9th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 21, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! The Gospel lesson of today is showing us a very impressive picture: Jesus walking on water. It should be easily understood because He was the Son of God, and all the nature was subject to His infinite power. He could override the laws of creation being Himself the Creator of this world. It was though very unusual for the Apostles who, at that point, did not fully realize Who their Teacher was. But at the end of the lesson we heard that the Disciples “came and worshipped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God”” (Mt. 14, 33). They did understand Who Jesus was. And this is the first aspect of today’s reading from the Holy Gospel.”
“Another very important thing is that apart from an impressive image of the Lord walking on waters we should consider another image from today’s Gospel reading: an image of St. Peter sinking beneath the waves. That is the image of us. Jesus could walk on the water because He was God. But Peter was a simple man, completely like us. He also tried to walk with Jesus but began to sink. Anyone can imagine himself or herself in such a situation.”
“Our life can be compared to the waters of some sea. How often we sink in the waves doubt, guilt, fear, tension, anxiety, temptation, despair, sin! How often we are attacked by the winds of problems, sicknesses and misfortunes! I don’t know what kind of waves and winds you have in your life, but the Gospel lesson today assures us of one thing: in the wind and the waves there is a Presence. The same Jesus Who was with Peter when he began to sink is with us. His presence can make all the difference in the world. “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” – Jesus said to His Apostles being in the boat (Mt. 14, 27). And He is saying that and he is coming to His followers in the midst of their storms for the past 2000 years. Thus, it is very important to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is always with us in all our troubles.”
“The worst thing for the Disciples during the storm described in today’s Gospel story was the fact that Jesus was not there with them. Same thing happens to us if we forget that the Lord is always present in our lives. The real trouble in the storms of life is to lose our trust in God. In days of tension and stress when we burdened with problems and all the world looks dark, we may exclaim: “If only Jesus were here!” In moments of anxiety when we don’t know how we can possibly face what lies ahead, we cry out: “If only Jesus were here!” In days of fierce temptation, when we feel so powerless against the wracking passions of the soul, we entreat: “If only Jesus were here!” But He is here – nearer than we think. He can let the storm happen but He will stay with us. Jesus never promised to still all the storms, be He said that He always remain in the boat with us. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – He said. That was His promise and in His company we can face whatever storm may come.”
“The presence of Jesus in the boat does not prevent the storms from taking place. That surprises a lot of people who have come to believe that the existence of the loving God means no more emergencies, no bitter experiences, no occasions when we can say to ourselves, “I never thought it could happen to me”. It is still possible, even when Jesus is present, for some terrible disease to appear suddenly, or some dreadful accident to happen. But His presence in the boat with us will make a difference in the way we face the storm.”
“Our Lord stretched His hand to save Peter in the waves. But He also said to Peter: “Come” (Mt. 14, 29) assuring him that we are also able to overcome the nature, fear and weakness. Jesus says to us: “Come, you can walk on the troubled waters of your life”. If some illness has struck you or your loved one, you can say, “God, bid me walk on the water of that illness.” If financial trouble torn your life apart, you can say: “God, bid me walk on the water of this need.” The same power, the same faith, the same Jesus Who helped Peter walk on stormy waters of Lake Galilee is available to you today. The power to weather the storms of your life, to walk over them and through them to eternal victory!”

During the Liturgy, especially before the Holy Communion, the choir was prayerfully singing the hymns of Transfiguration, a feast which celebration was still going on.

