On October 2, on the Sunday after the Exaltation, St. George Parish family had a beautiful service. In addition to Sunday celebration, we also honored our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov on his name day. Fr. Igor headed the Divine Liturgy. He was co-served by the guests from St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York: Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov) and Protodeacon Igor Panachev.
After the Gospel lesson proclaimed by the deacon, the Rector preached the following homily:
“Dear Fathers! Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Our Lord teaches us in today’s Gospel that His every true follower has to deny himself and take up the cross (Mk. 8, 34). Thus a Christian life requires a sacrifice and an endeavor.”
“A lot of us grew up listening to stories of heroes who sacrificed themselves for their country. They were often about heroes of different wars. Sometimes, we heard about people in other countries and even some of the Church’s Saints. But whatever we heard, we may notice that all these stories teach us courage, patience, hard work and self-denial. In some cases, the hero gave his or her own life to save others”.
“Our Savior, Jesus Christ, explained how all of us can be heroes of self-sacrifice. He taught this in today’s Gospel saying that by saying that whoever wants to be like Christ must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Christ and the Gospel will save his life. And whoever is ashamed of being with Jesus (in or out of church) and ashamed of His teachings will be rejected by Christ when He returns on Judgment Day”.
“In some instances, a person sacrifices all his or her life to some noble cause and lives to fulfill it. This is seen in many men and women who dedicate themselves to the monastic life. This is also seen when a young mother decides to raise a child without any help from her relatives and renounces her own personal or professional life for this child. But self-denial may also lead to the ultimate sacrifice, not to dedicating, but to losing one’s life in the name of the Gospel. Our calendar is full of different Saints, especially the Holy Martyrs who lost their lives for Christ and for the Gospel”.
“Today we commemorate Holy faithful prince Igor who lived in the XII century. Although he is not a clear example of a person who died for Christ, his tragic destiny showed how the words of today’s Gospel are true. St. Igor became the Great Prince of Kiev at the time of a cruel struggle for the Kievan throne between the two princely factions. He belonged to one of them and he was placed on the throne of Kiev by that group. But after being betrayed by his own subjects who kissed the cross to be faithful to him, after losing a battle to his enemies and after being held captive, St. Igor agreed to renounce this world and to become a monk. He probably understood the words of Christ who said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk. 8, 36). The power of a prince which he lost so fast, and the throne of Kiev which was taken away from St. Igor – all this proved that there is no profit for a man to gain anything if he loses his soul. Therefore, St. Igor being tonsured a monk, decided to retire from the political struggle and to spend the rest of his life in endeavors of piety. However, the evil people from the Kievan nobility decided to kill the prince-monk. They incited the mob who attacked St. Igor in the church, during the Divine Liturgy, seized him and tried to murder. He was first rescued by his brother, but the mob chased Igor further and finally brutally killed him. As I said, although St. Igor did not die for Christ sake, he did die because of the evil which overcame human nature of his enemies. Those people did not wish to follow Christ because they did not deny their sinful nature, their evil desires and cruel passions. A Christian should understand that political, social and other preferences are not so important as our spiritual life”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Dear Fathers! Let us understand our true calling, a calling of a Christian. It is to deny ourselves, to deny our sinful nature, an evil nature and passions. Let us take our crosses by fulfilling our duties and being patient in our lives. Let us follow Christ who Himself is the Way to the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom to which we can come by the way of the Holy Cross”.
The choir prayerfully performed hymns of the Exaltation of the Cross before Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the clergy venerated the Holy Cross in the middle of the church.
Following that Abbot Nicodemus on behalf of the clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes greeted the Rector on his name day commending Fr. Igor for his fulfilling ministry and diligent pastoral care for St. George parish, especially in today’s difficult times of discord between the people and the Orthodox nations. He also conveyed the greetings from our present and former Archpastors, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, and Archbishop Justinian. Fr. Nicodemus presented Fr. Igor and our parish with the gift from Archbishop Justinian – the covers for the Eucharistic vessels. The Rector thanked Fr. Nicodemus for his greetings and for the gift. Then the church Warden, Olga Roussanow had a speech and on behalf of our parishioners also congratulating the Rector. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed to Fr. Igor. Then the greetings were also extended to Protodeacon Igor Panachev and a Polychronion proclaimed on his behalf.
Our celebration continued at festal luncheon. The clergy and our parishioners enjoyed delicious meals, and a nice company. A toast was raised on behalf of the Rector celebrating his name day.