His Grace, Bishop Matthew is going to visit our Parish


Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. George Church!

Our Archpastor, the Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes, Most Rev. MATTHEW, Bishop of Sourozh, is going to visit our Parish on Saturday, September 28.
His Grace will head our Great Vespers service at 6 PM.
Following the service our parishioners will have an opportunity to welcome the Bishop in our small community.

Дорогие прихожане и друзья храма святого великомученика и Победоносца Георгия!

Наш архипастырь, Временно Управляющий Патриаршими приходами в США, Преосвященнейший МАТФЕЙ, Епископ Сурожский посетит наш приход в субботу, 28 сентября.
Его Преосвященство возглавит служение Великой вечерни в 18 часов.
После службы наши прихожане будут иметь возможность приветствовать архиерея в нашей небольшой общине.

13th Sunday after Pentecost. Beheading of St. John the Baptist

 

On September 15, on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish held a nice celebration. In addition to the Sunday observance we celebrated feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist that had been transferred to that day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Scripture he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel lesson tells us a parable about vineyard and about evil vinedressers (Mt. 21, 33-42). The story was addressed to the leaders of the Jews, to those who did not accept Jesus as their Messiah and who wished to destroy Him.”
“The meaning of this parable is quite simple. The landowner is God the Father. He planted a vineyard which is Israel, the holy nation of God. The vinedressers are the leaders entrusted with the care of God’s people. According to the parable they did not wish to give the owner His share of grapes. God sent His servants to them. Those servants are the Prophets, sent by God in the times of the Old Testament to proclaim His will. The vinedressers beat and killed the servants. The Jewish leaders persecuted the Prophets and really killed some of them.”
“Today we observe Beheading of St. John the Baptist. He was one of those servants whom God was sending to His chosen people. The fate of the Holy Forerunner John was the same as of the other Prophets.”
“Since those servants of God were mistreated and not listened, God sent His onlybegotten Son. The Jewish leaders might honor the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. But in their envy and impiety they murdered the Son as well. He was led out of the holy city of Jerusalem and crucified, just as the landowner’s son in the parable was cast out of the vineyard and killed.”
“Thinking of that parable and about the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist we may reflect upon the prophetic mission of the Holy Church and its servants. “A servant is not greater than his master”, says the Lord (Jn. 15, 20). Being servants of the Lord, the bishops and priests may share the same destiny as our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified. And moreover, they can share the same destiny as the Prophets, as St. John the Baptist.”
“A Prophet is not someone who sees the future and predicts it. He is a man of God who proclaims God’s will to the people. St. John the Baptist taught the people to repent because the Messiah was coming. He also boldly said to the king that he was breaking the Commandments. Same thing happens to the good and conscientious priests if they teach the faithful appropriately. People may like it or not, but the servants of the Church are called to preach to them.”
“If people listen to the Church and its servants, they become blessed. If not, they may be condemned. In the course of history many priests were persecuted for their service to the Church and faithful. Nowadays they are often not persecuted but ignored.”
“It is our duty to listen to the servants of God and thus to listen to Christ Himself. Thus we could become good vinedressers who would render the Master the fruits in their seasons (Mt. 21, 41).”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a sermon in Russian explaining the main ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our parishioner Moses Dunetz on the occasion of his past name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

After the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the trapeza table.

 

12th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On September 8, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Encounter of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, we had a nice celebration at our parish temple. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He was interpreting the assigned reading from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 19, 16-26). He pointed out that the first important thing for our salvation is to keep the Commandments. This is sufficient to enter the Kingdom of God, as our Lord stated. Only if we are not breaking the God’s law, we may consider more heroic ways of piety. Some people wish to be very advanced in their devotions but forget to do the basics of spiritual life – to keep the Commandments. On the other way, our sinful nature makes us very unsuccessful in keeping the God’s law. All of us violate it, at least sometimes. Thus we cannot be saved without divine grace. This is why the Lord says: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mt. 19, 26). We cannot be saved without God and His help.

At the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector added a petition for health and recovery of our parishioner Raisa who had been hospitalized that morning.

The choir nicely performed hymns dedicated to the Mother of God and Her Icon of Vladimir during preparation for Holy Communion.

