Sunday after the Nativity

 

On January 10, on the Sunday after the Nativity, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served 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! This Sunday after the Nativity is dedicated to St. Joseph, the Sponsor of the Holy Family, and to King David and holy Apostle James the Brother of the Lord. We know from the Gospel of today that when the joy of the Birth of Christ was over, when the wise men departed, the angels returned to heaven and shepherds left the cave, righteous Joseph had to begin his work of protecting the Holy Family. For him, as well as for the Blessed Mother of God, the miracle of Christmas ended and a hard and dangerous life began”.
“For many of us it is a similar feeling when Christmas is over. The holy days ended, and we have to think about our daily life. Some people rush to take off the decorations, especially after the New Year’s Day. Although our tradition leads us to the other two winter holy days (St. Basil’s and Theophany), we feel like something big is already finished. The radiant days of celebration have passed and the gray and boring time of our daily cares approaches again. Now it is very important not to lose the spirit of Christmas. Again, our beautiful and holy tradition helps us with that. It prolongs our celebration with two more holy days. It tells us to keep the decorations and the tree until after the Theophany or, as done in some local traditions, until February. But more important is to keep Christmas within our hearts, to be aware of the fact that “the Child was born to us, the Son is given to us” (Is. 9, 6) and God is with us. We have to remember that “for our sake the Young Child is born, God before ages”. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt within us (Jn. 1, 14). If God is with us, no one will overcome us”.
“God will give us the power to conquer all evil in our daily life. Our everyday existence seems to be a constant fight for survival. But it was the same for the little Infant Jesus. He had to flee to Egypt, flee for His life. He had to stay there for some time, to be a refugee, a foreigner. Even when He could come back to His homeland, He had to avoid coming to Judea where the son of Herod was ruling, but went to Nazareth in Galilee. We say He did, the Child Jesus, but we know that all this was done by His Sponsor and protector, holy and righteous Joseph who was the head of that household. St. Joseph did a great job protecting Christ; he literally saved the Savior of the world. Despite all the difficulties and dangers of the evil world around him, Joseph, being helped by the grace of the Lord and assisted by the angels, could accomplish his task of preserving Jesus for the human kind”.
“Following actual Christmas celebration we are having a similar task. We have to preserve faith in Jesus, the real spirit of His Birth for ourselves and for the other people, even for the generations to come. St. Paul says in today’s Epistle: “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace to reveal His Son to me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1, 15-16). God’s grace calls us to preach Jesus among other people by our life and actions. This will make us the protectors of faith, similar to St. Joseph. Let us imitate holy Joseph in his humble readiness to obey the will of God, in his bravery before the misfortunes of life and in his caring and loving protection of the precious gift he was entrusted – the Holy Infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother of God. Let us practice this kind of attitude in our daily life, so this life will become a joyful continuation of the miracle of Christmas”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

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

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

Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas

 

On January 7 the Russian Orthodox Church observes feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as Christmas. Our St. George Church had a nice celebration of that holy day. Our parishioners as well as some visitors came to the temple to participate in the services, however due to the pandemic we did not have so many people attending.

On January 6, on Christmas Eve, our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the All-Night Vigil. That service consists of the Great Compline, Matins and the First Hour. On Christmas day, January 7, our Rector served the Divine Liturgy. Since Our Sacristan and altar server, Andrew Malyshev, was sick and could not come for the services, Emilian Suric was blessed by the Rector to substitute and to serve in the altar.

Following the Gospel lesson the Rector proclaimed the Christmas Sermon of Venerable Isaac the Syrian.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

During the preparation for Holy Communion at the Liturgy the choir beautifully performed different liturgical hymns of the Nativity.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Nativity before the festal icon in the middle of the church. Then the Rector greeted the faithful on the occasion of the great holy day of the birth of the Son of God. He preached a sermon in Russian pointing out that we usually look for some comfort in this life. There is no other true comfort than our Lord and God. The recent tumultuous times showed that everything in this world is uncertain, thus the people were looking for some consolation and moral support. However, they are mistaken if they wish to find those in other things than God. Recalling the Nativity of Christ we may also think that the event of the Birth of the Savior was far from being certain and comfortable. Jesus was born in a cave, not in a royal palace, not even in his home. Not so many people knew and cared about His Birth. Right after that His life was threatened. But this was the coming of the Lord into this world and it made a huge difference in our lives because this was the coming of the Savior. God entered into our life; God in Whom only we have comfort. We, as His children, have to fulfill His will and serve Him. The wise men, the shepherds, St. Joseph and Mary – all served Him in their own way. On the other hand, king Herod was troubled by His Birth fearing that this small Child could deprive him of his kingdom. Herod who was a ruler over a small piece of land, over a quarter of the Holy Land, trembled because he was afraid to lose his little domain. Thus Herod became an enemy of Christ. Even Augustus, the Roman emperor, served the Lord’s Providence by ordering a census. Because of that order St. Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus had to be born. That place of birth was important to fulfill the prophecies. Thus even not knowing about Christ, Ceasar Augustus served Him while a small ruler Herod opposed Him. The Rector concluded his sermon by saying that seeing different reactions from the people, we should put our trust in God and serve Him in our own way.

