His Grace, Bishop Matthew served his first Liturgy in the USA

 

On Saturday, November 17, the interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, celebrated Divine Liturgy in St. John the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NJ.

His Grace was co-served by the Rector of St. George Church and Chancellor of Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, as well as by a multitude of clerics. There were 15 priests and 3 deacons serving with His Grace on that day.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Fr. Igor greeted Bishop Matthew on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, welcoming him to the United States and wishing him fortitude in his ministry. Rector of St. John the Baptist Church, Fr. Aleksey Paranyuk likewise greeted His Grace on behalf of the parish, denoting the great joy for the parishioners to be with their Archpastor for his first service on American soil. In turn, Bishop Matthew greeted the assembled clergy and faithful, thanking them for their prayers and for the warm hospitality. At the veneration of the Cross, His Grace presented all with icons of the saints of Great Britain.

Following the church service a luncheon was served in the parish hall, so His Grace, clergy and the people could enjoy delicious meals and a nice company.

The New Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes is coming to the United States

On October 14, 2018 Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (Journal No 77) relieved Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk from the obedience of the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. The Synod appointed His Grace MATTHEW, Bishop of Sourozh to be a temporary Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes.

Bishop Matthew was born on May 18, 1971 in Tambov, Russia. In 1993 he graduated from the Faculty of Foreign Languages ​​of the Tambov State Pedagogical Institute (specializing in English and French). From 1993 to 2009 he worked as a teacher of English and French in the high school of Bokino, Tambov district, Tambov region.
In 1991 he passed an internship at the University of Northumbria (Newcastle, Great Britain). In 1997, he completed a distance learning course at the University of Manchester.
From 1991 to 1998 he carried out the obedience of an altar server and subdeacon in the Protection of the Mother of God Cathedral in Tambov.}
On March 1, 1998, he was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Evgeny (Zhdan) of Tambov and Michurinsk and on October 4, 1998, to the priesthood. He served as Rector of the Church of St. Nicholas of Myra in the village of Bokino, Tambov district from 1998-2005, as a cleric of the Monastery of the Kazan Icon in Tambov from 2005-2008, and as a cleric of the Protection of the Motehr of God Cathedral in Tambov from 2008-2009.
From 2000 to 2005 he studied in the correspondence department of the Moscow Theological Seminary.
From 1998 to 2009 he served as the Chairman of the department of religious education, catechesis and missionary work of the Diocese of Tambov. From 2005 to 2009, he served as Assistant to the Pro-Rector, and from 2008 to 2009 - the first Vice-Rector of the Tambov Theological Seminary.
On May 18, 2008, Bishop Theodosius of Tambov and Michurin elevated him to the rank of Archpriest.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of July 27, 2009 (Journal No. 74) he was sent to carry out pastoral service in the Diocese of Sourozh. From 2009-2010 he served as Rector of the Parish of St. Kentigern of Glasgow, Dean of the diocesan districts of Scotland and Northern England. From 2010 – Sacristan of the Stauropegial Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Manchester, Dean of the diocesan districts of Northern England and Wales, Head of the Missionary Service of the Diocese of Sourozh.
In 2008, he entered the Moscow Theological Academy, after which he transferred to the Postgraduate and Doctorate Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 2011.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of October 22, 2015 (Journal No. 64) he was elected as Bishop of Skopin and Shatsk.
On October 24, 2015 he was tonsured a monk with the name of Matthew in honor of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew.
The rite of nomination was served on November 5, 2015 in Moscow. He was consecrated on November 15 during the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Kaliningrad. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of July 29, 2017 (Journal No. 52), he was appointed as the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Italy with the title of “Bogorodsk” and rector of the Strauropegial Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr in Rome and relieved from the administration of the dicoese of Skopin.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of December 28, 2017 (Journal No. 116), he was relieved as the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Italy and appointed as ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Sourozh.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of July 14, 2018 (Journal No. 116), he was appointed as temporary Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of October14, 2018 (Journal No. 77), he was also appointed as temporary Administrator of our Parishes in the USA. 

On his first visit to the United States as interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh will celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, November 18, in St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City.
On this day, (transferred from November 23),  the 116th anniversary of the Great Consecration of the cathedral by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia will be celebrated.

We invite our parishioners to join His Grace, Bishop Matthew, as well as our clergy in fervent prayer and celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral on Sunday, November 18. There will be no Liturgy at St. George Church on that day.

