6th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Councils

 

On August 1, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 6 Ecumenical Councils, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and the guest of our parish, Priest Nenad Flora from the ROCOR mission in Dominican Republic.

After the readings from the Sacred Scripture Fr. Nenad preached a homily.  He addressed the theme of the Gospel lesson appointed for that Sunday. The preacher stressed that the Lord is very merciful towards us. In the Gospel reading we heard that He did not question what sins the paralyzed man committed but He forgave his sins and healed him. Therefore, we have to appreciate our Lord’s compassion and mercy which are granted to us without our merits, so we should become aware of that gift from on high and become worthy of it.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Councils during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech welcoming Fr. Nenad in our parish where he used to be a lay parishioner and where he was preparing spiritually to embrace his priestly ministry. Presently, he is serving as a missionary in a place considered to be a “paradise”, a resort place, however serving there is very difficult and hard. We are admiring Fr. Nenad for his endeavor and wishing him the best in his further ministry.

Then Fr. Igor greeted our Parish Treasurer and altar server, Emilian Suric on his past name day handing over to him the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming the traditional Polychronion on his behalf.

After the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial Litia requested by the two families of our parishioners. He also performed a blessing of the large icons acquired by our parishioner, Richard Beltran and donated to the Orthodox mission in Dominican Republic.

The clergy and parishioners continued their interaction at the luncheon enjoying pizza, coffee and cookies together.

St. Vladimir’s Celebration in New Jersey

 

On Wednesday, July 28, on the day of commemoration of the Holy Equal of the Apostles Great Prince Vladimir, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended celebration of the patronal feast at St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ.

Coming early before the Liturgy, our Rector visited the lower temple dedicated to St. Olga. Fr. Igor offered his prayers for the repose of the known archpastors of the Russian emigration buried there and venerated the altar of the lower church. Later he joined the clergy in meeting the celebrating bishop in the main, upper temple of St. Vladimir.   

The Divine Liturgy at that temple was headed by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. He was co-served by the 8 priests, including Archpriest Igor Tarasov, as well as 2 deacons.

The divine services were held in the presence of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God which our Rector had an opportunity to venerate before the Liturgy.

After the Ambo prayer Bishop Nicholas preached a homily about the significance of the celebrated Saint, the Baptizer of the lands of Rus’.

Upon completion of the Liturgy the clergy performed a short prayer service to St. Vladimir in the middle of the church. Then His Grace congratulated all those present on the feast. The Protodeacon intoned the Polychronion for the hierarchs, clergy, and all who prayed at the services.

Following the services the clergy and the faithful gathered for a festal luncheon in the Parish Hall. Our Rector had a speech in which he expressed gratitude to His Grace, Bishop Nicholas for leading the clergy and faithful in celebration of St. Vladimir. Fr. Igor also pointed out how important is to follow the true Christian faith in our difficult times. We are going through a pandemic which threatens our health, however we are in danger of losing the true faith and moral values due to different attempts to eradicate religious and ethical principles from the society. It is very important to adhere to the true Orthodox faith of St. Vladimir. It is uplifting and encouraging to learn that yesterday in Kiev, in the ancient city of St. Vladimir’s Baptism of Rus’, Orthodox Christians had a great cross procession which gathered thousands of members of the canonical Church of Ukraine. These brethren of ours manifested that they are the heirs of St. Vladimir and they belong to the true Orthodox Church, not to some schismatic group. Thus we here, across the ocean, should rejoice and should cherish the same Orthodox faith and to be joyful in celebrating today’s feast of our holy Baptism.

After the Patronal feast celebration in Jackson, Fr. Igor visited a place in Freehold, NJ dedicated to be a future St. Nicholas Skete of the Russian Church Abroad. A prayer service with the blessing of the newly-constructed gazebo chapel was held there. That service was headed by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk). His Grace, Bishop Nicholas was present at the service and performed the blessing of the chapel. He also brought there the Kursk Root Icon. A small group of faithful who support the future skete gathered there for the blessing and had an opportunity to venerate the icon. Following the blessing and veneration a dinner was served by the hospitable activists of the future holy place. Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Igor and Fr. Eutychius enjoyed a quiet and beautiful farmland place, as well as a nice company of dedicated faithful.