11th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On September 1, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost St. George Parish family had a beautiful celebration at our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian and English languages. An English version of that homily is as follows:

“Today’s Gospel reading tells us a parable about a merciful king and an unmerciful lender. That lender himself owed the king a lot of money, and the king forgave his debt. But that lender did not wish to forgive a very small debt to his fellow servant.”
“This lesson makes us think that all of us are in debt to God. It was not up to us to be born and it was not up to us to receive different gifts or talents we have in our life. Everyone has his own mind, his own heart and we look at the world from our own perspective. But everyone is using what the Lord has given to him. And the Lord is merciful and condescending to us. He loves us so much that He overlooks our shortcomings and forgives our sins. And He took our transgressions upon Himself.”
“Sometimes we are evil and we should be punished for our evil deeds, but the Lord takes those sins upon Himself. Sometimes we are unfair and should be rewarded accordingly, but the Lord takes that responsibility upon Himself. Sometimes we are hypocritical, lying, deceiving and should be justly reprimanded, but the Lord forgives us and allows us to live and to enjoy another day. He is never demanding that we pay for all our misdeeds. He only demands that we should be merciful to each other as He is merciful to us. He wishes that we would forgive our debtors as He forgives us our debts.”
“Instead of doing what God wishes, we do the opposite. We do not forgive. We hold grudges. We want revenge. We demand the debts to be paid. Thus we block our way to God.”
“Today we are called to pray for the preservation of God’s creation, for the environment. It is a similar situation. God gave us this earth, the whole nature He created. He entrusted that to us. He granted it free of charge. We only need to take care of the nature, to cultivate the earth, to preserve the animals and plants. What do we do? We abuse it, we demand a lot from it; we destroy the animals and plants; we devour all the resources because of our greed and wickedness. God gave us for free and we demand a gain from it. Thus we are now being punished for that by natural disasters and polluted air, water and nature. We finally realized that and the Church wishes us to offer our prayers for the nature and preservation of God’s creation.”
“We are unmerciful and we block our way to God. That is why we need to hear the Holy Gospel that tells us a parable about an unmerciful lender. That story tells us that a man owed the king a lot of money, like millions of dollars. The king forgave that huge debt. But that man met his fellow servant who owed him a small amount, like fifty dollars, and did not want to want – not to forgive – he did not want to wait! He put that poor debtor in prison. The king found out about that and punished the wicked servant.”
“Thus, dear brothers and sisters, we heard a simple and very much comprehendible parable. We receive forgiveness from God free of charge. God forgives any our transgression or filthiness if we sincerely repent. But He asks one thing: He forgives us, so we could forgive others. Therefore, if we don’t forgive, if we are unmerciful, we will have to be punished. Today the Gospel says: “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him” (Mt. 18, 34). In our case, what kind of torturers we will face? We will face the demons in hell that will torment and torture us for our sins. This is a horrible perspective. This is a terrible thing. But the Lord delivers us from those torments of hell if we forgive others their trespasses.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us pray that the all-compassionate Lord may be merciful to us again and to grant us a spirit of mercy and forgiveness, so we could forgive others their faults. May He grant us the spirit of care for God’s creation entrusted to us, so we could preserve the nature. May He bless us with those gifts, so we may be forgiven by Him Whom glory and honor forever!”

Since on the first Sunday of September the Russian Church holds a special day of prayer for the preservation of God’s creation, during the Litany of fervent supplication the Rector offered special petitions for that cause, as well s special prayer after that Litany.

The choir was prayerfully singing the hymns of the Dormition which postfeast was still celebrated.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector offered a prayer for the schoolchildren who begin their new school year. He blessed our children and wished them a successful study and acquiring of knowledge.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed the Baptism of an adult willing to join the Church.

After the services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the trapeza table.

 

Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God

 

On August 28, on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God we held a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. This time the Rector dedicated his sermon to interpretation of the festal Troparion. That main hymn of the feast refers to the Most Holy Mother of God as the one who preserved virginity after giving birth do Christ and the one who did not leave the world after Her falling asleep.  Most Holy Theotokos passed from this life to life eternal and to Christ who Himself is the Life of the world. At the same time the Most Holy Theotokos is the Mother of Life, because She is the Mother of Christ. And She spares our souls from spiritual death.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God and Her Dormition during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the icon of the Dormition in the middle of the church. Then the Rector congratulated all the faithful on the feast.

