10th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 13, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. Following the Gospel reading he delivered the following homily in English:

“The Gospel lesson we heard today is telling about healing of a epileptic. At the question of the Holy Apostles why they were not able to cast the evil spirit out of that possessed boy, Christ answered: “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt. 17, 20). That’s what the Lord said. And he also added: “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Mt. 17, 21). Thus today the Holy Gospel again reminds us about the importance of faith. It also reminds us about the importance of prayer and fasting.”
“Faith, prayer and fasting are the three important things for our spiritual life. In some way they determine our spiritual life in theory and in practice. A theory alone is not enough. Nowadays many people like to say that they believe “in their soul”, and prayers, rituals and participation in the Church life are not necessary for them. This is a hypocrisy and self-delusion. If we believe, our faith must be seen in our actions. Faith is dead without works, says Holy Apostle James (Jam. 2, 17). Therefore faith has to be manifested, first of all, it should be shown in prayer and fasting. Of course, it should be shown also on our moral life, in our warfare against sin. But sin is often conquered only by prayer and fasting. The same way as the evil spirits are cast out by prayer and fasting, our sinful inclinations, our passions and sinful habits should be conquered by prayer and by fasting. A theory alone, a declaration that we believe would be insufficient here.”
“The Lord did not just say about the importance of prayer, but He showed us a personal example of a prayerful life. Recently we read that after a miraculous feeding of the five thousand men by five loaves the Lord “went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there” (Mt. 14, 23). He was praying there the whole night, and only before dawn He went to His Disciples walking on the sea.”
“Why did Lord Jesus Christ need to pray? He was the Almighty God – why did He need to pray? And for what did He pray? He had a great need and a great care – He was praying for the human race and for His Church on earth. The difficulty of the endeavor of the Lord Jesus Christ was that His preaching was addressed to the free will of the people. The Lord prayed for His Disciples whom He patiently taught, making them understanding His Kingdom. He prayed for the future Church, for all of us that by our free will we may stay in His truth. He prayed as a Man leading us to the Kingdom of God.”
“Jesus also prayed a special prayer in the Olive Garden before His crucifixion that He had to undergo for our salvation. Then His soul had been suffering an agony. The Gospel says, “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22, 44). Some Church Fathers consider that prayer to be the beginning of our Redemption (or even our very Redemption itself).”
“Teaching us to pray by His own example, the Lord also showed us some teachers of prayer among us – the people who fervently prayed. For instance, the Canaanite woman insisted in her fervent prayer and humbly asked Jesus about a healing. And the Lord very often listened to the prayers of such people and granted their requests according to their faith.”
“Fasting has the same powerful meaning as prayer. The Lord Himself showed us an example of fasting when He fasted forty days in the wilderness before His ministry. Again, we may ask: why did Jesus, who was God, need to fast? From what had He cleanse Himself if He was pure? What did He have to fight if He was without sin? The Lord fasted to show us an example and to overcome the temptation of the devil and to make him ashamed. And the Lord fasted to show His human nature. The Scripture says that after fasting Jesus became hungry (Mt. 4, 2). Christ was the true Man, He needed food. And the devil dared to tempt Him as a Man. And the Lord showed us that He was fasting and He was hungry, so we may not make a mistake like some heretics who thought that Christ only seemed to be a man. No, He was a true Man who needed to eat and was tempted but overcame the temptation.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us practice prayer and fasting, so our faith may be living and manifested in our actions. And one more thing. When we hear about a firm faith capable of moving the mountains, we may think that Christianity is a very hard religion. We conceive that Christ is standing on the top of a high mountain and is calling us out, the weak and infirm, to climb to Him, to become almighty and perfect. And we are not able to do so because we are weak and imperfect. This is a false image of Christ. He does not stand on a summit waiting for us to climb up to Him. He comes down to meet each climber on the mountain. He walks beside us. He holds our hand. He helps us to the summit. Without Him we would never reach it.”
“Let us then fervently pray the merciful Savior and our God that He may comfort our faith and give us a strength to live in prayer and fasting, so along with Christ we may overcome the evil power and the sin in our lives and conquer any mountains standing on our way.”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed a customary blessing of the new honey. He also preached a short sermon in Russian to stress main thoughts of his English homily.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious food and a nice conversation.

