The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Highly Appreciated the Book written by Archpriest Igor Tarasov

 

On September 9, 2020, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad wrote a letter to Archpriest Igor Tarasov regarding the book written by our Rector.

In his letter Metropolitan Hilarion informed that he finished reading the book titled “The Talks on the Nicene Creed” which was recently presented to him by Fr. Igor. The First Hierarch believes that the book is “terrific, wonderful and very easy to read”, a reader of which acquires a lot of important information regarding our Orthodox Christian faith. His Eminence further says that the author magnificently uses the facts and examples to illustrate his thoughts, and answers a number of questions the people may ask about the Church life. He believes that the book is very useful for the pastors who may find many explanations and advises regarding Sacred Scripture and Church traditions.

In the conclusion of his letter, Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his gratitude for the instruction and for a joy of learning the mysteries of the Church faith contained in Fr. Igor’s book.

We hope that the book published by Archpriest Igor Tarasov will spread among our clergy and faithful and will be more and more useful in their learning about our Christian faith.

14th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On September 13, on the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Placing of the Precious Cincture of the Most Holy Mother of God, we had a beautiful celebration in our parish. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. A ROCOR cleric, Priest Nenad Flora was present praying in the temple and receiving Holy Communion in the sanctuary. After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached the following homily:

“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! On this Sunday again we hear a parable told by our Lord Jesus Christ to His opponents. In a similar way, it is a parable about the Kingdom of heaven. Last Sunday Jesus compared God to a landowner who planted a vineyard, and the people to the vinedressers or tenants. Today’s story compares God to a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. Let us look closely unto that parable”.
“God desired to invite man to His heavenly Kingdom, to return him to paradise. For that reason God sent His Only-begotten Son to redeem the human race. His Son is a Bridegroom who is going to unite in a mystical way with humanity, with His Bride, the Church”.
“At first, the wedding banquet of God’s Son was prepared for the chosen people, for the Jews. Today’s Gospel lesson says that the king sent his servants to call “those who were invited to the wedding” (Mt. 22, 3). The servants here are the Prophets whom God was sending to His people. But those who were invited, as we hear in today’s Gospel, disregarded the invitation or even mistreated the king’s servants (Mt. 22, 5-6). Same was done by the Jews to God’s Prophets. Then the king commands his servants to go to the highways and invite totally different people to the wedding (Mt. 22, 8). In this way the Holy Gospel proclaims the transfer of the Kingdom of God from Jews to Gentiles. If the Jews, the chosen people, the people who were invited to God’s joyful feast, became unworthy of that generous invitation, other nations should fill the banquet hall of the King’s celebration”.
“Through holy Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation we are brought into union with Christ. Through those holy Mysteries we are brought into marriage with the Lord, the mystical marriage of the Church with her heavenly Bridegroom, the Christ. However, being invited, even for us, does not mean an automatic stay in the wedding hall. Today’s Gospel tells us about a man who came to the marriage banquet without a proper wedding garment. He was cast out of the hall (Mt. 22, 11-13). The wedding garment, dear brethren, is the grace of God which has to be put on. For as many of us were baptized into Christ, have put in Christ (Gal. 3, 27). In the times of Jesus, a special wedding garment was given for each guest at the wedding. The host provided such garments for the guests. This is why, it was strange to see a guest who did not have a wedding garment put on. In today’s parable the king saw a man without it and asked how could he enter without a proper dress. The guest was speechless (Mt. 22, 12). In the same way, many people who became baptized lose or refuse to put on the garment of divine grace, the garment of pure and pious life. They avoid spiritual life, they refuse to attend the church, they decline reception of the Sacraments. All these things, like a wedding garment, are provided by God for us. But many of us refuse to take it. And when the Lord comes and demands an answer, we become speechless. We have nothing to say”.
“This is the spiritual understanding of what it means to put on the proper dress for the wedding banquet; it is the most important one. But there may be a literal sense of those words about the wedding garment, about the proper dress. That sense concerns the way how we dress when we come to the temple. Of course, our pure heart and our enlightened soul is the most important. However, the way we dress our body should also be considered. Some of us come to the church dressed like for a work in the garden, dressed rather casually or inappropriately. Such attitude should be avoided because it is a sign of disrespect towards the Church, towards the community and also towards the Lord Jesus. Some pastors would not care and even preach that it is not important how you are dressed for the church services, as long as you come and as long as you have a pure heart. But that’s not the way we should think. Everything is important when you go to the church – our pure heart, as well as our neat and proper clothes”.
“Dear Father, dear brother and sisters! Hearing the parable about a wedding feast, let us be worthy of God’s invitation. Let us come joyfully to the Lord, let us attend His holy wedding. For us, every Divine Liturgy is such a wedding banquet. Let us not miss it. Let us avoid the attitude of those who declined the king’s invitation. And let us not forget to be appropriately dressed for this important occasion. Our appropriate dress, our wedding garment is our pure soul, a heart cleansed of all impurity in the holy Sacrament of confession. It is also our dress in a literal sense, our appropriate appearance in the temple. Let us not become speechless and then cast out into the outer darkness, but come into joy of our Lord and feast with Him in the everlasting joy of His Heavenly Kingdom!”

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 during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian conveying the ideas of his English sermon. He also mentioned the feast of the Placing of the Precious Cincture of the Most Holy Mother of God we celebrated. Fr. Igor pointed out that the cincture, the belt of the Most Holy Theotokos was a part of Her garments. It is venerated as a relic. Thus today speaking of the proper garment mentioned in the Gospel lesson we should note that the Mother of God dressed appropriately; Her holy life was also manifested in Her proper dress, so Her clothes are revered today. Thus, understanding the concept of the wedding garment from the Gospel parable in a spiritual way (as the divine grace clothing our soul) we should also remember to dress appropriately for the church services.

At the conclusion of his speech the Rector greeted Moses Dunetz and Alexander Yakovlev on their past name days dividing the Theotokian prosphora among them and proclaiming the traditional Polychronion on their behalf.

Patronal Feast at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ

 

On Saturday, September 12, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended celebration of the Patronal feast at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ. This is one of the largest ROCOR temples in the United States.

A beautiful liturgical celebration was held in that parish on that festal day of the memory of the Faithful Prince Alexander Nevsky. The service was headed by His Grace, Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan. He was co-served by many Orthodox clerics including Fr. Igor Tarasov. That celebration consisted of the Divine Liturgy and a Prayer service performed along with the procession around the temple.

Following the liturgical service the celebration continued in the parish refectory where a festal luncheon was served. Our Rector had an opportunity to interact with Bishop Nicholas and with the clergy and presenting some of them with the copies of his books of talks on the Nicene Creed and on the Church History. Fr. Igor also visited the cathedral store where he purchased some liturgical vessels to be used in our parish.

Epistle of Bishop Matthew on the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA

Beloved in Christ, dear fathers, brothers & sisters!

 I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of you on this significant date – the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada.
Exactly 50 years ago, in 1970, special canonical subdivisions of the Russian Orthodox Church were formed, uniting the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States of America, Canada and Mexico, which are under canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate under the omophorion of the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’.
Commemorating this anniversary and reflecting on the past, we must thank the Lord for all of His many and ineffable blessings bestowed on the clergy and faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church on the North American continent.
Today, we prayerfully remember the 42nd anniversary of the blessed repose of Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov), the first Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and Canada. The life of the Patriarchal Parishes is inspired by the archpastoral instruction and personal example of this outstanding hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who stood at the origins of new ecclesiastical life in North America. The apostolic word of Metropolitan Nikodim was addressed to everyone who sought the truth, regardless of nationality, social status or religious views. Through the efforts of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Nikodim, Orthodox brotherhoods and sisterhoods were opened in North America, parish schools were established, and new clergy were ordained. Many of the clergy, ordained by Vladyka Nikodim were Americans who converted to Orthodoxy, and later led generations of English-speaking parishioners to Christ.
For many years, the ecclesiastical and administrative center of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States has been and remains Saint Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City, which was given the status of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. Saint Nicholas Cathedral, a symbol of the presence of Russian Orthodoxy in America, was built under the leadership of the future Hieromartyr Protopresbyter Alexander Hotovitsky and was consecrated in 1902 by Bishop Tikhon (Belavin) of North America who would later become the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. An example of the legacy of Saint Tikhon and his archpastoral labors is the Cathedral of Holy Great Martyr Barbara in the city of Edmonton, the province of Alberta, which remains the center of the spiritual and educational mission in Canada.
The Patriarchal Parishes in North America serve not only as a place of worship, but also carry out a large missionary and social ministry, uniting a large multicultural flock. Closely related to the activities of the Patriarchal Parishes is the work of the Representation of the World Russian People’s Council to the United Nations, which has been successfully carried out for many years.
We give thanks to the Lord and giver of all blessings for His mercies shown to us. With love and gratitude, we prayerfully honor the memory of all who have labored for Holy Orthodoxy in the countries of North America: hierarchs, clergy of all ranks, members of parish committees and councils, choir directors and chanters, Sunday school teachers, members of brotherhoods and sisterhoods.
Today, celebrating the 50th anniversary in the difficult conditions of modern life and the trials facing all of mankind, following the example of our devout and pious predecessors, let us be courageous and strong so that in accordance with the words of the apostles, we may have common joy to praise God and be in favor among all the people, so that the Lord may add daily those to the Church who are being saved. (Acts 2:47).
May God’s blessings be with all of you through the intercession of Saint Tikhon and all the saints who have shown forth in the lands of America & Canada.

 + MATTHEW
Bishop of Sourozh
Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA & Canada

 September 4, 2020

13th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On September 6, on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Our service was attended by our former parishioner, a newly ordained ROCOR cleric, Priest Nenad Flora who was praying in the temple and singing along with the choir. After the reading from the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

”Today’s Gospel reading tells us a parable about evil tenants of the vineyard. This parable was told by our Lord Jesus Christ a few days before His suffering and death, in the beginning of the time we call the Holy Week. The story was addressed to the leaders of the Jewish people, to those who did not accept Jesus as their Messiah and who wished to destroy Him. We may have different ideas flowing from this parable, but let us simply see what our Lord wanted to say to His opponents”.
“The landowner in the parable is God the Father. He planted a vineyard which is Israel, the holy nation of God, the Church of the Old Testament. The tenant vinedressers are the leaders entrusted with the care of God’s people. According to the parable they did not wish to give the owner His share of grapes. God sent His servants to them. Those landowner’s servants are the Prophets, sent by God in the times of the Old Testament to proclaim His word. The tenants beat and killed the servants. The Jewish leaders persecuted the Prophets and really killed some of them. Since those God’s servants were mistreated and not listened, God sent His onlybegotten Son. The leaders might honor the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. But in their envy and impiety they murdered the Son as well. Our Lord Jesus Christ was cast out of the holy city of Jerusalem and crucified, just as the landowner’s son in the parable was cast out of the vineyard and killed”.
“At the end of His story Jesus is asking the listeners: “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” (Mt. 21, 40). The answer was that he will punish those wicked people and lend the vineyard to other vinedressers who will render him the fruits in their seasons. Leaders of the Jews were punished. Very soon Jerusalem was taken by the Romans and the Temple destroyed. The Jews had to scatter everywhere in the world. But it is not so important how God punished them; it is His right and privilege. What is important for us is to be the new and worthy tenants of God’s vineyard”.
“Now the Church of the New Testament is God’s vineyard. The new tenants are the people rendering the fruits in their seasons, the new people of God. We are called to be those people. After the parable Jesus said to the Jews: “Therefore I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to the nation bearing the fruits of it.” (Mt. 21, 43).  That sentence is not included in today’s reading, but it follows in the Gospel right after. The Kingdom of God is now given to us. But we must bear the fruits of the Kingdom and to render the fruits in their seasons”.
“What fruits we are talking about? There are lots of them. As laborers in the vineyard of the Lord we are called to honor God, to serve Him, to love our neighbors, to worship God in a right way, to keep the Commandments, to be obedient to the Church. All our deeds and choices are the fruits we render to the true Owner and Master of the world. What kind of fruits do we render?”
“Today we are called to offer our special prayers for the environment, for God’s creation. This planet can also be compared to a vineyard that God the Creator entrusted to our care. When the Lord created the world, created man, He placed man over all the animals and plants, made him the king of this earthly world. And we have to cultivate that world, to cherish the creation. That would also be the rendering of the fruits in their seasons. We have to be good tenants of that vineyard who preserve it for ourselves and for our heirs.”
“Let us bring forth good and best fruits of our piety, love and virtue. And let us beware of the attitude of the evil tenants which is now overspread in the world. Many people now forgot about God, His Commandments and about true worship of Him. They ignore the servants of God whom He sends to remind them of their duties. They would be capable of murdering His Son again if He came to tell them the truth. Therefore, let us spend our life watchfully to be good tenants in the Lord’s vineyard”.

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 nicely performed Psalm 33 and a prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements and offered a prayer for the schoolchildren who begin their new school year. He blessed our children and wished them a successful study and acquiring of knowledge.

12th Sunday after Pentecost

On August 30, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, our parish held a beautiful celebration. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! 12th Sunday after Pentecost has a reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew which tells us about a conversation between our Lord Jesus Christ and a young ruler. We have to say that this story appears in all three Gospels called synoptical because they mostly describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in a timely manner. These are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. They all contain the same story of the young ruler, a young rich man asking Jesus what should be done to have eternal life”.
“If we wish to discuss the whole reading, we should see several points Jesus is making. First, He says that in order to enter into everlasting life one has to keep the Commandments. Commandments are the same for us, Christians of the 21st century, as they were for the young ruler and all the Jews at the times of Jesus. In fact, our Savior named some of them in today’s Gospel passage. These are the basic rules to be followed in order to be saved”.
“Secondly, Jesus tells the young man that if he wants to go further and be perfect, he should give up his material possessions, give them away to the poor and follow Jesus. This is something more, something greater than to follow the basic rules. It requires greater endeavor and sacrifice, but it makes people perfect. If keeping the commandments is important, giving all up for Jesus is holy. If the first way makes us good people, the second way makes us godly people. If the first way is human, the second way is divine. This is why in the beginning of the conversation, Jesus wishes to clarify the matter and to correct the young man saying that “no one is good, but One, that is God,” meaning that real goodness and perfection comes only from God, and we should be looking for what is godly”.
“A Christian must try to adhere to the first way and should be looking for the second way. A perfect example is Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. He lived in the wilderness renouncing all earthly possessions and dedicated all his life to the preaching about the coming of Christ, to being His Forerunner who is preparing the people for His appearance. He preached repentance and baptized the people in the Jordan. Thus St. John was living a life which later was called monastic. And many Christians chose this kind of life as monks and nuns renouncing the world and living by that second way taught by our Lord, the way of perfection and holy life in Christ.”
“But, as we saw from today’s Gospel story, the second way is hard to fulfill. The young ruler went away from Jesus sorrowful. He was not ready to give up his possessions. This is why our Lord told the Disciples a very famous saying: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mt. 19, 24)”.
“However, our Lord gives us a great hope saying that “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19, 26). Things which seem to be impossible for men to accomplish become very much possible if God helps us. Thus a rich man can enter the Kingdom of God if God helps him. A greatest sinner can become a Saint if God helps him. A weak can be strong if God helps him. There are many examples of that. The grace of God has no limitations or restrains. It works everywhere if God wishes. Therefore, the third point Jesus makes, and this is the most important point in today’s Gospel lesson, is that if we are looking for what is godly and perfect and do it sincerely, God Himself will give us a hand”.
“When St. Paul had temptations and led a spiritual warfare against his passions, he asked God to free him from those demons. Our Lord in some mysterious way told St. Paul: “My grace will be sufficient for you” (2 Cоr. 12, 9).  Thus, the grace of God is always given sufficiently to us to accomplish anything. There are may be many examples in our life and in the history of mankind that prove that. I could recall them for you but I rather speak about today’s commemorated Saint. Today we honor Holy Martyr Myron. He was a priest and he was persecuted for his faith. The ruler who ordered him to be tortured was very astonished that St. Myron could endure those terrible tortures. It seemed to be impossible to endure and survive them yet the Saint survived being helped by the Lord Jesus Christ. Then the ruler being so disappointed and angry that the tortures accomplished nothing, committed suicide. Things impossible with men became possible with God, and the grace of God was sufficient for Holy Martyr Myron”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! All this should convince us that the grace of God works in many different, sometimes mysterious ways to help us to accomplish our goal of perfection, salvation and becoming true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

                                                        Holy Martyr Myron

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 during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector greeted our former parishioner Anastasia Flora who visited our church on that day and whose spouse, Nenad (Elisej) Flora had been recently ordained a priest for the ROCOR mission in the Dominican Republic. Fr. Igor expressed his heartfelt wishes to the new Matushka and her husband wishing them all God’s graces and help in their zealous ministry for the Holy Church and Orthodox faithful. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed.

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 a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

““In giving birth Thou did preserve the virginity; and in falling asleep thou did not forsake the world, O Theotokos”, – by these words of the festal troparion today we praise the Most Pure and Blessed Virgin Mary”.
“Why does the Church emphasize those two events in the life of the Most Holy Mother of God – Her giving birth to Christ and Her falling asleep? This is so because in the life of any person these are the most important events, someone’s birth and passing away. Human life is a journey from the point of birth to the point of death. A birth of a man is a joyful event. However, from the Sacred Scripture and from our own life experience we know that because of the fall of humanity the very birth of a man is filled with bitterness. A famous French writer, Victor Hugo said: “Man is born with a cry and dies with a groan”. The beginning and the end of life is bitter. This is the bitterness of sin, and it appeared because man did not wish to abide in God. Therefore, the sin like venom penetrates the whole essence of the human life and makes it poisoned. It brings man sufferings from birth and until death. God did not create man as sinful, but man by himself, by his own will, tasted the bitterness of sin”.
“Now, the significance and joy of today’s feast of the Dormition is that the Mother of God overcame that bitterness of sin. That event tells us that a miracle took place: an end of the earthly life, something always linked to pain and sorrow, to suffering and unhappiness, for the Theotokos became bright and joyful. When She gave birth to Her Son, Jesus Christ, the Mother of God remained a Virgin. And Her Dormition was also awesome and wonderful. There was no fear of death, no sorrow, no bitterness, no lamentation, but it was a passing from earthly life to life eternal. The Mother of God did not die but fell asleep in this world to wake up in the heavenly glory, in the Kingdom of God”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! We are accustomed to think that the laws of the sinful world inevitably dominate over man, and that the sin is so powerful that it would never let us go, from our birth until death. It is true: man is born with sinful inclination and he dies in sufferings because of sin. However, here is the example of the Most Holy Theotokos: She also lived in this world full of sin. But by the power of God’s grace and by Her own strife for holiness She overcame the sin. Thus we should not think that sin is something inevitable, because the Mother of God destroyed that dependence using the gracious way opened by our Savior Jesus Christ to all of us. By Her own life She demonstrated that now the sin does not have to dominate over humanity”.
“The Holy Church gives us gracious means to make our soul free from sin and to keep it in God’s hands. Look at the icon of the Dormition: we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is holding the most pure soul of His Mother in His hands. This is the image of God’s Providence over the world, of His Providence for every human soul”.
“Let us then beseech the Theotokos that She may help us, so our souls may be in God’s hands as Her soul was at the time of Her Dormition. Let us ask that we may always be with the Lord, that we may inherit eternal life and that by overcoming the sufferings of our life journey we remember that the Lord is leading us to salvation by 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 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.

