Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women

On April 26, on the Sunday of the holy Myrrh-bearing Women, our parish had a nice liturgical celebration. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily:

”On this Third Sunday of Pascha we honor the female disciples of Christ, the holy Myrrh-bearing Women. Therefore, today’s feast should be considered the “Orthodox women’s day”. Thus our conversation today will be about women.”
“It is common today among the enemies of faith to criticize Christianity and the Church for degrading women. But let us examine the Scripture and the history of salvation and we will see that women in Christianity are really honored and respected very much. From the very beginning of the preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, many women listened to His holy appeal to repentance, love and forgiveness The teaching and words of Christ found s warm response in the women’s hearts. The Gospel tells us about women following Jesus, serving Him and the Apostles, about women seeking His help, about women repenting for their sins.”
“It should be noticed that we find no woman among the enemies of Christ. The people who hated Jesus, who condemned Him, those who plated the crown of thorns, those who crucified Him – they all were men. But, on the other hand, even the wife of Pilate rose her voice to defend Jesus. When our Lord was dying on the cross, no Apostles (except St. John the Theologian) were near Him. They all scattered and hid themselves. However, the women disciples remained faithful to Him along with His Most Holy Mother. In contrast to the scared and scattered Apostles, the Myrrh-bearing Women came to the Lord’s tomb to anoint His body with the spices. They courageously sought to fulfill the burial custom, but they also expressed the great love and devotion for Jesus, the qualities typical to the true heart of a woman. And we read in today’s Gospel that the Myrrh-bearing Women were rewarded by the honor of being the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ. The tradition holds that the risen Lord first appeared to His Most Holy Mother, while the Scripture says that the first appearance was to the Myrrh-bearing Women. In both instances the honor of seeing the risen Christ was given to the women.”
“The history of Christianity, beginning from the time of the New Testament and continuing in the history of every Christian country gives us a lot of examples of the holy women, women who endured the martyrdom for their heavenly Bridegroom – Jesus Christ; women who renounced the world and saved their souls in the desert ; women who preached the Christian faith to the whole nations. These are those whom we remember by name. But there were a multitude of those unknown who kept their faith, raised their children in the spirit of piety and purity, taught them to pray and to worship God. Although they did not build the hand-made temples, they did create the domestic churches in their families and lit the light of faith in the souls of their children.”
“Love and care are those main feelings that God instilled in every woman’s heart. God called the woman to fulfill a task, no man can fulfill – to be a mother. She is called to give life And a Christian woman and mother is also called to create spiritual life. The way a priest serves in the altar, a Christian mother should act in the soul of a child. She creates life, thus by her loving and devout heart she is called to elevate such life of her child to the holiness. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us see how the Orthodox Christianity honors women. Let us honor today the holy Myrrh-bearing Women, as well as all holy Christian women, all Christian mothers and pray the Lord that He may bless them with the grace to be loving, caring, faithful and courageous in their life of faith, in their endeavors of motherhood and in their striving for salvation.”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to repeat the main ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated all female parishioners on the occasion of this Orthodox women’s day.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed a nice company and delicious refreshments.

Sunday of St. Thomas

On April 19, on the Sunday of Antipascha, or Sunday of St. Thomas, we had a nice celebration in our church. The Rector of St. George, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:

“One week after Pascha we celebrate Sunday of St. Thomas. It is a feast to commemorate a wonderful moment in the life of that disciple of Christ – the moment of recognizing his Lord and his God, Jesus Christ. The icon picturing that moment is called “The Recognition”. The Gospel story of that had been read today. Thomas refused to believe in Christ’s Resurrection until Jesus appeared to him and offered to touch His risen Body, to put a finger into the print of the nails, to reach the hand and to put it into Jesus’ side. At that moment Thomas recognized Jesus and professed Him to be his Lord and his God.”
“St. Thomas required proof of Christ’s Resurrection. It happens very often that people want to see the proof of things coming from God, of things of a supernatural nature. Those things are hard or impossible to reach using our human mind, our human knowledge or our human senses. They require us to have faith. Therefore, they may not be proved if we rely only on our reason, knowledge or senses. Many people refuse to believe in God or in other things revealed by God without proof. They say, “Show me, prove it to me and I will believe!” But they do not want to believe. They want to know. These are different things. Faith is not knowledge. Faith is a special state of our soul which allows us to accept things our mind refuses to accept. Faith is beyond the reason, it is above the reason. This is why it is so precious and valuable.”
“When we read different Gospel stories of the great miracles Jesus performed, we notice that very often He stresses the importance of faith for those who are being saved, cured or delivered from evil. Several times we hear from the Lord: “Your faith had saved you…” The Lord desires to act through our faith. He wishes our participation, our cooperation, our response to His miraculous power. You need to have faith in order to be saved. And you need to have faith if you wish that the Lord’s power would act upon you.”
“In some comedy movie a minister preached about faith and said: “If I don’t see my eye brows, it doesn’t mean they are not there, above my eyes. Thus if I don’t see God, it doesn’t mean He is not above me.” It could be meant as a joke about religion. But it makes sense. How can we claim that something is not real, only because we are unable to see it? How can we say that something is not true if we are unable to see our own eye brows? Well, we may touch our eye brows and know that they are there. But our knowledge will be limited. In order to see them, we would need a mirror. We may see them only in our reflection.”
“Comparing this to our today’s celebration of St. Thomas Sunday, we should admit that if we use only our human senses, it would be impossible to prove that God exists, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man, that He was truly risen from the dead, and that the whole our religion has a value. All these things are above our human understanding. But if we have faith, if we use it, God will open our eyes and show us Himself. St. Thomas required proof, but when Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him, he stopped requiring, he simply recognized His Lord and His God. Jesus Christ is that mirror that may show us God. He became Man, became our reflection in order to show us the reflection of God, to reveal us God who is invisible and beyond our comprehension. Through faith in Jesus Christ God will reveal Himself to us. And we will be able to recognize Him and to exclaim with St. Thomas: “My Lord and my God!”

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English repeating the main thoughts of his Russian homily. He then distributed the Artos, a Paschal bread blessed on the feast of the Resurrection, to the faithful.



On April 12 of this year 2015 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 11. 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. The 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. He pointed out that different religions claim to be correct, but only in Christian faith Lord Jesus proved Himself to be true God and Finisher of faith because He was truly risen from the dead.

Following main services the Rector 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 10, 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 the end of Vespers Fr. Igor reminded parishioners of the great and special significance of the Holy Friday and the services of that day.  Due to the importance of that die of the Savior’s death for human Redemption faithful have to attend services on that day and to unite spiritually with Jesus who died for them. Unfortunately, many Christians may be busy with the affairs of their life, so they miss this important opportunity.

 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.


Holy and Great Thursday

On April 9, 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 celebration of the remembrance of the Lord’s institution of the Holy Sacraments of Eucharist and Priesthood. Especially, Fr. Igor congratulated those who received Holy Communion at that special Liturgy.

Patronal feast in Flushing, NY

On April 7, on the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God, our neighboring parish, a Russian Orthodox Church in Flushing, NY celebrated its Patronal feast. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov visited that temple and participated in its celebration. Vespers with the Divine Liturgy was served by His Grace, Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan with the ROCOR clergy and Fr. Igor concelebrating.

Some of our parishioners, including our Warden, Olga Roussanow attended that celebration.

Following the beautiful hierarchical service clergy and the faithful continued the Patronal feast celebration in the church hall. They had an opportunity to enjoy lenten but delicious meals and a nice company. Members of the clergy made toasts having interesting and instructive speeches. Our Rector, Fr. Igor had a speech also. He welcomed our Flushing neighbors to visit our temple, inviting them to come for our own Patronal feast of St. George (on May 6). He also expressed a desire that the brotherly ties between our parishes, as well as between Patriarchal Parishes and the ROCOR will become stronger and have a fruitful and successful future.


Palm Sunday

On April 5, 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:

