Phil Battey | Special to the Catholic Herald

May 5, 1968. Protests in France sparked street battles in Paris between students and army troops. Communist units initiated Phase II of the Tet Offensive, attacking 119 targets in South Vietnam, including the capital Saigon. Bobby Goldboro’s Honey was Number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 record chart. And at Our Lady of the Annunciation Cathedral in West Roxbury, Mass., Bishop Justin Najmy ordained 25-year-old Deacon Joseph Francavilla as a priest in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. As Father Francavilla put on his vestments for the first time as a priest, the congregation chanted again and again:  “Axios” — Greek for “He is worthy.”

“It was a beautiful spring day in Boston, and you don’t get many of those there,” recalled Father Francavilla, who will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a priest next month. “I would spend the next four years assisting at Annunciation Cathedral and then come to Washington as pastor of the newly established Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean.”  He has served at Holy Transfiguration, one of five Eastern Catholic parishes in the Washington area, for the past 47 years.


However, his being named pastor of Holy Transfiguration was not a happy occasion for Father Francavilla. He came to McLean to bury his friend and predecessor, the parish’s first pastor, Father Armond J. Jacopin, who had died suddenly.

The fledging parish had 30 families on its rolls and fewer than 100 people.

“The first years, I was the only clergy — no deacon, no reader,” said Father Francavilla. “To hold services, we had bought a former Methodist meeting house down Route 7 that had been built before the Civil War. But only nine years later we were able to build the beautiful temple we have at 8501 Lewinsville Rd., which has a hall and, now, an education wing.”

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Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Holy Forefathers

Through faith, O Christ, you justified the Forefathers, * betrothing through them in advance the Church of the gentiles. * The Saints exult in glory, * for from their seed came forth a glorious fruit: * she who gave birth to You without seed. * Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us. (Troparion, Tone 2)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You did not honor a hand-depicted image, O thrice-blessed ones, * but defended by the undepicted Being you were glorified in a trial by fire. * And, standing in the midst of unbearable flame, you called upon God: * “Hasten, O Compassionate One, and speed to our help, * for You are merciful and You can do whatever you will.” (Kontakion, Tone 6)

(Second Sunday Before Christmas)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live." (Proverbs 4:4 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses here represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa