24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 22, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Luke again shows us the divine power of our Lord Jesus Christ. He heals a sick woman and raises a little girl from the dead. Again we see how the Lord was bringing healing and life to the world full of illness and death. So, today we will try to look at the death of the young people, to reflect upon it in some spiritual sense”.
“We all know that an elderly person will die for sure, but a young person may die also. Death is capable of taking a young and healthy girl who could have all life ahead of her in the same way as it may take an aged gray-headed man who has a long life behind him. The children’s mortality is not so high any more in the rich countries as it used to be, but it is still a problem for the poor nations. Children our days still die because of diseases, poverty and starvation. Young people die also because of drugs, crimes and fatal accidents. Any of such deaths looks very cruel, merciless and unreasonable. But what is more troubling is spiritual death of the young generation”.
“In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus came to the house of Jairus whose daughter just died, took the little girl by the hand and called saying, “Little girl, arise”. In the same way our Lord is willing to give a hand to the modern young girls and boys and to tell them to arise from spiritual sleep or death. Many of them are in that state because of the world surrounding them. Today’s children and young people are often born to the parents who themselves do not practice spiritual life, live in sin and away from the life-giving source of divine grace which is the holy Church. Those young people are raised in a spirit of this world. But even if they are growing up in a good religious environment, the world is attacking them all the time. Those attacks come from television, radio, magazines, friends, even from school. In our days we also have computers, the internet. How can you escape all these attacks of the evil influence? You can’t take your children away and live in a wilderness. But even there you would not be immune. A holy elder who lived in the desert once had to visit a city and to take a young monk along with him. Being in the city they encountered a harlot who approached them and said to the elder, “You have been working on this young man for many years to teach him a holy life, but now I can destroy all your work in a couple of minutes!” The elder responded that he believes her because it is much easier to roll down from the hill than to climb it”.
“A strange thing is happening: instead of avoiding evil things we are being drown to them due to their attractiveness. St. Paul described that saying, “What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Rom. 7,15). If this is a problem for an adult, how much more difficult it is for children who are tender, inexperienced and spiritually weak? The problem exists because of the sinful state of the humanity. Unfortunately, in our days the very word ‘sin’ is not taken seriously. Meanwhile the concept of sin is very important in any religion. And basic rules of religious morality may be found in any secular ethics. Here we should have a common ground even with those who do not believe in God, but still wish good to our society and to the young generation. But instead of fulfilling the task of proper upbringing of children this society does the opposite. The radio, television, books and internet instead of teaching the youngsters to adhere to the moral norms, teaches how to violate them”.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the young people by their hands and to say, “Arise”. But He wishes to act through us. We should try to become those hands of Jesus and take those youngsters and bring them to spiritual life. We may argue and say that we often have no control over them and over the whole situation in the world. That’s true. But remember that there is nothing impossible with God. Let us try what we can and able to do, especially as the Church. Sometimes we will succeed and it will appear that the young person is not dead, but asleep. If so, he or she can be risen back to life.”

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 nicely performed hymns in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector reminded the parishioners of the beginning of the Nativity Fast which starts next week. This year its beginning falls right after the Thanksgiving Day. Fr. Igor also invited everybody to our parish Thanksgiving luncheon after the service.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial Litia requested by Lali Sheehan commemorating her deceased family members as well as the newly-departed Church hierarchs such as Serbian Patriarch Irenaeus, Russian Metropolitan Theophanus, Greek Metropolitan John and Georgian Bishop Lazarus who have fallen asleep last week.

After finishing all the services, the Rector and parishioners had a sumptuous luncheon enjoying delicious meals, including the Thanksgiving turkey.

His Grace, Bishop Matthew celebrates his 5th Anniversary of Episcopal Ordination

On November 15 His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA marks his 5th Anniversary of the Episcopal ordination.
We express our heartfelt wishes of God’s assistance in our Archpastor’s further ministry for the Holy Church.
We fervently pray that the Lord Jesus, our Heavenly High Priest, may bless our Bishop with good health, great achievements in serving at the altar and preaching of the Holy Gospel, as well as with all abundant graces and grant him many years!

23rd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 15, on the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Church opened its doors after the three-week renovations. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our renovated temple.

