St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Weekly Newsletter for the week Friday, February 22, 2008 through Thursday, February 28, 2008


SONIA DALY BELCHER - Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed servant of God, Sonia (Sophia) Daly Belcher, 32, of St George/Boston, MA, who fell asleep in Christ Wednesday evening, February 20, 2008.  Sonia was a faithful member of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, both on a Diocesan and NAC level. She is survived by her husband,  Rev. Deacon Nicholas Belcher and their four-month-old son,  Andrew. Condolences may be sent to Rev. Deacon Nicholas and Andrew at   No arrangements have been announced as yet.

TEEN DISCUSSION GROUP - The teen discussion group will not meet this Sunday, as Liz and Erick will be going to St. George for Liturgy this Sunday to support Deacon Nick and the family (see above).

FATHER ANTONY MISSION TRIP  -  From Saturday, March 1 through Saturday, March 8,  Fr. Antony will be away leading a team of college students on a trip to an orphanage in El Salvador sponsored by Orthodox Christian Fellowship's Real Break Program.  In case of emergency while Fr. Antony is away, please contact Fr. Timothy Ferguson of St. George Church, West Roxbury at 617-323-0323.

HELP NATASHA - If you would like to become one of "Natasha's Helpers" in the Lotsa Helping Hands Program and assist the Smith family with meals, transportation, etc.,  you can go to the website at  Or you can contact Marilyn Robbat and give her your name and e-mail address to sign you up for the program.  If you prefer, you can also help by making meals and placing them in the Church freezer--plainly marked as to what they are and how to heat.  No eggs or tomato sauce, please.

TEEN SOYO RETREAT - Attention teens in grades 7-12: The Diocese of Worcester and New England will sponsor  a Lenten Retreat from 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 21, through noon on Sunday, March 23, at the St. Methodios Faith & Heritage Center, Contoocock , NH . Guest speaker is Alex Younes of Tronto , Ontario .  For information and registration form go to  and click in the highlighted note.  Registration deadline is March 10.

LEARNING IN LENT - The Fellowship of St. John the Divine's Learning in Lent lecture series will offer presentations by members of the St Mary's community on topics that will help us all better understand the practices and theology of the Orthodox Church and to apply these experiences and teachings to our lives. After Akathist services on four Fridays in Lent, beginning March 14,  there will be a presentation followed by a discussion/Q&A session with light refreshments provided by the FSJD. 

SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY - A Pan-Orthodox Vesper Service will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday,  March 16,  hosted by St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, 41 Alewife Brook Parkway (Route 16), in Cambridge .   Choir Rehearsals are scheduled at St. Sava Church  from 3 to 5 p.m. on  Sundays,  February 24,  March 2 and March 9.  Any questions, contact Stella Pathiakis, Chairman, Pan Orthodox Choir Committee, at 339-222-2629 (cell) or  Email:

FSJD BOOK DISCUSSION - The diocesan Fellowship of St. John the Divine will hold a book discussion on Friday, April 4,  at St. John Church, Dedham at 7:30 p.m. after Akathist service (6:30). Our featured book, Wounded by Love is the life story of Greek monk priest Elder Porphyrios. Books can be obtained through the Holy Cross Seminary bookstore,,, or Refreshments will be served, and adults of all ages are encouraged to attend.  A $5 donation is suggested. RSVP by March 28th to Danielle Kayal at



FOOTLAMPS - The next lecture in the 2007-2008 Footlamps series, sponsored by the Diocesan Fellowship of St. John the Divine, will be this Saturday, February 23, at St. George Church in Lowell.   The topic will be A Year in the Company of Angels, with Dr. Timothy Patitsas.  Dr. Patitsas currently teaches Ethics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline .   All are invited to attend. Vespers begin at 5:00 p.m. followed by the lecture and light refreshments.  Suggested donation $5.  RSVP to Ghada Khouri at 781-275-7244 or nerfellowship@yahoo.comThere will be no Vespers at St. Mary's on that date.


PRE-LENTEN RETREAT - A Pre-Lenten Retreat will be held on Saturday, March 1,  at St. George Orthodox Church, Norwood MA , sponsored by diocesan Antiochian Women. ALL ARE WELCOME - this is not for women only! The theme is "An Orthodox Perspective On Contemporary Bioethical Issues - church teaching and stem cell research, cloning, organ transplants and other current bioethical issues."  The leader will be Deacon Seraphim Solof, who received his Bachelor of Science degree from MIT and his Master of Divinity degree from Saint Vladimir's seminary, and now serves as Deacon of Saint George Orthodox Cathedral in Worcester , MA .  The cost, including lunch, is just $15; registration deadline is Sunday, February 24..  Make checks payable to "Antiochian Women" and  return to Kh. Louise Ferguson, 10 Brahms St. , Boston , MA 02131 .  There will be no Vespers at St. Mary's on that date.

WOMEN'S CLUB - The next meeting of the Women's Club will be Monday, February 25, at 7:00  p.m. (half an hour earlier than usual).  Come help us sort and pack household items to be given to women who are ready to leave the Battered Women's shelter and set up housekeeping for themselves and their children.

FAITH AND LEARNING RETREAT - Attention all college students:  Come and explore your vocation at the St. Photios the Great 2008 Faith & Learning Retreat on  Saturday, March 1, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Reading Room of  Iakovos Library at Hellenic College/Holy Cross.  Speaker:  Bishop Savas of Troas, Chandellor , Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America . To register or request information, contact Dn. Nicholas Belcher 617-850-1309 or e-mail  

CROSSROAD  - Attention High School Juniors & Seniors:  Take the challenge of your life! CrossRoad is a ten-day Orthodox Christian summer program where you focus on Christ and His calling for your life. You'll experience mini classes taught by Orthodox professors, visit Orthodox Churches in Boston area, community outreach, field trips & spiritual reflection. There will be two sessions:    CrossRoad June:  June 21 - July 1, 2008; and CrossRoad July:  July 5 - 15, 2008. Application deadline is March 1.  Call 617-850-1309 for more information, or go to Expenses except travel to Boston are covered.

SUMMER CAMP - Information and registration forms for Summer Camp at the Antiochian Village can be found at  An early bird discount applies if you pay before March 1.

LENTEN FOOD SALE - The Women's Club is now taking orders for Spinach Triangles, Hoomos and Mjadara.  Please use the order form in the Sunday bulletin. Order deadline is Sunday, March 2.   If you would like to help cook, join us on Saturday, March 15  at 9:30 a.m. The food you order will be ready for pickup on Sunday, March 16.

MEATFARE SUNDAY BREAKFAST - The annual Meatfare Sunday Breakfast sponsored by  the Fellowship of St. John the Divine will be  Sunday, March 2. Your generous free-will donation will be much appreciated, and will help support the many activities of the Fellowship which benefit the parish, including this weekly e-mail newsletter; coffee hours and special meals  (such as College Students' Welcome Back, Meatfare Sunday, Palm Sunday, and more); the annual Father John vonHolzhausen lecture series; the Wednesday evening potluck suppers after Pre-Sanctified Liturgies during Lent; the annual Lessons and Carols evening; and much more.

NEW ePLEDGE CARD!  - At the Annual Meeting of the parish, we asked every family to increase their pledge to reflect the realities of 34% inflation over the past 11 years.  Given that we approved a budget with planned expenditures greater than anticipated income, we need your pledge - and not just a bare minimum, but a percentage of your income (10% is the biblical ideal).  Our target is that the average household would contribute $2000-$3000 per year.  To update your pledge for 2008 (even if you already filled out a card), you can either get a new pledge card from Marilyn Robbat in the church office or you can take advantage of the new convenient electronic pledge card on the Stewardship page of our parish website:

BLESSING OF HOMES - Fr. Antony will be blessing homes after Epiphany (January 6)  and after Holy Pascha (April 27).  We bless homes to reveal the home as what God created it to be, a way to heaven; to rid the home of every evil;  to show that the family is a small church unit in Christ; to consecrate the home and all activity in it to God; and to fill the home and all who live in it with the fullness of God.  To schedule the blessing of your home please use the form in the weekly Bulletin or the monthly Cornerstone, or call the church office at 617 547-1234.

COFFEE HOUR - Many of the upcoming Sundays are still available,  so please sign up to sponsor a coffee hour, individually or with friends.   It doesn't have to be fancy; it can be as simple as coffee, juice, and cookies.   Signup sheets are on the bulletin board downstairs outside the Hall, or you can call the church office.  When no one volunteers, there is no coffee.

