Of Potlucks And Cooking Demos

Yet another food post!  Lenten fasting is designed partly to get our focus off of food and this is my second food-themed post in a row.  Oh well…

Many areas where there are several Orthodox churches have the practice of rotating Presanctified Liturgy among them and having a potluck dinner afterwards, which is a nice way to incorporate post-liturgy fellowship and balance out the penitential aspect of the service with some social interaction.  The Worcester churches do this, with the people from the host parish naturally providing most of the food.  In Marlborough we host all of the services, and I didn’t want to saddle our people with a potluck each week, so I decided this year to try alternating potluck dinners with a cooking demonstration by a local celebrity chef every Wednesday. So last week we had a nice modest potluck, and this past Wednesday we had our first celebrity chef.  Evangelia “Lika” Velentzas, a dear friend and proprietor of Auburn Town Pizza, attended service and afterwards gave us a well-received cooking lesson in the kitchen of our Hellenic Hall.  Lika had astoundingly delicious fasolada – white bean soup – for us to eat while she showed us how to make a Lenten Israeli couscous salad.  We then ate the salad and finished with dessert provided by Amalia.

This was a new experience for all of us.  Lika asked me how many people to expect and I optimistically said twenty to thirty, and wouldn’t you know we had twenty-eight people!  We all fit reasonably well in the rearranged kitchen and enjoyed the food as well as Lika’s well-delivered lesson.  My personal favorite part was when she added paprika and mentioned that the key is to use smoked paprika – there was an audible “hmmmm” from the audience when she said this and I had to laugh.  Lika then distributed copies of the recipe but maintained that the fasolada was a family secret (although she did share it privately with anyone who asked).  It was a great night.  A couple of pictures are below, and more are on the website.  Many, many thanks to Lika for donating her time, talent and treasure to make this such a memorable event!

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March 29th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Epic Greek Bake Sale

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March 29th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Seniors On The Loose

This past Monday – the feast of the Annunciation and, not coincidentally, Greek Independence Day, we had liturgy at the church followed by Senior Lunch, back from its winter hiatus.  The Annunciation is the only time during Lent where we celebrate the Liturgy of John Chrysostom, our usual Sunday service, on a weekday – otherwise we do the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts as we did tonight.  This is due to the importance of the feast – you can read more about this topic in my article from the March Sofia (our monthly ‘zine) on the website.  Senior Lunch, which is always piggybacked on a bible study or a weekday liturgy for convenience of attendees as well as to increase attendance at both events, is a fun monthly event where our senior parishioners (and we have a wide definition of “senior” – in reality all are welcome) venture out with me for a modest lunch and good fellowship.  Since Monday was a day where the Lenten fast is relaxed, we went down the street to Fish, which was the site of our first Senior Lunch last April on proprietor George’s name day.  Last year we sang songs like O Georgios O Poniros in honor of his feast, and this year we did much the same, with several hearty rounds of patriotic songs in honor of Greek Independence Day.  The other customers appreciated our enthusiasm – God bless them!

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March 27th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Behold The Kings…

…Of Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, and Greece:

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March 26th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

From Constantinople To Rome

Address of His All-Holiness to His Holiness Pope Francis of Rome

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in a formal reception in honor of the church and religious leaders by Pope Francis, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew represented the christian and faith communities in a special address to the Pope. The Patriarch’s attendance at the papal inaugural mass was a historic initiative on the part of Patriarch Bartholomew inasmuch as it was the first time in history that an Ecumenical Patriarch was personally present at a papal installation.

Vatican, March 20, 2013

Your Holiness,

In the name of the Lord of powers, we wholeheartedly congratulate You on the inspired election and deserved assumption of Your new high duties as First Bishop of the venerable Church of Senior Rome, defined by the primacy of love.

On this Throne, You succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who boldly retired for reasons of health and fatigue, a man distinguished for his meekness, theology and love. The task and responsibility before You are immense before both God and humankind. The unity of the Christian Churches is surely our foremost concern as one of the fundamental prerequisites for the credibility of our Christian witness in the eyes of those near and afar. In order to achieve this unity, we must continue the inaugurated theological dialogue so that we may jointly appreciate and approach the truth of faith, the experience of the saints, and the tradition of the first Christian millennium shared by East and West alike. It should be a dialogue of love and truth, in a spirit of humility, meekness, and honesty.