After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! The Gospel reading of today shows us again how great was the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, this was the power of the Almighty God. Jesus is the Son of God, He is all-powerful God Himself. He healed the sick, cleaned the lepers and raised the dead. Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Luke tells us that He also drove away the evil spirits”.
“God is the only one who has the power over the creatures of the invisible world, over the angels and demons. He created them and He may control them. In today’s Gospel story we hear that the unclean spirits who possessed the poor man in the country of Gadarene feared the Lord Jesus and acknowledged His power. When the possessed man saw Jesus, he cried out and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” (Lk. 8, 28). In these words the demons stated that they despise God, but fear Him and that they recognize Jesus to be the Son of the Most High. Further they beg Him not to torment them before such time comes. Jesus casts them out and permits them to enter the herd of swine. Thus the power of evil is not unlimited. God is the only one who has unlimited power, not the devil. In fact, the devil must obey God when God demands it”.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ was a great Conqueror of all evil. He fought any kind of evil things in the life of man: illness, disease, and death. He also fought directly the evil spirits, as it was described in today’s story. Some modern thinkers or scientists may say that the case shown in that story is about mental disease and not about a demonic possession. Our Christian interpretation is just the opposite. We say that every evil thing happening to a man is some kind of demonic possession. Every illness or disease, every pain or suffering, and finally, every death is a result of human condition called sinfulness. And every sin is a slavery to the evil forces. If we commit sins we turn away from God and from the good, we turn to the evil and please the devil. He becomes happy because of that and feels important. A similar thing happens when we become sick or injured. The evil force receives its little victory, maybe for some time. Thus every bad thing in the world is some kind of the devil’s triumph. But such triumph may never last long”.
“Since God is almighty and all-powerful, He has the last word to say. Our Lord Jesus Christ manifested that power of God by fighting the evil things in human life, by crushing the enemies of the human race and by destroying the power of the devil. But He also wishes that we may cooperate with His power and become His co-workers. The man freed from demonic possession wished to do so by following Jesus. He begged Jesus that he may stay with Him. But the Lord gave him another task. He told him: “Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you.” (Lk. 8, 39). Jesus elects this person to become the preacher of the Gospel. And we read that the man “went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.” (Lk. 8, 39)  Thus the man freed from the demons became the first apostle, first successor of Christ for this pagan city, for his countrymen who had no faith in true God”.

“We should also become co-workers of our Lord in doing good things and affirming his almighty power over evil. We may do so by living a Christian life, by trying to please God and by referring to God in all our needs and tribulations. If evil attempts to overcome us by sickness, pain, passion, imperfection, or fear of death, let us turn to the almighty Lord to help us and to destroy the evil forces. Nowadays evil is attacking us by the disease and we are troubled by that so-called pandemic. Many people get sick and some are dying. But let us remember that God has the last word. No matter how bad we feel, let us remember that God is the only one who can really help. No vaccine or medicine can be one hundred percent effective. And no good deed can be one hundred percent effective if we face evil things in our lives. God is the only one who can destroy the evil. He is the only one who may do so. He is the only one who may destroy our enemies and grant us true happiness”.

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 prayerfully performed Psalm 33 and a hymn in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted the faithful in the renovated church and made some announcements.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

The Gospel lesson: Luke 16, 19-31

Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel reading is teaching us about death and life after death. The parable about the rich man and Lazarus is about life beyond the grave. We heard what happened to the rich man who lived a good and happy life, but ended up in a place of torment after death. And we heard what happened to a poor beggar named Lazarus who, when he died, was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.
As every Gospel lesson, this one contains a lot of thoughts and a lot of important spiritual ideas. First of all, the name of the beggar in the parable. Usually, our Lord Jesus Christ did not give names to the persons in His parables. But here He says that the beggar’s name was Lazarus. This is not famous Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead or any other known man. We assume that the person is made up. But the Lord wants us to remember his name. The name Lazarus was popular among the Jews. It means “God the Helper”. A poor but just man, a humble and faithful person whom Lazarus was could hope that when he dies God will help him. “The Lord is my Shepherd” – we hear in the Psalm (Ps. 22, 1) read by the Western Churches at funerals. We, on the other hand read Psalm 90 at our memorial services which starts with the words “He who lives in  the help of the Most High” (Ps. 90, 1). In any time, in any place and in any circumstances God helps and leads His people.
Another important aspect of today’s parable is that everyone will be judged after death and receive his proper reward. The rich man received torments in hell while Lazarus received eternal happiness on Abraham’s bosom. Here we should note that neither poverty nor riches, in themselves, may gain us salvation or condemnation after death. The rich man goes to hell not because of his wealth, but because of his hardness of heart. His wealth and luxury became only his aids to be indifferent to Lazarus and to his needs, however those riches could become the aids to help Lazarus. He could use his wealth to help Lazarus. But he did not. Since help from men never really came to poor Lazarus in his earthly life, his only Helper became all-merciful and loving God. Once again we may see why Jesus calls the poor man by this name, “God the Helper”. Helped by God after death Lazarus finds himself on Abraham’s bosom. But again this happens not because Lazarus was poor, but due to his humble faith and righteous life. His poverty could become a great temptation for Lazarus. He could become angry with people or with God for his position; he could be evil, deceptive and become a criminal. But he did not. Thus not riches or poverty save or condemn us, but our deeds, our use or misuse of them.
The last aspect we may touch today is that we all should prepare for the hour of our death and secure our salvation. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to the five brothers of him who are still alive. He wishes to warn them that if they will continue to live with a hardness of heart and indifference toward the needs of others, they will also end up in that place of torment. But Abraham refuses. He says that the living have Moses and the Prophets whom they should hear. He goes further saying that if they “do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Lk. 16, 31). This is a harsh sentencing. If we who are living do not hear the Law of God, do not keep His Commandments, do not follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, do not observe the holy traditions of the Church, then we are not going to be persuaded even by a miracle, even if someone will rise from the dead. The fact of a miracle will not convince us to change our life. Only faith is able to inspire us to repent, to turn away from hardness of heart, to do the works of mercy and charity. Only faith and life according to that faith will prepare us for the time of our death. And only faith implemented in the deeds of righteous and humble life will secure our salvation.