24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 11, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Gospel reading he preached the following homily in English:

“Today we heard the Gospel lesson about healing of the demon-possessed man in the Gadarene country. We could hear that story on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, in the Gospel of Matthew. This time we hear it from the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel describes the power of evil and the way our Lord Jesus Christ dealt with that power.”
“First of all, let us look at that poor man who was possessed by the evil spirits. The Gospel says that he wore no clothes, lived not in the house but in the tombs. People needed to restrain him with chains and shackles but he broke the bonds and was driven to the wilderness. There were many demons possessing him. Jesus asked about the name of the demon, and the answer was “legion” (Lk. 8, 27-30). A legion was a Roman military unit, very large: it contained six thousand warriors. Thus six thousand demons were cast out by Jesus from that man. One demon is able to do a lot of evil to a person. St. Seraphim of Sarov said that one demon is capable to overthrow the earth only with his one claw! And here we are talking about six thousand of them! Of course, the earth is never overthrown by any of them and that poor man in today’s Gospel was never destroyed by so many spirits because God does not allow such things to happen. Let us remember that God is the Creator of all things visible and invisible, and He does not permit the evil one to exercise his full power and dominion. The evil spirits are subject to God’s will and God permits them to act only in certain limits. In today’s story God allowed the demons to take over that poor man to show the power of Christ to cast them out. He further allowed those spirits to possess the herd of swine – again to show us His power over those demons and to teach us what may happen to us if the devil was powerful enough. The swine perished in the lake: in the same way we may be perished if the evil one could lead us all the time. If the devil was free to act, he would destroy the whole human race.”
“By allowing the demons to enter the swine the Lord also showed us that the man is more valuable than all other creatures. Man is more important than any possessions and any wealth in the world. There is nothing more valuable and important in this visible world than human soul which is equal and similar to God.”
“St. John Chrysostom says that this entering the herd of swine should be understood in a mystical way: these pigs are the image of sinful people, and the Lord allows the evil spirits to possess them with many sinful passions. We may recall any of such passions: they all make a person look like being possessed. If someone is a drunkard, an alcoholic, he acts like a possessed man. Such sin can make him do crazy things, very similar to the things the possessed man in today’s Gospel did. And this refers to any other sinful vices. God allows the demons to enter sinful people and to torment them.”
“Last week we commemorated the sad anniversary of the terrible events in our old country’s history. A century ago the people of Russia became possessed with an evil passion and overthrew the social order, attacked the religion and morals, destroyed the churches and engaged in a bloody fratricide. The history shows us that sometimes God allows evil things to happen and permits the evil force to have a temporary triumph. And back then, a century ago, those people who fought for the good cause and attempted to stop the evil in Russia did not prevail. God allowed the evil to have a victory. Therefore, we should not be surprised when evil sometimes overcomes but patiently expect the will of God to be done.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, the possessed man in today’s Gospel lesson is an image of all sinful humanity being tormented by the devil. The possessed men used to be in the past and they are still found nowadays. But apart from being physically possessed, all of us are tormented by our sinful desires inspired by the enemy. One of the problems of today’s humanity is that so many people refuse to believe in the existence of evil spirits. I met people who said they believed in God but did not believe in the devil. We have to remember that the existence of the devil is proclaimed in the Sacred Scripture, as well as in the teaching of the Holy Fathers. It is also affirmed by numerous spiritual revelations and human experiences. For instance, today the Church commemorates Venerable Abramius the Recluse. He lived in the 4th century and he was a friend of the famous Church Father, Venerable Ephrem the Syrian. St. Abramius was an ascetic man and once the demon appeared to him and tempted him by exclaiming: “You are the blessed one! You are blessed more than any other man!” This was an attempt to make St. Abramius proud. But the Saint recognized the evil attack and resisted. Several other times the demon tempted the Saint but he successfully fought back.”
“Thus, dear brothers and sisters, the evil force exists and it is represented by powerful and intelligent beings whom we call the devil and his fallen angels.”
“Another problem is that many of us, even being faithful to God and believing in the devil, are often vulnerable before his attacks due to our spiritual weakness. The sins and passions make us an easy prey of the demons. Thus we have to remember how to protect ourselves and to fight those attacks. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that this kind is driven away by prayer and fasting (Mt. 17, 21). Thus we need to practice them in order to resist the evil forces. The Holy Fathers teach that the demons are afraid of the Most Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ, of His Precious and Life-giving Cross and of the holy water. Thus let us receive Holy Communion, but receive it worthily and appropriately. Let us bless ourselves and bless our surroundings with the sign of the cross. Let us use, drink and bless our environment with holy water. Let us use the means Holy Church is providing for us to fight the devil and his demons. Let us do it, so we may become similar to that man healed from his possessions and like him, we may proclaim throughout the world what great things Jesus had done for us!”

