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.

11th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 20, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is the 11th Sunday after Pentecost and today’s Gospel is dealing with certain material things; it is about lending money and paying them back. And today’s Epistle lesson is also discussing material matters. St. Paul writes about his concerns regarding the material support of those who preach the Gospel. He is telling the Christians in Corinth that the Apostles have a right to be paid for their ministry. He says, “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things” (1 Cor. 9, 11). The main idea of the Apostle here is very clear: preachers of the Gospel, either Apostles or their successors, the clergy, must be given material support to be free to sow spiritual things”.
St. Paul articulates his thoughts further by explaining that it is understandable and acceptable that people who are doing certain jobs are entitled to the fruits of it. “Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?” (1 Cor. 9, 7). Thus, today we may reflect on those thoughts of the Apostle and reassure ourselves that it is not “a plea of man’s invention” but a rule of life: we must take care of the needs of the Church and her servants”.
To understand better why St. Paul wrote about that, we have to recall the circumstances surrounding his preaching in the city of Corinth. We mentioned before that Corinth was a large and wealthy city in Greece, very famous for its culture and wealth. But “to live a Corinthian way” meant to live a wealthy but immoral life. At that point, preaching of St. Paul and other Apostles made many Corinthians Christians. But most of the newly converted to the Christian faith were poor citizens or even slaves. It was very difficult for them to support the Apostles. That was the reason why St. Paul had to labor working with his own hands and was not asking for the support from the Corinthians. However, he realized that in the future, when Christianity will be more and more accepted by the population of the city, many rich individuals will join the community. Then the Apostles or their successors will have a right to ask for material support. Then they would be able to concentrate on the spiritual activity, and their temporal needs will be taken care by the community. This is why St. Paul is instructing the faithful in Corinth that those who serve near the altar have right to eat from the offerings brought to the altar. This was the Old Testament rule mandated by God. The same rule applies to the preachers of the Gospel and the New Testament priesthood. St. Paul is telling that the present situation when the Apostles work for self-support is not normal. It is only a result of temporary difficulties, and it must be changed when the difficulties will be overcome”.
All of us are members of the Church. And the Church is a mystical Body of Christ. Through Baptism everyone is called to be a member of that Body. And as members we must take care of the Body, to maintain it and to support its functions. This is the way we deal with our own bodies: we eat, we drink, we warm them up, we watch them to be safe, we try to heal them if they are sick. Now we have to realize that the Church needs the same kind of care. In another Epistle St. Paul writes, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Eph. 5, 29-30). Thus, if we usually do not hate our flesh but take care of it, why should not we take care of the Church to which we belong? And taking care of the Church means to support the Church servants and their ministry. It means to contribute temporal goods to support clergy”.
If all Christians always understood these ideas of St. Paul we would avoid many problems, conflicts and misunderstandings that have been taking place in the Church history and still exist in today’s Church. St. Paul reveals that such problems started to appear in the Church from the very beginning. Even among the early Christians were certain people who questioned the right of the Apostles to be supported by their communities. Therefore St. Paul was forced to utter, “Do we have no right to eat or drink?” (1 Cor. 9, 4). He had to explain that the Apostles have the same need as everybody else: to eat and to drink. Even common sense of justice or fairness requires to pay those who work for you. If someone does something for us, we should be grateful and maybe compensate them. We pay all kinds of persons performing work or service for us. “If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?” asks St. Paul. Who deserves more than your own body. And as we said, the Church is our spiritual body. And who deserves more? The one who provides temporary things, or the one who sows among you spiritual things, eternal things? Is it too much if he reaps your material things in return?”
This is the message of today’s Epistle lesson. While it does not contain very profound spiritual ideas, it does give us a solid spiritual understanding how to handle our everyday Church affairs. It tells us what attitude should we all have towards managing of the temporal goods of the Church. That can help us in our Church life, so we may easier find a way of our salvation”.

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.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director nicely performed hymns of the Transfiguration and hymns dedicated to Venerable Martyr Dometius whose memory was celebrated on that day.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements and asked the parishioners to help cleaning the church and its premises to prepare for the greatest Theotokian feast, Holy Dormition.

