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Good News for November 23rd

Dear Friends in Christ

As we begin the Advent season, I wanted to share the meaning behind the advent wreath and candles. I hope that this season of waiting, prayer, and hope fills you with the joy of Christ. The reflection below is taken from

The wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Christmas season. The wreath itself, which is made of various evergreens, signifies continuous life. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life we find in Christ.

The candles also have their own special significance. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one candle is lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the color violet is a liturgical color that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepard’s Candle” and is pink because rose is a liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.

On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Fr. Jeff

Are You Called to Be a Deacon in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

Who is the Deacon? He is a Minister of the Word, a Minister at the Altar, and a Minister of Charity.

Our Next Permanent Diaconate Information Session Will Be Held On:

Saturday, December 10, 2022, 10:00 AM

Holy Innocents Parish

1337 East Hunting Park Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19124

We invite Catholic men (and wives if married) between the ages of 29 and 55 to

join us for an in-person presentation with a panel of clergy about discerning a

the vocation to the Permanent Diaconate and admittance to the School for Diaconal

Formation program.

For more information, please visit

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Appeal 2022-23

The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Appeal 2022-23 begins the weekend of November 5 -6. Envelopes are mailed and are also in the back of the church. Your contribution is a faithful investment in the future of our Church.

How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? How are they to hear without a preacher, teacher, or catechist?

Our Religious Education Program is in need of volunteer Catechists and classroom aides. If you are willing to share the faith that was handed on to you with our young people, please contact Arleen Daniels for more information. 215-549-3760.

Advent Life Groups- Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! St. Raymond Advent Life Groups started this week and continue through December 22nd. Did you forget to join a group? No worries! The material used each week will be included here for use at home. You too can experience Jesus through prayer, scripture, and reflection. A more spiritual you is the best gift that can be given! Contact Minta Brown at 610-329-7256 with any questions.

2022 Advent Small Group Flier
Download PDF • 421KB
Week 2 - 2022 Advent Member Guide
Download PDF • 154KB
Week 3- Advent Life Group Member Guide
Download PDF • 586KB

When you come to Church this weekend, you will see our Giving Tree in the back of the Church, offering you a way to participate in our Home for Christmas event again this year (we will once again deliver items to the shelters as a precaution due to COVID). After Thanksgiving, we will begin our sign-ups for the various teams that will make the Home for Christmas event possible. WE ARE IN NEED OF A PERSON TO LEAD THE FOOD TEAM (organizing the donations, preparing them for delivery, etc.). Could this be you? Contact Arleen Daniels at 215-549-3760.

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Through the generosity of our parish school & church family, St. Raymond’s was able to

provide Thanksgiving Baskets to 60 needy families in our community. Sincere thanks

to all who donated food or made monetary contributions to this worthy cause. A

special THANK YOU to those that unpacked, sorted, prepared, and delivered the

baskets. As a Church Family, we were able to make this year’s Thanksgiving Project a

huge success by fulfilling the needs of those who depend on us for assistance.

May God reward your goodness.

Supported by the Office of Black Catholics (215) 587-3541 Join us on Facebook and Instagram

11/21/22 Memorial of The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple recalls – according to the apocryphal gospels, the day on which Mary, while still a child, was brought to the temple in Jerusalem to be offered to God. The Church wants to emphasize not so much the historical event in itself, of which there is no trace in the Gospels. Still, the total gift that Mary made of herself by listening: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it” (Lk. 11:28). This experience prepared the young girl from Nazareth to become the “temple of the Son of God.”

The celebration of this feast dates back to the 6th century in the East with the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built by Emperor Justinian I near the temple's ruins in Jerusalem. Evidence shows that various monasteries in Italy celebrated the feast in the 9th century. It was not until the 15th century that it was included in the Roman Missal.

This is also the on which the Church celebrates the World Day of Cloistered Life, established by Pope Pius XII in 1953.

