Fourth Sunday of Lent


On March 26, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he addressed the faithful with the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent, and we have already made more than a half way of our journey towards the Holy Pascha. And today the Church offers us a Gospel story about casting out of an evil spirit and it also honors Venerable John of the Ladder, a holy ascetic man who wrote a book on spiritual perfection. Thus today we have to realize that there are different difficulties and dangers on our way to the Kingdom of God. Realizing them we may understand how to overcome them”.
First of all, we have to be aware that there exists an enemy of the human race, the devil. He is tempting us and is willing to lead us away from our salvation. In today’s Gospel lesson we heard that the Lord cast out an evil spirit from some young man (Mk. 9, 17-31). Such things happen although rarely – a demon enters into a human body and tortures a man willing to destroy him. And we have to believe that it really happens because in our days many people, even those who call themselves the believers in Christ, refuse to believe in the existence of the devil and evil spirits. However, the cases of direct and physical possession by the demons are not so many. It much more often happens that the enemy is tempting us spiritually and we give in to that temptation, committing a sin and turning away from God. Such thing happened to Adam and Eve”.
But we have already said in the past that people should not blame the devil for their sins. If we did not consent to commit a sin, the devil would never force us to do it. But he finds different ways and approaches to our heart, to our nature perverted by sin and seduces us to act sinfully”.
We have to note that the enemy especially attacks those who is attempting to lead a spiritual life and engages in the acts of piety. Ven. John whom we honor today described spiritual perfection as a Ladder leading from earth to heaven. Today we may see the image of that Ladder in the middle of the church. Observing that icon we may see that some people pictured there are climbing the Ladder but some of them fall being snapped by the demons. Some fall being on a higher step. And we see that among them there are monks, priests and bishops. What does it mean? It means that the higher a person ascends in his spiritual life, the more he is overcome by the evil forces”.
The destiny of Judas Iscariot is a perfect example of that. He was one of the 12 Apostles chosen by the Lord. He was close to Jesus Christ. But this could not preserve him from being tempted, and in his case the devil attained a victory. Judas was not possessed by a demon in a literal sense but Holy Evangelist Luke writes, Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them” (Lk. 22, 3-4). Thus Judas became filled with the spirit of Satan and betrayed the Son of God. This is why we have to be very careful about our thoughts and desires. Judas did not become filled with the spirit of the devil from the beginning. We read in the Gospel that he was the Apostles’ treasurer. And behold, the devil found his weakness – his love of money. Holy Evangelist John writes that Judas was a thief and he used to take from the donations given for Christ and the Apostles (Jn. 12, 6). Later this weakness and this sin made Judas mad, so he decided to betray Christ Himself for the money. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be careful with our passions!”
Another thing that we need to understand from today’s celebration of the 4th Sunday of Lent is that we need a firm faith. In today’s Gospel we heard what the Lord said to the father of the possessed young man, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk. 9, 23). The father of the young man cried out, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk. 9, 24). Our faith is weak and appears like unbelief. Therefore, we need to ask the Lord to help our unbelief. And we have to strengthen our faith by the acts of piety, by prayer and fasting”.
In today’s Gospel story we heard that the Disciples of Christ were unable to cast out a demon. And we should note that this happened after many of them, particularly not the 12 but the 70 Apostles did cast out the evil spirits. They joyfully reported the Lord that even the demons are subject to them in the name of Christ (Lk. 10, 17). But here the Apostles failed. The Lord later explained that this kind of demons is being driven out only by prayer and fasting (Mk. 9, 29). Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, our struggle against the enemy of the human kind, our fight against him is possible only if we practice prayer and keep fast. Otherwise we are not going to overcome him as the Apostles failed to overcome him in today’s reading from the Gospel”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us remember that the devil never sleeps. As Holy Apostle Peter teaches us, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5, 6). But if we will have a firm faith, we will be able to overcome the intrigues of the evil one. And if we are going to live by prayer and fasting, we will be able to chase the unclean spirit from our thoughts, from our deeds and from our lives, and then we will be able to reach the Kingdom of Heaven!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.

The choir director prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to Venerable John Climacus during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal the Rector made some announcements regarding the April schedule in our church and encouraged the parishioners to attend special services that are going to be held in that month.

Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross


On March 19, on the Third Sunday of Lent we held a celebration at St. George Church. On that Sunday the Orthodox Church venerates the Holy Cross.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov solemnly transferred the cross from the altar to the middle of the church and placed it on the stand.

Following the Hours the Rector served the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On this Third Sunday of Lent we come to the very middle of our journey towards Holy Pascha. On this Sunday we are offered to take some rest under the holy Tree of the Cross of Christ. As we venerate that Precious Cross, we have to realize that the only way to the Kingdom of God is the way of the Cross. If we wish to be back in paradise, there is no other way than this”.
Everyone has his or her own cross in this life. Such a cross consists of our sorrows and sufferings, our worries and cares, our misfortunes and pains. The Lord says, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mk. 8, 34). It means that we need to carry our crosses and thus we will follow the Lord Jesus who Himself carried His Cross. It is understood that we may not like our crosses and even hate them. But let us remember that this is the difference between the Christian Church which wishes to carry the Cross and the sinful world which desires to reject the Cross and to find an easy way. However, those who attempt to reject their cross, suffer anyway and suffer even more. For instance, if people do not wish to be patient with each other, and they fight and lose their temper, they suffer. If a person does not want to be abstinent and indulges in drinking or drugs, he suffers himself and also brings suffering to his loved ones. If a married couple does not want to have a child and they decide to have an abortion, that innocent child suffers, but the mother who does it suffers too. Every sin is a pain, and our enemy desires to tempt us not to suffer the cross, but then makes us suffer even more”.
When our Lord Jesus Christ had been suffering on the cross, the devil through sinful people tempted him saying, “Save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Mt. 27, 40). In the same way the devil in many different ways tells us to avoid sufferings and to leave our crosses. But let us remember that our Lord remained on the cross to save us from our sins. If He did not take up His cross, we would not be redeemed. As the Lord teaches in today’s Gospel lesson, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it” (Mk. 8, 35). Jesus preferred to lose His life for us. As a result, He conquered death and redeemed us. Now it is our turn: if we do not take up our crosses, we do not follow the Lord, and we cannot be saved”.
Today’s Gospel lesson ends with the following words of Christ: Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the Kingdom of God present with power” (Mk. 9, 1). What do these words mean? They were said about some of the Disciples of Christ who later had a chance to be witnesses of Christ’s Transfiguration. They did not taste death till they saw the divine glory of Jesus on Mt. Tabor. But these same words of Jesus are referred also to all of us. We may also do not taste death till we see the Kingdom of God”.
““To taste death” means to suffer from all that entered into the world when death entered into the world. For when Adam and Eve fell, not only did death enter, but also hard work, pain, sorrow, worry, disease, old age. And all these things are the taste of death. How then are we to overcome them? Only by returning to paradise. And to return we need to carry our cross. Christ is the New Adam and the Cross is the new Tree which is not forbidden. Its fruit is the Resurrection. The tasting its fruit is tasting the Body of the risen Christ. We do it when we receive Holy Communion. And this precisely is the meaning of the words in today’s Gospel that it is possible “to see the Kingdom of God come with power”. If we face up to the difficulties of life with the Cross of Christ, we shall not taste death, those difficulties, in the light of the resurrecting power of the Cross”.
Everyone has his or her own cross. Let us then carry it following our Savior Jesus Christ. Let us ask Him that His eternal Kingdom may touch our souls. There is no pain, sorrows and sufferings in that Kingdom. Let us look for a comfort in the Holy Cross of Christ and let us put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross and who was risen from the dead”.

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

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech pointing out to the parishioners that children present in the church still do not behave appropriately. During that particular service they distracted the priest during very important parts of the service, such as Eucharistic Canon. Fr. Igor was very emotional in his criticism and called the parents to improve the situation before Pascha. He also imposed a penance on all the faithful and said that he himself will fulfill it also.

After his speech the Rector and the altar server came out of the sanctuary before the stand in the middle of the church and venerated the Precious Cross. The faithful followed them in that veneration.

Second Sunday of Lent


On March 12, on the Second Sunday of Lent, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple.

Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture Fr. Igor preached a homily based on the Gospel lesson and addressing the necessity of divine grace for attaining salvation. He mentioned St. Gregory Palamas, the Holy Father whom we honor on the Second Sunday of Lent. In his writings, St. Gregory stressed the importance of grace and a possibility to acquire it by pious and godly life.