After the Rector’s sermon the parish Warden, Olga Roussanow had a speech in which she congratulated Archpriest Igor Tarasov on the occasion of his 31st Anniversary of priestly ordination. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) to Fr. Igor was proclaimed.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where a tasty luncheon was prepared by our parishioners. Everybody enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

Sunday before the Nativity

 

On January 3, on the Sunday before the Nativity, our community had a nice celebration at St. George Church.  Since it was already a time of the Prefeast of the Nativity, the temple was adorned for the anticipated holy day. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Sunday before the Nativity in some way duplicates the previous Sunday, dedicated to the Holy Forefathers. The Holy Fathers whom we honor today are the blood relatives of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we sing again the troparia and kontakia of the Ancestors and commemorate the Old Testament Saints. Today’s Epistle lesson enumerates many heroes of the Old Testament telling us that all their achievements were due to their faith. Thus faith becomes a very important theme of today’s celebration of the anticipation of the Birth of Christ”.
“If we reflect upon the last passages of today’s Gospel reading, we may notice that faith was very crucial for St. Joseph when he had his doubts about the Virgin Mary being pregnant. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Joseph and Mary were betrothed, but before they came together, Mary was found with the child of the Holy Spirit. We may easily imagine what kind of thoughts crossed the mind of Joseph. The words from the Akathistos of the Annunciation calls his feelings “the inner storm of doubtful thoughts”.  He was thinking that Mary deceived him although She was raised in the Temple of Jerusalem. But the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and revealed that Mary conceived from the Holy Spirit, and that Her Son will be called Jesus, which means the Savior. Thus Joseph was instructed that Mary is a holy Virgin and She will bear the Son of God. Although the way of revealing this to Joseph was very adequate for the divine Revelation (it was told him in a dream), he needed a strong faith to believe in that. We learn from the Gospel that St. Joseph not only believed in the Most Holy Virgin Mary and Her mission, he also acted in accordance with that belief serving and protecting the Most Holy Mother of God and the Child Jesus. This was the same kind of belief the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets and other heroes of faith had”.
”Same faith has to be imitated by the generations of the New Testament followers of Christ. The Birth of Christ teaches us to believe in things which are very hard to accept using only our human mind. It tells us that our Lord was born from the Mother without human father. It tells us that He was the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. It tells us that His Mother was a Virgin. She was a Virgin before His Birth, She was a Virgin during His Birth, and She remained a Virgin after His Birth. Virginal conception and permanent virginity of Mary are the truths of Christian faith. Our mind has difficulties with comprehending that. But we always have difficulties with comprehending God. His being and nature are ineffable. Same with the events of the Nativity”.
“For the Son of God to become man He had to unite Himself bodily with our nature, to be born from a human mother. But that could not be any woman. Divine Providence elected a representative of the Jewish nation, an heir of David, an immaculate Virgin. She became a living Tabernacle in which the very God had His place. Therefore, that person could not be a common woman living according to the corrupted human nature. She had to be without sin, an immaculate ever-Virgin. Thus, the virginity of the Most Holy Mother of God can be explained, but it is still a truth which is difficult to understand. We need faith, a strong faith”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us cherish our faith and act upon it to make things impossible possible, to accept the miracle of the Birth of Christ and to be saved by Him”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the singing of the Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector expressed his gratitude to the parishioners who prepared the temple for Christmas holy days, including the Malyshev family who provided the new artificial Christmas tree, as well as Olga Vnukova and Olga Roussanow who cleaned the items in the temple and decorated the interior. Fr. Igor also greeted everybody on the civil New Year and stressed the importance of keeping the true faith and the right Christian values when we begin the new period of time in our lives and spiritually expect the Birth of the Lord.

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

 

On December 27, on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, 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 Sunday is dedicated to the Forefathers of the holy faith and to all the Saints of the Old Testament. This time of the year when we are living in spiritual expectation of the Birth of Christ, we commemorate a number of the Old Testament prophets. For instance, on December 30th we are celebrating memory of the Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Youths. They were the confessors of faith of the Old Testament. But we also have this special Sunday glorifying these people altogether”.
“In the 6th century before Christ the holy city of Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonian king who captured four noble Jewish young men: Daniel, Ananias, Azarias and Mishael. They were brought to Babylon where the king wanted them to become his servants. They were supposed to adopt the local customs and language. So, it became a time of a great test for their faith in one and true God. When the king ordered them to be fed from his own table, Daniel did not wish to eat the unclean food and convinced the king’s official to give them all, him and the 3 youths, just fruits and vegetables. After ten days the Jewish captives looked better than the ones who ate the king’s food”.
“This example from the Sacred Scripture of the Old Testament is telling us how good could be fasting and abstinence from unhealthy food. In our days, people like different kinds of diets and ways of losing weight. There are made up special systems of nutrition, different kinds of diets which are supposed to make a person healthier. But more often these are the strives of vanity, aiming to make the body more beautiful, or a tribute to a fashion, or in a better case, a desire to strengthen one’s health and make one’s earthly life longer. But Sacred Scripture gives us a simple recipe of a healthy life. It tells us that a self-rejecting and voluntary fasting of the holy Youths, a refusal to eat the unclean food was beneficial for their body and made their health stronger. More than that, that abstinence stimulated their mental and spiritual abilities. Therefore, moderation in food in combination with faith and with a desire to please God may always be beneficial for a person. This is our Orthodox understanding of fast as a saving abstinence from excessiveness and not just simple refusal to eat certain food, as it happens with most of the modern diets”.
“This Old Testament example also tells us that you can preserve your faith even in difficult circumstances. The holy Youths did.  They were made servers at the Babylonian king’s court. Once the king ordered to erect a huge idol made of gold and commanded all his subjects to worship that man-made image. The three Youths refused to do it because they kept the true faith in one God. The king got very angry and ordered them to be thrown into a fiery furnace. But a great miracle happened: the three young men were protected by God, and the fire and heat did not harm them. This is an example of the true confession of faith shown by those three youths. In a mystical way those three Youths were the prototype of he Holy Trinity, as well as of the virginal conception and birth of the Son of God by the Holy Virgin. This is one of the examples of the faith of the holy people who lived before the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and who were confessing the true faith in one God and were expecting the Messiah, the Son of God to come into the world”.
“We are now living in a time of the expectation of the Christ coming too. Now we are preparing for the great feast of the Nativity. We buy presents, adorn our homes and churches before this holy day. We also live in a time of the expectation of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not know the time of that coming, but we believe that it is going to happen. This state of expectation demands us to be faithful to Christ. He became the Author and Finisher of faith, as St. Paul says (Heb. 12, 2). All the faith of the Holy Forefathers, the patriarchs, kings and prophets of the Old Testament was completed in Him. He is the Son of God who initiated the faith and He is the Savior who perfected and completed it. All the time of the holy people of the Old Testament was spent in expectation for the first coming of Christ and in preparation for that coming, for the wonderful appearance of God in the world which started by His Birth in the manger in Bethlehem. Now, being Christians and living after that coming, being the Church of the New Testament, we have to keep, cherish and preserve our faith”.
“It is not easy to preserve Christian faith in today’s world. The sin ensnares us so easily, as St. Paul says (Heb. 12, 1). But it was not easy for Daniel and the three holy Youths also. But they did endure. It was not easy to preserve our faith in our old country the times of persecutions, in the times of Communism. But our parents and grandparents did. And they endured. In our difficult modern times in this country we can also endure and preserve our faith”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us listen to the Holy Apostle Paul and “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12, 1-2)”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir beautifully performed the hymn “O Most Gracious Queen” in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos and the odes from the Nativity Canon during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements and mentioned the coming secular New Year celebration pointing out that we need to be grateful for God’s mercy and love which allows us to live for another year. He also spoke regarding proper behavior in the church during important moments of the Divine Liturgy.

