A Worthy Organization

Yesterday at Sts. Anargyroi we had the pleasure of a visit from Nancy and Basil “Bill” Tolos, who of course are no strangers to our community.  Bill is the vice-president of the New England Amputee Association, a group which provides support for new amputees.  From their website:

Our team of Amputee Coalition Certified Peer Visitors are ready to assist victims and their families from the recent bombing in Boston. Our Peer Visitors are trained in and offer the following services at no charge:
Moral and emotional support for the amputee and their family
Answers to the many questions about limb loss from the perspective of someone who has been through it
Sharing of experiences and resources
Guidance for “what’s next?” in the recovery process

Bill underwent a leg amputation several years ago, and in true Bill fashion is now a certified peer advisor and VP of the organization.  He understands the difficulty of all of a sudden being without a limb and not knowing what comes next.  We passed a tray at the end of service to benefit the group and raised $400.  For those who were not there or perhaps did not have cash on them you can click on the link above to donate to the group.

A fun postscript to this story – Bill recently got a new prosthetic leg and decided to go all out – it has the Boston Red Sox logo on it!

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April 22nd, 2013 by Fr. Greg

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

Menstruation And Holy Communion

Metropolitan Methodios distributed the writing below to us at our monthly clergy brotherhood meeting this morning.  It is from St. Gregory the Great to St. Augustine of Canterbury and is the last word on the “issue” of women receiving communion while menstruating.  Some of his language reflects the time in which this was written (6th century) but the bottom line is that a woman’s period should not keep her from receiving communion (no matter what Yiayia may say about it : ).

A WOMAN SHOULD NOT BE FORBIDDEN to enter the Church during the times of her monthly period; for the workings of nature cannot be considered sinful, and it is not right that she should be refused admittance since her condition is beyond her control. We know that the woman who suffered an issue of blood, humbly approaching behind our Lord, touched the hem of his robe and was at once healed of her sickness. If, therefore, the woman was right to touch our Lord’s robe, why may one who endures the workings of nature not be permitted to enter the church of God? And if it is objected that the woman in the Gospels was compelled by disease while these latter are bound by custom, then remember, my brother, that everything that we endure in this mortal body through the infirmity of its nature is justly ordained by God since the fall of man. For hunger, thirst, heat, cold and weariness originate in this infirmity of our nature; and our search for food against hunger, drink against thirst, coolness against heat, clothing against cold, and rest against weariness is only our attempt to obtain some remedy in our weakness. In this sense the menstrual flow in the woman is an illness. So if it was a laudable presumption of the woman who, in her disease, touched our Lord’s robe, why may not the same concession be granted to all women who endure the weakness of their nature?

A woman, therefore, should not be forbidden to receive the Mystery of Communion at these times. If any, out of a deep sense of reverence, do not presume to do so, this is commendable. But if they do so, they do nothing blameworthy. Sincere people often acknowledge their faults even when there is no actual fault, because a blameless action may often spring from a fault. For instance, eating when we are hungry is no fault, yet being hungry (in our present way) originates in Adam’s sin. Similarly, the monthly courses of women are no fault. They are caused by nature. But the defilement of our nature is apparent even when we have no deliberate intention to do evil, and this defilement springs from sin. So may we recognize the judgment which our sin brings upon us. And so may people who sinned willingly bear the punishment of their sin unwillingly.

Therefore when women, after due consideration, do not presume to approach the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord during their monthly period, they are to be commended. But if they are moved by devout love of this Holy Mystery to receive it as pious practice suggests that they do, they are not to be discouraged. For while the Old Testament makes outward observances important, the New Testament does not regard these things as highly as the inward disposition, which is the sole criterion for allotting punishment. For instance, the Law forbids the eating of many things as unclean, but in the Gospel the Lord says: “Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a person, but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” He also said, “Out of the mouth proceed evil thoughts” (See Mark 7:18-20). Here Almighty God shows clearly that evil actions spring from the root of evil thoughts. Similarly the apostle Paul says: “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. And later he indicates the cause of their corruption, adding, “For their very minds and consciences are defiled” (Titus 1:15). If, therefore, no food is unclean to one of a pure mind, how can a woman who endures the laws of nature with a pure mind be considered impure?