The choir nicely performed the hymns dedicated to St. Gregory Palamas during preparation for Holy Communion.

First Sunday of Lent. Triumph of Orthodoxy


On March 5, on the First Sunday of Lent, also known as celebration of the Triumph of the Orthodoxy, St. George parish had a nice liturgical service. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the First Sunday of Lent we celebrate feast called Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is a commemoration of the victory of the Orthodox teaching regarding the holy images. Being Orthodox Christians and believing that God became Man, we venerate the holy icons, the images of Christ, of His Blessed Mother and of the Saints. There was a time when many Christians refused to honor those images, so it was a long struggle to reach that victory of the Orthodox faith. But that was only one page in the history of the Orthodox Church, one episode in the whole history of human salvation. Christian life requires to struggle and to get the victories all the time. Thus, let us today reflect on that”.
History of mankind is full of different quests for victory and triumphs. A basic example is when people fight a war. Nowadays we are witnessing a terrible war in Ukraine. Regardless, whom do you support in that conflict, it is obvious that both sides are willing to win. But we, Christians, have to remember that the most important war in our life is our war against sin. And regardless, whom we consider our enemy in this life, our worst enemies are our sins, our passions and the devil. Sin is a cause of all wars people fight and of all conflicts they have. Therefore, our most important victory would be the victory over sin; and our most important and desirable triumph is our triumph over our passions. That would be our personal triumph of Orthodoxy”.
Lent is a special time when we have a chance to fight our war against sin and passions. Such war should be fought all the time, but Lent gives us more opportunities to be be victorious. It can be compared to a special military training when the soldiers are focusing on their effectiveness, are actively preparing for the successful operations. During Lent we have special Church services, special prayers and Scripture readings. We have to abstain from certain food and limit our entertainment. All that helps us to fight our spiritual warfare. And Lent is leading us to the celebration of the greatest victory in the history of salvation – to the Resurrection of Christ, to Holy Pascha. Thus Lent can also be compared to a war, after which we anticipate a victory, a triumph of Orthodoxy – Holy Pascha”.
Now, if we want to be victorious, we have to be good fighters in that war, to act like the heroes. Today’s Epistle lesson enumerates many heroic actions of the Old Testament Saints. First of all, we hear about Moses. Faith made him choose to renounce the riches and power and to become a leader of the Israelites. Adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses had been brought up in great luxury of Egypt. He was a prince. But he had never forgotten his people. And the day came when he decided to join them. To do so, he left behind the riches and power, the royalty he might have had. So, St. Paul says that Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11, 26). In other words, Moses looked to the spiritual victory, to the triumph of true faith. And that was his greatest reward. Could we choose reproach of Christ over the riches and power? Unfortunately, sometimes we are not able even choose to pray, to attend the church over our earthly cares or simply over our laziness”.
St. Paul also mentions other Old Testament heroes: Gideon, Barack, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and other Prophets. He describes their endeavors (Heb. 11, 32-38). Can we imitate them, or we will prefer to go with the flow? Do we want to act or we want to cheat? Do we want to succeed or we want to slide? If we act, if we fight and want to succeed, we will become victorious. We will get our triumph in this Lent and in our life as well”.
Today’s Gospel lesson describes the first encounter between certain Disciples of Christ with their Teacher and Lord, Jesus. It shows that they had a quest, a goal to find “Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote” (Jn. 1, 45). They desired to find the Messiah. That was their spiritual goal. And we read in the Gospel that they succeeded. Meeting Jesus, they found Him. But to succeed, Nathaniel had to be “an Israelite indeed in whom no deceit” (Jn. 1, 47). The Apostles had to be spiritually and morally prepared, to be fit. Just as the soldiers have to be trained and prepared to fight the war to win. And that first encounter with Christ was not their final victory yet. It was a success but it was just the beginning of their long journey, of their ongoing warfare which finally led them to the victory, to salvation and to their triumph of faith. It was the start of their great life in Christ which led to the desired moment when they truly saw “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (Jn. 1, 51)”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us continue our started journey of Lent by spiritual endeavors which can make us victorious in our quest for salvation. We have passed the first week of Lent and some of us could get already involved into spiritual warfare against sin to get a triumph of Orthodoxy on Pascha. Those of you who did not – you still have the remaining six weeks of that blessed time. Again, let us remember that our main war is against sin, and our worst enemies are sins, passions and the devil who inspires them. Let us recall that our patron Saint, Holy Martyr George is called Victorious not because he was a warrior and defeated the human enemies on the battlefield. It is an error to think of him in that way. That error, unfortunately, is widespread. As every Christian Martyr, St. George became victorious because he defeated the sin and conquered the intrigues of the devil; because he preferred to die for Christ, he chose “the reproach of Christ greater riches” than the career of the Roman military officer. Thus, let us seek spiritual sense in our life and doing so, let us seek Christ. Then we will be successful in our spiritual warfare and will reach our own triumph of Orthodoxy – our salvation and Heavenly Kingdom!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns of the Sunday of Orthodoxy during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed prayer service of the Sunday of Orthodoxy solemnly declaring the Orthodox faith and proclaiming eternal memory to the champions of that faith and the Polychronion to the Church hierarchy and Orthodox Christians.

