The Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

Behold a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech.  

For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works. 

What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend. 

Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.

Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature. 

For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker. 

What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness. 

For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit that He may save me. 

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ¡in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels. 

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things are nourished, may receive an infants food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Spirit, we offer all praise, now and forever. Amen.


Chrysostom, St. John. “The Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom.” Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Accessed November 30, 2018. http://ww1.antiochian.org/node/21955.

Faculty and Staff Updates

We announced in March that St. Raphael School has been acquired by Scholé Academy. Since then I have received encouraging e-mails and appreciative comments about our program, and I noticed that a common theme is how much families love our faculty and the personal connections that they have with teachers and students in the school.  I wanted to offer a few brief updates on our faculty and staff and issue an invitation to reach out to us as we approach our peak enrollment season. We are here for you to answer your questions and to efficiently process your requests:

Matushka Photini Roegner will now serve as St. Raphael School’s Registrar and Communications Coordinator.  That means that she will be your primary point of contact when you need basic information about the courses.  In those rare cases when she doesn’t have a ready answer, she will arrange a time to talk with a teacher or someone on the staff who can help.  She is a great resource and a wealth of information, so don’t hesitate to ask your questions!

Melissa Naasko, an Ancient Faith author, blogger, and homeschooling mother extraordinaire, will take on the role of Sales and Marketing Assistant.  She will help manage our Facebook page, and she will take on some other projects that will help us more effectively communicate our mission and work to those who are searching for a distinctly Orthodox approach to classical Christian home education.

Elizabeth Johnson, our beloved Elementary teacher and colleague, was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago.  She has started her treatment plan and is blogging about her experience at www.fightingwiththewind.com.  We are all thankful to God that she is in the care of outstanding physicians and overjoyed that she can continue as the primary Level 3 Liberal Arts instructor for the upcoming school year.  Please keep her in your prayers!

Brother James (Dr. Taylor) will continue to teach poetry and nature studies in select Liberal Arts courses in Middle and High School.  He is also teaching a popular training course for teachers this summer called Poetic Pedagogy.  Even without enrolling in the course, you can interact with him on his ClassicalU Forum message board, Poetic Pedagogy with Dr. James Taylor.

Dr. Timothy Becker, who came highly recommended by Fr. Noah Bushelli (Lead Catechist), will teach our Level 7 Catechism course on Apologetics.  I spoke with Dr. Becker recently and was quite moved hearing him articulate his vision for this course.  He spoke from his heart about what it means to defend one’s faith by starting with contemplative prayer, deep gratitude for the love of Christ, and personal recognition and confession of our own lack understanding.  The course will look to early Christian apologists whose lives provide worthy examples to imitate, showing us that humility and love stand at the beginning and end of any theological dispute or disagreement. 

David Rosentrater is the new Assistant to the Principal for Scholé Academy.  That is important information for you since he is doing much of the work formerly done by Emily Price who has moved on to teach 5th grade at a Veritas Academy.  David will be processing orders, payment plans, and registrations.  David is a parishioner at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

Joelle Hodge serves as the Headmaster of Scholé Academy and has been working hard to help all of us teachers prepare to deliver the highest quality experience we can muster for our families in the 2018-2019 school year.  She has an impressive ability to organize and prioritize service to our families, and I am so thankful to be under her care and leadership.  As a Protestant Christian, Joelle has communicated to me personally and in our faculty meetings her sincere appreciation for the uniquely Orthodox character of our program, and she is going above and beyond each day to learn more about our practices, calendar, and doctrines to be accommodating and respectful of our tradition.  She is a highly competent manager, and I can say with confidence that our school is in good hands.

 Dr. Christopher Perrin, CEO of Classical Academic Press and Director of Scholé Academy, has been incredibly generous in devoting resources to our comparatively small program.  Our classes this year will feature newer and improved technology, including a major upgrade to our learning management system.  Our teachers have been given free subscriptions to ClassicalU, a site designed to provide training to teachers and homeschool parents.  In addition, he has devoted much time and energy to working with Joelle and me as we strive to make St. Raphael School a faithful manifestation of the “restful learning” (scholé) model of classical Christian education.  Thank you, Dr. Perrin!

As Academic Director and Mentor Teacher, I (Adam Lockridge) will focus my energy on working with the other teachers to polish and refine our curriculum and delivery.  Technical proficiency, course design, student assessment, and more—our teachers have a big job!  My priority will be to help make their jobs easier by giving them the support that they need as they strive to serve our families.  I will also be teaching Rhetoric Capstone and several history and literature courses for Scholé Academy, including the Level 7 Liberal Arts Course

I am thankful to God for all the kindhearted and talented men and women He has given our school to do the work of teaching.  We are blessed to be partnering with such wonderful families to help them provide a wholesome and robust education to their children. Please pray for all of us, and help us serve you by reaching out and letting us know what you need!

See our contact page and reach out!

In Christ,

Adam Lockridge

 

 

New Student Journal for St. Raphael School

Dear Families of St. Raphael School:

A few months ago I was approached by some energetic students who proposed to start a school journal.  This journal would highlight the work of our students and contain other items of interest to Orthodox homeschooling families--recipes, quotes, news, and more.  

I am pleased to announce that this journal has become a reality under the leadership of Elyse Hawkins, the Student Managing Editor of the Saint Raphael School Journal.  We have published our first issue which you can now download in PDF format.  In addition, you may visit the website which contains a wider selection of content. 

The student work currently included in both formats are from the 2017-2018 academic year.  We hope that launching this journal in July, in advance of the beginning of school, will encourage students to consider submitting their best work to the journal.  To learn more about how to do that, see the page "Submitting Your Work" on the journal website.

As a teacher, I get to enjoy the fruits of the diligence of our students on a regular basis, and I am happy that we now have a way to share these with a wider audience.  Thanks to the team for your initiative and hard work to produce a journal that will be a blessing to our school community!

In Christ,

Adam Lockridge

Level 7 Liberal Arts Course: Classics of Christendom for 2018-2019

A note about the Level 7 Course from Academic Director, Adam Lockridge:

I wanted to write a note inviting any who have completed Level 6 (both Greek and Roman years) to enroll in the Level 7 Liberal Arts courses (Medieval History and Literature), offered jointly with Scholé Academy. 

I have had a couple of questions from parents about the Level 7 course for next year, and an early version of the course page stated that Level 7 would not be offered (we have since updated the description).  If you have not yet seen the current course description, I would encourage you to do so. 

http://www.raphaelschool.org/core-liberal-arts-curriculum/level-7

What will change because of the partnership with Scholé Academy?  In short, the content and goals of the course will remain largely the same (I have never taught the exact same course twice), while I may make some minor adjustments in the area of formal feedback and assessment. Also, students can now take History and Literature as separate courses, and classes will meet for longer sessions two days per week (rather than four).

Working with Scholé Academy will help me as a teacher to continue a restful approach to the study of classics while making modest refinements in the way I approach assessment, feedback, and accountability.  These improvements are ones which I regard as important and desirable for High School level students, so these are not concessions or change in our philosophy of education, but they are steps in the direction of helping better prepare our students for more formalized expectations in university and the workplace.

Regarding the statement on the course description about a “broader Christian perspective” (see course description), I want to remind families that St. Raphael School has always been open to students who are not Orthodox.  In the Medieval course we deal with many topics that could be considered controversial--Islam, Iconoclasm, the Great Schism, the Reformation, and so on.  

I have and will continue to teach based on the assumption that, while I am an Orthodox teacher, I must comport myself in a way that is hospitable to those who do not share all my convictions.  I think balance is key: faithfulness in communication and charity for all is the delicate balance we always must walk, and I believe my past students would agree that I strive to offer the most charitable interpretation of ideas and events, even if I disagree with their conclusions or question their motives.  Inviting a broader Christian audience into my course is not a change in policy or curriculum so much as it is a change in strategy that I believe will better achieve the goals of our school. 

However (and this is a crucial caveat), I feel that I must teach in a program where I can be who I am as a teacher. In many schools it is assumed that one must check his faith at the door or pretend to be a neutral bystander, and that often leads to sterile and uninspiring instruction.  I have utmost confidence that Schole Academy is a place where I can serve a wider Christian audience while being true to my identity as an Orthodox Christian teacher.   I can pray before class, and I can be open about my faith, and I will encourage all my students to be themselves, even as I pray that we would all become more of who God made us to be.

I would add that I believe this new strategy will be beneficial for St. Raphael’s high school students as well.  Taking a course alongside peers from other Christian confessions will gently broaden their horizons and help them learn to dialogue with students who are more representative of North American Christianity.

I am very much looking forward to teaching these courses next year and hope you will consider enrolling.  

Peace in Christ,

Adam Lockridge

St. Raphael School Now a Part of Scholé Academy

We are excited to inform everyone that St. Raphael School is now a part of Scholé Academy, and also a division of Classical Academic Press. After a good deal of collaboration and planning, we agreed to this new relationship with a great deal of enthusiasm. 

This new relationship was discussed over a period of several months, with many conversations between Adam Lockridge (academic director of SRS) and Christopher Perrin (director of Scholé Academy), as well conversations with Fr. Noah Bushelli and then the entire faculty of SRS and Scholé Academy leadership team. We are all enthusiastic about this collaboration.

We believe this new relationship will be a mutual blessing, noting the following:

  • SRS will continue as a dedicated online classical school serving Orthodox families, maintaining the same faculty, philosophy of education, and course offerings.
  • Scholé Academy will serve as a larger host academy, similar to the way that a university might house a college. SRS will serve as "school within a school" while keeping its distinct Orthodox identity.
  • Scholé Academy already has Orthodox faculty, and Christopher Perrin himself is a lover of Orthodoxy (his wife is Orthodox and he regularly attends Vespers and other services and has for some 15 years).
  • Scholé Academy's emphasis on renewing restful learning in the light of the Christian faith and a classical curriculum nicely harmonizes with the philosophy of education advocated by St. Raphael School.
  • The staff team at Classical Academic Press and Scholé Academy (SA) will now be able to help serve our growing community with website development, faculty support, promotion, order processing, and customer service. 
  • In addition to the support from Dr. Perrin (SA Director), the principal of Scholé Academy, Jolie Hodge, will also be able to provide support to the SRS faculty team.
  • Adam Lockridge will continue to serve as the mentor teacher, providing academic and curricular leadership to the SRS faculty. Adam will also be teaching some courses with Scholé Academy.

In short, we are grateful for this new relationship, and anticipate a great year of growth and deepening.

If you have questions about this new relationship, don't hesitate to reach out to Adam at adam@raphaelschool.org.

Pax Christi,

Christopher Perrin & Adam Lockridge

All Courses for Sale on April 2

Greetings!

We are glad to report that all of our courses will be available for purchase on April 2. Our team has been hard at work updating course information and refreshing the website.

Please note that when you purchase a course you will be taken to the shopping cart operated by Classical Academic Press. Since St. Raphael School is a division of Classical Academic Press, the Press will handle all of the course purchase transactions. 

We look forward to a great year in 2018-2019!

Peace in Christ,

The SRS Team