28th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On December 20, on the 28th Sunday after Pentecost Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel reading he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel lesson tells us about ten lepers who were healed by our Lord Jesus Christ. We heard that only one of them came back to Jesus to give thanks. Other nine did not show any sign of gratitude. Thus today we should speak about gratitude or thanksgiving”.
“When we obtain something which is good for us, it is expected that we are grateful for such a favor. This is a natural way of responding to a good done for us. People are expected to be thankful for small favors. And, of course, we should really appreciate greater things done for our benefit. But, unfortunately, gratitude is not practiced all the time and by everybody. For that reason our Lord Jesus Christ pointed out to His disciples that only one out of ten lepers who were cleaned came back to thank. He wished to teach us to be grateful”.
“Thinking of those ten miserable people suffering from the leprosy, a terrible disease, considering their pain and their loneliness, because they were outcasts of the society, we should understand how great was the blessing that our Lord granted them. He healed them from that terrible illness, He cleansed them from that shameful condition, He restored their health and their status in the society. Therefore, we should be surprised and very disappointed after hearing that most of them, nine out of ten, did not come to give the Lord thanks. Jesus also showed the same feelings. He asked: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Lk. 17, 17). The Gospel tells us that the one who did give thanks to the Lord was a Samaritan, a foreigner, if not an enemy of the Jews. Why the other nine did not show a natural sense of gratitude, and only one foreigner and outcast did?”
“Wondering about that we may remember that even animals can be grateful for the good things people do to them. St. Gerasimus who lived in the desert near Jordan, once met a lion who had a splinter in its paw. The animal was wounded and suffered. It looked at the Saint and seemed to be begging for help. St. Gerasimus took the splinter away from the paw, washed and bandaged the wound. He left the lion, but the animal followed him to the monastery. The grateful animal spent the rest of its life near the Saint being a guardian of the monastery and even carrying the water instead of a donkey. After the holy elder died, the lion became very sad and died soon beside his grave. Thus this animal acted better than those nine men who were healed by the Lord Jesus, but did not offer thanksgiving. It seems that they should have remained sick; their misery was better for them than happiness. Their healing made them forget their direct duty to give thanks”.
“But we should leave those nine cleansed lepers alone and ask ourselves whether we are not like them? And if we will be honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that sometimes we aren’t better. If we look around, we should see that we enjoy many blessings given by God. The first gift is our own life. God called us to existence. If not His will we would not exist at all. And nothing in our life is independent from God. “In Him we live and move and have our being”, says the Scripture (Acts 17, 28). Since we believe and confess that God is the Source and Giver of life and of all goodness, we should be always grateful to Him for the different generous and abundant gifts He is bestowing upon us. And since now we are approaching celebration of the Nativity, we may recall that one of God’s most precious gifts to us is the gift of Himself being born for us. God became Man, was born in a cave of Bethlehem as a gift of our salvation! And we must appreciate such а gift, we have to be grateful for it. But we often take those God’s gifts for granted or even forget them. If we are accustomed to say ‘thank you’ for very small, very trivial things, why are we not giving thanks to God for all His blessings, for our life itself?”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us follow the steps of the grateful Samaritan and let us, in our thoughts, fall down before Christ, giving Him praise and thanks for all His mercies bestowed upon us sinners. Let us be thankful to God for everything!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the Psalm 33 and well as hymns from the Nativity Canon during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor handed the presents from St. Nicholas to the parish children.

