Christmas Reception at the Russian Consulate

 

On Tuesday, January 15, an official Christmas Reception was held in the Consulate of the Russian Federation in New York City. 

The reception was attended by the representatives of St. George Church: our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow.

Among the distinguished guests at the reception were present Bishop Irinej of Eastern America (Serbian Orthodox Church), Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan (ROCOR), clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, the Russian Church Abroad, the Antiochian, Serbian and Bulgarian Patriarchates. Consuls General, as well as representatives from other nations’ diplomatic missions and various secular organizations in America, were also attending.

Sunday after the Nativity

 

On January 13, on the Sunday after the Nativity, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“On Sunday following the feast of the Nativity of Christ we honor the so called Fathers of God, righteous Joseph the Spouse, king David and Apostle James, brother of the Lord. They were relatives of our Lord Jesus Christ by flesh, as well as the representatives of the family to which Christ belonged as a Man. The Lord came from the tribe of Judah, from the family of David, the ancient king and Prophet of the Old Testament time. According to the Prophets, the Messiah had to come from that tribe and from David. Righteous Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also came from that family. He was the guardian of Jesus and was considered His father in the eyes of the people. And Holy Apostle James was one of the sons of Joseph from the first marriage, thus he was a stepbrother of Christ, so we call him the Lord’s brother. Those three Saints from the human family of Christ are honored today to make it clear that the Son of God truly became Man and had His human relatives.”
“Today we should especially mark the role of St. Joseph the Spouse in the early life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our Orthodox tradition we somehow do not pay much attention to that Saint. Today is the only day in our calendar when we commemorate him. Catholics do really honor him much more. If a Roman Catholic is asked whom he honors the most, he would say, “Jesus, Marry and then Joseph”. If a Russian Orthodox is asked, he would probably name St. Nicholas after the Lord Jesus and His Blessed Mother. This is the way we traditionally honor the Saints. But if we think about it, St. Joseph was very important person in history of our salvation and in the very life of our Savior.”
“Today the Gospel tells us how righteous Joseph was taking care of the Holy Family, how he protected the Child Jesus. He received a revelation in a dream from the Angel and he took the Child Jesus and His Mother and fled with them to Egypt. He stayed there until the danger had passed, then he brought them back to the land of Israel. The reason for all these wanderings was that king Herod became disturbed by the birth of Christ and he was afraid that a new king of the Jews was born, and that He would claim his throne. First Herod tried to find out from the Wise Men where that King was born and staying, but the Wise Men received the revelation and did not return to Herod and did not reveal him the place of Christ birth. Then, as the Gospel says, Herod sent his warriors to put to death all the male children in Bethlehem who were under two years of age. But at that time St. Joseph had already left Bethlehem along with the Holy Family and Christ had been saved.”
“A strange thing happened: the Savior of the world was saved by St. Joseph. The Savior of mankind was saved by a man. Therefore, we should remember the endeavor of righteous Joseph the Spouse and honor him, despite the fact that he has no separate feast in our calendar.”
“In addition, dear brothers and sisters, we should think today about the cause of salvation. How does it occur? What does it mean that Christ saves us?”
“Today we heard the Gospel story about the first years of the life of Christ. It gives us an answer to those questions. Let us see: God was born into the world; everything is in the power of God.  What happens next? Herod being full of anger desires to out Jesus Christ to death. What happens then? An Angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take the Child and His Mother and to flee to Egypt. Thus, in fact, as we already said, Joseph saves Christ. How come? Christ came to save everyone but here Joseph takes Mary and Her Child and escapes saving them?!”
“Here is, dear brothers and sisters, an answer to a question: “How our salvation occurs?” It occurs when the will of God and the will of man are working together. Joseph listened to the Angel and made great efforts, undertook a long journey, performed a great labor. In the same way our own salvation is our common labor with the Lord. The Lord open for us the doors of salvation, the Lord shows us the way of salvation. But we have to fulfill that task – to enter those doors or to walk that way of salvation. God cannot force us to do that; God cannot save a man without the man’s will. Our human will has to coincide with the will of God.”
“In these bright and holy days of Christmas when we celebrate the coming of our Savior into the world, let us honor holy relatives of God, especially the most worthy guardian of the Holy Family, righteous Joseph the Spouse. Let us also fervently pray the Savior who was born for us that we may have the force to walk the path of salvation. Let us fervently learn the God’s Commandments, let us live under the protection of the Holy Church and let us walk on the way of salvation to the life everlasting.”

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns of the Nativity during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed the glorification of the Nativity before the festal icon because that day was the final day of that feast’s celebration.

Following the glorification the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the main thoughts of his English homily.

Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas

 

On January 7 the Russian Orthodox Church observes feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as Christmas. Most of our parishioners, as well as some visitors came to St. George Church for the celebration of this great holy day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he proclaimed Christmas Sermon of Venerable Father Isaac the Syrian.

During the preparation for Holy Communion the choir beautifully performed different liturgical hymns of the Nativity.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Nativity before the festal icon in the middle of the church.

Following the Liturgy the Rector greeted the faithful on the occasion of the great holy day of the birth of the Son of God. He preached a short sermon about the significance of God’s Incarnation. As the Ukrainian Christmas carol says, “Heaven and the earth exalt today”. This is true because in the Nativity of Christ heaven and the earth rejoiced in the beginning of salvation. Heaven and earth united, divinity and humanity came together in this holy event. Therefore, we also need to rejoice and to seek what is divine to sanctify our lives.

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

Sunday before the Nativity

 

On January 6, on the Sunday before the Nativity, as well as on Christmas Eve, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. He preached a homily in Russian after the reading from the Holy Gospel.

Fr. Igor explained that the First Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew read on this day and containing the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ has two important meanings for us. First, we should understand that human ties of relations between ancestors and heirs are established by God. All of us have parents and ancestors. And our common ancestor is Adam, the first man created by God.
Secondly, and this is the most important to understand on this Sunday, is that genealogy of Christ recorded in the Gospel shows that Jesus was the true Man, not some Spirit or some Angel who came to the world. It shows that He was the true God and true Man, God incarnate and born. As a true Man He had His human ancestors.
In Christ the divine and human nature united, so we can unite with God. And as the Gospel precisely says where Christ was born and where He could be found by the shepherds and the wise men, our faith precisely tells where Jesus can be found now: in the Holy Orthodox Church.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns of the Prefeast of the Nativity before Holy Communion.

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

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

 

On December 30, on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our Parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Preparing us for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, the Holy Church proposes today to glorify the Holy Forefathers, to look at them by our spiritual eyes and to benefit from their spiritual example. We call the Forefathers those people who lived before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. They were His ancestors by flesh. And such ancestors were basically all the Saints of the Old Testament.”
“The time of the Nativity Fast is a symbolic commemoration of the Old Testament times, a long period of time when the mankind was expecting the coming of the Savior. More than five thousand years passed from the moment of the fall of our ancestors, Adam and Eve, and from their expulsion from paradise until the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those times are described in the Old Testament Scriptures. And we symbolically pass through that period in forty days of our fast before Christmas. And apart from today’s celebration of the Old Testament just, in this period we may find many days of commemoration of the Old Testament Prophets in our Church calendar.”
“For instance, today the Church honors Holy Prophet Daniel. In the 6th century before Christ Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonian king Nabuchednezzar who captured four noble Hebrew young men: Daniel, Ananias, Azarias and Misael. They were brought to Babylon where the king wanted them to become his servants. They were supposed to adopt the local customs and language. So, it became a time of a great test for their faith in one and true God. When the king ordered them to be fed from his own table, Daniel did not wish to eat the unclean food and convinced the king’s official to give them just fruits and vegetables. After ten days the Hebrew captives looked better than the ones who ate the king’s food.”
“This example from the life of today’s Saints is telling us about the benefit of fasting. But it also tells us that you can preserve your faith even in difficult circumstances. Even living among the people strange to the true faith, you may not lose your faith but to preserve and even make it grow. And this is an example for us who live among the majority of non-Orthodox people or even people who lately became almost faithless.”
“The Book of Prophet Daniel further tells that the king ordered to erect a huge idol made of gold and commanded all his subjects to worship that man-made image. The three Youths refused to do it because they kept the true faith in one God. The king got very angry and ordered them to be thrown into a fiery furnace. But a great miracle happened: the three young men were protected by God and the fire and heat did not harm them. This is an example of the true confession of faith shown by those three youths.”
“Thus faith in the true God was the main thing in the lives of the Old Testament Saints, in the lives of the Forefathers. According to that faith they were expecting the birth of the Messiah. That same expectation of the birth of the Savior is an important spiritual experience during these days of the Nativity Fast. We are expecting Christmas holy day and we prepare ourselves for that feast, preparing a dwelling place for the divine Child in our hearts, for the Holy Infant who came into the world for our salvation. And the whole spiritual sense of the Nativity Fast is in preparation of the human soul for the encounter with the Lord born for us.”
“As the Holy Forefathers waited for the birth of the Savior in the world, so we are now waiting for the feast of the Nativity of Christ and we are spiritually striving to purify ourselves, to improve our shortcomings, to repent our sins, to make ourselves worthy of the encounter with the Lord.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Being blessed by the Church of Christ, let us look at those righteous men and women and let us ask for their prayers for us, the sinners, so we may worthily and with spiritual joy and benefit spend the rest of the Nativity Fast and enter into the great celebration of the Holy Nativity of Christ!”

