Tag Archives: Saint Raphael

Spiritual Architecture


On December 26th, the Eve of the Feast of John the Beloved Disciple, the Monsignor Scott Rassbach+ arrived with members of Rose Cross Community in Portland to celebrate mass with Seattle’s Holy Paraclete Community, a mission of the Apostolic Johannite Church. This feast is of particular importance to the world wide Johannite community which describes itself as a spiritual tradition carried in part through the initiatory tradition of John the Baptist, exemplified in the relationship between Christ and the Apostle John. The service itself was well attended for this small community that was granted last year to Monsignor Scott+ and me by His Eminence, +Mar Iohannes IV and His Grace, +Mar Thomas, with people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds – a fine example of the acceptance of diversity that epitomizes this tradition and sets it apart in many ways.

Following the Gospel reading, Monsignor Scott+ announced that our small community had been elevated from its status as a mission community to that of a narthex. In the Apostolic Johannite Church, our communities fall into one of three primary categories: a mission is group of members that meet irregularly and are ministered to by visiting Johannite clergy; a narthex is a local study group under the direction of a lay or clerical leader; and a parish, is a fully functioning body of the Apostolic Johannite Church with regular clergy and services. This news was followed with a wonderful impromptu sermon on the nature of a narthex in the context of the AJC and in history, Eucharist, and our group meeting at a local restaurant for food and fellowship following the service.

In the week following the service, I have been given much to think about as the current lay-leader of Holy Paraclete Community in light of Monsignor Scott’s+ homily and there is doubtless more to think about as I undergo formation in my studies with Saint Raphael the Archangel Seminary on my process toward ordination to the priesthood. Formation, itself, is an interesting terminology to use in this context. As someone with a background in the plastic arts, a fervent love for Sculpey, and an appreciation for ancient and modern architecture I find myself thinking about the development of this community and myself with the same enthusiasm and reluctance as an artist or architect seeking to build something that will outlast the temporal here and now and grow and develop into something that I pray will last years beyond my physical life been extinguished. The whole process, in many ways, can be considered the building of architecture of spirit that is at once deeply personal and communal in nature.

Following the death of Jesus, the disciples traveled throughout the world scattered like seeds in the wind yet each carrying a blueprint of what the master builder had left them for creating a new society. Some, like James, stayed in Jerusalem and continued working on their own personal spiritual development with the community they had known there, while others started laying the foundation for new communities around the Mediterranean and as far away as India. Nearly all of them met violent ends at the hands of the civil and religious authorities of the time except for one, John, who according to holy tradition, was exiled to Patmos off the coast of modern day Turkey and lived to an old age and dying in Ephesus. Saint Paul, the only apostle to have not physically been present during the life of Jesus, mentions of John that he along with Peter in Rome and James who remained in Jerusalem, was one of the pillars of the Church (cf Galations 2:9).


As the community that established around Peter became known for its dogged dedication to creating a new temporal society and the church of James in Jerusalem worked gently to bridge the gaps in philosophical and theological disagreements between the Christians and the Jews, the vision of John was nearly entirely spiritual – free from the confines extremes of Jewish religious law and attachment to physical establishment of a new religious community. All three visions of these apostles however, form the supports upon which rest the ethical, moral and philosophical axis of the living church to this very day using the blue prints of Jesus.

By the time of the writing of the Gospel of John, it’s generally acknowledged that the Christian community had been expelled from participation in the synagogues and temple establishment and so most, in particular non-Jewish converts to Christianity, began meeting in the atria of the houses of sympathetic patrons who may or may not themselves have been converts while those who were interested would often wait outside the open area before gaining admittance to the mysterious Christian church. This place, which in Roman architecture of the time was called the fauces, in modern architecture a mud-room, would become the basis of the narthex as these communities would grow and become independent buildings of worship.


From a spiritual perspective, the narthex remains a mudroom of sorts. Separated from the nave of the church, it is the place where day to day business can be discussed, local gossip and profound observations exchanged, and where newcomers are welcomed. It’s also where we ourselves are at our least focused and meditative and mired in the concerns of the world but where we are reminded of our hope for spiritual purification. In many ancient churches then as now, the narthex would often include a baptismal font so that infants or adults could be baptized there before entering the nave, and to remind other believers of their baptisms as they gathered to worship. As a place of penance, the narthex is at once symbolic of the desert through which the ancient Hebrews wandered with Moses, the outskirts of society where John the Baptist cried like a voice in the deserts, and the wasteland where Jesus meditated for forty days and was tried and tempered. It’s also an oasis, a place of refreshment and hospitality. Then as now, hospitality is the highest law among desert nomads in the Near East and any weary traveler who found their way to an oasis would be greeted hospitably and given aid as they continued their journey. Everyone, regardless of rank or status, must pass through the narthex before entering the nave – the Holy of Holies – of the church.