Евангельское чтение:  Лк. 16, 19-31

Проповедь настоятеля, протоиерея Игоря Тарасова

Дорогие во Христе братия и сестры! Сегодня чтение из св. Евангелия учит нас о загробной жизни. Притча о богаче и Лазаре рассказывает о том, что случается с человеком после смерти. Мы слышали в ней, что произошло с богатым, который прожил хорошую и счастливую жизнь, но потом оказался в месте мучения. Мы также слышали о нищем по имени Лазарь, которого после смерти ангелы отнесли на лоно Авраамово.
Как и каждое чтение из св. Евангелия, этот отрывок содержит много важных духовных идей и побуждает нас к размышлениям. В первую очередь, важно само имя нищего в данной притче. Обычно Господь наш Иисус Христос не давал имен людям, о которых Он рассказывал притчи. Однако в сегоднешней притче Господь, не называя имени богатого, упоминает, что нищего звали Лазарь. Это не знаменитый Лазарь, которого Господь воскресил из мертвых; и это никакой другой известный в Евангелии человек. Можно заключить, что этот человек был придуман. Но Господь пожелал, чтобы мы запомнили имя этого человека. Имя Лазарь было распространено среди евреев. И означает оно «Бог-Помощник». Бедный, но праведный, смиренный и преданный Богу человек, которым был нищий Лазарь, мог действительно надеятъся в жизни только на Бога. Ибо никто иной, согласно притче, не спешил ему помочь. Только Бог был Помощником Лазарю в жизни, а после смерти Бог опятъ позаботился о нем. Мы иногда можем услышать, как западные христиане во время своих погребальных обрядов читают 22-й Псалом, который начинается словами «Господъ – Пастырь мой» (Пс. 22, 1). У нас он читается в правиле ко св. Причащению (по-славянски это звучит «Господь пасет мя»). Эти слова созвучны с именем Лазаря: Бог – наш Помощник и наш Пастырь как во время жизни, так и в час смерти. Только на Него может быть наша надежда в этот особенный и неизвестный нам момент. В нашей Восточной Православной Церкви мы во время заупокойных богослужений молимся 90-м Псалмом, который также начинается похожими словами: «Живый в помощи Вышняго в крове Бога небеснаго водворится» (Пс. 90, 1). В любое время, в любом месте и в любых обстоятельствах Господь Бог помогает Своим людям и их ведет.
Другой важный аспект сегоднешней притчи состоит в том, что каждый человек после смерти предстанет перед Божиим судом и получит справедливое воздаяние по своим заслугам. Богач после смерти получил адские муки, тогда как Лазарь получил вечное блаженство на лоне Авраама. Здесь нам нужно заметить, что ни богатство ни бедность сами по себе не обеспечивают нам спасение или осуждение после смерти. Богач оказался в аду не из-за своего богатства, но из-за своего бессердечия. Богатство и роскошь только помогали ему быть равнодушным к Лазарю и его нужде, хотя то же богатство могло стать для него средством помощи Лазарю. Он ведь мог и был в силах помочь бедному нищему, лежащему у его ворот. Однако он не сделал этого. И потому, что помощь со стороны людей никогда не приходила к Лазарю в его земной жизни, его единственным Помощником стал милосердный и человеколюбивый Бог. Таким образом, мы ще раз можем убедиться почему Христос называет этого несчастного нищего именем Лазарь, «Бог-Помощник». Получив Божию помощь после окончания своих земных страданий, Лазарь оказался на лоне Авраама. И опять-таки, это произошло не потому, что Лазарь был беден, но по причине его веры, смирения и праведной жизни. Ведь нищета могла стать для Лазаря большим соблазном. Из-за своего бедственного положения он мог озлобиться на весь мір, на людей, даже на Бога. Он мог стать злым, коварным и безжалостным человеком, мог стать вором и разбойником. Но он таким не стал. Напротив, вся его жизнь была подвигом смирения, терпения и упования на Бога.
Поэтому, дорогие во Христе братия и сестры, ни богатство ни бедность сами по себе не спасают и не осуждают нас, но только наши дела. Наше благополучное или же бедственное положение не обеспечивает нам спасение. Наше вечное блаженство после смерти будет зависеть от того, правильно ли мы использовали наше положение в этой жизни или же мы им злоупотребляли во вред другим и своей душе.
Последним, о чем мы можем сегодня поговорить в связи с притчей о богаче и Лазаре, является то, что мы все должны готовиться к смерти и постараться заслужить для себя вечное спасение. Богач попросил Авраама послать Лазаря к своим пяти братьям, которые были еще живы. Он хотел предостеречь их о том, что если они продолжат жить с бессердечием и равнодушием к нуждам других, то они тоже после смерти окажутся в месте мучения. Но Авраам отказался исполнить просьбу богача. Он сказал, что у живых есть Моисей и пророки, которых они должны слушать (Лк. 16, 29). И еще он сказал, что если они «Моисея и пророков не слушают, то, если бы кто и из мертвых воскрес, не поверят» (Лк. 16, 31). Это суровый приговор. Если мы, живущие на земле, не будем слушаться Закона Божия, не будем исполнять Божии Заповеди, не будем следовать учению Господа нашего Иисуса Христа, не будем хранить и соблюдать святые обычаи и обряды Церкви, то даже чудо не в силах будет убедить нас изменить свою жизнь. Даже если кто-нибудь воскреснет из мертвых, даже если кто-то придет с того света, чтобы рассказать нам о нашей страшной участи в случае неправедной жизни, мы не будем в состоянии ему поверить.
Поэтому, дорогие братия и сестры, только вера может вдохновить нас и подвигнуть на покаяние, на отречение от бессердечия, на совершение дел милосердия и любви. Только вера и жизнь по вере способны подготовить нас к часу нашей смерти. Такая вера в Бога, в помощь Божию, была у Лазаря. И эта вера, воплощенная в его жизни, в его смирении и долготерпении, привела его на лоно Авраамово, в вечную обитель блаженства. Поэтому только наша вера воплощенная в праведной жизни, в делах смирения и долготерпения приведет нас к блаженной вечности и обеспечит нам вечное спасение.

 

21st Sunday after Pentecost

The Gospel lesson:  Luke 8, 5-15.

 Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel reading tells us a very famous parable of the sower who went out to sow his seed. We all understand that the sower is a preacher of the Word of God, a missionary who is spreading the good news of the Christian faith. The sower should also be understood as our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He came to sow the seed of His teaching and His salutary faith. The parable is telling us about different kinds of soil where the seed falls. Those kinds of soil are different kinds of people’s souls receiving the preaching of the Word of God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ explained the parable Himself, and we heard that interpretation. We have to admit that there is nothing we can add to His interpretation of His own parable. All the attempts to add or complete our Lord’s interpretation would be just paraphrasing what He Himself said. This is why today we should reflect about possible examples of the souls receiving the Word of God, examples of the soil taking in the seed from the divine Sower.
The seed on the wayside can be compared to the people who occasionally hear the preaching of the Gospel, are generally familiar with Christian faith. But somehow that word does not get to their souls. Jesus says that the devil takes away the word out of their hearts. There are many people in such a position in today’s world. We may see them even coming to the church to baptize the kids or to get married. They listen to you, but they do not really get the message.
The seed on the rock are the people who had no chance to know about true religion before, but one day they found it. They convert, become very interested in their faith. Jesus says that they receive the word with joy. Yes, they are happy and excited and they often become more zealous and pious than those who were born and raised in that faith. But the danger is that they have no root, as Jesus points it out. Not all of them will stay in the faith. Any temptation, any problem, any misunderstanding may turn them away from their acquired religion.
The seed fallen among the thorns are many regular people who may know their faith, who often consider themselves practicing believers and members of the Church. However, they are too much preoccupied with their earthly lives. They care too much about earthly achievements, material possessions, carriers, jobs, pleasures of life. This always leads to the neglect of what is spiritual and everlasting. Riches and pleasures, but sometimes just everyday cares and problems are choking the seeds of faith in their hearts just as the thorns choke the seeds of some plant. These people never have time for God, for a prayer or for the attendance of the church. Or if they do “squeeze” God into their busy schedule, they are not able to receive His grace or appreciate the richness of His teaching. Their faith becomes formal and official, but not deep and real. So they “bring no fruit to maturity”, as Jesus says.
Finally, our Lord says that the “good ground” are those who “keep the word and bear fruit with patience”. The key words here are to keep the word and to be patient. Keeping means preserving true faith, holy rites and customs, salutary traditions of the Church. It means not changing or altering them. And being patient means to endure in that religious life, to persevere in the works of faith and piety. Only people who do that may truly receive the Word of God, keep it and grow the seeds of divine teaching and then bear abundant fruits of faith, virtue and holiness.

   
Евангельское чтение: Лк. 8, 5-15.

Проповедь настоятеля, протоиерея Игоря Тарасова

Дорогие во Христе братия и сестры! Сегодняшнее чтение св. Евангелия рассказывает нам очень известную притчу о сеятеле, который вышел сеять свое зерно. Все мы понимаем, что сеятель – это проповедник Слова Божия, миссионер несущий благую весть веры Христовой. Под сеятелем также можно понимать и Самого Господа нашего Иисуса Христа. Он пришел, чтобы сеять семя Своего учения и спасительной веры. Притча также говорит нам о различного вида почве, на которую семя упало. Эти разные виды почвы следует понимать как различные человеческие души, которые принимают в себя семена Слова Божия.
Господь наш Иисус Христос Сам разъяснил эту притчу. Мы имели возможность услышать это толкование. Следует признать, что мы ничего другого к нему прибавить не сумеем. Все наши попытки что-нибудь добавить к толкованию Самого Христа или чем-либо его дополнить будут сводиться к пересказу того, что Сам Спаситель уже сказал. Поэтому сегодня нам лучше подумать о возможных примерах человеческих душ, которые принимают в себя Слово Божие, о примерах различного вида земли, на которую падают семена посеянные нашим Господом.
Семя упавшее при дороге можно сравнить с людьми, которые иногда слышат евангельскую проповедь и в основном знакомы с христианской верой. Но почему-то Слово Божие не проникает в их души. Господь говорит, что «приходит диавол и уносит слово из сердца их» (Лк. 8, 12). Многие люди в современном мире находятся в таком состоянии. Их можно увидеть даже приходящими в храм, но только для того, чтобы крестить ребенка или обвенчаться. Тогда они выслушают молитвы, Слово Божие, послушают и проповедь или наставления священника, но все это до них по-настоящему не доходит. Тут и будничные заботы топчут семя духовное, и неприятности, словно птицы, клюют это семя, отбирают у души. Надолго в сердце оно не остается.
Семя упавшее на камень – это люди, которые раньше не имели возможности познать истинную веру, но в один прекрасный день они нашли ее. Такие люди обращаются ко Христу, живо интересуются вопросами веры, изучают ее. Они бывают очень увлечены своей духовной находкой, этим сокровищем истинной веры Христовой. Господь в сегоднешнем Евангелии говорит, что «они, когда услышат слово, с радостью принимают» (Лк. 8, 13). Да, такие люди рады, счастливы и настолько увлечены своей обретенной верой, что часто становатся в ней ревностней тех, кто в этой вере родился. Они часто бывают благочестивее тех, кто был в вере Христовой воспитан. Но опасность такого душевного состояния в том, что эти люди, как говорит Сам Христос, «не имеют корня» (Лк. 8, 13). Такие люди еще не укрепилисъ духовно, не получили достаточного опыта в вере, в церковной жизни. И действительно, не все из тех, кто обращается в Православие, до конца дней остаются в Церкви. Любое искушение, любая проблема грозят оттолкнуть их от веры. Любое недоразумение, ссора со священником или с кем-то еще в приходе могут заставить их разочароваться в новой для них религии. И тогда они могут легко отпасть и не выдержать в истиннй вере.
Семя упавшее между тернием – это многие обычные люди знающие истинную веру, часто считающие себя верующими, а может даже и воцерковленными. Однако они слишком озабочены своей земной жизнью. Они слишком заняты достижением земных успехов, преобретением материальных ценностей, продвижением по службе, чрезмерно увлечены своей работой или получением от жизни удовольствий. А такое отношение к земной жизни неминуемо ведет к небрежению о жизни вечной. Эти люди тогда забывают о духовном, а помнят в основном о материальном. Богатства и удовольствия, а порой просто ежедневные заботы и проблемы заглушают семена веры в их сердце подобно тому, как терние заглушает семена какого-нибудь растения. Такие люди почти никогда не находят времени для Бога, для молитвы или для посещения храма. Если же им все-таки удается включить Бога в свой плотный график, то им тяжело стяжать Его благодать или оценить богатство Его учения. На это им не хватает времени и сосредоточенности. Их вера становится формальной и официальной, но не глубокой и искренней. Таким образом, по словам Христовым, они «не приносят плода» (Лк. 8, 14).
И наконец, наш Господь говорит, что «упавшее на добрую землю, это те, которые, услышав слово, хранят его в добром и чистом сердце и приносят плод в терпении» (Лк. 8, 15). Ключевыми словами здесь являются «хранить» и «терпение». «Хранить» значит сохранять истинную веру, священные обряды и обычаи Православной Церкви, ее спасительные установления и традиции. Это значит, что их нельзя изменять, прибавлять что-то или отнимать. А «терпение», то есть быть терпеливым, означает выстоять в вере до конца, устойчиво вести духовную жизнь, не поддаваться на соблазны и искушения. Это значит прожить жизнь в делах веры и благочестия. Только те, кому такое удается, по-настоящему принимают в свое сердце Слово Божие посеянное нашим Спасителем Иисусом Христом. Такими были святые апостолы, мученики и иные подвижники благочестия. Но, дорогие братия и сестры, такие люди встречаются в любое время. В любое время бывают святые и грешные. Есть они и сейчас. И в наше время, как видим, есть разные виды почвы, куда семя Слова Божиего падает. И только те, кому удается стать «доброй землей» для принятия слова, хранят и растят семя Божественного учения Христова и приносят обильные плоды веры, благочестия и святости. Эти плоды приведут их к вечной жизни. Аминь.

