22nd Sunday after Pentecost


On November 5, on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Holy Apostle James, brother of the Lord, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost we hear about Old Testament rules being abandoned by the followers of the New Testament. In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15). It does not matter whether we follow the Old Testament rules. What matters is whether we are the new creation, new people in Jesus Christ”.
Today we commemorate Holy Apostle James, brother of the Lord. He was not one of the 12 Disciples of Christ but he belonged to the other 70 Apostles. St. James is called the brother of Jesus because he was the son of St. Joseph, thus he was Jesus’ stepbrother. Some time after the Ascension into the heaven Christ appeared to His stepbrother and blessed him to be the first bishop of Jerusalem. St. James was ruling the Jerusalem Church for 30 years. He was presiding at the first apostolic gathering, the Council of Jerusalem, that was deciding on the question whether the Gentiles converting to Christian faith must keep the Old Testament rules. The Apostles decided that they should not. And St. James gave a speech about that (Acts 15, 13-21). So, today’s celebrated Saint has a direct relation to the theme of today’s Sunday Epistle reading: in our Christian faith, it does not matter whether we follow the Old Testament. What matters is that we ought to be the new people in Christ”.
Thinking of our own life experiences we see that many of us wish to correct our past mistakes. We often wish to change our wrong choices we made in our lives. We would be happy to get a “fresh start”, to have a new beginning, “to start from scratch.” “If only I could begin all over again!” This has been our plea since Adam. Jesus, the Son of God came to us to answer to this plea. He came to give each one of us a fresh start. And He does not require any more to bear a sign of our allegiance to Him on our flesh, as He required the people of the Old Testament. They circumcised their baby boys to show their covenant with God. In Christ this is no longer required. But there are other more important conditions to meet, in order to become that new creation St. Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle”.
First of all, we have to be born in Christ. Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3, 3-5). This new birth is given to us in Baptism. The line of heredity was transferred from the old Adam line to the new Christ line. Life found a new origin, a new beginning. We received the Holy Spirit. Our bodies became temples of God. The blood of Jesus now flows in us through Holy Communion. We became the new creation”.
But this new birth in Christ must be followed by a personal acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. Many of us were baptized at the early age. But even those who received that Sacrament later in their lives, may lose some freshness of its grace. Thus, after the new birth should come this personal acceptance, personal commitment to Him as God. This is followed by repentance for our sins and a complete forsaking of the old life. It is called conversion. But even repentance itself is called the “second Baptism”. We are born again and again in a true repentance, in a sincere and honest confession”.
A man when he is born is only a man. But a man when he is reborn in Christ is more. He is a new man with a new life and a new name. He is even named after Christ: “Christian””.
Holy Apostle James, brother of the Lord, being born as a Jewish man, being circumcised, was reborn in Christ. He ruled the mother of all the Churches, the Church of Jerusalem. Finally, he was martyred there for Christ, being thrown down from the roof of the Holy Temple. His persecutors were driven by the same unwise zeal of the followers of the Old Testament, as the persecutors of Christ. St. James was not only a man born in the earthly household of Jesus Christ. He became more than that, a new man in Christ, a righteous man filled with the Holy Spirit and being a member of the heavenly household of Christ”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us truly “commend ourselves and each other, and our all life unto Christ, our God,” as we pray every Divine Liturgy. Let us receive a new spiritual birth a renewal in the holy Mystery of Penance, to refresh our baptismal grace and ability to be the new people in Christ. Let us participate in the spiritual life of the Christian community, of the Church. Let us be together in this Ark of salvation, a saving Sheepfold. Then we will be able to become this new people of God, a new creation which will be worthy of seeing the Kingdom of God and entering into eternal blessedness!”

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed the Psalm 33.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor made the announcements, especially regarding the collection for our building and ground maintenance which will be taken next Sunday.