 

10th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 25, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish family had a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached a homily in Russian on the appointed Gospel lesson:

“Дорогие во Христе братия и сестры! Главные мысли сегодняшнего Евангельского чтения о вере, молитве и посте.
Продолжая праздновать Преображение Господне, мы вспоминаем нетварной Фаворский свет Божества, который возсиял мiру и дал возможность человеку стать причастником Божественной природы. Ведь Христос пришел на землю, чтобы спасти человека, победить грех и ад, восставить падшего Адама, вернуть человеку его человеческое достоинство, и более того, чтобы дать ему возможность стать богом по благодати. «Если Бог стал человеком, то и жизнь Божественная стала жизнью человеческой, и могущество Божественное стало могуществом человеческим, и истина Божественная стала истиной человеческой, и правда Божественная стала правдой человеческой: все Божие стало человеческим», – так пишет преподобный Иустин Попович.
Но размышляя об этом и о сегодняшнем Евангелии о том, что если бы мы имели малую веру, как горчичное зерно, то могли бы передвигать горы, надо сказать, что за словами Господа о перемещении гор открывалась новая реальность. А именно, объявляется закон новой жизни, новой жизни нового человека, человека веры и могущества, человека, для которого нет теперь ничего невозможного. Вера вселяет в человека всего Бога — как говорит апостол Павел, «уже не я живу, но живет во мне Христос» (Гал. 2, 20), — тогда человеку все Божественное становится возможно — как снова говорит апостол Павел, «все могу в укрепляющем меня Иисусе Христе» (Флп. 4, 13).
Но главное в этом всемогуществе, как пишет тот же преподобный Иустин Попович, «силой воли своей повести и привести Богу всю душу свою, все сердце свое, весь ум свой, всю крепость свою, сплавить их в единый подвиг — веры в Богочеловека, и тогда человеку даются все Божественные силы и все Богочеловеческие добродетели, нужные ему для вечной жизни в обоих мiрах (см.: 2 Пет. 1, 3-8)».
Итак, сильная вера дает человеку божественное могущество. Но если посмотрим вокруг, то едва ли видим многих, имеющих такую сильную веру. Даже среди нас, верующих православных, есть люди, которые веруют поверхностно. Заявляют о свем православии, а сами живут жизнью мiра сего и его страстей. А если вообще посмотреть на мiр, то большинство людей сейчас вообще не думают о вечной жизни, о спасении, о Боге. И можно спросить: «Как же так?» Ведь Господь наш Иисус Христос спас всех нас, искупил всех нас на кресте. А потом Своим Воскресением из мертвых Он опустошил ад. Вывел из ада всех праведников, всех томившихся там. Двери рая открыты для человека! Но человек туда не спешит.
Да, дорогие братия и сестры, дверь спасения открыта Христом. Но насильно никто туда не будет толкать. Поэтому далеко не все проявляют веру и ищут силы Божией.
О таких сегодня в Евангелии воскликнул Христос: «О роде неверный и развращенный, доколе буду с вами? Доколе буду терпеть вас» (Мф. 17, 17). Вот так вопрошает Спаситель. Вопрошает, ибо Ему нужны верные люди. Но сами знаем, как немного таких. И опять, говоря о нашей жизни, можем также вместе со Христом воскликнуть, глядя на людей: «О роде неверный и развращенный!» Возьмите наш город Нью-Йорк: в нем ведь сейчас грех возведен в закон. И раньше города жили во грехах, но по крайней мере, внешне соблюдались приличия и грех не поддерживался. А ныне грех стал похваляем и законен. Беззаконе стало законом! Поэтому и мы, верующие христиане, можем воскликнуть: «Доколе будем терпеть вас?»
Однако на этот вопрос «доколе» Господь Сам дал ответ в другом месте Святого Евангелия. Он сказал: «Я с вами до скончания века» (Мф. 28, 20). Т.е. Господь всегда с нами, если мы сами хотим Его, хотим Его помощи, веруем в Него. Господь всегда готов быть рядом с нами, помочь нам, если мы сами Его просим, любим и веруем в Него.
Христианство – относительно легкая религия, ибо в ней мы хоть и должны взбираться на высокую гору совершенства, Господь постоянно сходит с этой горы к нам и помогает нам по ней взбираться. Но для того, чтобы Он к нам спускался, нужна твердая вера.
А делами этой нашей веры являются, согласно сегодняшнего Евангелия, молитва и пост. Без них наша вера не осуществится. Поэтому нет настоящей веры у тех, кто только о ней заявляет, но не практикует молитву и не соблюдает пост.
Поэтому, дорогие братия и сестры, давайте стараться жить верою, творить молитву и упражняться в посте – тогда и мы достигнем великих дел в этой жизни и удостоимся войти в жизнь вечную.”