Transfiguration of the Lord

On August 19th Holy Orthodox Church celebrates feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On that day we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We are here in the temple of God to celebrate great feast of the Transfiguration. Today’s Gospel reading told us about that special event. Our Lord Jesus Christ took His three Disciples, Peter, James and John and led them to the mountain. There the Lord transfigured before them showing the glory of His divinity. Transfiguration is a very important Christian holy day. It is another Theophany, the appearance of God because Jesus showed the Disciples that He is truly divine. And the Lord showed His Disciples His uncreated light, the light of His divine grace”.
Another important aspect of this event is that the Apostles were comforted and assured that their Teacher is the true God. Later one of them, Holy Apostle Peter wrote that at the Transfiguration “they were witnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1, 16). This assurance was especially needed when they became witnesses of the death of Christ, so they had to remember that His death was God’s plan of salvation and that it had to be followed by Christ Resurrection. Our today’s festal kontakion says, “So that when they would behold Thou crucified, they would understand that Thine suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that Thou art truly the radiance of the Father!””
All these aspects are very important to understand why we celebrate today’s feast. But we may also inquire what this holy event is bringing to us? What is our benefit from that holy, miraculous and glorious occurrence?”
The light of Christ, that very light shown on Mt. Tabor has to shine for us also and to lead us to spiritual transfiguration of our own. In today’s festal troparion we sing, “Let Thine everlasting Light shine upon us sinners”. And if we, as the believers in Christ our God, strive for the unity with Him, we need that light to shine. Without God’s grace we cannot transfigure our sinful beings. Thus we need to acquire that grace, to attain that divine light, to strive to live in that holy radiance. Practically speaking, we need to advance spiritually, to evolve in our perfection”.
Sometimes the believers complain that nowadays we don’t have holy people leading us. They wish that our Church was led by the bishops like St. Nicholas, our states headed by the rulers like St. Vladimir, that in our parishes were priests like St. John of Kronstadt. Of course, it is nice to dream in that way: that when you come to the church, the service is headed by John of Kronstadt, the choir is directed by King David, and your wife besides you is like St. Natalia. But the reality is quite different. Why? Because we ourselves are not worthy of those holy people. We ourselves are not holy and equal to them in holiness, piety and zeal. Imagine if we really had St. Nicholas as our bishop. We would be very happy to come to him and benefit from his miracles. But he would also be demanding towards us. He would require us to attend the church every service; he would serve the long services, like all-night vigils (not just by name, but in reality, during the whole night!); he would give us harsh penances and so on. How would we feel with such a holy bishop?”
In fact, not long ago here, in America, we had a bishop Saint, John of Shanghai. And how did the people feel? Almost a half of his flock did not like him, some hated him and wrote complaints to the Synod, poisoning the life of that holy man. Once he could become the first hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad but those enemies and their opposition did not allow this to happen. See what happens when a Saint is among us but we are no Saints!”
We really need to advance, to evolve in our piety, zeal and holiness to become changed, transfigured. The Greek word of the New Testament for Transfiguration is Μεταμορφωσις. This word is used by the scientists to describe a change which occurs with a butterfly. In order to become a beautiful butterfly, a worm, or a caterpillar must become a dormant creature and when its time comes, it changes into a butterfly. You cannot make a butterfly by adding the wings to a caterpillar or to a dormant form. You cannot interfere into that process. Same with our spiritual state: you need to mature, to evolve to the certain point of spiritual growth, in order to acquire the light of Christ”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Being now in the middle of the Dormition fast, let us pray to the Most Holy Mother of God to intercede for us. Our today’s troparion mentions that everlasting Light of Christ may shine through the prayers of the Theotokos. Let us pray to Her that our sinful being may transfigure to the eternal life and holiness, to the unity with our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed festal hymns of Transfiguration.

Following the Ambo Prayer the Rector performed traditional Blessing of fruits.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day.