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian explaining the main thoughts of his English homily.

 

23rd Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan

 

On November 4, on the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, St. George Parish held a beautiful celebration. Divine Liturgy at our temple was served by the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov who returned from his trip abroad. Confessions were heard by our guest priest, Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk).

Following the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus which concerns the life beyond the grave. He pointed out that according to our faith and to the divine Revelation life does not stop when we die. Our existence goes on after death. But our eternal life will depend on our deeds and choices during our earthly life. Nothing goes away without a trace, no deed will be forgotten. As Christians, we are called to perform the works of mercy and love. The rich man failed to do them, thus he ended up in a place of torment. Lazarus did not perform those works but he was humble and patient, enduring the sorrows of his earthly state. Therefore, we need to be careful about our choices and our actions. The Gospel parable says that in order to avoid punishment in eternity people have to hear Moses and the Prophets. For us Christians that means that we have to be guided by the divine Revelation and by the Holy Church.

Since we had no services on the previous day which was the St. Demetrius Memorial Saturday, the Rector proclaimed the Litany of commemoration of the deceased which is not usually taken in our parish on Sundays.

The choir prayerfully performed some hymns in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos due to the celebration of Her Icon of Kazan.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English to convey the main ideas of his Russian homily.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the clergy and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

The Rector of St. George Traveling Abroad

 

During his vacation the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov visited Ukraine and Spain.

On Sunday, October 14, feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, Fr. Igor served the Divine Liturgy at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Kamenets-Podilsky.

From October 17 until October 24 our Rector was visiting Spain, particularly the Catalonia region. He was given a guided tour through the city of Barcelona, including the local Roman Catholic cathedral where the relics of the Holy Martyr Eulalia are held. This Saint was a 13-year-old Christian girl who suffered martyrdom during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. For refusing to recant her Christianity, she was subjected to thirteen tortures, marking her years of age. The Orthodox Church honors her memory on September 4.

Fr. Igor also visited the Benedectine monastery in Montserrat and had an opportunity to see the miraculous statue of the Most Holy Mother of God which is held there above the main church altar.

On Sunday, October 28, Fr. Igor prayed at the Divine Liturgy at the Nativity of the Theotokos Church of the Kievan Academy at the Kiev Cave Lavra.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On October 28, on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost the Divine Liturgy at St. George Church was again served by Priest Mark Rashkov who was substituting for the parish Rector. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns assigned for that Sunday.

After the Liturgy Fr. Mark performed a memorial service (Litia) for the victims of the political persecutions in the Soviet Union. He also congratulated our parishioner Paraskeva Kosmidis on her past name day and proclaimed the traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) on her behalf.

Following the liturgical services a luncheon was served to continue our celebration.

21st Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Councils

 

On October 21, on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils, St. George Parish family gathered for the liturgical celebration in our temple. The service was headed by Priest Mark Rashkov who substituted for the Rector. He preached a homily after the Scripture readings.
The choir prayerfully performed the assigned hymns.

20th Sunday after Pentecost. Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God

 

On October 14, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God St. George Parish had a nice celebration. In the absence of the Rector, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Priest Mark Rashkov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral. He preached a homily following the Gospel lesson.
The choir beautifully performed hymns of the feast.

19th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On October 7, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish family held a beautiful celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy at our temple. He was co-served by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), cleric of the ROCOR. Following the Gospel reading Fr. Igor preached the following homily in English:

“Today we begin reading of the Holy Gospel according to Luke. Among the Church people that passing of the readings from Matthew to Luke is called “the Lucan jump”. It is said that in this way the Church people know that Christmas season is approaching – the Gospel of St. Luke begins to be read on Sundays. The Greek Church even calls Sundays after Pentecost not by numbers, but by the Gospel lessons, so today the Greeks have the “First Sunday of Luke”.”
“The first Sunday of Luke is telling us about the calling of the first Disciples of Christ who were fishermen. It tells us about a miraculous catch of fish after our Lord commanded Peter to launch the boats out into the deep and to try to catch again. First of all, that Gospel lesson is teaching us about the difference between God and man, the difference between God’s view of Jesus and a man’s view of Peter. It also teaches us to seek God’s help and God’s presence in our lives.”
“Today’s Gospel lesson is an instruction on how we should act in our life. The fishermen said to Jesus, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing” (Lk. 5, 5). Very often we make a lot of efforts, we labor a lot to reach some result but we do not succeed. Just like those fishermen in today’s Gospel story, we “toil all night”, even all our life but do not catch what we desire. It happens because not all our works are blessed by God and because we do not perform those labors along with God. Here is the image: the fishermen have toiled all night but caught nothing, but at the word of the Lord Jesus Christ they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and the boats began to sink (Lk. 5, 5-7). Thus all our works should be done along with God. God has to bless our deeds, otherwise we should not even do them.”
“St. Innocent of Moscow, when he preached to the Northern peoples, explained to them what is right and what is wrong by saying, “If you are doing something, think: could you do it with God? If you cannot, don’t do it”. And indeed, can we lie to someone with God? Can we take someone else’s property with God? Can we do something bad to someone with God? No, with God we can only do good things, the works of love and mercy.”
“But we often do those bad things which we cannot do along with God. And if we realize that, we see how far from God we are. In today’s Gospel Apostle Peter realized that and exclaimed to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Lk. 5, 8). We should also recognize our unworthiness and humbly pray to God. But our prayer has to say just the opposite of what Peter said: “Lord, be with me! Come to me for I am a sinful man!” Notice that although Peter told Jesus to depart from him, he himself stayed with Jesus being fallen on his knees. Thus we should also humble our souls, bend the knees of our hearts and pray to the Lord to be cleanse our sinfulness and to be with us.”
“And what does Jesus say to His future Apostle? He encourages him and says, Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (Lk. 5, 10). It meant that his future Apostolic ministry will be accomplished by preaching and leading people to Christ. By proclaiming the Good News of Christ Peter and other Apostles indeed caught a lot of people into the nets of the Church of Christ.”
“Finally, when the fishermen in today’s Gospel brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Jesus (Lk. 5, 11). Having caught so many fish they could rush to the market to sell it and to make a lot of money. They could also hurry to feed their families. But instead, they left their boats and their nets, they left the fish they caught and followed Christ. They did it because they understood that the fullness of life is with Him. They understood that any wealth and any luck in life means nothing without God. And they followed the Lord to be with Him and to share that wonderful feeling of being with God – share it with other people.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Having heard today’s Gospel reading, let us fervently pray to acquire the humility of Holy Apostle Peter and to have a zeal of faith of the Holy Apostles, so we may do everything along with God and follow our Lord Jesus Christ into eternity!”

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir beautifully performed the hymns in honor of the Theotokos, as well as in honor of St. Igor, the Rector’s patron Saint whose memory was celebrated last week.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying the main ideas of his English homily.

Following the Rector’s sermon our Sacristan Andrew Malyshew congratulated Fr. Igor on the occasion of his past name day and of his 11th anniversary of serving as Rector of St. George. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to the parishioners for their greetings, as well as to Fr. Eutychius for coming to participate in this celebration.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the clergy and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and an interesting conversation. Fr. Eutychius raised a toast to the Rector greeting him on the occasion of the past name day and wishing that Fr. Igor would further serve our Parish which proves to be a small but devout family of the believers. Another Polychronion to our Rector was proclaimed and sun by the parishioners and guests.

 

Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

 

On Sunday, September 30, our Parish held celebration of the great Lord’s holy day of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov placed the cross in the middle of the church and venerated it.

At the Divine Liturgy, after the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He explained the origin of the celebration of that Lord’s holy day which is dedicated to the Precious Cross of Christ but is also a commemoration of a historical event of discovering the Cross by holy and devout Empress Helen in the 4th century. At that time the sacred places of Christ Passion and Resurrection became desecrated by setting pagan temples and by different debris and rubbish which covered those sites. St. Helen ordered to clean up the rubbish and to destroy pagan temples, then to start excavations. After the finding of the Cross on Golgotha it had been exalted by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Macarius and the multitudes fell on their knees and exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy!” many times.
We have to follow the example of St. Helen and find the Cross in our hearts. In a spiritual sense, symbolically, we need to clean up the rubbish to discover the Cross: we need to set aside our earthly cares and to focus on the spiritual life. We also need to repent. The Cross of Christ has to be cleaned by our repentance, washed by the tears of compunction and exalted by the acts of piety. Our symbolic pagan temples are our serving the sins and passions. They also have to be destroyed in our souls. Being Christians, we have to follow Christ bearing the Cross and exalting it in our life.

The choir beautifully performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Cross during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English addressing the ideas of his Russian homily. Then he and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification before the Cross and the icon of the feast singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Exaltation. After that the Rector and parishioners venerated the Cross.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious food and a nice company.