His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian appeals to the clergy and laity of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA

Dear in Christ, Reverend Clergy and Laity of Patriarchal Parishes of Russian Orthodox Church in the USA!

Great Lent is coming, and our minds are not at ease. It is never a simple task to follow the narrow and thorny path leading to the salvation of one’s soul, and there always arise various difficulties and troubles, which attempt to divert us from the one thing needful – life in Christ. At the present time, in close proximity to Forgiveness Sunday and the beginning of Great Lent, we are concerned about the alarming news from the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church ― Ukraine. In Kiev, ― the mother of Russian cities— brother rose up against brother, and human blood has been abundantly shed! Will we ― Christians ― be able to preserve common sense and the intent to preserve peace in our souls, families and church communities?
Let us remember Apostle Paul’s words:” there cannot be Greek and Jew” (Col. 3:11); and, continuing his idea: neither Ukrainian, nor Russian, but we are all called to be one in Christ!

Let us remember the times of persecution against Christianity, when to the question of the tormentors about name, nationality and social status the answer of the confessors was: “I am a Christian!”

The Patriarchal Parishes in the USA consist of people of different nationalities, up-bringing and origin; which, naturally, can influence attempts to assess the events in Ukraine. I dare not hope that all of us, even as being spiritual children of one Church, can have the same social and political views. But I call on all of you, my beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, that no one dare rupture internal peace within the parish, and not make the House of God into a political battlefield.

If one’s soul is distressed, if one cannot find words to call for peace, love and concord, choose the better alternative ― keep silence when visiting the gathering for worship. In the Church household let the name of Ukraine sound only in our fervent prayers for peace amongst those who are in conflict, and for the repose of the souls of the servants of God slain in fratricidal combat.

David the Psalmist, who left us examples of prayer in various circumstances of life, in one of his fervent hymns pleaded: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6). So I also dare to call on you with the following words: pray for the peace and well-being for the suffering people of holy Kievan Rus’ ― Ukraine!

May the Wise and Almighty God grant us understanding and strength to spend worthily the salvific days of Great Lent, inspire in us sincere striving for the improvement of our life, and may He sustain the spirit of humility and meekness in our souls! Let us cry out with St. Ephraim the Syrian: “Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk,

Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA

His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill appeals to the fulness of the Russian Orthodox Church on current events in Ukraine

Honorable Archpastors and Pastors, Dear Brothers and Sisters, Children of the Church:

It is with anxiety, pain and alarm that I continue to follow ongoing events in Kiev and other cities of Ukraine. Kiev is the birthplace of a great Orthodox civilization which united the peoples of Holy Rus. Kiev is the city of the One Font of the Baptism, the 1025th anniversary of which we only recently celebrated together with all the Local Orthodox Churches. For me, Kiev is a special, dear city, a city I have often visited, it is a city I love and know well. It is unbearably painful to hear the news of the many casualties in this holy place, of the hundreds of wounded, of the unrest in various regions of Ukraine.
Our entire multi-national Church fervently prays for peace in the Ukrainian land, for the end of civil strife. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are suffering one of the most dramatic moments in its history. The future fate of the Ukrainian people depends on what is now happening. So far, thank God, the specter of civil war has been averted. But this scenario may still become manifest. This will occur if the Lord allows people to abandon Divine moral commandments and reject the Christian legacy of Ukraine, if the residents of Ukraine deny respect for self, for each other and for the law.
I would like to thank the representatives of the Ukrainian episcopacy and clergy who, amidst the shouted appeals and slogans of every possible persuasion, have found the inner strength to coherently call the opponents to peace and brotherly love; those who stand firmly for the right of Ukrainians to live in concord with their faith and piety, for the preservation of traditional Ukrainian moral and religious values, the wellspring of which is the Kievan Baptismal Font, which determined the civilized development of Holy Rus’.   
With tears of grief from all my heart for the dead, in empathy with their loved ones, suffering together with the wounded, I beseech the pastors and flock of the Russian Orthodox Church to lift up their prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Most-Pure Mother. Let us pray for the repose of our dead brothers and sisters, for the healing of the injured and sick, for the pacification of hardened hearts, for the end of the strife and unrest in Ukraine, that the Lord sends down upon us all the spirit of love, peace, forgiveness and brotherly love in Christ!

Patriarch of Moscow and of All Rus’

Meatfare Sunday


On February 23, on the Meatfare Sunday our parish had a liturgical celebration in the temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov preached a homily:

“Today, on the Meatfare Sunday we commemorate the Last Judgment. Usually, in our Church celebrations we commemorate something which took place in the past. But today we commemorate an event which is going to happen in the future, at the end of the world. Today we remember the Day of the Last Judgment of the Lord. You heard about that event in today’s Gospel lesson.”
“In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul is raising an issue that should concern all true believers in Christ. He warns us not to be “a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8, 9). This has always been one of the greatest challenges of Christians: to make certain that no one stumbles because of us, to make sure that no one is tempted to sin because the faith we profess with our lips is different from the faith we practice.”
“At the time of St. Paul the marketplace in Corinth was flooded with meat that had been sacrificed to idols. One party of intelligent Christians believed that since the idols or false gods to whom this meat was sacrificed did not even exist, there was nothing wrong in buying the meat for use at home, or eating it in a public place. The weak Christians, however, who had just been converted from paganism, were scandalized by this. They felt that the meat was given over to the demons, and the demons somehow took possession of it. If they ate this meat, the demons would somehow gain entrance into their bodies. This is why St. Paul advises not to wound the conscience of those who are weak. He instructs the intelligent Christians of Corinth saying, “Beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (1 Cor. 8, 9). He goes on and warns that because of their knowledge the weak brother, for whom Christ died, may perish (1 Cor. 8, 11). St. Paul goes even so far as to say, “If food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Cor. 8, 13).”

“These advices of St. Paul teach us that the one who is more knowledgeable and intelligent should yield to the one who is less educated or weak. The Apostle suggests that we should act lovingly towards each other and should not use our greater insight to do violence to people who may know less. It is a sin to ruin the life of another. It is terrible to learn to sin. It is disastrous to teach another, to lead or cause him to sin. If anyone causes another to sin, said Jesus, “it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Lk. 17, 2).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! All of us should always remember that no one lives unto himself. We are all bound together. Today’s Gospel is reminding us that at the end of the world we all are going to be judged together by the Lord. All our deeds will be exposed to others. Thus, when we act, especially when we do anything in public, we must consider others. When we fall, it is not an isolated fall, but the whole Church of God falls with us. We are all bound together in the one Body of Christ. Thus, we must consider our weaker brothers or sisters for whom Christ died.”

“Unfortunately, sometimes we act with no such consideration of our weak brothers and sisters. It seems that many more people would follow Christianity if some Christians were not stumbling block for them. For instance, Gandhi, the great leader of the Indian nation was inclined to become a Christian when he was young. He believed that Christianity held the right answer to India’s grave problems and could heal Indian society from the wicked caste system. But one Sunday Gandhi went to a Christian church. An usher coldly confronted him at the door and said, “Sir, this church is only for Europeans”. Deeply disillusioned, Gandhi that day walked away from that church and from Christianity. How different India’s history might have been if a different attitude, a likeness of Christ was shown by that church usher! Instead of being a welcoming apostle of Christ, this man turned out to be a great stumbling block.”
“Similar things sometimes occur also in our Orthodox parishes. Much more people could attend the temple and belong to the Orthodox Church if we, Orthodox Christians did not become stumbling block to them. We hear that sometimes our faithful show their great zeal by rebuking or reprimanding the people who come to the church having very little or no knowledge of how to behave in the temple. Instead of welcoming them and having patience to explain how they should dress, behave and participate in our services, some overzealous parishioners chase them away. This may not happen in our parish or in the close parishes, but we hear that it does happen somewhere, especially in the old country. Again, our deeper knowledge of the Church life and our greater spiritual experience should not become a stumbling block to those who are weak and less experienced in those matters.”

“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be a stumbling block to our weak brethren. But let us also go beyond this. Let us be an inspiration to someone. Yes, not being a stumbling block is very important. But it is too negative. Let us be also an inspiration to those who are weak. Our Lord said to His disciples: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5, 16). All of us, if we desire to stand at the right hand of our Lord at the Last Judgment, should live in such a way that our light may shine before men. We are called to live a Christian life, a life blessed and assisted by divine grace, a life of prayer and good works. We are called not to be a cause of scandal, a stumbling block to others. But to bear a light shining to other men and inspiring them to be with Christ now, at this age, and to also stand at His right hand at the end of time, and to reign with Him in the eternity.”

Due to the great concern for the situation in Ukraine special petitions for the multiplying of love and for the eradication of discord and hatred were added to the usual Litany of fervent supplication of the Liturgy.

