St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Weekly Newsletter for the week Friday, November 14, 2008 through Thursday, November 20, 2008


DIOCESAN MEETINGS - The quarterly meetings of the diocesan Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John the Divine, and Teen SOYO will be held on  Saturday, November 15, at  St. George Church, West Roxbury .  Group meetings begin at 10:00.  Lunch is 12:30 - 1:30, followed by Footlamps lecture 1:30 - 3:00.

FOOTLAMPS LECTURE - The first Footlamps presentation of the year, sponsored by the Diocesan Fellowship of St. John the Divine, will be held Saturday, November 15, at 1:30 at  St. George Church, West Roxbury .  In a lecture entitled "Seeking Truth, Finding Love: My Journey to the Orthodox Church," speaker Matthew Gallatin recounts the highlights of the spiritual quest he chronicles in his book, Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells (Conciliar Press, 2002). In his presentation, Matthew shares the insights and internal struggles that led him to abandon his evangelical heritage, and to discover in Eastern Orthodoxy the ancient Faith of the Apostles. All are welcome for the lecture, and a freewill donation will be taken.

VESPERS - This Saturday, November 15, Great Vespers will begin at 5:30 instead of 5:00 pm

NATIVITY FAST - The Nativity Fast, also known as the season of Advent, begins this Saturday, November 15. This is the forty days of fasting and prayer in preparation for the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ on December 25. 


LESSONS AND CAROLS - The Fellowship of St. John the Divine cordially invites you to  a service of Western Rite Evensong with Lessons and Carols, Saturday, December 13, at 5:00 p.m.  This service of prayers, scriptures, and Christmas carols will be followed by a festive pot luck supper.  People whose last names begin with A-P are requested to bring a main dish or salad; Q-Z bring dessert. Drinks will be provided.  For more information contact Tiffany Conroy (chairman of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine) at

MUSICAL HELP NEEDED - Can you play a musical instrument? Would you be willing to help out at the Lessons and Carols service on Saturday, December 13? Over the past few years we've had a wonderfully varied assortment of instruments in our ad hoc orchestra, and we hope this year will continue the tradition.  Please contact Charlie Marge at  if you can take part in this musical group, or if you know someone who can.


TEEN SOYO VESPERS & FIRESIDE CHAT - On Saturday, November 22, all St. Mary's teens ages 13-18 are invited to join us for Vespers, fellowship and fireside fun! Fr. Antony will lead a discussion on the topics that are important to you.  We'll provide the fireplace, dinner, hot chocolate and cider - teens, bring your questions!  The evening starts with a special Vespers at St. Marys at 5:00 pm.  Teens are encouraged to attend and participate in chanting, reading and/or singing along! We'll proceed to the Straghalis' house immediately following Vespers. If you need a ride, directions, or have questions, please call or write Liz: 617-974-5005 /  or Erick: 617-645-2116 / .  We also have a Facebook group for St. Mary's SOYO that will have updated information.

PAN-ORTHODOX COFFEE HOUSE - You are invited to a Holiday Fundraiser for St Paul 's Food Pantry and Holy Resurrection Open Doors, sponsored by the Fellowship of Saint John the Divine, on Saturday evening, November 22. Suggested Donation $10.

Vespers 5:00 - 6:00 pm, Dinner Hour Break 6:00 - 7:00 pm, Coffee House 7:00 - 11:00 pm. 

This will be an evening of fellowship and entertainment to raise money for individuals and families in need this Holiday season. There will be Nativity Fast-friendly foods, beverages and musical performances by the many talented parishioners of St Mary's. All are welcome; we would like to especially encourage post-college age adults from all Orthodox parishes in the Greater Boston area (and beyond) to come to this event and meet new people. Questions and RSVP (optional): Tiffany Conroy,

BAKE SALE - The Women's Club's annual Thanksgiving Charity Bake Sale will be held Sunday, November 23, 2008. Plan on purchasing all your holiday breads, pies, goodies, Syrian pastries and much more! All proceeds to benefit the Convent of Saidnaya, northwest of Damascus in Syria . Call Priscilla Goss at 1-781-762-1527, if you can help bake and/or donate.

BOOK DISCUSSION - You are invited to take part in a new book club sponsored by the FSJD.  The first book we'll read will be Mystic Street: Meditations on a Spiritual Path by Steve Georgiou, which is available from

"Life is a journey of faith and wonder, an odyssey of the heart.  Join author S.T. Georgiou for a walk along Mystic Street as he shares spiritual and contemplative experiences that reveal the power of grace in our everyday lives.  Deeply inspirational and renewing, these Christian-based meditations recharge the soul and illuminate our passage in an increasingly complex world.  Mystic Street centers on the author's spiritual experiences while pursuing his graduate degrees in theology.  He demonstrates how lessons of the heart are not only learned inside the classroom, but especially outside.  In these uplifting vignettes, both the ordinary and the extraordinary, the visible and invisible intersect.  A fascinating book filled with hope, life, light, and a marvelous sense of serendipity." 