Renovations in our Temple

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. George’s!

As you know, we began renovations in our parish temple. We are replacing the floor in the altar and pulpit area.
Many parishioners had already made their generous donations to cover the costs of the project. But we still need your help.
Previously we planned to finish renovations by Sunday, November 8 and to resume our services on that day. However, our workers need some more time to complete the project.
Thus, we announce that there will be no service on this coming Sunday, November 8.
We hope to invite you back to our church on Sunday, November 15.

20th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council

 

On October 25, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, we had a beautiful celebration in our Parish. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 20th Sunday after Pentecost and we commemorate the Holy Fathers of the 7th, last Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. And today’s Gospel lesson tells us about rising of the son of the widow of Nain. This story can be found only in the Gospel of St. Luke. It shows that our Lord Jesus Christ had a great compassion towards people. Here we have a woman who first lost her husband and now was burying her only son. In the society of those days such a woman was predestined to live a poor and miserable life. Her husband was taking care of her. When he died, her son remained her only provider. Now she lost him. This is why Jesus seeing the funeral procession and being probably told about the situation, felt for that woman so much, as every kind man would feel. But Jesus goes further than that. He comes forth and says to the widow: “Do not weep”. And He touches the coffin and says to the dead young man: “Young man, I say to you, arise” (Lk. 7, 14). He performs the miracle and the young man comes back to life. In that we see the difference between Jesus and any kind man. Jesus is not just a kind man, He is the Son of God, He is the Lord”.
“As the Lord Jesus Christ performed great and astonishing miracles. One of them is described in today’s Gospel. Raising the dead young man was done by Jesus to show His power over life and death. Such a power could be possessed only by the Lord of the universe, only by God who created life and who is giving it to His creatures. We also remember that Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus. All these events had to demonstrate the power of God given to Jesus. Finally, Jesus was Himself risen from the dead. But we should note that all three raisings of the people described in the Gospels were acts of resuscitation which is different from resurrection. They were brought back to life, but would eventually die again. But their new life manifests Christ’s divinity, and gives assurance of His Resurrection and ours, a transformation to glory. Those miraculous acts also glorify God as the Giver of life and His Son, Jesus who would be specially glorified in His Resurrection”.
“This miracle teaches us that our Lord is the Master of our life and our death. He is the source of our existence. He created us and bestowed His gift of life on every one of us. However, this gift does not seem to be enduring forever. More than that, it seems to be vulnerable and perishable. Many unpleasant things threaten that gift: illnesses, accidents, crimes, wars, stresses and so on. They all may endanger our life and cause its termination. We try to preserve that precious gift, but we often fail. Realizing such a condition we should not despair. God gave us another precious gift – a gift of faith. It is supposed to make us strong and wise during the course of our earthly life. It has to teach us to make right choices and to believe that earthly life is not the only life we possess. We believe that eternal life of the soul awaits us after death. We also believe that eternal life of the risen body awaits us after the resurrection of the dead”.
“Commemorating the Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council we have to recall that those Councils defined what is our Christian faith, what this gift of faith is about. And it is important to have a true and correct understanding of what we believe in. Today’s second Epistle lesson says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebr. 13, 8). Thus we cannot change that faith, and if someone alters that gift of faith or alters our morals, he deviates from the teaching of the Fathers, teaching of the Ecumenical Councils and from the teaching of Christ who is always the same. We are now disturbed by what happened last week: the bishop of Rome stated that homosexuals should have a right to marriage unions supported by the states. In this way the head of the Roman Church deviated from the teaching of the Church; he attempts to alter the teaching of Christ. It is unheard that a Catholic could say so, but it happened. And we, Orthodox, should firmly reject such ideas and not deviate from our holy faith and our pious morals. Things in the world do change and we may adapt to those changes but we cannot change the way we believe, the way we worship and we also cannot alter our moral values. Because, as we mentioned,“Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever””.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Our faith tells us also that earthly death came to existence due to the sin of our ancestors. Adam and Eve did not have to die. God explicitly said to them when they will die: if they would eat the forbidden fruit. After eating that fruit Adam died spiritually and became subjected to physical death of the fallen and corrupted body. Only our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man could trample death by His Resurrection. He destroyed that enemy of humanity. No one else could do it, but God. No one else could give the son of the widow back to his mother. And no one else after death can give our soul to our body again. Although death still exists and takes its toll from the sinful mankind, we all live and die with the great hope for the eternal life with God and for our own resurrection with Jesus. One day He will come and say to every one of us: “I say to you, arise.” And we will. We will begin everlasting life, so let us prepare for it by good works of faith, hope and love”.

