12th Sunday after Pentecost

On August 23, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.

Following the Gospel reading he preached a homily in English. He explained the Gospel story about a young man who asked Jesus what to do to have eternal life. The answer of Christ was, “If you want to enter into life, keep the Commandments” (Mt. 19, 16). So, in order to be saved we need to keep the God’s Law. But if the young man in today’s Gospel have kept the Commandments, most of us do not. The young man wished to go further and asked what is lacking. Jesus told him to give up his wealth. This was too hard for the young man because he was attached to his possessions. Thus the Lord said that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Mt. 19, 23). When the Apostles were astonished and asked, “Who then may be saved?” (Mt. 19, 25), the Lord proclaimed that things impossible with men are possible with God (Mt. 19, 26). Fr. Igor further preached that without God we cannot do anything for our salvation. We need God’s help, His divine grace. But this does not mean that we can sit back and let God do the work for us. We need to cooperate with Him. And we need to keep the Commandments and live a Christian life. If we do our part, God will do His part. If we do what is possible, God will do what is impossible.  Since we still celebrate feast of the Transfiguration, this holy event teaches us that through Christ we are able to become the partakers of His divine nature, to become divine being human. Thus, the grace of God can assist us in our own transfiguration to become able to be with God in the eternity. And He will make us worthy to enter into His eternal Kingdom.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector called the parishioners to make a good preparation for the holy day of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God which will be celebrated next Friday.

Transfiguration of the Lord

On August 19 the Orthodox Christians celebrate great holy day of Transfiguration of the Lord. We had a beautiful celebration of that solemnity at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily:

“Today we celebrate the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Once more time in our life we are spiritually present on the Mt. Tabor. Through the eyes of faith together with the holy Apostles Peter, James and John who came to that mountain along with the Lord Jesus Christ we are seeing the glory of God during the sacred moments of that holy event. This happened not long before the holy Passions and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
”You know that the Son of God who came down to our earth for the sake of eternal salvation of the people, appeared not in His Divine glory. If He did so, He would blind us, the sinful people, with His Divine light. But He came to us in a humble appearance, covering His divinity with the image of man. Here, on the mountain of Transfiguration, He showed Himself in the shining of His glory in which He is staying forever and in which He will be seen by those of us who by his or her life will become worthy of that.”
“On the mountain of Transfiguration along with the Lord holy Apostles saw the Prophets Moses and Elijah. Moses lived 16 centuries before the birth of Christ, and Elijah 9 centuries before. That means that Moses and Elijah aren’t dead, they are alive. They were alive on the day when the Apostles saw them, they are living today, and they will be living in the infinite ages because God in Whom we believe, as the Scripture says, “is not God of the dead but of the living” (Mt. 22, 32). In the Lord all are living. Thus the Apostles seeing the Prophets who for that moment appeared from the heavenly world, saw the confirmation of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “He who believes in Me has life everlasting” (Jn. 6, 47).”
“It is then understood why holy Prophets Moses and Elijah appeared at the time of Transfiguration. We may ask then why the Lord chose only three of His disciples to follow Him to the Mt. Tabor and to sow His glory only to them. St. John of Damascus explains that saying that holy Apostle Peter was taken because he confessed the faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Such a faith needed to be confirmed, and it was confirmed when Jesus showed His Divine nature. Holy Apostle James was chosen because he was the one who was to die first for Christ, to be baptized in the bath of blood shed for the Lord. And, finally, holy Apostle John the Theologian was chosen to come with the Lord to the Mt. Tabor because He was the special disciple, a virgin saint, the one who had to write in his Gospel that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1, 1). And He saw in the Transfiguration that the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, was with God.”
“Yet another reason why our Lord did not show His Divine nature to all of His Apostles was because He did not wish to show it to His betrayer, to Judas. Transfiguration had to be a secret until the death and Resurrection of Christ. Now that secret is revealed to us, the Christian people. Let us then be worthy of it. Let us not allow the sin to destroy our relations with God and His trust to us. Let us be watchful because sin deprives us of the joy to see the Lord and to be with Him in eternity.”
“Therefore, we are asking today that the Lord Who transfigured upon the Mt. Tabor may enlighten our souls. We are asking that the everlasting light of His divinity may shine for us the sinners and may show us the way we should follow to pass our earthly life. May it shine to make us worthy of the dignity we are given, the dignity to be the dwellers of the heavenly Jerusalem.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us live with the Lord and let us die with the Lord. And may our heart learn to foretaste the joy to see the Lord, to worship Him and to be with Him forever!”

