24th Sunday after Pentecost


On November 19, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish family gathered for a beautiful celebration. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he addressed the faithful with the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul is talking about us, Christian people, as about some kind of building. He says that we are “built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…” (Eph. 2, 20-21). These words and these beautiful examples St. Paul used to convince the early Christians that all of them, both Jews and Gentiles, all those who converted to Christ, became united in Him as parts of one building. Both circumcised and uncircumcised, became fitted together in one community established by God”.
We should admit that St. Paul is also talking about us. In Christ each one of us becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, because God dwells within us by His grace and because we are united with Him as members of His Body”.
That understanding leads us to another idea that St. Paul conveys in today’s Epistle lesson. He is talking about the spiritual building of the Body of Christ, of the Church. We, as its members, are built on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, and the cornerstone of the building is Jesus Christ Himself. In Him, says St. Paul, the whole building is fitted together (Eph. 2, 21). Thus, we are parts of the building which is the Church. We are the members of the greater Body which belongs to Jesus Himself. We are also members of God’s household, as St. Paul nicely put it in today’s lesson. He says, “You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the Saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2, 19). If you really think about this, you may realize what a great thing it is! Some people dream of being members of a wealthy and influential family, some people wish they were born to rich and noble parents. Here we are, all of us, born to the family of Christ, members of God’s household! What family can be more powerful, what household can be wealthier?! We are the parts of Christ”.
This kind of honor requires a lot of responsibility. That means, we have to be aware of the great role which is given to us. If God wishes to permeate all our life, we must be aware of that and cooperate with His grace in all moments of our existence”.
One Christian preacher said once, “The real test of religion is life. To know whom you worship, let me see you in your shop, let me overhear you in your trade; let me know how you rent your houses, how you get your money, how you keep it, or how you spend… The test of your religion is your weekday life, your works, and not your words.” He was right. We need to practice religion not only by what we do in church, but also by what we do out of church: how we speak, how we earn money, how we treat our family. Of course, the Church is necessary. Here we meet Christ, here we are able to receive Him in the Eucharist. But in another way we meet Him also outside of church in everyone, even in least of our brethren. In the temple we receive Christ, but we need to bring Him out of the temple, into the world to reshape the world according to Christ”.
Dear brothers and sisters! If we are members of God’s household, parts of the Body of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit, let us bring the Triune God to others. Our stay in the holy temple is like staying on Mt. Tabor. But Jesus did not heed the request of Peter to remain on the mountain. He descended into the valley to continue His ministry. Therefore, the purpose of our ascension through prayer and the Liturgy in the temple is that we may be transfigured with Christ and then descend from our “Temple mountain” into the valley of life to transfigure it with His grace and love”.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed the Psalm 33.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector reminded the parishioners about the celebrations during the next week. Particularly, he pointed out that we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving Day which is a secular holiday but it has a great religious meaning. We need to be grateful to God for all his blessings shed upon us in this life.

Then Fr. Igor announced that soon he is going to leave our parish and that he will no longer be our Rector. He will be celebrating his last Liturgy at St. George on the next Sunday, November 26. The parishioners will have the opportunity to say goodbye to Fr. Igor on that day, having a church service and Thanksgiving Luncheon with him.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost


On November 12, on the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, we had a nice celebration at our St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we began reading the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians. The main theme of this Epistle is to tell about the riches of Christ given in the Church. Thus, in today’s reading we hear the following words: “God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2, 4). It should be noted that if we read the whole chapter, and not just the assigned lesson for today, we would see that these beautiful words are preceded by the word “but”. St. Paul says that the Ephesians once walked according to the course of this world, according to the evil one, conducted themselves in the lusts of flesh; they were by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2, 2-3). “But,” – he says, “God… made us alive” (Eph. 2, 4). “But” is a word which makes a difference”.
We say, “That is a good idea, but…” “He is a good person, but…” Some of us may be unlucky to hear, “You are a good worker, but I have to let you go”. That word may change the whole situation”.
This is true in our reading of the Scripture. Again and again we come upon the expression “But God…” Whatever may have been said before is immediately corrected by these words. Today’s Epistle lesson is an example of that. The Ephesians and the whole human kind was living in sin, was driven by the devil, was following the desires of body and mind. But God who is rich in mercy corrected that and made alive those who were dead through trespasses. We had no way to escape the bondage of the devil, the slavery to sin, and the condemnation of death, but God had such a way for us. We were helpless sinners, says St. Paul in another Epistle, to the Romans. Then he says those two words again: “But God shows His own love toward us, in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5, 8). No matter how sinful we are, how unworthy or inferior we consider ourselves, God’s forgiving love can hardly wait to bestow upon us the immeasurable riches of His grace. Yes, we are sinful, but God’s mercy is greater than any sin”.
Let us recall some other examples from the Scripture. The book of Genesis tells us about righteous Joseph, the son of Jacob. He was sold to slavery by his own brothers, then he was brought to Egypt. There he was wrongfully accused and thrown into prison. The Scripture says, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper” (Gen. 39, 21-23). It seems that everything was against Joseph, but God was with him. Life does terrible things to us. We suffer broken hopes, moral failures, different misfortunes. But God is able to bring good even out of evil to those who love Him and work with Him. Thus, at the end of the story Joseph said to his brothers, You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50, 20)”.
Jesus said to the holy Apostle Peter one day, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Lk. 22, 31). In time of deepest darkness and despair Jesus wanted Peter to know that He cared. He prayed for him to be restored and to become an example of a firm faith to his fellow Apostles”.
And our final example from the Scripture for today: Jesus on the Cross. He died and then He was buried. That was to be the end of the greatest life ever lived. But wait! Here comes another and the greatest “but” ever spoken “But God raised Him from the dead”(Acts 13, 30)”.
The world may press in upon us, but God makes the difference. We are weak, but in Jesus Christ we find strength. We are tempted but in Him we find a way out. We despair, but in Him we find hope. May the Lord God help us to cling to Him!”