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 nicely performed Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the main ideas of his English homily. He also made an announcement regarding renovations in the altar area of the temple. The work will begin next week and is supposed to be finished before November 8. Thus we are not going to have the Liturgy next Sunday, November 1 and parishioners should refer to the November schedule of services.

Future Renovations in our Temple

 

Dear parishioners and fiends of St. George’s!

Soon we anticipate to start renovations in our temple. We are planning to do the flooring in the altar part of the church: in the sanctuary and on the pulpit area. The old carpet will be removed and the new wooden floor installed.
This project will cost $ 11,000.
Rector of the parish and the church Warden prepared a letter of appeal to assist us in that project, as well as in the purchase of a new set of Eucharistic vessels. The appeal will be mailed to our friends and benefactors. A copy of it is attached below.
We are asking you to open your hearts for a cheerful giving to support our tiny parish!

19th Sunday after Pentecost. Celebration of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


On October 18, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish also celebrated Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s first reading from the Gospel presents us a very difficult advice our Lord Jesus Christ gives. He says: “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Lk. 6, 35). It seems to us that it is something unnatural, not normal to love bad people, especially your enemies. These words may seem to be weird and even stupid. However, these are the words of the Lord, the words of Jesus. And if we recall the whole life of our Lord here on earth, we may realize that He acted that strange way. Jesus did not hide from His enemies, did not run away from the danger being apprehended and killed. When He was taken by His enemies He said nothing to avoid being crucified. And when He was tortured and crucified He prayed for His enemies and executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23, 34). Therefore, if we think that a commandment to love the enemies is a strange and unnatural, let us remember that Jesus Christ gave us an example of that”.
“Another thing that we should keep in mind is that our enemies are also human beings. And every human being can make mistakes. We make them also, and we may also cause trouble to the other people. But God loves all of us. Today we heard the words that God is “kind to the unthankful and evil” (Lk. 6, 35). Sometimes we wonder why God allows bad things to happen and let bad people to live, sometimes live long lives and even prosper. It is because God is kind. We are all His children, good and bad. “And He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt. 6, 45). We also commit sins, and when we do so, we are not quite good. No, we are evil. But God forgives us when we repent. Being the children of God, we should love each other. God does it to us. He awaits our conversion and repentance if we do something wrong. If we do not repent at all, then God will judge us at the end of times. But not now”.
“Thinking of the enemies, we may recall our today’s celebrated feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. We commemorate our Lady’s miraculous appearance in the church in Constantinople and saving of the imperial city from the attack of the invaders happened in the 8th century. The two holy men, Andrew and Epiphanius saw the Holy Mother of God appearing in the temple and covering the city with Her veil. After that the city was spared and the enemies retreated. This was a remarkable example of the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin for the Christian people. It was also a manifestation of the power of prayer and faith of the pious people. At that time all the inhabitants of Constantinople were fervently praying and asking God and the Holy Virgin to save them and their city”.
“It is interesting that the enemies who besieged the imperial city of Constantinople were our ancestors, Eastern Slavs. Back then they were pagans and did not know Christian faith. But later they embraced Christianity and became also protected by the precious veil of the Blessed Mother. She showed Her love and intercession for our people many times. Therefore it is also remarkable that the Russian Church, as well as all Slavic Churches, preserved celebration of today’s feast, while the Greeks did not, although the event we celebrate happened with them. Our faithful love the Blessed Mother and like to honor Her on many occasions”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us not judge our enemies at this point but let us wait for the Last Judgment of the Lord. Let us not forget that some enemies may later become our friends. It happens in the course of history that some nation is fighting another nation but later they make peace and become friendly. It also happens between the communities. Nowadays even among Orthodox Christians we see some differences and even rivalry. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is now competes with the Russian Church but as we notice, some Greeks attend Russian churches because they prefer traditional piety. Some Orthodox are more liberal and loose, some are more strict and conservative – like the Russian Church. But there are Greeks who attend our churches. And as I heard the Russian monastery on Long Island received a generous donation from the Greek people to build a new temple. Thus it becomes relative who are now rivals or allies, enemies or friends”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us ask God to give us a soft heart to love our enemies in order to be similar to our Lord Jesus Christ who loved His enemies and prayed for them. Let us fervently pray to the Most Holy Mother of God, our Intercessor and Protectress in all troubles and needs, so She may help us and cover us with Her holy veil protecting against all evils”.

