12th Sunday after Pentecost. Beheading of St. John the Baptist

 

On September 12, on the 12th 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 in Christ! Today we celebrate the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as we observe feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist transferred to Sunday”.
“Today’s first reading from the Holy Gospel deals with a very important question, about everlasting life. The young man presented such a question to our Lord Jesus Christ saying: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Mt. 19, 16). The young man did not doubt that eternal life exists, but he wanted to know how to enter into it”.
“Answering his question, our Lord reminded him of the Commandments. He said that in order to enter into eternal life, one must keep them. He enumerated certain Commandments pertaining to the love of the neighbor. Jesus did it to stress that loving or pleasing God is impossible without loving our neighbors”.
“We should also be confronted with that very important question: “What shall we do to have eternal life?” It is known that our life here on earth will end. We will have to leave this world. But our holy faith tells us that after our earthly existence we will enter into everlasting life. Faith also tells us that everlasting life will become eternal blessing and happiness for one and eternal punishment and torment for the others. Therefore, when the young man was asking about “having eternal life”, he wished to know how to acquire everlasting happiness. We should also reflect upon that question”.
“This earthly life is a brief moment in comparison with the eternity that is waiting for us. Therefore, this life has to become our preparation for the life everlasting. Again, Jesus reminds us of the Commandments of God given to the people through Moses. Keeping them we may rightly prepare for the eternity”.
“Today we commemorate the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. The second Gospel lesson was telling us about that terrible event (Mk. 6, 14-3). It was about murder, about breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Executing St. John was an unjust and deceptive murder of a righteous man. And it was also about adultery, about breaking of another Commandment. King Herod took the wife of his living brother Philip and married her committing adultery. Both Herod and Herodias lived in that sin”.
“St. John the Baptist was living a life that sought perfection. If the young man from the first Gospel lesson could not give up his possessions and follow the Lord, Holy Forerunner John could and did. He lived a holy life in the wilderness not possessing any wealth but trying to serve the Lord. As a part of such service was to be a Prophet, to tell the people about God’s will. Thus St. John was bold to say to King Herod that he is breaking the law by marrying his bother’s wife. And we heard from the Gospel that Herod was not happy with the words of St. John but did not  dare to commit a murder. However, his unlawful wife, Herodias found a way to procure the murder of the Holy Prophet. The Gospel tells us how she acted using her daughter Salome. Our festal kontakion says about Herodias that “she did not love the law of God, nor the eternal age, but preferred the delusive, the temporary one”. Herodias preferred a brief moment of this earthly life instead of having life everlasting. She preferred this delusive age living in a sinful pleasure. In that earthly life she had a glimpse of sinful delight, of vicious happiness and triumph over the just man. But it did not last long. Even her earthly life was not so happy. Herod, being a subject to the Roman emperor, was swept of his authority and exiled to Europe. Herodias and her daughter Salome followed him. In Europe, in today’s France, they experienced a cold winter. Once Salome was crossing the river over the ice and she fell through it. Her neck became trapped in ice. She was dangling her legs under the water, she was dancing in the icy river. Then her neck was cut by the ice and her head remained on the surface while her body was drowned and was never found. Her head then was brought to her mother on the plate, the same way as she once brought the head of the Holy Forerunner. Herod and Herodias died later being fallen into the ground”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us see how deceptive is sin and how delusive is this earthly life! Again, it has to be spent in preparation for life eternal, for the everlasting age which was loved by the just man, St. John but not preferred by sinful Herod and Herodias. They died and perished shamefully. On the other hand, the righteous man, St. John by keeping the Commandments and even going further than that – by his life of perfection – inherited eternal life in the Kingdom of God”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Keeping of the Commandments leads to eternal life. Their breaking leads to eternal punishment. The young man said to Jesus that he kept all of them. But, in fact, he was not perfect in doing so. He was attached to his wealth and he left Jesus in sorrow when he heard that he should sell everything and give it to the poor. His riches became his passion that precluded him from acquiring eternal life. Same happens with many of us because we have our weaknesses, our passions that preclude us from being saved. It is not easy to acquire salvation. But Jesus assured us that with God everything is possible, so a rich man may enter into eternal life if he trusts God and serves Him. A sinful man may enter into eternal life if he is asking God’s help”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us keep the Commandments, and let us do so with God’s help, acquiring His grace, let us pray to the Holy Forerunner and Baptist John to help us also, so by his righteous prayers we would enter the life everlasting!”

