Weekly Update for March 12, 2021


SUNDAY 3/14 – Daylight Savings Time begins
   - Forgiveness Vespers 6:00pm, Daylight Savings Time
MONDAY 3/15 – First day of Lent
WEDNESDAY 3/17 – Presanctified Liturgy 6:30pm  (no potluck this year)
FRIDAY 3/19 – Akathist 7:00pm

VESPERAL LITURGY for the Feast of the Annunciation – Thursday 3/25, 6:30pm
LENTEN RETREAT - The Diocese of Worcester & New England Antiochian Women and the Diocese Council invite you to a Lenten Retreat on Saturday, March 27, at 1:00pm. You can attend either in-person, at Saint George Orthodox Church, 6 Atwood Avenue, Norwood, MA,  or  from the comfort of your home via YouTube.
     The subject of this year’s retreat is “Don’t Stop Believin’ – a Journey to the Kingdom of Heaven,” presented by Dr. Gregory Abdalah, pastoral assistant from Phoenix, Arizona. Session 1 will begin at 1:00pm, followed by a break, then Session 2 + Q&A. It will conclude with Great Vespers
     Everyone is required to pre-register – both online and in-person attendees. In-person attendance, if allowable at the time of the retreat (per Archdiocesan and State directives) will be “first come first served” based on the date of your registration. You will be notified the week of the retreat regarding (1) if you have made the in-person cut-off number and (2) the up-to-date protocols required for attendance. Everyone will receive an email with instructions as to how to view online. 
     RSVP online again this year at https://downe2021.eventbrite.com.  RSVP by March 20, 2021.  If you have any questions contact Erin at 781.775.0789 OR ErinMaryK@aol.com    


WOMEN’S MONTH - March is Antiochian Women’s Month throughout the Archdiocese. Each Sunday our women will be reading the Epistle, taking the Collection, taking part in the Procession, assisting during Communion, and giving the Homily.   This Sunday 3/14, Marilyn Robbat will read the Epistle, Cali Touloumes and Ariane Daniel will carry the Icons, and George Touloumes will present the Bread basket.   Sarah Carlson-Lier and Ariane Daniel will hold the cloths during Communion, and Cassandra Chamallas will distribute the bread. The Homily will be given by Christina Palis, M.Div.  Thanks to everyone who has volunteered.
PASCHA will be Sunday 5/2
REGISTERING FOR SERVICES – You can now register at https://stmaryorthodoxchurch.org/signup  to attend the Lenten services (primarily the Presanctified Liturgies on Wednesdays starting 3/17, and the Akathist services on Friday evenings starting 3/19).  If you're not a member of the parish, you can sign up to attend one of these services at 10:00am on the previous day.  
     Holy Week services will be available for registration around the middle of April.  These will be restricted to members of St. Mary only and will be limited to one service that week.
     For regular Sunday services you can sign up for one Sunday per month. If additional spots are still available after 6:00 pm on the Friday prior to a Sunday liturgy, non-members as well as members may sign up to fill the remaining spots, even if they've already attended a Sunday service that month.
     If you find that you can’t make it on a date you’ve signed up for, please cancel your reservation so someone else can use it.
LIVE-STREAMED SERVICES - All the Divine Services held in St. Mary’s Church can also be seen live-streamed at  www.stmaryorthodoxchurch.org/live  or  https://www.facebook.com/stmarycambridge  or www.youtube.com/stmarycambridge   For the safety of all during the pandemic, please pray with us from home if you have a cough or cold. 
PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE - A number of parishioners have made known their desire to help people who need assistance. The church office is keeping a list of volunteers. Call the church office (617) 547-1234) if you would like your name added to the list of volunteers. There can’t be too many! 
   - Members of St Mary's are offering assistance to anyone who needs help registering for a Covid vaccine.  If you or anyone you know wants help, call 617-997-6740 (Theo Smith) to get over-the-phone support.  If we cannot answer at the time of your call, leave your name and number and we will call you back.  We can assist with technical issues, searching for available vaccine appointments, and general questions about the process.
HOUSE BLESSINGS – Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Fr. Antony will not be visiting homes for house blessings this year. However, you are encouraged to bless your own homes with your family using your Holy Water bottle from Theophany and the Service for the Blessing of Homes (which you can print as a two-sided booklet) found at this link: www.stmaryorthodoxchurch.org/houseblessing. You may pick up a Holy Water bottle the next time you are in church. 