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

Transfiguration of the Lord

 

On August 19 all Orthodox Christians adhering to Julian calendar observe feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. We had a nice liturgical celebration on that day. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the great holy day of the Transfiguration. The Gospel lesson told us today how it happened. Our Lord Jesus Christ took three of His disciples, Peter, James and John, led them to the mountain and transfigured before them. Jesus’ face became shining like the sun, and His garments like a light. Our Lord showed His disciples His divine glory, He showed Who He really is. The reasons we consider that event so important are two. We believe and confess that our Lord has two natures: divine and human. And everything we celebrate about Him concerns those two natures. Today, as we said, our Lord showed the Apostles that He is God. And this is one reason to honor this event. But we celebrate Transfiguration also because our Lord’s human nature was transfigured. The humanity taken by our Lord became so linked with the divine nature, so it also shone like the sun. And we may add to that reflection that it happened by the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father, Whose voice witnessed to the Son’s divine nature.”
“Celebrating Transfiguration we are perhaps reminded of another feast of the Church taken from the Holy Scriptures, where the divinity of Christ was also witnessed to by the Father and the Spirit proceeding from the Father – Theophany, the Baptism of Christ. Both these feasts have a great prominence in our Church. In both of them we may see the manifestation of the Holy Trinity and an indication that our Lord Jesus Christ is the true God and the true Man.”
“Transfiguration shows us that the human and divine natures of Christ are united in One Person of Jesus. As the Orthodox Church professes, those two natures are bound together in a mysterious way, being not mixed and undivided, not commingled and yet inseparable. It is also important to remember that no such a unity is possible without the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is taking part in every event of the life of the Lord manifested to us. His action is seen in the Nativity of Christ, in His Baptism and in His Transfiguration.”
“Another important aspect of today’s feast is that our Savior is the Lord over life and death. The Scripture tells us that two holy persons appeared at the Transfiguration: Moses and Elijah. They represent two kinds of people: those who died and those who live. Moses was dead long before Jesus came into the world. And Elijah also lived several centuries before Christ, but he did not taste death, but was taken up to heaven. Now, at the Mt. Tabor they both appeared to worship the Son of God, the Lord of the living and the dead.”
“And finally, we may notice that today’s feast is almost lost outside of the Orthodox Church. In the similar way, the feast of Theophany is almost unnoticed outside of the Orthodoxy. They are not really celebrated in the communities where people do not believe in the words of the Holy Scripture, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father alone. This error makes those Christians deprived of the right believe in Holy Trinity. But it also makes them deprived of the true understanding of the importance of the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ becoming a man, so men could become divine, could unite with God. Such a unity was shown in Christ Transfiguration. Such a unity is possible through Christ and the Orthodox faith. Because Christ united those two natures for us. And the Orthodox faith gives us an opportunity to unite them in our lives, being partakers of the divine nature. Let us then keep our faith in true God and pray that His everlasting light may shine to us!”

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

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

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor preached a short sermon in Russian and congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day.

8th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of the Holy Cross and of the Holy Martyrs Maccabees

 

On August 14 of this year the Church celebrated 8th Sunday after Pentecost along with the feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross and commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Maccabees. We had a beautiful service in our Parish temple celebrated by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

After the reading of the Third Hour the Rector solemnly transferred decorated cross from the altar to the middle of the church and placed it on the stand.

Following the Sixth Hour Fr. Igor served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Today, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, we also celebrate feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross. On this day the Church also commemorates the Old Testament Martyrs, called the Maccabees who suffered for the faith in true God. Our first reading from the Holy Gospel tells us about miraculous feeding of five thousand men by five loaves of bread and two fishes (Mt. 14, 14-22).”
“This special miracle tells us that the power of God is endless and God Himself is infinite. In that miraculous multiplication of bread He just showed some of His eternity. It is more important for us to see in this miracle a symbol of another miracle happening with us every time when we become present at the Divine Liturgy, a miracle of the Eucharist. For every time at the Liturgy bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Christ. And the Eucharist is accessible not only to five thousand men but to all faithful Orthodox Christians. The same Christ is being offered on the sacred altar in every temple and is being distributed in Holy Communion at every Liturgy. When the priest is breaking the holy Lamb and prepares it for the Communion, he says the following words, “Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God; broken but never divided; ever eaten, yet never consumed…” Thus Christ in the Holy Communion is being broken into many pieces yet is never divided. St. Paul is asking in today’s Epistle lesson, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1, 13). No, Christ is broken in the Communion but not divided. He is being eaten by the partakers yet is never consumed. And if the five loaves of bread were consumed even after they were multiplied, leaving only the fragments and crumbs, the holy Bread of the Eucharist never ends on the earth.”
“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, we need to be aware what kind of treasure we possess. And we need to be faithful to that treasure. Coming to the temple for the Divine Liturgy we become worthy of the greater miracle than the one happened in the desert with those five thousand men. They were given plain bread while we are given Christ Himself. The five loaves of bread, though they were multiplied, were finally finished but the Eucharist will never be finished until the end of this world. Those people were filled with the material bread while we are fed with the Bread from heaven. Their visible advantage is in the fact that Jesus Himself was present with them. But with us the same Jesus is also present though being invisible.”
“Therefore, let us become aware of the importance of the holy Liturgy and the importance of being faithful to the Lord and follow Him. The Gospel tells us that the multitude of people followed Him to the desert. They were listening to His words and remained with Him until night (Mt. 14, 15). We can imagine how these people left their usual business and forgot about their cares following the Lord into wilderness. And among us, contemporary Orthodox Christians, there are many those who on Sunday prefer not to come to the church and not to participate in the Divine Liturgy. They find excuses and reasons why they could not come to the temple and to become united with Christ, to be faithful to Him, especially on this holy day of the Lord.”
“Today’s feast in honor of the Maccabees Martyrs also teaches us to be faithful to the Lord. Seven Jewish Martyrs along with her mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazer whom we commemorate today, refused to betray the faith in true God and to worship the idols. It could be easy to concede to the demands of the Gentile conquerors and to offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. But they chose to suffer instead. And we should think whether we could prefer to suffer than to concede to this vicious and lawless world of sin which does not differ from the ancient pagan world of the idolaters.”
“And let us refer to the Precious and Life-giving Cross whom we also honor today. May its invincible, ineffable and divine power strengthen us in our fidelity to Christ. May the Holy Cross preserve us on our journey to salvation bestowing upon us the grace of Christ and leading us for the eternal blessedness!”

Before the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully sung the hymns in honor of the Holy Martyrs Maccabees.