The choir director prayerfully performed the Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated our Warden an Choir Director, Olga Roussanow, on the occasion of her past birthday. He wished her God’s help in her life and continuous service to the Holy Church pointing out that thanks to Olga we have proper services in our temple. He also greeted Maria Malyshev on her past birthday wishing her the same – God’s help that the Lord may assist her in her work and family life. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed to both of them.

At the end, the Rector asked the parishioners to make their contributions for the parish Building and Ground Maintenance Fund. Little Victor Suric, the son of our Treasurer, stood beside Fr. Igor and collected the parishioners’ donations while they were coming to the priest to kiss the cross.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost


On November 5, on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Holy Apostle James, brother of the Lord, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost we hear about Old Testament rules being abandoned by the followers of the New Testament. In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15). It does not matter whether we follow the Old Testament rules. What matters is whether we are the new creation, new people in Jesus Christ”.
Today we commemorate Holy Apostle James, brother of the Lord. He was not one of the 12 Disciples of Christ but he belonged to the other 70 Apostles. St. James is called the brother of Jesus because he was the son of St. Joseph, thus he was Jesus’ stepbrother. Some time after the Ascension into the heaven Christ appeared to His stepbrother and blessed him to be the first bishop of Jerusalem. St. James was ruling the Jerusalem Church for 30 years. He was presiding at the first apostolic gathering, the Council of Jerusalem, that was deciding on the question whether the Gentiles converting to Christian faith must keep the Old Testament rules. The Apostles decided that they should not. And St. James gave a speech about that (Acts 15, 13-21). So, today’s celebrated Saint has a direct relation to the theme of today’s Sunday Epistle reading: in our Christian faith, it does not matter whether we follow the Old Testament. What matters is that we ought to be the new people in Christ”.
Thinking of our own life experiences we see that many of us wish to correct our past mistakes. We often wish to change our wrong choices we made in our lives. We would be happy to get a “fresh start”, to have a new beginning, “to start from scratch.” “If only I could begin all over again!” This has been our plea since Adam. Jesus, the Son of God came to us to answer to this plea. He came to give each one of us a fresh start. And He does not require any more to bear a sign of our allegiance to Him on our flesh, as He required the people of the Old Testament. They circumcised their baby boys to show their covenant with God. In Christ this is no longer required. But there are other more important conditions to meet, in order to become that new creation St. Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle”.
First of all, we have to be born in Christ. Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3, 3-5). This new birth is given to us in Baptism. The line of heredity was transferred from the old Adam line to the new Christ line. Life found a new origin, a new beginning. We received the Holy Spirit. Our bodies became temples of God. The blood of Jesus now flows in us through Holy Communion. We became the new creation”.
But this new birth in Christ must be followed by a personal acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. Many of us were baptized at the early age. But even those who received that Sacrament later in their lives, may lose some freshness of its grace. Thus, after the new birth should come this personal acceptance, personal commitment to Him as God. This is followed by repentance for our sins and a complete forsaking of the old life. It is called conversion. But even repentance itself is called the “second Baptism”. We are born again and again in a true repentance, in a sincere and honest confession”.
A man when he is born is only a man. But a man when he is reborn in Christ is more. He is a new man with a new life and a new name. He is even named after Christ: “Christian””.
Holy Apostle James, brother of the Lord, being born as a Jewish man, being circumcised, was reborn in Christ. He ruled the mother of all the Churches, the Church of Jerusalem. Finally, he was martyred there for Christ, being thrown down from the roof of the Holy Temple. His persecutors were driven by the same unwise zeal of the followers of the Old Testament, as the persecutors of Christ. St. James was not only a man born in the earthly household of Jesus Christ. He became more than that, a new man in Christ, a righteous man filled with the Holy Spirit and being a member of the heavenly household of Christ”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us truly “commend ourselves and each other, and our all life unto Christ, our God,” as we pray every Divine Liturgy. Let us receive a new spiritual birth a renewal in the holy Mystery of Penance, to refresh our baptismal grace and ability to be the new people in Christ. Let us participate in the spiritual life of the Christian community, of the Church. Let us be together in this Ark of salvation, a saving Sheepfold. Then we will be able to become this new people of God, a new creation which will be worthy of seeing the Kingdom of God and entering into eternal blessedness!”