20th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council


On October 22, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, and feast of the Holy Apostle James, son of Alphaeus, our St. George parish held a nice celebration. Our Rector, 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! On the 20th Sunday after Pentecost we begin readings from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. A few words should be said about this Epistle. Galatians were the people lived in the region in the middle of Asia Minor called Galatia because a couple of centuries before the Galls were exiled there. St. Paul visited that region and converted a number of people. But when he left some of the Galatians began to question his authority and his teaching. This is why Paul had to write an Epistle to them to defend his apostolic authority and to persuade them that he is conveying the right teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in today’s reading we hear his words: “I make known to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man… but it came through revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1, 11-12). St. Paul tells that the teaching he received and preached to the Galatians is not man’s invention. It was revealed by Jesus Christ”.
Christianity is a revealed religion. It was not invented by any wise man, by any philosopher or a religious leader. It came directly from God. Our beliefs, our morals, our values, our guidelines and principles – all was revealed by God through Jesus Christ”.
Our life is like a traveling in a sea of right and wrong, but God did not leave us without a compass. Any American flight to space could not be accomplished without mission control in Houston. The astronauts were in constant communication with their home base. If they had lost contact, they would have vanished – perhaps forever. If control and guidance are important on a flight to space, how much more important they are for our journey through this life to eternity. Yet the good news is that God has not left us alone on this journey. He has given us guidance. He gave us His Son, Jesus to be our “mission control”. In constant contact with Him, guided and filled with the Holy Spirit, we know the way, we know what the real values of life are”.
Many today’s people and even today’s Christians are confused and disoriented. This is why we see them accepting wrong ideas and wrong values of this world. This happens because they lose the contact with our “mission control”, with our Lord Jesus Christ and are deprived of the grace of God. On the other hand, a true Christian person should feel like being out of step with the values of this world. It is because he marches to the music of a different drummer: the Lord Jesus. He is the One Who reveals to us values that never change, the eternal value of God. As He Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14, 6)”.
A diamond assessor has a difficult job to determine the value of different finished diamonds. He is surrounded by dozens of trays of those precious stones. One day an assessor was asked how can he look all day at hundreds of diamonds without becoming confused. The assessor smiled. “It is very simple,” he replied. Holding out his hand, he pointed to a fabulous diamond ring on his finger. “This diamond is perfect” he said. “It doesn’t have a single flaw. Every half hour or so, I put it under my eyeglasses. The picture of the perfect diamond restores my sense of values!””
What the flawless diamond was to the assessor, the Lord Jesus is to us. By looking constantly at Him and measuring all things in the light of His perfection and His commandments, we keep a sense of what is really important and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, what is eternal and what is temporal, what is expensive and what is cheap, what deserves our allegiance and what does not”.
Today we honor the Holy Fathers of the last, 7th Ecumenical Council. They defined that the Orthodox Christians have to venerate the holy images, the icons. Teachings of the Holy Fathers are the part of that treasure of faith, of what is really important and belongs to eternity”.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Our religion and our way of life are not based on the opinions of great thinkers or leaders. They are based on the will of God revealed to us. God has spoken in Christ. He was the One Who spoke to St. Paul. He is the One Who speaks to us today. Let us listen to Him. Let us obey the voice of God said at the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, “He (Jesus) is My beloved Son, listen to Him!””

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Council and the hymns to Holy Apostle James.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements.

19th Sunday after Pentecost. Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


On October 15, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish also celebrated Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday after Pentecost and we also observe feast of the Most Holy Mother of God – Her Protection. In today’s first Epistle lesson we are told strange words that St. Paul says the Lord Himself told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12, 9). This is a paradox of our Christian faith: strength is made perfect in weakness”.
We have to say that Christianity is full of paradoxes, of certain contradictions. Philosophers and theologians call them antinomies. Our faith is full of them. We believe in God Who is ineffable, inconceivable and incomprehensible, yet we believe that we may know Him. We say that God does not belong to the world, yet He is present everywhere in the world. We believe that God is Spirit, yet He became man. We believe that God is strange to our nature, yet He acquired our own nature. We believe that God is inapproachable by men, yet we may become the partakers of His nature. In the same way St. Paul tells us that the Lord says that our strength is made perfect in our weakness”.
When we are weak, then we are strong. This is so because our weakness makes us lean on God’s strength. There is a story of a sheep that limped and never went away from the shepherd. Someone asked about this sheep – why it limped and why it never left the shepherd’s side. The shepherd explained that that sheep was partially deaf and could not hear the shepherd’s voice. As a result, it was often in danger. Many times it had to be rescued. Finally the shepherd had to injure the sheep’s leg. Since then the sheep limped, but it stayed closer to the shepherd and it was safe. The sheep was weak, but it was strong along with the shepherd”.
In today’s Epistle reading St. Paul tells that he was also afflicted by some “limp”. It did not come from God, but from the evil one. Paul says that he was given “a thorn in flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor. 12, 7). Many interpreters of the Scripture guessed what kind of “thorn on flesh” St. Paul had. It could be a chronic illness, or troublesome Christians who criticized him, or hard-hearted Israelites who persecuted him, or even some sinful desire which burned St. Paul, tempted his flesh. We don’t know for sure. But what we do know is that God allowed that thorn to remain in order to keep Paul weak, “limping” at the Shepherd’s side where he would find constant strength for his weakness. And when St. Paul discovered that the true purpose of that thorn was to keep him close to the Source of power, he rejoiced. He said, “Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12, 9)”.
All of us, at least once in our lives, were driven into a corner from which there seemed to be no way out. If this happened, you may be sure that God allowed it, so He may come with His almighty power to deliver you. But first He wants you to discover that you are powerless and that you have to depend on Him. “When I am weak then I am strong.” If we are weak, let us admit it and accept it. Let us not pretend that we are able to do a lot of things. Accept the weakness, but not just the weakness. Accept that such feeling of weakness is needed to lead us to Him Who is the real source of strength”.
Today, as we celebrate the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, we may recall the history of this feast. The imperial city of Constantinople was under a siege. The enemies surrounded the city and wanted to take it. The inhabitants of Constantinople were weak, desperate. There seemed to be no way out of that danger to be conquered and killed by the enemies. But they prayed. They prayed to God and to His Blessed Mother. And one of them, a humble holy man saw the apparition. The Most Holy Mother of God appeared in the sky and covered the city with Her veil, with Her protection. And a miracle took place: the enemies retreated and the city was spared. In the same way, we may come to the intercession of the Holy Mother of God in our desperate needs and see that through Her prayers and Her Protection God will deliver us”.
Some young man once said to a priest, “Don’t you see, your religion is a crutch!” The priest replied, “Sure it is. But who is not limping?” Like the sheep in the story, we have to limp by the Shepherd’s side. St. Paul did and became strong”.
St. Paul prayed three times that the thorn in flesh, his weakness might depart from him. God answered him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Cor. 12, 9). To all our weaknesses God may give us His help which will be enough to overcome the difficulties, to solve the problems and to feel secure. And God said to Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. Paul discovered that God is right. In his weakness Paul leaned on Christ and found power beyond what he thought possible. So we can also lean on Christ and on His Blessed Mother to discover that His grace and Her intercession are sufficient to support us in our weaknesses, temptations and struggles”.
Let us then, dear brothers and sisters, ask our Lord and His Blessed Mother that our weaknesses may drive us closer to Him and to Her, and that we may find in Him and in Her the strength to follow Jesus on the path of our salvation. Let us then boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us!”