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

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed the hymns of the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

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

Following that he Rector congratulated Alexander Bezkrovny on his name day, as well as Moses Dunetz on his past name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the Theotokian prosphora was divided among those two parishioners. The Rector also made some announcements, especially regarding the Bible study which started in our parish and is planned to be held every Saturday.

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

 

The Bible Study in our Parish

 

Dear parishioners and friends of St. George Church!

We will begin our Bible Study meetings. You are invited to come to our church to study and discuss the Sacred Scripture.
Our first meeting will be held tomorrow, on Saturday, September 11, at 2 pm in our temple.
Our Rector will be lecturing through Facetime or Zoom from his residence.

11th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On September 5, 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. Our temple was visited by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), a ROCOR cleric who prayed in the sanctuary and received Holy Communion. After the Gospel lesson our Rector preached the following homily:

“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We are very happy to gather again in our church. Last week our area was hit by the flood. Thank God that our church was spared although we are actually in the basement. Some other churches were flooded but thanks to the Lord and to St. George we did not suffer”.
“Today is the 11th Sunday after Pentecost and today we finish the celebration of the feast of the Dormition. We have the final day, the leave-taking of the feast. Our Gospel lesson for today is telling us a story, a parable about a merciful king and an unmerciful lender (Mt. 18, 23-35). It is supposed to teach us to forgive. Let us interpret that parable to understand it better”.
“The king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants is God. He is our Master and Benefactor, and we are His servants and we owe Him a lot. But God is merciful and forgiving. His mercy is unlimited. That unlimited mercy and forgiveness of God is illustrated by today’s parable. The king forgives the debt of his servant, so God forgives a multitude of our sins. Thus, a debt to the king described in today’s parable is a sin against God. We are in debt to God because we commit sins. This debt originates with our neglect of God’s will”.
“Ten thousand talents the servant owed to the king is an impossible sum. It was more than a laborer could earn during his all lifetime!  Thinking of that we may see that we owe God all our life. It is a gift from God. But this life of ours is full of sins and mistakes. It could be impossible to pay this debt off. But God is merciful as the king in this parable. A hundred denarii is contrasted to the 10,000 talents. It was equivalent to about a hundred days’ wages. Thinking of that we may understand that our fellow men are usually owing us much less than we owe God”.
“Just as the king in the parable showed mercy toward his servant who fell down before him and asked to have patience with him (Mt. 18, 26), so does God show love toward us if we ask for forgiveness, if we repent. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we need to fall before God asking Him to be patient with us, we need to ask for His mercy. The best way is to show not only humility and sorrow, but true repentance – a desire to make things better, a desire to change for better.  We need to practice receiving the Mystery of Confession. True confession provides that no matter how great and terrible our sins are, if we sincerely repent, we receive forgiveness, our sins are absolved. Our debt is written off”.
“And on the other hand, just as the king showed strictness toward the servant when he found out that the servant himself had no compassion, so does God shows strictness toward us if we do not repent our own sins or do not forgive others for their trespasses against us. Our Lord Jesus Christ concludes today’s parable saying, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Mt. 18, 35)”.
“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel parable teaches us that because God forgives us, we in return are obliged to grant this gift of forgiveness to others. When each Christian forgives from his heart, true reconciliation and healing come to the Church by God’s grace. Therefore, let us ask God to forgive our debts to Him which are great, and let us forgive others their debts to us which are certainly not so great. Let us grow in love and forgiveness, so the Lord will bestow His mercy and compassion on us”.

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 leave-taking was celebrated.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed the glorification of the Dormition in the middle of the church. Then Fr. Igor greeted Abbot Eutychius on his coming name day and presented him the Theotokian prosphora. The traditional Polychronion was proclaimed on behalf of our guest.

Following that the Rector performed the blessing of the students who begin the school year.