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed the Psalm 33.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor made the announcements, especially regarding the collection for our building and ground maintenance which will be taken next Sunday.

20th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council


On October 22, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, and feast of the Holy Apostle James, son of Alphaeus, our St. George parish held a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the 20th Sunday after Pentecost we begin readings from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. A few words should be said about this Epistle. Galatians were the people lived in the region in the middle of Asia Minor called Galatia because a couple of centuries before the Galls were exiled there. St. Paul visited that region and converted a number of people. But when he left some of the Galatians began to question his authority and his teaching. This is why Paul had to write an Epistle to them to defend his apostolic authority and to persuade them that he is conveying the right teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in today’s reading we hear his words: “I make known to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man… but it came through revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1, 11-12). St. Paul tells that the teaching he received and preached to the Galatians is not man’s invention. It was revealed by Jesus Christ”.
Christianity is a revealed religion. It was not invented by any wise man, by any philosopher or a religious leader. It came directly from God. Our beliefs, our morals, our values, our guidelines and principles – all was revealed by God through Jesus Christ”.
Our life is like a traveling in a sea of right and wrong, but God did not leave us without a compass. Any American flight to space could not be accomplished without mission control in Houston. The astronauts were in constant communication with their home base. If they had lost contact, they would have vanished – perhaps forever. If control and guidance are important on a flight to space, how much more important they are for our journey through this life to eternity. Yet the good news is that God has not left us alone on this journey. He has given us guidance. He gave us His Son, Jesus to be our “mission control”. In constant contact with Him, guided and filled with the Holy Spirit, we know the way, we know what the real values of life are”.
Many today’s people and even today’s Christians are confused and disoriented. This is why we see them accepting wrong ideas and wrong values of this world. This happens because they lose the contact with our “mission control”, with our Lord Jesus Christ and are deprived of the grace of God. On the other hand, a true Christian person should feel like being out of step with the values of this world. It is because he marches to the music of a different drummer: the Lord Jesus. He is the One Who reveals to us values that never change, the eternal value of God. As He Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14, 6)”.
A diamond assessor has a difficult job to determine the value of different finished diamonds. He is surrounded by dozens of trays of those precious stones. One day an assessor was asked how can he look all day at hundreds of diamonds without becoming confused. The assessor smiled. “It is very simple,” he replied. Holding out his hand, he pointed to a fabulous diamond ring on his finger. “This diamond is perfect” he said. “It doesn’t have a single flaw. Every half hour or so, I put it under my eyeglasses. The picture of the perfect diamond restores my sense of values!””
What the flawless diamond was to the assessor, the Lord Jesus is to us. By looking constantly at Him and measuring all things in the light of His perfection and His commandments, we keep a sense of what is really important and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, what is eternal and what is temporal, what is expensive and what is cheap, what deserves our allegiance and what does not”.
Today we honor the Holy Fathers of the last, 7th Ecumenical Council. They defined that the Orthodox Christians have to venerate the holy images, the icons. Teachings of the Holy Fathers are the part of that treasure of faith, of what is really important and belongs to eternity”.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Our religion and our way of life are not based on the opinions of great thinkers or leaders. They are based on the will of God revealed to us. God has spoken in Christ. He was the One Who spoke to St. Paul. He is the One Who speaks to us today. Let us listen to Him. Let us obey the voice of God said at the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, “He (Jesus) is My beloved Son, listen to Him!””

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Council and the hymns to Holy Apostle James.