5th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 25, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, ,Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel lesson is about casting out the demons who possessed two men in the country of Gergesines. It is telling us that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to bring salvation to the human race. Even before dying for us on the cross and being risen from the dead, He rescued people from different forms of evil. He healed the sick, but His sovereign power was not only over physical infirmity. Mental illnesses, demonic possessions were also subject to His miraculous power”.
“But today’s reading also shows us how limited is our human understanding of divine works, how ungrateful people may be towards their greatest Benefactor. After our Lord healed two demoniacs, the whole city came to meet Jesus and begged Him to depart from their region. Despite a great blessing He bestowed upon them, these people did not want Him to stay. To some extent, this was due to the fact that those people were pagans. As such, they could not appreciate mission of Christ. However, similar things always happen. The joyful fact is that the Lord wishes all of us to be saved. The sad fact is that not everybody wishes to respond to that willingness”.
“After His Resurrection our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the holy Apostles to “go and teach all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28, 19). They did so. Thus we sing honoring the Apostles: “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 18, 4). Many pagan nations received the Gospel of Christ and became faithful to the Savior of the world. Presently, all the nations of the world have Christian people who follow the teaching of our Lord. But since the human nature is still imperfect and inclined to evil, there is a great resistance to the divine grace and the Word of God to be spread. Opposing the Word of God to be spread and resisting the divine grace to be bestowed upon them, people help only their enemy and act against themselves”.
”One of the forms of such opposition is persecution of the Church. St. Augustine observed the following: “The first persecution of the Church when Christians were forced to bring sacrifice to idols by threat of exile, torture and death, was carried out by force. The second persecution the Church endures is from false teachers and false brethren, and is carried out by means of craftiness and deceit. The third persecution will be from the Antichrist, and will be the most dangerous of all, because it will be accompanied by force, craftiness and deceit.” It seems like that third persecution is taking place in our days”.
“If you review the history of Christianity, you may see that Blessed Augustine was right. In the first centuries Christians were forced to worship the idols and when they refused, they were tortured and killed. Today we commemorate Holy Martyrs Proclus and Hilarius. They lived not long after the Holy Apostles, in the 2nd century. And when they refused to honor the idols, they were martyred. Then later, after the 3rd century, when the Church became free and Christianity allowed in the Roman Empire, the heresies emerged and some rulers were heretics. They persecuted the Orthodox Church. Nowadays it is the third wave of persecutions. In some places the force is being used against the Church. It was done in our old countries under the Communists. It is still done in some places ruled by Communists, like in North Korea. Recently we heard about terrible crimes against Christians committed by the Moslem extremists in the Middle East”.
“Now we also see many false teachings, as well as a lot of deceit and opposition to the true faith. Jesus is asked to depart again and again from our lives. In fact, He is asked to leave this country by some its inhabitants who don’t want prayer in schools, mentioning God’s name in the pledge of allegiance, who wish to remove God from the courts and other public places. They also became very successful in legalizing such hideous iniquities like murdering the unborn children and entering into same-sex relations. The Supreme Court of the United States approved abortions 47 years ago and it recently decided that same-sex marriage should be legalized in the whole country”.
“We are witnessing that things are getting worse and worse. Holy Martyr Proclus whom we commemorate today was suffering in different ways. One of his tortures was being tied to a chariot. The chariot was driven, so the Saint had to run along with it. And St. Proclus prayed that the chariot would stop, stop just for a moment. And the Lord heard his prayer: the chariot stopped, the horses could not move any further. Of course, the executioners found another way to torture the Saint but his prayer was heard. Like St. Proclus we may also ask when this chariot of our moral and spiritual sufferings would stop. We may pray the Lord that this process of moral and spiritual decay in the human society may stop. It may be stopped either when the world will end or the Lord will bless us with some relief before His second coming. But in any case, let us remember that true followers of Christ will always be persecuted in the world. And the world around us is becoming more and more ugly with those terrible abominations which are now promoted by the leaders of the society.”
“What can we say?! Let these people beware! Because if they chase out God and Jesus who can make lives blessed, they invite evil into their lives, and that evil one will make their lives miserable. It is like we say in our Holy Week hymns about Judas, “Now he is leaving Christ and accepts the devil”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Reflecting upon all these unpleasant things, let us more appreciate the treasure of the true and orthodox faith we possess. Let us always welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives, our works, our families. Let us be grateful for the salvation He performed for us and for delivering us from evil. Our Lord is the only one who can make us happy. Thus let us not ask Him to depart, but to stay with us forever”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.

Before the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to St. Olga whose memory was celebrated recently, as well as other singings.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow and our active parishioner Olga Vnukova on the occasion on their past name day handing them the Theotokian prosphora. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Following the Liturgy the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious luncheon. Our guest Vakhtang Kakishvili volunteered to grill some meat on the barbecue. The greetings and toasts were raised in honor of our two Olgas who celebrated their name day.

4th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 18, on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy after his return from Ukraine. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel reading tells us about a healing of a paralyzed servant of the Roman centurion. Our Lord Jesus Christ performed such a miracle even without seeing or approaching the sick person. It was done through faith and intercession of the ill servant’s master. Let us reflect upon this event described in the Gospel of Matthew”.
“A centurion was a Roman army officer who commanded one hundred men. This person mentioned in the Gospel was a Gentile. But he had a faith that Jesus is the One who can help his servant to be cured from the disease. Although Christ usually stressed that He came to save His own people, the Jews, the whole ministry and the whole message of His teaching was encompassing the whole human race, regardless of the people’s origin. Jesus is really the Savior of all. For Him ethnic or social distinctions are void. In the eyes of the Jews, especially the Pharisees who were always ready to criticize Jesus, coming to the house of a Gentile was inappropriate. If Jesus entered the centurion’s home, it would make Him unclean. However, the Lord could act without entering the Gentile’s house. Doing so, He showed that salvation will come upon all the people of faith”.
“In the words of the centurion we hear the recognition of Jesus’ authority. He calls Jesus the Lord. It was significant for a man who himself had authority. But although the centurion had the power over men, he understood that only Jesus had the power over disease. He also understood his own limitations and unworthiness. Therefore, he said to Christ: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof “(Mt. 8, 8). But his sense of humility was perfected by his firm faith in the healing power of the Lord. Thus he continued: “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed”(Mt. 8,  8).  The word of the Savior is enough for a man to be freed from his disease”.
“This event teaches us about the importance of faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ praised the faith of the centurion. He speaks highly about that Gentile person, lifting him up as an example. The Lord goes further and declares nullity of the Jewish supremacy, saying that many from other nations will share the heavenly blessings with the Jewish patriarchs. He prophesizes: “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” (Mt. 8, 11-12). We know that the sons of the kingdom are Jews, who had a sense of racial or national superiority as the chosen people of God. Coming of Christ demonstrated that not the Jews but all the people who believe in the Savior will become the chosen nation, the New Israel”.
“The last time I served here, was on the feast of the Pentecost. But then we celebrated two consecutive Sundays dedicated to the Saints. We had Sunday of All Saints and then we had Sunday of the Russian Saints. I was away and celebrated them there. You were celebrating them here. Those two Sundays made us recall that as a result of the descending of the Holy Spirit different nations acquired the right to become the true worshipers of God. Many nations accepted the preaching of the Gospel and produced lots of holy men and women, people we call the Saints. Today we celebrate feast of one of our own Saints, the Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Father Sergius of Radonezh. That Saint certainly did not belong to the chosen people of the Old Testament. He was our Russian, Slavic person. But since he was a Christian, since he cherished his Orthodox faith in Jesus Christ, he was one of the chosen ones, belonging to the New Testament chosen nation. His holy life in Christ and in a special devotion to the Most Holy Trinity made him worthy to sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Heavenly Kingdom”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us keep and cherish our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior. Let us recognize His power and authority over the whole world and over any little thing in our lives. Let us believe that He can help us if we have faith. Let us also understand our limitations and unworthiness and humbly ask Him to help us. And let us be worthy of the name of Christian that means to be among the chosen people of God, His holy nation which is prepared to sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also with the Holy Apostles, Martyrs and other Saints in the Kingdom of heaven”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements. He expressed his gratitude to those parishioners who assisted in removing the tree fallen after the storm. Especially he commended Emilian Suric who found a tree removing company and donated part of the payment, as well as Alexander Bezkrovnyj who helped working.