Following the Prayer behind the Ambo the Rector performed brief Lesser Blessing of water and traditional Blessing of the new honey.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English explaining main ideas of his Russian homily. He also congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of their little daughter Elena’s 2nd birthday celebrated last week. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 7, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost our Parish family gathered for a nice liturgical celebration in our temple. The Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. Following the Gospel lesson he delivered the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! The Gospel lesson of today tells us about two healings performed by our Lord Jesus Christ. He opened the eyes of the two blind men and he cast out the evil spirit from a mute man who then began to speak (Mt. 9, 27-35). These two healings were only a part of a number of other miraculous works of the Lord described in that chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Summarizing them, the Gospel says, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Mt. 9, 35). This makes us to think that where the Lord Jesus appeared, there all the diseases, all the sicknesses and other misfortunes tended to disappear. This was the manifestation of His presence. Jesus being the Messiah performed the miracles and made things no one else could do. This is why we heard in today’s Gospel reading that the people exclaimed, “It was never seen like this in Israel” (Mt. 9, 32).”
“If such miracles that Jesus performed were never seen in Israel, they could not be seen in other places. The world lived in the darkness of idolatry, error and superstition. The humanity lived in slavery to sin and death. People suffered from diseases and from demonic possessions. But when the Lord Jesus came to the world, He showed that in His presence all these evil things can be conquered. He showed that physical infirmities can be corrected and the evil spirits can be expelled. And man can taste happiness if God is present with him.”
“Today we commemorate the Dormition of the Righteous Anna, mother of the Most Holy Mother of God. Our pious tradition holds that St. Anna was barren, she could not have children. Along with her husband Joachim she had to suffer from moral reproach, because being childless was considered a curse and a shame among the Jews. She was not blind or mute as those people healed in today’s Gospel lesson, but she suffered from being barren. Both Joachim and Anna were righteous people who lived according to God’s Commandments. They invited God into their lives. And God visited Joachim and Anna and blessed them with the holy Child. Anna conceived in her old age and bore Mary, the Mother of God. This tells us that if man wishes God to be present in his life, God will visit him. Just as those two blind man in today’s Gospel asked Jesus to have mercy on them, and had faith in Him, so Joachim and Anna were leading pious life and followed God’s precepts. As a result God blessed them and changed their life circumstances. This also, dear brothers and sisters, tells us that when God comes into man’s life, such life becomes changed for better.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us make no mistake: without God our fate is awful. Without God there are no values, no morals, no spirituality, only the error, sin and darkness, only disease, despair and death. In Russian there is a proverb: “Bez Boga, ne do poroga’”- “if you are without God, you may not enter”.  And indeed people do not enter into salvation without God.  Last week we heard sad news that the Abbot of St. Panteleimon’s Russian Monastery on Mt. Athos, Fr. Jeremiah passed away. He fell asleep in the Lord being over 100 years old. Once he said that if man lives with God the life becomes easy. He did not say that it becomes perfect or even good because it is impossible in this world. But he said that we live easy if we are with God. We will certainly see the troubles and pain, but if we live with God, those pains will be easy.”
“Let us then cherish our faith in true God and attempt all the time to be in His presence. Nowadays Jesus does not walk through our cities and villages, but He is spiritually present everywhere. He is even more present in the holy temple, in our sacred rites and Sacraments, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist where the Lord is offered to us in His true Body and Blood. Let us welcome the Lord God in our lives and let us be benefited from His blessed and life-giving presence!”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main thoughts of his English homily. He then congratulated the Kay family on the occasion of their son Elias’ (Jared) passed name day and their daughter Anna’s name day and birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

 

St. George’s Rector joined Bishop John in visitiation to Little Falls, NJ

 

On Sunday, July 31, our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, as the Dean of Eastern States was invited by His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk to join him in visitation to St. John the Baptist Parish in Little Falls, NJ. Bishop John headed the Divine Liturgy there. His Grace was co-served by Fr. Igor, newly-appointed St. John’s Rector, Priest Aleksey Paranyuk and Deacon Mark Rashkov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Bishop John delivered a sermon on the Sunday Gospel reading and officially introduced Fr. Aleksey to the parish.

Interaction between Bishop John, Fr. Igor and parishioners of St. John the Baptist continued in the parish refectory during which a festive meal in honor of His Grace’s visit was held. 

6th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 31, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils, we had a liturgical celebration in our Parish. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by Priest Rodion Shamazov, a cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral who substituted for our Rector. Fr. Rodion came along with his family. His Matushka, Liliya Shamazov performed the singing and introduced us to some other church melodies than those we usually use during our services.

Following the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Rodion preached a homily in Russian.

5th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 24, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as commemoration day of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Princess Olga, our Parish family had a beautiful celebration. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel concerns the casting out of demons from two possessed men (Mt. 8, 28 – 9, 1). It further tells us that the demons entered into a herd of swine and then it tells us of the suicide of those swine. We can learn some things from this Gospel reading. We should note that the people in the country of the Gergesenes who owned the swine were disobeying the Jewish law. We can presume that those people were Gentiles, but there is an opinion that they were Jews who raised the pigs for sale. If that’s the case, these people did not follow the Law of Moses which did not allow to deal with unclean animals such as the pigs. That is why they begged Christ to leave their area, virtually chasing the Son of God away. That makes us think that the disobedience of these people explains why two of them became possessed.”
“Thus, we learn that disobedience of God leads to misfortune. So as a life without true faith. These days of the second half of July we celebrate the memory of such extraordinary Russian Saints as Equal to the Apostles Olga (whose memory is today) and Vladimir (whom we will honor during the next week). Thus we celebrate the anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’. We may see that before becoming a Christian nation the Eastern Slavs living in Kievan Rus’ led a life full of misfortunes, crimes, superstitions and abuses. For instance, there was a custom to burn a wife alive along with her dead husband. The mothers could kill their new born babies, especially the girls if there were too many girls in the family. On the other hand, adult children could kill their elderly parents if they were a burden for the family. The Slavs could make human sacrifices to their gods. But after receiving Christian faith things totally changed. Although Christianity did not spread very quickly and the people for centuries retained a lot of superstitions, the people’s morals and the whole society transformed with the reception of Baptism. All who are familiar with the life of St. Vladimir know how his life changed after he embraced Christianity. Out of a cruel and thirsting for power tyrant he became people’s favorite ruler. Out of a lustful polygamist Vladimir turned into a humble follower of Christian morals. In a similar way, Princess Olga also changed after becoming a Christian.”
“Although many other people of Rus’ in the course of history still sinned, committed crimes and iniquities, the whole mindset of the Russian people changed after the Baptism. Our ancestors became a part of the European, Christian world, of the Christian civilization. God also blessed the Russian lands by allowing them to flourish under the rule of the Orthodox rulers. But when the Russian people turned away from the true faith, life in the country became full of misfortunes. Famine, wars (one of which was fratricidal), abuses, persecutions of the different social classes, economical problems – all these misfortunes fell upon the Russian land and its inhabitants. Only during the last quarter of a century the Russian nation began to return to its Christian roots, to the true faith.”
“But the lesson of today’s Gospel is also important for every nation. If a nation lives in true Christian faith, cherishes right values and obeys the God’s law, then it enjoys a relatively good and prosperous life. It becomes blessed by God. But if a nation lives in the darkness, it suffers from many misfortunes. Such a darkness can be either paganism or atheism or any false religion. Nations living with the false beliefs, with the wrong values become corrupted by sins and iniquities; they experience social tension, wars, economic problems, abuses and crimes. Unfortunately, this now happens to the American nation. God is driven away from our social and political life. Prayer and Christian spirituality is chased out of our schools. False moral values became accepted by our society and the law of God abandoned. American nation now resembles those men of today’s Gospel who kept the swine and who felt sorry for the swine perished in the lake and begged the Son of God to leave their city. Isn’t that a shame?!”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us learn from today’s Gospel to be faithful to God, to obey His law and to cherish the true moral values given to us by the Lord. Let us also follow the example of the Holy Equal to the Apostles princes Vladimir and Olga who enlightened Eastern Slavs with Christian faith. Let us remember that their own lives changed after embracing Christianity. And the life of the whole nation of Kievan Rus’ changed after becoming a Christian country. Let us spiritually belong to that Christian family held by the holy Russian Orthodox Church, a family born from the baptismal font of St. Vladimir. In this family we will be blessed by God, protected by the Most Holy Theotokos, by the intercession of the Saints. And further we may become saved and inherit eternal life.”

Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully sang the hymns dedicated to the Holy Princess Olga.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English stressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He then congratulated our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow, as well as Olga Vnukova-Stateikin on the occasion of their name day. Fr. Igor wished them God’s blessings and intercession of St. Olga. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was proclaimed.

Following the service the Rector and parishioners continued celebrating at the trapeza table enjoying delicious meals and a nice company. The toasts in honor of the two Olgas celebrating their name day were raised.