The choir was prayerfully singing festal hymns, especially during the time of preparation for the Communion.

After the Prayer behind the Ambo the Rector performed the traditional blessing of fruits brought by the parishioners to the temple.

Following the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Igor congratulated faithful on the occasion of the great holy day of the Lord. He also expressed his condolences to Anastasia Flora for the loss of her father-in-law who passed away a day ago. The Rector asked to pass his sympathy to her husband, Elisey Flora.

After the Prayers of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion the Rector performed the Memorial service (Litia) to commemorate the newly departed Milodrag Flora.


11th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 16, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish. After the Gospel reading he preached a homily in English:

“Our Gospel lesson for today is telling us a story, a parable about a merciful king and an unmerciful lender (Mt. 18, 23-35). It is supposed to teach us to forgive. Let us interpret that parable to understand it better.”
“The king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants is God. He is our Master and Benefactor, and we are His servants and we owe Him a lot. But God is merciful and forgiving. His mercy is unlimited. That unlimited mercy and forgiveness of God is illustrated by today’s parable. The king forgives the debt of his servant, so God forgives a multitude of our sins. Thus, a debt to the king described in today’s parable is a sin against God. We are in debt to God because we commit sins. This debt originates with our neglect of God’s will.”
“Ten thousand talents the servant owed to the king is an impossible sum. It was more than a laborer could earn during his all lifetime!  Thinking of that we may see that we owe God all our life. It is a gift from God. But this life of ours is full of sins and mistakes. It could be impossible to pay this debt off. But God is merciful as the king in this parable. A hundred denarii is contrasted to the 10,000  talents. It was equivalent to about a hundred days’ wages. Thinking of that we may understand that our fellow men are usually owing us much less than we owe God.”
“Just as the king in the parable showed mercy toward his servant who fell down before him and asked to have patience with him (Mt. 18, 26), so does God show love toward us if we ask for forgiveness, if we repent. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we need to fall before God asking Him to be patient with us, we need to ask for His mercy. The best way is to show not only humility and sorrow, but true repentance – a desire to make things better, a desire to change for better.  We need to practice receiving the Mystery of Confession. True confession provides that no matter how great and terrible our sins are, if we sincerely repent, we receive forgiveness, our sins are absolved. Our debt is written off.”
“And on the other hand, just as the king showed strictness toward the servant when he found out that the servant himself had no compassion, so does God shows strictness toward us if we do not repent our own sins or do not forgive others for their trespasses against us. Our Lord Jesus Christ concludes today’s parable saying, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Mt. 18, 35).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel parable teaches us that because God forgives us, we in return are obliged to grant this gift of forgiveness to others. When each Christian forgives from his heart, true reconciliation and healing come to the Church by God’s grace. Therefore, let us ask God to forgive our debts to Him which are great, and let us forgive others their debts to us which are certainly not so great. Let us grow in love and forgiveness, so the Lord will bestow His mercy and compassion on us.”

Following the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian to stress the main thoughts of today’s Gospel lesson. He also reminded parishioners about the Dormition fast that began on the past Friday, as well as invited them to attend the Liturgy on the coming feast of Transfiguration (on Wednesday, August 19).