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

19th Sunday after Pentecost. Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


On October 15, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish also celebrated Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday after Pentecost and we also observe feast of the Most Holy Mother of God – Her Protection. In today’s first Epistle lesson we are told strange words that St. Paul says the Lord Himself told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12, 9). This is a paradox of our Christian faith: strength is made perfect in weakness”.
We have to say that Christianity is full of paradoxes, of certain contradictions. Philosophers and theologians call them antinomies. Our faith is full of them. We believe in God Who is ineffable, inconceivable and incomprehensible, yet we believe that we may know Him. We say that God does not belong to the world, yet He is present everywhere in the world. We believe that God is Spirit, yet He became man. We believe that God is strange to our nature, yet He acquired our own nature. We believe that God is inapproachable by men, yet we may become the partakers of His nature. In the same way St. Paul tells us that the Lord says that our strength is made perfect in our weakness”.
When we are weak, then we are strong. This is so because our weakness makes us lean on God’s strength. There is a story of a sheep that limped and never went away from the shepherd. Someone asked about this sheep – why it limped and why it never left the shepherd’s side. The shepherd explained that that sheep was partially deaf and could not hear the shepherd’s voice. As a result, it was often in danger. Many times it had to be rescued. Finally the shepherd had to injure the sheep’s leg. Since then the sheep limped, but it stayed closer to the shepherd and it was safe. The sheep was weak, but it was strong along with the shepherd”.
In today’s Epistle reading St. Paul tells that he was also afflicted by some “limp”. It did not come from God, but from the evil one. Paul says that he was given “a thorn in flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor. 12, 7). Many interpreters of the Scripture guessed what kind of “thorn on flesh” St. Paul had. It could be a chronic illness, or troublesome Christians who criticized him, or hard-hearted Israelites who persecuted him, or even some sinful desire which burned St. Paul, tempted his flesh. We don’t know for sure. But what we do know is that God allowed that thorn to remain in order to keep Paul weak, “limping” at the Shepherd’s side where he would find constant strength for his weakness. And when St. Paul discovered that the true purpose of that thorn was to keep him close to the Source of power, he rejoiced. He said, “Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12, 9)”.
All of us, at least once in our lives, were driven into a corner from which there seemed to be no way out. If this happened, you may be sure that God allowed it, so He may come with His almighty power to deliver you. But first He wants you to discover that you are powerless and that you have to depend on Him. “When I am weak then I am strong.” If we are weak, let us admit it and accept it. Let us not pretend that we are able to do a lot of things. Accept the weakness, but not just the weakness. Accept that such feeling of weakness is needed to lead us to Him Who is the real source of strength”.
Today, as we celebrate the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, we may recall the history of this feast. The imperial city of Constantinople was under a siege. The enemies surrounded the city and wanted to take it. The inhabitants of Constantinople were weak, desperate. There seemed to be no way out of that danger to be conquered and killed by the enemies. But they prayed. They prayed to God and to His Blessed Mother. And one of them, a humble holy man saw the apparition. The Most Holy Mother of God appeared in the sky and covered the city with Her veil, with Her protection. And a miracle took place: the enemies retreated and the city was spared. In the same way, we may come to the intercession of the Holy Mother of God in our desperate needs and see that through Her prayers and Her Protection God will deliver us”.
Some young man once said to a priest, “Don’t you see, your religion is a crutch!” The priest replied, “Sure it is. But who is not limping?” Like the sheep in the story, we have to limp by the Shepherd’s side. St. Paul did and became strong”.
St. Paul prayed three times that the thorn in flesh, his weakness might depart from him. God answered him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Cor. 12, 9). To all our weaknesses God may give us His help which will be enough to overcome the difficulties, to solve the problems and to feel secure. And God said to Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. Paul discovered that God is right. In his weakness Paul leaned on Christ and found power beyond what he thought possible. So we can also lean on Christ and on His Blessed Mother to discover that His grace and Her intercession are sufficient to support us in our weaknesses, temptations and struggles”.
Let us then, dear brothers and sisters, ask our Lord and His Blessed Mother that our weaknesses may drive us closer to Him and to Her, and that we may find in Him and in Her the strength to follow Jesus on the path of our salvation. Let us then boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us!”

The cantor prayerfully performed the hymns in honor of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. Then Fr. Igor greeted Maria Malyshev on her past name day handing her the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf.

