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Church Bulletin: April 2, 2017

posted Apr 3, 2017, 6:23 AM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
April 2, 2017- St. Mary of Egypt (5th Sunday of Lent)

 This Week's Services and Events

April 3, Monday
        + Great Compline, 7:00PM

April 4, Tuesday
        + Free Lunch Program Volunteering, 11:30AM-1:00PM
        + Office Hours, 1:15PM-2:45PM
        + 9th Hour Prayers, 3:00PM

April 5, Wednesday
        + Liturgy of Pre-Sanctified Gifts, 6:00PM, followed by Soup Supper

April 6, Thursday
        + Office Hours, 1:15PM-2:45PM
        + OCF dinner, 6:30PM

April 7, Friday
        + Little Compline with Canon of St. Lazarus, 7:00PM

April 8, Lazarus Saturday
        + Family Confessions and Proskomide Demonstration, 9:00AM
        + Lazarus Saturday Liturgy, 10:00AM
        + Church Building and Grounds Clean-up, 1:00-4:30PM
        + Great Vespers, 5:00PM

April 9, Palm Sunday
        + Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10:00AM followed by Sunday School and Coffee Hour
        + Bridegroom Matins, 7:00

Upcoming Events and Announcements-         

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian-
        O Lord and Master of my life,
Take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather, the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother
For Thou art blessed, unto ages of ages.  Amen.

Scheduling Confessions-
        If you haven't made a confession during Lent yet this year, now is the time to do it!  Speak with Fr. Ignatius, or contact him by phone, text or email, to schedule a time.  He is available to hear confessions after most services, at the end of matins on Sunday (about 9:45AM) and by appointment.  Since Holy Week gets increasingly busy as the week progresses, he asks that you schedule your confessions to take place before Holy Thursday (April 13) if at all possible.  

Semi-Annual Parish Clean-up Day-
        We need volunteers this Saturday, April 8 from 1:00PM-4:30PM to help polish liturgical items, clean windows, rake the yard, trim a bush and do other cleaning and preparation in anticipation of Holy Week and Pascha.

A Time for Family Confessions and Proskomedia Demonstration-
        Families with children who are going to be making confessions this Lent: plan to come to church at 9:00AM on Saturday, April 8.  Following confessions, Fr. Ignatius will do the Proskomedia service, which is,  the service of preparation of the bread and wine for liturgy, so that all present who want to can see and hear.  Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday starts at 10:00AM.

Annual Parish Group Picture on Palm Sunday-
        Please plan to be with us on Palm Sunday, April 9.  Immediately following liturgy, we will have a group picture taken.

Invite a Friend to Church-
        Palm Sunday (April 9) and Pascha (April 16) are wonderful times to invite a friend, co-worker or family member to attend St. Raphael Church with you.  Studies suggest that about half of the unchurched people you ask to come to church, will come.  The best, most effective practice is to say something like, "Our service starts at 10am on Sunday.  Can I come to your home this Sunday and pick you up at 9:30 and bring you?"  Being more specific with times and dates and offering a ride yield better results than leaving possible future attendance open-ended and non-committal.  

Anti-Jewish Rhetoric in Church Hymns?-
        If you listen to a few of the hymns sung in the Orthodox Church during Holy Week, you may think that some of the statements which involve Jews and their relationship to the death of Christ are overly broad and harsh.  Some have expressed concern that these statements can be used to support anti-Semitism.  To read an in-depth examination of this issue, go to: http://www.antiochian.org/sites/default/files/april_2017_word_for_archdiocese.pdf and look on page 13 for the article "Coming to Grips With Some of Our Holy Week Hymns" or wait for your hard copy of the Word magazine to arrive and read it.  