A Litany for the deceased was also offered during the Divine Liturgy because our parish did not have any service for the departed on the Memorial Meatfare Saturday. Along with usual commemoration of all Orthodox Christians we commemorated the souls of those who were killed during the strife in Ukraine.

At the end of the Liturgy Fr. Igor offered a special prayer for the Ukrainian people and for the pacification in Ukraine.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector read the Letter from His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill calling for a fervent prayer for the multiplication of love on the lands of Ukraine. The Rector also advised the parishioners that His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian also issued a special letter about this issue. The Archbishop’s archpastoral recommendation to all of us in the Patriarchal Parishes is to abstain from any political discussion in the temple and to limit our mentioning of Ukraine to our fervent prayers.

After the Divine Liturgy the Rector performed a Memorial service which included commemoration of all Orthodox Christians, the victims of the strife in Ukraine and also the deceased relatives of the Kay family that requested such commemoration.

Our celebration was concluded by the coffee hour at which the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son


On February 16, on the Sunday of Prodigal Son we had a celebration in our temple. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Scripture lessons he preached a sermon:

“On today’s Sunday the Church desires to teach us about true repentance telling us the parable about the Prodigal Son. Before our further reflection on it, let us make clear that in the English language the word “prodigal” means someone “lavish”, some spendthrift. In Slavonic, as well as in the Orthodox tradition the son from today’s Gospel parable is called “bludnyj” which means “dissolute”, a person engaging in lust, fornication or immoral life. This is why today’s Epistle lesson is discussing the sins of flesh. St. Paul teaches us today saying, “The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6, 13).
“There is a great interest in the body in today’s world. Jogging, sports, healthy diet, going to the gym – all these is very popular. Even here, near our church, around the corner there is a gym where many people come. Very often they park right here, near the temple and take the parking spots which could be used by our parishioners. They are not interested in the church, but in keeping their bodies in shape. People spent a lot of time and money to keep their bodies healthy. Yet at the same time people do a lot to degrade their bodies. There is loose behavior, lustful desires, pornography, encouragement of sex. In addition, there is alcohol, smoking and drugs. Very often the same people who join health clubs and go on crash diets are dissipating themselves in other ways, degrading their bodies, the very bodies they are trying to preserve. On one hand, the body is being exalted, but on the other hand, it is being exploited, manipulated and played with. One of the reasons for this is that people have lost sight of God Who created the body. We need some kind of ‘theology of the body’. And this is what St. Paul gives us in today’s Epistle reading. He restores our vision of God and of what God means to the human body.”
“First of all, St. Paul tells us that the body is not meant for fornication, for immoral life, but for the Lord (1 Cor. 6, 13). The body was created by God, and God could not mean it to be used for low and dirty affairs. On the contrary, God designed the body to be glorified, to be in paradise with Him. Even when we lost the paradise, we were redeemed by our Lord who now gives us a great opportunity to join the Creator in eternal blessedness, join Him along with our body which will be resurrected on the last day. This very body, in which we now live, will be raised to spend eternity with God. Expecting that glorious day we need to serve the Lord not only with our mind and heart, but with the total person which includes the body. Every human person consists of body and soul. And thus the body is very important.”

“Secondly, St. Paul says that the Lord is for the body (1 Cor. 6, 13). This means that when our Lord died for our salvation, that salvation affects both our souls and bodies. The body of a Christian is sacred. It is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6, 19). And, as we said, the Lord will raise it on the last day.”
“Keeping all this in mind, we could be asking, along with St. Paul, whether we are allowed to take our body which was created by God and exists for the Lord, and give it to some unworthy use? Could we take the body, this temple of the Holy Spirit, and yield it, surrender it, to the immoral, sinful purpose? Asking this question St. Paul fervently utters: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!” (1 Cor. 6, 15). He also instructs that in any intimate act we become one body with another person. If we get married God blesses such intimacy. But if we fornicate, we become one body with a sinful person (1 Cor. 6, 6, 16). Being Christians, we are already joined to Christ. Therefore, if we become one body with a sinner, we destroy this union with Christ and establish a union with Satan. This is why St. Paul stresses that the sins of flesh are against our own body, not only against our soul. And urges us to flee fornication (1 Cor. 6, 18).”

“Dear brothers and sisters! St. Paul in today’s Epistle reminds us that we were bought with a great price (1 Cor. 6, 20), meaning that the Son of God paid for our salvation by His own life, by His own blood. Thus, our body belongs to Him. Far from belonging to us, the body is God’s temple and must be kept holy for Him. Therefore, let us avoid the sins of flesh. Let us be careful in our behavior, our thoughts, our words, our looks, our actions. Let us avoid the fate of the Prodigal Son from today’s Gospel parable. He took the inheritance and spent it with the harlots, in the lustful life. He converted and returned to his father, but it cost him a lot. He paid a great price. Our Lord paid a price for us, so we can easily stay with Him. Therefore, according to the words of St. Paul, let us glorify God in our body and in our sprit! (1 Cor. 6, 20).”

After the Liturgy Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to those parishioners who attended the church these two days (yesterday and today) despite the inclement weather and to those who helped to keep the church clean and warm.

Meeting (Presentation) of the Lord


On February 15 the Church celebrates the great holy day of the Meeting of our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as Presentation of the Lord. Despite the snow storm warning which was in effect for that day our parish had a nice liturgical celebration of that feast. The Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.
After the reading from the Gospel Fr. Igor preached a homily:

“The Epistle lesson assigned for this feast is telling us about the great difference between the Old Testament priesthood and the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the event of the Meeting of the Lord we see that Jesus being an infant was presented in the Temple of Jerusalem. By doing this His holy parents fulfilled the command of the Law of Moses. Since Jesus was the first-born Son of His Mother, according to the Old Testament law He had to be offered to God. His parents had to come to Jerusalem, to the holy Temple and to perform a ritual, a sacrifice for Him. This was one of the many commands of the Old Testament law. Other commands anticipated that certain people, only from the tribe of Levi, called the Levites, could be the servers at the altar of the Temple. All the priests and servants of the Lord had to be the heirs of Aaron, the brother of Moses. Thus, there was a special priestly cast among the Jews of old.”
“When our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, He was born to the family which was not the heirs of Aaron. He was from the tribe of Judah, and no one from that tribe could be a priest in the Temple. But we all know that our Lord exercised a power of a priest. He did it by offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind when He voluntarily agreed to suffer and die for us. His holy passions and His death became a redemptive sacrifice for all of us. Jesus is our High Priest who entered the Holy of the holies, not of the physical and earthly Temple, but mystically, sacrificing His own blood before God the Father. We may also add that He Himself established the holy Sacraments, performed the first Divine Liturgy at the Last Supper. Jesus is our High Priest, the highest priest of the New Testament.”
“The contrast between priesthood of the Old Testament and the priesthood of Jesus Christ is described in today’s Epistle lesson. St. Paul teaches that Jesus’ priesthood is according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7, 17). The latter was a mysterious figure in the Old Testament. He appears in the book of Genesis as a priest of the High God, and at the same time as the king of Salem (meaning the king of peace). He meets Abraham, then offers the sacrifice of bread and wine, then he blesses Abraham. Abraham is giving him one tenth of his possessions, the tithes (Gen. 14, 18-20). Nothing else is said about this figure. He has no relatives, his birth or death is not mentioned in the Scripture. But we see that he was considered superior to Abraham and to his heirs.”

“Since the Old Testament priesthood of the Temple was limited to the special cast, to the heirs of Aaron, it inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedek. And the priesthood of Christ is like such priesthood. As Melchizedek had no earthly genealogy, so is Christ because He was born of a Virgin. Because He is God who became Man, His priesthood can really change the mankind. At that point, the Old Testament priesthood consisted of mere men, thus it could not really transform mortal and corrupt humanity. Sacrifices of the Levitical priests had to be repeated while the sacrifice of Christ was offered once and for all.”
“St. Paul also convinces the Hebrews that since Abraham met Melchizedek long before the Temple priesthood was established, then the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical priesthood (Heb. 7, 9-11). Jesus arose as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek when He obeyed the law of Moses, but being God, He also transcended the law and established His eternal priesthood.”

“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, celebrating feast of the Meeting of the Lord we are instructed by St. Paul that the ritual performed over the Infant Jesus in the Temple, as well as all other events of this glorious holy day – all these actions show that the new and eternal High Priest, a priest according to the highest order appeared in Jesus Christ. He was born, He was circumcised, He was presented in the Temple. By this He showed His obedience to the law of Moses. But He went further by His death for us. So, He became our High Priest who could make all of us redeemed by His holy and unique sacrifice.”

Upon the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon in the middle of the church. They sang the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Meeting of the Lord.

After the service Fr. Igor greeted all present parishioners on the occasion of the feast.
Upon the request of the Kay family the Rector performed a memorial service commemorating their deceased relatives.

Annual Parish Meeting


Annual Parish Meeting of St. George’s Church was held on Sunday, February 9, following the Divine Liturgy and coffee hour.
Many of the parish members were present at the meeting and the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov presided. Church Warden, Olga Roussanow read the minutes of the last Annual Meeting held in 2013. The Rector reported on financial situation. He informed that although church attendance became higher, parish income in the year 2013 was a little lower than in the previous year. We could not cover some of our expenses. Although our expenses were reduced, we had a deficit. Our high expenses were connected with repairs done on the church property. Parishioners and sponsors could not cover those expenses with their contributions. Fr. Igor recommended again that Parish should introduce some principles of stewardship and that parishioners should plan their contributions for the church needs. However, this could be difficult to some parish members due to financial hardships in today’s times of economic crisis.

Following the discussion of financial situation we had an election of the officers. Our long-time Treasurer, Vera Koretz expressed a desire to retire from her position due to the ill health and advanced age. After a short discussion of the possible candidates Valentina Dron was elected the new Parish Treasurer.  Olga Roussanow was re-elected as the Church Warden.

Another issue discussed at the Meeting was cleaning and upkeeping of the church building. Our long-time parishioner Natalia (Dolores) Soho is not able to continue her dedicated work to keep the church neat and clean with the same energy. The parishioners decided to clean the church taking turns or when they would be available for that.

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee. Synaxis of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church


On February 9 the Orthodox Church celebrated Sunday of Publican and Pharisee. This year on that day we also observed feast of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church. St. George Parish had a celebration in our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Scripture he preached a sermon:

“From today’s Sunday we seriously begin our spiritual preparation for Lent. From this day our liturgical services include the hymns from the Lenten Triodion, the book of services for Lent. Today’s Gospel lesson is telling us about two men who came to the Temple to pray, about the publican and Pharisee. It has to teach us to avoid pride and self-glorification and to teach us humility and repentance.”
“Today we also honor the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church.”
“The first Epistle reading of today brings us bad news. St. Paul writes to Timothy: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3, 12). This means that if we wish to be true Christians, believing in Jesus and living godly, we will pay a price. We will be persecuted. On the other hand, St. Paul says that “evil men and impostors will grow worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3, 13). This means that the number of evil men may be growing in the world, but they will not be benefited. They will deceive many, but they themselves are deceived.”

“A very clear manifestation of these words we could see in the history of the 20th century. The rise of godless regimes in the world started an era of terrible persecutions of Christians. It was especially done on the lands of the former Russian Empire. Thousands or even millions of people suffered for their Orthodox faith. There were bishops, priests and lay people among them. There were representatives of all social classes. First of all, the royal family was among those who suffered, then other noble men and women. But there were also other social classes, even peasants. Many were martyred, killed for the sake of Christ, yet many had to bear a cross of confessors being imprisoned and persecuted. At the same time, evil ideas of godlessness, atheism, social and political extremism spread among the people deceiving them. The words of the Apostle saying that evil men and impostors will grow worse had fulfilled. At the end of the 1930’s, after two decades of the Communist dictatorship in Russia, on the vast territories of the former Orthodox empire, there was a very small number of churches left. There were no monasteries, and only 3 bishops who served and were not imprisoned. Only the beginning of another terrible misfortune, of the World War, stopped the evildoers. Communist leadership decided to ease the persecutions and to permit the Church to exist. The number of parishes grew, some monasteries reopened and a number of bishops were ordained. However, the Church was strictly controlled and not given true freedom. In addition, the Russian Church had to undergo another wave of persecutions in the 1960’s when Soviet leadership proclaimed that soon Russia will reach the era of Communism and no religion will remain in the society. Communist leaders even promised that very soon “the last priest” will be shown on TV.”
“In this way the words of today’s Epistle lesson had been fulfilled. All who desired to live godly in Christ Jesus suffered, and evil men and impostors grew worse. These times of cruel persecutions are now in the past. However, we cannot think that we will be spared. We may not assume that we could avoid suffering. Our modern society which proclaims the ideals of freedom and democracy, in fact, does not favor Christian faith. It fights it although it does not openly persecute us for our beliefs. Today’s society cherishes anti-Christian and godless moral values. It also desires to limit the Church, to reduce religion to a very restricted area of private life. It tends to make religious faith a private affair like food or drink preferences. Thus, if you really desire to live godly – prepare to suffer!”

“But today’s second Epistle reading brings us good news. St. Paul says, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8, 28).  In our sufferings for Christ we should see that thus we are those “called according to His purpose”. Therefore, all our sufferings will work together for good. St. Paul also assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” separate us from this eternal love? (Rom. 8, 35).  No! The Lord loves us, and nothing can prevent us to be loved by Him. St. Paul goes on and says, “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height and depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8, 39).”
“This is really good news which overcomes all bad news. Yes, we will suffer if we believe in Christ. But God will always love us and be with us if we will desire Him to be our Lord. This was the belief of the true Christians throughout the centuries. This was a conviction of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church. For Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16, 33). They had tribulation, they suffered and died for Christ. But they also became victorious with Him.”

“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us acquire God’s blessings through the spirit of humility and repentance as the publican in today’s Gospel parable did. Let us also join our brethren in faith, the holy New Martyrs and Confessors of our Church in acquiring God’s love through desire to live godly in Christ. Let us not fear persecutions remembering that if we desire Jesus, He will be with us. As many Russian Saints repeated the words of St. Paul read to us today, let us also say with them: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8, 31).”

Following the Divine Liturgy Fr. Igor performed a memorial service for all who fell asleep in the time of persecutions for Christian faith.

After our services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals at the coffee hour.

32nd Sunday after Pentecost


On February 2, on the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost we had a celebration at St. George Church. The parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Scripture he preached a homily:

“Today we heard the Gospel story about Zaccheus, a chief publican who wished to see Jesus and who decided to change his life, to repent. We may notice that in his desire to see the Lord Zaccheus labored, he climbed a tree. He could doubt that he will be successful, but he did make an effort, and his effort was rewarded. Thus, we may say that Zaccheus had hope. Therefore, today we will reflect on this wonderful virtue, we will speak about hope.”
“Today’s Epistle lesson says that we Christians labor and suffered reproach, “because we trust in the living God” (1 Tim. 4, 10). Trusting in God means to have hope that God will make everything work for our good. Hope is one of the three most important virtues, along with faith and love.”
“If we think about it, we may see that it is impossible to live without hope. The farmer would never sow a seed in the soil, or a preacher preach a sermon, a mother undergo the pain of childbirth, a student the discipline of study, or a doctor perform a surgery – were it not for the hope that out of the effort something good, something better might result. The person who loses hope in life may not wish to live. This is why we say that hope dies the last. A hopeless person is likely to commit suicide. Ironically, even his suicide is done in hope, in hope that death is better than life. Man must hope! St. Paul calls hope an anchor of the soul (Heb. 6, 19).”

“But our hope has to be true and real. Very often our hope is with regard to earthly needs. It is natural to hope and work for better health, for success in business or profession. But there is higher hope. Our earthly needs are temporary. And our hope and trust in earthly things or in the people may not be true. “Do not put your trust in princess, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation,” – says the Psalm (Ps. 145, 3). A higher, an eternal hope, a hope which alone gives meaning and direction in our life is the hope in God. The Psalm goes on saying, “Blessed is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 145, 5). If there were no God, if God was not interested in the world He made, Jesus would not have come. But He did come! And because of this, there is hope. If there was no repentance and forgiveness, life would hold no hope for any of us. If death marked the end of man, life would make no sense. But in Jesus we have forgiveness and life. He is our hope, a true and real hope.”
“A Christian is never without hope. He always finds a way out in Christ. He knows that all things can work for good to those who love God. He knows that there is nothing in all creation, not even death, that can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He knows that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to those who put their trust in Jesus.”

“Christian hope is confidence in God, the willingness to entrust to Him the future of our life. It is a realistic hope because in such hope we fully realize that tomorrow may not be better than today. Tomorrow we may suffer. Tomorrow we may fall. Tomorrow we may die. But tomorrow, like today, God will be with us, sustaining us, upholding us, supporting us with His everlasting arms, bringing good out of evil, granting life in death.”
“Remember what some people said about Jesus Himself when He suffered on the cross? They mocked Him saying, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now” (Mt. 27, 43). We know that God did not deliver Jesus from the cross, but He did raise Him from the dead! At the end God brought the greatest good out of the greatest evil. Jesus who died, was risen from the dead. This is why, as St. Paul says, we also have to labor and suffer reproach, “because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men” (1 Tim. 4, 10).”

“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us finish our today’s reflection with the words of blessing given by St. Paul to the Romans: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15, 13).”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated one of our youngest parishioners, Anton Malyshew on the occasion of his past name day, feast of St. Anthony the Great and wished him God’s blessings and fervent intercession of his patron Saint. The traditional “Mnogaia leta” was sung.