18th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 23, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.

Reflecting on the Gospel story of the resurrection of the young man in the city of Nain the Rector said that from the men’s perspective it is a story about human grief. We encounter sorrows all the time of our life. The most terrible sorrow is our death which is inevitable. All this causes grief. But we should not live in such a negativity. How to deal with grief? A very constructive way is to let the tears flow. It is natural for us to cry. However, some cultures and teachings do not approve of that. The ancient stoic philosophers used to say, “Do not mourn. Self-control is the answer to sorrow”. Reading today’s Gospel story we may think that our Lord Jesus Christ teaches the same. He said to the widow of Nain who mourned the death of her son, “Do not weep” (Lk. 7, 13). But Jesus never condemned those who wept. On the contrary, He taught, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5, 4). And Jesus Himself wept when His friend Lazarus died (Jn. 11, 35). As to the widow of Nain, the Lord told her to stop weeping because He had already come and was about to comfort her.
St. Paul teaches us not to mourn as those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4, 13). We need Christian hope. We may weep and mourn but we should remember that our sorrow will find comfort when we will encounter Jesus. Same happened in today’s Gospel lesson: there were two processions that met. One was a funeral procession which signified despair, grief and sorrow, the helplessness and hopelessness of man. At the head of it was a dead man. Another procession signified salvation, hope, joy and eternal life. At the head of it was Christ, the Son of God. