8th Sunday after Pentecost. Celebration of the Millennium of St. Vladimir


On July 26 our parish celebrated 8th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils. On that day we also celebrated feast of St. Vladimir which was transferred to Sunday due to this year’s Millennium jubilee of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Prince of Rus’.
St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:

“Today we heard the Gospel story of a miraculous feeding of the five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Our Lord Jesus Christ worked a great miracle: a large number of people were fed with such a small amount of food. It is interesting that this miracle is described in all 4 Gospels. It makes us understand how important this event was among the other works of our Savior.”
“The Gospel of Matthew which we heard today tells that Jesus seeing so many people following Him He “was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Mt. 14, 14). After that, also due to His compassion He decides to feed these people with 5 breads. This is a very elementary work – to feed the hungry, a basic work of mercy. And the Lord does it in a perfect, miraculous way. We might consider that this is the fulfillment of His mission – to heal the sick, to feed the hungry and to make everybody happy. Many Jews expected their Messiah to do just that – to build a perfect society, to give enough food, a lot of wealth and to make Israel strong and independent country. But we should know that the real mission of the Son of God was not directly related to the things of this world. He brought us salvation from sin, not from poverty or starvation. He came to redeem us from the captivity of the evil one, and not to provide us with a good lifestyle. Our Lord wished to give us the real and eternal life, a life truly abundant, and not just good life here on earth.”
“Many people wished to build a better society, to make a good life only here, on earth. For instance, the Socialists used to exclaim: “First feed the hungry and then demand them to be moral!” They promised good life here if they overthrow the governments and the kings and build their societies based on social justice. But when they succeeded, they created much worse life with more oppression of the people, and they could not solve even social problems. The hungry were still around and even grew in their number.”
“This is why our Lord Jesus Christ in the very beginning of His mission, when He was tempted in the wilderness, rejected the proposal of the devil to command the stones to become bread. If He did He could feed all the hungry, to solve a social problem. But Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4, 4). Only the knowledge of the will of God can make us happy. Without that knowledge we won’t be able to solve any social problem.”
“Therefore, the significance of the miracle of feeding those 5 thousand people with 5 loaves of bread is not about giving food. It is about making the people partakers of the divine presence, making them connected to God. This miracle is the image of the Holy Eucharist, a mystery in which our earthly bread becomes the Body of Christ. The same Jesus Christ becomes multiplied as those 5 loaves of bread to be consumed not by 5 thousand men, but by all the faithful who are willing to receive Him. Christ is not divided; He remains the same. As it is written in today’s Epistle, Christ does not divide. Yet in every church, at every Divine Liturgy Christ is being distributed to the partakers of the Holy Communion. Christ cannot be consumed. Yet every time we receive Communion we consume Him. Isn’t that a miracle? And this miracle happens every time we participate in the Liturgy.”
The Rector further spoke about the great mission of St. Vladimir who baptized our ancestors, the people of Rus’, more than a millennium ago. In this way our holy Baptizer made our people also the partakers of the divine presence, made them members of the Body of Christ.
The Rector concluded saying, “Keeping this in mind, let us appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving gift of the Eucharist He gave us. Let us strive for eternal, spiritual and truly real things instead of temporary, material and passing things of this world. For were our treasure is, our heart will be also.”

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers came out of the sanctuary to the middle of the temple and performed the rite of Glorification before the image of St. Vladimir singing the troparion and kontakion in his honor.

After the service the Rector congratulated our Warden and Choir Director Olga Roussanow on the occasion of her past name day, the memory of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Princess Olga celebrated two days before. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. A toast to Olga Roussanow celebrating her name day was made by the Rector, and a “Mnogaia leta!” was sung again.

7th Sunday after Pentecost


On July 19, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church, served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Holy Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

”Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel is about healings of the blind men and of a man who was demon possessed. There are many similar stories of healing in the Scripture. And we should notice that each time our Lord Jesus Christ performs the miracle of healing He asks: “Do you believe? Do you believe that I am able to do this?” When our Lord asks these questions he is knocking at the door of the hearts of men. He is looking for an opening to be let in, so that not only healing, but salvation may occur. This is described for us in the Book of Revelation of St. John where it says “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Rev. 3, 20).”
”While the Lord knocks at the door of our hearts, it takes action or faith on our part to let Him in. We must then also knock at His door and ask for salvation. This is confirmed in the words of our Lord when He says “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Lk. 11, 9).”
”We see both of these aspects of knocking at the door in today’s Gospel. The first knock is in the two blind men calling after Jesus “Son of David, have mercy on us.” (Mt. 9, 27) St. Simeon the New Theologian describes this knock at the door by the blind men in the following manner: “He who prays according to the flesh, and does not also have spiritual understanding is like the blind man that cried out “Son of David, have mercy on me!” But another blind man when he received his sight and saw the Lord, no longer saw Him as the Son of David, but as the Son of God. (Jn. 9, 35-38)” Thus, any knock at the door must be to bring us to God. This is why Christ does not immediately respond to these men. Jesus does not respond because He wants their thirst for God to increase.”
“The second knock is when Jesus asks them “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Mt. 9, 28). Our Lord does this so that they may publicly proclaim their action of faith when they say “Yes Lord.” This should remind us that our faith is not just a personal thing that we keep to ourselves. Faith is something that must be proclaimed in order to bring others to faith.”
“When the men respond with the words “Yes Lord”, they leave their fleshly or earthly understanding behind and embrace the spiritual understanding. This is accomplished through their use of the word ‘Lord’. They no longer recognize Jesus as the Son of David but as the Lord, the Son of God, the God-Man, the Savior of the world. Thus, they are not only healed of their infirmity but they are brought to salvation. This is confirmed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans when he says “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom.10, 13).”
”All too often we seek after God through miraculous signs of His action in creation and fail to see the spiritual miracles that occur around us. St. John Chrysostom speaks of this in the following manner: “Do not therefore seek signs, but the soul’s health. Seek not to see one dead man raised; nay, for you have learned that the whole world is arising. Seek not to see a blind man healed, but behold all now restored unto that better and more profitable sight; and do you too learn to look chastely, and amend your eye.””
“So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, seek not after miracles. Seek rather after salvation for Christ is knocking at the door of your heart. Open the door of your hearts to Him that you may enter into the New Creation and receive the spiritual miracles that will change you and the world around you. Though this change you will be able to respond truly: “Yes, Lord, I believe” and to receive according to our faith.”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy he Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main thoughts of his English sermon.

6th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of St. Peter and Paul

On July 12, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul, our parish held a nice liturgical celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English version of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 6th Sunday after Pentecost and feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul. Today’s first Gospel reading is a continuation of the story about our Lord Jesus Christ told last Sunday. A week ago we heard that Jesus was asked by the people of the country of Gargesines to leave their region. Thus “He got into a boat, crossed over and came to His own city” (Mt. 9, 1). This was the city of Capernaum which served as our Lord’s headquarters. Now we hear of another miracle Jesus performed: healing of the paralytic. The Gospel lesson of today tells us about the divine power of our Lord Jesus Christ. It shows us three signs of such a power Christ had as the Son of God.”
“First power is that He knew the secrets of hearts. Hearing that Jesus grants the paralyzed man forgiveness of sins, the scribes who were present there start thinking that Jesus is blaspheming. But Jesus reads their minds and argues with them openly. Only God can fully know the secrets of our hearts, only God can read our minds. Second power is that Jesus could grant the forgiveness of sins. No one but God can forgive sins. The scribes were correct in that. But they had no faith that Jesus is God. Thus He has a power to forgive sins. Here we see the third sign of the divine power of Christ – that He can heal the disease merely by His word.”
“Today’s first Gospel lesson may teach us also about our reception of the divine power coming from our Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to be His Church, a gathering of people which constantly practices the reception and acquiring of that power. And in order to be the Church we need faith.”
“Today’s second Gospel lesson is dedicated to the feast of St. Peter and Paul. It is also about faith necessary for acquiring the divine power from Christ. When Jesus asked His Disciples what they would say about Him, St. Peter expressed their faith and confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). That kind of faith of the Apostles made them able to receive the Holy Spirit and to become the Church. The Lord speaks about this Church in our second Gospel lesson. He tells Peter that on him, as on the rock, He will build His Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16, 18). The Church is founded on a solid rock, on the faith of the Apostles expressed by Peter when he confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And that very faith allowed the Apostles to receive from Christ the power to bind and loose the sins of men. The Lord today in the Gospel is telling Peter, “And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16, 19). If in today’s first Gospel lesson the people are amazed that Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic, then according to the second Gospel reading, a similar power is possessed not only by Christ, but also by His Church, personally by the Apostles. And that power the Apostles transmitted to their successors, the Bishops. And by today Christ continues to forgive our sins, but through His Church, through the power He gave to her because of the faith of His Disciples.”
“The faith of Peter was the same as the faith of other Holy Apostles. This is why we believe that all of them were that ‘rock’, that foundation on which Jesus could build His Church. Roman Catholics believe that Jesus gave His power only to St. Peter and to his successors, the Bishops of Rome. Thus Catholics think that the Bishop of Rome has universal jurisdiction over all the Church. We, Orthodox Christians, believe that not only Peter, but all the Apostles possessed that power and those keys of the Kingdom of Heaven because they shared the same firm faith with St. Peter.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, in order to receive the gift of the life-giving, healing and forgiving power of Christ, we need faith. We need such a faith that Jesus saw in St. Peter and in all His Apostles. Similar faith was seen in those people, the paralytic’s friends who brought him to Jesus. Their collective faith became a reason for Christ to perform the miracle of healing. And collective faith of the Apostles became a reason of granting them the power to bind and loose the sins of men. The same faith makes us the Church of Christ. And then not only on St. Peter, as Catholics think, but on all other Christians believing in Christ, the Son of the living God, the Lord founds and builds His Church. He founds it on a rock of faith. And we are called to be such a rock.”
“May our faith, the faith of Christ and the faith of the Apostles save us!”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed the rite of Glorification in the middle of the temple singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.Following that the Rector preached a short sermon in English conveying main ideas of his Russian homily.

