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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of February 20, 2011)

posted Mar 12, 2011, 1:53 AM by Ilya Buchkin
Capital Campaign Update-  
        Our current total for Phase II of our Capital Campaign is $14,478.  This comes from 29 individual/family donors plus proceeds from the Evening in the East.  We are $9,952 away from having raised a full year's mortgage payment.     
Church Directory Updates-
       We are in the process of updating our church directory which will be printed soon.  A rough draft is available at church for you to look at and make corrections on, if necessary.  If you haven't been contacted by Fr. Ignatius, and you know that your directory listing needs updating, please contact him.

Change in Sunday School Timing-
       The Sunday School teachers for our school aged children have decided it would be best to dismiss the children for Sunday School before the announcements are given after Liturgy.  So, immediately after the dismissal, we will sing to all those who are remembering special days.  Then the children will be dismissed for Sunday School where they will have snacks ready for them.  Then announcements will be given, and after the post-Communion prayers, we will gather downstairs for our Fellowship time. 

Former St. Raphael Church member Brian Herman was ordained to the diaconate a few days ago in New York City by Bishop Jerome of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).  The newly ordained Fr. Deacon Maximos will serve at St. John the Wonderworker Mission in Des Moines alongside of Fr. Lev Smith.  He is worthy!

Catechumen Classes-
       All are welcome to attend Catechumen classes which meet on Saturdays at 3:30PM.  In this 10-12 week series, we are watching videos which outline many of the basics of Orthodox Christianity.

Souls' Saturday Liturgy-
This Saturday, February 26, we will have a Liturgy for Souls' Saturday at 10AM.  If you would like your departed loved ones remembered at this service, please get your list of names to Fr. Ignatius by February 25.

"Music Honoring the Virgin"-
On Sunday, February 27 at 3PM at the First Presbyterian Church (2701 Rochester Ave., Iowa City) the Iowa City Chamber Singers will present a concert titled, "Music Honoring the Virgin: Gorecki, Part, Mozart and Carissimi's Oratio Jepthe".  Tickets can be purchased from St. Raphael member Matthew Arndt.

Free Lunch Program Volunteering-
We are scheduled to volunteer at the Free Lunch Program on Tuesday, March 1 from 11:30AM-1:30PM.  If you are able to help, please let Fr. Ignatius know.  This is a great way to demonstrate our Christian faith in a practical way by "loving our neighbor as ourselves."

Is Yoga Compatible With Christianity-
Listen to this interview on Ancient Faith Radio in which an Indian born former Hindu, who is now an Orthodox Christian, gives her opinion on the compatibility of the popular practice of yoga with Orthodox Christianity.  The interview can be listened to or read at http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/yoga_and_orthodox_christianity_are_they_compatible

House Blessings-
       If you want your home blessed, please sign-up on the sheet on the bulletin board at church, or contact Fr. Ignatius and suggest a date and time.  House Blessings can be scheduled until Sunday, March 6, but Fr. Ignatius will be unavailable February 27 and 28 and March 1-3. 

Lent is Coming-
Lent begins with the beautiful service of reconciliation called Forgiveness Vespers at 6PM on Sunday, March 6.  Following, is the schedule of services for the rest of the first week of Lent.
Monday, March 7- Compline with Canon of St. Andrew, 7PM
Tuesday, March 8- Compline with Canon of St. Andrew, 7PM
Wednesday, March 9- Presanctified Liturgy, 6PM
Thursday, March 10- Compline with Canon of St. Andrew, 7PM
Friday, March 11- Compline with Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, 7PM

Preparation for the Lenten Fast-
This week is the last week for the eating of meat as next Sunday is called as Meatfare Sunday.  That means that after Sunday, February 27, we say "farewell" to meat until Pascha, April 24.  Sunday, March 6 is the last day for the eating of dairy products and eggs until Pascha.  After Forgiveness Vespers at 6PM on March 6, we fully enter into the Lenten fast.  Please plan accordingly.  If you have any questions about the Orthodox approach to fasting, please speak with Fr. Ignatius.  The practice of fasting should not cause us anxiety or distress.  It may make us a bit uncomfortable, but it is a means to draw us closer to God.

Lenten Wednesday Evenings-
On Wednesday evenings during Lent, we celebrate a unique service called the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.  What this means is that the bread and wine are consecrated to be the Lord's Body and Blood on the Sunday before, and not during the Wednesday service.  On Wednesday evenings, Fr. Ignatius will be giving a sermon series which focuses on the Canon of St. Andrew, a lengthy hymn that we will be singing at other services during the first week of Lent.  The Canon of St. Andrew is a penitential meditation on the sinfulness of mankind and the all-encompassing love and forgiveness of God.  If you want to know more about the history of salvation that is contained in the pages of Scripture, both Old and New, there is no better way to do it than to listen to or to sing St. Andrew's Canon and to hear the sermons given on this monumental Bible-study-put-to-song.  Following the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy each Wednesday, we will gather downstairs for a simple Lenten soup supper.  We need volunteers to sign-up to provide the soup.  A sign-up sheet is posted at church.