The cantor prayerfully performed the hymns in honor of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. Then Fr. Igor greeted Maria Malyshev on her past name day handing her the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf.

18th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 8, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!The Epistle lesson for today is about giving. St. Paul teaches the Corinthians saying, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart…” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Thus, today we will talk about the way we should give to the Church and how St. Paul instructs us to give”.
Speaking of giving leads us to talk about money. We all heard a saying, “Money talks”. This words are sometimes true, and not always in a negative sense. For instance, the way we spend our money will say a lot about us, about our preferences. If a biographer wanted to write a book about you, he would want to review your old financial records, for instance, your old checks. They could tell him what kind of person you are. He could find out that you are a member of the church. But suppose that in looking through your checks and other records he learned what your income is, and discovered that in a typical year you spend one percent of your income for God’s work and ten percent for your personal luxuries. Then he would probably be justified to write that you loved the Lord in the amount of 1 dollar per week and loved your personal luxuries in the amount of 10 dollars per week. Money talks! It tells what kind of people we are, what we value most in life, what we love and care for most”.
Our church giving is very often much less than our spending for our different needs. This is why it is important to understand that our giving has to be proportionate to what we have. The important thing in Christian giving is not “how much” we give, but “how much in comparison to our ability”. A gift does not need to be large in order to be significant. It is great or small in proportion to the amount of other things we possess. One of the greatest examples of Christian giving is the poor widow who came in to the Temple one day and gave “all that she had”. It was not very much, just two copper coins, but the Lord said about her, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all of those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mk. 12, 43-44)”.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us give proportionately as God blessed us. And let us give lovingly. The Christian giving is a personal commitment to Christ. Therefore, if you don’t love God, don’t give. God does not need a support from those who do not really care. But if you do care about the Church, about God’s work, let your giving be some indication of your love”.
Give proportionately, give lovingly, give generously. St. Paul says, “He who saws sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who saws bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9, 6). When it comes to giving to God and His work, if you must make a mistake, make it on the side of generosity, as you would if you loved one were in need and asked you for something. Make a mistake on the side of going beyond what is practical and try what is spiritual. Then if you saw bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Give abundantly and you will receive abundantly”.
Today’s final advice of St. Paul to us is to give gladly. He says, “Let each one give… not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Give from your heart, give cheerfully. Even a dog knows the difference between reluctant and cheerful giving. Throw him a bone and he will go away without wagging his tail. But call him kindly, pat him and then give him a bone, and he will go away with a wagging tail. In both cases it is the same act of giving a bone. But the way, the spirit of giving makes a difference”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us then ask ourselves how do we give to God? Do we give proportionately? Do we give to Him lovingly, generously, gladly? Do we give Him not only our money but also our energy, our talents, our abilities, our time, our very lives? Today we commemorate Venerable Father Sergius of Radonezh. He did not give his material wealth to the Church because he was a humble monk. He became the abbot of the monastery but, as a monk, he had no money to give. But he did give his talents, his time, his labor, his prayers and ascetic fits – all his life – to the Church and to God’s work. He is an example of how we may not give the money to our Church but then we need to give all our life. Our time, our work, our talent can also be generously offered as a great help to the Church. We are always grateful that when we need some help in our parish, the people show up and do it. There not too many such people but they are always available”.
Dear brothers and sisters! If our giving to God is proportionate, loving, generous and cheerful, then God, as St. Paul teaches us, will provide for us with His blessings. St. Paul assures us that we will be “enriched in everything… which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Cor. 9, 11). If our giving is abundant, God’s giving to us will be even more abundant”.