18th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 8, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!The Epistle lesson for today is about giving. St. Paul teaches the Corinthians saying, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart…” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Thus, today we will talk about the way we should give to the Church and how St. Paul instructs us to give”.
Speaking of giving leads us to talk about money. We all heard a saying, “Money talks”. This words are sometimes true, and not always in a negative sense. For instance, the way we spend our money will say a lot about us, about our preferences. If a biographer wanted to write a book about you, he would want to review your old financial records, for instance, your old checks. They could tell him what kind of person you are. He could find out that you are a member of the church. But suppose that in looking through your checks and other records he learned what your income is, and discovered that in a typical year you spend one percent of your income for God’s work and ten percent for your personal luxuries. Then he would probably be justified to write that you loved the Lord in the amount of 1 dollar per week and loved your personal luxuries in the amount of 10 dollars per week. Money talks! It tells what kind of people we are, what we value most in life, what we love and care for most”.
Our church giving is very often much less than our spending for our different needs. This is why it is important to understand that our giving has to be proportionate to what we have. The important thing in Christian giving is not “how much” we give, but “how much in comparison to our ability”. A gift does not need to be large in order to be significant. It is great or small in proportion to the amount of other things we possess. One of the greatest examples of Christian giving is the poor widow who came in to the Temple one day and gave “all that she had”. It was not very much, just two copper coins, but the Lord said about her, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all of those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mk. 12, 43-44)”.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us give proportionately as God blessed us. And let us give lovingly. The Christian giving is a personal commitment to Christ. Therefore, if you don’t love God, don’t give. God does not need a support from those who do not really care. But if you do care about the Church, about God’s work, let your giving be some indication of your love”.
Give proportionately, give lovingly, give generously. St. Paul says, “He who saws sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who saws bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9, 6). When it comes to giving to God and His work, if you must make a mistake, make it on the side of generosity, as you would if you loved one were in need and asked you for something. Make a mistake on the side of going beyond what is practical and try what is spiritual. Then if you saw bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Give abundantly and you will receive abundantly”.
Today’s final advice of St. Paul to us is to give gladly. He says, “Let each one give… not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Give from your heart, give cheerfully. Even a dog knows the difference between reluctant and cheerful giving. Throw him a bone and he will go away without wagging his tail. But call him kindly, pat him and then give him a bone, and he will go away with a wagging tail. In both cases it is the same act of giving a bone. But the way, the spirit of giving makes a difference”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us then ask ourselves how do we give to God? Do we give proportionately? Do we give to Him lovingly, generously, gladly? Do we give Him not only our money but also our energy, our talents, our abilities, our time, our very lives? Today we commemorate Venerable Father Sergius of Radonezh. He did not give his material wealth to the Church because he was a humble monk. He became the abbot of the monastery but, as a monk, he had no money to give. But he did give his talents, his time, his labor, his prayers and ascetic fits – all his life – to the Church and to God’s work. He is an example of how we may not give the money to our Church but then we need to give all our life. Our time, our work, our talent can also be generously offered as a great help to the Church. We are always grateful that when we need some help in our parish, the people show up and do it. There not too many such people but they are always available”.
Dear brothers and sisters! If our giving to God is proportionate, loving, generous and cheerful, then God, as St. Paul teaches us, will provide for us with His blessings. St. Paul assures us that we will be “enriched in everything… which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Cor. 9, 11). If our giving is abundant, God’s giving to us will be even more abundant”.

The cantor nicely performed the hymns in honor of Venerable Sergius during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy our parish Warden, Olga Roussanow had a speech and on behalf of our parishioners congratulating the Rector on his past name day. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed to Fr. Igor. Then the Rector also greeted our parishioner and Treasurer, Emilian Suric on his past birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on his behalf.

Following the service the priest and parishioners enjoyed a delicious luncheon served in honor of the Rector’s name day celebration. Toasts were raised on behalf of Fr. Igor and Emilian Suric.

Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross


On Sunday, October 1, our St. George parish family had a beautiful celebration. On that day we observed great feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. Our service was headed by the parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector and the altar server performed a procession with the Holy Cross. They proceeded from the sanctuary to the middle of the church placing the Cross on the stand and then venerated it.

