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Church Bulletin: September 18, 2016

posted Sep 19, 2016, 6:22 AM by Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Antiochian Orthodox Church
September 18, 2016- Sunday after the Elevation of the Cross

 This Week's Services and Events

September 20, Tuesday
        + Office Hours, 1:15PM-2:45PM
        + 9th Hour Prayers, 3:00PM
        + Parish Council meeting, 6:30PM

September 21, Wednesday
        + Akathist, 7:00PM

September 24, Saturday
        + Intro to Orthodoxy Class, 3:00PM
        + Great Vespers, 5:00PM 

September 25, 14th Sunday After P
        + Matins, 8:45AM
        + Divine Liturgy, 10:00AM followed by Sunday School and Coffee Hour
Upcoming Events and Announcements- 

An Invitation to Help Firmly Establish Our Parish By Working to Discover Who We Are and What our Purpose Is-
        Leaders from both the Archdiocesan Departments of Lay Ministries and Stewardship will be coming to St. Raphael Church on October 7-8 for the first of two weekend sessions to work with parish leaders and all those interested to help us discern what our purpose, vision and goals are as the local expression of the Holy Orthodox Church in Iowa City.  All are welcomed to participate.  The more, the better.  This is for the building up of our church and its firm establishment for the future.  The commitment is for Friday evening and both morning and afternoon on Saturday.  A second similar weekend will be scheduled to continue the work.         

Special Fall Appeal-
        We were not able to organize a Fall Festival, as originally planned.  We had hoped that this effort, in addition to raising the church's profile in our community, would also be a fundraiser.  We planned our budget, assuming that the festival would make the church some money.  As was announced following liturgy today, a generous benefactor has stepped forward and offered to match, dollar for dollar, up to $1000, donations that are given to the church to make up for the lack of the festival income.  If you were planning to help out by making food or otherwise volunteering for the festival, please consider giving a donation to the church instead.  Mark that it is for the Fall Special Appeal so that your funds can be matched.  This is a separate effort from the annual fall appeal to fund our 2017, which you will be hearing about shortly.

On Funerals and Cremation-
        Orthodox Christian teaching is that cremation is a needless desecration of the human body and we do not permit it.  In a letter to his clergy, Metropolitan Joseph has recently reiterated this teaching and practice.  Specifically, Antiochian Orthodox priests are not permitted to conduct funeral services for someone who was or will be cremated.  The ashes of a cremated individual are not allowed in the church.    It is important for Orthodox Christians to understand this and to tell our loved ones, who may be making decisions concerning how our bodies are treated after death.   Put it in writing!  Tell your family!  To learn more why the Orthodox Church rejects cremation, go to: http://byztex.blogspot.com/2012/09/on-destruction-of-body-by-fire.html

Geneva Lectures Presents: Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Astrophysicist-
        Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, a professional scientist and committed Christian, talks about the latest discoveries of how the universe has developed over a vast period of time into a place habitable for advanced life, and what the philosophical and theological implications of this can be.  September 26, 7:30PM, University of Iowa Van Allen Hall, LR1.   

    A Charitable Appeal From Karen Kuntz-
        I wanted to tell you about a challenge I’m taking in October. My sister-in-law, Maria Wiblin and I will be walking 60 miles over the course of three days in the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk. Susan G. Komen® is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Komen is the only organization that addresses breast cancer on multiple fronts such as research, community health, global outreach and public policy initiatives in order to make the biggest impact against this disease. My goal is to raise $3,200 to support the important work of fighting breast cancer.

Please consider making a donation to help defeat breast cancer!  Since the 3-Day Walk is a non-profit, gifts are tax deductible, and giving is easy.  If you prefer to give online, my donation page is: http://www.the3day.org/goto/karenkuntz

Feel free to pass this information along to any of your friends who might be interested in supporting this cause!  Thank you for your encouragement and support.

A Letter from Hannah-
        Dear Faithful of St. Raphael Church,

Christ is in our midst!

I pray that God sends His many blessings to you all this new liturgical year. Now that summer is dwindling down, I can imagine that life has gotten a little crazier for some of you, shuffling kids to and from school, and adding extra minutes to your commute downtown to find that ever eluding parking space. Sunday school started up again, and I hope it turns out to be a great year for the kids. I learned things while listening to Lori's lessons; the kids are fortunate to have dedicated teachers and parents to raise them in a life of faith.

At long last, the Gila Valley (the name of the wide plain bordered by humble mountains on which the monastery lies) has received some monsoon rains. Except it wasn't really a monsoon; it was a steady rain from around 2am on Wednesday until 7pm that night. Apparently, such a thing only happens once every five years. But either way, the plants are happier; even some of the drought hardy cacti were looking melancholy.

