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From the Weekly Bulletin (week of March 14, 2010)

posted Mar 30, 2010, 7:47 AM by Ilya Buchkin

Pan-Orthodox Vespers Schedule-
       We close out our weekly pan-Orthodox Sunday vespers services by hosting again at St. Raphael Church on March 21.  Following 5:30PM vespers, we will gather downstairs to share a lenten meal with our guests from Cedar Rapids.  Please plan on attending and if you are able, sign-up to bring some food. 

Pro-life Talk-

       On Monday, March 22, at 7PM, the president of Feminists for Life, Ms. Serrin M. Foster, will give a speech entitled "The Feminist Case Against Abortion" at Drake University in Des Moines.  This free speech will take place on campus in the Bulldog Theater of the Olmstead Center.  Feminists for Life has been leading a revolution on campus to educate students at highest risk of abortion about our rich pro-life feminist heritage and has been working to redirect the debate toward woman-centered solutions. Serrin’s landmark speech has been recognized as one of the "Great Speeches in History" in an anthology on Women's Rights.  Fr. Ignatius is planning on attending.  Please contact him if you would like a ride.

Feast of Annunciation Liturgy-
       A change has been made to the schedule of services on March 24 and 25.  Please disregard what is printed on the St. Raphael March calendar for these days.  Instead, of a Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, we will celebrate a Vesperal Liturgy for the feast of the Annunciation on Wednesday, March 24 at 6PM.  A meal will follow.  We need a volunteer to provide the food after this service.  Fish is allowed in honor of the feast.  There will be no service on Thursday, March 25.
Spring/ Pre-Pascha Church Clean-up Day-
       Please mark your calendars.  On Lazarus Saturday afternoon, March 27, from 1PM-5PM, we need volunteers to come and help clean the church building in anticipation of Holy Week and Pascha.  Window cleaning, dusting, floor cleaning, bathroom cleaning, metal polishing and other chores need to be done to help make our building as beautiful as possible for this special time of year.  Please consider giving a few hours of your time on this day to help keep our building looking tidy.
"Theosis: The True Purpose of Life" Booklet-
       If you are interested in the teaching of theosis, one of the primary ways the Orthodox Church regards salvation, then Fr. Ignatius encourages you to download and read the free booklet, "Theosis: The True Purpose of Life" by Archimandrite George of St. Gregorios Monastery on Mount Athos.  It is available in English and nine other languages here http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/theosis.aspx
A Gratitude of Thanks-
       Recently, the Parish Council decided to give St. Raphael Church's monthly donation to charity to church members Jared and Beth Johnson and family, for the purpose of helping to fund their upcoming international adoption.  Those of you that know them realize that this will be the fourth child that they have brought into their family through adoption.  Following is their note of thanks addressed to all of us.
"Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We would like to extend our deep gratitude for being chosen as the recipients of St. Raphael's charitable giving.  Over these last several months, Thomas, Russell, and Elliot have become quite neamored of the gospel story about Christ's miraculous feeding of the five thousand.  What has increasingly struck us each time we read the story with the boys is how one person's willingness to generously deny himself and give something away- something as sparse as a few loaves of bread and a couple fish- resulted in such lavishness and unveiled the kingdom which Christ's coming inaugurated; a kingdom we catch glimpses of each time someone reaches out to another in love.  Thank you for being visible instruments of God's love in our lives.  Through your generosity, we ourselves are reminded to be generous to others.
Presently we anticipate receiving a referral for an infant girl within the next couple months.  We would ask that in your prayers you not only remember our family here in Iowa, but also that you pray for our little girl and the members of her birth family as the crossroads at which they find themselves is undoubtedly difficult; a place where all the paths before them likely lead to deep emotional pain.
We thank God for your faithful support and your present demonstration of love as we continue to build our family through adoption.
Jared & Beth Johnson"
Holy Week Schedule-
       Holy Week is approaching.  Palm Sunday is just two weeks away!  Please plan now to be at as many services as is practical for you.  This is the most special time of the Church Year!  Here is our schedule:
Friday March 26- Compline with Canon of St. Lazarus, 7PM
Lazarus Saturday, March 27- Matins, 8:30AM; Liturgy, 10AM; Vespers, 6PM
Palm Sunday, March 28- Matins, 8:30AM; Liturgy with procession, 10AM; Bridegroom Matins, 7PM
Holy Monday, March 29- Bridegroom Matins, 7PM
Holy Tuesday, March 30- Bridegroom Matins, 7PM
Holy Wednesday, March 31- Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, 9AM; Holy Unction Service, 7PM
Holy Thursday, April 1- Vesperal Liturgy, 9AM; 12 Gospels Service, 7PM
Holy Friday, April 2- Royal Hours, 9AM; Vespers, 3PM; Lamentations Service with procession, 7PM, followed by Psalm reading through night
Holy Saturday, April 3- Vesperal Liturgy, 9AM; Rush Service, 11:40PM
Great and Holy Pascha, April 4- Paschal Matins and Liturgy, 12AM, followed by Paschal feast at church; Agape Vespers, 1PM, followed by Paschal picnic at Coralville Rec. Center, 2PM-5PM
There are numerous sign-up sheets posted at church related to Holy Week activities and services.  These include a sign-up for the Holy Friday Funeral Bier decoration sign-up, Holy Friday Psalm-reading Vigil sign-up, Paschal Red Egg sign-up, Paschal feast and Paschal picinic food sign-ups, and Agape Vespers Gospel reading sign-up.  In addition to these opportunities to serve the church and become involved, we also need choir members and altar servers at the extra services.
Seeking Donations for Holy Week/Pascha Flowers-
       During this special time of the year, we desire that our church look as beautiful as possible and part of that means decorating with flowers for a few of the servcies.  Flowers have been ordered, but the parish council is asking for donations to help cover the cost as we were not able to budget anything this year for liturgical decoarations such as flowers.  Please contact our treasurer Tania Van Dinter if you would like to donate toward the cost. 
St. Raphael Liturgy CD-
       The group *Ncense has recorded a beautiful CD of the Liturgy for the Feast Day of our patron saint, St. Raphael.  The CD can be ordered by following this link http://www.antiochian.org/node/21468
Antiochian Women's Scholarships Available-
       Scholarships are available for women who:
1. Are 25 years of age or older
2. Are active members in good standing at an Antiochian parish or mission
3. Are enrolled in or accepted to an academic or trade study program
4. Demonstarte financial need
For more information, please contact Fr. Ignatius.
Additions to our Video Library-
       Although St. Raphael Church's library is small, it is growing.  We recently added three new DVDs to our collection and they are available to be borrowed.  If you are interested in learning more about Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, considered first-among-equals of the world's Orthodox patriarchs, then you may want to watch the DVDs which contain the recently-aired CBS-produced "60 Minutes" interview with correspondent Bob Simon and the PBS-produced Charlie Rose interview of His All-Holiness.  In addition, we have received the DVD entitled "Transition: the OCF Film Project" which highlights the important work of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the national campus ministry to Orthodox college students. 
Walk for Dignity-
       To benefit the Iowa City Hospice, the 11th Annual Walk for Dignity will take place at 1PM on Sunday April 18 at Willow Creek Park in Iowa City.  For more information, v isit www.iowacityhospice.org/calendar/walk.html   or call 319-688-4219.
Help Feed Needy Seniors-
       Elder Care Inc. of Iowa City along with Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers to drive for the Meals on Wheels program, which brings much-needed food to homebound seniors.  Please contact Fr. Ignatius if you would like to learn more.  
A Call for Recipes-
       Karen Kuntz and Amy Spencer are beginning to collect recipes for a St. Raphael’s cookbook that will include both Lenten and regular food from all the cultures represented at our church. Please contact either one of them about including your favorite recipes.
The Squash and the Cypress-
       "The faster you acquire a virtue, the easier it is lost. The more slowly and laboriously you acquire it, the more steadfastly it remains.  [This is] just like the squash plant that grew tall and said to the cypress tree, 'See how much I've grown in just a few days! You've been here for so many years and haven't grown much at all!' 'Yes,' said the cypress tree, 'but you still haven't seen storms, heat waves and cold spells.'  And after a little while, the squash plant dried up while the cypress tree remains where it was." - Elder Ephraim of Philotheou and Arizona.

Thoughts on Stewardship-
            Matthew 23: 23 … “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law; justice and mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
         Ask yourself the following- "What does this message from God require from me, His loyal servant?”   What must I change in my life to be able to follow this teaching in both word and in deed?”
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 and Coffee Hour-
       On Sunday, March 21, The Peterson/Branch family will provide the holy bread.  Thank you in advance.  Anybody who would like to bake the holy bread can sign up to do so.  Food for coffee hour will be provided by the St. Nina team.

Choir Leadership-
       On Saturday, March 20, Amy Jongeling and Kristi Abuissa will direct the choir for Vespers.  Kristi will direct the choir for matins and Liturgy on Sunday, March 21. 

Food For Thought-
Don’t be tempted to indulge yourself in not coming to church at the beginning of the service or leaving before it is over. Remember, each service is a complete unit and it can provide its full benefit only in its entirety. Just as food is tasty only when it is fully seasoned, so the service can completely satisfy the spiritual taste only when it is heard in full. Thus, he who misses the beginning or does not remain until the end is laboring, but he deprives himself of the fruit of his labor; he creates with one hand and destroys with the others. Further, one must go to church not inattentively. For, it is always possible that one may go to church not in a way worthy of praise but rather of condemnation, i.e., by going and not receiving any spiritual benefit.

Approaching the church, you must leave every care and worry about your affairs at the threshold in order to enter with a serene mind. Entering the church, you must put on reverence like a garment, remembering to Whom we are coming and to Whom we intend to address our prayers. Having taken your place in the church (best of all, the same place each time), you should gather your thoughts and mentally stand before the face of the omnipresent God, offering Him reverent worship in body and spirit, with a contrite heart and in humble reverence. After this, you must follow, without wandering thoughts, everything that is going on — what is being sung and read in the church — all the way to the end of the service. That is all! In this way, we won’t be bored in church, looking here and there and starting conversations, and we won’t be wishing that the service be over soon. Instead, passing from one prayerful feeling to another and from one reverent thought to the next, we will be like those in a fragrant garden, moving from one group of flowers to another.

~ Saint Theophan the Recluse, On Church Attendance