Before Holy Communion the Choir Director, Olga Roussanow prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Youths whose memory was celebrated on that day.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the ideas of his English homily. He also made some announcements concerning preparation for Christmas celebration. At the end the Rector handed presents from St. Nicholas to the parish children.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial service (Litia) in commemoration of the newly-departed Vera Koretz.

Vera Koretz Funeral service

 

On Thursday, December 27, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed a Burial service for the newly-departed parishioner Vera Koretz.

Unfortunately, the family of the deceased requested only a short and “simple” service at the cemetery.  The Rector advised the family that every Orthodox Christian of good standing, especially such a distinguished parishioner as Vera, deserves a proper funeral which would include bringing the body to the temple and performing all burial and memorial services according to the pious traditions of the Orthodox Church. However, despite the priest’s suggestions, members of the decedent’s family insisted on a short service at the grave.

The internment took place at the Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn. Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow arrived there and performed an abbreviated Burial office.

Following the service Fr. Igor preached a brief sermon pointing out that the very name of the newly-departed, Vera, meant “faith”. Faith is very important in our life. Even a secular person needs faith to believe in himself or in his loved-ones. A religious person needs faith to believe in God and in eternal life. Vera lived according to her faith in God, so, as we hope, she may receive her reward in eternity. Now, we who are still living this earthly life, need faith to prepare for the life everlasting waiting for us. In conclusion, Fr. Igor also expressed his deepest sympathy to the Vera’s family.

Our long-time Parishioner Vera Koretz passed away


We announce with sorrow that our long-time parishioner Vera Koretz has fallen asleep in the Lord on December 24, 2018.

Vera was a very active member of St. George parish family. She was one of the oldest parishioners who were raised in St. George Church and among those few of them who remained faithful to the Parish. For a long time she attended our temple, participated in the liturgical and spiritual life of our community, helped a lot in maintaining the church’s beauty and cleanness, and assisted in many parish activities. For a number of years she fulfilled the duties of the parish Treasurer.
Unfortunately, during the last years Vera was suffering from an illness and was not attending our church, so we missed her at our services and coffee hours.
Lately Vera became very ill and was hospitalized. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our Warden, Olga Roussanow visited her in the hospital last Sunday. At that time she received the Sacrament of the Holy Unction. On the next day she passed away.

Our Parish expressed sincere condolences to the Koretz family.
Vera will be remembered as a nice, cheerful, hard-working person and a devout member of our church.

Please, offer your prayers for the repose of her soul!
MAY HER MEMORY BE ETERNAL!

30th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On Sunday, December 23, on the 29th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Today’s Sunday Gospel reminds us again about the need to be grateful.”
“Jesus entered a village and was met by ten lepers who lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk. 17, 13). Leprosy was, and as you know it still exists, leprosy is one of the most wretched and hopeless diseases. It is a daily dying. And the specialists say, it has almost no symptoms. A leper does not feel pain but his body is decaying while he is still alive. So those ten miserable lepers came to Jesus having faith and hope that he can help them. And He did. He said, “Go, show themselves to the priests” (Lk. 17, 14). That was a prescription of the Jewish law that the priests examined persons who claimed they became healed from leprosy and could give them a certificate that they are really cleansed. Sending the lepers to the priests, Jesus wished that they demonstrate their faith. They were still sick when they had to go, so Christ wanted them to believe Him. And they were probably confused first. Yet they went.”
“On their way to the priests all of them cleansed. We can imagine the great joy they must have felt when they realized that they had been healed. One would think they would rush back to thank Jesus for delivering them from this dreadful disease. But this is the awful part of the story: only one of them came back to give thanks. All except one forgot to show gratitude. All went to Christ for healing, yet only one came back to praise Him. How typical of man!”
“We are very quick to pray in trouble and very slow to pray when everything seems to be fine. A story is told of a chaplain in World War 1 whose duty was to censor the letters of the soldiers. The night before the battle many of them wrote letters full of fear and promises that if they survive, they will become better, will pray and go to church, will try to avoid sins. Some even pledged to become priests or monks. But after the battle the tone of the letters changed completely. They were writing not their moms but their friends asking whether they could get together during a leave and have good time. Before the battle: “Oh, God, help me get through tomorrow!” After the battle: “Well, I got through, God, so I don’t need you any more”.”
“So the Lord asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Lk. 17, 17). In fact, were not many but the whole human kind was delivered from the tyranny of sin by our Lord when He came into this world. He dame, He was born in Bethlehem to save us [….]. All of us. We all received His grace, His gift of liberty, His power of victory. All good things in our life are because of Him.”
“But do we praise Him? Sometimes we do. All our Orthodox Liturgy is about praise and thanksgiving. We begin our Church services exclaiming “Blessed be our God…” Then we keep saying “Glory to Thee…” Even the very name of our major Sacrament is the Eucharist which is from Greek Eucaristia, translated as “Thanksgiving”. Thus our Divine Liturgy is in fact, service of thanksgiving. Often we don’t realize that. We know that it is the most important service in the Church. There other services: Vespers, Compline, Midnight service, Matins, Hours, and they are served in the monasteries. In many parishes Vespers and Matins are served. Most of the church-going people usually attend the Liturgy and should know that at the Liturgy we have a sacrifice, an offering of the bread and wine which becomes the true Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit is being invoked by the priest and the He descends and changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord. Faithful receive Holy Communion. It is really difficult to realize that it is thanksgiving. But it is because in our prayers of the Liturgy we give thanks to the Lord. The priest even exclaims: “Let us give thanks to the Lord!” Most of the priestly secret prayers are about giving thanks for everything: for salvation, for redemption of the human race, for a possibility to offer this sacrifice, for the promise of eternal life, even for the opportunity to do the remembrance of Him who offered His life for us.”
“So, sometimes we do thank God. But how many times we fail to praise Him or to be grateful! And again the Lord may ask, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Let them return as did the one. They have every reason to praise God with loud voice and give Him thanks. And let us, dear brothers and sisters, not fail to be grateful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in order to be worthy of His immeasurable graces.”