10th Sunday after Pentecost. Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

On August 29, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hand of the Lord, our parish family had a beautiful celebration. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we continue to celebrate feast of the Dormition and on this day right after the Dormition we also celebrate the Translation of the Image of our Lord from the city of Edessa to the imperial city of Constantinople. That image of our Lord was not made by hands; it had been imprinted by our Lord Himself on the piece of cloth, on a towel. There is a history of that celebration”.
“During the time when our Lord was performing His earthly ministry, a Syrian ruler of the city of Edessa whose name was Abgar, was afflicted with leprosy. That ruler heard about great miracles of Christ. Although not having seen the Lord, Abgar believed in Him and wrote a letter requesting Christ to come and heal him. Abgar sent his court painter, Ananias, with this letter to Palestine telling him to paint an image of the Divine Teacher. Ananias was not able to paint Jesus because of the crowds around Him. But Jesus Himself called Ananias and promised to send one of His disciples to heal Abgar. Then the Lord called for water and a towel. He wiped His face with the towel, and on it was His Divine Image. The Savior sent the towel and a letter to Edessa back with Ananias. With thanksgiving Abgar received the sacred Image and started healing. He continued healing until the arrival of St. Thaddeus, one of the 70 Apostles. The Apostle preached the Gospel and baptized Abgar and all living in Edessa. Later, in the 10th century, the Image Not Made by Hands was translated from Edessa to Constantinople, and today we commemorate that translation. And later the Image was taken by the Latin Crusaders and disappeared. In our Orthodox Church devotion, that image is very popular and revered”.
“Today’s Sunday lesson from the Holy Gospel is about casting out the demon. It is about faith. We mentioned faith last Sunday. Today we may be convinced again how faith is important. Referring to the story of the Syrian ruler Abgar healed by the Image of Christ imprinted on a towel, we see how faith was crucial for that healing. Abgar believed without seeing Christ but he was awarded with the Image of the Savior not made by hands. That Image cured him of the disease”.
“In today’s Gospel story, the child possessed by a demon was tormented in different ways. We may wonder how did the demon get inside the man’s son and possess him? To this question we have the reply of Christ: “O faithless and perverse generation” (Mt. 17, 17). The demon came into possession of the son through unbelief, faithlessness. It was not only the son’s unbelief, but also the unbelief of the father and others around the son. However, as with everything that God allows to happen, there is a positive, providential aspect to this illness. It is clear that because of the illness of the son, the father has been brought to know humility. Thus he calls Christ, “Lord” and asks, “Have mercy on my son” (Mt. 17, 15). This shows humility, not pride. God gives His grace to the humble ones. Thus the possessed son of the humble father was healed”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s festal troparion says: ”Of Thine own will Thou were pleased to ascend the cross in the flesh to deliver Thy creatures from bondage to the enemy”. Our Lord voluntarily endured death on the cross in order to save us, to deliver us from the slavery of the devil. That slavery was seen in the demon-possessed youth. But that slavery was ended. However, the world and the human kind continue to serve the enemy and to be possessed. The image of God imprinted in our nature is often being darkened and perverted. Our modern generation may also be called “faithless and perverse”. Therefore, the Image of the Savior in the middle of the church today, the Image Not-Made by Hands, should remind us of our true destiny – to be the image of God. As the father of the possessed young man we need to become humble, to recognize God, not the enemy, to be our Lord, and then to ask the Lord to be merciful to us. And, of course, we need faith to be worthy of the Lord’s presence in our lives. We need the faith of the persons healed by the Lord, the faith of Abgar”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us humbly ask the Lord to grant us faith through the prayers of His Most Holy Mother!”

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

The choir prayerfully performed festal Sticheras of the Dormition during preparation for Holy Communion.

The interaction between the Rector, parishioners and guests continued at the trapeza table during the coffee hour.

