Sunday of St. Thomas


On April 27, on Sunday of Antipascha, or Sunday of St. Thomas, the Rector of St. George’s Church celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:

“Beginning with the feast of Holy Pascha we start the Epistle readings from the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles. In fact, the Church tradition tells us to read that book in the middle of the temple on Holy Saturday night, before we begin our Easter services. This book of the New Testament is placed in the Bible right after the four Gospels. It was written by the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke who wrote one of the four Gospels. The book’s very name indicates that it tells about the holy Apostles. It tells about their mission after our Lord Jesus Christ was risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. But why do we read it during Easter season when we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ? We do it because the message of the Acts of the Apostles is all about the outcome of the Lord’s Resurrection. The book of Acts is often called the Gospel of the Resurrection.”
“Today’s Epistle lesson from the book of Acts tells that the early Apostles were so filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that through their hands “many signs and wonders were done among the people” (Acts 5, 12). The Apostle Peter’s influence was so great that sick people were carried out and placed on the street, so “at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them” and heal them (Acts 5, 15).”

“We have to say that everyone has a shadow. Everyone has an influence on others. It may be a good or a bad influence. The impact of our personality on another makes it either easier or harder for the person to live a good life. No one is neutral. We cannot escape from this any more than we can escape casting a shadow on a sunny day. It is either a shadow of healing or a shadow of harm. I read that the Greeks have a word “kaloiskiotos” meaning a person who has a good shadow, to describe a good person, a blessed one.”

“A director of nursing said once that when she trains nurses she says to them, “Be a nutritious person; don’t be a toxic person”. Some nurses in the hospitals are toxic people. Whenever they come close to a patient, they infect that person with the poison of fear, doubt and anxiety. But there are also “nutritious nurses”. The way they walk, touch, listen and talk, they build hope, put strength into a patient. They thus create an attitude in which God can perform a healing ministry.”

“We all cast a shadow in life. We affect the people we live with every time we are with them. We make others either more hopeful about themselves, or more discouraged. Holy Apostle Peter cast a shadow that healed. The person who stands with the light of Christ upon him will cast a shadow that has healing in it. The person who lives in Christ, as Peter did; who enters God’s presence through prayer every day and is filled with the Holy Spirit cannot but be a “nutritious” person whose shadow radiates to others with love, hope, peace, joy, and strength of Christ.”

“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us live under the light of our perfect Sun of Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ. This means to walk before the Lord fulfilling His Commandments, loving Him and our neighbor. This means to be filled with the divine grace, to be the partakers of His Holy Mysteries. This also means to live a life of prayer. Then our shadow may be blessed for those on whom it may be cast. The holy Fathers say that person who goes into perfume shop every day, even if he buys nothing, leaves the shop with a fragrance around him. The perfume shop is God’s presence which we may enter daily through prayer. Remember, as St. Paul says that through us God spreads “the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2, 14-15). Let us be such a fragrance of Christ, let us cast a shadow from being under the light of the Risen Lord.”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector distributed the particles of the Artos blessed on Pascha. He also reminded parishioners that very soon, on May 6 our church will celebrate its Patronal fest, St. George’s Day. We should prepare for that feast, especially because His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian is going to visit our temple and head our festal service.

Special Convocation of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA


On Bright Friday, April 24, 2014, clergy and laity of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA arrived at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Passaic NJ, for a Special Convocation.
Under the chairmanship of His Eminence Justinian, Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk, clergy and lay delegates were able to deliberate on important key issues in the life of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. This Special Convocation held in Passaic, is different compared to the General Convocation of the Patriarchal Parishes held every two years, due to the time sensitive matters requiring discussion. The main issue on the Convocation’s agenda was to adopt the new By-Laws for the Patriarchal Parishes which would make them consistent with the legal requirements of our country, as well as with the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted in 1989.

Our St. George Parish was represented by its Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and its Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow.

His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian officially opened the Convocation, and stressed the importance of the issues that needed to be resolved. His Eminence expressed his gratitude to all those present, who have traveled long distances to provide their input in the lives of the Patriarchal Parishes.