We had a blessed celebration of the feast of the Dormition. As the catholicon is named after the Dormition, dozens of flower arrangements adorned the icons for the vigil service. Every feast day on which we hold a vigil, the sisters light the candles on the polyeleos (giant chandelier) and swing it back and forth.  The effect is stunning. I have been blessed to sing in the choir, and feel right at home since the sisters use a mix of Byzantine and Russian chants.

I can summarize this past month's happenings with three words: apples, goats, and children. A few weeks ago, I joined three of the sisters on a trip to an apple orchard about an hour away. This orchard is owned by St. Anthony's monastery, but since they also have a huge pistachio farm, they don't have time to do anything with the apples. They practically beg us to come and pick as many apples as we want. Well, we brought home 36 crates full. It'll be a while before we run out of applesauce, apple crisp, stewed apples, and apple juice.

Now that I have finished my book, my afternoons have been filled with a new obedience. Here's where the goats come in. I am milking goats with the sisters. Or rather, I sit there and struggle to empty out one goat while the sister working with me milks the other two, feeds the baby goat, and makes the grain. I have confidence that my finger milking muscles just need time to develop. But it is good work, and at the same time, relaxing.

My child exposure meter has been satisfactorily high. Two youth groups stayed for a few days at a time, and the abbess blessed me to speak with each about the lives of two of my favorite saints: St. James the Brother of the Lord, and St. Moses the Ethiopian. For a few nights, I also had a twelve-year old roommate named Emma. She is the daughter of a priest from California, and was staying here by herself for the first time. Feeling a little homesick, she asked to stay in my room. The sisters agreed, and the two of us had a great time together. And then, just last week, a western-rite priest from Illinois visited with his Khouria and 8 children, the smallest of whom was a four month old boy. I was pretty content to visit with them whenever possible.

If I had to chose one thing that has been the most difficult to adjust to, it would be  the daily revelation of thoughts to the abbess. I don't get to meet with her in person every day, as she has several weakening health conditions, but rather write down the thoughts I have during the day and pass the papers on to her. Revealing those thoughts which we are taught in the world are our own and of no business to others is not always pleasant. But since all sins begin as a thought, revealing these to a trusted spiritual mother or father, frees one's conscience and prevents the thoughts from taking root in the heart. A quote from one of my favorite books, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, sums up well this unpleasant goodness of digging out what is dark in oneself: "It smarted like anything, but only for a moment. After that, it became perfectly delicious..."

By the time you all hear this, God willing, I will be in Russia. I'm probably gaping at everything I pass like a real tourist.  Sr. Xenia, the assistant abbess, and I will be in Russia until the 28th of Sept. Besides attending the conference, we will also visit the Optina monastery, St. Sergius' Skete, and St. Nicholas Maloyaroslavets monastery, which houses over one hundred nuns. There is a good chance we might speak with some holy elders...well, assuming that they can speak English. I'm pretty sure the most important thing I can learn to say in Russian while there is "Where's my nun?" just in case I lose sight of Sr. Xenia in the sea of black garbed, Russian speaking people.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I pray the Lord grants you all His mercy and peace.

In Christ,

Change in Office Hours-
        Due to new school and work schedules for Fr. Ignatius's family, it was necessary to shift office hours.  The new hours will be 1:15PM-2:45PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  There will be no office hours or matins on Fridays.  There will be 9th Hour Prayers at 3:00PM on Tuesdays.  If you want to meet with Father and these times don't work for you, he will work something else out.  Just ask.  

Orthodox Christian Fellowship-
        OCF will meet most Thursday evenings with dinner at 6:30PM on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month, and compline at 7:00PM on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month.

Intro To Orthodoxy Classes-
        Introduction to Orthodoxy classes are continuing on Saturdays at 3:00PM.  Remaining classes are on September 24 and October 1 .  This class is open to all.  
Food for All - Kalona
               The totals are in for Kalona Summer Lunch! 1,683 lunches were provided, averaging 55 a day (MWF). A total of 271 different guests joined us at one time or another, with 75 coming at least 7 times over the summer and 28 coming very regularly. 
Please pray for this Orthodox-style, community-style charity work as we start what we hope to be twice-a-month Sunday evening suppers in October. Also ask our Lord to draw people to Himself and and His Church through it. Visit our website at foodforallkalona.weebly.com. Ask Amy Spencer to take you out to coffee if you want to learn more. Email: foodforallkalona@gmail.com.  Amy will be taking a sabbatical from Food for All during the month of September to pray, particularly about new programs and Kalona Vespers, which has been on hold.

Next Sunday's Gospel Reading-
         At that time, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And He saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, Jesus asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Thy word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish, which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.  (Luke 5:1-11)      

Pray for our Catechumen-
       Please keep our catechumen Ilya Buchkin in your prayers as he prepares 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-

A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services.

- St. John Climacus