11th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 23, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov  headed the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today the readings from the Epistle and the Gospel are dealing with material goods. And if the Gospel lesson is telling us a parable, so the money and the debts described there are symbolic, in today’s Epistle Holy Apostle Paul is talking about real things, about temporary goods and compensations. Therefore, we may commemorate today’s Saint, Holy Martyr Lawrence. St. Lawrence was an archdeacon of the Roman Church in the early centuries and the bishop, the pope of Rome placed him in charge of the Church treasury, over the Church belongings. During the persecutions, when the pope was martyred, he blessed St. Lawrence to distribute the treasures among the poor. Later the Emperor summoned Lawrence and wished to seize the Church property and treasures. But the Saint called the beggars, the poor people of Rome to come over and said to the Emperor, “Here are our treasures!” Then St. Lawrence had been tortured and died as a Martyr for Christ. He was finally burned on the grill.”
“Remembering that example of a Saint’s life, we may now begin to speak about today’s Gospel lesson which tells us about the money and the debt but those things should be understood rather symbolically. The lesson tells us a parable about a cruel and unmerciful lender who himself owed ten thousand talents to the king, but did not wish to forgive his fellow servant a debt of one hundred denarii.”
“This parable teaches us how kind and merciful is our Lord. In this parable He is shown as a kind king who forgives a large debt and releases his servant. The servants in the parable are us, people. We are the servants of God. And our Lord constantly forgives us our debts, our transgressions. We have a lot of them in our life. Just think how many sins a person commits during the lifetime? But if he or she sincerely repents and asks forgiveness, God in His compassion forgives all of them. However, the compassionate Lord is expecting from us a similar compassion towards our neighbors, all other people. It is no accident that the Lord’s Prayer has the words: “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. God’s forgiveness of our sins depends on our forgiveness of the sins of others against us. If we will act like an unmerciful servant, the Lord will justly condemn us for our transgressions. And our Lord finishes the parable with the words: “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)”.
“Unfortunately, we do not always remember that God’s command to forgive from our heart the trespasses of our brothers. During the course of our lifetime we may see many times how people fight, argue and hate each other because of the fact that someone offended someone and there is no forgiveness. Some people do not wish to forgive. It is sad, but they may finally receive a due condemnation from our Lord at the Last Judgment”.
“We should also note the huge difference between our trespasses against God and the trespasses of our neighbors against us. We commit sins every day. And every sin is an offense of God’s majesty, His infinite goodness. Thus we owe God the whole lifetime. And our lifetime is full of sins, full of lesser or greater transgressions. At the same time, another servant owed his fellow servant one hundred denarii. And that was an average wage for one hundred days of labor. Perhaps, it was much, but it may not be compared to ten thousand talents owed to the king. Ten thousand talents was a very large amount of money, the amount someone could never earn even in the course of a lifetime! But we often make a big deal out of trespasses of our brothers against and do not wish to forgive. God forgives us terrible iniquities while we do not wish to forgive insignificant shortcomings”.
“An example could be how some people carelessly omit the church services. It is not a very direct example, but it does illustrate how different are our trespasses against the Lord and the trespasses of other people against us. Many religious people easily miss the church services, even Sunday Liturgy. Of course, may have an excuse if they are busy, if they are working or got sick. But in many instances our parishes suffer when people who belong to them, do not show up as they should. We owe to God our keeping of the Commandment to sanctify the Lord’s Day. All of us owe Him participation in His Mystical Supper. But many seem not to realize that. However, if someone did not come to those people on the occasion of their personal celebration, they would be offended. They would be not easy to forgive. Some may not forgive at all – depending on a personality. But God forgives us our trespasses if we do repent.”
“Thus, having in mind the parable on a merciful king and unmerciful servant, let us be understanding towards the shortcomings of our neighbors and forgive them their trespasses. For God forgives us ours. Let us be compassionate towards other people and excuse their defects. For God excuses our shortcomings and forgives us. Let us be kind and forgive if our neighbors offend us. For the Lord is kind and forgives the offenses and iniquities we commit against Him if we repent. Let us do that, so the Lord may be merciful to us and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.

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

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

Following the Liturgy Fr. Igor performed a memorial Litia on the request of Tatiana Migal to commemorate her deceased relatives. Then the Rector engaged in conversation with some of our parishioners.

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! Today we celebrate the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Once more time in our life we are spiritually present on the Mt. Tabor. Through the eyes of faith together with the holy Apostles Peter, James and John who came to that mountain along with the Lord Jesus Christ we are seeing the glory of God during the sacred moments of that holy event. This happened not long before the holy passions and death of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
”You know that the Son of God who came down to our earth for the sake of eternal salvation of the people, appeared not in His Divine glory. If He did so, He would blind us, the sinful people, with His Divine light. But He came to us in a humble appearance, covering His divinity with the image of man. Here, on the mountain of Transfiguration, He showed Himself in the shining of His glory in which He is staying forever and in which He will be seen by those of us who by his or her life will become worthy of that”.
“On the mountain of Transfiguration along with the Lord holy Apostles saw the Prophets Moses and Elijah. Moses lived 16 centuries before the birth of Christ, and Elijah 9 centuries before. That means that Moses and Elijah aren’t dead, they are alive. They were alive on the day when the Apostles saw them, they are living today, and they will be living in the infinite ages because God in Whom we believe, as the Scripture says, “is not God of the dead but of the living” (Mt. 22, 32). In the Lord all are living. Thus the Apostles seeing the Prophets who for that moment appeared from the heavenly world, saw the confirmation of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “He who believes in Me has life everlasting” (Jn. 6, 47)”.
“It is then understood why holy Prophets Moses and Elijah appeared at the time of Transfiguration. We may ask then why the Lord chose only three of His disciples to follow Him to the Mt. Tabor and to sow His glory only to them. St. John of Damascus explains that saying that holy Apostle Peter was taken because he confessed the faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Such a faith needed to be confirmed, and it was confirmed when Jesus showed His Divine nature. Holy Apostle James was chosen because he was the one who was to die first for Christ, to be baptized in the bath of blood shed for the Lord. And, finally, holy Apostle John the Theologian was chosen to come with the Lord to the Mt. Tabor because He was the special disciple, a virgin saint, the one who had to write in his Gospel that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1, 1). And He saw in the Transfiguration that the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, was with God”.
“Yet another reason why our Lord did not show His Divine nature to all of His Apostles was because He did not wish to show it to His betrayer, to Judas. Transfiguration had to be a secret until the death and Resurrection of Christ. Now that secret is revealed to us, the Christian people. Let us then be worthy of it. Let us not allow the sin to destroy our relations with God and His trust to us. Let us be watchful because sin deprives us of the joy to see the Lord and to be with Him in eternity”.
“Therefore, we are asking today that the Lord Who transfigured upon the Mt. Tabor may enlighten our souls. We are asking that the everlasting light of His divinity may shine for us the sinners and may show us the way we should follow to pass our earthly life. May it shine to make us worthy of the dignity we are given, the dignity to be the dwellers of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us live with the Lord and let us die with the Lord. And may our heart learn to foretaste the joy to see the Lord, to worship Him and to be with Him forever!”

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 addressing the ideas of his English homily.

10th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 16, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish family had a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached a homily in English on the appointed Gospel lesson:

“The Gospel lesson of today is telling us about the importance of faith. The disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ were unable to cure an epileptic. Jesus rebuked them and called them “faithless and perverse generation”. He also said that even little faith can do great things, can make the mountains move. “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt. 17, 20)”.
“These days of the summer we celebrate the memory of the Holy Prophet Elijah who spent his life on earth surrounded by the mountains. On one of them, Mt. Carmel he took a refuge and worked a miracle which shamed the ministers of the idols. We also celebrate the great holy day of the Transfiguration, the event which took place on the mountain, on Mt. Tabor. God often revealed Himself to the people on the mountains. Moses received Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Our Lord Jesus Christ preached His first homily on a certain mountain, so it is called Sermon on the Mount. Then the Lord transfigured on the mountain. He also died on Golgotha which was also a hill, an elevated place, often called a mountain. He then ascended into heaven from Mt. of Olives. Many important things in the Scripture happened on the mountains. Naturally, the Holy Land is located in the region full of the mountains”.
“Mountains are important in the Scripture. They should be understood in a literal sense, as well as in a symbolic sense. We should not doubt that even a little, but true and firm faith can do amazing things. If so, it would be able to move physical objects, even so huge as the mountains. But in a symbolic, spiritual sense, a mountain may mean a great achievement, a highness of glory, as well as a great obstacle or a difficulty. We should not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil also on a high mountain. “The devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and He said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me’” (Mt. 4, 9). Thus a mountain can mean spiritual success, it can also mean spiritual failure. Our Lord overcame the temptation and answered to the devil, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Mt. 4, 10). Will we also overcome the temptation in certain time when it will come? Will we find a proper answer to the tempter? Will we move that mountain of temptation from the way of our salvation? Unfortunately, many times in our olives we cannot answer ‘yes’. Mountains in the spiritual sense bother us and our faith is insufficient to move them away”.
“We should especially understand the disappointment that our Lord felt about His disciples if we remember that the event described in today’s Gospel took place very soon after the Transfiguration. After our Lord showed three Apostles the radiance of His divine glory, made them the partakers of the uncreated light of God – they failed to cure the epileptic. We have also received great gifts from God. We were baptized, chrismated, received the Body and Blood of Christ. But it still does not stop us from falling into sins or being unsuccessful in our spiritual achievements. What should be done about it? Jesus gives us an answer: “If you have faith as a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you”. So, first of all, we need faith. Even if we have it, it must be perfected. Faith means both a belief and a trust. We have to believe in God and we have to trust Him”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be grateful for a wonderful gift of faith. But let us also work on this gift in order to make it stronger and greater. As such, it may actually do great things, make us spiritually successful and move the mountains standing on our way to salvation”.

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.