The cantor nicely performed the hymns in honor of Venerable Sergius during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy our parish Warden, Olga Roussanow had a speech and on behalf of our parishioners congratulating the Rector on his past name day. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed to Fr. Igor. Then the Rector also greeted our parishioner and Treasurer, Emilian Suric on his past birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on his behalf.

Following the service the priest and parishioners enjoyed a delicious luncheon served in honor of the Rector’s name day celebration. Toasts were raised on behalf of Fr. Igor and Emilian Suric.

Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross


On Sunday, October 1, our St. George parish family had a beautiful celebration. On that day we observed great feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. Our service was headed by the parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector and the altar server performed a procession with the Holy Cross. They proceeded from the sanctuary to the middle of the church placing the Cross on the stand and then venerated it.

During the Divine Liturgy, after the Gospel lesson, Fr. Igor preached the following sermon:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we observe one of the great holy days, Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. It is a feast of the Lord but it is not dedicated to Him but to the Holy Cross on which the Son of God was crucified. That is why today we heard the Gospel lesson about the Passions of Christ, about the crucifixion of our Lord. And apart from that, this feast is not a commemoration of the crucifixion, but a memory of another historical event”.
In the year 70 A.D., the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. And the sacred places of Christ Passion and Resurrection became desecrated by the pagan Romans. They built pagan temples on those spots and they also contaminated them with different debris and rubbish which covered those sites. Three centuries later, when Christian faith became dominant in the Roman Empire, Holy Empress Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, ordered to clean up the rubbish and to destroy pagan temples in Jerusalem, then to start excavations. She wished to uncover the holy places where Jesus was crucified, buried and where He rose from the dead. After the uncovering the grounds on Golgotha, the three crosses were found. You should remember that the two thieves were crucified along with Jesus. In order to find out which cross was the Cross of Christ, St. Helen did the following. There was a funeral procession going nearby. The Empress ordered the body of the deceased to be attached to those three crosses. After touching the Cross of Christ a miracle took place – the dead man came to life. Then the Cross was cleaned and washed. A multitude of people gathered there desiring to see the Cross of Christ. Then the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Macarius began to elevate, exalt the Cross before the people and the multitudes fell on their knees and exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy!” many times».
“Dear brothers and sisters! That is the history of this holy day. Now, let us think how it may relate to our life. That story is an image of what we should do with our own soul”.
We are the Christians. We were baptized in Christ and vested in Christ. And the Cross of Christ should always be in our soul. But what is happening with our lives? We contaminate them with different debris and rubbish. We erect pagan temples, temples of idolatry on the sacred places of our souls. How are we doing that? We follow our sinful desires, our earthly passions. We spend time in vain worrying about futile cares of this life. We cover the image of the Cross in our souls by all that rubbish, so it becomes invisible. Moreover, we constantly commit sins. And by doing that, we actually engage in idolatry. If we serve our passions, we serve the idols. So, when the Cross of Christ is being buried in our lives, it becomes replaced by different rubbish and debris or by the temples of idolatry”.
Thus, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is calling us to wake up and to exalt the Cross of Christ in our hearts. It calls us to follow the example of St. Helen to discover the Cross. It means that we need to clean up the rubbish collected on the sacred place of the soul, we need to set aside our earthly cares and to focus on the spiritual life. And it means that this feast calls us to repent. Through repentance we may destroy the idols that we have exalted in our souls, we may abandon to serve our own sins”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The Cross of Christ has to be cleaned by our repentance, washed by the tears of compunction and exalted by the acts of piety.
Today the Precious Cross is placed in the middle of the church. Looking at that Cross, praying before it, let us ask our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ that we may never forget that we are baptized in Him and that we may worthily follow Him and His Holy Cross. Let us pray that the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ may always be a saving and the most important sign in our lives, to which is glory now and forever!”

The choir director prayerfully performed hymns of the Exaltation of the Cross before Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor greeted the faithful on the occasion of festal celebration and made some announcements. Then the Rector and the altar server performed glorification of the feast in the middle of the church and venerated the Holy Cross.