10th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 9, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost and on the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr Panteleimon, we had a nice liturgical celebration in our church. The Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Scripture readings he preached a homily in Russian. An English version of that homily is as follows:

“Today’s lesson from the Gospel is about casting out the demon. It is again about faith. We spoke about faith last time. Today we may be convinced again how faith is important.”
”The child possessed by a demon described in today’s Gospel was tormented in different ways. Sometimes he would fall into the fire, at other times he would fall into the water (Mt. 17, 15). In other words the demon, who lived inside the son, was trying to destroy him by burning him to death or drowning him, in order to occupy that soul to all eternity.”
“The falling into fire and water also show us how the demons abuse God’s creation. Fire is not a tool with which to burn and destroy, but a gift of God for heating, cooking and other useful activities. Water is not a tool with which to drown, but a gift of God for drinking and washing and other useful activities. Moreover, we can see how fire is also a symbol of the fire of passion and anger which can possess those who are attacked by demons, and water is a symbol of the waves of melancholy which can also possess those who are attacked by demons.”
”We may wonder how did the demon get inside the man’s son and possess him? To this question we have the reply of Christ: “O faithless and perverse generation” (Mt. 17, 17). The demon came into possession of the son through unbelief, faithlessness. Not only the son’s unbelief, but also the unbelief of the father and others around the son who could have cared for him and given him faith. However, as with everything that God allows to happen, there is a positive, providential aspect to this illness. It is clear that because of the illness of the son, the father has been brought to know humility. Thus he calls Christ, “Lord” and asks, “Have mercy on my son” (Mt. 15, 17). This shows humility, not pride. God gives His grace to the humble ones. Thus the possessed son of the humble father was healed.”
”Understanding that, we may still ask: What is the solution to the sickness of the son? The answer is “prayer and fasting”, for this is how Christ casts the demon out of the son (Mt. 17, 21). Prayer and fasting are the deepening of faith. The Fathers of the Church call prayer and fasting a “two-edged sword”.”
“Prayer and fasting are the most important actions of faith. If we do them, we show our faith. And we know that faith is able to work great miracles. Today we celebrate feast of the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon. He performed many miracles during his life. His first miracle was made even before he we became a Christian. St. Panteleimon believed in Christ but was not yet baptized when he encountered a child who was bitten by a snake. The child was dead or dying. St. Panteleimon began to pray fervently to Jesus Christ. And a miraculous thing occurred: the child became healed and the snake exploded into pieces. See, how great things the Lord accomplishes if we believe and pray!
In other words, where there is prayer and fasting, there is faith. And as St. Theophan the Recluse wrote: “Where there is no prayer and fasting, there are the demons”.”
“Referring to the word of St Theophan, we could say therefore that much of the modern world has become the dwelling-place of demons. It seems that each day that passes brings us news of some new instability, some new disaster and misfortune.”
“The fact is that, whenever we are faithless and cease to pray and to fast, then we lose the protection of the grace of God and we are besieged by demons and the world falls into fire or water. For instance, sometimes we can hear that terrible crimes happen in small towns. These are the places where nothing could ever happen.  In Russia before the Revolution people said the same thing, but holy men like St Theophan the Recluse, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St John of Kronstadt and many others, all correctly prophesied that if people did not return to faithfulness, to prayer and fasting, then a great disaster would befall them. And so it happened and Russia became the favorite resort of the demons: “Where there is no prayer and fasting, there are the demons”.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! As today’s Gospel has made clear, you need prayer and fasting, thus you need faith. It is all a question of faith. Let us then be faithful.”

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of the first-year birthday of Yelena Malyshew. Little 1-year old Yelena is our youngest parishioner who was borought to the church almost every Sunday and all this time participated in our Eucharistic life receiving Holy Communion. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.

