O Holy Apostle Philip, Intercede with the merciful God
That He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Patronal Feast of St Philip the Apostle, Twenty Fifth & Twenty Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.
This Sunday marks a milestone in the life of St Philip’s Byzantine Catholic Church here in Sacramento. We celebrate today our Golden Jubilee!
As we look back we thank God for the many blessings bestowed upon us as a parish family. The parish had its humble beginnings on Florin Road at what is now the Ukranian Parish of St Andrew. We have been blessed with different pastors who have each left their mark on the parish. Fr Jan has gone before us and we will remember him and all the other deceased parishioners and benefactors with a Panachida after today’s Liturgy.
The last 50 years of blessings is also a pledge of many more blessings to come and so with confidence and gratitude we look forward to another 50 years of witness to Christ as we seek to bring about the Kingdom among and around us.
Today’s celebration is smaller and at the same time more personal as we hope to have a more formal celebration on the last Sunday of May, May 29, 2022. We hope too that at that moment Fr Francis will be able to join us as he plans a trip to America.
Today is our Patronal feast day and we can look at St Philip as a model and mentor. His name is Greek and would suggest to us that he was loved by the Lord. He shines as an example because whenever he is mentioned in the Gospel he brings someone to Christ. Today’s Gospel shows us as Philip the one who persuaded Nathaniel to come to the Lord. Apostles are those who are sent out on a mission. As we get closer to the New Year of 2022 we should see ourselves as sent out on a Mission to bring others to Christ. Philip brought his friend Nathaniel whose life was changed after his encounter with Christ.
We know that St Philip was a man of charm, for we are told that towards the end of the Master’s life, the Greeks wanted to see Christ. Knowing his charm and that he was a ‘conduit,’ a channel, to Christ, the Gentiles sought his efficacious intercession. And speak to the Lord they did due to the introduction given them by St Philip. Therefore, let us ask ourselves if we bring people to Christ?
We also can see the great desire of Philip to know and love God asking Christ, (St Jn 14v8) who at the Mystical Supper had shared all knowledge with his Apostles, to show them the Father. Philip’s great yearning is met with the gentle reproach of Christ: “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’
Christ tells us that this is eternal life to know Him and the One who sent Him. We can imagine how St Philip was transformed by the answer he received.
St Philip then sees in the mercy and goodness of Christ the mercy and goodness of the Fatehr. Do we like St Philip, look back at the words and miracles of Christ which reveal his Father to us in our daily lives? Indeed, let us look back at the last 50 years and see the work of Christ and the touch of the Father in our lives as individuals, as parish and as Church!
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Alas, all good things come to end and we are entering the period of the Philip’s fast. FILIPOVKA – fast before CHRISTMAS The Christmas Fast/ Saint Philip’s Fast/ Filipovka begins on Nov. 15. This is the forty days of preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord on December 25. It continues through Christmas Eve, which is a day of strict fast and abstinence. It is named after Saint Philip, because it begins on his feast day.
“Forty” has great significance in our religious history, from the forty years of Israel’s wandering in the desert to be purified so as to enter into the Holy Land, to the forty days of Great Lent before Easter. In America, the regulations of this Fast are not strict, as it falls during the winter. Abstinence remains in force for Friday, and is strongly recommended for Wednesday and if possible, also Monday. Christmas Eve remains a day of strict fast: no meat, no dairy, one main meal, which is the Holy Supper in the evening.
Let us set ourselves to focusing more on Jesus, and much less on the sparkle and glitter of the pre-holiday feasting. Training for Body, Mind and Spirit. For Saint Paul, Christian discipleship is like an athletic contest in an arena, which requires both training and effort. This is the root of the Christian understanding of asceticism and praxis. The season of advent is a time for a deeper interior conversion to Christ by embracing the four forms of Christian praxis. Below are some suggestions for ways to put into practice the four forms of Christian praxis or asceticism during the Nativity fast.
