On October 4, on the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross, St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily:
“Sunday after the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross gives us a clear direction what a follower of our Lord should do. This makes certain sense. We have celebrated feast of the Exaltation, the cross is exalted and venerated in the church. We have revived again the holy passion and death of the Lord. Now, after all this is accomplished, the Gospel lesson gives us a rule our Savior wished to leave for us. It is as follows: if we want to go after our Lord Jesus Christ we must deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him.”
“That means that we must make a certain effort, to do some work and to undergo difficulties and sufferings. The way of the Christ’s follower is not easy. On the contrary, it is hard and painful. Let us see what it implies.”
“First of all, according to the words of our Lord, we have to deny ourselves. That means that we have to renounce our pride, selfishness and a desire for our own advantage. If someone wants to go on a journey, he would not take many things with him, but he would be satisfied with having something most important. And if a soldier is called to go to war, he is not taking all his belongings with him. In order to accomplish something a person needs dedication to the cause and renunciation of things which may cause an obstruction. Many people give up a lot of things in order to achieve earthly goals: to acquire an education, to become someone, to get a high position. If it is possible to do for the achievements which are temporary, why it should not be appropriate to achieve eternal glory?”
“The second part is to take up a cross. The Cross of Jesus consisted of His sufferings, temptations and His death. He underwent all these things for our sake. Therefore, He has a right to demand the same from us, so we would undergo all this for Him. But He does not require us to carry His cross; such a yoke would be too heavy for us to bear. He wants us to take up our own crosses and carry them with dignity. He wishes us to be ready to bear as many sufferings and temptations as we are given. And we should understand that those sufferings and temptations will encounter us anyway. No matter whether we wish that or not, this earthly life is full of them. Jesus does not wish to deceive us. He tells us the truth. Yes, our life is like carrying the cross. But we can do it and we can do it with dignity. He comforts us saying: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16, 33).”
“Also, after doing so, we will have a relief and a reward. When our Lord died on the cross, His sufferings ended, He was relieved. And after three days He rose up from the dead. This was His reward. If He, being without sin, had to go through sufferings in order to enter into His glory, how can we, being corrupted and weakened by sin, achieve such a glory without being purified in temptations and made strong in sufferings? What lives within us now is Adam of old along with his passions and evil desires. How can we take off the old man and clothe in a new one without pain and sufferings? We have to take up a cross and “crucify our flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5, 24), “put to death your members which are on the earth” (Col. 3, 5), to die in a mystical way and to have a life hidden in Christ.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This is the teaching of the Cross, a teaching so needed and important that the Church does not limit herself with proclaiming it, wishes us to use many other signs to remember about it, first of all the image of the cross which we encounter everywhere. As we mentioned last Sunday when we celebrated feast of the Exaltation, the Cross is always with us if we live a religious life.”
“Therefore, let us listen to the words of Jesus and let us deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him, let us follow Him into eternal life!”
Since we celebrated the final day (a leave-taking, or apodosis) of the feast of the Exaltation, after the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers came out from the sanctuary and venerated the Cross. Then the Cross had been taken to the sanctuary.
After that ceremony the Rector congratulated our parishioners Vera Koretz and Sophia Kay on the occasion of their past name day. Traditional Polychronion was sung.
During the past week the Church also commemorated St. Igor, the patron Saint of our Rector. Thus our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow had a speech. She congratulated Fr. Igor on the occasion of his past name day and wished him God’s help in his service to the faithful, spiritual joy and especially, patience in his pastoral ministry. Another Polychronion was sung for the Rector.
Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. A number of toasts had been raised in honor of Fr. Igor and parishioners who recently celebrated their name days. A nice and delicious cake with an inscription in honor of the Rector’s name day was presented to Fr. Igor.