Following the service the Rector made some announcements and had a speech addressing some aspects of parish life. He pointed out that we need to be more zealous in our spiritual and liturgical life, to be attentive to the service schedule and to improve our pious behavior in the temple.

Compline with penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete


On March 2, on Thursday of the first week of Lent the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Compline with the reading of penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.

This Canon is composed as a conversation of a person with his own soul. It reveals that often we imitate sinners mentioned in the Scripture but do not wish to follow the steps of the righteous ones. It also calls us to bring the fruits of repentance and not to exalt ourselves.

Following the service the Rector thanked the faithful for joining together for that special service which inspires us to spiritually move from everyday life to the realm of pious reflections on our salvation and on the state of our souls. The Canon of St. Andrew calls us to imitate the just and to avoid the attitude of the sinners, encouraging us to sincerely repent.

Cheesefare Sunday


On the Cheesefare Sunday the Church commemorates the exile of Adam from paradise. This day is also known as the Forgiveness Sunday because Orthodox Christians ask mutual forgiveness before they begin the spiritual journey of the Great Lent. On this day, on February 26, St. George parish had services in our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is Cheesefare Sunday, the last Sunday before Lent. Tomorrow we will begin that special season, a time of fasting and spiritual endeavors. Before we do so, the Church wishes us to remember the fall of Adam and Eve and how they lost Paradise by eating the forbidden fruit, which is why we fast, eating only “the permitted fruit”. How exactly did that fall happen?”
We know from the Scriptures that the first man and the first woman lived in Paradise, in Eden. We know also that they walked with God, meaning that they lived in harmony and communion with God, suffering neither sin, nor sorrow, neither aging, nor death. We know also that they disobeyed God. The cause of their disobedience was in the temptation of pride: they thought that they knew better than their Creator. They thought that they could disobey Him and benefit from that. The fact that the first man and first woman preferred to trust in themselves, rather than in God, to trust in their proud self-importance, led to their fall from communion with God. But once they had rejected God, they also rejected freedom from sin and freedom from sorrow, rejected freedom from aging and freedom from death”.
The cure for their fall was made clear to them. It was in doing the opposite of all they had done. Instead of disobedience, they needed obedience; instead of pride, they needed humility. In other words, they had to turn back on what they had done in repentance and ask forgiveness. At first they had been unable to do this. When God had first spoken to Adam and Eve after their act of disobedience, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Neither had the humility to take responsibility for his errors and ask for forgiveness. It was not that God did not know what they had done; it was simply that He wanted to give them the opportunity to ask Him, and to ask each other, for forgiveness. Instead they blamed each other and in the process blamed God their Creator”.
To us, as children of Adam and Eve, God also gives opportunities to ask for forgiveness, as Adam and Eve should have done. He gives us the Sacrament of Confession. Confession does not exist because God wants to hear from us what we have done. He already knows that. Confession exists because God is giving us an opportunity to correct our mistakes and failings. He wants us to ask for forgiveness, so that we can then take strength from Him through the prayers of the priest, so as to clean ourselves and strive not to repeat our mistakes. God does not need our confession, but we do. Every confession is a repeating of that opportunity given to Adam and Eve in Eden, to ask God for forgiveness. And unlike human beings, God always forgives those who sincerely, with repentance, ask Him for forgiveness”.
I once read what some child, probably a Sunday school student, said, “Forgiveness is like a fragrance the flower gives when it is being trampled”. What a beautiful saying! Adam and Eve trampled God’s love but God was ready to forgive. We also trample God’s love by our sins, but He is giving us a fragrance of forgiveness, an aroma of His compassionate love in the Mystery of Confession. How could we reject such love?”
However, before we ask forgiveness of God, we first have to ask forgiveness of each other. And just at this time, on Cheesefare Sunday, it is a custom of Orthodox throughout the world to come to Confession, to ask each other for forgiveness. We can ask forgiveness of those who are not here by visiting them or calling them. But of those who are here, we can now ask forgiveness directly, for all our errors towards them in thought, word or deed, whether conscious or unconscious. On the other hand, let us imitate God in granting forgiveness to our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us engulf them with a fragrance of our forgiving love”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The Lord said in today’s Gospel lesson, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6, 14-15). For if we do not first ask each other for forgiveness, we cannot ask God for forgiveness. And without forgiveness, there is no way back into Paradise for any of us. Let us then forgive to be forgiven and to regain our lost blessedness with our ever-loving Creator!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian country” at the Great Entrance.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director prayerfully sang Psalm 33.

