. Joseph contended against a variety of obstacles during his ministry.  Protestant missionaries vexed him.  Roman Catholic missionaries did, too.  Any outside Christian who did not understand the context of the Arab culture became a problem for St. Joseph.  At the end, though, Muslim violence against Christians created many martyrs, including our saint.

The Mount Lebanon Civil War (May 23-July 11, 1860) was a brief and bloody conflict.  It began as a struggle between Druze and Maronite Catholics in Lebanon, then part of Syria, itself part of the Ottoman Empire.  In July, the conflict spread to Damascus.  Muslim mobs killed Christians and burned churches while other Muslims risked their lives to protect their Christian neighbors.  Thousands of Christians died in Damascus during two days.  During and after the conflict, many Christians fled Damascus.  The parents of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (1860-1915) fled to Beirut after the events of July 1860.  Many other Christians sought shelter elsewhere during and after the conflict.  Some, being infirm, had to stay home in Damascus.

Many Orthodox Christians of Damascus had gathered at the Patriarchal Cathedral on July 9, 1860.  St. Joseph left his home and carried the Reserved Sacrament with him, as he traveled through the Old City of Damascus.  His journey was hazardous; he had to walk across rooftops and jump above narrow streets.  Along the way, he visited home-bound parishioners, hearing confessions, reconciling them, and giving communion.  On the morning of July 10, 1860, a mob burned the Patriarchal Cathedral.  Few people got out alive.  The mob shot or forced most who fled to return to the interior of the burning building.

St. Joseph got out alive.  He spent most of his little remaining time hearing confessions, reconciling people, and giving communion.  Soon, of course, hostiles with axes surrounding our saint.  He consumed the hosts and the consecrated wine of the Reserved Sacrament before he received the crown of martyrdom.  His murderers dragged his mutilated corpse through the streets, for further indignities.  St. Joseph was 67 years old.

St. Joseph and the other martyrs of Damascus in 1860 have been official saints since 1993.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN AND ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCHS; AND SAINTS AGATHO, LEO II, AND BENEDICT II, BISHOPS OF ROME; DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA, AND CHURCH FATHER; SAINT EUSEBIUS OF LAODICEA, BISHOP OF LAODICEA; AND SAINT ANATOLIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, BISHOP OF LAODICEA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELIODORUS OF ALTINUM, ASSOCIATE OF SAINT JEROME, AND BISHOP OF ALTINUM

THE FEAST OF IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICIAN; HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, JACOB VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS SON, WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS BROTHER, CARL ANTON VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS DAUGHTER, LISETTE (LIZETTA) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG; AND HER SISTER, AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Gracious Lord, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives for the message of your love.

Inspire us with the memory of those martyrs for the Gospel

[like your servants Saint Joseph of Damascus and the other martyrs of Damascus in 1860]

whose faithfulness led them in the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (February 27)   8 comments

Above:  St. Raphael of Brooklyn

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT RAPHAEL OF BROOKLYN (NOVEMBER 20, 1860-FEBRUARY 27, 1915)

Syrian-American Russian Orthodox Bishop of Brooklyn

Born Rufā īl Hawāwīnī (Raphael Hawaweeny)

St. Raphael of Brooklyn comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  The Holy Synod of the OCA canonized him in 2000.

Categories of saints exist.  St. Raphael of Brooklyn falls into the category of First–in this case, the first Eastern Orthodox bishop consecrated on American soil, in 1904.

St. Raphael came from Arabic Christian stock.  He, born in Beirut, Syria, on November 20, 1860, was, through his mother (Mariam), a grandson of a priest.  Our saint’s father was Michael Hawaweeny.  Persecution of Christians in Syria was underway in 1860; the family priest, St. Joseph of Damascus (Joseph George Haddad Firzli, 1793-1860), had become a martyr in July.  St. Raphael’s parents fled to Beirut shortly prior to his birth.  Eventually, the family returned to Damascus.

St. Raphael, a good student, was on track to become a priest in the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople.  He, made a monk on March 28, 1879, served as the assistant of Hierotheus, the Patriarch of Antioch.  St. Raphael went to the School of Theology at Halki, via the patronage of the Patriarch Hierotheus and at the invitation of Joachim III, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.  At Halki, on December 8, 1885, our saint became a deacon.  The following July, St. Raphael received his Certificate of Theology then went home.  Gerasimus, the new Patriarch of Antioch, favored our saint and granted him opportunities to preach and to study.  Gerasimus permitted St. Raphael to study at the Theological Academy, Kiev, with the condition that our saint return and become the Patriarch’s Russian-language secretary.

St. Raphael did well under the patronage of Patriarch Gerasimus.  Our saint, appointed to the Antiochian church in Moscow, became a priest by the hand of Sylvester, the Rector of the Academy, at the request of Gerasimus.  A month later, Ioannikii, the Metropolitan of Moscow, promoted St. Raphael to the rank of archimandrite (a senior priest one level below bishop).  Our saint also arranged for 24 Syrian students to study theology in Russia.

Then Gerasimus resigned from the See of Antioch to become the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  St. Raphael campaigned for the next Patriarch of Antioch to be a Syrian, not a foreigner, as many had been for a long time.  The next Patriarch, elected in 1891, was Spyridon, a Greek Cypriot.  Spyridon suspended St. Raphael, who also found himself on the bad sides of the Patriarch of Jerusalem (yes, Gerasimus), the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.  Czar Alexander III granted their request that he forbid the publication of St. Raphael’s articles for Russian newspapers.  So our saint started writing books instead.

Eventually, St. Raphael reconciled with Spyridon, who lifted the suspension.  Our saint transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church.  He taught Arabic studies at the theological academy, Kazan, until 1895.  That year, St. Raphael accepted an invitation from the Syrian Orthodox Benevolent Society of New York to minister to the Arab Orthodox Christians there.  He arrived on November 2, 1895.

For the next nearly 20 years, St. Raphael was a missionary in America.  Our saint founded St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, New York City, almost immediately, in 1895.  He, as the head of the Syro-Arab Orthodox Mission in North America, made missionary journeys in North America.  St. Raphael also wrote an Arabic-language service book, The Book of True Consolation in the Divine Prayers (1898).  Furthermore, our saint recruited educated laymen as candidates for ordination.  In 1898, St. Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925) became the Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska.  St. Tikhon’s title became Bishop of the Aleutians two years later.  St. Tikhon worked with St. Raphael, first as his bishop then as his fellow bishop.  Our saint, who refused an offer to become the Auxiliary Bishop of Beirut in 1901, also declined to become the Bishop of Zahleh (now in Lebanon) that year.  Work in New York and elsewhere in North America mattered more to St. Raphael.  Finally, in 1904, when St. Tikhon needed to share his episcopal burden, our saint became the first Bishop of Brooklyn.

Bishop St. Raphael was active, serving with St. Tikhon through 1907, when the latter returned to Russia.  Our saint founded Al-Kalimat (The Word), the official publication of the Syro-Arab Orthodox Mission, in late 1904.  St. Raphael encouraged the use of English in worship; he recommended Isabel Florence Hapgood‘s Service Book of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic (Greco-Russian) Church (1906).  He chose to remain in America in 1908, rather than become the Metropolitan of Tripoli.  St. Raphael received the diagnosis of his fatal heart condition in 1912.  The bishop traveled across North America faithfully through 1915, when he, aged 54 years, died on February 27.

Faithfulness, humility, and dedication to duty defined the life and ministry of St. Raphael of Brooklyn.

May those qualities also define our lives and work.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Raphael of Brooklyn,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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