Saint Simeon and Prophetess Anna
When Mary, the Theotokos, and Joseph, Jesus’ Stepfather, brought little Jesus to the Holy Temple they met these elderly people. They were not a married couple.
Saint Simeon was a very educated man, he was working in a group of 70 scholars to prepare the Holy Books of the Old Testament (the parts of the Bible from before Jesus). While he translated the Book of Isaiah he came across something that didn’t make sense to him. The sentence said that a virgin would give birth to the Christ (Isaiah 7:14). Virgins can’t have babies so he was about to change it from “virgin” to “young women” when an angel appeared to sttop him. The angel said this word is correct, don’t change it; and you will see this baby with your own eyes. So Simeon waited, he visited the Holy Temple and waited until he was a very old man.
Anna the Prophetess had lived in the Holy Temple since her husband died as a young woman. She never left and spent her days praying and fasting. She was now in her eighties. When she came up to pray, she met little Jesus. The Apostle Luke tells us that she told everyone about The Redeemer, Jesus (Luke 2:36-38).
St Raphael of Brooklyn
St. Raphael was born in Syria. He was a smart boy and got scholarships throughout his schooling. He taught Arabic and Turkish before going to semenary at The School of Theology at Halki and then graduate work at the Theological Academy of Kiev.
Eventually he became a missionary to the United States, to support the immigrants struggling here. Only two weeks after arriving, he started setting up the Chapel dedicated to St Nicholas in Manhattan. He traveled around the country visiting Arab-Christians from New York to San Francisco. While he visited with these communities, he encouraged them to continue the Orthodox faith at home when there was no priest nearby. He told them to pray and read the hours. Saint Raphael published an Arabic language book to help them, The Book of True Consolation in the Divine Prayers. He also worked to find priests and recommend local men for seminary. Saint Raphael build the Antiochian Cathedral of St Nicholas in Brooklyn as a permanent home for the Arab Orthodox community.
Saint Raphael’s work as a misisonary helped to grow and organize the Orthodox communities to the point that the new Bishop Tikhon couldn’t visit them all. He needed help. In 1904 Father Raphael became the fist priest to be concecrated as Bishop in the USA!
As Bishop, he had less time to travel to all the communities across the US, so he started a magazine to share news and teach about the faith.
Bishop Raphael noticed that the kids in New York who couldn’t speak Arabic were not in Church. In his short time in the US he learned English and he knew that children are the future of the church, so he created evening schools and started promoting English in worship. He found an English service book to recommend in parishes.
When Bishop Rapheal fell asleep in the Lord in 1927, the Syro-Arab Mission to the US had 30 parishes with 25,000 faithful.
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