10th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 13, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, our parish had a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate 10th Sunday after Pentecost, and I made a decision to begin preaching on the Epistle lessons. Usually, we reflect upon the readings from the Holy Gospel but the Church also has the readings from the Epistles. The Epistles are also from the Sacred Scripture, from the New Testament. They were written by the Holy Apostles. Most of the readings from the Epistles we have on Sundays are from the letters of the Holy Apostle Paul. Today we had a lesson from his Epistle to the Corinthians”.
In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul is telling the Christians of Corinth that they differ from the Apostles by their way of life. He exclaims, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ!” (1 Cor. 4, 10). If we tried to understand these words literally, we could think that St. Paul gives an option to be fools in Christ or to be wise in Christ. However, it is easy to understand that he is sarcastic”.
Corinthian Christians who were relatively new community founded by St. Paul himself, became relaxed and attempted to combine Christian faith with some luxury of secular life. They tried to be Christians and preserve some worldly attitude. This is why St. Paul uses irony and sarcasm. He hopes that it could be a good medicine to cure spiritual weaknesses of his followers in Corinth. He says, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, and you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!” (1 Cor. 4, 10). And he goes on telling that the Apostles, including himself, hunger and thirst, are poorly clothed, are beaten and homeless. They labor, working with their own hands. They are persecuted and reviled (1 Cor. 4, 11-12). At the same time Christians of Corinth are not suffering these misfortunes, but think that they are still good followers of Christ. This why the Apostle does not condemn them directly but teaches that they are wrong. You cannot be a good Christian and not suffer for Christ. You cannot serve two masters, as the Lord Himself said (Mt. 6, 24)”.
Nowadays many Christians and even Christian communities believe that they can adopt their Christianity to modern life, to the demands of the secular world. They think that they can combine Christian faith with the worldly existence. They abbreviate church services, make their temples comfortable, allow the people to indulge themselves. Some of them now agree to bless same-sex marriages or pray for the pet animals. In one of such “churches” some time ago a minister gave Communion to a dog. They probably think that they are “wise in Christ” for they wish to be “popular”, “close to the people”, to attract today’s people. Thus they may think that they are strong and distinguished. While we, Orthodox Christians who do not wish to do that are viewed as “fools”, as “weak” and “dishonored”. Well, the same way the Apostles were viewed”.
But even among us, Orthodox, sometimes there is a spirit of the early Corinthian church. We have a temptation to combine our Christianity with the secular values. This is why we have different problems in our parishes. Something resembling the situation of St. Paul and other Apostles may be seen in our Church life in this country. Many our priests are not supported by their parishes, but have to labor, work with their own hands or other talents. On their time off they take care of the parishes, come to serve the Liturgy. But some parishioners have their requirements they set for the clergy. Similar situation as described today by St. Paul”.
However, St. Paul uses these words of irony, as he himself says, “not to shame” but “to warn” his disciples in Corinth. The Corinthian Christians were his spiritual children. As in the family, so in the Church, children need parental guidance. Same in our Orthodox communities, in our parishes, people need guidance from the clergy. Since St. Paul founded the community in Corinth, he is the father of the Corinthian Christians. As such he finishes today’s Epistle lesson with the words, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (1 Cor. 4, 16). This would mean that Corinthians should imitate the Apostles, become fools in Christ, become persecuted and endure sufferings for Christ’s sake. They should abandon their way of life and follow the example of St. Paul and other Apostles”.
Therefore, dear brethren, let us imitate St. Paul and other holy Apostles who imitated our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not fool ourselves that we may be good Christians and serve the world, combine our faith with secular values. Let us remember who our fathers are and be their followers”.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director nicely performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Cross because of the celebration of the prefeast of the Transition of the Precious Woods of the Cross. She also sang the hymns dedicated to St. Eudocimus whose memory was celebrated.

Following the Ambo prayer the Rector performed the traditional blessing of honey.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor greeted Paraskeva Kosmidis on her past name day. He also congratulated our new parishioner Ilya on his name day celebrated two weeks ago. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed on their behalf and Theotokian prosphora distributed among those two persons. Then the Rector congratulated Elena Malyshev on her past birthday and also proclaimed the Polychronion for her. After these greetings the Rector made the announcements regarding the Dormition Fast which starts on the next day and regarding our coming celebration of the Lord’s Transfiguration.