The choir beautifully performed the hymns in honor of the Holy Theotokos before the Communion.

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

Following the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners had a modest luncheon and coffee enjoying lenten refreshments and a nice company. The Rector congratulated our parishioner Olga Vnukova on the occasion of her past birthday. A traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Transfiguration of the Lord

 

On August 19th Holy Orthodox Church celebrates feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On that day we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Feast of the Transfiguration is one of the very important among the holy days. Today we celebrate a miraculous change which was manifested by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples on the Mount Tabor. Taking Peter, James and John to that high mountain, He transfigured before them. As the Gospel states, “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Mt. 17, 2). Before that they knew Jesus to be a great Teacher, a wonderworker, the Messiah promised by the Old Testament. But they did not fully realize that He was the Son of God and God Himself. At the Mount Tabor Jesus revealed who He really was. Thus the Apostles could see the glory of the true God, the light shining from the divine nature.”
“No one ever saw God. God’s essence and nature is incomprehensible to our limited mind. However, God revealed Himself and showed some part of His nature to certain holy people. In the times before Christ, God appeared to Moses and Elijah. Holy Prophet Moses could see God. God appeared to Moses as the burning bush or a cloud. But God also showed Moses Himself in a special, mystical way, as the Scripture tells “from behind”, because a man cannot see God and live. Holy Prophet Elijah was also blessed by seeing God who revealed Himself in a breath of the calm wind. These were the men of the Old Testament whom God blessed with His appearance. And it was not accidental that those two holy men appeared on the Mount Tabor to converse with Jesus when He transfigured before His disciples. Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament which were fulfilled in Jesus.”
“With the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world, God revealed Himself in a very comprehensible and accessible way. He became man, so we could see God in our form. And Transfiguration of our Lord had to teach His disciples of the mystery of the union of human and divine natures in Christ.”
“There are many different ideas about God. Some philosophers or other intelligent people may imagine God to be some universal force or some worldly order. But such God is not personal. We believe that God is a Person, the one to whom we can refer, with whom we can speak. And in Jesus Christ who became one of us, a partaker of the human nature, we find such personal God much easier. Also, through His taking up the human nature and interweaving it with His divine nature, we may become the partakers of the divinity. As we all created in the image of God, through Christ we may acquire the likeness of God.”
“This is what is called by the Fathers the process of deification or theosis. Human nature becoming divine. This teaching was elaborated by the Holy Fathers of the III and IV centuries, especially by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. Interestingly that this teaching is not very much remembered or used by Protestants and Roman Catholics, by Western Christians. It is known that today’s Western world likes to talk about the dignity of man and to extol humanity. But this is a secular way of praising the human nature, the so-called humanism. It desires to serve man and to forget about God. It strives to praise human nature with all its weaknesses and passions, a nature corrupted by sin. Our Eastern Church adheres to the teaching of the Fathers which extols human nature in a Christian way. We say that man is called to become like God not by being proud and sinful, but through the pious life, through the partaking of divine nature, through the acquiring of divine grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. What could be more honorable for a man than an idea of becoming like God? But that way of deification is the way of piety, spiritual and sacramental life in our Lord Jesus Christ, life in which we hear the beloved Son of the Father. It is the way of Transfiguration, a movement from below to above.”

Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed festal hymns of Transfiguration.

Following the Ambo prayer the Rector performed traditional Blessing of fruits.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day.