As the lay leader of Holy Paraclete Community, a narthex of the Apostolic Johannite Church, I hope this community embodies what it means to be a place of similar welcome and hospitality, rest and refreshment, information and cordial chatter. Myself, I hope also to be tested and reminded about my own moral and spiritual deficiencies whereby I can better see what I need to work on in my own process of spiritual purification and development as well as better learn what I need to learn to be of aid and hospitality to those whom I meet wherever I may be. As a Johannite, I hope it is here that I cannot so much come to be loved as to better learn how to love, not be known so much as know, not so much receive as give, and in dying to old behaviors be reborn daily with my community in the light of holy gnōsis.


A Vigil Rite of Healing through the Angel Raphael

For those times when a member of the congregation is experiencing prolonged illness or in cases when someone is in immediate need of spiritual comfort, this vigil may be performed to the end of expediting their recovery.

This ceremony may be performed by any member of laity or clergy and may be appended to the Rite of Ministration to the Sick or the Daily Office.


The bell is rung ///.

Candles are lit and incense burned in censor.

Introductory rite from the Apostolic Johannite Church’s liturgy Grail of Undefiled Wisdom used or similar ceremony used, alternately the Prayer of the Apostle Paul:

I invoke you, the one who is and who pre-existed in the name which is exalted above every name, through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the King of the ages; give me your gifts, of which you do not repent, through the Son of Man, the Spirit, the Paraclete of truth. Give me authority when I ask you; give healing for my body when I ask you through the Evangelist, and redeem my eternal light soul and my spirit. And the First-born of the Fullness of grace — reveal him to my mind!

Grant what no angel eye has seen and no archon ear has heard, and what has not entered into the human heart which came to be angelic and modeled after the image of God when it was formed in the beginning, since I have faith and hope. And place upon me your beloved, elect, and blessed greatness, the First-born, the First-begotten, and the wonderful mystery of your house; for yours is the power and the glory and the praise and the greatness for ever and ever. Amen.


One or more the following or other passages may be used.

1 John 5:13-15

(These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.)

James 5:14-16

(Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.)

Apocryphon of John

(Thus, the seed remained for a while assisting them, in order that, when the Spirit comes forth from the Holy Aeons, he may raise up and heal him from the deficiency, that the entirety of the Fullness may again become holy and faultless.)  

Invocation of the Holy Angel Raphael

O Holy Angel Raphael, guardian of the light arising, guide of travelers and supreme minister to the sick, through your intercession we ask for the healing of (name of person to be healed) who has been afflicted by suffering of body and soul. Holy Raphael, whose name means ‘God heals’, and of whom the Scriptures praise: ‘Raphael, the holy angel of the Lord, was sent to cure,Saint Raphael, our advocate’ come to the aid of (name of person to be healed) as you came to the aid of the prophet Tobias and put to flight the plagues sent by the Advesary and provided to for the healing of Israel. Amen.

Lighting of the Candle

Celebrant:               Holy Lord, who did charge your children to bring you clear oil wherein the lamp of your love may continually burn in the hearts of humanity, and kindled with the fire of eternal charity, we do present you this lamp most pure that it may burn for the healing of (name of person to be healed) under the ever-watching vigilance of your Holy Angel Raphael. Pour your blessings upon it that they may partake in your blessings and, when healed, magnify your Holy Name.

Celebrant lights lamp representing the person for whom this vigil is performed.

Celebrant:               The Lord says, “I am a lamp to those who would see me.”

All:                          Amen.

Celebrant:               “I am a mirror to those who would perceive me.”

All.                          Amen.

Celebrant:               “I am a door to you who would approach me.”

All:                          Amen.

Celebrant:               “Glory to you, Father, Glory to you, Word, Glory to you Holy Spirit of Wisdom. We gathered here in your presence and in the presence of your Holy Angel Raphael to hold vigil for your servant (name of person to be healed) that they may be restored to full health of body, mind and spirit.

If others are participating, the Celebrant now lights a separate candle from the vigil light.

Celebrant:               The Lord says, ‘I am the light that is over all things, I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.’ Let those who would partake of the light and pray for the healing of (N.) come forth and light their candles that they may burn at peace in their homes for the healing of the whole world.

Congregants come up, one by one, and light their own candles from the central vigil candle.

Celebrant:               Bearing in mind the words of Our Lord, let us now pray with one heart, one mind, and one accord:

Our Father

Closing of the Temple

Celebrant rings bell ///

Celebrant performs the closing of the temple, as in the Liturgy of the Grail of Undefiled Wisdom or prays:

Celebrant:               We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name ‘God’ and praised with the name ‘Father’, for to everyone and everything (comes) the parental kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, and knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.

All:                          The thanksgiving of one who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life.

Celebrant:               Let us bless the Lord.

All:                          Thanks be to God.