The choir prayerfully performed hymns to the commemorated Saints before Holy Communion.

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

Following the service in the church the Rector and the Warden Olga Roussanow visited our long-time parishioner Vera Koretz in the hospital. Lately she became very ill and had been hospitalized. Fr. Igor performed the Mystery of the Holy Unction over the infirm.

The Rector of St. George attended the Meeting of the Bishop’s Council

 

On Thursday, December 20, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, presided over the Meeting of the Bishop’s Council of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes, co-chaired the Meeting along with His Grace.

The Council members discussed a range of issues related to the life of the Moscow Patriarchate Parishes in the USA in 2018, and also created a working group on organizing the next Convocation of the Patriarchal Parishes in the fall of 2019.

The financial report of the Treasurer Panagiotis Billis was heard and adopted.

On the proposal of Bishop Matthew the members unanimously voted to elect a monastery representative to the Council, especially due to an early termination of one of the Council members’ work. Thus the Acting Abbot of St. Demetrius Monastery in Framingham, MA, Hieromonk Savvaty (Ageyev) was elected to the Bishop’s Council.

Celebration of the Patronal Feast at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York

On Wednesday, December 19, commemoration of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Divine Liturgy for the Patronal feast of the Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City was celebrated by the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of all America and Canada. His Beatitude was co-served by the interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh. 

The hierarchs were co-served by the Rector of St. George Church and Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, and other clergy: Archpriest Alexander Golubov (cathedral cleric); Archpriest George Konyev (Rector of Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ); Archpriest Nikolai Babijtchouk (rector of All Saints of Russia Church in Pine Bush, NY); Archpriest John Behr (cleric of St. Vladimir Seminary in Crestwood, NY, OCA); Archpriest Andrei Sommer (senior priest of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, ROCOR); Archpriest Eric Tosi (secretary of the Orthodox Church in America); Archpriest Yaroslav Lutoshkin, Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov) and Priest Rodion Shamazov (cathedral clerics); Archpriest Alexey Bocharnikov (Rector of St. Nicholas Church in Chester, PA); Priest Dmitry Nedostupenko (Secretary of the Diocese of Sourozh); Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak (Secretary to the Metropolitan, OCA); Deacons Alexey Golubov, John Peters and Yulian Ryabtsev (cathedral clerics); and Deacon Nicholas DeGraaf (cleric of Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ).

A number of parishioners from St. George attended that beautiful celebration, including our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow and our Sacristan, Andrew Malyshev.

During the Liturgy, Bishop Matthew ordained new clerics of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA: Deacon Nicholas DeGraaff to the Holy Priesthood, and Subdeacon Michael Sidorechev (cleric of St. Nicholas Church in Chester) to the Holy Diaconate.

Following the Ambo prayer, a rite of glorification was served before the icon of the Patron Saint of the Cathedral.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy Bishop Matthew greeted Metropolitan Tikhon, thanking him for his prayers during the Liturgy. In commemoration of his visit, Bishop Matthew presented the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America with a jade prayer rope.

His Beatitude then greeted the concelebrating clergy and faithful, then asking Bishop Matthew to relay the words of gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Rus’ for his unwavering brotherly attention to the Orthodox Church in America as well as well as his support for the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

A bountiful lenten luncheon was served in the Cathedral refectory where interaction continued. Later, the two hierarchs met discussing various points of cooperation between the Orthodox Church in America and the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, as well as exchanging assessments on the situation in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.