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

Our Rector served in Edwardsville, PA


On Sunday, August 6, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov visited St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Edwardsville, PA. By the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia (OCA), Fr. Igor was invited to serve there on that day.

St. John the Baptist is an old parish founded in the 19th century by the first immigrants from Ukraine. Now, due to demographic changes, that community became much smaller although it has a large and beautiful temple.

On August 6, according to the new calendar, the said parish celebrated feast of the Transfiguration. Fr. Igor headed the Divine Liturgy being co-served by Archpriest Michael Evans, cleric of St. John’s Church. After the Gospel lesson Archpriest Igor preached a homily about the celebrated feast. Following the Ambo prayer he performed traditional blessing of fruits. At the end of the service Fr. Igor greeted the faithful on the occasion of the feast and was invited for the coffee hour at the parish hall.

8th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils

On August 7, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel reading is telling us about the feeding of the five thousand and the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes”.
First of all, we should note that it was a very large number of people, because it was five thousand men. If you add women and children, you may conclude that the crowd was probably about fifteen thousand or more. We should consider that this large number of people followed Christ on foot in the heat of the day into the wilderness and without food. What faith and devotion they had, these people who followed Jesus! Now compare this to us, modern Orthodox who are reluctant to come to church on Sunday. We drive the air-conditioned cars and we still don’t come”.
Reflecting further, we can see that this miracle took place out of compassion for the people. We can see this in many miracles of Christ and it is mentioned again in today’s Gospel how the Lord healed the sick. Each miracle of Christ is an act of love performed out of compassion”.
Let us now examine how Jesus performed that miracle. Our Lord took up the five loaves and fishes, and then looked up to heaven and thanked the Father and blessed the food. St. John Chrysostom interpreting this Gospel lesson says that in this way Jesus showed that He is equal to God the Father. Jesus look up to heaven, prays to His Father but He Himself begins a miracle. Here He also sets us Orthodox the example of praying before eating. How many Orthodox often forget even to make the sign of the cross before eating! And yet the Savior Himself, “by Whom all things were made”, asks for the blessing of the Father before eating”.
The miracle takes place in a deserted place and when the day is over. According to St. John Chrysostom, this shows us that Christ is not limited by space and time. St. John wrote about this event the following beautiful words: “Although the place is a desert, He who feeds the universe is present. Although the day is over, Christ and His words are ever-present, never submitting to time or element”.
And St. John Chrysostom says that by blessing and multiplying bread and fish, Christ shows that He is also the Lord of Land and Sea”.
Another aspect of today’s Gospel story is that in this miracle we see how Christ not only feeds us with material food, but also with spiritual food, for, as it is written in the Holy Scriptures, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8, 3; Mt. 4, 4). Today we commemorate Holy Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils. There were seven Councils, and six of them defined the dogmas of Orthodox faith. Thus the Fathers of the six Councils were given us and confirming spiritual nourishment of the true faith leading to eternal life. Nowadays people are looking for different diets to stay physically healthy. The Ecumenical Councils came up with a spiritual diet for us: they defined what is spiritually healthy for us to consume, and what is harmful for us as a spiritual food”.
Performing the miracle of multiplying the breads, our Lord gave also spiritual food to the people. We may see that spiritual nourishment in the numbers mentioned in this Gospel. There were five loaves of bread. The number five represents our five senses that are fed by the Bread of Life. In our prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion we mention our five senses that are to be enlightened. There were two fishes. They represent the two parts of the New Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles, which were written by fishermen become fishers of men, for we are spiritually fed by their writings. There were twelve baskets of fragments? They represent the twelve Apostles who preach to the ends of the universe, the fragments who feed our souls with the words of Christ through the Holy Spirit”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us open our minds and souls to Christ our true God. Let us follow Him anywhere His divine Providence would make us to go. Let us strife to be with Him, so we too may be fed and filled with the Bread of Life”.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Six Councils.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow and another person named Olga on the occasion of their name day handing them the Theotokian prosphora. Then he also greeted our Treasurer, Emilian Suric, on his coming name day. Since Mr. Suric was going to leave for vacation before the next Sunday, the Rector chose to congratulate him in advance. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. Then the Rector made some announcements regarding our August schedule.

