On April 29, on Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, priest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Church.
After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached about the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Igor discussed the words of our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced during the Eucharistic Anaphora and taken directly from the Gospels: “Take, eat, this is My Body which is broken for you, for the remission of sins”, and “Drink of it, all of you. This is My Blood of the New Testament which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins”. These words are very important because they are the very words of Christ. And due to that Western theologians in the Middle Ages came to a conclusion that these words pronounced over the Gifts at the Liturgy change them over to the true Body and Blood of Christ. However, Eastern Orthodox Church never considered that. We always held that the whole Eucharistic Anaphora is essential for the mysterious change of the Gifts. And our common and strong belief is that the Gifts turn into the Body and Blood of Christ after the serving priest invokes the Holy Spirit upon them.
Fr. Igor also talked about an important part of Eucharistic celebration called the Anamnesis. It is translated from the Greek as ‘remembrance’. After exclaiming the words of Christ the priest in a low voice says that prayer of the Anamnesis. In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the priest says: “Remembering this saving commandment, and all those things which came to pass for us, the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious coming”. This short prayer is a sign of fulfillment of the commandment of Christ to make the sacrifice of the Liturgy in memory of Him. He left this Sacrament with us and ordered the Apostles to perform it. Thus we fulfill the will of the Savior, do it in memory of Him, as a commemoration of His life, death and Resurrection.
At the end of the Liturgy Fr. Igor preached a very short homily in Russian. He pointed out that in the former Soviet Union many of us who used to live there celebrated the Women’s Day, March 8th. Most of the countries emerged after the collapse of the Soviet state still celebrate that holiday. However, the idea and spirit of that Women’s Day is very strange to Orthodox Christians. Our women’s day is Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women. “Today we honor those holy women who were equal to the Apostles, who were the disciples of Christ. The Lord did not call the women to be the Apostles, but He did call them to the discipleship and a unique ministry. They helped the Apostles and served the Lord Jesus Himself. And they continued to serve Him after He died on the Cross. The Gospel tells us that those women came to the tomb early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus with fragrant oils. And the Scripture tells us that those women became the first witnesses to the holy Resurrection of Christ. Therefore, the critics of the Orthodox Church who claim that we do not give women enough respect, are very wrong. Women were those to whom our Lord appeared first after His Resurrection. According to the Scripture He appeared to the Myrrh-Bearing Women. And according to the Tradition, He first appeared to His Blessed Mother.”
After the Liturgy Fr. Igor served a panikhida to commemorate the newly-deceased Nicholas Koretz, the brother of our parishioner and parish Treasurer Vera Koretz.
On this day our church services were not limited to our temple. At this point after Pascha we have a proper time for the commemoration of the deceased. Last Tuesday the Church celebrated the Memorial Day called ‘Radonitsa’. Therefore, priest Igor Tarasov visited Flushing and Cypress Hills Cemeteries where he served Litia and blessed the graves of our deceased parishioners, relatives of Vera Koretz and Natalia Soho.
On April 22, on Sunday of St. Thomas, or Antipascha the Rector of St. George’s Church, priest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.
At his sermon following the Gospel lesson he continued his lectures on Liturgy. Fr. Igor described the actions of the deacon (or of the priest if there is no deacon serving) during the Seraphic Hymn. The star is being taken off the discos and the priest touches the four edges of the discos with the star. The practical reason for that is to open the gifts (the bread) on the discos for further consecration. And the symbolism of that rite of touching or hitting the discos four times is to show how the Angels are praising God standing at the four sides around Him. This is also a symbol of the four Gospels which tell the world about God and about His Good News. In addition, as we read in the book of Revelation, the four animals are standing around the Lamb praising Him. That vision of St. John meant that the four Gospels are preaching the truth about Jesus Christ. Finally, the ritual of hitting the discos has its origin in the ritual of the Jerusalem Temple where the people who brought up the gifts and burning the incense, hit with the small shovel on the plate during the sacrifice.
Fr. Igor also discussed the content of the Anaphora of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom. He pointed out that both of them describe the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ in redeeming the human race and leaving us the Mystery of His Body and Blood.
After the Liturgy the Rector preached shortly about the celebrated feast. He stressed the importance of faith which is lacked by many people in today’s world. St. Thomas also had doubts and required proof of Christ Resurrection. But when he recognized the risen Lord he believed. Nowadays people do not even wish to believe or believe in one thing but refuse to believe in other truths of faith. “We need to keep the firm faith in order to be called the blessed ones who have not seen, but yet believe”.
In conclusion of the service Fr. Igor distributed the particles of the Artos blessed on Pascha.
On April 15 all the Orthodox Christians celebrated Holy Pascha, feast of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Celebration at St. George’s Church took place at the early morning. Before that our Rector, priest Igor Tarasov served the Midnight service and transferred the Shroud from the middle of the temple to the altar. At midnight we started Paschal procession around the church. At the end of the procession all the faithful stopped in front of the closed doors of the temple. Fr. Igor began Matins service and sung joyful Paschal troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life”. The congregation responded by singing the same hymn. The doors to the temple were opened by the priest, and the procession entered into the church.