MORNING PRAYER - The daily morning prayer group on Zoom, led by Subdeacon James Wilcox and his wife Brooke is open to anyone who wants to take part.  Prayers now run Monday through Friday, beginning at 8:30am: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/377381275  password: 28052020   
ORTHODOXY 102 - This adult education class is led by Subdeacon James (drjamesis@gmail.com) on Zoom.  Orthodoxy 102 is an adult education class designed for Christians who have spent many years in the Orthodox church, but have never had any formal teaching on the theology and liturgical structure of Eastern Christianity. This is the second year the class is being offered. It will meet weekly to journey through the structure of the Divine Liturgy, while taking an in-depth look at Scripture, the Ecumenical Councils, our iconography, and the meaning and application of Orthodox theology. If you would like more information or want to join, please email drjamesis@gmail.com (or introduce yourself to Subdeacon James on any Sunday following the liturgy, if you’re there in person). The class begins at 7:00pm every Monday on Zoom. 

DONATIONS TO THE CHURCH - One-time donations to the church (For the Good Health of, In Memory of, etc.) can be made on our website using this form:  https://www.stmaryorthodoxchurch.org/donate/donate-now 
      In addition to bank ACH transfers, we now accept credit cards for these donations, but ask that you kindly check the box to cover the 2.6% fee incurred by the church for this convenience.  For pledge contributions, please sign up for eGive to make ACH transfers. 

GOOD BOOKS TO READ DURING LENT - Thirty Steps to Heaven: The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life  by Vassilios Papavassiliou can be found at Ancient Faith Publishing and Amazon.  This book is divided into seven parts and each part is further divided into steps.  There are a total of thirty steps that can be read a step a day, or more if you would like.  Each step will take approximately 10 - 15 minutes a day to read.  You will find that this book is written in laymen's terms making it easy for us to read and understand.  The beauty of having a book like this is that it can be reread every Lent leading up to Pascha. (Recommended by our own Violet Robbat, Diocesan Religious Coordinator for the Antiochian Women of North America)
     Another good book is Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. You can access a free pdf at: https://ss.stgeorge.ca/download/attachments/26116178/BeginningToPray_AnthonyBloom.pdf.  The Young Adult Ministry is currently using this for its book discussion.


Bodily purity is primarily attained by fasting, and, through bodily purity, spiritual purity is also attained. Abstinence from food, according to the words of that son of grace, St. Ephraim the Syrian, means:  ''Not to desire or ask for various foods, either sweet or costly; not to eat anything outside the designated time; not to succumb to the spirit of gluttony; not to excite hunger in oneself by looking at good food; and not to desire at one moment one kind of food and at another moment another kind of food.'' 
   - Prologue of Ochrid
When you fast and are nourished with abstinence, do not store the leftovers for tomorrow, but, as the Lord became poor and enriched us, feed someone who does not want to be hungry, you who hunger willingly.
   - St. Gregory Palamas
No one can say, "I am poor and hence I have no means of giving alms." For even if you cannot give as the rich gave their gifts into the temple treasury, give two farthings as the poor widow did, and from you God will consider it a greater gift than the gifts of the rich. And if you do not have as much as two farthings? You can take pity on the sick and give alms by ministering to them. And if you cannot do even this? You can comfort your brother by your words. "A good word is better than the best of gifts."
   - St. Dorotheos of Gaza
Beloved in Christ,
     Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that you and your families are safe and in good health as we prepare to begin another Lenten journey that culminates in the death and resurrection of our Lord.
     Last year at this time we were just becoming aware of a virus that started to rear its ugly face on the shores of North America. Just as we began our holy Lenten season, our journey to Pascha was interrupted, and our rhythm of prayer, fasting and almsgiving suffered. Nevertheless, we persevered thinking this interruption to our "normal" way of life would soon be over and we would quickly resume our daily routines as usual. Here we are a year later and, while there is hope now that a vaccine is available and being distributed, we nevertheless will once again have a different Lenten experience.
     Despite this different time in which we live, there is one program that should never suffer due to our modified way of life; that program is the Food for Hungry People and Charitable Outreach Program. This outreach, under the guidance of Ms. Robin Nicholas, has helped countless numbers of people for tl1e past 47 years! People now, more than ever, are in need depend on our pennies, nickels and dimes that we collect from all over the archdiocese.
     As we begin a new fast, let us this year more than ever, be vigilant in our effort to give alms. While we might not be able to participate as fully as usual in the liturgical and prayer life of the Church because of the pandemic, let us increase our efforts in helping the poor and others in need. Let us emulate the words of St. Dorotheos of Gaza quoted above remembering that, even if we ourselves are experiencing some economic difficulty during this time, let us give what we can and if we cannot give, let us minister to the poor in other ways. Let us strive to reach out and help our brothers and sisters who are in need at this trying time as we examine our hearts and souls in order to cleanse them as we approach the feast of our Lord's glorious resurrection from the dead.     
     Wishing you all a fruitful and spiritually rewarding fast, I remain,
Your Father in Christ,
+Metropolitan Joseph