On April 3, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, St. George Parish held a nice liturgical celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Scripture readings he preached a homily in Russian.
The choir led by our Choir Director, Olga Roussanow, prayerfully sang the Liturgy responses and penitential hymns before Holy Communion.
Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we came to the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Lent. On this day the Church offers us a Gospel story about casting out a demon from the young man, about a healing. It was done by the power of Jesus, but also through the faith of that young man’s father. Thus, the Gospel of today tells us about the importance of our faith.”
“On this Sunday the Church also honors the memory of St. John Climacus, or Venerable John of the Ladder. He was a knowledgeable monk in the monastery on the Mt. Sinai who wrote a book of guidance for the monks on how to ascend spiritually to heaven. That ascending was described as the steps, thus it was called the “Ladder of paradise”.”
“God wants our faith. But we should realize that our faith is not sufficient. The father of the young man exclaimed, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk. 9, 24). On one hand, our faith is too little. On the other hand, if we live by faith, lead a spiritual life, then we see how far we are from perfection. Same with our sense of sin. The more we repent, the more we understand how many sins we may commit.”
“The ladder leading to perfection is impossible to finish ascending. Because God is on the top of that ladder. But it is possible to get to many higher steps. The more we strive to get the more we achieve.”
“However, climbing the ladder of divine ascent is very difficult. On the icon that we have today in the middle of the church, we may see that some people climbing the ladder are being thrown down by the demons. They fall from the steps. This happens because on our ascent we encounter temptations, difficulties and obstacles. It is important for us not to lose the perspective, but to fix our eyes on our goal which is God Himself or His eternal Kingdom. We don’t have to look at the obstacles, at the wind, at the temptations, but to look at Christ. Let us recall how Holy Apostle Peter was trying to walk on the water. First he did, but very soon he became distracted by the wind and he began to sink. If he looked not at the wind but at Jesus Christ who was waiting for him on the boat, he could successfully go on the waters to His Master.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us persist in our ascent, in our spiritual life, looking at Jesus Christ. Let us believe and, realizing that our faith is weak, let us ask God like the father of the possessed young man did, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!””
After the liturgical service the Rector and our parishioners enjoyed delicious Lenten meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.