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. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Celebrating today’s feast of the Dormition, the Falling-Asleep of the Most Holy Mother of God, we come to the ending of the Church year. And we are reminded that the liturgical year begins in September with the Birth of the Mother of God and ends with the feast of Her Falling Asleep”.
“Today’s feast also explains to us the origin of the hymn that we sing to the Mother of God: “More honorable than the cherubim, beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim”. These are not simply beautiful words that a pious Church writer composed, they have an origin in a spiritual revelation”.
“This feast reminds us of how our Lord from the Cross entrusted the care of His Mother to the Apostle John the Theologian. Tradition tells us that us the Holy Virgin, when She was about 60 years old, was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, who long before had announced to her the conception of Christ in her womb. He now announced to Her that in 3 days She will fall asleep. When it did happen the Apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem to make their farewells. The Virgin gave away all her earthly possessions to poor widows as she made ready for her burial in Gethsemane, next to Her parents St. Joachim and Anna and also Her spouse St. Joseph”.
“Tradition further tells us that the Most Holy Mother of God comforted the grieving.  Her house was filled with light, Her face shone and Her body was fragrant, as Christ came with the Angels to take Her soul, as we can see from the icon of this feast. We are reminded how Her soul was taken up by Her Son, together with the cherubim and the seraphim, and now we understand the origin of our hymn: “More honorable than the cherubim, more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim”. We remember how the Apostles, singing in procession, took Her body to the tomb which then they sealed”.
“We recall how the Apostle Thomas arrived later and wanted too to make his farewell; and so the tomb was unsealed and found empty except for the burial clothes and the wonderful fragrance. And from the very beginning we Orthodox have piously taken this to mean that the body of the Holy Virgin was so pure that it too had been taken up to heaven, and that is why we have nowhere any bodily relic of the Mother of God”.
“And we understand by this that the first in the Kingdom of heaven after Christ is the Holy Virgin. We understand by this that even given the weakness of human nature it is possible for our bodies to attain to utmost holiness. The Mother of God is, after Christ, the first-fruit of the Resurrection and shows us the way to the life of the Resurrection”.
“Of course there are people who will tell you that none of this is written in the Bible. But for us Orthodox the Holy Scriptures are only part of the ongoing Revelation of the Holy Spirit, which we call the Tradition. We are not dead to the Spirit, the Spirit speaks to us still, with ever more revelations about the life of the coming Kingdom”.
“We began by saying that with this feast we come to the end of the Church year. It reminds us of the ending of human life on earth. It is indeed our destiny to die; it is the only certain thing in this life; every day that passes we draw one day nearer to our deaths. However, whatever our destiny, our ambition is not to die, but rather to fall asleep, in the manner of the Virgin, and have our souls taken to heaven by the holy Angels, that death might become a mere passage from mortal life to immortality, from this life to eternity in the everlasting Kingdom of Christ and all His Saints”.

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

The choir prayerfully performed 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.