4th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 17, on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel is telling us about the healing of the servant of the centurion. Reflecting upon this miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ, we may note two things.”
“First of all, the centurion was certainly a good person, for he cared for the health of his servant. He was not one of those who considered human life expendable. He did not say to himself: “My servant is sick, I’ll let him die and tomorrow I will buy another slave at the market to replace him”. Therefore, we may conclude that he was also very serious about his responsibilities towards the one hundred soldiers under his command.”
“The second thing for us to notice is that the centurion’s attitude towards other men is confirmed by his faith in Christ, and in His power to heal. He said to Jesus: “Only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Mt. 8, 8). This faith was far greater than that of the Jews. Despite their Old Testament heritage, all that they could do was to criticize, find fault and destroy. The centurion, on the other hand, had complete faith in the power of Christ.”
“Speaking about the centurion we may recall the Saints whose blessed memory we celebrate today, the Royal Passion-bearers of Russia, Emperor Nicholas and his family. Tsar Nicholas had not just one hundred people under his command, but many millions of his subjects, the people of the whole Russian Empire. And he was very serious about his royal responsibilities towards the Russian people. The last Tsar also had a firm faith in the Lord and in the Lord’s power to lead the country. And his faith was greater than the faith of many of his subjects, especially of those who acted to overthrow him. These people had no faith in God. But also those who surrounded the Tsar, those who were supposed to assist him, his ministers, generals and politicians – they did not have such a faith as the last Tsar did. It appeared that all they could do was to criticize, find fault and destroy the Russian Empire. This is why the Emperor Nicholas was forced to renounce his throne and later the whole Royal family was undergoing passions and was murdered by godless people.”
“Going back to think about today’s Gospel, we may see that in return for these qualities our Lord granted the centurion, and so to all the faithful people whom the centurion represents, two things.”
“First, Jesus Christ grants the Kingdom of Heaven to the centurion and to all faithful humanity. The Kingdom is no longer for the Jews only, but it is opened to all. The Lord proclaims: “Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” (Mt. 8, 11-12). In other words it is no longer race or nationality that gives salvation, but faith. The Jews took it for granted in a racist way, that they would be saved and not the rest of humanity. But today it is revealed that we shall be judged according to our faith, not according to some external sign of nationality or a color of the skin. From now on, our faith is the one quality that opens the Kingdom of God. No artificial human boundaries and standards serve any purpose any longer, it is faith in the grace and power of God that saves.”
“The second thing is that this Gospel lesson reveals to us that it is faith that determines not only our future in the Kingdom of God, but it also determines our present. Jesus says to the centurion, “As you have believed, so let it be done for you” (Mt. 8, 13). These words are comforting and healing for the people like that centurion. We learn from the Gospel that his servant became healed that same hour (Mt. 8, 13). But these words are terrible for those without faith. They say that as we believe, so shall it be done unto us. If we believe in good things, so we shall receive good things. But if we believe in evil, so we shall receive evil things. Those who live by the virtue shall receive the virtue. And those who live by the vice will receive the vice. “The wages of sin is death”, says St. Paul in today’s Epistle lesson (Rom. 6, 23). Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. If we love our neighbor, they will mostly love us. If we hate our neighbor, they will mostly hate us. Our lives are determined by the faith in them. Our lives are determined by our beliefs. Without faith, our lives are empty. With faith, our lives are full.”
“Speaking of the holy Royal Martyrs of Russia we may be wondering why in return for their faith in the Lord and their love towards the Russian people, they were killed by some of those people? The answer is simple: because many of the Russian people stopped to believe in God and began to live by hatred. Many others became the victims of that hatred and godless attitude, including the Royal family.”
“The proper understanding of today’s Gospel lesson proves that our only chance of happiness in this world or our future blessedness in the world to come is to believe in, and so base our lives on, the highest virtues. If we do this, then our lives will be transformed, not only in this earthly life, but also in the life to come. And what is the highest virtue? All mankind will agree that it is Love. And this is the Christian Revelation, in the words of St John the Evangelist, that God is Love.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us shape our lives around the virtue of Love in the firm assurance and knowledge that all else will come aright as a result. For as we believe, so shall it be done unto us.”

Further during the service, before the Holy Communion, the church choir beautifully and prayerfully sang the hymns dedicated to the Royal Passion-bearers.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector made some announcements regarding the future services and parish events.

 

Feast of St. Peter and Paul

 

On July 12, on the feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul, our Parish family had a nice celebration in our temple. The Divine Liturgy was headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian reflecting upon the lives of St. Peter and Paul, on their human differences but their common firm faith and their holy lives according to that faith. Stressing that the holy Church, being the Body of Christ, is a divine and human organism, Fr. Igor pointed out that Christ built His Church upon the Apostles and their faith, solid like a rock. Thus today’s Church is supposed to be built on our faith.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector congratulated parishioners on the end of the Apostolic fast and on the occasion of the celebrated holy day.