 

9th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 18, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, Prefeast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, our parish held a nice celebration. St. George’s Rector, 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! On this Sunday we hear the Gospel lesson about our Lord Jesus Christ walking on the waters. We also hear about the boat with the Apostles being tossed by the waves due to a storm. And, finally, we hear about Holy Apostle Peter attempting to walk on the waters (Mt. 14, 22-34).”
“This rather impressive Gospel reading makes us think about our relationship with God, with our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us attempt to interpret it. The sea and its waves described in that lesson is our life. The wind and the storm are all the tribulations and difficulties we face while we live. The boat is the Holy Church in which we should stay if we wish to sail over the sea of life and be spiritually safe. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can make us feel secure and certain. And if we attempt to get out of the boat, we need to be strengthened by faith in the Lord and to keep our eyes on Him, not on the temptations and obstacles such as the winds and the storms.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ never said that in our sailing over the sea of life we won’t encounter the storms. He never promised that our life will be free of difficulties, sorrows, sufferings and troubles. In fact, He told just the contrary: “In the world you will have tribulation” (Jn. 16, 33). But He assured us that we won’t perish in that sea of life if He will be with us. He told us: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Id.). Therefore, if we believe in Christ and follow Him in our life, such a life won’t be freed from troubles but the Lord will save us from them. Some people presume that if they are faithful to God, believe in Him, say their prayers, attend the church and do good things, they should be spared from all the problems in this life. No! It does not work that way. Our Lord Himself, being the Son of God, was not spared from the temptations of the devil in the wilderness; He was not spared from the persecutions of the Pharisees and scribes; and He was not spared from being condemned to death and from His death on the cross. But, as we know and believe, He conquered death by death and was risen on the third day.”
“If we live in the world, we will always face different troubles and difficulties. Therefore, it is important to stay in the Holy Church. The Church is the safe boat in which we could cross the stormy sea of this life. Once crossing the ocean, a large ship confronted a huge storm. One of the passengers being afraid of that approached the captain and said, “Look, we are facing a very big storm. What is going to happen?” The captain seemed to be calm. He replied, “Don’t look at the storm. Look at the ship”.”
“It is common that big ships that are well built and equipped can endure the storms. Thus the captain was calm and certain that the storm was not a problem. In the same way, being good members of the Holy Orthodox Church should give us a certainty that we are secure and can endure any storms of our life. We have to just look at the ship, not at the storm. We have to look at the Holy Church, not at the troubles of earthly life. In the course of its two-thousand-year history the Church endured many storms. It survived all of them. It happened because our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and because He Himself said that even the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt. 16, 18).”
“Being the Head of His Church, being in charge of the saving boat of our life, our Lord Jesus Christ has to be the One at whom we should look in all our troubles and difficulties. In today’s Gospel Peter began to sink when he looked at the storm, not at the ship, when he looked at the waves and the wind, not at Christ. If we are really faithful Orthodox Christians, we should keep our focus on Christ. Then we will be able to endure all the temptations of life and survive all the storms of our earthly journey.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us stay in the Holy Church led by our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us trust Him and keeping our focus on Him, let us approach Him over the stormy waters of life and strive to be united with Him here and forever!”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed the customary blessing of the new honey. Then he preached a short homily in Russian addressing the main ideas of his English homily. The Rector also congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of their little daughter Elena’s 5th birthday celebrated last week. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.

 

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 4, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple.

After the Scripture readings he preached a homily in Russian language interpreting the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel.

The choir beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to the Saint commemorated on that day, Holy Equal to the Apostles Mary Magdalene, before the Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of t5he Liturgy the Rector congratulated our parishioner, Valentina Malyshev on the occasion of her past nameday and birthday and handed her the Theotokion prosphora. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Our Parishioners visited the Cathedral in San Francisco

 

These days our two parishioners, our altar servers, Andrew Malyshev and his son Anton, travel across the United States. They now reached California and arrived in the city of San Francisco.

In San Francisco they had an opportunity to visit the Joy of All Sorrows Cathedral of the Russian Church Abroad and to venerate the relics of St. John of Shanghai. We hope that their prayers before this revered and beloved Saint may be heard and the All-Merciful Lord through the intercession of His holy servant John may bless all of us!
We wish Andrew and Anton to continue their trip safely praying that the Angels may accompany them and that they soon return home!