3rd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On June 17, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.

In his homily the Rector interpreted the New Testament distinguished teaching of Christ regarding not worrying about material things from the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. The Lord said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Mt. 6, 25-29).
Literally and superficially those words of Christ sound strange. However, if we think of it deeply, we may find a great sense in these words. If we believe in God, if we admit that He is the Creator and the Ruler of the universe, we understand that nothing happens without His blessing or His permission. All our actions won’t be successful if God would not allow them to be. Of course, we need to work and earn a living: Jesus did not say not to; He only said not to worry, not to be anxious about those things.
This teaching of Christ calls us to set our priorities correctly. What is spiritual and eternal is much more important than material and temporary things. Our religion affirms that spirit is primary and the matter is secondary. In today’s Gospel lesson the Lord teaches that saying, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Mt. 6, 22). “The eye” here means our spirit, our mind which leads and governs the body. Therefore, we need to seek the purity of the soul which would lead both the body and the spirit to live a pious life leading to eternity. And the material things will be added to us if we do our work trusting in God.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the main thoughts of his Russian homily. He also congratulated our men on the occasion of Father’s Day. The traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

After the liturgical celebration the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals at the coffee hour.

2nd Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of All the Saints of the Land of Rus’

 

On June 10, on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of All the Saints of the Land of Rus’, our Parish family gathered for the liturgical celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Today’s 2nd Sunday after Pentecost is dedicated to All the Saints which were glorified in the Lands of Rus’. To be precise, this is the holy day to honor the Saints of our local Church, the Russian Orthodox Church.”
“Holding such celebration today, we should consider what do we have in common and what makes our spiritual past unique and special? Every nation or every culture contributes something to the treasury of human existence. It is agreed that the Jews gave the humanity the true faith in one God; the Greeks gave the wisdom of philosophy; and the Romans gave the order of the law. If we think of Italy, we call it beautiful. If we think of America, we appreciate its good business. If we think of Germany, we know it is famous for order and neatness. And when we think of Rus’, we recall that it used to be called “Holy”. Our spiritual heritage is the Holy Rus’. This is our uniqueness, to be part of the culture of holiness. Of course, Rus’ and Russia had never been truly holy. There were a lot of terrible crimes and transgressions committed by its rulers and by regular people in the course of history. However, to be holy was the ideal to which our ancestors were striving despite their weaknesses and errors. If we think well, we may see that not all Italy is beautiful. We may also see that not every American is a good businessman: in fact, lots of Americans are lazy and living on a welfare programs. Even in Germany, not everything is so neat and in order. But there is a tendency, an ideal to which those nations are striving. Same is with our spiritual culture.”
“Unfortunately, many of the heirs of the Holy Rus’ are now not living up to their spiritual ideals. Today’s stereotypes suggest that if we think of a Russian, it is a drunkard, a lazy man or even some villain. Take modern jokes about different nationalities: they all say that. But there was a time in the past when the jokes were different. And not just jokes. Some European thinker in the 19th century wrote: “The Englishman wants to see the world as a factory, the Frenchman as a salon, the German as a barracks, but the Russian as a Church”. Thus, it was so different some two hundred years ago. The ideals of the Holy Rus’ were so alive but spiritual wellness of the Russian people so deteriorated that today we may only feel sorry about our glorious past.”
“But it would be incorrect to seek the solutions in the past only. As I said, Russia had never been really holy. And what happened to it a century ago – all those terrible events such as revolution, civil war and the years of a godless regime – all this was a result of that insufficient holiness. We need to look at the future but to learn from the past. And if we wish to restore our ideals of the Holy Rus’, we need to embrace the attitude of true Christianity, not an attitude of this world. We need to seek God and His Kingdom. Our call not to be so beautiful, not to be so successful in business, not so neat and orderly, but to show the world holiness. This is a very difficult path but we should go through it.”
“If we feel weak and unsure, we need to recall our Saints whom we honor today. They were our relatives either by blood or by common culture. They were able to please God by their lives, so can we. Every century and every period of history our Church bore many holy men and women who dedicated their lives to God and to Christian ideals. Even in modern times when so many heirs of the Holy Rus’ became unholy and turned against God and His Church, we know about a great number of our Saints. Fearsome times of the godless power revealed so many New Martyrs and Confessors that their number impresses everyone. Their testimony shows that despite the dominant tendency of atheism and despite the temporary victory of godless powers, many faithful souls chose to belong to God and to suffer for Christ.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to the Saints of Rus’, so they may intercede for us before the merciful Lord, that they may ask Him to restore our sanctity, that the light of holiness in the lands of Rus’ would not fade away and that our future would see the Russian Church continuing to shine with its holy men and women!”