- Prayer. Spend at least 15 minutes in the morning and evening in prayer each day. Pray the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” 100 times a day. Display an icon of the Nativity in the prayer corner of your house or room and spend 10 minutes each day meditating on the saving mysteries surrounding the story of Christ’s Birth. Receive the Mystery of Repentance (Confession) at least once during the fast. Use the prayer guide with family or friends.
- Fasting. Abstain from meat products on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Fast from certain foods, such as soda, alcoholic beverages or candy. With each meal, eat only an amount that is sufficient for nutritional needs, without feeling full. Fast from select forms of entertainment (television, movies, radio, internet, novels, etc.).
- Almsgiving. Give your time, talent and/or treasure to a parish outreach or a special charity. Clean out your house of any excessive items or possessions and share them with the poor and needy. Purchase gifts for homeless or needy children or families.
- Love. Meditate on the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes and identify one or two of these to put into practice each week. Examine your conscience each night, asking for forgiveness from God or others as needed. Find opportunities to share your faith with others.
Like Great Lent, the fast of the Nativity is a journey. ‘Come, O ye faithful, and let us behold where Christ is born. The fast of the Nativity is our journey into something new and marvelous, which comes from God but to which we must approach of our own volition. The gift of a new land and great blessings was freely given by God to Abraham, but in order to obtain it, ‘Abram went, as the Lord had told him’ (Gen 12.4)
- Tithes and Donations. Last Sunday, we received in tithes $, donations $, gift shop $, hospitality $, candles $. Thank you for your generosity, may God bless you always. The collection amounted to $.
- Hospitality after Sunday Liturgy. If you wish to help out please put your name to the signup sheet.
- Mystery of First Confession: If you have a child ready to make his or her first confession please see me and I will start by instructing those who need it. This shouldn’t take too long, about 5 weeks and after that I hope that we will be able to relaunch Catechism for the children after Sunday Liturgies. Parents are invited to sit in on the classes, so as to be able to help their children with the homework. Also as part of ‘Safe Environment’ there will be another adult present.
- Youth Group: After having spoken at the bi-weekly youth group with parishioners from 4 parishes and 4 Rites, I will continue to host a talk followed by ‘fun and games.’ There were about 20 or so youth. The meetings are mentored by Abouna Hezekiah (Melkite) and now by me. For details contact me or Tim Del Castillo. Ages range from early to late teens.
Next Sunday November 21st . Father Christopher will return to Clear Creek Abbey for an annual visit to his Abbot and Abbey. Next week we welcome Fr James as our celebrant. On the weekend of November 21 I will also be filling in at St Basil the great Parish in Irving, Texas where I had committed myself to preach a retreat in the Tyler diocese with Bishop Strickland. I will return on Saturday November 27. Thus we will have a depleted Liturgical schedule (see below).
Please also understand that this is my last foreseeable break until May. As I said last week I will meet with Deacon Tim and our Cantors to see if we can mix up the Schedule in an effort to attract people to evening services, given that we will have more cantors in the near future. I am hopeful that we can attract visitors and friends at mid-week services.
Sunday, Nov. 21 -The Entrance of the Theotokos
26th Sunday After Pentecost
9:30 AM Divine Liturgy – Tone 1
Cantor: Amy Seyfried
Reader: Tim Delcastillo
Sunday, Nov. 28 – 27th Sunday After Pentecost
8:30 AM Confessions
9:30 AM Divine Liturgy
Cantor: Oliver Bardin
Reader: Richard Agaroff
For Confession, please call Fr. Christopher for an appointment, or come 30 minutes before or after scheduled services. If you desire Spiritual Direction then please see Fr Andrews for an appointment during the week so as to allow everyone an opportunity on Sundays for Confessions. Please consider those traveling from long distances.
Fridays in general are days of penance and fasting, we observe abstinence for meat foods. Let us remember one another as we offer our prayers and sacrifices to the Lord.