Start Making Plans for Holy Week-
        Holy Week begins with Lazarus Saturday services starting this Friday evening, April 7 and continuing through Holy Pascha on April 16.  This is the most important time of the year to pray and worship together!  There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and to serve the church during this time.  Plan to alter your schedule in order to attend a few more services than you have in the past.  Here's our Holy Week service schedule:

Friday, April 7- Little Compline with Canon of St. Lazarus, 7:00PM
Lazarus Saturday, April 8- Liturgy, 10:00AM; Great Vespers, 5:00PM
Palm Sunday, April 9- Matins, 8:30AM and Liturgy, 10:00AM, followed by group picture, Sunday School and Coffee Hour; Bridegroom Matins, 7:00PM
Holy Monday, April 10- Bridegroom Matins, 7:00PM
Holy Tuesday, April 11- Bridegroom Matins, 7:00PM
Holy Wednesday, April 12- Liturgy of Pre-Sanctified Gifts, 9:00AM; Holy Unction Service, 7:00PM
Holy Thursday, April 13- Vesperal Liturgy, 9:00AM; Foot-washing Rite, 6:00PM; Twelve Passion Gospels Service, 7:00PM
Holy Friday, April 14- Royal Hours, 9:00AM; Great Vespers, 3:00PM; Lamentations Service, 7:00PM followed by Psalm-reading Vigil through the night
Holy Saturday, April 15- Vesperal Liturgy with Baptism, 9:00AM; Rush Service, 11:40PM
Great and All-Holy Pascha, April 16- Paschal Matins and Liturgy, 12:00AM (midnight) followed by Paschal feast; Agape Vespers, 12:30PM followed by Paschal picnic at Coralville Rec. Center, 2-4:00PM

More Holy Week Notes-
        Sign-up sheets are posted for decorating the funeral bier on Holy Friday, reading psalms through the night between Holy Friday and Holy Saturday, reading the Gospel in a foreign language at Agape Vespers on Pascha afternoon, dyeing red eggs, bringing food to share for our middle-of-the-night Paschal feast and also for our afternoon Paschal picnic.  Your participation and help makes our church community stronger and more vibrant!

Holy Friday Activities for Kids and Families-
        Holy Friday (April 14, this year), the day when we most fully focus on our Lord's Crucifixion, is a solemn and important day for Christians.  Parents with children, consider bringing your kids to church on this day.  If you need Fr. Ignatius to write a note to excuse your children from school, let him know.  He is willing to do it.  Here is our schedule for the day.  Following Royal Hours service at 9:00AM, we will begin to decorate the Lord's funeral bier around 11:00AM or so.  Children are welcome and encouraged to help out.  We will have lunch at the church, a movie for older kids, and the younger kids can see and hear the Crucifixion and Resurrection stories on the felt board in the Sunday School room.  Lori Branch requests that at least a few parents plan to stay to help out with these activities.  Great vespers starts at 3:00PM and Lamentations at 7:00PM

Can You Read Out Loud in a Language Other Than English?-
        Come to Agape Vespers at 12:30PM on Pascha, Sunday, April 16.  The highlight of this service is hearing the Gospel reading in as many languages as possible.  There is a sign-up sheet for this in the church narthex.  The text is John 20:19-25.  We have this text available in many different languages at church.

Pascha and Parents With Young Children-
        Please consider bringing your young children to the midnight service on Pascha, even if they sleep through most of it!  Your children are part of our church family and we value them.  However, if you are not comfortable doing this,  plan to bring them to Agape Vespers service at 12:30PM at church and the picnic and Easter egg hunt afterward at the Coralville Rec. Center.