Sunday before the Exaltation. Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God


On September 24, on the Sunday before the Exaltation, our parish had a beautiful celebration. In addition we observed feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God transferred to Sunday. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On a Sunday preceding the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross we are given a separate set of readings from the Sacred Scripture. The Church does so to make us aware of the special meaning of the Cross of Christ. And today we also observe feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. So, we had two sets of Scripture lessons. Today’s first Epistle lesson from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians concerns with the issue the first Christians had, the issue whether they should keep the Jewish customs and retain circumcision or not. St. Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15). It does not really matter whether we are circumcised or not, but we have to be the new people in Jesus Christ”.
St. Paul is teaching that it is not something external on our bodies that distinguishes us as Christians. It is something internal, spiritual. Through Christ, through Baptism, through repentance and the Holy Spirit we have become new people, a new creation. Jesus Himself said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21, 5). In Christ we are a new creation. He established the New Testament, thus the followers of that New Covenant have to be the new people, people who put off the old Adam and put on the new. “Put off… the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts… and put on the new man which was created according to God”, says St. Paul in another Epistle (Eph. 4, 22-24). Thus, we have to be a new creation”.
The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos became the sign of the beginning of that new era of human history. Today we celebrate the birth of the One who became the Mother of Christ. She Herself was an example of a new person, a representative of that new creation in Christ”.
But even for us, unfortunately the task of becoming the new people in Christ is still very difficult. Sometimes we do not see a difference between believers and unbelievers, between Christians and non-Christians. If we look at the human history, we see that man’s external environment has changed very much, especially recently, with the great achievements in science and technology. However, human nature did not change. Some wise man said, “Man has exalted change in everything but himself”. Man can change his appearance and the way he lives, but the most important change he does not make, a change inside of his soul. Unless man changes inside, unless he is born again, all the changes in science, technology or in our environment will be of no avail”.
The wise man of the Old Testament said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1, 9). At that time, centuries before Christ he could not see anything new. But today we know that the only new thing under the sun is the life in Christ. We know that the Most Holy Theotokos was the new creation, a Most-Pure Virgin, the New Eve, a perfect female person of the New Testament”.
Sometimes people say that eternal life means our continuation in children. It is true to some extent. Our sons and daughters look like us, behave like us, have our traits. Holy parents of the Theotokos, Joachim and Anna thought that they did not have such a continuation. They were first deprived of the hope to have a future in their children. But even people blessed by the offspring could not have the true eternal life. Every generation before the coming of Christ lived under condemnation, lived in the fallen state. Children looked like their parents, behaved like their parents and repeated their parents’ sins and mistakes. Only with the coming of the Divine Savior into the world, only with the incarnation of the Son of God, the human race was given a future to become holy and to join God in the eternal life. Such life was granted, the ancestral curse was broken through Jesus Christ redeeming us. But in order to accomplish that Jesus had to be born as a Man. And His birth was given by the Most Holy Theotokos. She had to come to this world first. And She did, and today we celebrate Her wonderful Nativity”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us really build our lives the way we may be seen as the new people, people distinguished from the unbelievers. Let us be that new creation. Not circumcision or other external sign should distinguish us, but the sign of the Cross. And not just a visible sign, a cross we make or a cross we wear on our chests. Let us imitate the Lord crucified in our way of life, so we may say as St. Paul said in today’s Epistle lesson, “I bear in my body the marks of Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6, 17). St. Paul had spiritual marks of the Holy Cross of Christ, because he crucified his flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5, 24). If we also crucify our flesh, our passions and sinful desires, then we may become the new people in Christ. These marks won’t be seen, but they will be in our hearts. These marks won’t be external, but internal. They would make us the true members of the Body of Christ, where “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15)”.

The choir director beautifully performed the hymns of the Nativity of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. Then Fr. Igor made some announcements, especially regarding our celebration of the coming feast of the Exaltation. Our planned Liturgy on that day had to be canceled, so we are going to transfer the feast to the following Sunday.

After the services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.