After the services our celebration continued at the trapeza table. A toast to little Yelena was made and a cupcake with a candle presented along with the singing of “Happy Birthday”. The Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

9th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of the Holy Prophet Elias


On August 2 the Church celebrates feast of the Holy Prophet Elias (Elijah). This year it fell on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Scripture readings he preached a homily:

”In today’s Gospel we hear how our Lord came to His disciples walking on the water in the midst of a storm. We hear how St. Peter through faith joins Him on the water. Then Peter becomes distracted by the storm and cries out “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14, 30). Our Lord reaches out and catches him and says “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14, 31).”
”In this Gospel we see the power of faith. We see that if we have faith we can perform miraculous things. Our Lord reminds of this when he says the following “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Mt. 17, 20) and again “Truly I say unto you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say unto this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done.”(Mt. 21, 21).”
“Celebrating today feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah we could recall another miracle with the waters. The holy man took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, and the water of Jordan divided, so Elias and Elisha could cross the river walking on the dry bottom (2 Kings, 2, 8). Many other miracles performed the holy Prophet. They all were done due to his firm faith. God worked them through His holy man. And the most astonishing miracle happened to Elijah was his taking up to heaven in a fiery chariot. We know that every man has to die due to the sin of Adam. But some holy people were exempt from that. The Old Testament Patriarch Enoch did not die but was taken by God (Gen. 5, 24). And Prophet Elijah was taken by God like into heaven (2 Kings, 2, 11-12). We should also recall that the Most Holy Mother of God was taken into heaven along with Her body and soul, after Her Dormition. But that happened after our Lord accomplished His mission of salvation, so heaven became open to the people. The Most Holy Theotokos was taken there along with Her body and She did not taste death. But before the redemption holy people could not reach Heavenly Kingdom. Enoch and Elijah did not die, but were not transferred to heaven. The Holy Fathers point out that they were taken by God to some secret place where they await the Last Judgment. All these astonishing things happened to them because of their great faith.”
“When we have faith we embark on a spiritual path that leads to God. That path often appears dangerous. As we see with St. Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water in the midst of a storm. Elijah also did have fears and doubts, but God comforted him and he proceeded on his path of godly life. But if we have any doubt as we walk this spiritual path then the troubles and cares of this world overwhelm us. We become preoccupied with the storms that are around us because we lose our focus on God. This is what happened to St. Peter when he began to sink. He lost his focus on the Savior and placed his focus on the storm around him. When he did this he lost the grace that was given to him when he stepped out of the boat in faith. This should remind us as our Lord said “without Me you can do nothing” (Jn.15, 5).”
”When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us we have a choice to make. That choice is, do we place our trust in the Savior to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us. This is the same choice that St. Peter was confronted with as he was sinking in the water. When we are in this situation we can do two things the first is call out as Peter did “Lord, save me!” or “curse God, and die.”(Job 2, 9) as Job’s wife told him in the midst of his afflictions.”
”If we choose to follow St. Peter’s example and cry out “Lord, save me!”, then we will find that the Savior is ready to reach out His hand and pull us out of the storm of temptations just like he did for Saint Peter in the Gospel. This example shows us that the Lord is always there for us. How can we not see that the Lord is there for us then why do we doubt? It is because we are fainthearted and do not place our trust in the Lord. There are many examples for us in the Scripture that show us that we should rejoice in the Lord and trust in Him when we are in our greatest affliction. As we said, some of those examples concern holy Prophet Elijah whom we honor today.”
“With the remembrance of these examples we should not be given over to despair but should be strengthened in our faith that the Lord will save us so that we can say as the Blessed King David said “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Your vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto You. For You have delivered my soul from death: will not You deliver my feet from falling” (Ps. 56, 11-13).”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to convey the main ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our younger parishioner and altar server, Ilia Kay, on the occasion of his name day. Fr. Igor praised Ilia’s great devotion to the serving in the altar and his great love for the Church services and wished him all God’s blessings and protection of his patron, Holy Prophet Elijah. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.

Following the service the Rector performed the blessing of the cars of some parishioners who desired to have it done on this feast of St. Elias who is honored as a patron Saint of the drivers.