A Letter from Hannah Valentine-
        Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst!  
        I pray that you are all well and engaged in the good fight.... As I write now, listening to a chorus of desert songbirds, the image of the Cross of Christ, which the sisters venerated only minutes ago during Orthros, dominates my mind. How can we approach the central relic of our faith, preserved for us for two thousand years in slivers more precious than gold, with anything less than awe and trembling?  Christ's passion draws near; we stood at the base of Golgotha hill on Forgiveness Sunday, and if we have not since walked away from our cross, we carry it now on our shoulders and ascend.  The joy we will feel at Pascha depends largely on our struggle now.  With strength the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, "For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself."
        The last line, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful" resounds with me in particular today.  Our abbess has been gathering the sisters together almost daily for half-hour readings during Lent.  Among the various books we have been reading: "The Way of the Spirit" by Archimandrite Aemilianos of the Holy Mountain.  One afternoon last week, our abbess paused from reading the text to expound on the issue of faithlessness.  She said that nearly everyone has a certain excuse for faithlessness.  "I'm never good enough," one might repeat mentally, or "I'll never change."  I've discovered a favorite excuse of mine when faced with the choice to repent: "I don't know how."  During Lent especially, with the fast, increased prostrations, and the penitent words of the services, the Church proclaims to us "Repent!" and we often grow fainthearted when we see how much of the old man remains in us.  Calling our minds to this problem of faithlessness, our abbess said to the sisters, "Lent is the time for more faith, not less of it."  She encouraged us all to recognize the faithless phrases we each fly like banners and replace them with Scriptural declarations of faith.  The following gathering, each sister shared her new phrase.  I was surprised and delighted at the variety- the Bible has a lot to say about faith, go figure.  My choice came from my favorite book of the Bible, James.  "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  Knowing that I often adhere to a certain degree of faithlessness, I find that a phrase like this, repeated throughout the day, really helps me to put faith in God and to desire to be His co-worker in attaining my salvation.
        Although this is my twentieth Great Lent- not including the first two years of my life outside of the Orthodox Church, but if one only counts the fasts in which I consciously participated, then really only my seventh or eighth- it nevertheless feels like my first.  It probably goes without saying, but Great Lent is quite different at a monastery than in the world.  With less distractions present, all I can say is the fast, in all its various aspects, is all-encompassing.  But there's still three more weeks, and I'm on my way to acclimating myself.  Outside of the spiritual realm, the one thing I struggle to acclimate to is, well, the climate.  I think we had about a two week winter.  That was back in December.  Some hardy flowers didn't get the message though, and kept on blooming.  Now this is not a complaint.  I just have difficulty wrapping my mid-westerner mind around the idea of weeding out in the olive orchard in January.  Don't worry, on the occasions when I looked up at snow covered Mt. Graham, I suffered internally with you all.  Though I hear from my family that Iowa's winter was actually pretty mild.  I'll bet only the kids were bummed out about that.
        Since winter never really came, we've been living in a sort of pseudo-spring ever since Christmas.  But around the beginning of the fast, Spring really took hold.  The desert has sprung to life.  Flowering trees beside the church bring in local honeybees by the hundreds.  Weeds lay claim to the landscaping, despite each of the sisters' valiant efforts to tame her own area.  Vermillion flycatchers dart through the sky and a bird whose call sounds like falling water has caught my ear several times.  The air is fragrant and quick to heat up under the sun.  Rabbits have come out by the dozens, and one decided to halt a town trip by lodging itself under the hood of one of the monastery's cars.  After several of the sisters gathered to assess the problem, it was decided that the fat and yet living rabbit, having no way to get out except directly overhead, would have to be removed by "men who know how to solve these kinds of problems."  Six new arrivals now frolic around the goat pens, the cutest of which is a grey and black she-goat who the sisters deemed worthy of the name Cleopatra.  Her brother, the meeker of the two, is affectionately called Caesar.
        By God's grace, I am doing well and in disbelief that I have already been living here for the past eight months.  I know your prayers continue to bring me the strength needed for this life.  Though I miss each one of you, I can't help but think we're really not that far apart, just on different ships all sailing toward the land where the Sun never sets.  If I could ask it of you, there are a few sisters at the monastery that could use your prayers.  Their names are Sr. Antonia and Sr. Euphemia.  Both suffer from health issues.  While its true that the job of a monk or nun is to pray for the world, each one likewise depends on the prayers of the brothers and sisters in the world to call down the Lord's grace upon them.  Please ask St. Raphael, the Theotokos, and St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon of Simferopol to pray for the sisters too.  If you haven't heard of or read the life of the latter, I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of the book "The Blessed Surgeon."  He is a favorite among the sisters here.
        May God bless you all during this fast and grant that the Light of His Resurrection infect you with joy.  As always, I keep you in my prayers.