Sunday Lenten Pan-Orthodox Vespers-
       On Sunday evenings at 5:30PM during Lent, we will gather together with the Orthodox churches in Cedar Rapids to worship together at our various locations.  This year, the Orthodox churches of Waterloo and Dubuque are also participating.  St. Raphael will be hosting this service on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 13.  A sign-up sheet is posted for the meal we will provide for our guests after the service.  Following, is the rest of the schedule.  If you want to catch a ride with Fr. Ignatius to any of these services, please let him know.
March 20- St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (613 W. 4th St.) Waterloo
March 27- St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church (3650 Cottage Grove Ave. SE) Cedar Rapids
April 3- St. Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Church (1075 Rockdale Rd.) Dubuque
April 10- St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church (501 A Ave NE) Cedar Rapids

Prayer at Abortion Clinic-
On the first three Saturdays during Lent (March 12, 19, 26) Fr. Ignatius will be standing on the sidewalk in front of the Emma Goldman Clinic (227 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City) praying the "Akthaist of Repentance for One Who Has Aborted a Child" and the "Supplicatory Service for the Victims of Abortion".  This is a time of solemn prayer, not a protest.  All are welcome to join in. 

Lebanese-American Club of Cedar Rapids Hosts a Dinner and Hafli-
       On Saturday, February 26, beginning at 6PM at the Cedar Rapids Marriot Hotel, the Lebanese-American Club of Cedar Rapids will host a dinner and hafli (traditional Arabic dance).   This event will feature live Arabic music and an American DJ.  Tickets are $30 for adults ages 19 and over, $15 for ages 11-18 and $10 for ages 10 and under.  Reservation deadline is tomorrow, February 21.  No tickets will be sold at the door.  To make reservations, phone 319-373-6783 or email aboucrew@msn.com.  Mail payments to: 3025 Autumn Dr., Marion, IA 52302.  Make checks out to LAC-CR.

Orthodox Christian College Opportunities-
St. Katherine College, in San Diego, CA, will be opening up its doors this Fall.  This brand new college will teach from an Orthodox Christian perspective and is open to all.  For more information, go to www.stkath.org.  Also, Hellenic College, in the Boston, MA area, another Orthodox Christian college, announces their "Come and See" scholarship.  This provides all accepted incoming students with an 80% tuition scholarship for up to four years!  For more information, go to www.hchc.edu.
Shelter House Book Sale- 
The 12th Annual Shelter House Book Sale will take place on February 26 from to 10AM-3PM at Hope United Methodist Church (2626 E. Court St.)

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.  

Holy Bread-
       On Sunday, February 27, the holy bread will be provided by the Peterson/Branch family.  Thank you in advance.
Coffee Hour-
      On Sunday February 27, the food for coffee hour and clean-up of the fellowship hall will be provided by the St. John the Baptist team.

Church Cleaning-
During the week following Sunday February 27, cleaning of the nave, narthex, bookstore/library, stairs, bathrooms and nursery room will be done by the St. Raphael team. 
Food For Thought-

Little by little since the Sunday of Zaccheus we have been preparing ourselves for Great Lent, which in turn is the movement towards the Feast of Feasts, the Pascha, Easter. The first Sunday of this preparatory period, the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican, has as its theme: Christianity as humility. The second Sunday, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, has the theme: Christianity as return or conversion. The third Sunday has the theme: Christianity as judgment. The fourth Sunday has the theme: Christianity as forgiveness. These four themes are essential in our preparation for Great Lent.

Let us approach Lent with a proper understanding of this period. Let us not reduce this Lent to giving up something for Lent: for this idea fills man with such pride that he loses all the benefit he was supposed to achieve and even more. Let us not reduce Lent to our personal problem.

Lent is a time for slowing-down, for taking ourselves to account, in order that we may be spiritually prepared for the feast to come. Lent is the time when the Church withdraws from the New Testament into the Old Testament. Lent is the time when we become nostalgic for communion.

In a larger sense, Lent is a permanent dimension of Christianity. It is not a spiritual bath. Lent expresses the church as pilgrimage, as movement, as exodus. Lent opens our eyes to the things that we do not see. Let us remember the idea of Church as fast and feast, as expectation and fulfillment, as humility and glory.

The history of our salvation began when God told Abraham to go from Ur in Chaldaea to the land of Canaan. Later on the Exodus from Egypt was the first great Passover or Pascha. This Exodus is the first image of the Church as the Sons of Israel, the People of God. This Exodus has given us the symbol for the 40 days fast. The idea of the 40 is that the goal of those who went into the desert was the promised land. And so for us Christians the first spiritual dimension of Lent is 40 days. The Christian goal is the new promised land, the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet in the very desire for the Kingdom of Heaven, we somehow already possess it.

Lent means not only externals as fasting and doing without, but a change in our lives, and a renewal of our baptismal vows, and a new dedication to serve God, a decision for Christ. Above all, let us not misunderstand Lent.


Our hymns clearly indicate the true purpose of Lent:

Let us begin the Fast with joy!
Let us prepare ourselves for spiritual efforts!
Let us purify and cleanse our flesh!
Let us abstain from passion, as we abstain from food!
Let us rejoice in the Spirit and persevere with love!

and another hymn:

Brethren, while fasting physically,
Let us also fast spiritually!
Let us loosen every bond of injustice!
Let us destroy the strong fetters of violence!
Let us tear up every unjust writing!
Let us give bread to the hungry, and
Let us welcome the homeless poor to our homes.
That from Christ God we may receive great mercy!

Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky, "Great Lent Meditation" Word Magazine, February 1969