During the Divine Liturgy, after the Gospel lesson, Fr. Igor preached the following sermon:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we observe one of the great holy days, Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. It is a feast of the Lord but it is not dedicated to Him but to the Holy Cross on which the Son of God was crucified. That is why today we heard the Gospel lesson about the Passions of Christ, about the crucifixion of our Lord. And apart from that, this feast is not a commemoration of the crucifixion, but a memory of another historical event”.
In the year 70 A.D., the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. And the sacred places of Christ Passion and Resurrection became desecrated by the pagan Romans. They built pagan temples on those spots and they also contaminated them with different debris and rubbish which covered those sites. Three centuries later, when Christian faith became dominant in the Roman Empire, Holy Empress Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, ordered to clean up the rubbish and to destroy pagan temples in Jerusalem, then to start excavations. She wished to uncover the holy places where Jesus was crucified, buried and where He rose from the dead. After the uncovering the grounds on Golgotha, the three crosses were found. You should remember that the two thieves were crucified along with Jesus. In order to find out which cross was the Cross of Christ, St. Helen did the following. There was a funeral procession going nearby. The Empress ordered the body of the deceased to be attached to those three crosses. After touching the Cross of Christ a miracle took place – the dead man came to life. Then the Cross was cleaned and washed. A multitude of people gathered there desiring to see the Cross of Christ. Then the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Macarius began to elevate, exalt the Cross before the people and the multitudes fell on their knees and exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy!” many times».
“Dear brothers and sisters! That is the history of this holy day. Now, let us think how it may relate to our life. That story is an image of what we should do with our own soul”.
We are the Christians. We were baptized in Christ and vested in Christ. And the Cross of Christ should always be in our soul. But what is happening with our lives? We contaminate them with different debris and rubbish. We erect pagan temples, temples of idolatry on the sacred places of our souls. How are we doing that? We follow our sinful desires, our earthly passions. We spend time in vain worrying about futile cares of this life. We cover the image of the Cross in our souls by all that rubbish, so it becomes invisible. Moreover, we constantly commit sins. And by doing that, we actually engage in idolatry. If we serve our passions, we serve the idols. So, when the Cross of Christ is being buried in our lives, it becomes replaced by different rubbish and debris or by the temples of idolatry”.
Thus, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is calling us to wake up and to exalt the Cross of Christ in our hearts. It calls us to follow the example of St. Helen to discover the Cross. It means that we need to clean up the rubbish collected on the sacred place of the soul, we need to set aside our earthly cares and to focus on the spiritual life. And it means that this feast calls us to repent. Through repentance we may destroy the idols that we have exalted in our souls, we may abandon to serve our own sins”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The Cross of Christ has to be cleaned by our repentance, washed by the tears of compunction and exalted by the acts of piety.
Today the Precious Cross is placed in the middle of the church. Looking at that Cross, praying before it, let us ask our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ that we may never forget that we are baptized in Him and that we may worthily follow Him and His Holy Cross. Let us pray that the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ may always be a saving and the most important sign in our lives, to which is glory now and forever!”

The choir director prayerfully performed hymns of the Exaltation of the Cross before Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor greeted the faithful on the occasion of festal celebration and made some announcements. Then the Rector and the altar server performed glorification of the feast in the middle of the church and venerated the Holy Cross.

Sunday before the Exaltation. Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God


On September 24, on the Sunday before the Exaltation, our parish had a beautiful celebration. In addition we observed feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God transferred to Sunday. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On a Sunday preceding the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross we are given a separate set of readings from the Sacred Scripture. The Church does so to make us aware of the special meaning of the Cross of Christ. And today we also observe feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. So, we had two sets of Scripture lessons. Today’s first Epistle lesson from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians concerns with the issue the first Christians had, the issue whether they should keep the Jewish customs and retain circumcision or not. St. Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15). It does not really matter whether we are circumcised or not, but we have to be the new people in Jesus Christ”.
St. Paul is teaching that it is not something external on our bodies that distinguishes us as Christians. It is something internal, spiritual. Through Christ, through Baptism, through repentance and the Holy Spirit we have become new people, a new creation. Jesus Himself said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21, 5). In Christ we are a new creation. He established the New Testament, thus the followers of that New Covenant have to be the new people, people who put off the old Adam and put on the new. “Put off… the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts… and put on the new man which was created according to God”, says St. Paul in another Epistle (Eph. 4, 22-24). Thus, we have to be a new creation”.
The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos became the sign of the beginning of that new era of human history. Today we celebrate the birth of the One who became the Mother of Christ. She Herself was an example of a new person, a representative of that new creation in Christ”.
But even for us, unfortunately the task of becoming the new people in Christ is still very difficult. Sometimes we do not see a difference between believers and unbelievers, between Christians and non-Christians. If we look at the human history, we see that man’s external environment has changed very much, especially recently, with the great achievements in science and technology. However, human nature did not change. Some wise man said, “Man has exalted change in everything but himself”. Man can change his appearance and the way he lives, but the most important change he does not make, a change inside of his soul. Unless man changes inside, unless he is born again, all the changes in science, technology or in our environment will be of no avail”.
The wise man of the Old Testament said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1, 9). At that time, centuries before Christ he could not see anything new. But today we know that the only new thing under the sun is the life in Christ. We know that the Most Holy Theotokos was the new creation, a Most-Pure Virgin, the New Eve, a perfect female person of the New Testament”.
Sometimes people say that eternal life means our continuation in children. It is true to some extent. Our sons and daughters look like us, behave like us, have our traits. Holy parents of the Theotokos, Joachim and Anna thought that they did not have such a continuation. They were first deprived of the hope to have a future in their children. But even people blessed by the offspring could not have the true eternal life. Every generation before the coming of Christ lived under condemnation, lived in the fallen state. Children looked like their parents, behaved like their parents and repeated their parents’ sins and mistakes. Only with the coming of the Divine Savior into the world, only with the incarnation of the Son of God, the human race was given a future to become holy and to join God in the eternal life. Such life was granted, the ancestral curse was broken through Jesus Christ redeeming us. But in order to accomplish that Jesus had to be born as a Man. And His birth was given by the Most Holy Theotokos. She had to come to this world first. And She did, and today we celebrate Her wonderful Nativity”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us really build our lives the way we may be seen as the new people, people distinguished from the unbelievers. Let us be that new creation. Not circumcision or other external sign should distinguish us, but the sign of the Cross. And not just a visible sign, a cross we make or a cross we wear on our chests. Let us imitate the Lord crucified in our way of life, so we may say as St. Paul said in today’s Epistle lesson, “I bear in my body the marks of Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6, 17). St. Paul had spiritual marks of the Holy Cross of Christ, because he crucified his flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5, 24). If we also crucify our flesh, our passions and sinful desires, then we may become the new people in Christ. These marks won’t be seen, but they will be in our hearts. These marks won’t be external, but internal. They would make us the true members of the Body of Christ, where “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15)”.