        Love in Christ,
        Hannah

P.S.  I forgot to mention that one of the CD's I often hear playing in our bookstore is of the Georgian Liturgy. So as I'm making prayer ropes in the back of the bookstore and I hear this music, I say an extra prayer for you all.  

Offerings From Our Church Bookstore-
        Did you know we have red dye packets for eggs and Pascha greeting cards available for purchase at our bookstore?

Food for Hungry People Collection Boxes-
        Each year during Lent, all of the churches in our archdiocese participate in collecting money for the Food for Hungry People program, which funds many different efforts to help people who may not have enough to eat.  Take a collection box home (they are in the narthex!) and fill it with change during this Lenten season.  Families, take one of the accompanying calendars which makes the collecting of change fun for the younger ones.  Bring your boxes back at Pascha. 

Scholarship Grant Available-
        If you are:
1. A female, 26 years of age or older
2. A member in good standing of an Antiochian Orthodox parish
3. Actively involved in the worship. service, and social life of your parish
4. Applying for, or registered in an academic or trade study program
5. Able to demonstrate financial need
Then you may apply for a $500 scholarship grant from the North American Board of the Antiochian Women organization.  Deadline to apply in June 1.  See Fr. Ignatius for details.

Food for All--Kalona
        We are restarting Kalona Vespers on third Tuesdays.  All are welcome.   Please  continue to pray for our Orthodox-style, community-style charity work. Also ask our Lord to draw people to Himself and His Church through all our programs. Visit our website at foodforallkalona.weebly.com. For more info, email me at foodforallkalona@gmail.com.  Thanks! Amy Spencer

Do You Have Questions About Orthodox Fasting Practices?-
        Ask Fr. Ignatius.  The Church sets forth standards which we take seriously.  However, how these standards are applied and practiced in each of our own situations may vary.  Fasting: giving up certain foods and being modest in our portions, is a tool meant to help us to be able to repent more thoroughly and thereby, to draw closer to God.  If we judge others regarding their fasting practices, we do so to our own spiritual peril.  

Bishop Anthony's Next Visit-
        His Grace will be with us the weekend of October 21-22.  Save the dates and plan to be with our bishop. 

Next Sunday's Gospel Reading-
          Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus who had died was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with Him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of His Disciples (he who was to betray Jesus), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the moneybox he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of My burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that He was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying,  “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who cometh in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His Disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of Him and had been done to Him. The crowd that had been with Jesus when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet Jesus was that they heard He had done this sign.  (John 12:1-18)

Pray for our Catechumens-
       Please keep our catechumens Anna Baynton and Ilya Buchkin in your prayers as they prepare to be sacramentally joined to the Orthodox Church.

Do You Have a Prayer Request?
        Please give it to Fr. Ignatius and he will distribute it by email to all those on the Prayer Chain. If you wish to join the Prayer Chain, please let Fr. Ignatius know. 
       
Remember Your Departed Loved Ones With Flowers-
        Would you like to memorialize your departed loved ones with a bouquet of flowers to be placed in the church on the weekend of your choice?  Look for the new Memorial sign-up sheet.  Decide what weekend you would like your loved one(s) remembered, give $25 to the church, clearly marking it for "Memorial Flowers" and your loved one(s) will be mentioned during the Great Entrance prayers and in the weekly bulletin.  If your departed loved ones are Orthodox, and you would like Trisagion Prayers for the Departed to be offered at the end of Liturgy, you can indicate that on the sign-up sheet as well.

Keep Praying for Kidnapped Orthodox Bishops in Syria-
       Since April 22, 2013, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Metropolitan Paul, and the Syriac Metropolitan of Aleppo, Youhanna, have been in captivity and have not been heard from.  Please pray for their well being and release and also pray for their captors as well.

Food for Thought-

Spare the work of Thine own hands, O Savior, and as shepherd seek the lost sheep that has gone astray. Snatch me from the wolf and make me a nursling in the pasture of Thine own flock. 

- From the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
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