27th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On December 13, on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew, St. George Parish family had a beautiful celebration in our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel lesson tells how our Lord Jesus Christ healed a sick woman who was bent over for 18 years. Again, our Lord shows His great and life-giving power, the power of God. But we should also note the reaction of certain people to the manifestation of that power. Instead of recognizing Jesus as the Lord and Savior, the leaders of the Jews try to find any possible fault in Him. In this case they are angry that He performed a healing on the Sabbath day. Jesus responded to such accusation and named His accuser very accurately. He called him a hypocrite”.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ always addressed the problems in a proper way and named the things accurately. He never used diplomatic ways to express His feelings. The so-called “political correctness” was foreign to him. Nowadays people are fed up with political correctness: you cannot call things or people the way they are. You are expected to twist your language and invent the false words and be hypocritical. Unfortunately, that dictate is not ending but, on the contrary, it seems that we will see more and more of that falsehood in our society. But Jesus called the things how they are and avoided lie and hypocrisy. On the contrary, hypocrisy was the tool of His enemies”.
“Therefore, today’s Gospel may teach us to avoid the hypocritical attitude. That attitude was very much followed by the Pharisees and scribes, other leaders of the Jews who wished to appear very pious, worthy and virtuous but very often led a different kind of moral and private life. They said very good words but were doing evil things. This is called hypocrisy. Our Lord very often suffered from their attacks, accusations and criticism. And He responded to those attackers very often. The holy Gospels are full of Jesus’ chastising the scribes and Pharisees. Those words are commonly used along with the word “hypocrites’. Later on in many European languages, languages of the Christians the very word ‘Pharisee’ became a synonym of the word ‘hypocrite’. Jesus also called them the “fools and blinds”,“foolish ones” (Lk. 11, 40), called them “the cups clean outside, but their inward part is full of greed and wickedness” (Lk. 11, 39) called them “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Mt. 23, 27). Jesus warned His Disciples from the “leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy” (Lk. 12, 1)”.
“The holy Disciples of Christ followed their divine Teacher in everything, including the attitude of Christ against hypocrisy. They were sincere and open; they were humble and simple, and they were able to convert many nations. Today we celebrate memory of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First Called. St. Andrew was one of the 12 Apostles, the brother of Apostle Peter. He was one of the first Disciples who began to follow Jesus, thus he acquired a name of the “First Called”. The Gospel tells us that when Andrew and John asked Jesus where He lives, the Lord told them, “Come and see”. Thus Jesus Christ did not hide His life to others, He was open and sincere. And the Apostles acted in the same way. Holy Apostle Andrew preached the Gospel in the countries around the Black and Mediterranean Sea. He is believed to visit the lands of Rus’ and to bless the hills of the future city of Kiev. Being in the lands of the barbaric tribes in Asia Minor (today’s territory of Turkey) he was in danger of being martyred for Christ. The savage people were ready to seize and kill St. Andrew, however they saw his humble, simple and sincere attitude and their hearts became softened. They did not hurt the Apostle and many of them converted to Christ. Later, St. Andrew died as a Martyr in the Greek city of Patras. He was crucified on a cross shaped in a form of the letter X which we traditionally call the St. Andrew’s cross. But before that he lived and preached about 30 years manifesting a simple, open and humble way of life, an attitude of Christ, an attitude free from hypocrisy and falsehood”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not follow the way of the Pharisees and hypocrites, but remember things which are really great and important. Let us beware of the hypocritical attitude, the leaven of the Pharisees. Remember that hypocrisy begins when a person is not doing good works, but only shows a likeness of such works. Then such a person may wish to confirm his image of a benefactor without doing a charitable work, or having a personal profit from that charity. If such things are practiced and planned, we are dealing with a hypocrite whose heart is filled with lie and deceit. Good things must be done sincerely, from the heart, for the glory of God and without thinking of people’s reaction. Our Lord Jesus Christ wished to help the sick woman on the Sabbath day and did that good and worthy thing without considering what others would say about it”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us imitate Him and not His enemies, let us imitate His holy Apostles to be worthy of His Kingdom!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the magnification in honor of the Holy Apostle Andrew, as well as hymns from the Nativity Canon.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted our Sacristan and altar server, Andrew Malyshev on the occasion of his name day. Fr. Igor pointed out that Holy Apostle Andrew was named the First Called not only because he was one of the first Disciples of Christ but also because he was the first who called the others to follow Jesus. He said to his brother, Peter that they have found the Messiah. This should be kept in mind celebrating this Saint and having him as a patron. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

 

26th Sunday after Pentecost. Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple

 

On December 6, on the 26th Sunday after Pentecost, our parishioners gathered at St. George Church for a beautiful celebration. On that day we also observed feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple which had been transferred to Sunday from December 4. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we had two Gospel readings. One of them was pretty brief, telling about a rich man who was a fool because he put all his trust in his possessions rather than in God. He laid treasures for himself, instead of becoming rich toward God. So this is a parable our Lord wished to use to teach us how important is to grow our treasures in heaven, not on earth”.
“Among all kinds of opportunities and privileges a man has in his earthly life is a right to own. We have a right to have property. Some people have a lot in their possession, some people have very few. But we all have an ability and natural right to own things. Those things belong to us although, and we have to realize it, they may not belong to us forever. Either we survive them or they survive us. And if they survive us, we no longer possess them. We are not able to take them along when we die. Thus this right is temporary and it is a gift from God. God gives us such right very generously. And we should see that right as an opportunity to give it away. “The ownership is beautiful only because you can give it away, make a gift, take it off. A man needs to have something in order to have a right and joy to share it, to give it.” – said Archbishop John (Shakhovskoy). Thus the sense of ownership seems to be created to help us to fulfill the God’s will, to help the others”.
“The Teaching of the 12 Apostles says, “You shall share all things with your brother, and shall not say that they are your own; for if you are partakers in that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal?” We are not saying here that the right of property should be abolished or all the possessions should be taken and distributed among the others. We went through that if we lived in our old country. Nowadays we fear such tendencies expressed by some left politicians in this country. When you abolish the property, all possessions become owned by the government and you never have a fair distribution. Instead, you have poverty and need. What is the best is if people do possess wealth but they share it with the needy. And what is needed is the right attitude towards the sense of ownership”.
“Unfortunately, such a right attitude is not always practiced. People may often be in a slavery of such sins as greed and avarice. Therefore, our Lord wished to give us a colorful example of how a person with a wrong sense of ownership ends up. He ends up to be called a fool. And, on the contrary, people who had possessions but shared them with others were blessed and are considered wise. They gather their treasures in heaven and get rich toward God”.
“Celebrating today’s feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God, we see the Virgin Mary as a little girl brought to the Temple by Her holy parents Joachim and Anna. They were not very rich but heir daughter was the most precious treasure they possessed. And they wished to offer that treasure to God. Most Holy Virgin stayed in the Temple until such time as She Herself will accept to become a temple, Her womb becoming the dwelling for God Incarnate”.
“Of course, children are not property of their parents but they are very dear to them. And for many parents their children are the most precious treasure they possess. Therefore, here is a temptation to have wrong attitude towards that treasure. Very often parents wish the best to their children but they prefer to keep them for themselves and not for God”.
“Our God does not require human sacrifices; He does not demand children to be slaughtered on the altar, as some pagan idols were believed to demand. We recall that in the Old Testament God tested Abraham asking to sacrifice his only son, and Abraham obeyed and was ready to do it. Our Lord Jesus Christ never asked any holy person to sacrifice his or her child. But the Lord wishes us to be ready to dedicate our children to Him. It means to keep them in our faith, to teach them to pray, to bring them to the church. In some instances it means to support their vocation to become a priest or a monk, a nun. But even these little sacrifices are very often avoided. Instead of that children are raised more or less indifferent to faith, to spiritual matters, to the Holy Church. An example of holy parents Joachim and Anna is no longer popular among many parents. But we, Orthodox Christians, should honor and remember those holy people who on this celebrated feast took their little girl, Virgin Mary, and brought Her to the Holy Temple of God, dedicated Her to the Lord, although She was their only child, so dear to their hearts”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us learn to have a right attitude toward the sense of ownership and let us put our trust in God, so any unexpected thing will not find us unprepared, but we will acquire a treasure earned in eternity. Let us admire and imitate holy parents Joachim and Anna in their readiness to serve God and to sacrifice to Him their precious treasure. Let us also learn to sacrifice our time, our works, our talents and anything we possess to God, so we can get rich towards God and join Him and His Blessed Mother in the heavenly glory!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

For the first time of this year the choir was prayerfully performing the pre-Nativity hymns, as well as the hymns of the feast of the Entrance.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification in front of the icon of the feast. Then Fr. Igor greeted our young parishioner and altar server, Anton Malyshev, on the occasion of his 18th birthday and wished him to preserve faith and piety he was taught in our parish, to keep those virtues in his adult life expecting him. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