After the liturgical service we continued to celebrate feast at our trapeza enjoying delicious meals and a nice company.

5th Sunday after Pentecost


On July 5, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Today’s Gospel lesson is about casting out the demons who possessed two men in the country of Gergesines. It is telling us that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to bring salvation to the human race. Even before dying for us on the cross and being risen from the dead, He rescued people from different forms of evil. He healed the sick, but His sovereign power was not only over physical infirmity. Mental illnesses, demonic possessions were also subject to His miraculous power.”
“But today’s reading also shows us how limited is our human understanding of divine works, how ungrateful people may be towards their greatest Benefactor. After our Lord healed two demoniacs, the whole city came to meet Jesus and begged Him to depart from their region. Despite a great blessing He bestowed upon them, these people did not want Him to stay. To some extent, this was due to the fact that those people were pagans. As such, they could not appreciate mission of Christ. However, similar things always happen. The joyful fact is that the Lord wishes all of us to be saved. The sad fact is that not everybody wishes to respond to that willingness.        “
“After His Resurrection our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the holy Apostles to “go and teach all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28, 19). They did so. Thus we sing honoring the Apostles: “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 18, 4) Many pagan nations received the Gospel of Christ and became faithful to the Savior of the world. Presently, all the nations of the world have Christian people who follow the teaching of our Lord. But since the human nature is still imperfect and inclined to evil, there is a great resistance to the divine grace and the Word of God to be spread. Opposing the Word of God to be spread and resisting the divine grace to be bestowed upon them, people help only their enemy and act against themselves.”
”One of the forms of such opposition is persecution of the Church. St. Augustine observed the following: “The first persecution of the Church when Christians were forced to bring sacrifice to idols by threat of exile, torture and death, was carried out by force. The second persecution the Church endures is from false teachers and false brethren, and is carried out by means of craftiness and deceit. The third persecution will be from the Antichrist, and will be the most dangerous of all, because it will be accompanied by force, craftiness and deceit.” It seems like that third persecution is taking place in our days. In some places the force is being used against the Church. It was done in our old countries under the Communists. It is still done in some places ruled by Communists, like in North Korea. Recently we heard about terrible crimes against Christians committed by the Moslem extremists in the Middle East.”
”Now we also see many false teachings, as well as a lot of deceit and opposition to the true faith. Jesus is asked to depart again and again from our lives. In fact, He is asked to leave this country by some its inhabitants who don’t want prayer in schools, mentioning God’s name in the pledge of allegiance, who wish to remove God from the courts and other public places. They also became very successful in legalizing such hideous iniquities like murdering the unborn children and entering into same-sex relations. The Supreme Court of the United States approved abortions 41 years ago and it recently decided that same-sex marriage should be legalized in the whole country. What can we say?! Let these people beware! Because if they chase out God and Jesus who can make lives blessed, they invite evil into their lives, and that evil one will make their lives miserable. It is like we say in our Holy Week hymns about Judas, “Now he is leaving Christ and accepts the devil”.”
”Dear brothers and sisters! Reflecting upon all these unpleasant things, let us more appreciate the treasure of the true and orthodox faith we possess. Let us always welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives, our works, our families. Let us be grateful for the salvation He performed for us and for delivering us from evil. Our Lord is the only one who can make us happy. Thus let us not ask Him to depart, but to stay with us forever.”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying the main thoughts of his English homily. He also congratulated our long-time parishioner Natalia (Dolores) Soho on the occasion of her past 84th birthday. Traditional “Many years” was sung.