Fr. Igor celebrated Resurrectional Matins and Divine Liturgy. At the dismissal he greeted all our parishioners with the greatest holy day of Pascha.
Following the services the Easter food was blessed.
After finishing all the liturgical celebration Rector and parishioners enjoyed very delicious meals at Easter breakfast.
CHRIST IS RISEN! ХРИСТОС ВOСКРЕСЕ!
We express our sincere condolences to our parishioner and parish Treasurer, Vera Koretz for the loss of her brother Nicholas.
Memory eternal! Вечная память!
There were some renovations done in our temple. Our parishioners Andrew and Vitaliy Malyshew made a nice Easter gift to our parish. They sacrificed their time and effort and painted the walls and ceiling of the sanctuary before the approaching holy days.
We express our gratitude to Andrew and Vitaliy and wish them many healthy and good years! Спаси Господи! Многая лета!
On April 8 we celebrated Palm Sunday which is the feast of the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. Priest Igor Tarasov celebrated solemn Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Church. Before the Liturgy Fr. Igor blessed the pussy-willows and distributed them to the parishioners. Faithful present at the Liturgy were holding the blessed branches resembling the people of Jerusalem who greeted our Lord Jesus Christ entering the holy City.
Following the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Igor preached a homily regarding the holy day celebrated. He said that Lent is coming to the end; we finished the very time of the holy Forty-day fast period and start the Holy Week. It was not easy to keep fasting, especially because many people around us did not observe the same rules, and the whole atmosphere in the society was not telling us about Lent. “In the old days of the Russian Empire Lent was noticeable: a lenten bell was constantly rang to remind the people of that season, theaters were closed and public entertainment stopped. Even if not everyone was observing fast, everybody knew about it, and the whole society was aware of that season. Now we are on our own, especially in this country where the Church and state are separated. But that separation should not mean that faith should be separated from the society, from the people. But sometimes it is understood in such a way. And we also feel some separation within ourselves, a separation between our religious life and our worldly life. We feel some duality in our lives. On one hand we are Orthodox Christians. On the other hand, we must live in this world, and the world does not always notice who we are. A similar duality was seen in the conduct of the people of Jerusalem when Jesus entered that holy City. As today’s Gospel lesson tells us, the people of Jerusalem met Jesus with the palm and olive branches, greeted Him as their King and Messiah, shouted ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!’ But in several days these same people condemned Him to death and shouted ‘Crucify Him!’ We have to admit that such a duality is seen in the man as a result of fall. We do good and bad things. Therefore, we should strive to avoid a duality in our lives, to avoid division in our hearts and to be good followers of Christ, subjects of His Kingdom and pledge a true allegiance to Him. If we take those branches today, let us hold them and follow our Lord in His triumph, as well as follow Him in His Passions in order to enter into His Kingdom.”
On April 7 we celebrate great holy day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God. Russian Orthodox Church in Flushing observes its patronal feast. Our Rector, priest Igor Tarasov and our Warden, Olga Roussanow joined our neighbors in their parish celebration. Fr. Igor served the Divine Liturgy which was headed by the Holy Annunciation’s Rector, Mitred Archpriest Alexi Ohotin. A luncheon was followed the Liturgy in the church hall.
On April 1, on the 5th Sunday of Lent priest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Church. On this Sunday we commemorate Venerable Mary of Egypt. Fr. Igor mentioned today’s Saint at the beginning of his homily. He then went on lecturing on the Liturgy. He explained the meaning of the Seraphic Hymn sung at the Anaphora. That hymn contains glorification of the Holy Trinity taken from the revelation to the prophet Isaiah (“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Sabaoth”) and a greeting of Jesus Christ made by the people of Jerusalem at the time of our Lord’s triumphal entry into the city (“Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna…”). Due to the importance of such a moment of the Liturgy faithful present in the temple should be very attentive. All unnecessary movements and actions should stop. On the weekdays people should kneel down when this hymn is sung.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy our Rector had a short sermon about St. Mary of Egypt. “This is an example of one of the greatest sinner who became one of the greatest Saints. This example teaches us that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven if a sinner is truly repenting. We are all sinners, even though many of us may say that we are lesser sinners than Venerable Mary was before she converted. Our sins may not be truly evaluated by ourselves. Therefore, we need true repentance, we need to use the gift of the Mystery of Penance given us by the Lord. And we have no need to go to the desert as St. Mary did. Of course, in today’s world which is very difficult, we may say, ‘I want to go to the wilderness’. But we are called to live in the world to make it a better place.” – said Fr. Igor. He also recalled an example from the life of another great desert Saint, Venerable Anthony the Great. St. Anthony was given a revelation that he can find a person who is holier than him. The Saint was led to the big city of Alexandria where he found a simple man (not a cleric or monk) who prayed and considered himself worse than other people. “Thus, living in the world but being truly humble and pious we may obtain salvation and holiness,” – said Fr. Igor.