15th Sunday after Pentecost


On September 17, on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration in our parish. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Reading the Epistles of St. Paul we always learn about Christian life. We discover what it means to be a Christian. In today’s Epistle reading we also learn something about it”.
Today we heard that St. Paul says that through Jesus Christ God let His light shine in the hearts of men (2 Cor. 4, 6). This is a special ability, a special gift from God. His light may shine in our hearts, Jesus can live within us, the divine grace is given to us. But, as St. Paul goes further, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4, 7). “Earthen vessels” mean vessels of clay, clay jars. That means that we are earthly people, we have our material bodies which are subject to corruption and death. We cannot live this earthly life forever. Our bodies are like clay jars which may be easily broken. In addition, our souls are also corrupt by sin and attached to our bodies and our earthly desires. They are also vulnerable like those earthen vessels. The treasure of divine grace is held in us like in earthen vessels”.
St. Paul tells us that entrusting such a gift to the earthen vessels is necessary. He says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4, 7). We should realize our infirmity and our imperfection, to be humble. We should not become too proud and should understand that our faith and the grace are coming from God, and not from our own merits”.
Living like those earthen vessels make our life difficult. It is even more difficult to live a true Christian life. But if we think about it, we may realize that God never permits us to be annihilated, to be totally destroyed and to be tempted more than we can endure. Therefore St. Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor. 4, 8-9). The Apostle goes further and says that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh”. He says that although death is working in us, life also works (2 Cor. 4, 11-12). Commenting on those words St. John Chrysostom wrote that these trials mentioned by the Apostle show both the power of God and, more, disclose His grace. Christian life is a victorious one, but not trouble free. We need to endure all kinds of trials in order to become worthy of our Lord who also underwent sufferings but became the Conqueror of death”.
Today we honor Holy Martyr Babylas who was the bishop of Antioch in the 3rd century, was one of the ancient Antiochian Patriarchs. His body was tortured in many ways to force him to renounce Christ. His earthen vessel was damaged but by the grace of God he persevered and became a martyr, a hero for Christ. Another Saint whom we commemorate today is Prophet Moses, a very famous Old Testament hero. If we recall the Bible, he was not very confident when he was beginning his special mission. He told God Himself with Whom he spoke, that he has certain physical shortcomings. But God gave Him an assurance of His help and continuous support, promised to be with him (Ex. 4, 1-11). With God’s help our earthen vessels can be very successful and efficient.”
At the end, as St. Paul reminds us, “He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us” (2 Cor. 6, 14). Our earthly lives will end, our earthen vessels will be destroyed, but God will restore both our lives and our bodies at the end of time, so we can be presented at the second coming of His Son. Our trials and troubles, if we suffered them as true Christians, will not be in vain. We will be living eternal life. We will no longer have the treasure held in earthen vessels but in the vessels which will last forever”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be humble and appreciate that God entrusted His treasure, His divine gifts, to be held in our earthen vessels. Let us endure and persevere in our trials, tribulations and temptations of this life. Let us keep in mind that at the end God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us up, so we may be given life eternal”.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director nicely performed hymns dedicated to the Saints whose memory was celebrated: Holy Hieromartyr Babylas and Prophet Moses.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcement regarding the coming feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. Fr. Igor also greeted Phoebe Ching-Huei Li on her past name day proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf and handing to her the Theotokian prosphora.

14th Sunday after Pentecost. Beheading of St. John the Baptist


On September 10, on the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish held a nice celebration. In addition to the Sunday observance we celebrated feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist transferred to that day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today along with our Sunday celebration we observe feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Both Sunday Gospel lesson and the reading of the story of the Beheading of the Forerunner may give us a sad and negative impression. In our Sunday Gospel assigned for today we hear a parable of the Wedding Feast. It shows that so many people neglected the invitation of their king, and even among those who came to the banquet there were people not dressed appropriately. Our Lord finishes that parable by saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt. 22, 14). And in the Gospel story of the execution of St. John the Baptist we hear that this just man was killed by the unjust people and there was no one to defend him”.
Listening to such sad stories we may recall the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart” (Is. 57, 1). St. John was beheaded to honor the request of a loose dancing girl and because of the hatred of her adulterous mother, and no one took it to heart. The birthday banquet of king Herod was not stopped, no guest became indignant and no man became frustrated that such a righteous man was murdered. And in some time after that crime, another villainy had been done, another just Man was killed – our Lord Jesus Christ. Not to honor the request of some dancing girl, but to please the angry crowd an innocent Person of Christ was crucified. And no man took it to heart. We say “no man” because a small number of the Apostles and the Most Holy Mother of God were like a drop in the ocean of the enemies of Christ”.
These two examples of the execution of St. John the Baptist and of Christ suggest that evil is very successful and reigning in this world while good is very often defeated and humiliated. It may also be observed through the whole history of mankind. It is seen right now in many places of the world. And today’s Gospel lesson about the Wedding Feast may lead us to a conclusion that our human nature is so corrupt and ungrateful that God won’t allow most of us to enter into His Kingdom. Thus today we may tend to think negative and become filled with pessimism”.
But let us try to think positive. The whole idea of the Kingdom of God where all of us are invited should overcome all kinds of pessimism. Our Lord is describing His eternal Kingdom in an image so understood to the people – as a wedding feast. In the times of Christ and in East weddings were celebrations of human love, and the families that made them attempted to invite as many guests as they could. So the Lord compared His Kingdom to such a feast. Everyone is welcome. It is now our own choice whether to accept that generous invitation. If we accept and do our best to get there, to enter into God’s Kingdom, to participate in His everlasting celebration of Love – we will be there. And our garment will be appropriate if we will prepare and put such garment on. So, the Lord won’t throw us out of His banquet hall into the outer darkness. It is totally up to us. Even if we fail to do our preparation, even if it seems difficult for us to accept God’s invitation, the Lord is always willing to help us. He provides His divine grace, He assures us that if with men it is impossible, with God everything is possible (Mt. 19, 26). And despite that only few are chosen, the Lord keeps saying, “Come to me, allyouwho are wearyand burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11, 28). And the whole Scripture is full of very optimistic and positive assurances of God’s love and willingness to save everyone. But on the other hand, of course, God won’t save us without our desire to be just. The book of Revelation says, He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteousstill; he who is holy, let him be holy still(Rev. 22, 11). God gives us a choice. If we are unjust or filthy, He will judge us; if we are righteous and holy He will bless us”.
Sometimes God allows unjust to be punished even before His judgment, even in this life. The punishment of Herod was terrible. Firstly, his kingdom was invaded and taken away from him. Then Herod was exiled to Spain, it was here one terrible winter that Salome fell through a hole in the ice while crossing a frozen river. As she sank into the river, the ice froze around her neck. Struggling to free herself, she moved her legs, as though dancing. At that moment, however, the edges of ice cut through her neck and she was beheaded. Her sinful and unrepentant body disappeared forever beneath the ice. Eyewitnesses saw her decapitated head on the ice, picked it up and took it to Herod – on a platter. As regards Herod and Herodias, they too disappeared, for they fell into a crack in the ground opened up during an earthquake. Thus, they disappeared from history, without obeying St John’s call to repentance, swallowed by the fires beneath the earth. But as regards St John who called and still calls to repentance – his name lives on forever”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, despite the sadness of today’s Gospel lessons, let us remember that God’s justice will always prevail. Let us also remember that we are all invited to share in the joy of our Lord in His eternal Kingdom. An invitation is sent and the doors of the banquet hall are wide open. The Wedding Feast is waiting for us. It is now up to us whether we will accept that invitation, do our best to come and be dressed appropriately. If not, we will join king Herod, Herodias and her foolish daughter the dancer. We will join those who condemned Christ. But if we will do our best we will join the holy ones, we will be among the Saints such as John the Baptist, the Most Holy Mother of God and our Lord Jesus Christ!”