Following the Divine Liturgy the Rector performed Vespers with the Rite of Forgiveness. After the singing of the Great Prokimenon he changed his priestly vestments to the Lenten color of black.

After the dismissal of Vespers Fr. Igor preached a sermon in Russian and English about the importance of forgiveness at the beginning of Lenten journey towards Holy Pascha.

Following the services of this special day Rector and parishioners joined at the Blini Luncheon. All of them enjoyed delicious meals, especially the Russian blini prepared by Olga Roussanow and Maria Malyshev.

2023 Annual Parish Meeting


The Annual Parish Meeting of St. George Church was held on Sunday, February 19, 2023, following the Divine Liturgy. Parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov presided.

Church Treasurer, Emilian Suric read the minutes of the last Annual Meeting held in 2022.

The Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov had a speech. He first spoke about our spiritual state. The Rector mentioned that during the last year our parish lost 2 members who left for personal reasons. Some other people also stopped attending the church on the regular basis. Our attendance decreased a little but generally we are continuing to fulfill our spiritual mission.

Secondly, the Rector reported on financial situation. He pointed out that the last year showed some unusual financial developments in our parish. Generally, we did well receiving very generous donations. Our anonymous donors contributed more than $ 19,000. Thus, despite our challenges, parish revenue was very high.

On the other hand, our expenses increased very much. Especially it was due to the renovations and repairs we had to perform. We had to renovate the building after the fire and correct the floor renovations in the altar area. In addition, we were forced to pay for the plumbing repair of the street pipes which we did not have to do. The city though forced us to undertake that work.

After accepting the financial report, the Rector and parishioners discussed the perspective celebration of the parish’s 100th Anniversary this year. However, some parishioners expressed doubts as to the date when St. George was founded. Therefore, it had been decided that we should study the city records regarding the exact date of the beginning of our parish, and then make a decision regarding our anniversary celebration. But in any event it had been decided that we should do some more renovations in our temple this year. We certainly need to paint the walls inside the church. We may also consider installation of the air conditioning and heating system.

Having discussed some other matters the meeting was adjourned.

