21st Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council


On October 25, on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, we had a nice celebration in our parish church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Scripture he preached a homily:

“Today’s first Gospel lesson tells us about the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain (Lk. 7, 11-16). Reflecting on that event we may conclude that such a miracle happened for two reasons: because our Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and because He was also the Son of Man.”
“First, we have to say that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Divine Word which created the world. As such, Christ had the power to work miracles, restoring the laws of creation as they had been intended before the fall, when there was no sickness or death. Through miracles He showed this power, the unique power of the Son of God.”
“Secondly, this miracle happened because Jesus was also the Son of Man. Christ in His human nature felt compassion on those who were suffering. In this particular case, there was great reason for compassion. In those days a woman who lost her husband, became a widow was likely to have a miserable life unless she was supported by her children. Now the only son of the widow of Nain was the only one who could take care of her. Without him she could become very poor, she could become a beggar and perhaps could die of starvation on the streets.”
“This miracle of the resurrection of the son of a widow was quite unique, unheard of and unseen in human history – only the Son of God could accomplish this. No human healer can raise from the dead. It occurred at His word because Jesus is the Word of God. It also occurred through His physical touch, because only contact with the divine and immortal nature can confer resurrection, the overriding of death. Only immortality can overcome death, only deathlessness is greater than mortality.”
“This miracle shows that the power of the Holy Spirit flows not from, but through Jesus Christ, through His pure and sinless human nature. Both Christ’s Word and Body are life-giving. This was later proved by His own Resurrection. Now since the Church is the Body of Christ, this means that the same power flows through the Church and confers life, healing and resurrection on all who touch Christ in the Church, participating in the spiritual life of the Church.”
“Celebrating today the memory of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council we need to remember that those were the bishops of the Church who declared certain truths of our faith. And the second Gospel lesson read today which is always assigned for the celebrations of the Fathers of the Councils, tells us about eternal life. In His pontifical prayer our Lord is asking God the Father that His followers may have eternal life. And eternal life is to know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (Jn. 17, 3). Therefore, if we are in the Church then we know the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If we adhere to the Orthodox Church and its teaching, we know true God and may partake of eternal life. As the Holy Spirit flows through Jesus Christ, it flows through the Church and bestows His glory to make us able to receive life everlasting.”
“In addition, we may say that today’s Gospel has also certain mystical or symbolic meanings. The widow described in the story is the soul without God. Such a soul is left miserable, poor and begging. It may soon die. The dead son who was carried outside the town to be buried is the human mind which is outside the Church. It is spiritually dead, unable to understand and speak words of reason. It is fit only for the burial of all its mortal ideas and speculations. The coffin in which the body of the widow’s son was placed is the human body, which when touched by God is thus brought to life. Thus it begins to speak divine words, for now it has something to say, it is no longer mute, but is resurrected from the dead. In this way a human body which is touched by God is a mind raised from death, a soul which lives, human nature restored and saved from death.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us ask the Lord to restore us from the spiritual death around us and within us. Many today’s young people being perfectly alive and relatively healthy, are in fact spiritually dead. Their souls sometimes live without God, their minds are very often wander outside the saving gates of the Church and their bodies are often abused by the sins of flesh, by drugs and alcohol. Let us pray so the Lord will wake them up by His life-giving Word and restore them to life by His divine touch as He restored to life the son of the widow of Nain. Let us strive for eternal life which is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”

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

20th Sunday after Pentecost. Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


On October 18, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. On this day we also observed great feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God which had been transferred to Sunday. After the Gospel readings the Rector preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“The words of our Lord Jesus Christ that we heard in today’s Gospel lesson may sound to us little strange and too demanding. The Lord says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?.. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” (Lk. 6, 32-33). He goes on and says, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Lk. 6, 35). We may notice that such rules are not very much followed among the people. Jesus says that sinners do good to those who do good to them. Thus the rules of this world are the rules for the sinners. But we, if we wish to be the followers of our Lord, need to have different rules, a different way of life. Then we could be called Christians and be worthy of such name.”
“If we read the Gospel we may notice that our Lord Jesus Christ very often taught His disciples to be a little better than average people. He said, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mt. 5, 39-41). Jesus wished His followers to be more than just “nice people”, more than just good. He wanted them to strive for perfection.”
“In the Gospel lesson dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God we hear that Jesus was speaking with Mary, the sister of Lazarus. That woman sat at His feet and listened to His words while her sister Martha was preoccupied with much serving to the Guest and could not listen but came to complain that Mary left her to serve alone (Lk. 10, 39-40). The Lord told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10, 41-42). Like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, we also are called to choose a good part. And that good part will not be taken away from us.”
“The good part which will not be taken away is spiritual life. Martha was doing a very important and nice thing: she was serving the Guest, she showed great hospitality. The Old Testament morals taught to be hospitable. We may recall how Abraham treated the three men who once visited him. We know that it was God who appeared as three men to Abraham. And they were warmly received by that Old Testament hero of faith. To be hospitable is very good. Yet it is not perfect. The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to do more than that. It teaches us to be not just good. This is why Martha was not commended by Jesus for her work, but Mary who did nothing about receiving the Guest, was praised for choosing spiritual instruction. And what Mary could learn from listening to Jesus, would never be taken away from her. But what Martha did with her cooking and other kinds of serving would be remembered but would be lost next day. The food and drinks she prepared would be consumed, the warmth of her fireplace would be extinguished and the Guest Himself would leave. Being too much busy with serving the Guest, Martha could not be really benefited from His presence. But Mary preserved the words she heard from Him in her heart.”
“What happened to Mary could happen to us, dear brothers and sisters! If we will choose spiritual learning, prayer and participation in the holy services of the Church, if we choose receiving the Holy Mysteries, these things will never be taken away from us. They will remain as a great gift and benefit for our souls. However, if we choose to be busy with our earthly cares and forget about spiritual life, we will labor and won’t get a reward or commendation from the Lord. Those cares will disappear one day and we will be left with nothing.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us live our lives choosing a good part, choosing what is spiritual and not material, choosing what is eternal and not temporary, choosing what is better than just “good”. Let us do more that it is required by the usual rules of this world. Let us love our enemies, do good and then our reward will be great, and we will be sons of the Most High (Lk. 6, 35)!”

The choir conducted by Olga Roussanow sang beautiful festal hymns in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God during the service.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of Glorification in front of the icon of the feast singing the troparion and the kontakion of the Protection. Then Fr. Igor preached a short sermon in English to convey the main ideas of his Russian homily.

After the Liturgy we continued our celebration at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

19th Sunday after Pentecost

On October 11, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a nice celebration in our parish. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:

“Today’s Gospel lesson takes us to the shores of the Lake Gennesaret, also called the Sea of Galilee. Jesus preached there to the people and because the multitude pressed upon Him, He used a boat belonging to Simon Peter to preach from it. Then Jesus commands Peter to launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch. When Peter, after some doubt and distrust in the words of Jesus, obeyed Him, the Apostles caught a great number of fish. The Lord then called Peter to follow Him and promised to make him a catcher of men (Lk. 5, 1-11).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This Gospel story gives us a lot of important spiritual ideas. Simon Peter was an experienced fisherman. So, he knew that trying to catch fish after a night of hard labors in attempt to have a catch and being unsuccessful, launching the boat into the deep again makes no sense. As a fisherman and as a man he was right. But our Lord Jesus Christ had a different understanding. He, as God, had a different vision. And we see that Peter was wrong and Jesus was right. However, we also see that Peter obeyed Jesus. He let down the nets and was rewarded for that.”
“In this story we see the difference between the vision of men and the vision of God. The whole human understanding of life, of human relations and human history are relative if we compare it to God’s will and God’s Providence. Being human we often rely on our own experience, our views and ideas, as well as we rely on other people, on the societies and governments, forgetting that our most important trust should be in God. Same happened to Simon Peter. He relied on his experience and on human understanding of fishing business and could not believe Jesus. But we praise Peter for his obedience to the Lord which can be understood also as his trust in the words of his Teacher.”
“The difference between human and divine in today’s Gospel is also seen in the way Peter reacted to the miraculous catch of fish. He fell down at the knees of Jesus and exclaimed, “Depart from me, for I am sinful man, o Lord!” (Lk. 5, 8).  At that moment Peter understood that Jesus is not just a great Teacher but someone much higher than that. He is the Lord, and any man is strange and inferior to Him. In Peter’s words we see the fear of man standing before God. He expresses human incomprehension of God and acknowledgement of man’s unworthiness. But God tells Him in today’s reading, “Do not be afraid” (Lk. 5, 10).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! We, like Simon Peter, should also understand our unworthiness before God. We should acknowledge our sinfulness and be humble. But, on the other hand, we should remember that through Jesus Christ, the great Teacher of men and Divine Son, we are able to approach God and even unite with Him. Yes, we must be humble and express our unworthiness in repentance, but we also can draw near to the throne of grace in confidence, as St. Paul says (Hebr. 4, 16). Such opportunity is given to us in the offering of the Eucharist and in receiving it ion Holy Communion.”
“In today’s Gospel story our Lord was preaching from the boat. Thus, the boat represents the Church. Jesus preaches from it and the Apostles catch a great number of fish placing it to that same boat. It represents the holy ministry of the true Church. The boat before Jesus stepped into it was the Church of the Old Testament, the synagogue. The fishermen toiled all night and could not catch anything. It tells us that the Old Testament Church could fulfill nothing before Christ. But once Christ stepped in, with His divine presence, everything is possible. The net which is the Gospel catches a lot of fish which represent a lot of nations caught by the holy teaching of Christ.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us stay in the boat of Christ. Let us stay in His Holy Church. Let us listen to what Jesus Christ is telling us and obey Him. Let us also acknowledge our unworthiness and sinfulness before God and attempt to cleanse it by true repentance. But let us also remember the encouraging words of Jesus pronounced to St. Peter, “Do not be afraid”. Let us trust in God and in His vision and let us draw near to Him with confidence, so we may follow Him into His eternal Kingdom!”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main ideas of his English homily preached before. He also congratulated Maria Malyshew on the occasion of her name day celebrated on this day in commemoration of St. Maria, the mother of St. Sergius of Radonezh. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.


Sunday after the Exaltation


On October 4, on the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross, St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily:

“Sunday after the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross gives us a clear direction what a follower of our Lord should do. This makes certain sense. We have celebrated feast of the Exaltation, the cross is exalted and venerated in the church. We have revived again the holy passion and death of the Lord. Now, after all this is accomplished, the Gospel lesson gives us a rule our Savior wished to leave for us.  It is as follows: if we want to go after our Lord Jesus Christ we must deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him.”
“That means that we must make a certain effort, to do some work and to undergo difficulties and sufferings. The way of the Christ’s follower is not easy. On the contrary, it is hard and painful. Let us see what it implies.”
“First of all, according to the words of our Lord, we have to deny ourselves. That means that we have to renounce our pride, selfishness and a desire for our own advantage. If someone wants to go on a journey, he would not take many things with him, but he would be satisfied with having something most important. And if a soldier is called to go to war, he is not taking all his belongings with him. In order to accomplish something a person needs dedication to the cause and renunciation of things which may cause an obstruction. Many people give up a lot of things in order to achieve earthly goals: to acquire an education, to become someone, to get a high position. If it is possible to do for the achievements which are temporary, why it should not be appropriate to achieve eternal glory?”
“The second part is to take up a cross. The Cross of Jesus consisted of His sufferings, temptations and His death. He underwent all these things for our sake. Therefore, He has a right to demand the same from us, so we would undergo all this for Him. But He does not require us to carry His cross; such a yoke would be too heavy for us to bear. He wants us to take up our own crosses and carry them with dignity. He wishes us to be ready to bear as many sufferings and temptations as we are given. And we should understand that those sufferings and temptations will encounter us anyway. No matter whether we wish that or not, this earthly life is full of them. Jesus does not wish to deceive us. He tells us the truth. Yes, our life is like carrying the cross. But we can do it and we can do it with dignity. He comforts us saying: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16, 33).”
“Also, after doing so, we will have a relief and a reward. When our Lord died on the cross, His sufferings ended, He was relieved. And after three days He rose up from the dead. This was His reward. If He, being without sin, had to go through sufferings in order to enter into His glory, how can we, being corrupted and weakened by sin, achieve such a glory without being purified in temptations and made strong in sufferings? What lives within us now is Adam of old along with his passions and evil desires. How can we take off the old man and clothe in a new one without pain and sufferings? We have to take up a cross and “crucify our flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5, 24), “put to death your members which are on the earth” (Col. 3, 5), to die in a mystical way and to have a life hidden in Christ.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This is the teaching of the Cross, a teaching so needed and important that the Church does not limit herself with proclaiming it, wishes us to use many other signs to remember about it, first of all the image of the cross which we encounter everywhere. As we mentioned last Sunday when we celebrated feast of the Exaltation, the Cross is always with us if we live a religious life.”
“Therefore, let us listen to the words of Jesus and let us deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him, let us follow Him into eternal life!”

Since we celebrated the final day (a leave-taking, or apodosis) of the feast of the Exaltation, after the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers came out from the sanctuary and venerated the Cross. Then the Cross had been taken to the sanctuary.

After that ceremony the Rector congratulated our parishioners Vera Koretz and Sophia Kay on the occasion of their past name day. Traditional Polychronion was sung.

During the past week the Church also commemorated St. Igor, the patron Saint of our Rector. Thus our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow had a speech. She congratulated Fr. Igor on the occasion of his past name day and wished him God’s help in his service to the faithful, spiritual joy and especially, patience in his pastoral ministry. Another Polychronion was sung for the Rector.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. A number of toasts had been raised in honor of Fr. Igor and parishioners who recently celebrated their name days. A nice and delicious cake with an inscription in honor of the Rector’s name day was presented to Fr. Igor.