11/22/22Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin, and Martyr. Cecilia was so highly venerated by the ancient Roman Church that her name was placed in the Canon of the Mass. Already in the fourth century, there was a church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere erected on the site where her home had stood. Her martyrdom probably occurred during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus, about the year 230. In 1599 her grave was opened, and her body was found in a coffin of cypress wood. It lay incorrupt as if she had just breathed forth her soul. Stephen Maderna, who often saw the body, chiseled a statue that resembled the body as closely as possible. Since the Middle Ages, Cecilia has been honored as patroness of Church music, a practice having its source in a false application of a passage from the Office (cantantibus organis).

Apart from the fact of her martyrdom, we know practically nothing about her that is historically genuine. Among other details, the breviary offers the following:

Cecilia led a life of prayer and meditation and had vowed lifelong virginity, but a youth by the name of Valerian, relying upon the approval of her parents, hoped to marry her. When the wedding night arrived, she confided to Valerian, "There is a secret, Valerian, I wish to tell you. I have as a lover an angel of God who jealously guards my body." Valerian promised to believe in Christ if he could see that angel. Cecilia explained how such was impossible without baptism, and Valerian consented to be baptized. After he was baptized by Pope Urban and returned, "He found Cecilia in her little room lost in prayer, and next to her, the angel of the Lord was standing. When Valerian saw the angel, he was seized with great terror." The angel handed to them a bouquet of fiery red roses and snow-white lilies as a reward for Cecilia's love of chastity, a bouquet that would not wither yet would be visible only to those who love chastity. As a further favor, Valerian besought the conversion of his brother Tiburtius.

Upon arriving to congratulate the newlyweds, Tiburtius was astounded by the unspeakably beautiful roses and lilies. As soon as he was informed of their origin, he also asked for the waters of baptism. "St. Cecilia said to Tiburtius: Today I acknowledge you as a brother-in-law because the love of God has made you despise the idols. Just as the love of God gave me your brother as a spouse, so it has given you to me as a brother-in-law." When Almachius, the prefect, heard of the conversions, he ordered Maximus, his officer, to arrest and imprison them. Before being put to death, they instructed Maximus and his family and baptized them during the night preceding execution.

At dawn, Cecilia roused the two brothers to struggle heroically for Christ; as the glow of morning disappeared, Cecilia called: "Arise, soldiers of Christ, throw away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." Cecilia pursued her victory as the soldiers willingly listened, "We believe that Christ is the true Son of God, who has chosen such a servant." Led before the prefect, she professed her faith in Christ, "We profess His holy Name, and we will not deny Him."

In order to avoid further show, the prefect commanded her to be suffocated in the baths. She remained unharmed and prayed, "I thank You, Father, of my Lord Jesus Christ, that through Your Son, the fire was extinguished at my side." Beheading was next in order. The executioner made three attempts (the law prohibited more) and let her lie in her blood. She lived for three days, encouraging the poor and dedicating her home into a church.

11/24/22 Memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lạc, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs. Andrew Dung-Lac, a Catholic convert ordained to the priesthood, was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of the companions' group gave their lives for Christ in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and received beatification on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized during the papacy of Saint John Paul II. Christianity came to Vietnam through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. Severe persecutions were launched at least three times in the 19th century. Six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.

In 1832, Emperor Minh-Mang banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in the homes of the faithful.

Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by one of his sons.

The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954, there were over a million Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes, and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries; their numbers swelled by refugees. During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now reunited, the entire country is under Communist rule.


Congress XIII (2023)

Announcing the Congress Theme — “Write the Vision:

A Prophetic Call to Thrive”

July 20-23, 2023

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745

Black and African Saints and Martyrs

St. Anthony is called the Patriarch of Monks. He was born at Aama near Thebes in Egypt. His parents were rich Christians. Shortly after inheriting his parents’ fortune, he sold it all and gave the proceeds to the poor, sent his sister to a nunnery, and retired to an old ruin of a tomb. He ate only every three or four days and spent his time at manual labor and prayer.