After all, the global economic crisis urgently mandates the coordination of our humanitarian action, in which You are well experienced as a result of Your long and fruitful ministry as a Good Samaritan in Latin America, where You pastorally witnessed – like so few others – the bitterness of human pain and suffering. Those who “have” must be motivated to offer – willingly and gladly – to those who “have not.” In this way, peace will be secured through justice as the sole universal request and the basic expectation of all nations. We must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, treat the suffering, and generally care for the needy so that we may hear from our Lord: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” (Matt. 25.34)

The selection by Your beloved and esteemed Holiness of a lifestyle of simplicity has highlighted – and will continue to highlight – your priority for what is essential. This fills the hearts of everyone – Your faithful and all people in general – with a sense of hope. It is the hope that this priority will be applied broadly so that judgment and mercy, as the essence the law, may prevail in the Church.

Throughout the two-thousand-year history of the Church of Christ, certain truths of the sacred Gospel were misinterpreted by some Christian groups, resulting in secular misconceptions that have unfortunately spread in Christian circles today. Thus, the burden of our obligation andresponsibility is to remind ourselves, each another, and the entire world that God became human in Jesus Christ in order that we may lead a divine way of life. Indeed, “God is the Lord and has appeared to us.” The one who created all things in the beginning, who guides and provides for all things, descended to the depths of death on the cross in order that, through His resurrection, He may demonstrate that “blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” and in His name alone, to serve His people, so that we may all be united, and that Christ may be all things and in all things,

This world is the domain where we realize this spiritual way of life, where we achieve our integration into the body of Christ, and where we are brought through Him into eternal life. The Church consecrates this earthly life, although it does not consummate its mission in this earthly life. We all realize and recognize this truth, which is why – as pastors and faithful alike – we travel this way of truth, acquiring the heavenly through the earthly.

As the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the worldwide Orthodox Church of Christ, we are certain that Your venerable and dearly beloved Holiness, who commences this historical journey with such favorable auspices as Bishop of Rome, will – together with all those who are willing and able – exhibit special concern for the reparation of secular trends so that humanity may be restored to its “original beauty” of love. We fervently pray with all Christians as well as with people throughout the world that Your Holiness will prove effective in this deeply responsible and highly onerous task.

May our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed and glorified. Thanks be to God, who in every period of time raises up worthy leaders, deserving of their calling to lead and guide His people, for the adoration of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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March 24th, 2013 by Fr. Greg

The Revenge Of Sugar Bear Hamilton And The End Of The Tuck Rule

The NFL recently repealed the Tuck Rule, which was a strange and often-misunderstood rule concerning the throwing motion, intent, and loss of the ball by the quarterback (this is a terrible explanation – just read the linked article).  The phrase “Tuck Rule” has special resonance for Pats and Raiders fans due to the infamous Tuck Rule Game.  I remember watching the play and being heartbroken when it happened, only to have a complete turnaround when the ref made the ultimate call – and by complete turnaround I mean it was like being in an elevator crash and then being rocketed into space.  Long-suffering Raiders fans were upset and raised an uproar when this happened (if Twitter had existed back then it would definitely have crashed).  We even longer-suffering Patriot fans were ecstatic, of course.  Lost in all of the controversy, though, were three facts:

-The Tuck Rule was interpreted correctly.

-The Competition Committee of the NFL had a chance to change the rule after the season and didn’t.

-The Raiders had plenty of chances to win the game and had only themselves to blame.  Bill Simmons made these same points in this old column (about halfway down).

Pats fans of a certain vintage will get the Sugar Bear Hamilton reference.  He was called for a phantom roughing-the-passer call in the 1976 playoffs, and the call resulted in a Raiders win.  The Tuck Rule is gone, likely forever, but we will always have the memories.

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March 23rd, 2013 by Fr. Greg

Sprouting Celery

Today is the third day of spring, but who’s counting?  I grew up in New England until the age of 18 and then spent ten years in Virginia; my body has never adjusted back to the weather up here.  After picking up gardening a few years ago I found a new frustration – the seemingly endless winter compounded by the desire to get back out there and garden.  My coping mechanisms this time of year include planning the garden as well as sprouting seeds or roots with the hope of planting them in May.  The picture below features one of these sprouting attempts that doubles as a project for the girls – the bottom of a celery plant, normally discarded, was put by the girls in a shallow plate with water.  You can see the results; our next step, once the sprouts have grown, will be to plant it in a pot and then ultimately transfer it outside, perhaps in a cloche before the weather truly warms up.  The picture also shows a ginger root (on the left) which is also starting to sprout.  Just out of the picture on the right are lemon seeds that have sprouted, and by the window in the garage I have an onion which we discovered with a shoot coming out of it.  I planted the onion and put it by the window, and after a day or two of sun the shoot turned green.  As always, stay tuned…

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March 22nd, 2013 by Fr. Greg