Following the service everybody was invited for the coffee hour where a delicious luncheon was served. The toasts to the person celebrating their name days were raised.

7th Sunday after Pentecost


On July 23, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of Venerable Anthony of the Caves, St. George parish family gathered for a nice celebration. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was celebrated by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he addressed the faithful with the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! This Sunday again the reading from the Holy Gospel is telling us about the healings performed by our Lord Jesus Christ. He returned the sight to the blind and he healed the mute. The blind men followed Him crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Mt. 9, 27). Let us remember today who was David. He was the King of Judea blessed by God; he was one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ”.
The Old Testament Scripture tells us a lot about holy king David. Since childhood days many of us were probably thrilled to the story of David defeating Goliath. The Philistine giant, Goliath was feared by the Jews who fought the Philistines. And he dared them to choose a warrior to fight him, cursing the Jews and making fun of them. For forty days the Jews could not find anyone willing to meet Goliath in the battle. Finally, a shepherd boy named David undertook that seemingly impossible task. He met and conquered the giant with the simplest of weapons, and with no visible armor”.
Each of us, in some sense, has a giant to fight. For some of us it is a physical ailment. For some it is a bad habit. For many of us it is fear of the future. For others, it is deep sorrow disturbing our peace. And generally, speaking of our spiritual state, the most fearsome giant is our sinful nature, our passions that threaten our salvation. Day by day we are battling our own giant, and we may ask, what are our chances to defeat it?”
Let us recall that the match between David and Goliath seemed to be a hopeless encounter. David was not trained as a warrior. But in answer to Goliath’s cursing and taunting, he replied: You come to me with a sword… But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts” (1 Sam. 17, 45). This was the secret of this battle. And as we fight our giants, this must be the secret – the battle is the Lord’s and our main weapon is God’s strength”.
As we read the Scripture, we see others facing giants. We may recall that the Jews led by Moses from Egypt finally reached the borders of the promised land. And they sent the spies to investigate that land. After weeks of observation those spies returned full of terrifying impressions. They said, There we saw the giants… and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Num. 13, 34). After hearing this report most of the Jews became very afraid to cross the border but two of those spies, Joshua and Caleb told them to have faith in God because the people of Canaan, even if they are so great and fearsome, they have no power against God who is with His people”.
Let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Himself was facing His own giant of persecution and crucifixion. Inspiring the Apostles He said, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16, 33). And He went forth to conquer the mightiest giant of all – death.
The two blind men in today’s Gospel lesson faced the giant of physical blindness. But they came to Someone Who was the real Giant. In the power of their faith in Him the giant of blindness was overcome. “According to your faith be it done to you,” Jesus said to them (Mt. 9, 29)”.
Today we commemorate Venerable Father Anthony of the Kiev Caves. He was also facing a giant of his own. If we read his life story we may be convinced of that. St. Anthony faced temptations and a lot of difficulties in his ascetic warfare. But he trusted in God and saw his goal of ascetic life. So he conquered all these obstacles”.
Dear brothers and sisters! When like David, like Joshua and Caleb, like the two blind men, like Venerable Anthony of the Caves, we look at life with faith in the Lord, the giants become cut down in size. We no longer grovel before them. For we are not grasshoppers in the presence of overpowering giants, but sons and daughters of Almighty God, clothed in the armor of Christ, trusting in Him. Being created in God’s image, we ourselves are supposed to be not grasshoppers but giants. If we invite Him to come and live within us, then there is a real giant in each one of us.”

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to Venerable Anthony of the Caves whose memory was celebrated on that day.