 

9th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 6, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as on the feast of St. Boris and Gleb, our Parish family conducted a nice celebration. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Today we heard from the reading of the Holy Gospel that our Lord Jesus Christ was walking on the water during the storm (Mt. 14, 22-43).”
“The spiritual meaning of that miracle is the following. A stormy sea where the Disciples of Christ sail is a spiritual image of our life. Our Church hymns often compare our human life to a sea. And this is true. Our life could be quiet and peaceful, but it could have some winds, some small problems. But sometimes it could be a huge storm, a storm in our life filled with sufferings and misfortunes.”
“The boat in which the Apostles were sailing is an image of the Church of Christ which helps a man to overcome the difficulties of life.”
“Today we also read that Apostle Peter heard the command of Christ to come to Him on the waters, and he began to walk (Mt. 14, 29). Apostle Peter walked on the waters in the same way as Christ did; he did walk because he had truly believed in the power of God, and he had been given according to his faith. But suddenly he saw that the wind was boisterous and he became afraid. And at the moment he got scared, he began to sink (Mt. 14, 30).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This is also an image of our life. As long as we hear the voice of God and walk through our life with God, according to God’s Commandments; as long as a firm faith is burning in our hearts; as long as we are certain about our Orthodox way and strife to live according to our faith, – we fear nothing.  No difficulties, no sufferings and pain, no storms of life are threatening us. But the moment we will doubt, that very moment when despair and dejection will appear in our heart, we will begin to sink in that sea of life. That very moment when it will be difficult for us to pray, when it will be hard to refer to God, because some laziness will overcome our soul; that moment when we will deceitfully think that it’s not really a bad thing if we will sin a little, for God is merciful and will forgive us; that very moment when we will act not according to God’s Commandments but according to our human cleverness – that moment we will be spiritually sinking in the depth of sin, in the abyss of the sea of life. Perhaps each one of us felt that way in his or her life.”
“And thus, when Apostle Peter began to sink, he cried out saying, “Lord, save me!” And Jesus told him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14, 29-30). And the Lord stretched out His hand and saved Peter from the depth.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! And this is also an image of our soul. When our soul begins to sink in sins, we should not despair. Like Peter, we should cry to the Lord from the abyss of our heart and say: “Lord, save me!” And the Lord gives us that great Mystery that saves us from the depth of sin, the Sacrament of Penance. In Penance the Lord is stretching out His hand to us and pulls us out from the abyss of sin, to which we are attracted by this world. The Lord saves us through repentance. But He also indicates a reason why we begin to sink: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
“Our lack of faith is the reason for many of our misfortunes and sufferings. And the first thing we should ask the Lord to grant us is a holy and firm faith, so such faith could become a solid foundation for our life. In today’s Epistle reading we heard that we have to build our life upon a solid foundation of faith in our Savior Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3, 9-17).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! By the Divine Providence we gathered today for a prayer. We heard the Gospel story about a miracle performed for our instruction. Let us then ask the Lord that He may grant us a gift of faith. Let us remember that we may safely travel on the sea of life only being on the boat of the Holy Church of Christ. And let us remember that our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ may save us from any depth of sin. And let us, sinful, cry out to Him saying, “Lord, save us!””

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to convey the ideas of his English homily.

He also congratulated his relative Maria Mitkevych who attended our service on the occasion of her past name day and presented her with the Theotokion prosphora. Traditional Polychronion was sung.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. A toast in honor of Maria celebrating her name day was raised.

8th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils

 

On July 30, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils, 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 a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

”Today’s Gospel reading is telling us about the feeding of the five thousand and the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes.”
“First of all, we should note that it was a very large number of people, because it was five thousand men. If you add women and children, you may conclude that the crowd was probably about fifteen or more thousand. We should consider that this large number of people followed Christ on foot in the heat of the day into the wilderness and without food. What faith and devotion they had, these people who followed Jesus! Now compare this to us, modern Orthodox who are reluctant to come to church on Sunday. We drive the air-conditioned cars and we still don’t come.”
“Reflecting further, we can see that this miracle took place not for the personal vanity or glory of the Savior, but out of compassion for the people. We can see this in many miracles of Christ and it is mentioned again in today’s Gospel how the Lord healed the sick. Each miracle of Christ is an act of love performed out of compassion.”
“Let us now examine how Jesus performed that miracle. Our Lord took up the five loaves and fishes, and then looked up to heaven and thanked the Father and blessed the food. St. John Chrysostom interpreting this Gospel lesson says that in this way Jesus showed that He is equal to God the Father. Jesus look up to heaven, prays to His Father but He Himself begins a miracle. Here He also sets us Orthodox the example of praying before eating. How many Orthodox often forget even to make the sign of the cross before eating! And yet the Savior Himself, “by Whom all things were made”, asks for the blessing of the Father before eating.”
”The miracle takes place in a deserted place and when the day is over. According to St. John Chrysostom, this shows us that Christ is not limited by space and time. St. John wrote about this event the following beautiful words: “Although the place is a desert, He who feeds the universe is present. Although the day is over, Christ and His words are ever-present, never submitting to time or element.””
“And St. John Chrysostom says that by blessing and multiplying bread and fish, Christ shows that He is also the Lord of Land and Sea.”
“Another aspect of today’s Gospel story is that in this miracle we see how Christ not only feeds us with material food, but also with spiritual food, for, as it is written in the Holy Scriptures, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8, 3; Mt. 4, 4). Today we commemorate Holy Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils. There were seven Councils, and six of them defined the dogmas of Orthodox faith. Thus the Fathers of the six Councils were given us and confirming spiritual nourishment of the true faith leading to eternal life. Nowadays people are looking for different diets to stay physically healthy. The Ecumenical Councils came up with a spiritual diet for us: they defined what is spiritually healthy for us to consume, and what is harmful for us as a spiritual food.”
“Performing the miracle of multiplying the breads, our Lord gave also spiritual food to the people. We may see that spiritual nourishment in the numbers mentioned in this Gospel. There were five loaves of bread. The number five represents our five senses that are fed by the Bread of Life. In our prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion we mention our five senses that are to be enlightened. There were two fishes. They represent the two parts of the New Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles, which were written by fishermen become fishers of men, for we are spiritually fed by their writings. There were twelve baskets of fragments? They represent the twelve Apostles who preach to the ends of the universe, the fragments who feed our souls with the words of Christ through the Holy Spirit.”
”Dear brothers and sisters! Let us open our minds and souls to Christ our true God. Let us follow Him anywhere His divine Providence would make us to go. Let us strife to be with Him, so we too may be fed and filled with the Bread of Life.”

The choir beautifully performed hymns in honor of the Holy Fathers of the Council, as well as in honor of recently celebrated Holy Equal to the Apostles Prince Vladimir.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a brief sermon in English stressing the main points of his Russian homily. He also congratulated Valentina Malyshev on the occasion of her past name day and her birthday. The traditional Polychronion was proclaimed.

 

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 23, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“This Sunday again the reading from the Holy Gospel is telling us about the healings performed by our Lord Jesus Christ. He returned the sight to the blind and he healed the mute. The blind men followed Him crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Mt. 9, 27). Let us remember today who was David. He was the King of Judea blessed by God; he was one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ.”
“The Old Testament Scripture tells us a lot about holy king David. Since childhood days many of us were probably thrilled to the story of David defeating Goliath. The Philistine giant, Goliath was feared by the Jews who fought the Philistines. And he dared them to choose a warrior to fight him, cursing the Jews and making fun of them. For forty days the Jews could not find anyone willing to meet Goliath in the battle. Finally, a shepherd boy named David undertook that seemingly impossible task. He met and conquered the giant with the simplest of weapons, and with no visible armor.”
“Each of us, in some sense, has a giant to fight. For some of us it is a physical ailment. For some it is a bad habit. For many of us it is fear of the future. For others, it is deep sorrow disturbing our peace. And generally, speaking of our spiritual state, the most fearsome giant is our sinful nature, our passions that threaten our salvation. Day by day we are battling our own giant, and we may ask, what are our chances to defeat it?”
“Let us recall that the match between David and Goliath seemed to be a hopeless encounter. David was not trained as a warrior. But in answer to Goliath’s cursing and taunting, he replied: “You come to me with a sword… But I come to you in the name of the of the Lord of hosts” (1 Sam. 17, 45). This was the secret of this battle. And as we fight our giants, this must be the secret – the battle is the Lord’s and our main weapon is God’s strength.”
“As we read the Scripture, we see others facing giants. They may not appear so literal and so spectacular as Goliath, but they are just as real. Moses, for instance, feared the Egyptians and ran away. But God found him and told him to go back to Egypt, to liberate his people from slavery. Moses still feared that, but God assured him that He would be with him, that He would supply the words and the power. Moses obeyed and put his trust in God, and the story of his return to Egypt to free his people is very much known.”
“Much later the Jews led by Moses finally reached the borders of the promised land. And they sent the spies to investigate that land. After weeks of observation those spies returned full of terrifying impressions. They said, There we saw the giants… and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Num. 13, 34). After hearing this report most of the Jews became very afraid to cross the border but two of those spies, Joshua and Caleb told them to have faith in God because the people of Canaan, even if they are so great and fearsome, they have no power against God who is with His people.”
“Let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Himself was facing His own giant of persecution and crucifixion. Inspiring the Apostles He said, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16, 33). And He went forth to conquer the mightiest giant of all – death.”
“The two blind men in today’s Gospel lesson faced the giant of physical blindness. But they came to Someone Who was the real Giant. In the power of their faith in Him the giant of blindness was overcome. “According to your faith be it done to you,” Jesus said to them (Mt. 9, 29).”
“Today we commemorate Venerable Father Anthony of the Kiev Caves. He was also facing a giant of his own. If we read his life story we may be convinced of that. St. Anthony faced temptations and a lot of difficulties in his ascetic endeavor. But he trusted in God and saw his goal of ascetic life. So he conquered all these obstacles.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! When like David, like Moses, like Joshua and Caleb, like the two blind men, and like Venerable Anthony, we look at life with faith in the Lord, the giants become cut down in size. We no longer grovel before them. For we are not grasshoppers in the presence of overpowering giants, but sons and daughters of Almighty God, clothed in the armor of Christ, trusting in Him. Being created in God’s image, we ourselves are supposed to be not grasshoppers but giants. If we invite Him to come and live within us, then there is a real giant in each one of us.”

The choir beautifully performed the hymns in honor of Venerable Anthony of the Caves during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.

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

After his final sermon the Rector congratulated our parishioners Olga Roussanow and Olga Vnukova on the occasion of their nameday coming tomorrow, on July 24. Fr. Igor proclaimed traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) to them and presented with the Theotokion prosphora.

Our celebration continued after services at the trapeza table. The Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. a toast was raised in honor of our Olgas celebrating their nameday.

6th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 16, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the lesson from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel is telling us about a miracle of healing of the paralytic (Mt. 9, 1-8). If we attend the Church on Sundays we may recall that the story of such healing is repeated three times during the year. First, on the 2nd Sunday of Lent we hear about the healing of the paralytic brought to Jesus by four men, by four friends (Mk. 2, 3-12). Then later, during our Paschal celebration, there is a Sunday called the Sunday of the Paralytic when we read the story of the paralyzed man healed by the Lord near the Pool at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (Jn. 5, 1-9). And today, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, we read about the same healing that we heard on the 2nd Sunday of Lent, but we read it from another Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew. Why do we repeat this story twice a year and we read about another miracle of such healing to mention a paralytic three times per year?”
“This is done not because of the importance of understanding the disease called paralysis, but because spiritual, not physical, paralysis is the most common human spiritual problem. A paralytic is unable to do anything by himself. His body is paralyzed. In the same way a spiritual paralysis makes us unable to act upon our salvation. Our soul is paralyzed, unable to change for better, to perform good deeds, to live spiritual life. And every Christian person, if he is honest with himself and is really able to evaluate his soul, could see that he is suffering from that spiritual disease. For example, we make a resolution to pray morning and evening prayers every day, to read the Scripture. We say that from this Monday I will start to pray and to read the Bible. Monday comes and we feel bad, have a headache in the morning, then we are busy during the day. On Monday night we feel tired. In addition, different problems and daily cares distract us from our plan. Tuesday comes and again we fail to do what we decided. It is called spiritual paralysis. We cannot mobilize ourselves for spiritual life. Or we decided to avoid certain sins. For instance, we made a resolution to stop judging other people. But we go somewhere, meet someone and begin talking, and we mention someone in our conversation and begin to discuss that person’s mistakes, shortcomings and wrongs. These are just a couple of examples, but they are so familiar. We are suffering from a paralysis of souls.”
“What does the Holy Gospel teach us about that? First of all, it shows us the main reason for our spiritual paralysis. Before healing the paralyzed man, our Lord Jesus Christ forgave him his sins (Mt. 9, 2). Our sins cause us to be spiritually paralyzed. And the Church offers us an effective remedy for our sins, the repentance. Unfortunately, our paralyzed spiritual state often makes us unable to repent. But if we find strength to confess our sins, we may begin to heal. But since these efforts are usually very weak, we need something else. We need faith. In today’s Gospel the Lord performs the miracle after seeing the faith of the people who brought to him a paralytic (Mt. 9, 2). Note that Jesus did not see the faith of the paralytic but of his friends.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we ourselves may not have a sufficient faith to receive healing from our spiritual paralysis, but the faith of our brethren in Christ may help us. Such a faith is the faith of the Holy Church. Each of us may not have enough faith in his or her heart, but the Church, the community of the believers, does possess such faith. We belong to the Church of the Holy Apostles, Martyrs, Venerable ascetics and other holy righteous people. We are united with them, and they constantly pray for us before God’s heavenly throne. And the Lord looking at our hearts and seeing our desire to be healed, then looking at the faith of our brethren, at the faith of His Holy Church, will forgive our sins and will eventually grant us healing from our spiritual infirmity. And He will make us who are spiritually paralyzed able to walk spiritually.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us ask our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that seeing the faith of the Holy Church He may forgive our sins and may say to us, “Arise and walk!”, so we may walk following His steps.”

The choir nicely performed the hymns, especially during the preparation for Holy Communion.

Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

 

On July 12, on the feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul, St. George Church held a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in which he pointed out that we should ask ourselves the question asked by our Lord Jesus Christ to His Disciples: “Who do you say that I am? (Mt. 16, 15). Holy Apostle Peter answered that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). His answer was correct and was based on his firm faith. And we should ask ourselves whom do we consider our Lord Jesus to be. Different non-Christian religions give different answers, but to a true Christian Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. In the same manner we should question ourselves what does the Church is for us. In today’s Gospel lesson the Lord proclaimed that He will build His Church on Peter the Rock. But to many people the Church seems to be just an opportunity to receive certain services such as christening for a child, a marriage ceremony for the newlyweds or a funeral for the deceased. And the very membership in the Church is acquired very easily – through Baptism. But for a true Christian believer the Church is the Body of Christ, a community of salvation. The Church has an authority to bind and lose given by the Lord, thus our salvation depends on our good standing in the Church. Therefore, we need to cherish our faith and to stay in the Holy Church of the Apostles, the Church of Peter and Paul who by their own lives showed their firm faith and that on such faith the Church was built.

Our cantor Olga Roussanow nicely performed hymns in honor of the Holy Apostles.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed a rite of glorification before the icon stand in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.

5th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 9, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, 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 the following homily in English:

“Today’s Gospel does not give us a lesson of what we should do, but rather shows us what we should avoid, what we should not do. It shows us a shocking reality of the existence of the power of evil. But it also teaches us that we need to avoid not only the powers of the evil one, but an attitude of desiring to be away from God, to be spiritually on our own.”
“Today’s Gospel draws a terrible picture for us: two demon-possessed men came out from the tombs, “exceedingly fierce, so that no man might pass by that way” (Mt. 8, 28). Christ permitted the demons to enter into a huge herd of swine. The possessed ones were healed, but the whole herd of swine jumped from the cliff into the lake. So, we can only wonder and be impressed by a terrible force of evil which could do so.”
“And speaking of the evil forces, we may see that those possessed men stayed out of society, living in the tombs. And today the Church commemorates Venerable Father David of Thessalonica who also did not live in the society. He lived under the tree and often stayed on the tree branches. I was there in Thessalonica and I saw where this Father lived and I had an opportunity to see and to venerate his relics. So, sometimes you can see that the demon-possessed people live in a strange place, but sometimes we see that also holy people may live in a strange place. These are the extreme ways of life. And most of us don’t like to be in such extremes, but rather to keep somewhere in the middle. It is possible but we need to remember that anywhere we stand we need to be with God. If we desire to be independent from Him, we make a terrible mistake. Such a mistake was made by the people of that town described in today’s Gospel.”
“Here is the ending of the Gospel: “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus” (Mt. 8, 34). And now you expect to find something encouraging: the whole town has united in order to meet the Lord. You want to think that it was faith that united them, that they, as once did the Samaritans, would ask the Lord to remain with them, would thank Him for His healing, for the salvation of two of their townspeople, and also for freeing them from the danger present when passing that way. And what happened? Yes, they asked the Lord, but not to stay with them, but rather to “depart out of their region!” (Mt. 8, 34).”
“Here is the most discouraging part in this Gospel reading. First the demons were in two possessed men. Later, we saw them in an entire herd of swine. And then, a whole town possessed. With what? Not directly with the evil spirits, but with the passion for profit. According to Jewish law, raising pigs was unlawful, sinful. But it made money, and huge amounts of money. And here an entire herd perished. And the people seemed to be saying to the Lord: “You have only set foot on our land and have caused us such a terrible loss. What will happen next if you stay here any longer? You will ruin us completely! We see, we understand your greatness: even the devils are obedient to you! But what does that do for us? What do the two healed men matter to us? We don’t need your miracles. We need the profit, we need the money. You are not for us. Go away, go away.””
“Today’s Gospel lesson teaches us that we cannot be spiritually on our own. If we are with God, He will take a good care of us in our life. But if we ask God to depart from our life, He will obey. But then we will become an easy prey of the evil forces. God is Almighty but He never forces us to be with Him. He won’t save us without our cooperation with Him, without our desire for Him to be in our lives, to bless us and to abide with us. Thus if we ask Him to go, He will eventually leave. But we won’t be able to be spiritually independent. If God leaves, the devil comes.”
“Recently we have heard of fierce storms in our old country. Some priests blame sinful way of life of today’s people. Although God does not act in such a simplistic manner, He does allow evil to act if we live without God. If some sinful way of life, some passion takes over our soul, changes our lifestyle, we may think that we are better off without God. However, it is a terrible delusion.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us examine our soul. Doesn’t the same thing happen to us? Some kind of passion takes possession of us, but Christ becomes an obstacle. And in our soul, we whisper the same terrible words: “Go away from us.” May the Lord keep us from this! May our words directed to Him always be: “Come to us and never leave us,” “Come and dwell within us and cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls, o Good one!””

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to convey the ideas of his English homily.

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

 

Patronal Feast of St. John the Baptist in Little Falls, NJ

 

On Friday, July 7, the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Rector of St. George Church Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended the patronal feast celebration at St. John the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NJ. Divine Liturgy in that temple was led by His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. His Grace was co-served by our Rector, as well as a multitude of clergy from the neighboring area:

- Archpriest Emil Minkovich (Rector of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Elizabeth, NJ)
- Archpriest John Kassatkin (Rector of Elevation of the Holy Cross Church in Hackettstown, NJ)

- Archpriest George Konyev (Rector of Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ)
- Abbot Nicodemus Balyasnikov (Cleric of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City)
- Priest Aleksey Paranyuk (Dean of the Eastern States and Parish Rector)
- Priest Stephen Kaznica (Rector of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Passaic, NJ)
- Hieromonk Stephen (Bushman)
- Protodeacon Daniel Sudol (Cleric of Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ)
- Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (Cleric of Holy Dormition Convent “Novo-Diveevo” in Nanuet, NY)
- Deacon Alexey Golubov (Cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral)
- Deacon Andrew Massey (Cleric of Elevation of the Holy Cross Church)
- Deacon Nicholas DeGraaff (Cleric of Three Saints Church)

During the Divine Liturgy, prayers were offered for the clergy and parishioners of the parish that have since reposed. Special petitions for peace in the Ukrainian land were also intoned at the Augmented Litany. 

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, His Grace congratulated Fr. Aleksey and the parishioners on the occasion of their patronal feast. In turn, Fr. Aleksey thanked the hierarch for his archpastoral visit and shared prayer. The protodeacons then intoned the Polychronion for the clergy and parishioners of the parish. Through the presentation of Father Aleksey, Bishop John awarded a number of parishioners with archpastoral letters of commendation (gramotas).

After the service, a luncheon was served in the parish hall under the guidance of Matushka Natalia Paranyuk. 

Celebration of Bishop John’s Name Day

 

On Sunday, July 2 the Church commemorated St. John (Maximovitch), Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco. This is the name day of His Grace, Bishop John, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. On this occasion our he led the Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City. For that reason we cancelled our Sunday services at St. George Church and our Rector, as well as some parishioners attended the Liturgy at the cathedral.

His Grace was co-served by the Rector of St. George Church, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and clerics of the cathedral. Among our parishioners attending the Liturgy were our Warden, Olga Roussanow and our altar server Andrew Malyshew with his family.

After the reading of the Gospel. Bishop John preached a homily on the topic of the appointed Gospel reading for the day. Following the Eucharistic Canon His Grace ordained Subdeacon Yulian Ryabtsev to the holy Diaconate.

Before the dismissal of the Liturgy, Bishop John served a short prayer service before an icon containing a piece of the relics of St. John. 

At the conclusion of the service, Archpriest Alexander Golubov congratulated His Grace on the occasion of his name day. In turn, Bishop John thanked Fr. Alexander, the clergy and faithful for their prayers on this feast. The Bishop then also congratulated Deacon John Peters and altar server John Godin on the occasion of their name day as well. 

3rd Sunday after Pentecost

On June 25, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily in English:

“Today’s Gospel lesson is taken from the famous and important Sermon on the Mountain preached by our Lord Jesus Christ in the very beginning of His ministry. And today’s reading gives us three points to think about.”
“First, the Lord says, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Mt. 6, 22-23).  Here Jesus is not talking about our physical eyes but about our mind which is the commander of our personal life. It is our spiritual sight, the way we see things around us. If we see things to be good or proper, then all our body and soul, all our life will be good and proper. But if we see only negative things and dislike everything around us, then we live in darkness. In the same way, if our mind is preoccupied with sinful matters, we live in sin, in a great darkness. Therefore, we need to watch our mind and keep it pure and sinless.”
“The second important point our Lord makes is that we cannot serve two masters (Mt. 6, 24). Even in practical and literal sense it is impossible to be a servant of two lords, especially if those lords oppose each other. Jesus says that we cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon in Hebrew meant wealth and possessions. For many people mammon was an idol to whom they dedicated their lives. And nowadays it is the same. Many people serve the idol of wealth. But if they do, they cannot claim to be also the servants of God. At the same time a true servant of God can still be a wealthy man. However, his wealth is not his goal of life, is not his idol, but just an instrument he could acquire. He lives not for his wealth but uses his wealth to live and please God. But if a rich man lives in order to keep and gain more possessions, he is driven away from God and serves mammon.”
“These reflections lead us to the third point the Lord makes for us in today’s Gospel lesson. He teaches us not to worry about our life, not to be concerned about what we will eat, drink or wear. His speech about this is very beautiful and poetic. He says, “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?” (Mt. 6, 26). “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. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Mt. 6, 28-30). Jesus teaches us to trust God who created us and who will provide for us. It does not mean that we have to stop working. Even the birds constantly work. But we have to stop worrying and concentrate on our spiritual life.”
“The Lord teaches us about the priorities we have to set in our life. First of all, we need to seek what is long-lasting, eternal and thus really important. We need to serve God. Then we may have such things as material possessions, food, clothes. These are the means of our life, but not the goal of life. Such things are temporary and perishable. If we choose to serve them, we make a bad deal. We unite ourselves with what is corruptible, we become the partakers of corruption. Remember the Gospel story of a rich man whom God called fool?  He relied on his possessions instead of growing rich before God; he died and his possessions did not follow him into life beyond the grave. However, if we treat material things such as food, cloth, money as only means, not goals, we may grow spiritually rich before God.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us keep in mind the priorities. Let us decide what is really important for us and what is less important. We eat and drink in order to live, but not live in order to eat and drink. We clothe ourselves in order to live, but we cannot live for being clothed. Different material things of this life are important but they are not the goal of our life. The Lord does not say to renounce them. He Himself ate, drank and wore clothes, so did His Disciples. But The Lord says not to worry because these things, as He says, “shall be added” to us. But He certainly teaches us to seek what is really important, reliable and long-lasting – the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt. 6, 33). Therefore, let us seek the eternal Kingdom of God in our earthly lives, so we could enter it some day and become the partakers of what is incorruptible  and everlasting.”

The choir nicely performed the proper hymns.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian stressing main thoughts of his English homily.

Following the service our celebration continued at the coffee hour.