Meatfare Sunday


On February 19, on the Meetfare Sunday, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Meatfare Sunday is dedicated to the Last Judgment. Preparing us for Lent, the Holy Church commands us to remember about the end of the ends of our earthly life – the second coming of Christ and His Dreadful Judgment”.
Since we recently celebrated feast of the Meeting of the Lord and continue its liturgical celebration, we should be especially sensitive to the idea of the encounter with our Creator. As the holy elder Simeon met His God and Savior, we are going to meet Him also. That encounter will take place after our passing from this life. And it will also occur at the Last Judgment. Therefore, let us seriously reflect upon that perspective that, according to our faith, everyone is facing”.
Today’s Gospel lesson says that at the Last Judgment our Lord Jesus Christ will judge us according to our deeds. Those deeds are the basic works of mercy towards other people. We ought to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, visit the sick or the prisoner (Mt. 25, 35-36). That will be the main criteria by which we are going to be evaluated at the Dreadful Judgment of the Lord. We often consider our salvation to be dependent on the way we pray, we fast and do other important religious works. But Christ Himself in His Gospel teaches that the most important and necessary things for our salvation are our works of mercy toward other fellow men and women. Salvation means exercising real love. All our pious works of prayer, fasting and receiving Sacraments will mean little if we won’t have love and mercy”.
Thinking of that leads us to an idea that one of the most important things in our human life is to be able to build proper relations with others. We are living among other people, and the Lord is expecting us to get along. The works of mercy mentioned in today’s Gospel – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and so on – all these works are the signs of proper relationships with other people. And, in the contrary, lacking of such works would be the sign of our inability to build good relations. The most prominent positive example of being able to build such relations is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. For He loved us, human beings, and He became Man, being infinite God; He served us and suffered for us; He died for us on the cross. By His great divine and human works He covered all possible aspects of love and mercy. By redeeming the human race the Lord surpassed all possible human works of mercy. Now He expects us to be similar. But have to do much lesser job: not to save the whole world, but only to serve certain people whom we meet in our earthly life journey. However, if we try to build good relations with more people, to be good to as many persons as we can, then we will certainly become closer to the level of work done by our Lord, Jesus Christ. Of course, we may never reach His level, but at least, we may be a little closer”.
Speaking of positive examples we may not be limited to remembering our Lord. We may recall many people who followed Christ and who did great works of mercy and love. Nowadays we may see many such examples. I was really delighted to see how many American people began to help the needy Ukrainians during the last year of the terrible war in Ukraine. Tons of clothes, a lot of goods and money were sent to Ukraine. Now we are also called to help the people in Turkey and Syria after the terrible earthquake that happened there. However, every day and every moment we may called to assist anyone whom we encounter around us and who is in need. And those needed works, those abilities to build up relationships – they are not limited to the list given in today’s Gospel. There may be big and small works, great deeds and just little favors – all of them will be considered at the Last Judgment. Sometimes we just need to watch the house of our neighbor, to feed his cat. Sometimes we only need to jump start our neighbor’s car or give him a ride. That will certainly build and strengthen our good relationships. And it will count at the Last Judgment. We cannot judge in advance, but we may say that most likely they will hear the kind and gracious words of Christ at His Last Judgment,Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25, 33)”.
On the other hand, there many negative examples when people fail to build good relations and refuse to do the works of love. Such people, instead of seeking to resolve their problems peacefully, start to fight the wars, as we now see in Ukraine. Such people, instead of building relationships with their neighbors, engage in the acts of terror, as we see in the Middle East. Such people attack others, steal and commit criminal acts, as we see everywhere, and particularly in this city of New York. We cannot judge in advance but most likely they will hear the harsh sentencing from our Lord at His Last Judgment, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25, 41)”.
Dear brothers and sisters, reflecting on these important and saving matters, let us work to build good relations with other people, with our family members, with our neighbors, our co-workers, our superiors and subordinates. Let us assist them in need. Let us be compassionate towards the needy around us. Let us perform those works by which we will be considered to become worthy of the Heavenly Kingdom. Let us avoid hostile and bad attitude of those who fail to be merciful. Let us learn how to be successful in building good relations and pleasing others, so we will eternally please the Lord God, our future Judge at His second coming!”

Since there were no services for the departed performed on Meatfare Memorial Saturday, the Rector added the Litany for the deceased to the Liturgy with commemoration of those who had fallen asleep.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director prayerfully performed hymns of the feast of the Lord’s Meeting, as well as penitential hymns.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcements regarding the coming dairy week (“Maslenitsa” in Russian) and about our parish events.

After the services the Rector and parishioners stayed for the coffee hour. Then our Annual Parish Meeting was held right after that.