25th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 29, on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, the 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! The parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel that we have just heard tells us about the new teaching our Lord Jesus Christ brought to the world. That teaching did not reject the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus is referring to the Law of Moses in today’s Gospel lesson while speaking with the Jewish scholar of law. But our Savior wished to introduce the new principle into that law. He preached that all kinds of laws and regulations must be subjected to the highest law, the law of love. This is why He is teaching us that love surpasses everything and has no boundaries”.
“In today’s parable we see that love towards a fellow human being has to be beyond the national, religious or social differences. A man fell among the thieves and laid wounded and half dead on the road (presumably this was a Jewish man). He did not receive help from the highest and respected members of the Jewish society: from a priest and from a Levite who happened to be there and passed him. But a Samaritan, a stranger, almost an enemy to the Jews, had compassion and took a good care of the wounded man. This shows us what the Lord desired to tell the scholar of law: that a neighbor to a man is anyone in immediate need, even a supposed enemy. Since we are all humans and since we are all created as the image and likeness of the infinite God, we all are neighbors to each other. We all owe love to each other”.
“Unfortunately, due to the sin and corruption of humanity, we are divided in numerous ways: by race, nationality, ethnicity, faith, politics and many other reasons. Recently we were witnessing a great division in this country, a division because of political views, as well as some promotion of the division because of race. But all those human divisions are inevitable in that state of corruption. God Himself would not bless the unity of such humanity, being sinful and proud. As the Scripture tells us, God divided people confusing their languages when they attempted to build the Tower of Babel, to create world domination without God’s blessing. In a similar way nowadays people building a global community without religious and traditional moral principles will not have God’s blessing and will not succeed. We are now seeing how it is done. The whole world was forced to hide and to wear masks. This is a clear sign of such tendencies. And God permits this to happen. It may last for some time, as the godless regime lasted in our old country for more than 70 years. For some time people may suffer but it won’t last forever. God may permit us to be tested for the certain time but finally He will end such hard times”.
“Instead of creating a godless human unity based on the low instincts and pride, our Lord Jesus Christ proposes us a unity based on love and understanding of our imperfection. This is a unity of helping each other regardless who we are, Black or White, [Russian] or not, being born somewhere or not. We are called to love the neighbor, and that neighbor may be anyone who would need our help, our care, our compassion”.
“A good example of such mercy and Christian love is the activity of the sisters of Mercy founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is a Catholic monastic community but we can look at their example because they are living according to Christian ideals showed in today’s Gospel parable. They did exactly what Good Samaritan did. Living in India, they assisted all people in need, no matter what faith or race they belonged to. Some intelligent people admire Indian culture. But you should remember that Indian culture is a pagan culture, a culture where you divide people into casts. Speaking of the divisions, we should recall that among the Hindus if you belong to the higher cast you cannot deal with someone from a lower cast. Once those nuns, those Sisters of Mercy picked up a dying man on a street that belonged to the lowest Hindu cast. Such people very often are born and die on the streets and others consider a defilement to touch them. One of such poor men was taken by the Sisters of Mercy, washed, given medicine and placed in a bed with clean sheets. When he woke up and came to his senses, he asked, “Where am I?” One of the Sisters told him that he is in their infirmary. The man asked why they are doing this. She explained that they are Christians and help the people in need because their Lord Jesus Christ taught them to do so. The poor man asked, “Who is your Lord Jesus Christ?” The Sister told him that He is God they believe in. Then the man said, “If this is your God I also believe in Him!””
“Another example of how Christian attitude and Christian faith may change the people can be drawn from the life of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Today we commemorate his falling asleep. He was one of the 12 Apostles and he wrote the first Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew. St. Matthew preached in a number of countries of the East but he died in Africa. Speaking of racial divisions, St. Matthew preached among the black people and converted them. He was in Ethiopia, and it was difficult. We should recall that the tribes living there in the times of St. Matthew were savage, and they were cannibals. And some of them fiercely persecuted the Holy Apostle. St. Matthew was tortured, and the local Ethiopian prince was very cruel to him, ordering more and more executions. But when that prince saw the miracles, when he saw that the Disciple of Christ is enduring the tortures and his terrible wounds are healing fast, he believed in Christ and converted. Although St. Matthew was finally put to death, that local prince later became a Christian and was baptized taking the name Matthew. Savage people became Christians and abandoned their wicked way of life. See how true Christian attitude of love changes the people, changes the world”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, every Christian community is called to practice the love of Christ, the love of a Good Samaritan”.
“At the same time we should understand that our human nature is weak and wounded by sin, so nothing we can really accomplish without God’s help. Symbolically, the Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ who came to help the humanity wounded by sin and robbed by the devil. We are in fact wounded and sick spiritually. Only divine grace shown in the parable as the treatment given by the Samaritan (bandaging the wounds, pouring on oil and wine) may help us to heal”.
”Dear brothers and sisters! Let us strive practicing love of our neighbor, helping them and doing it in the name of the Lord and under the holy cover of the Church”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease as well as a petition of thanksgiving.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed the Psalm 33 and the hymns in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector proclaimed the Polychronion in honor of His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh who celebrated his name day on this feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Then he also congratulated the Suric family on the occasion of their son’s past name day. Fr. Igor greeted little Victor, handed to him the Theotokian prosphora and proclaimed the Polychronion on his behalf.

24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 22, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Luke again shows us the divine power of our Lord Jesus Christ. He heals a sick woman and raises a little girl from the dead. Again we see how the Lord was bringing healing and life to the world full of illness and death. So, today we will try to look at the death of the young people, to reflect upon it in some spiritual sense”.
“We all know that an elderly person will die for sure, but a young person may die also. Death is capable of taking a young and healthy girl who could have all life ahead of her in the same way as it may take an aged gray-headed man who has a long life behind him. The children’s mortality is not so high any more in the rich countries as it used to be, but it is still a problem for the poor nations. Children our days still die because of diseases, poverty and starvation. Young people die also because of drugs, crimes and fatal accidents. Any of such deaths looks very cruel, merciless and unreasonable. But what is more troubling is spiritual death of the young generation”.
“In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus came to the house of Jairus whose daughter just died, took the little girl by the hand and called saying, “Little girl, arise”. In the same way our Lord is willing to give a hand to the modern young girls and boys and to tell them to arise from spiritual sleep or death. Many of them are in that state because of the world surrounding them. Today’s children and young people are often born to the parents who themselves do not practice spiritual life, live in sin and away from the life-giving source of divine grace which is the holy Church. Those young people are raised in a spirit of this world. But even if they are growing up in a good religious environment, the world is attacking them all the time. Those attacks come from television, radio, magazines, friends, even from school. In our days we also have computers, the internet. How can you escape all these attacks of the evil influence? You can’t take your children away and live in a wilderness. But even there you would not be immune. A holy elder who lived in the desert once had to visit a city and to take a young monk along with him. Being in the city they encountered a harlot who approached them and said to the elder, “You have been working on this young man for many years to teach him a holy life, but now I can destroy all your work in a couple of minutes!” The elder responded that he believes her because it is much easier to roll down from the hill than to climb it”.
“A strange thing is happening: instead of avoiding evil things we are being drown to them due to their attractiveness. St. Paul described that saying, “What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Rom. 7,15). If this is a problem for an adult, how much more difficult it is for children who are tender, inexperienced and spiritually weak? The problem exists because of the sinful state of the humanity. Unfortunately, in our days the very word ‘sin’ is not taken seriously. Meanwhile the concept of sin is very important in any religion. And basic rules of religious morality may be found in any secular ethics. Here we should have a common ground even with those who do not believe in God, but still wish good to our society and to the young generation. But instead of fulfilling the task of proper upbringing of children this society does the opposite. The radio, television, books and internet instead of teaching the youngsters to adhere to the moral norms, teaches how to violate them”.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the young people by their hands and to say, “Arise”. But He wishes to act through us. We should try to become those hands of Jesus and take those youngsters and bring them to spiritual life. We may argue and say that we often have no control over them and over the whole situation in the world. That’s true. But remember that there is nothing impossible with God. Let us try what we can and able to do, especially as the Church. Sometimes we will succeed and it will appear that the young person is not dead, but asleep. If so, he or she can be risen back to life.”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed hymns in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector reminded the parishioners of the beginning of the Nativity Fast which starts next week. This year its beginning falls right after the Thanksgiving Day. Fr. Igor also invited everybody to our parish Thanksgiving luncheon after the service.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial Litia requested by Lali Sheehan commemorating her deceased family members as well as the newly-departed Church hierarchs such as Serbian Patriarch Irenaeus, Russian Metropolitan Theophanus, Greek Metropolitan John and Georgian Bishop Lazarus who have fallen asleep last week.

After finishing all the services, the Rector and parishioners had a sumptuous luncheon enjoying delicious meals, including the Thanksgiving turkey.

His Grace, Bishop Matthew celebrates his 5th Anniversary of Episcopal Ordination

On November 15 His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA marks his 5th Anniversary of the Episcopal ordination.
We express our heartfelt wishes of God’s assistance in our Archpastor’s further ministry for the Holy Church.
We fervently pray that the Lord Jesus, our Heavenly High Priest, may bless our Bishop with good health, great achievements in serving at the altar and preaching of the Holy Gospel, as well as with all abundant graces and grant him many years!