Following the Liturgy the Rector served a memorial Litia for the repose of Valentina Malyshev and Larisa Vnukova requested by their families.

After the services the Rector and parishioners interacted at the coffee hour.

Our Rector visited Ukraine

 

The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov from June 22 until July 16 was in Ukraine.
First, he visited the ancient city of Kiev where he had a chance to pray at the Kiev Cave Lavra monastery, to venerate the relics of the Saints in the Caves and to attend the temples there.
Then Fr. Igor headed to the city of Kamianets-Podilsky where he stayed for the rest of his trip to Ukraine. On Sundays and some feasts he served in the local cathedral of S. Alexander Nevsky. The services like All-Night Vigils and Divine Liturgies were usually headed by the local ruling bishop, His Eminence, Metropolitan Theodore.
Following the services our Rector had an opportunity to interact with the clergy and the faithful.

Pentecost. Feast of the Most Holy Trinity

 

On June 20 of this year all Orthodox Christians celebrated Pentecost, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Our St. George parish family had a beautiful celebration in our temple. The church was nicely adorned with greenery. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the Apostles. After such receiving they became what they really meant to be: people chosen by God, filled with God’s power, able to work miracles, having special gifts and converting others to the discipleship of Christ. They became the true Church”.
“This is similar to what the nature is experiencing now, at this season. Everything is green and blooming. This is what nature is meant to be. Now it reaches the most fulfilling point”.
“Now we have to become what we are meant to be: the people of God, people filled with His grace. We have to become temples of the Holy Spirit. In order to become that, we have to acquire the Holy Spirit. How can we do that?”
“Holy Spirit is not acquired by knowledge. Knowledge and intellect are helpful but not necessary. Today’s Gospel shows that knowledgeable and learned people were unable to accept Jesus. Holy Apostle Paul says, “Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of world foolish?” (1 Cor. 1, 20). Holy Apostles were not educated, some of them were plain fishermen. But today we sing that God revealed fishermen as wise sending them the Holy Spirit. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, Holy Spirit is acquired by divine grace, by the gift of faith”.
“Holy Spirit is not acquired by skills or working experience. Skills are also helpful, especially to fulfill certain earthly goals. But what skills would you need to acquire the gift of the Holy Spirit? What experience could help us in that? Only the skills and experience in spiritual life”.
“To acquire the Holy Spirit we need faith, commitment to God and obedience to His holy will. We also need prayer. If we pray, live a spiritual life filled with faith, hope and love, then each of us and all of together are able to experience the true Pentecost. Either personal or our common Pentecost we would experience as the one Church of Christ. Then like the Holy Apostles we would be able to receive the Holy Spirit, to become the people of God, to become the temple of the Holy Spirit, His earthly dwelling”.
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On that holy and great festal day let us ask the Lord to help us in our spiritual work, so by our life we may become worthy to receive the Holy Spirit. Let us pray and ask the very Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life to come and to dwell in us, to cleanse us of all impurity and to save our souls!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir piously performed the magnification of the feast along with the verses during the preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the festal icon in the middle of the church. Then the Rector greeted the faithful on the great holy day. He also congratulated our men on the occasion of the Father’s Day. A traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was performed.

After the Liturgy the Rector served Pentecostal Vespers with kneeling prayers. Following that service the Rector made some announcements.

Changes in our Schedule due to the Rector’s absence

 

Please, note that due to the Rector’s absence we are not going to have any services on 3 consecutive Sundays: June 27, July 4 and July 11.
Our updated schedule for June and July is available on this site.
Parishioners are encouraged to visit other Orthodox churches during the Rector’s leave.