Meeting of the Lord


On February 15 the Orthodox Church celebrates great feast of the Meeting of the Lord. On that day we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today the Church celebrates the great feast of The Meeting of our Lord. The Gospel lesson for that day relates how the mother of Jesus brought Him to the temple, as was the custom and requirement under the God-given Law of Moses, of Israel (Exodus 13:2, 12; Leviticus 12:2-8). When the righteous Simeon, who received Christ in his arms at the temple, saw the child he knew immediately that this was the Redeemer promised by all of Israel’s prophecies, for the elder was inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:26-27). Being inspired he himself uttered prophetic words which form the hymn sung or chanted at the end of every Vespers service: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32)”.
This particular feast is part of the great celebration that began forty days prior, with the Nativity of Christ. Eight days later we remembered the Circumcision of Christ and then His Baptism. The commemoration of these events in our Lord’s earth life basically form one feast, the feast of the Incarnation of God the Word”.
God literally entered the world, into time and history. He was physically present in the midst of His people, His creatures whom He loves. Our Lord took on human nature in order to reconcile unto Himself, man who had strayed far from the Source of his life”.
In taking on the “form of a servant” God, at the same time, in the Person of Christ, fulfilled every requirement of the Law that He Himself had given to His people through Moses. He demonstrated that everything that had happened in Israel’s history could not be described merely as a succession of unrelated events. Rather this was a history with a definite goal: the salvation of mankind. And the history of salvation may be called the history of the meetings with the Lord, the history of our encounters with our God and Creator. Thus, the name of today’s feast sounds very meaningful”.
We celebrate a Meeting of the Lord with Himself in His Temple. We also celebrate a meeting of the elder Simeon with his Savior. When the righteous Simeon took the child into His arms and declared that this indeed was Salvation Incarnate, the “Light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Israel”, a new era began; the era of God’s presence among His children”.
To this day, all of the Church’s celebrations, no matter what the event commemorated may be, whether in the life of Christ, of the Theotokos, or of the Saints, all are celebrations of Christ and the establishment on earth of the Kingdom of His presence. He initiated this Kingdom and promised its fulfillment. And now, just as the Old Israel had awaited the beginning of God’s Kingdom, the New Israel (the Church) awaits the second and glorious coming of Christ and the fullness of His Kingdom, revealed. That will be our last meeting with the Lord which hopefully for us, will never end”.
Although all our worship is rooted in the knowledge of that meetings with the Lord, meetings in the past and our final meeting with Him in the future, we still do not live according to it. We Christians, in spite of having accepted a necessity of God’s presence among us, are constantly attracted by ways of seeking happiness and fulfillment that exclude God. So our lives go back and forth, between faith and indifference, between moments of real joy because we know that God is with us, and moments of boredom because we cannot give ourselves totally over to Him”.
We all know that our meetings with the Lord can take place every time when we participate in the Church services, especially in the Divine Liturgy. However, such meetings do not happen for many, even for those who do come to the temple. Why? Because they come being unprepared, destructed or unworthy. Even if they think that they may get something out of their visits to the church, sometimes such thoughts are in vain. Righteous Simeon was preparing for the encounter with his Savior almost all his life. He was concentrated on that event and by his way of life he was worthy to have that encounter. And his expectation were not in vain”.
Basically what is important for us Christians is that we have really “seen the True Light, received the Heavenly Spirit, found the true faith” in this experience of being at the temple. Let us imitate the holy people, people like righteous Simeon and Anna the prophetess who awaited the consolation of Israel, but in fact awaited the salvation “before the face of all peoples”. Let us await our meeting with the Lord, let us be prepared for it, so our expectations will not be in vain. To Christ Who willed to be held in the arms of the righteous Simeon for our salvation be glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen”.

The choir director nicely performed hymns of the feast during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed glorification of the feast singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Meeting before the festal icon.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Feast of the Three Hierarchs


On February 12, on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, feast of the Three Hierarchs (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom), we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached a homily.

Fr. Igor began with explaining the history of the celebrated feast of the Three great Hierarchs and teachers of the Church. He also pointed out that the holy Hierarchs whom we celebrate are known for many useful instructions to the faithful. And the Gospel parable of the Prodigal Son contains an instruction on repentance. That instruction is not from some Holy Father of the Church but from Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord told that parable, thus an instruction on how to repent comes from the primary Source, from God. The Lord’s parable gives us a perfect guidance on how to do the repentance. The Prodigal Son followed the steps that should be followed by us if we wish to repent. He first came to himself, realized his sinful state. Then he was truly sorry for his actions. After that he made a decision to return to his father’s house. He humbled himself and acknowledged that he sinned against heaven and before his father. He was ready to ask his father to make him one of his hired hands. Then he actually arose and returned; he confessed his guilt before his father.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Three Hierarchs, as well as penitential hymns of the preparatory Sundays for Lent (including the Psalm 136, “By the rivers of Babylon”).

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements. He also greeted our Sacristan Andrew Malyshev on his past 60th birthday wishing him all God’s blessings and proclaiming traditional Polychronion on his behalf.