9th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 22, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Holy Apostle Matthias, our St. George parish had a nice celebration. Despite the worrisome weather forecast warning us of a tropical storm, we decided not to cancel the Liturgy but to gather in our church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov arrived from his residence in New Jersey and headed the Divine Liturgy. Most of our parishioners also came to the temple. They were joined by some parishioners of other churches where the service was canceled. After the Gospel lesson Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters! In today’s Gospel we hear how our Lord came to His disciples walking on the water in the midst of a storm. We hear how St. Peter through faith joins Him on the water. Then Peter becomes distracted by the storm and cries out “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14, 30). Our Lord reaches out and catches him and says “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14, 31)”.
“In this Gospel we see the power of faith. We see that if we have faith we can perform miraculous things. Our Lord reminds of this when he says the following: “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Mt. 17, 20)”.
“When we have faith we embark on a spiritual path that leads to God. That path often appears dangerous. As we see with St. Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water in the midst of a storm”.
“Once a passenger on a cruise ship approached the captain and said, “Captain, I found out that we are going to face a big storm on our way. Isn’t that dangerous?” The captain answered, “Don’t look at the storm. Look at the ship. Our ship is big, well equipped and updated. It can face any kind of storm. Again, don’t look at the storm, look at the ship!”
“Today we also have a storm, a tropical storm. Many people were frightened. Some churches canceled their services. Our parishioners were worried and asked whether we are having the Liturgy today. I was also concerned but we decided to proceed. And see, thank God, we are here and you came to the church. We did not look at the storm but “looked at the ship”, at the Church calling us for Sunday worship. And, as we know, the Church is the Body of Christ, so we should not look at the storm but at Christ”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! In our troublesome life we face many storms. Especially, if we are attempting to lead a pious and spiritual life. Then not only usual cares of life and life problems bother us, but the demons would attack us and tempt us to lead astray. But if we are in the ship of the Holy Church, we can go through those storms. We just have to look at the ship”.
“But if we still have any doubt as we walk this spiritual path, then the troubles and cares of this world overwhelm us. We become preoccupied with the storms that are around us because we lose our focus on God. This is what happened to Apostle Peter when he began to sink. He lost his focus on the Savior and placed his focus on the storm around him. When he did this he lost the grace that was given to him when he stepped out of the boat in faith. This should remind us as our Lord said “without Me you can do nothing” (Jn.15, 5)”.
“We have to keep in mind that sometimes we see what we want to see. Then we either see the real things or we see the things unreal. And sometimes the Lord blesses us, gives us His grace to see things invisible. Today we commemorate Holy Apostle Matthias. He was first one of the 70 Apostles but later he was promoted and became one of the 12 Apostles, taking the place of Judas the betrayer. Today’s second Epistle lesson told us that the Apostles decided to fill the place of Judas, so they elected a disciple to take that place. They had two candidates, casted lots and the lot fell on Matthias. Holy Apostle Matthias was persecuted like all other Apostles. And once his persecutors wanted to seize him but could not because all of a sudden they could not see him. He was there but they were unable to see him. That was the grace of God for St. Matthias to become invisible only for those who wished to take him into custody. Therefore, sometimes we see what we want to see or, on the contrary, don’t see”.
“When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us we have a choice to make. That choice is, do we place our trust in the Savior to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us. This is the same choice that St. Peter was confronted with as he was sinking in the water. When we are in this situation we can do two things the first is call out as Peter did “Lord, save me!” or “curse God, and die” (Job 2, 9) as Job’s wife told him in the midst of his afflictions”.
“If we choose to follow St. Peter’s example and cry out “Lord, save me!”, then we will find that the Savior is ready to reach out His hand and pull us out of the storm of temptations just like he did for Apostle Peter in the Gospel. This example shows us that the Lord is always there for us. How can we not see that the Lord is there for us then why do we doubt? It is because we are fainthearted and do not place our trust in the Lord”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! With the remembrance of these examples we should not be given over to despair but should be strengthened in our faith that the Lord will save us so that we can say as the Holy King David said, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You. For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling” (Ps. 55, 11-13)”.

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

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements.

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 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 lastly, we may notice that today’s feast which has been 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”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! 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 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 and preached a short sermon in Russian.

 

 

