Thank you Father Raphael

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, one God in three divine persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is very fitting that we celebrate this feast one week after the feast of  Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit, because as I said last week, the Holy Spirit is fully revealed through our understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ at Pentecost and as such, the  complete mystery of the Holy Trinity is also revealed.

If we pay attention to the Divine Liturgy of the Maronite Church we will immediately recognise the Trinitarian dimension in our prayers. For instance, every Liturgy begins with the same basic Doxology: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever.” Every prayer ends with a Doxology also, “and we raise glory to you, to your Father and to you living Holy Spirit, for ever.” Further, the recitation of this Doxology is only carried out by the celebrating priest or Bishop, signifying the importance and sacredness. For example, if a Subdeacon or Deacon are chanting the Prayer of Forgiveness, when they arrive at the Doxology, they will say “with your blessing Father” or “barwkhmor aboun” and the celebrating priest or bishop will continue the Doxology.   

Although the mystery of the Trinity is difficult to fathom for our human minds, it is only through the lens of faith             expressed in the teaching of our Lord that we can understand it. In his prayer and teaching, Jesus revealed the Father and the Holy Spirit and he promised that the believers would experience the reality of this gracious, Three-fold Divine One in their lives. As Maronite Catholics the Holy Trinity is in fact the centre of our life.  

Due to the high demand, the Month of May home visits were extended to last Tuesday. I would like to thank the  Sodality for all their efforts in in bringing Our Lady into the homes of so many parishioners. Thank you also to their chaplain Father Youwakim and to all the priests and subdeacons who visited the homes of the faithful.

Our pastoral council met this week to discuss the preparations for the Feast of the Assumption which will take place from Friday 4 August to Tuesday 15 August this year. As usual the feast will be marked with many spiritual and social events.  

On a final note, we will be saying farewell to one of our beloved priests this week. After seven years of service at Our Lady of Lebanon, Father Raphael will be leaving us to pursue his priestly vocation as a full-time chaplain in the Air Force. Father Raphael who is a unique individual is loved by all. His positive outlook, charisma and youthful stamina have added a beautiful dimension to our parish that will truly be missed. On behalf of all the clergy, staff, committees and parishioners, I take this opportunity to thank Father Raphael for everything that he has achieved and for his wonderful service during his time here. May Our Lady of Lebanon take your hand and guide you on this new journey and may the Most Holy Trinity bless you as you embark on a new chapter in your vocation.

On Thursday 15 June, the Feast of Corpus Christi, we will be offering the Divine Liturgy (Mass) in thanksgiving for Father Raphael at 6pm. This will be followed at 7pm by Adoration and procession of the blessed sacrament on the church grounds. We will then have a farewell cocktail for Father Raphael in the recreation room of the CYPC.

Fr Tony Sarkis

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