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director piously performed the hymns of the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed glorification in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the icon stand.

Following that the Rector made some announcements. He then congratulated Moses Dunetz on his name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the Theotokian prosphora was handed to that parishioner.

Following that the Rector performed the blessing of the students who begin the school year.

After our services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious food and nice conversation during the coffee hour.

Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God


On August 28, on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, we held a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the most important feast in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God, Her Dormition. This is the day when our Lady fell asleep and ended Her earthly life. She was taken up to heavenly glory along with Her soul and body. Holy Scripture does not tell us about the last days of the Most Holy Mother of God. In fact, it does not tell about Her much at all. This is why the Protestant churches which do not recognize any other sources of Revelation except the Bible, do not honor Theotokos at all. But we, Orthodox Christians, acknowledge two sources of God’s Revelation, Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. While the Scripture does not tell us about today’s feast, it is very much described in the writings of the holy Fathers of the Church, it is very much mentioned in the Holy Tradition. Thus, let us recall what the Tradition tells us about it”.
According to the ancient Christian tradition, the Most Holy Mother of God lived in the household of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian to whom our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted His Blessed Mother when He was dying on the cross. St. John and the Blessed Mother lived in several places, but later She came back to Jerusalem, to finish Her earthly life at the holy place of Passion and death of Her divine Son. The Most Holy Mother of God attended the place of the Lord’s Tomb where She prayed. One day holy Archangel Gabriel appeared to Her at the Lord’s Tomb and announced that shortly She is going pass away. The Blessed Mother prepared to that day. Now a great miracle happened: all holy Apostles were taken by invisible angelic force and arrived in Jerusalem around the bed of the Blessed Mother to farewell Her. She fell asleep at the third hour which is in the morning. After that holy Apostles buried Her conducting the funeral rites. The burial procession went through the city of Jerusalem. Some Jewish people hostile to the Christians attempted to attack the Apostles but the procession was miraculously enveloped with the cloud, so they could not see and find it. All they did is to hear the chants of the funeral prayers and hymns sung by the Apostles. One of the Jewish priests named Apphonias reached the procession and tried to overthrow the coffin with the holy body of the Theotokos. But the angel invisibly cut his hands off. Apphonias repented, was healed and followed the procession becoming a zealous follower of Christ”.
After the body of the Most Holy Mother of God was buried, She appeared to the Apostles when they came back to the house to eat together. The Holy Mother said to them: “I will always stay with you!” On the eighth day after the Falling Asleep of the Most Pure Virgin holy Apostle Thomas arrived in Jerusalem. He desired to venerate the holy body of the Most Holy Mother of God. When the Apostles opened Her tomb to let St. Thomas to venerate the relics, they discovered that it was empty. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not allow His Mother’s body to stay in the tomb but took it to the heavenly glory”.
Thus in the Most Holy Mother of God the statutes of nature are being overcome, She did not die, She fell asleep to be in the Kingdom of Her Son. Death is conquered again. As the Son of God and Son of Mary conquered death by His own death in His holy Resurrection, so He conquered death in His Mother’s Dormition. Death is a result of sin. Thus, let us fight the sin to acquire life. It is hard, but if we do fight the sin God is coming to help. He will make miracles for us. In today’s feast we hear about a number of unbelievable miracles. We may even say that the whole story is so unbelievable. But even in our own life God can perform wonderful and incredible things to make us alive in His heavenly Kingdom. Let us strive for it with the help of the Most Holy Mother of God who is saving our souls from death”.