When:  Sunday, November 23

Where:  We'll meet up in the church hall after coffee hour and discuss

If you have any questions contact Larisa Patacchiola at or Brooke Wilcox at And please spread the word. All are welcome!

ORDER OF ST. IGNATIUS CHRISTMAS PARTY - The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch , Diocese of Worcester and New England will hold its Annual Christmas Party on Sunday, December 7, 2008 2-5 pm at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton , Mass. Donation is $50 and includes luncheon, museum admission, and optional transportation from St. John of Damascus Church. Deadline for reservations is November 29, 2008. All are welcome. For further information, please contact Christine Bezreh at 781-449-1230 or

COME SEE THE MESSIAH - Join friends from St. Mary's for the Handel and Haydn Society's  annual performance of Handel's Messiah, on Sunday afternoon, December 7, at 3:00 p.m.  Second balcony tickets are just $25. We will carpool to Symphony Hall after Liturgy and have lunch together before the concert.  Those who have done this before have thoroughly enjoyed it - not only do we hear a world-class orchestra and chorus with famous soloists singing glorious words (taken directly from the Bible), but we also have an opportunity to spend time getting to know some fellow parishioners we normally may not encounter.  Good seats go fast - you can order yours online at  Please let Melissa Nassiff know if you're coming, so we can reserve a big enough table for lunch - or 508-877-7483.

ST. MARY CHRISTMAS CARD - Save yourself time, let us do the work and have all proceeds  benefit Antiochian Women  NEW Project 2008/2009:  Children with Special Needs.   Let the Women's Club send a lovely Christmas Card on your behalf to our parishioners.  You will receive this card with the names of parishioners, like yourself, who are wishing  a Blessed Nativity and a Merry Christmas to all.  Use the order form in the Sunday Bulletin.  Deadline is Sunday, December 7, 2008.

80TH ANNIVERSARY VIDEO - The video about St. Mary's that was shown during coffee hour on our anniversary weekend can now be seen on the St. Mary website:

NEW CHANDELIERS  - The new chandeliers are up! The cost for the electrical work and installation of the new lighting is $48,000 - this price includes removal of the existing chandeliers, updating the electrical wiring to current code, new electric winches, new dimming panels, installation of the new chandeliers, and the electrical work for the new sconce lighting in the rear of the church under the balcony.  It's not too late to donate to this most worthy project.  We have started receiving donations on the wiring and installation phase; however we need the support of the entire parish.  We welcome any additional donations and once again, are thankful for your continued support and generosity.   Please see Mary Winstanley O'Connor  or  Ray Sayeg. 


There are a number of ways you can help the Church, your fellow worshippers and those in need.  Consider serving in one of these ways:


Liturgical Service - Each Sunday, members of the congregation are needed to read the Epistle and assist during Communion by holding the Communion Cloths and Holy Bread Baskets.  All Orthodox Christians in the Parish are welcome and encouraged to participate. We usually need one Epistle reader and six people to hold cloths and baskets.  If you would like to read the Epistle or assist during the Communion, please contact Jeff Wasilko, 781-820-0882,

Coffee Hour - People are needed every week to provide coffee, juice and cookies, or more if desired, and set it up Sunday morning. 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 Robbat in the Parish Office and she will write your name in. If you need any help with figuring out what to bring or do, check the list below the signup sheet (also printed in the Bulletin), or ask Marilyn at or 617-547-1234.


Holy Resurrection Open Doors - The Holy Resurrection Open Door Meal Ministry in Allston needs volunteers every Monday evening (there is a special need in the summer).  The official hours of the project are 4:30 pm-7:30 pm, but it is fine to come anytime and leave any time.  Best times would be 5:30-5:45 to 7:15-7:30 pm.  You can serve meals, coffee and tea to the people who arrive for dinner (6-7 pm) or just stay behind the scenes doing set-up and clean-up.  It is a very rewarding, hands-on, face-to-face way to serve the community with (mostly) other Orthodox Christians-we even chant the Our Father together before the meal begins. Church info can be found at .  Questions? Please contact Liz  Straghalis at  phone 617-974-5005,  or Tiffany Conroy at, 617-990-7162.

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


Food and Clothing - Holy Resurrection in Allston takes donations of non-perishable food items and clothing to distribute at the Open Door Ministry on Monday evenings.  You can bring your donations by on Monday nights between 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm or contact Tiffany Conroy,, 617-990-7162, for more information.

- St. Paul 's Food Pantry in Harvard Square , where volunteers from St. Mary help every Saturday,  depends upon regular donations of canned and packaged foods.  To help, contact Christian Alcala at, or (617) 876-5684.