3rd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 10, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel reading he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel is taken from the Sermon on the Mount, the first occasion when Christ preached publicly to the people. Our Lord says that the light of the body is the eye. If the eye is light, so the body will be light. But if the eye is dark, so the body will be dark (Mt. 6, 22-23).  The ‘eye’ means either our attitude toward life around us, or simply it means the soul. In these words our Lord says that we should not blame our bodies for our sins. Our bodies are the servants of our souls. If our souls are corrupted, then so also will be our bodies. On the other hand, if our souls are clean, then our bodies will also be clean. It is not our bodies which control our lives, or even our minds, but our souls. And we are called to cleanse the souls. Once our souls are clean, then our minds and our bodies will also be cleaned.”
“The Lord continues by saying that we cannot serve two masters, the master of the material world and the master of the spiritual world. One must be superior to the other. Thus we cannot serve God, the master of the spiritual, and mammon, the master of the fallen world (Mt. 6, 24). The word mammon means money or wealth. This teaching is just the opposite to the ideas of today’s world. Our society is based on money, on mammon. It is based on investments, stock exchanges, currencies. Furthermore, the philosophy which guides modern governments and much of human nature is called ‘monetarism’, in other words the belief in the primacy of money in human life and human motivation. Such a philosophy causes panic and depression both among those who have no money and also among those who have a lot, for such a philosophy excludes God from the serious life considerations, it bases everything on the idolatry of paper and electronic numbers.”
“But the Lord teaches, “Do not worry about your life” (Mt. 6, 25). The birds are nourished by God, the flowers grow, and they do not worry. We are told not to devote ourselves to what might or might not happen tomorrow. Our worries won’t change anything, cannot add any cubit to our stature (Mt. 6, 27). The Gospel tells us to do our best and then leave the rest to God, to trust in God. Modern life, on the other hand, tells us to worry all the time, to be always stressed. Such worry only causes depression, for it excludes God and His loving providence. On the other hand, there is nothing inevitable in the life of those who believe in God and His providence. Even the most terrible situations can end up positively, if we let God into our lives and societies. If we include God, then we can exclude worry and depression. As the Lord teaches us, we have to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6, 33). And then all other things that we need “shall be added” to us.”
“Today we honor Venerable Father Sampson. Although we call him among Venerable ascetic Fathers, he was also an Unmercenary Physician which is a separate kind of Saints honored by the Church tradition. He was a holy ascetic by his way of life and a physician by profession. St. Sampson was granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By his good and unselfish attitude towards people, combined with his exceptional kindness, he was able to work many great things. And healing the people he never asked to be paid. Once he healed Emperor Justinian himself. The Emperor wished to give St. Sampson a lot of money but the Saint refused to take wealth. He asked the Emperor to build a hospital instead. The Emperor fulfilled the Saint’s request and did build the hospital. Now we can imagine how much money St. Sampson was offered if a hospital could be built. This attitude is so different from the attitude of our modern-day doctors who strive to make as much money as they can. They charge people for their services and charge the insurance companies. Of course, it is just to be paid for your work, however, today’s Gospel tells us, “Do not worry about your life “(Mt. 6, 25). We may say that the holy men and women like St. Sampson did nor worry, but simply put the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first. These values, to put the things of the spirit first, are the values of the Saints of God. They are exactly the opposite of the values of modern society, which puts anti-Gospel and anti-spiritual values first. By following the Gospel, we challenge all the cruelty and arrogance of the modern world.”
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! May all the Saints, especially Venerable Father Sampson, pray to God for us that we may come to partake of their values and their lives.”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our young parishioner John (Ethan) Kay on the occasion of his past name day. Traditional Polychronion (Mnogaia leta!) was sung.

After the liturgical celebration the Rector and parishioners enjoyed simple but very delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.