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the I Ecumenical Council

 

On June 13, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! These days after the feast of the Ascension we come to celebrate Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. This first large gathering of the bishops of the universal Church took place in the 4th century. The most important document issued by these Holy Fathers was the Nicene Creed, a greater part of the Creed we recite today at our Liturgy. The Nicene Creed contains the truths of our faith: it declares what we believe in. The Church wishes us to commemorate those Fathers today because we are now going through the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. Jesus has ascended into His Father’s house in order to prepare there a place for us. Heaven is eternal life. This life is expecting us. But it is not an automatic reward”.
“In today’s Gospel reading our Lord Jesus Christ pronounces His Pontifical Prayer, a prayer to God the Father performed by Jesus as the High Priest. As a High Priest the Lord is praying for His Disciples asking that they may have the gift of eternal life. He further explains that eternal life is “that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17, 3). Thus to have eternal life means to know the only true God and His Jesus Christ whom He sent. What kind of knowledge is that? The knowledge of God goes far beyond rational or academic pursuit. Many people may study Christian doctrine, even Theology, but may not have the true knowledge of God. Knowledge of true God is a participation in divine life in communion with God. It is an ongoing, loving knowledge of God in Christ. It is sometimes very intangible and not easy to grasp. But it is also very easily distinguished in the holy lives of the Saints. If you examine their lives you will learn about knowledge of God they had. It can be easily recognized as living according to the Christian commandments”.
“Many other people in the history failed to have this knowledge of God. First people knew God, but when they agreed to commit a sin of disobedience, it seemed that they lost that knowledge. After Jesus Christ came to redeem the human race, the Jews could not recognize God in Him. Later many Gentiles who listened to the preaching of the Apostles were not able to grasp the idea of God being human and crucified. Therefore St. Paul had to say: “We preach Christ the crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1 Cor. 1, 23). Different false teachings, religions and cults lacked that knowledge”.
“One of those was condemned by the Fathers of Nicaea, the heresy of Aranism. It held that Jesus Christ was not God, but created by God, so there was time when the Son of God did not exist. In today’s Gospel we find the words of Jesus Christ bearing witness to His divinity and His sonship to the Father. It is a sufficient testimony to dismiss Arainism. Therefore, it was selected for today’s reading”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us pursue the gift of eternal life which consists of knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, God and Man. Let us cherish and acquire that knowledge, an intimate and loving experience of the true God manifesting itself in the holy life according to the teaching of the Holy Gospel. Let us be worthy of heaven prepared for us”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir performed the magnification of the Ascension along with the verses.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made an announcement regarding our services on the next Sunday of Pentecost.

Following the Liturgy Fr. Igor performed the memorial Litia to commemorate the newly-departed Valentina Malyshev on the occasion of the 9th day of her repose.

Funeral Service for the newly-departed Valentina Malyshev

 

On Thursday, June 10, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed Burial service for the newly-departed Valentina Malyshev. It had been served in our temple following the Divine Liturgy of the feast of the Ascension.

After the dismissal of the service Fr. Igor preached a sermon in Russian. He recalled that yesterday the Church celebrated the final day, the leave-taking of Pascha. In the Greek books that day is called “telos tou Pascha” meaning the goal of Pascha while final days of the other feasts are called the “apodosis”, leave-taking. The goal of Pascha was the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. And since our Lord ascended there along with His human body, we are also expected to be there. Our goal of Pascha is to be in heaven. Thus our newly-departed Valentina has a right to join the Lord in Heavenly Kingdom.
Fr. Igor turned to an example. A young boy asked his father to give him a puppy. After some time something happened and the dog died. The little boy was in tears. His father then gave him a kitten, but the kitten, too, got sick and died. The son came weeping to his father saying, “Daddy, why can’t you give me something that doesn’t die?” This is true: we can’t have someone that does not die. Everybody dies. Only some lifeless thing may survive us but it is not going to be forever either. However, there are those who do not die: our soul does not die, our Lord Jesus does not die. He was dead but He rose from the dead. And we will rise on the last day. But before that our souls do not die. Therefore, our beloved Valentina’s soul did not die and is called to the Kingdom of Heaven.

After the Burial service our Rector went to the Holy Trinity Cemetery in Hewlett, NY where he finished the burial of the newly-departed by serving a Litia and sealing the grave.

Following the funeral Rector and parishioners present at the services were invited to the Malyshev family residence where they had a memorial dinner.