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 beautifully performed the hymns in honor of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. He also made an announcement regarding the future renovations in the sanctuary and called the faithful to be generous in their donations for the temple’s beautification.

18th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On October 11, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church headed the Divine Liturgy at our Parish temple. He was co-served by Priest Nenad Flora.

After the reading from the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached the following homily in English:

“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel tells us how our Lord Jesus Christ called His first disciples, holy Apostles Peter, James and John. Another Gospel would tell us that there was also holy Apostle Andrew, the brother of Peter whom the Lord called among the first. There was a similar reading from the Gospel of Matthew on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. But today’s story is a little bit different. It shows us the great difference which lays between God and man”.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ is God although He appeared to the world as the Son of Man. As God He came to save the man. In today’s story He was preaching to the people from the boat belonging to Simon Peter. Then Jesus asked Peter to launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch. Holy Fathers say that this request meant a radical change in the life of St. Peter. But for Simon Peter of that time, time described in the Gospel of today, this seemed to be a strange and futile idea. As a fisherman he knew and was sure that there is no sense of doing so. And he expressed his thoughts to Jesus saying: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (Lk. 5, 5). St. Peter had his human understanding of the situation. As a man he was right. But our Lord Jesus Christ had a different understanding. God had a different vision. And we know that the wonderful catch of a lot of fish which followed the attempt of Peter, proved Jesus to be right and Peter to be wrong. God may see things differently”.
“But as a man, St. Peter showed obedience to God. Honoring Jesus as his Master, he obeyed His request. Yes, he disagreed with Jesus, but he said: “Nevertheless at Your word” I’ll do it. And when he saw that Jesus is not just a Teacher or a Master, but someone higher than that, he called Him the Lord. Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, o Lord” (Lk. 5, 8). In this exclamation we see the fear of a man standing before God. Peter expresses human fear, incomprehension of God’s majesty and the sense of difference between man and God. He also acknowledges his own unworthiness and sinfulness”.
“Today’s Gospel teaches us to understand our own sinfulness and to exercise humility before God. But it also teaches us to see how different is our vision and understanding of things from the vision God has about them. It may happen in our own lives when we see something to be strange or impossible, but then, by the will of God, it becomes very possible. For instance, many people in Russia thought that after the decades of state atheism and persecution of the Church, religion will cease to exist. A priest some 40 years ago could have a temptation to think just as St. Peter thought in today’s Gospel. He would think that there is not many people to work with, not much a priest could do. But Jesus inspired His followers not to give up, but to “launch into the deep”. And in some time they saw that their preaching is not in vain, that their service is needed and that the churches are not empty. The state atheism was gone, ceased to exist, and the people in the new countries emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union could freely exercise their religious beliefs”.
“Today we commemorate Venerable Chariton the Confessor. He lived in the times of persecutions of the Church and he thought that he was going to be killed as a Martyr. He was imprisoned and tortured but his life was spared. This is why we call him the Confessor, not Martyr. Then the prosecutions ceased and holy Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion in the Roman Empire. St. Chariton lived a long life after that and he became a monk in the desert. He was one of the first monks in Christian Church. He founded several monasteries, composed the monastic rules and we believe that he composed the office of the monastic tonsure. So, St. Chariton believed that he was supposed to die for Christ but the Lord had a different vision. The Lord spared him and let him become a founder of monasticism. And this is another example of how our understanding may be different from God’s plan”.
“Therefore, dear Father, dear brothers and sisters, let us trust God and His perfect vision. Let us strive for spiritual growth despite our sense of uncertainty or lack of confidence. Let us listen to what our Lord Jesus Christ is telling us to do and let us obey Him acknowledging our imperfection before Him. But let us also remember His encouraging words pronounced to St. Peter: “Do not be afraid”. Let us not be afraid if we are doing something good with the divine grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Source of help and miracles. He is the only one who may accomplish things that we may consider impossible. Through His divine power we may share in His accomplishments”.

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

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian conveying the ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated Maria Malyshev on the occasion of her name day, the memory of Venerable Mary the mother of Ven. Sergius of Radonezh. Fr. Igor proclaimed the traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) on her behalf and handed her the Theotokian prosphora. Then he also made some announcements.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed Baptism of Phoebe Ching-Huei Li who desired to be received unto the bosom of the Holy Orthodox Church. After celebrating the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation, the new member of the community was churched and received Holy Communion.