Antonio Vieria was an African born in Portugal. When he was fifteen years old, he became a Jesuit novice and later a professor of rhetoric and dogmatic theology. He went to Brazil where he worked to abolish discrimination against Jewish merchants, abolish slavery, and alleviate conditions among the poor. Fr. Antonio Vieria has not been canonized.

St. Augustine is best known as a convert and the author of Confessions. His thousands of letters, sermons, and tracts, combined with 232 books, instructed the Early Church and remain relevant for the Church today. It is said that Christian scholars through the ages owe much to St. Augustine, and the full impact of his psychology and his embryonic theology will be felt in years to come. Augustine lived an austere life, performing great acts of mortification and penance. He wrote, “I pray to God, weeping almost daily.”

St. Benedict the Moor was born in Sicily in 1526. He was the son of African slave parents, but he was freed at an early age. When he was about twenty-one, he was insulted because of his color, but his patient and dignified bearing caused a group of Franciscan hermits who witnessed the incident to invite him to join their group. Eventually, he became their leader. In 1564 he joined the Franciscan friary in Palermo and worked in the kitchen until 1578 when he was chosen superior of the group. He was known for his power to read people’s minds and received the nickname “the Holy Moor.”

Bessarion was a native of Egypt. Seeking perfection, he went into the wilderness, where he was a disciple first of St. Antony and then of St. Macarius. Rather than live under a roof, he wandered about like a bird, observing silence and subduing his flesh by mighty fasting. His neighborly charity led him to a height of perfection that was manifested by miracles: he made saltwater fresh, brought rain during a drought several times, walked on the Nile, and overcame demons. Like many other desert fathers, St. Bessarion lived to a great age. His admirers compared him to Moses, Joshua, Elias, and John the Baptist. St. Bessarion is named in the Roman Martyrology on June 17, but his usual date in the East is June 6.

Both women were persecuted for practicing Christianity in Carthage. Perpetua is recorded as having several visions that depict her death. At her death, she called out to the crowds: “Stand fast in the Faith and love one another. Do not let out suffering be a stumbling block to you….” Felicity was Perpetua’s slave. They died together, and they are the patron saints of mothers, expectant mothers, ranchers, and butchers.

News from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

  • December 2 - 4, 2022

Event: Sister-To-Sister Weekend Retreat for African/Black Catholic Women. Sister-To-Sister Weekend Retreat is an annual event for Catholic and non-Catholic Women who want to spend quality time and deepen her relationship with God. More Info: Flyer - Arrival Time: Friday @ 4:30 PM - Departure Time: Sunday after 11:00 AM Mass; Cost: $110

  • Friday, December 2 – Sunday, December 4

Event: Traditional Men’s Retreat with Jeff Cavins (in-person and virtual option)

We are pleased to welcome back Jeff Cavins, Bible teacher, speaker, and host of “Life on the Rock” on EWTN, to lead this weekend retreat for men of all ages and backgrounds. This retreat will include Mass each day, talks by Jeff, adoration, and time for personal reflection.

Location: Malvern Retreat House, 315 S Warren Ave, Malvern PA

More info: Registration is required for this event. Contact the retreat house at 610.644.0400

(Discount is available if you need it)

  • Friday, December 9, 2022 – 7 pm-9 pm

Event – Multi-Cultural Benefit Concert

Location - Holy Innocents Church - 1337 E. Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia

More Information - This free-will donation multi-cultural benefit concert will showcase the talents of our diverse parish while raising funds for the Young Adults attending World Youth Day. There will be praise and worship in different languages, raffles, and refreshments! Please see the flyer for more information. Ample free parking available!

Attention! Attention!

Men of St. Raymond

Save the Date March 4, 2023

Man Up Philly 2023 will be here before you know it. Please reserve the date on your calendar. More Information to follow in the months to come.

Let's bring people back to the pews.

We ask parishioners to sign up to answer a question about their faith and why they worship at St. Raymond. After the interview, we would like to post it on Social Media and play it before Mass.

Can you help?

Does it sound like something you can do?

Call the office and let us know.

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