The choir director beautifully performed the hymns of the Nativity of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. Then Fr. Igor made some announcements, especially regarding our celebration of the coming feast of the Exaltation. Our planned Liturgy on that day had to be canceled, so we are going to transfer the feast to the following Sunday.

After the services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.

15th Sunday after Pentecost


On September 17, on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration in our parish. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Reading the Epistles of St. Paul we always learn about Christian life. We discover what it means to be a Christian. In today’s Epistle reading we also learn something about it”.
Today we heard that St. Paul says that through Jesus Christ God let His light shine in the hearts of men (2 Cor. 4, 6). This is a special ability, a special gift from God. His light may shine in our hearts, Jesus can live within us, the divine grace is given to us. But, as St. Paul goes further, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4, 7). “Earthen vessels” mean vessels of clay, clay jars. That means that we are earthly people, we have our material bodies which are subject to corruption and death. We cannot live this earthly life forever. Our bodies are like clay jars which may be easily broken. In addition, our souls are also corrupt by sin and attached to our bodies and our earthly desires. They are also vulnerable like those earthen vessels. The treasure of divine grace is held in us like in earthen vessels”.
St. Paul tells us that entrusting such a gift to the earthen vessels is necessary. He says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4, 7). We should realize our infirmity and our imperfection, to be humble. We should not become too proud and should understand that our faith and the grace are coming from God, and not from our own merits”.
Living like those earthen vessels make our life difficult. It is even more difficult to live a true Christian life. But if we think about it, we may realize that God never permits us to be annihilated, to be totally destroyed and to be tempted more than we can endure. Therefore St. Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor. 4, 8-9). The Apostle goes further and says that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh”. He says that although death is working in us, life also works (2 Cor. 4, 11-12). Commenting on those words St. John Chrysostom wrote that these trials mentioned by the Apostle show both the power of God and, more, disclose His grace. Christian life is a victorious one, but not trouble free. We need to endure all kinds of trials in order to become worthy of our Lord who also underwent sufferings but became the Conqueror of death”.
Today we honor Holy Martyr Babylas who was the bishop of Antioch in the 3rd century, was one of the ancient Antiochian Patriarchs. His body was tortured in many ways to force him to renounce Christ. His earthen vessel was damaged but by the grace of God he persevered and became a martyr, a hero for Christ. Another Saint whom we commemorate today is Prophet Moses, a very famous Old Testament hero. If we recall the Bible, he was not very confident when he was beginning his special mission. He told God Himself with Whom he spoke, that he has certain physical shortcomings. But God gave Him an assurance of His help and continuous support, promised to be with him (Ex. 4, 1-11). With God’s help our earthen vessels can be very successful and efficient.”
At the end, as St. Paul reminds us, “He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us” (2 Cor. 6, 14). Our earthly lives will end, our earthen vessels will be destroyed, but God will restore both our lives and our bodies at the end of time, so we can be presented at the second coming of His Son. Our trials and troubles, if we suffered them as true Christians, will not be in vain. We will be living eternal life. We will no longer have the treasure held in earthen vessels but in the vessels which will last forever”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be humble and appreciate that God entrusted His treasure, His divine gifts, to be held in our earthen vessels. Let us endure and persevere in our trials, tribulations and temptations of this life. Let us keep in mind that at the end God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us up, so we may be given life eternal”.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director nicely performed hymns dedicated to the Saints whose memory was celebrated: Holy Hieromartyr Babylas and Prophet Moses.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcement regarding the coming feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. Fr. Igor also greeted Phoebe Ching-Huei Li on her past name day proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf and handing to her the Theotokian prosphora.