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November 20th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Beneful? Not Even Close

I had a fun visit today to Pets Gone Healthy, a pet store on the Marlborough/Northborough border owned by Sts. Anargyroi parishioner Sandie (for a nice article on Sandie and the store click here).  PGH specializes in organic and natural stuff for pets – sort of a food movement for animals.  Those of us who are into the health and healthfulness of what we put into our bodies no doubt should extend this to our pets as well.  Sandie showed me a very scary thing – the ingredient list for Beneful Healthy Radiance, a dog food which purports to be healthful and the right thing to do for your dog.  The ingredient list is a horror show – I will post it below – but just to pick a few things: Salmon, supposedly the featured ingredient, is way down on the list.  Corn is first (see the movie Food, Inc.).  There is also meat meal (yikes) and several artificial colors which wreak all sorts of havoc.  We often speak of eating “healthy” food – by this we really mean “healthful” food, which is food that is good for you – healthy food is food that is not diseased.  In this case, the food is neither healthful nor healthy.

Sandie filled me in on the epidemic of pet obesity, which is a very real problem that mirrors the larger problem of American obesity.  Surely the well-intended use of dog food like Beneful (the name is, I assume, meant to invoke the word beneficial) is a contributing factor.

Here is the ingredient list (emphasis mine):

Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), salmon, rice flour, soy flour, sugar, propylene glycol, meat and bone meal, water, tricalcium phosphate, soybean oil, animal digest, salt, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preservative), potassium chloride, dried carrots, dried green beans, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2), ferrous sulfate, DL-Methionine, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.

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December 21st, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Having Children In Orthodoxy

Fr. Peter has an excellent post up on the Orthodox view of contraception.  This idea for writing this came from the recent news reports about the Catholic Church and contraception.  Fr. Peter does a good job of outlining the broad Orthodox view on the subject and he helpfully points out that there are possibly different views in different Orthodox jurisdictions, since in our collegial (as opposed to hierarchical) tradition there is no one voice that speaks authoritatively on these matters.  My discernment of our Church’s position on contraception is that it can be used but at some point a couple should try to have children, which is the goal of an Orthodox marriage per the words of the service itself.  This is why, incidentally, when older people become “companions” they do not need to have a marriage service, although some do and we willingly accommodate them.

That being said, while it is incumbent on a married couple in the Orthodox Church to attempt to have children, it is not always possible, for various reasons.  It can, in fact, be very difficult or impossible to conceive or carry a child to term in some cases.  This is why pressure from a couple’s parents who are anxiously pushing the grandchild button can be very destructive.  This phenomenon is not uncommon in Greek culture.  The stress from this can cause all kinds of mental and physical problems in couples and certainly affects the whole conception process.  While the Church blesses marriages for, among several reasons, the continuance of the human race, we as the body of the Church must be loving, patient, supportive and understanding of all our married friends, regardless of their parental status.

Around Mothers Day I always quote my own mother – “Every woman is a mother.”  You can extend this to “Every man is a father.”  We all have family, whether we are married, celibate, have kids, don’t have kids, whatever.  And in Orthodoxy – both at our Cathedral and in the Church as a whole – we are one big family.  What a blessing.

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November 23rd, 2010 by Fr. Greg

Facing East Podcasts Up

Two new podcasts are up!  The first is a “lost episode” that includes our bizarre encounter with a graffiti-covered bus out in the country, while the second is about a trip to a farm.  You can check them out on the podcast site or on iTunes, where it is a free download (as it is on our site, of course).  If you get it from iTunes be sure to leave a comment!

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July 22nd, 2010 by Fr. Greg

Kronos Tzatziki: No Yogurt, Lots Of Bad Stuff

Sarah came up to me today at Little Angels and said “This tzatziki has no yogurt in it!”.  She had a tub of the stuff made by Kronos, which is a popular brand among Greek-Americans and among the general population.  It doesn’t take much to make tzatziki – strain some yogurt, chop us some cucumber and dill and add garlic and you are pretty much all set.  This stuff not only had no yogurt but had an ingredient list a mile long with all kinds of bad stuff in it.  What a travesty!  For everyone eating this product out there, especially non-Greeks, please realize that this is not even close to the real thing and, I imagine, is not very good for you!  Some other major brands are also guilty of the artificial/bad stuff ploy as well.  I tried to take a picture of the ingredient list but it didn’t come out well on my cellphone camera and, not surprisingly, the company website does not list ingredients either.  The lessons here?  Whenever possible make your own stuff, and always, always read the label.  And many thanks to Sarah for the heads-up on this issue.

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June 16th, 2010 by Fr. Greg