“There are different holy days in our Church calendar. Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem. It is a tragic feast. It appears to be joyful and bright, it feels like a joyful occasion. And it was supposed to be. Today our Lord Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem. The Messiah came to His capital city. The people greeted Him there, met Him with honor, paid Him homage. Jesus was greeted as a true king of Israel. One of the signs of such welcome was holding the palm and olive branches, the sign we are using to greet the Lord when we bless and pick up the pussy-willows. Despite that, this is a sad feast.”
“The tragedy of Palm Sunday lies in the fact that all this exciting welcome and all this triumphal entry into the city is based on a terrible misunderstanding. The Jews misunderstood Jesus. They expected Him to be a powerful political leader, an earthly ruler, a great liberator who would restore the kingdom of Israel, chase away the Romans and establish a perfect society on earth. Even His miracles were understood not as a manifestation of His divine power and nature, but as a proof of His earthly greatness. Our Lord resurrected Lazarus who had been dead for four days. Today’s Gospel reading mentions that this was the reason why people came to meet Him, “because they heard that He had done this sign” (Jn. 12, 18).””
“Our Lord Jesus Christ was the true Messiah and Savior of the world. This is exactly why He was not an earthly leader. He was the Son of God who became the Son of Man in order to make us the sons of God. Somehow the Jewish leaders did not grasp it. Jesus disappointed them as an earthly king, so they crucified Him. Their excitement and joy of welcoming Him had changed to hatred and desire to put Him to death. The crowd who cried out, “Hosanna!” cried “Crucify Him!” This is why this feast is so tragic. It shows us how shallow, how superficial our human understanding can be. We may easily prefer unimportant things over God Himself. The Jews rejected Jesus, rejected God when He could not satisfy their earthly plans. More than that, they even killed Him.”
“In response to that Jesus said: “Behold, your house is left to you desolate” (Mt. 23, 38). That what happens when God is rejected. Our life becomes desolate; it becomes empty. For there is only one thing which may turn the wilderness of our life into a flowering garden, which would make our life complete, which would make the human society efficient – this one thing is the presence of the Living God who gives an eternal sense to all which is temporary. This is the same Living God who gives His life-giving force to the nature, so every spring we observe with awe and excitement how the branches of the trees become blooming and alive again, how the first flowers emerge after the cold winter. The pussy-willows we are holding today are also the sign of the Living God present in the nature.”
““Your house is left desolate”… The people were looking for earthly freedom, earthly victory, earthly power. They never found it, or if they did, it never lasted long. Only dust and ashes or the tombs were left after those who were looking for these things. Our Lord Jesus, on the contrary, did not use the power to rule, but His kingdom will have no end. He rose from the grave and lives forever. He offers us life everlasting if we allow Him to fill our lives.”
“This is why today’s feast is so tragic. A great number of people is going to reject their true God. A small number is going to follow Him and receive what He had promised them: life, and life to the fullest. A great misunderstanding happened. For one kind of people their house becomes empty, yet others enter into the house of God and themselves become the temple of the Holy Spirit, the house of life.”

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, kontakion and the magnification of the feast.

The Rector preached a short sermon in Russian explaining the ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated 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 Annointing of the Sick

On April 4, 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.

Our Rector attended Bishop’s Council Meeting

On Tuesday, March 31, under the chairmanship of His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, a regular session of the Bishop’s Council was held in the refectory of St. Nicholas Church in Bayonne, NJ. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, being an alternative member of the Council, attended that meeting.

After the singing of “O Heavenly King”, Bishop John greeted the assembled members of the Bishop’s Council. In his introduction, Bishop John acquainted the council members with the important documents recently published by the Hierarchal Retreat of the Russian Orthodox Church in February of 2015. His Grace also discussed the proposed plans to celebrate the 1000th Anniversary of the Repose of St. Vladimir of Kiev and the 70th Anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II. 

Archpriest George Konyev presented the council with the final print of the Statues of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA as well as the Official Photograph of His Grace Bishop John. 

Treasurer Panagiotis Billis presented the council with a comprehensive financial report and budget for 2015. 

The members heard reports relating to various administrative and pastoral issues facing the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. 

The council then heard a report from Rdr. George Konyev and approved the final printing of clergy identification cards.  In addition, a report was given on the visitor statistics of the English language website of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA as the one-year anniversary of the website’s operation is approaching. 

Bishop John thanked all the members for traveling to Bayonne for the meeting and wished all a peaceful remainder of Great Lent and a joyous celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. He also thanked parish rector, Fr. Mikhail Kapchits for his parish’s hospitality in hosting the meeting. Before departing back to their home parishes, the council members had an opportunity for Bishop to personally sign the Official portrait.

The meeting concluded with the singing of “It is Truly Meet.”

Lenten Vespers at Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ

On the evening of the Fifth Sunday of Lent, St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and parish Warden, Olga Roussanow went to Garfield, NJ to pray at Vespers service held at Three Saints Church. On that day Three Saints Church was visited by His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk. The Lenten “Mission” vespers have been a longstanding tradition within the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. It allows parishioners from various parishes to be joined in common prayer before the Great Feast of the Resurrection of Christ. 

The Vespers service was led by the Dean of the Eastern States, Archpriest Mikhail Kapchits. Fr. Michael was co-served by a number of clergy from our Patriarchal Parishes, as well as one priest from the OCA. 

Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov was asked and blessed by Bishop John to preach at this Vespers. Thus after the singing of the Great Prokimenon he delivered a sermon on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt. 

At the conclusion of the Vespers Service, Bishop John greeted the assembled clergy and faithful, and wished them God’s blessings as we complete Great Lent.