14th Sunday after Pentecost. Beheading of St. John the Baptist


On September 10, on the 14th 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 transferred to that day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today along with our Sunday celebration we observe feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Both Sunday Gospel lesson and the reading of the story of the Beheading of the Forerunner may give us a sad and negative impression. In our Sunday Gospel assigned for today we hear a parable of the Wedding Feast. It shows that so many people neglected the invitation of their king, and even among those who came to the banquet there were people not dressed appropriately. Our Lord finishes that parable by saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt. 22, 14). And in the Gospel story of the execution of St. John the Baptist we hear that this just man was killed by the unjust people and there was no one to defend him”.
Listening to such sad stories we may recall the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart” (Is. 57, 1). St. John was beheaded to honor the request of a loose dancing girl and because of the hatred of her adulterous mother, and no one took it to heart. The birthday banquet of king Herod was not stopped, no guest became indignant and no man became frustrated that such a righteous man was murdered. And in some time after that crime, another villainy had been done, another just Man was killed – our Lord Jesus Christ. Not to honor the request of some dancing girl, but to please the angry crowd an innocent Person of Christ was crucified. And no man took it to heart. We say “no man” because a small number of the Apostles and the Most Holy Mother of God were like a drop in the ocean of the enemies of Christ”.
These two examples of the execution of St. John the Baptist and of Christ suggest that evil is very successful and reigning in this world while good is very often defeated and humiliated. It may also be observed through the whole history of mankind. It is seen right now in many places of the world. And today’s Gospel lesson about the Wedding Feast may lead us to a conclusion that our human nature is so corrupt and ungrateful that God won’t allow most of us to enter into His Kingdom. Thus today we may tend to think negative and become filled with pessimism”.
But let us try to think positive. The whole idea of the Kingdom of God where all of us are invited should overcome all kinds of pessimism. Our Lord is describing His eternal Kingdom in an image so understood to the people – as a wedding feast. In the times of Christ and in East weddings were celebrations of human love, and the families that made them attempted to invite as many guests as they could. So the Lord compared His Kingdom to such a feast. Everyone is welcome. It is now our own choice whether to accept that generous invitation. If we accept and do our best to get there, to enter into God’s Kingdom, to participate in His everlasting celebration of Love – we will be there. And our garment will be appropriate if we will prepare and put such garment on. So, the Lord won’t throw us out of His banquet hall into the outer darkness. It is totally up to us. Even if we fail to do our preparation, even if it seems difficult for us to accept God’s invitation, the Lord is always willing to help us. He provides His divine grace, He assures us that if with men it is impossible, with God everything is possible (Mt. 19, 26). And despite that only few are chosen, the Lord keeps saying, “Come to me, allyouwho are wearyand burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11, 28). And the whole Scripture is full of very optimistic and positive assurances of God’s love and willingness to save everyone. But on the other hand, of course, God won’t save us without our desire to be just. The book of Revelation says, He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteousstill; he who is holy, let him be holy still(Rev. 22, 11). God gives us a choice. If we are unjust or filthy, He will judge us; if we are righteous and holy He will bless us”.
Sometimes God allows unjust to be punished even before His judgment, even in this life. The punishment of Herod was terrible. Firstly, his kingdom was invaded and taken away from him. Then Herod was exiled to Spain, it was here one terrible winter that Salome fell through a hole in the ice while crossing a frozen river. As she sank into the river, the ice froze around her neck. Struggling to free herself, she moved her legs, as though dancing. At that moment, however, the edges of ice cut through her neck and she was beheaded. Her sinful and unrepentant body disappeared forever beneath the ice. Eyewitnesses saw her decapitated head on the ice, picked it up and took it to Herod – on a platter. As regards Herod and Herodias, they too disappeared, for they fell into a crack in the ground opened up during an earthquake. Thus, they disappeared from history, without obeying St John’s call to repentance, swallowed by the fires beneath the earth. But as regards St John who called and still calls to repentance – his name lives on forever”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, despite the sadness of today’s Gospel lessons, let us remember that God’s justice will always prevail. Let us also remember that we are all invited to share in the joy of our Lord in His eternal Kingdom. An invitation is sent and the doors of the banquet hall are wide open. The Wedding Feast is waiting for us. It is now up to us whether we will accept that invitation, do our best to come and be dressed appropriately. If not, we will join king Herod, Herodias and her foolish daughter the dancer. We will join those who condemned Christ. But if we will do our best we will join the holy ones, we will be among the Saints such as John the Baptist, the Most Holy Mother of God and our Lord Jesus Christ!”

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director piously 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 server performed glorification in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the icon stand.

Following that the Rector made some announcements. He then congratulated Moses Dunetz on his name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the Theotokian prosphora was handed to that parishioner.

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

After our services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious food and nice conversation during the coffee hour.