St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Weekly Newsletter for the week Friday, December 5, 2008 through Thursday, December 11, 2008



December 6 is the Feast of St. Nicholas.  Great Vespers will be held at 5:00 pm


The Church School lesson will be held in the Sanctuary after Liturgy.  Church School children are to go to Narthex/Bengarri area after Communion to receive instructions from their teachers regarding the Saints Nicholas and Barbara festivities.

Christmas Pageant rehearsal will be held during coffee hour.   If you are interested in helping with the pageant, please speak to Charlie Marge or e-mail him at

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 this Sunday, December 7, 2008.

TEENS NEW ENGLAND MISSION OUTREACH - St. Mary Church in Pawtucket is hosting a NEMO (New England Mission Outreach) Advent Day of Service on Saturday December 13 from 8am to 6pm in Providence , RI .  Meet and attend Vespers at St. Mary's Church, 249 High Street , Pawtucket , RI .  Cost of $5 per participant includes breakfast and lunch.  Please dress warmly and in clothing that may get stained.  Donations of the following are welcome: Warm blankets, Warm hats and gloves, Peanut butter and jelly, Cases of bottled water, Gently-used clothing,  New or used (clean) children's books and toys.  Please let Erick or Liz Straghalis know by this Sunday, December 7, if your teen would like to attend.


PARISH COUNCIL ELECTION - Ballots have been sent out to eligible parish members (those in good standing for two years).  Please vote for up to four individuals and return your ballot by December 15, 2008.

2009 WEEKLY OFFERING ENVELOPES are ready for pick-up outside of the Church Office.  Look for your names alphabetically.  Remember:  if you have chosen to pay periodically, you have not been assigned weekly envelopes.  If you wish to change your payment arrangements, see or call Marilyn Robbat in the Church Office 617-547-1234.

2009 Church Calendars have not yet arrived.

JOSEPHINE SABBAG - We regret to advise of the falling asleep in the Lord of the servant of God, Josephine Sabbag, on Sunday, November 23, 2008.  Josephine, a longtime parishioner of St. Mary, would have celebrated her 99th birthday on December 2, 2008. Funeral Services were held on Friday, November 28,  at Holy Family Church in Pasadena , California .  Donations may be made to St. Mary Orthodox Church, Cambridge , MA or to  the American Heart Association.   Notes of condolence can be sent to her daughters:  Barbara Sancken, 1909 30th Av. West, Seattle , Washington 98199 ,  or Nancy Ray, 1405 Milan Av., So Pasadena, California 91030.  


WOMEN'S CLUB - Our Christmas "Evening Out" is scheduled for Monday, December 8, at 7:00 pm at Joe's American Bar & Grill in Dedham , MA   Everyone is welcomed to join us-just bring a $10 Grab, Christmas wrapped with no name on it, please!  Call Selma Winstanley ASAP at 781-646-9405 if you haven't already told her you're coming. 

LESSONS AND CAROLS - The Fellowship of St. John the Divine cordially invites you to  a service of Western Rite Evensong with Lessons and Carols, accompanied by the Summer Street Brass Quintet, next Saturday, December 13, at 5:30 pm.  This beautiful service of prayers, scriptures, and Christmas carols will be followed by a festive Lenten 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

HELP NEEDED - The Fellowship needs help setting up the Hall and decorating before the Lessons & Carols service and potluck supper. Please come around 3:30 or 4:00 to help.

CARE PACKAGE HELP - Thanks to all who have donated things for Scott in Iraq , the Fellowship has been able to send three boxes to him so far.  However, the donations box is empty now. We still have some more books to send (our thanks to the very generous donor of all those paperbacks!), but that's about all.  Please give more, so we can continue to send packages to him and his fellow Marines.  He has especially asked for dark blue gatorade powder, protein bars, tuna, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, sour skittles, junk food, and non-perishable food, and long white socks.  A box has been set up in the entry to the Church Offices for your donations.  Thank you!

NEW CHANDELIERS  - The new chandeliers are up, and new sconces are on order! 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.



December 6:  David Vermette, John Rodriguez, and Ilyana Sawka


December 7:     Epistle: Nikki Stournaras; Left Cloth: James and Brooke Wilcox;  Right Cloth: Maria McDowell and Teva Regule;  Left Bread: Sarah Gosselin;  Right Bread:


December 7:   The Bezreh and Dooley families, in celebration of  Nick Bezreh's 50th Birthday.


Friday, December 5:  Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus 7:00 pm

Saturday, December 6, Feast of St. Nicholas:  Vespers 5:00 pm

Sunday, December 7:  Orthros  8:45 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am;

      Church School lesson in the Sanctuary - St. Nicholas festivities; Pageant Rehearsal 3


Epistle:  St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:1-7  Brethren, I, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Gospel: Luke 13:10-17  At that time, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God.

Wednesday, December 10:  Paraclesis 6:30 pm


Friday, December 12, St. Herman of AlaskaVesperal Liturgy 6:30 pm (note change)
Saturday, December 13:  Western Rite Evensong with Lessons and Carols 5:30 pm, followed by potluck supper
Sunday, December 14:  Orthros  8:45 am, Divine Liturgy 10:00 am;
      Church School lesson 10; Pageant dress rehearsal
Wednesday, December 17: Paraclesis 6:30 pm
Friday, December 19:  Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus 7 pm
Saturday, December 20:  Vespers 5:00 pm
Sunday, December 21:  Church School Christmas Pageant & Festivities
Wednesday, December 24:  Nativity Services - Royal Hours for the Nativity 9:00 am;  Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil  11:00 am;  Orthros 6:30 pm (note time change);  Divine Liturgy for the Nativity 8:00 pm
Thursday, December 25, Feast of the Nativity of our Lord:  No Services at St. Marys


God is a consuming fire. He alone can refine us like gold, and separate us from the slag and dross of our selfish individualities to fuse us into this wholeness of perfect unity that will reflect His own Triune Life forever.  As long as we do not permit His love to consume us entirely and to unite us in Himself, the gold that is in us will be hidden by the rock and dirt which keep us separate from one another.  As long as we are not purified by the love of God and transformed into Him in the union of pure sanctity, we will remain apart from one another, opposed to one another, and union among us will be a precarious and painful thing, full of labor and sorrow and without lasting cohesion.

   - Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

The nature of things is measured by the interior disposition of the soul; that is, the kind of person one is will determine what he thinks of others. He who has attained to genuine prayer and love no longer puts things into categories. He does not separate the righteous from sinners, but loves all equally, and does not judge them, just as God gives the sun to shine and the rain to fall both on the just and the unjust.

   - St. Nikitas Stethatos, from the Philokalia

This shall be for you a luminous sign of the serenity of your soul: when, on examining yourself, you find yourself full of compassion for all humanity, and your heart is afflicted with pity for them, burning as though with fire, without making distinction between one person and another. When the image of the Father becomes visible in you by means of the continual presence of these things, you can recognize the measure of your way of life-not from your various labors, but from the transformation which your understanding receives. The body is then bathed in tears as the intellect gazes on things spiritual.

   - St. Isaac the Syrian,  The Ascetical Homilies

The one who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of detachment knows no distinction between one's own and another's, between faithful and unfaithful, between slave and freeman, or indeed between male and female. But having risen above the tyranny of the passions and looking to the one nature of men he regards all equally and is equally disposed toward all. For in him there is neither Greek nor Jew, neither male nor female, neither slave nor freeman, but Christ is everything and in everything.

   - Maximus the Confessor