The choir director prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God and Her Dormition during preparation for Holy Communion.

Our festal service was attended by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyk), cleric of the ROCOR who prayed in the altar.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the icon of the Dormition in the middle of the church. Then the Rector congratulated all the faithful on the feast.

12th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 27, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, the Prefeast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at St. George Church. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Today’s Epistle lesson is reminding us of that very important miracle of our Lord’s victory over death. St. Paul is writing that “Christ died for our sins…, was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15, 3-4). St. Paul further tells us that Christ’s Resurrection is confirmed by a number of witnesses to whom the risen Lord appeared. Then, last of all, the risen Christ appeared to St. Paul”.
During Paschal season we greet each other by the joyful words, “Christ is risen!” But how can we believe it is true; how can we admit that Christ is truly risen? St. Paul calls the witnesses. This is his method to convince the Corinthians. He refers to five appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection: to Peter, to the twelve Apostles, to over of 500 brethren, to James and all the Apostles and then to himself. St. Paul considers Christ’s appearance to him on the road to Damascus an appearance of the same kind as all other appearances of the risen Christ to His Disciples, even though it happened 6 years after these appearances. 6 years passed after Christ Resurrection and His Ascension into heaven. Yet St. Paul places his special experience of meeting Christ on the Damascus Road in the same row as the appearances of the risen Lord. He does so because for him it was a real Resurrection experience. That appearance changed the history of many nations. It transformed a fanatical persecutor into Christ’s greatest friend; it gave Christianity a great teacher; it gave the New Testament its chief author; it granted many people, especially Gentiles, their first preacher of the Gospel, their true Apostle”.
St. Paul says, “Last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15, 8). Paul did not belong to the original group of Disciples. He came after them. Thus he says that he is “the least of the Apostles… not worthy to be called an Apostle” because he “persecuted the Church of God” (1 Cor. 15, 9). He called himself the chief of the sinners. Yet he admitted that Christ had chosen to reveal Himself to him. He felt it was not due to his merits, but an act of pure grace and mercy on the part of God. He writes, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15, 10)”.
The early Church decreed that no one could be called an Apostle if he had not personally seen the risen Jesus. St. Paul always insisted that he had this essential qualification to testify from personal knowledge of Jesus. He utters, “Am I not an Apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Cor. 9, 1). How could he see Jesus Christ if he was not among the Apostles at the time when Jesus was on earth? Only by his very special, intimate and real experience of meeting the Lord on the road to Damascus. Finally, Jesus did appear to Paul, appeared last of all, as to “one born out of due time””.
Let us remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebr. 13, 8). If He came then, He comes now. Jesus comes to us now in our sense of sinfulness to forgive us, in our grief to comfort us, in our doubts to give us hope, in our fear to uphold us. He is not just a great Teacher and a beautiful example. He is the Son of God, the risen Lord, the Conqueror of death. He appears to us Christians and may appear to unbelievers to make them believers. And let us remember that when Christ does appear to the people, He does it as a pure grace. We can never deserve His attention. We are not worthy of His appearance. However, out of His love for mankind and His rich mercy He blesses us with His coming. This is a gift of God. It is priceless, but we receive it free of charge. This is important to know: the divine grace is not given for certain good deeds or merits, but freely. It is a special gift to the sinful and unworthy men. But it is able to make those sinful men holy and the unworthy crowned with dignity. It saves our souls and gives eternal life”.
The grace of God may be bestowed any time. Some get it early, some later. This is why even a great sinner can repent and change his life. St. Paul did so. The grace may be bestowed “last of all” as happened to St. Paul”.
Like St. Paul, let us be humble, but let us also be sure that the risen Lord may bestow His grace upon us and come to us to bless and grant us eternal salvation”.

During preparation for Holy Communion he choir nicely performed hymns dedicated to Venerable Theodosius of the Caves whose memory was celebrated on that day.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements regarding the coming feast of the Dormition and our schedule for the next month.