On June 10th, on the Sunday of All Saints, or on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, our Rector, priest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Church.
During his homily after the Gospel lesson Fr. Igor continued his talks on Divine Liturgy. The present topic was about the Lord’s Prayer. The priest initiating that prayer by the congregation exclaims: “And vouchsafe us, o Master, that boldly and without condemnation we may dare to call upon Thee, the Heavenly God as Father and to say”. He asks to be worthy to refer to the Almighty God as to our Father. Fr. Igor said: “We have to say that it was a new thing in the time of Christ, to refer to God as to the “Father”. Nobody has done this before Jesus. Nobody could dare to call God his Father. But Jesus did, and He called God His Father using an Aramaic word “Abba” meaning “Daddy”, an intimate word for one’s father. This is why many Jews were amazed and scandalized that Jesus called God His own Father, making Himself equal to God. But Jesus was God and had a right to do so. But what about us? The Lord wanted to teach us also to refer to God as to our Father. Why? Because God created us and loves us and also because through Jesus Christ Who, being the Son of God, became the Son of Man, all of us became members of God’s household, children of God through adoption… The words of the Lord’s Prayer are simple but important. They express the praise of God and petitions for our main spiritual and earthly needs.” Fr. Igor further shortly interpreted the main prayer of the Christian people.
After the Liturgy Fr. Igor and parishioners had our common meal outside of the church.
On June 5th Rector of St. George Church, priest Igor Tarasov and the Church Warden, Olga Roussanow attended a lecture of a well-known Russian Orthodox theologian and missionary, Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev. The meeting was held at the hall of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York.
Fr. Andrei Kuraev is a famous modern theologian, an author of the number of books and articles and a professor of the Orthodox schools of high learning in Moscow. It was his first visit to the United States.
The lecture was organized by the Youth Department of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and gathered around one hundred people, most of them young. Fr. Igor Tarasov asked the first question regarding Fr. Andrei’s view of the present state of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, as well as in the world. To answer that, Fr. Andrei gave a long and detailed speech on the situation in the Church life, changes in dogmatic, liturgical, disciplinary and social aspects in modern Orthodoxy. He named a number of challenges the Russian Church faces on today’s world, including secularism, Islamic expansion and the lack of spiritual demands among the Russian people.
Fr. Andrei answered many more questions, some of them being interesting. For instance, when asked whether salvation is available only to the Orthodox Christians, he pointed out that only God can grant salvation. It is also an individual thing. “Let us not worry about salvation of other people, but about whether I am going to be saved,” – said Fr. Andrei. One of the most memorable statements Fr. Kuraev made at this meeting was the following: “Everyone should do the right thing at his or her position, work and serve the Lord and neighbor, and let God worry about everything else”.
At the conclusion of the lecture Fr. Igor and Olga Roussanow purchased the books of Fr. Kuraev and personally expressed their gratitude for his coming to New York.
On June 3rd, on Pentecost Sunday when the Church celebrates the great holy day of the Most Holy Trinity, we had a solemn service at St. George’s Church. Before the celebration, according to our pious custom, our temple was decorated with the greenery. Our Rector, priest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy and Vespers with the kneeling prayers.
After the reading from the Gospel Fr. Igor preached a homily. He pointed out that the story about the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles is presented in today’s Epistle reading. The Gospel of today tells us about our Lord preaching about the future gift – the Holy Spirit which was not yet given, saying: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7, 37). Fr. Igor stressed that the important word here is “thirst”. He said: “People who thirst for spiritual life need to come to Jesus and He will give them the gift of the Holy Spirit, the “living water”, so they themselves will become the source of that water flowing from their hearts. If we are thirsty in our physical life, we need to drink. And if we do, we enjoy drinking and quench our thirst. Nowadays it is a common belief that you need to drink a lot of water in order to be healthy. It is doubtful, but many people follow that, and you see many young people walking with the bottles of water and drinking all the time. Such people probably do not enjoy drinking and do not really thirst. They act according to their rational thinking. Similar things happen with spiritual matters. You need to thirst, to strive for spiritual things in order to live spiritually. But it has to be a real thirst, a true desire coming out of your heart. Otherwise you use your mind to be spiritually “filled”: you go to the church, or belong to the Church because you know that it is good for you. But you do not really enjoy it. Church services are boring for you, thus you wish to miss them. Or if you receive Sacraments you do it because your mind tells you that it is good. Many Christians (especially in the Western Church) receive Communion frequently, even every day. But do they really thirst for that? Do they really prepare for that? Aren’t they like those people drinking water all the time without being really thirsty? Therefore, you need to thirst for the church services, for the Sacraments, for prayer. You better receive the Sacraments less frequently, but with more preparation and more spiritual joy.” Fr. Igor noted that he does not wish to discourage faithful to receive Communion frequently, but wants them to have a real desire and proper preparation for each reception of the Eucharist. For some individuals it means to partake not every week, for some it may still be every Sunday.
“Today is the birthday of the Holy Church of the New Testament,” – said Fr. Igor. “The Church includes all its members: Saints, living and departed. And it is living due to the Holy Spirit abiding and dwelling in it. Let us then ask the Holy Spirit, the Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth to come and dwell within us and to cleanse us from all impurity and to save our souls!”
After services of the feast Rector and parishioners had a luncheon at our favorite Pier 25A restaurant. We enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.