FOOD DONATION NEED CONTINUES - Even though the Teens' World Food Day project has ended, please continue to bring cans, jars, and boxes of food and place them in the container outside the Church Office. The need is still great at St. Paul 's Food Pantry in Harvard Square , where volunteers from St. Mary help every Saturday. 

SOUP KITCHEN - Three or four St. Mary's volunteers are needed to help each week at the Open Doors Meal Ministry at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Allston, Mondays any time between 4:00 p.m. and 7:30. Contact Liz Tutella at 617-974-5005 or          


Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; to get tanned we must go out into the sunshine. Achieving faith is no different; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the Holy Fathers. Let the Prodigal Son be our example. He "arose and came" (Luke 15:20).
   - Tito Colliander, The Way of the Ascetics

I have recklessly forgotten Your glory, O Father; And among sinners I have scattered the riches which You gave to me.  And now I cry to You as the Prodigal: I have sinned before You, O merciful Father; Receive me as a penitent and make me as one of Your hired servants.

   - Kontakian of the Prodigal Son

Abba Sarmatas said, "I prefer a sinful man who knows he has sinned and repents, to a man who has not sinned and considers himself to be righteous."

   - The Desert Fathers

It is very easy indeed to confess that I have not fasted on prescribed days, or missed my prayers, or become angry. It is quite a different thing, however, to realize suddenly that I have defiled and lost my spiritual beauty, that I am far away from my real home, my real life, and that something precious and pure and beautiful has been hopelessly  broken in the very texture of my existence. Yet this, and only this, is repentance, and therefore it is also a deep desire to return, to go back, to recover that lost home.

   -Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent

The elder son in the parable [of the Prodigal Son] is saying these things:  "You did not count me worthy of any consolation in all my toils; you never handed over to me for slaughter any of these who were afflicting me. But now you save the prodigal son who never had to toil." This, then, is the entire purpose of the parable, which the Lord told for the sake of the Pharisees who were grumbling the He had accepted sinners. The parable also instructs us that no matter how righteous we may be, we out not to rebuff sinners, nor to grumble when God accepts them. The younger son, therefore, represents the harlots and the publicans, the elder son represents those Pharisees and scribes who consider themselves righteous. It is as if God were saying: "Let us suppose that you are indeed righteous and have not transgressed any commandments; if some others have turned away from wickedness, why do you not accept them as your brothers and fellow laborers?" The Lord instructs such grumblers as these with this parable.

   - Blessed Theophylact


Saturday, February 23:  NO Vespers at St. Mary (Footlamps at St. George, Lowell )
Sunday, February 24:  Orthros  8:45 a.m., Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m.  

SCRIPTURE READINGS for February 24, Sunday of Prodigal Son:

Epistle:  St. Paul 's Second Letter of to the Corinthians 4:6-15  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.  ... and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence.

Gospel: Luke 15:11-32  But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  "...bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."

Wednesday, February 27:  Paraclesis Service 6:30 p.m.


Saturday, March 1:  Pre-Lenten Retreat at St. George, Norwood ;  NO Vespers at St. Mary
Sunday, March 2:  Orthros  8:45 a.m., Divine Liturgy 10:00 a.m., followed by FSJD Meatfare Breakfast
Wednesday, March 5:  Paraclesis Service 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 8:  NO Vespers at St. Mary (Fr. Antony in El Salvador )
Monday, March 10: Lent begins
Sunday, April 27:  Pascha



Two to four volunteers help each week in the food pantry at St. Paul 's RC Church in Harvard Square , Saturday mornings from 9:30-11:45.  If you are willing to help, contact Christian Alcala at or (617) 876-5684.

February 23:  Eric Ayoub, Sandra Kondratiuk, and Tatiana Kish


The Epistle each Sunday is read by a member of the congregation, and six members of the congregation hold the cloth and Holy Bread baskets during Communion.  If you would like to help with these services,  please contact Jeff Wasilko at or 781-820-0882.

February 24:    Epistle -  Ashley Clampitt

Liturgical Assistance - Sandra Kondratiuk, Melissa Nassiff, Larisa Patacchiola, Marc Patacchiola


To sign up for an available Sunday, please put your name on the signup sheet on the bulletin board outside the Hall or call Marilyn in the Office 617-547-1234 and she'll write your name in.

February 24: M & M Robbat
March 2:  FSJD Meatfare Breakfast