Those gathered ultimately resolved the issues regarding the adoption of the new By-Laws of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, which required an entire Convocation to be held. The clergy and delegates approved the adoption of the new By-Laws.

The Convocation also elected and appointed new members of the Bishop’s Council of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. We can proudly inform that representatives of our Parish, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and Olga Roussanow were elected alternate members of the Bishop’s Council.

His Eminence officially closed the Special Convocation of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, and wished God’s unending Love, be with each and everyone present.

Later that evening, His Eminence Archbishop Justinian presided at the Paschal Vespers service concelebrated by clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.

Next day, on Bright Saturday, clergy and faithful of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA gathered to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. His Eminence Justinian, Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk presided at the solemn Divine Liturgy at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Passaic, NJ. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, all clergy participated in a solemn procession around the cathedral. Upon the dismissal of the service His Eminence greeted all those for gathering not only at the Convocation the previous day, but for being able to pray and serve together with the clerics of Patriarchal Parishes.




On April 20 of this year 2014 all Orthodox Christians celebrated the greatest holy day, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Pascha.
Celebration at St. George Church began at 11:30 PM on Saturday, April 19. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed Midnight service at the Lord’s Tomb and transferred the holy Shroud to the altar.

Right after midnight joyful Paschal celebration began. The Rector assisted by the altar servers led faithful in the procession around the temple. At the end of the procession everyone stood in front of the closed church doors where Fr. Igor began Resurrection Matins and proclaimed the Easter greeting, “Christ is risen” in Slavonic, English, Greek and Georgian languages. Faithful responded and sung Paschal troparion. Then the priest opened the doors of the temple and faithful entered into the church.

After Matins Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. The Gospel lesson on Pascha is traditionally read in several languages. This time faithful had an opportunity to listen the verses of the reading in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Church Slavonic, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Serbian, Romanian, Belorussian and Spanish. Following the Gospel reading Fr. Igor proclaimed catechetical sermon of St. John Chrysostom on Pascha.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector greeted the parishioners on the occasion of the greatest Christian holy day, wished them to be blessed by the Risen Christ. Then he blessed Easter food.
Rector and parishioners continued their celebration of Pascha at the tables where they had an opportunity to enjoy delicious meals after the long time of Lenten restrictions.


Holy and Great Friday


On April 18, on the Holy and Great Friday we had two special services in our parish temple. This day is the most sorrowful day in Christian calendar. On Holy Friday we commemorate crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross, as well as His burial. St. George Church’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Vespers with the procession of the Shroud at 4:00 PM. At the end of this service holy Shroud had been solemnly carried out from the altar to the middle of the church and placed there for veneration.

At 7:00 PM Fr. Igor celebrated Matins on the Lord’s Tomb. Most of this service was performed before the Shroud placed in the middle of the church. After the Great Doxologion the Rector, altar servers and parishioners performed the procession around the church. The priest carried the holy Shroud resembling burial of the Lord.

At the end of Matins Fr. Igor reminded parishioners of the great and special significance of the Holy Friday and the services of that day. They are unique and unrepeatable, so faithful have to attempt to attend them and to come to the temple to venerate the holy Shroud. Unfortunately, many Christians may be busy with the affairs of their life, so they miss this important opportunity. Fr. Igor pointed out that celebration of the Resurrection of Christ can only be appropriate if we first sympathize with Him in His sufferings and death.


Holy and Great Thursday


On April 17, on Holy and Great Thursday when the Church commemorates the Last Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ we had a service in St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Vespers with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.
At the end of service he greeted the faithful who came to participate in that special Liturgy celebrated as a remembrance of the Lord’s institution of the Holy Sacraments of Eucharist and Priesthood..

Palm Sunday


On April 13, on Palm Sunday we had a solemn celebration of the feast of the Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.
After the reading of the Hours the Rector blessed the pussy-willows and distributed them to the parishioners who were holding them during the service resembling the people of Jerusalem who greeted Jesus Christ with the olive and palm branches during His triumphal entry to the city.
Following the readings from the Scripture Fr. Igor preached a homily:

“Today is a great holy day of the Lord, His triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. It is a final celebration before we start mourning during the Passion week. It is a last bliss of joy we may have before we come to time of grief, before we begin to sympathize the Lord in His sufferings. This is why the message of today’s Epistle lesson is rather joyful. St. Paul exclaims, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4, 4). He desires that we rejoice in the Lord and have no anxiety for anything.”
“When we hear these words of St. Paul we may feel like saying to him, “Come down to the earth! Who can live always rejoicing and without being anxious about anything? How can a mother with a sick child not be anxious? How can a person afflicted with cancer not be anxious? How can a business man at the time of economic crisis not be anxious?” But St. Paul says in today’s Epistle lesson: “Be anxious for nothing…” (Phil. 4, 6). And we should know that writing these words St. Paul was not thinking of some other world or some other life. When he wrote this advice he was having a pretty rough time himself. In fact, the words we heard today in the Epistle lesson were written when St. Paul was arrested, was probably in chains, and not in a comfortable chair in front of a fireplace. St. Paul was no armchair philosopher. He was a realist, well acquainted with life.”
“But if we read the whole advice of St. Paul in today’s Epistle lesson, we may see that he does not stop with these words. He goes on to teach us how to overcome anxiety. He says, “But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4, 6).  Bring your anxiety to God, he says. And he continues assuring us that if we do so “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 4, 7). If we tell God about our worries, about our problems and troubles, He will guard our hearts and help us. The word ‘anxiety’ is derived from the Latin word meaning to choke. A thing is choked when the outlet is blocked. That is exactly what causes our anxiety. There is no outlet for our worries and fears. They back up on us, set our b=nerves twitching, and fill our days and nights with fear. But we Christians have an outlet. It is God’s compassion through our Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

“St. Paul teaches us today to make our fears and worries known to God by prayer, supplication and thanksgiving. These are the ways of doing that.”
“Jesus was no stranger to anxiety. He was terrible anxious in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His crucifixion. We hear Him saying, “Now My soul is troubled… Father, save Me from this hour…” (Jn. 12, 27) “Take this cup away from Me…” (Lk. 22, 42). But Jesus was praying and here comes relinquishment: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done” (Lk. 22, 42). After relinquishment comes peace: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23, 34) “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Lk. 23, 46). Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Himself gave us a perfect example how we can commend our anxiety to God by prayer and supplication.”

“In addition, our anxiety can be commended to God by thanksgiving. A lady visited a priest one day. She had many troubles to tell him. He told her he would gladly listen provided she would first tell him all she has to be thankful for. She agreed and for a solid half hour gave her many reasons for being grateful. After she finished, the priest said, “Now you can tell me your troubles.” To her surprise the lady found herself saying, “I really don’t think I have any”.  Thus, dear brothers and sisters, check your blessings, thank God for them, and when you are finished, you may be surprised to find that you are rather blessed than troubled.”
“The final cure for anxiety in today’s Epistle lesson is expressed by St. Paul when he tells us to fix our minds on whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report and on any virtue and on anything praiseworthy (Phil. 4, 8). In other words, St. Paul calls us to think positive. In the midst of the storm of anxiety, fix your mind on Christ. Fix your mind on His power, on His love, on His great promises. Soak your mind with Christ and you will discover for yourself the true peace which surpasses all understanding, the peace of God the Lord who has appeared to us!”

For the first time in St. George Parish the Lord’s Prayer at this Liturgy was sung in the Georgian language. Since we have a family from Georgia among our parishioners the Rector blessed some occasional use of Georgian at our services.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers came before the stand in the middle of the church and performed the rite of glorification before the festal image  singing the troparia, the kontakion and the magnification of the feast.

The Rector congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day. He also reminded them that we are beginning Passion Week, a very important and spiritually intense time, and called to attend the services celebrated during that week.

After the service parishioners and the Rector enjoyed delicious meals and interesting conversation during the coffee hour.

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick


On April 12, on Lazarus Saturday the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Mystery of the Anointing of the sick in our parish temple. All persons who desired to receive that Sacrament participated in the service and were anointed with the blessed oil. At the conclusion of the service Fr. Igor preached a brief sermon about the significance and importance of the Mystery of Anointing of the sick which is aimed for the healing of soul and body.

Fifth Sunday of Lent


On April 6, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent our parish had a nice liturgical celebration. The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil was served by St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov in our temple. Following the lesson from the Gospel he preached a homily:

“On this Fifth Sunday of Lent we are again hearing a prophecy of Jesus Christ Himself that very soon He will be betrayed, condemned to death and killed, but on the third day He will rise again (Mk. 10, 33-34). Same prophecy we could hear in the Gospel lesson on the last Sunday (Mk. 9, 31). In this way we are prepared to commemorate the holy Passions of our Lord and to celebrate His holy Resurrection. One of the most important aspects of this holy time on which we should reflect is the whole idea of our Redemption through the sufferings and death of Christ. We turned to that idea many times during Lent. Today we need to think of it again.”
“Today’s Epistle lesson is relatively short, but it contains a very profound explanation of our Redemption. Writing to the Hebrews, St. Paul uses references to the Old Testament rules and rituals. Many of them contained offerings of certain sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins and for cleansing of the people. Our Redemption is a universal forgiveness of human sin and a universal cleansing of the human race. This is why St. Paul calls our Savior, Jesus Christ the High Priest who offered such a universal sacrifice. St. Paul says, “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands” (Heb. 9, 11).  He goes on and says that Christ offered this sacrifice “not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood” (Heb. 9, 12). Christ, in contrast to the Old Testament priests became a High Priest of the New Covenant. The Old Testament priests had to offer their sacrifices in the Temple many times. They did it for certain people who asked for that to cleanse their certain sins. And every year a high priest entered the Holy of holies with the bloody sacrifice for all the sins of the Jewish people committed during the year. Christ entered the heavenly, not earthly sanctuary once and for all, and obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9, 12).  His one sacrifice covers all sins by all people for all time. His blood being a true human blood was shed on the Cross and healed our corrupt humanity. ”For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works”, says St. Paul (Heb. 9, 13-14).”
“The sacrifice of Christ was offered not only to forgive our sins. It also restored us to our proper relationship with God. It purified, cleansed our conscience from dead works. What are the dead works? They include all our human activity of this life, especially our evil or corrupt deeds. For St. Paul the dead works also meant the rituals of the Old Covenant which became dead after Christ. After Jesus Christ offered Himself on the Cross and redeemed the human kind, all previous sacrifices and offerings became useless. Now we need to serve not the letter of God’s law but the living God Himself (Heb. 9, 14).”

“Dear brothers and sisters! How very serious are the ideas given to us in today’s Epistle lesson! Let us keep them in mind and in our hearts, so we may be worthy of our Lord’s unique and universal sacrifice. He accomplished our salvation by His voluntary act of love. What can we offer to Him for that? Any gift would be insufficient to give thanks for our Lord’s grace. But we may at least try to be grateful for our Redemption by living according to His commandments and according to our conscience.”
“Referring to St. Paul, we may recall that for him the world was divided into two classes of people: the Jews who had the law given to them directly by God in written form, and the Gentiles who, although they did not have the written law, nevertheless had a God-implanted knowledge of right and wrong within their hearts. According to St. Paul, both would be judged by God. The Jews will be judged on the basis of the written law; the Gentiles on the basis of the law written not on tablets or books but in the hearts, on the basis of their conscience. We Christians have both. We have the written law and Commandments in the Scripture and Church discipline. We also have the law in ourselves, our conscience, the God’s voice within ourselves. Let us honor both and live by both.”

“Let us also remember that the written Commandments and our conscience can guide us, can warn us, can instruct us. But there is one thing that they cannot do. They cannot undo the wrong we have done. They cannot heal the wounds we inflict. They cannot eradicate guilt. They cannot forgive sins. Only Christ can do that. Only the blood of Christ can purify our conscience. Only He can forgive and heal and erase the past. He did it once and for all and He continues to do it for each of us. Let us then follow Him through His holy Passions to His victory of the holy Resurrection!”