- Food For Hungry People Canned Food Drive - During October through December, 2008,  please bring  in your canned goods to the Church and place them in the large, blue plastic container outside the Church Office.  Our Teens will then weigh them and distribute them to local food pantries in our area.  Remember.....42 pounds of food will feed a family of four for three days!

Care Packages for a Marine in Iraq - Fr. Antony's "spiritual son" Scott is in the Marines and has been sent to Iraq , and the Fellowship is helping collect items for care packages for him. Scott will share what he receives with his fellow Marines, and has sent a list of things he would especially like to receive. The Fellowship has purchased some of those items, but would be happy to receive contributions of the following: 

Tuna, Beef jerky, Sunflower seeds, Sour skittles, Non perishable junk food, Paperback books (legal thrillers or murder mysteries),  Long white socks, and also, of course, prayers.

A box has been set up in the entry to the Church Offices for your donations. 

Monetary Contributions - The FSJD would also welcome monetary contributions to help with postage, shopping, etc. for the care packages (see above). Make checks payable to Fellowship of St. John the Divine or to St. Mary Church (earmarked FSJD), and give them to any member of the FSJD Steering Committee (Tiffany Conroy, Mike Decerbo, Melissa or Peter Nassiff, Socrates Deligeorges or Steve Walker), or mail them to the Church. Thank you for your caring concern and prayers for Scott and his fellow Marines!

- The Agape Canister Program is an Orthodox non-profit development program of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center .  It is dedicated to meeting the needs of children, families, and communities throughout the world, regardless of race, color, or creed. All funds collected by the Agape Canister Program are earmarked for medical care and clinics, water wells, agricultural development, food and clothing, support personnel (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers), the construction of schools, and the education of indigenous people in their own communities.  Please contribute each Sunday - A clear plastic box  is on the Bengarri.

- The International Orthodox Christian Charities has issued an emergency appeal for its continuing response to the two tropical storms and two hurricanes which made landfall in the U.S. in just four weeks.  Cash funds will go towards immediate clean-up and recovery efforts.  Donations can be made by calling IOCC's donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622; by making a gift on-line at ; or by mailing a check or money order payable to "IOCC" and writing "US Emergency Response" in the memo line to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225 , Baltimore , Md. 21263-0225 .

"As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me," says our Lord.



November 15:  John Rodriguez


November 16:  Epistle: Teva Regule   


November 16:   Barbara Shoop (tentative at press time)


Saturday, November 15:   Great Vespers 5:30 pm (note time change);  Nativity Fast begins

Sunday, November 16:  Orthros  8:45 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am;

      Sunday School lesson 8

SCRIPTURE READINGS for November 16: 

Epistle:  St. Paul 's First Letter to the Corinthians 4:9-16

BRETHREN, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13

At that time, as Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. ...[Jesus] said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."


Wednesday, November 19:  Paraclesis Service 6:30 pm

Thursday, November 20:   Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple -  Evening Liturgy 6:30 pm

Friday, November 21:  Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple - Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus 7:00 pm

Saturday, November 22:   Family Vespers 5:00 pm, followed by Teen Soyo Fireside Chat and FSJD Pan-Orthodox Coffee House

Sunday, November 23:  Orthros  8:45 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am;

      Sunday School lesson 9 and Pageant Rehearsal

Thursday, November 27:  Thanksgiving Day (no services)

Saturday, November 29:  No Vespers at St. Marys

Saturday, December 13:  Lessons and Carols


Accordingly, dearly-beloved, being mindful of our weakness, because we easily fall into all kinds of faults, let us by no means neglect this special remedy and most effectual healing of our wounds. Let us remit, that we may have remission; let us grant the pardon which we crave; let us not be eager to be revenged when we pray to be forgiven. Let us not pass over the groans of the poor with deaf ear, but with prompt kindness bestow our mercy on the needy, that we may deserve to find mercy in the judgment.

   - Leo the Great, On Lent I

It is in this way that we are accounted worthy of mercy, that is, through the fifth commandment: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." (Mt. 5:7) The merciful person is he who gives to others what he has himself received from God, whether it be money, or food, or strength, a helpful word, a prayer, or anything else that he has through which he can express his compassion for those in need. At the same time he considers himself a debtor, since he has received more than he is asked to give.

   - St. Peter of Damascus, The Seven Commandments, Philokalia, Vol. 3

Christians should judge no one, neither an open harlot, nor sinners, nor dissolute people, but should look upon all with simplicity of soul and a pure eye. Purity of heart, indeed, consists in seeing sinful and weak men and having compassion for them and being merciful. 

- Abba Macarius the Great

A holy man who had seen someone in the act of committing a sin wept bitterly and said, "He today, and I tomorrow." In truth, even if someone commits sin in your presence, do not judge him, but consider yourself a worse sinner than he.

   - A Desert Father

The saint is never offended by anything and judges no man's sin because he does not know sin. He knows the mercy of God. He knows that his own mission on earth is to bring that mercy to all men.

   - Fr. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation