On November 7, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George parish. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our church. This time our temple was filled with many faithful because in addition to our usual parishioners there were a number of guests from Brooklyn who came along with their spiritual father, Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk). During the Liturgy Fr. Eutychius prayed in the sanctuary.
After the reading from the Holy Gospel our Rector preached the following homily:
“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Our today’s Gospel lesson is dealing with a fascinating subject: life beyond the grave. Yesterday the Church celebrated St. Demetrious memorial Saturday and offered prayers for the departed. We also know that Western Christians recently celebrated All Saints Day and then Day of the Dead, on November 1st and November 2nd. We are then going to add a litany of commemoration of the deceased today, as we do when we pass the memorial Saturdays”.
“St. Demetrius Saturday was introduced to commemorate the warriors perished in the battles. It is a Saturday before the feast of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica which is tomorrow. In addition, our calendar mentions that on that day we commemorate tomorrow the imperial city of Constantinople suffered a terrible earthquake in the year 740 AD. As we mention such a disaster, we may recall that 9 years ago our contemporary imperial city of New York suffered a terrible hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of people died in accidents, many houses were flooded or destroyed, a lot of damage done to the areas of the ocean shore. Indeed, it seems that not a day goes by without some natural catastrophe happening and lives lost. Those disasters seem to intensify nowadays. And people tend to blame somebody for these losses. Some people blame governments for not being prepared, some blame big companies for changing the earth climate. These days we know that there was a special international summit about the climate change, so the governments are preoccupied with that problem and blame the climate change for many disasters. Finally, very often, when they see many disasters, people tend to blame God. Even the insurance companies called the damages resulting from natural disasters the “acts of God”. Thus, we blame others but not ourselves. Like children, we argue that “it isn’t our fault”. Such a way of thinking is not the way of the Holy Gospel”.
“In today’s Gospel, Lazarus did not blame anyone for his poverty and misery. He never blamed the kings and the rulers or some other human forces for his state. And he never blamed God. He did not even blame the rich man for his indifference. No, he accepted his situation in humility. And because of his humility he went to heaven, to the bosom of Abraham”.
“As for the rich man, he never thought of thanking God for his wealth. He did not show his gratitude to God by caring for the poor men at his gate. He had only hard-heartedness, allowing Lazarus to die at his gates, surrounded by stray dogs who licked Lazarus’ sores, while he was feasting. And because of his hard-heartedness he went down to hell”.
“Now we may ask: why does God allow natural disasters to happen? And who is to blame? The answer is: man himself is to blame, simply because man does not ask God for catastrophes not to happen, because man does not accept God’s power. Man does not seek God’s protection through prayer and repentance. Man has persuaded himself through modern technology that he is so smart that he can live without God. But modern man has so blinded himself with his intelligence that he forgot that he can do nothing to protect himself from the natural elements, only God can do that. Modern man so blinded himself that like the rich man in today’s Gospel, he cannot see Lazarus starving in agony at his gates”.
“In the same way, dear brothers and sisters, God will allow some, or even many of us, to end up in hell. When we die, some will be taken to the bosom of Abraham, like Lazarus, but some, as the rich man, will go down to hell. Let us not doubt about that because our Lord Himself told us the parable in today’s Gospel. And this will happen because man does not ask God for help, he does not ask God for forgiveness, does not repent through sincere confession and does not desire to receive God in Holy Communion. Again, modern man is often convinced that he may live without God. Then he will eventually live without God in hell, undergoing eternal condemnation”.
“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! If we really worry about our life beyond the grave, if we really care about our destiny after death, let us not be blinded but see. Let us see God in our lives. Let us see the needy at our doors. Let us not blame others or God in our misfortunes. But let us work on our salvation. Let us repent for our sins and let us receive the Lord in Holy Communion. And let us pray. Pray for the living and for the departed. Pray for ourselves and for those who need our prayers”.
“Remember that the world is run not by governments or by politicians. It is run by prayer and lack of prayer. And we too shall perish like the rich man unless we pray, unless we hear to Moses and the Prophets and unless we truly follow the One Who is truly Risen from the dead, Christ our True God”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.
Since on the day before the Church celebrated St. Demetrius Memorial Saturday, the Rector added the Litany for the departed and proclaimed their names given by the faithful for commemoration.
The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a hymn in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk) on occasion of his birthday wishing him God’s help in his pastoral work in Brooklyn and New Jersey, good health and great success in proclaiming the Word of God to the faithful. Taking an opportunity of seeing spiritual children of Fr. Eutychius in our church, Fr. Igor invited them to attend our temple as long as they have no place to worship in Brooklyn or New Jersey. Then he proclaimed traditional Polychronion to our guest.
The Rector also greeted our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow on the occasion of her past 80th birthday wishing her God’s blessings, good health and many years. Traditional Polychronion was then also proclaimed.
Following the service the Rector and our guests had a group photograph to remember that event. Fr. Eutychius and his spiritual children also invited Fr. Igor and our parishioners to join them for the luncheon at the Asian Garden restaurant. Our Rector and a small group of parishioners accepted that nice invitation and enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at that famous local eatery nearby to celebrate birthdays of Fr. Eutychius and of Mrs. Olga Roussanow.