The choir beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to the Russian Saints during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian conveying the ideas of his English homily.

 

Sunday of All Saints

 

On June 3, on the Sunday of All Saints, as well as feast of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.

The Rector stressed the idea that to be a Saint is a vocation for every Christian person. We are called to be Saints, to be Holy by receiving Holy Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation. To become a Saint is a possible task, however, it is a supernatural task because our holiness depends on God’s help and His grace. It requires our efforts, our talents and spiritual strength, but it also depends on God’s help. If we will desire to please the Lord, He will assist us with His grace.
Holiness is one of the qualities of God. Only God is truly and always Holy. But He created man according to His image and likeness and He desired us to be holy. The first people, Adam and Eve, were holy in paradise; only the fall deprived them of that quality. But our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to restore fallen humanity, to return us to holiness and to give us a capability to acquire it.
The way to attain holiness is simple: to live spiritual life in Christ, to keep the Commandments, to receive the Sacraments. This is understood. But there is one more thing mentioned in today’s Gospel lesson: it is necessary to seek God and to inquire what is eternal, not temporary. The Lord says: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10, 37). Many, especially not religious people, would say that these are cruel and harsh words. But if you think of it well, we realize that God is the most important. These words of Christ do not teach us not to love our parents, children or spouses. No! But they teach us that God is above everything and everyone. And our human love has its source in God who is the Absolute Love. If there was no God, there would be no love and even life at all.
Therefore, an important idea of today’s Gospel lesson is to set our priorities correctly. We ought to love eternal God more than everything else which is His creation, including ourselves and our neighbors. We need to sacrifice many things in our lives for Him like Holy Apostles did. They left everything and followed Christ. But note that the Lord does not demand everyone to sacrifice everything but to give up certain things according to our calling. This is why there are different kinds of Saints, with different endeavors and various ways of life. But all their lives were leading them to God and to His Heavenly Kingdom.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns in honor of All Saints and of the holy Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir before Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English conveying the ideas of his Russian homily.

After the sermon the Rector congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of the name day of their daughter Elena. Fr. Igor wished our youngest parishioner God’s blessings and intercession of her heavenly patron, Holy Equal to the Apostles Empress Helen. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.

Following the service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals at the coffee hour. A toast in honor of the youngest parishioner celebrating her name day was raised.

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the I Ecumenical Council

 

On May 20, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the I Ecumenical Council, we had a nice liturgical celebration in our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Following the Church’s spiritual experience of the Ascension, on today’s Sunday the Church draws our attention to the teaching of the I Ecumenical Council, calling us to glorify the Holy Fathers who gathered there.”
“That first Ecumenical Council which took place in the year 325 in the city of Nicaea, discussed a very important question: who is the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He the best creation of God or the Son of God? Is He the true God or a supreme being lower than God? Is He created by God or is God Himself? We may wonder whether these discussions are important. Some may say that it is not so crucial because the main thing is that we know Jesus Christ, we know about His life, His teaching and His works. Why do we need those complicated theological quarrels?”
“Dear brothers and sisters! It is so important for us because it concerns everyone. If Christ is not the Son of God, if He is not the true God, then nothing supernatural or miraculous may happen in our life because we may just believe in God but rely on our personal strength and approach God only by our human efforts. But if we know that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He is the true God, and being the true God, He is with us “always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28, 20), then we understand that our faith cannot be in vain. Despite our weakness, our inability to live a righteous life, despite our unworthiness, we don’t lose hope. Why? Because we know that Christ, the Son of God came into the world, so”whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3, 16).”
“If Jesus Christ is the true God, He has a power to save us. If He is the true God, it is in His power to forgive our sins, to cleanse and sanctify us. If He is the true God, it is in His power to grant us eternal life. And if He is the true God, it is in His power to help us in our temporary life.”
“Thus we begin to understand the words of today’s Gospel lesson: And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17, 3). No one comes to God except through His Son, Jesus Christ (Mt. 11, 27; Jn. 14, 6). In the same way, if we see the light of the day, we know about the sun. Thus if we believe, we come to know the true God. If we hear someone speaking, we come to know that person, we begin to know about his knowledge and his intellect. Thus through Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, through the Son of God and the Son of Man we come to know the true God.”
“But how could we know Him if we have a limited mind and weak human senses? We can know Him through the life of the Church of Christ. The power of God manifests itself in the Church where Christ is really and truly present. This is the essence of our faith and, therefore, that erroneous teaching which was discussed at the I Ecumenical Council was so threatening and deceiving. At those times some priest named Arius did not believe that Christ is the Son of God, did not believe that Christ was not created, but considered that Jesus is the best creature of God. If it was so, God would not be with us. God would be separated from us. He would be very remote, He would be inaccessible as it was before our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. But after His coming into the world the true God stood in our midst. He is close to us. He is in our lives, in our souls. He is in the Church of Christ to which we belong. And in that Church He abides to the end of age.”
“Such is the meaning of those theological controversies that were discussed at the I Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. And the Holy Spirit make the Fathers of the Council understand and define the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the way we confess it. In that way the Holy Spirit revealed the true and firm teaching about the divinity of Christ to the Church. Let us then firmly keep that faith of ours, cherish it in our hearts and follow it in our life”.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying the ideas of his English homily.

Following the service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.

Ascension of the Lord

 

On May 17 of this year the Orthodox Church celebrated great feast of the Ascension of the Lord. St. George parish had a nice celebration on this day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Our parish was visited by a ROCOR cleric, Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk) who prayed during the Liturgy in the sanctuary.

After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He pointed out that at His glorious Ascension into heaven our Lord ascended both with His divine and human nature. Thus it is a spiritual comfort for us to be aware that our human nature had been also ascended with Jesus and thus the Lord prepared there a place for us.
Fr. Igor also addressed the question why Jesus gave His Disciples some time after His Ascension, before He sent the Holy Spirit upon them. He did not sent the Spirit right away because the Lord wished the Apostles to prepare, to become aware of that and to be certain about their life decision to follow Christ. God never wants to force us to follow Him. Therefore, the Apostles had to be free to decide. They also had to be patient awaiting the Holy Spirit and to stay together in prayer.
At the conclusion of his homily the Rector called the faithful to pray the Lord and His Blessed Mother (who was present at the event of the Ascension along with Holy Apostles) to strengthen our spiritual efforts to acquire the divine grace leading to heaven and to make us patient in our earthly journey towards heavenly goal.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.

Following the service the Rector preached a short sermon in English to stress the main thoughts of his Russian homily and congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the great feast.

Sunday of the Blind Man

 

On May 13, on the Sunday of the Blind man, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian.

The Rector addressed the words of our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced in the Gospel lesson: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9, 5). To confirm those words the Lord granted sight to the man born blind. Jesus is the Light of the world, not only for the blind whom He healed but for all of us. We are called “out of darkness into His marvelous light, as holy Apostle Peter says (1 Pet. 2, 9). And holy Apostle Paul calls us “the sons of light” (1 Thes. 5, 5).
But are we really worthy of such a great calling and of such a great name? Alas! Many of us know little about the truths of Revelation and thus remain in darkness. Others, even if they know those truths, have a little faith and thus they close their spiritual eyes to the light of Christ. And others engage in the fruitless works of darkness by committing sins.
Those of us who were born in Soviet Union have some excuse: that society desired to raise us atheists, to educate us in spiritual darkness. But here, in America, we see another movement: the society which once was based on Christian values, now keeps rejecting them and leading people into spiritual darkness. And the people themselves easily agree. It looks like they blind themselves on purpose. They leave the Church, live a secular and non-religious life.
Was it supposed to be this way? Was the light of Christ granted to us, so we stay in the darkness? Did we become Christians to live like pagans? Therefore, we need to do everything possible to live in the light of Christ. If we are in spiritual darkness because of our ignorance of the truths of Revelation, let us learn them. If we are in darkness because we don’t firmly believe in those truths, let us pray, so the Lord may strengthen our faith. And if we are in darkness due to our sins, let us convert and repent. Let us appear the sons of light not only by name but by the very life in Christ!

The choir prayerfully performed hymns assigned to the Sunday of the Blind man and Paschal Aposticha during the preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the main ideas of his Russian homily.

On the occasion of Mother’s Day the Rector congratulated all our ladies and extended his heartfelt wishes to them. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

The Rector also expressed his gratitude to all our parishioners, especially our ladies who did a lot of work to prepare for our Patronal feast of St. George celebrated last Sunday. The guests of the Parish, including His Grace, Bishop John were very pleased with our celebration and a warm welcome.

Patronal Feast of St. George

 

On May 6, on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman our Parish family had a beautiful celebration. On that day the Church commemorates Holy Great Victorious Martyr George. This is a Patronal feast of our Parish.

Our festal celebration was headed by our Archpastor, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk. His Grace arrived after the reading of the Third Hour and was greeted by our Parish Warden Olga Roussanow at the entrance to the temple. Bishop John entered the church where he was met by the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

During the Sixth Hour the Bishop was vesting in the altar. Then the Divine Liturgy had begun. It was concelebrated by our Rector, as well as by Archpriest Lawrence Bacik, Rector of St. Elias Church in Battle Creek, Michigan, and by Deacon Alexey Golubov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral. Two other cathedral clerics, Archpriest Yaroslav Lutoshkin and Priest Mark Rashkov were praying during the Liturgy and assisting in the altar.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Bishop along with the serving clergy came out of the sanctuary to the middle of the temple and performed the rite of glorification singing the troparia, the kontakion and the magnification in honor of St. George.

At the end of the Liturgy His Grace had a speech. He congratulated the Rector and parishioners on the joyful Patronal feast of St. George. As a response to the Bishop’s speech Archpriest Igor Tarasov greeted His Grace in our temple.

After the liturgical service the celebration of our Patronal feast continued at the trapeza table where His Grace, the clergy, our parishioners and guests together enjoyed very delicious food and a nice company.

 

Sunday of the Paralytic: Head of the Foreign Institutions of the Russian Church celebrates the Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral

 

On April 29, on the Sunday of the Paralytic, we had no services at St. George Church because our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov was summoned to serve at St. Nicholas Cathedral along with His Grace, Bishop John. They both welcomed a distinguished guest of the Patriarchal Parishes, His Eminence, Archbishop Anthony of Vienna and Budapest, head of the Foreign Institutions of the Moscow Patriarchate. Archbishop Anthony came to the United States to officially visit our Parishes by the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill.
On that Sunday His Eminence celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral being co-served by His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, the Administrator of Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes and the Cathedral clergy.

Our parishioners, including our Warden, Olga Roussanow and our Sacristan, Andrew Malyshev attended that solemn service.

Following the Scripture readings Archbishop Anthony preached a homily about celebrated Gospel story of the healing of the paralytic at the Sheep Gate Pool.

At the end of the service Bishop John had a speech welcoming Archbishop Anthony at the Cathedral. Archbishop Anthony expressed his gratitude for the heartfelt welcome and presented Bishop John with a holy Panagia.

Following the Liturgy our Rector as the Chancellor was invited to join Archbishop Anthony and Bishop John at the luncheon where they had an opportunity to discuss the life of the Patriarchal Parishes.

Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women

 

On April 22, on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women we had a beautiful service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian.

In his homily the Rector addressed the special ministry of women in the Church. Holy Myrrh-bearers were serving Christ along with the Apostles. However, they had a different kind of ministry: if the Apostles were elected to become the messengers of the Gospel and to perform the service which is now known as the ministry of the bishops, the ministry of the Myrrh-bearing Women was to help and to serve in different needs of Christ and the Apostles. In Christian and spiritual setting should be no discussion of such secular issues as “gender rights” because all these human perceptions are limited and relative. Today’s Gospel lesson is telling us that Myrrh-bearing Women were the first ones to learn about the Lord’s Resurrection, not the Apostles. In the human and secular world we are accustomed to call women “a weak gender”. But the Holy Myrrh-bearers were not afraid to go to the Lord’s Tomb to anoint the body of Jesus while His male Disciples were frightened and gathered secretly, behind the shut doors. This shows that human stereotypes are often relative.
The only concern of the Myrrh-bearing Women was who will roll away the stone from the tomb. This is another example of one of the typical human worries which sometimes are in vain. As we know, the stone had been already rolled away because Christ has risen from the dead.
Therefore, we Christians should seek what is not limited or relative but what is eternal and spiritual. And the history of the Church tells us that Christian women were very dedicated to preserve faith and thus fulfilled that ministry of the Myrrh-bearers. In the years of Communist yoke in the old country Holy Orthodox faith was kept first of all by women, especially the elderly grandmothers (the “babushkas”). Very often they baptized their grandchildren and brought them to the Church.
The Rector called the parishioners to pray to the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women to help us to preserve our faith and to hand it over to the next generations.

The choir prayerfully performed the Aposticha of Pascha during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English stressing the main thoughts of his Russian homily. He also congratulated our ladies on the occasion of this Sunday which is the Orthodox Women’s day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.
Then the Rector congratulated and proclaimed the Polychronion to the parishioners Vladimir Piankov and Natalia Tsyvilyova on the occasion of their past birthdays.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. The toasts to our ladies and to the birthday celebrants were raised.

Antipascha. Sunday of St. Thomas

 

On April 15, on the Sunday of Antipascha, also known as Sunday of St. Thomas, we had a nice service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“The joyful week of Pascha, the Bright week has passed, and we celebrate Sunday after Easter. It is called St. Thomas Sunday, or Sunday of the Antipascha. That Greek word does not mean that it is something “against Pascha”, it is rather something “across Pascha”, it is the next Sunday standing across Pascha in the calendar. But a true and more precise meaning of that word is some kind of “substitution for Pascha” or a “renewal of Pascha”, of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. After one week of Pascha we gathered again to be assured again that the joy of the Resurrection of the Lord is still with us. And today we hear the Gospel story about Holy Apostle Thomas who also made himself sure of Christ Resurrection.”
“How did it happen? When the risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His Disciples, they rejoiced seeing Him. He rendered them His peace, He sent them to preach His Resurrection, He gave then\m His Spirit, so they could loose and bind the sins of men. Apostle Thomas was not present then along with his brethren, the Apostles. And when he joined them and saw how they joyfully tell that they saw the risen Christ, he did not believe them. Perhaps, seeing their joy and excitement he thought that because of their agitation they only imagined Christ to be risen. Apostle Thomas said, “No!”“Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20, 25). Some people may say, “What a stubborn man! Why didn’t he believe?””
“But if you think about it, you may realize that the stubbornness of Thomas can be understood and justified. In a Stichera of today’s feast we sing, “O blessed unbelief of Thomas…” Thus his unbelief was pleasing the Lord and saving, in addition, it was sincere. If many of us had such a blessed unbelief of St. Thomas, we would avoid many mistakes in spiritual life. Thomas did not believe the other Apostles not because he did not believe in God, but because he was afraid to make a mistake in his faith. He did not wish to be deluded or deceived because of the human feelings and emotions. He was seeking the Truth.”
“Unlike Thomas, we often become gullible. Very often we may be attracted to any account about some “healer” or a “clairvoyant”. Even the Church people often become fooled. And those who are not living the Church life are very easily deceived when they hear about some fortune tellers like the famous Vanga, about some healers who “charge the water” from the TV, about astrology and other similar things. And thus people forget about Christ, about the Church, about the Commandments.”
“But Holy Apostle Thomas teaches us to have a believing but sober mind. Such a mind has to be based on the holy Orthodox faith. For Thomas, in fact, was not an unbeliever but a believer who was seeking to confirm his faith. And when the next time Jesus appeared to the Disciples, and Thomas was with them, he had a chance to confirm his faith. Jesus invited Thomas to examine His body with the wounds of crucifixion. What did Thomas do? He worshipped Christ saying, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn. 20, 28). He did not need to stretch his hand to touch Christ. His heart filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit recognized the risen Lord.”

“Dear brothers and sisters! The same thing occurs when unbelievers say to us, “Why do you tell us about Christ? How can you believe in Him? Have you ever seen Him?” And we may respond because through the grace of the Holy Spirit it becomes revealed to our hearts. Just as Thomas believed we may believe. According to or own spiritual experience we know that Christ was risen. We feel it when we pray in the temple. We feel His help in our life when we pray to Him. And such a spiritual experience is given to us through the holy Church. God is with us because we are in the holy Orthodox Church. God is with us because we are being sanctified by the Holy Mysteries. God is with us because we strive to live according to His Commandments.”
“And so, Jesus Christ talking about His Church says to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20, 29). We became worthy of such a high name. The Lord calls us who never saw Jesus in person, “the blessed ones”. Thus what a great name the Lord is giving to us, Orthodox Christians!”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us keep and cherish that greatest inheritance of ours, our holy faith, a faith that grants us eternal life. Let us fear to be gullible and to draw away from the Church of Christ. Let us be afraid to be deceived by the false teachers. Let us glorify our risen Lord Jesus Christ both by our words and by our lives!”

The choir beautifully performed the Apostichas of Pascha and of St. Thomas Sunday during preparation for Holy Communion.

Since we did not hold a service on Bright Saturday when the Paschal blessed bread, called the Artos is usually distributed, the Rector proclaimed the prayer for the breaking of the Artos following the Ambo prayer.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian explaining the ideas of his English homily. Then he distributed the Artos among the parishioners.