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

6th Sunday after Pentecost


On July 16, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, 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 Gospel is telling us about a miracle of healing of the paralytic (Mt. 9, 1-8). If we attend the Church on Sundays we may recall that the story of such healing is repeated three times during the year. First, on the 2nd Sunday of Lent we hear about the healing of the paralytic brought to Jesus by four men, by four friends (Mk. 2, 3-12). Then later, during our Paschal celebration, there is a Sunday called the Sunday of the Paralytic when we read the story of the paralyzed man healed by the Lord near the Pool at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (Jn. 5, 1-9). And today, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, we read about the same healing that we heard on the 2nd Sunday of Lent, but we read it from another Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew. Why do we repeat this story twice a year and we read about another miracle of such healing to mention a paralytic three times per year?”
This is done not because of the importance of understanding the disease called paralysis, but because spiritual, not physical, paralysis is the most common human spiritual problem. A paralytic is unable to do anything by himself. His body is paralyzed. In the same way a spiritual paralysis makes us unable to act upon our salvation. Our soul is paralyzed, unable to change for better, to perform good deeds, to live spiritual life. And every Christian person, if he is honest with himself and is really able to evaluate his soul, could see that he is suffering from that spiritual disease. For example, we make a resolution to pray morning and evening prayers every day, to read the Scripture. We say that from this Monday I will start to pray and to read the Bible. Monday comes and we feel bad, have a headache in the morning, then we are busy during the day. On Monday night we feel tired. In addition, different problems and daily cares distract us from our plan. Tuesday comes and again we fail to do what we decided. It is called spiritual paralysis. We cannot mobilize ourselves for spiritual life. Or we decided to avoid certain sins. For instance, we made a resolution to stop judging other people. But we go somewhere, meet someone and begin talking, and we mention someone in our conversation and begin to discuss that person’s mistakes, shortcomings and wrongs. These are just a couple of examples, but they are so familiar. We are suffering from a paralysis of souls”.
What does the Holy Gospel teach us about that? First of all, it shows us the main reason for our spiritual paralysis. Before healing the paralyzed man, our Lord Jesus Christ forgave him his sins (Mt. 9, 2). Our sins cause us to be spiritually paralyzed. And the Church offers us an effective remedy for our sins, the repentance. Unfortunately, our paralyzed spiritual state often makes us unable to repent. But if we find strength to confess our sins, we may begin to heal. But since these efforts are usually very weak, we need something else. We need faith. In today’s Gospel the Lord performs the miracle after seeing the faith of the people who brought to him a paralytic (Mt. 9, 2). Note that Jesus did not see the faith of the paralytic but of his friends”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we ourselves may not have a sufficient faith to receive healing from our spiritual paralysis, but the faith of our brethren in Christ may help us. Such a faith is the faith of the Holy Church. Each of us may not have enough faith in his or her heart, but the Church, the community of the believers, does possess such faith. We belong to the Church of the Holy Apostles, Martyrs, Venerable ascetics and other holy righteous people. We are united with them, and they constantly pray for us before God’s heavenly throne”.
We are also united with the Holy Angels. Today we commemorate Holy Martyr Hyacinth, a 12-year-old boy who was tortured for being a Christian. He refused to eat the food offered as sacrifice to the idols, and we should remember that this is forbidden for Christians. So, the torturers made him starve and eventually that holy boy died. But before his death the jailers saw him being comforted by the Angels. The Angels came to help him when no human person could do it. St. Hyacinth was dying alone, not with other Christians, so the Angels came to comfort”.
Thus, dear brothers and sisters, we are united with all the Saints who pray for us and may help us. And the Lord looking at our hearts and seeing our desire to be healed, then looking at the faith of our brethren, at the faith of His Holy Church, will forgive our sins and will eventually grant us healing from our spiritual infirmity. And He will make us who are spiritually paralyzed able to walk spiritually”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us ask our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that seeing the faith of the Holy Church He may forgive our sins and may say to us, “Arise and walk!”, so we may walk following His steps”.

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.

Before the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to St. Hyacinth whose memory was celebrated on that day.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector welcomed back Paraskeva Kosmidis who returned from her trip to Greece and greeted some visitors to our parish. Then he invited everyone to the coffee hour held after the service.

5th Sunday after Pentecost


On July 9, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, 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! Today’s Gospel does not give us a lesson of what we should do, but rather shows us what we should avoid, what we should not do. It shows us a shocking reality of the existence of the power of evil. But it also teaches us that we need to avoid not only the powers of the evil one, but an attitude of desiring to be away from God, to be spiritually on our own”.
Today’s Gospel draws a terrible picture for us: two demoniacs came out from the tombs, “exceedingly fierce, so that no man might pass by that way” (Mt. 8, 28). Christ permitted the demons to enter into a huge herd of swine. The possessed ones were healed, but the whole herd of swine jumped from the cliff into the lake. So, we can only wonder and be impressed by a terrible force of evil which could do so”.
The demon-possessed men did not live among the people but in the tombs. Today we commemorate Ven. David of Thessalonica who also did not live in the society. He lived under the tree and often stayed on the tree branches. I was there in Thessalonica and I saw where this Father lived and I had an opportunity to see and to venerate his relics. So, sometimes you can see that the demon-possessed people live in a strange place, but sometimes we see that also holy people may live in a strange place. These are the extreme ways of life. And most of us don’t like to be in such extremes, but rather to keep somewhere in the middle. It is possible but we need to remember that anywhere we stand we need to be with God. If we desire to be independent from Him, we make a terrible mistake. Such a mistake was made by the people of that town described in today’s Gospel”.
Last week our country celebrated Independence Day, and we commemorated the historical date when America became independent from the British Empire. It is important and beneficial for a nation to be independent from other nations, so we respect and cherish that right of a nation to be free. That’s normal in the relations between nations. However, when we speak about the relations between people and God, there is nothing good in our independence from Him. Our independence from God has always catastrophic consequences”.
Here is the ending of today’s Gospel: “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus” (Mt. 8, 34). And now you expect to find something encouraging: the whole town has united in order to meet the Lord. You want to think that it was faith that united them, that they, as once did the Samaritans, would ask the Lord to remain with them, would thank Him for His healing, for the salvation of two of their townspeople, and also for freeing them from the danger present when passing that way. And what happened? Yes, they asked the Lord, but not to stay with them, but rather to “depart out of their region!” (Mt. 8, 34)”.
Here is the most discouraging part in this Gospel reading. First the demons were in two possessed men. Later, we saw them in an entire herd of swine. And then, a whole town possessed. With what? Not directly with the evil spirits, but with the passion for profit. According to Jewish law, raising pigs was unlawful, sinful. But it made money, and huge amounts of money. And here an entire herd perished. And the people seemed to be saying to the Lord: “You have only set foot on our land and have caused us such a terrible loss. What will happen next if you stay here any longer? You will ruin us completely! We see, we understand your greatness: even the devils are obedient to you! But what does that do for us? What do the two healed men matter to us? We don’t need your miracles. We need the profit, we need the money. You are not for us. Go away, go away.””
Today’s Gospel lesson teaches us that we cannot be spiritually on our own. If we are with God, He will take a good care of us in our life. But if we ask God to depart from our life, He will obey. But then we will become an easy prey of the evil forces. God is Almighty but He never forces us to be with Him. He won’t save us without our cooperation with Him, without our desire for Him to be in our lives, to bless us and to abide with us. Thus if we ask Him to go, He will eventually leave. But we won’t be able to be spiritually independent. If God leaves, the devil comes”.
Recently we have heard of fierce storms and disasters everywhere in the world. We are also witnessing terrible war in Ukraine. Some religious people blame sinful way of life. Although God does not act in such a simplistic manner, He does allow evil to act if we live without God. If some sinful way of life, some passion takes over our soul, changes our lifestyle, we may think that we are better off without God. However, it is a terrible delusion”.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us examine our soul. Doesn’t the same thing happen to us? Some kind of passion takes possession of us, but Christ becomes an obstacle. And in our soul, we whisper the same terrible words: “Go away from us.” May the Lord keep us from this! May our words directed to Him always be: “Come to us and never leave us,” “Come and dwell within us and cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls, o Good one!””

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 dedicated to the commemorated Saint, Venerable David of Thessalonica, during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal Fr. Igor made some announcements.