8th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 15, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we heard the Gospel story of a miraculous feeding of the five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Our Lord Jesus Christ worked a great miracle: a large number of people were fed with such a small amount of food. It is interesting that this miracle is described in all 4 Gospels. It makes us understand how important this event was among the other works of our Savior”.
“The Gospel of Matthew which we heard today tells that Jesus seeing so many people following Him He “was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Mt. 14, 14). After that, also due to His compassion He decides to feed these people with 5 breads. This is a very elementary work – to feed the hungry, a basic work of mercy. And the Lord does it in a perfect, miraculous way. We might consider that this is the fulfillment of His mission – to heal the sick, to feed the hungry and to make everybody happy. Many Jews expected their Messiah to do just that – to build a perfect society, to give enough food, a lot of wealth and to make Israel strong and independent country. But we should know that the real mission of the Son of God was not directly related to the things of this world. He brought us salvation from sin, not from poverty or starvation. He came to redeem us from the captivity of the evil one, and not to provide us with a good lifestyle. Our Lord wished to give us the real and eternal life, a life truly abundant, and not just good life here on earth”.
“Many people wished to build a better society, to make a good life only here, on earth. For instance, the Socialists used to exclaim: “First feed the hungry and then demand them to be moral!” They promised good life here if they overthrow the governments and the kings and build their societies based on social justice. But when they succeeded, they created much worse life with more oppression of the people, and they could not solve even social problems. The hungry were still around and even grew in their number”.
“This is why our Lord Jesus Christ in the very beginning of His mission, when He was tempted in the wilderness, rejected the proposal of the devil to command the stones to become bread. If He did He could feed all the hungry, to solve a social problem. But Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4, 4). Only the knowledge of the will of God can make us happy. Without that knowledge we won’t be able to solve any social problem”.
“Therefore, the significance of the miracle of feeding those 5 thousand people with 5 loaves of bread is not about giving food. It is about making the people partakers of the divine presence, making them connected to God. This miracle is the image of the Holy Eucharist, a mystery in which our earthly bread becomes the Body of Christ. The same Jesus Christ becomes multiplied as those 5 loaves of bread to be consumed not by 5 thousand men, but by all the faithful who are willing to receive Him. Christ is not divided; He remains the same. In today’s Epistle Holy Apostle Paul is asking, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1, 13).  No, dear brothers and sisters, Christ does not divide. Yet in every church, at every Divine Liturgy Christ is being distributed to the partakers of the Holy Communion. Christ cannot be consumed. Yet every time we receive Communion we consume Him. Isn’t that a miracle? And this miracle happens every time we participate in the Liturgy”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Keeping this in mind, let us appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving gift of the Eucharist He gave us. Let us strive for eternal, spiritual and truly real things instead of temporary, material and passing things of this world. For were our treasure is, our heart will be also”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed the customary blessing of the new honey and of some vegetables. He also made some announcements and explained the meaning of certain Church celebrations of this month. Fr. Igor pointed out that there is some difference between the ecclesiastical understanding and names of the holy days and the names of such feasts as known among the people. For instance, on August 19 we celebrate feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord which is also known as “Yablochnyi Spas” (literally, “the Apple Savior”) because on that day a blessing of apples and other fruits is performed. The Church accepts the people’s customs to bless certain fruits on such feasts but we should be aware of the primary meaning of those holy days.

The Rector also congratulated our young parishioner, Elena Malyshev on her past 7th birthday and proclaimed a Polychronion on her behalf.

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 8, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish family had a nice liturgical celebration. Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our guest, Priest Nenad Flora, Rector of the mission parish in Dominican Republic.

Following the Gospel lesson Fr. Nenad preached a homily on the appointed reading. He stressed that our Lord Jesus Christ extended His grace manifested in His healing power to cure all the illnesses and diseases among the people. Being His Church, we have to appreciate His grace and actively support our parishes.

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

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

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech reminding the parishioners of different minor feasts and commemorated Saints during the past and following weeks. He also congratulated Paraskeva Kosmidis on her name day, expressing his heartfelt wishes, proclaiming a Polychronion on her behalf and handing to her the Theotokian prosphora.

After the service Fr. Igor, Fr. Nenad and parishioners enjoyed coffee and refreshments, as well as a nice conversation.

6th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Councils

 

On August 1, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 6 Ecumenical Councils, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and the guest of our parish, Priest Nenad Flora from the ROCOR mission in Dominican Republic.

After the readings from the Sacred Scripture Fr. Nenad preached a homily.  He addressed the theme of the Gospel lesson appointed for that Sunday. The preacher stressed that the Lord is very merciful towards us. In the Gospel reading we heard that He did not question what sins the paralyzed man committed but He forgave his sins and healed him. Therefore, we have to appreciate our Lord’s compassion and mercy which are granted to us without our merits, so we should become aware of that gift from on high and become worthy of it.

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

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Councils during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech welcoming Fr. Nenad in our parish where he used to be a lay parishioner and where he was preparing spiritually to embrace his priestly ministry. Presently, he is serving as a missionary in a place considered to be a “paradise”, a resort place, however serving there is very difficult and hard. We are admiring Fr. Nenad for his endeavor and wishing him the best in his further ministry.

Then Fr. Igor greeted our Parish Treasurer and altar server, Emilian Suric on his past name day handing over to him the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming the traditional Polychronion on his behalf.

After the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial Litia requested by the two families of our parishioners. He also performed a blessing of the large icons acquired by our parishioner, Richard Beltran and donated to the Orthodox mission in Dominican Republic.

The clergy and parishioners continued their interaction at the luncheon enjoying pizza, coffee and cookies together.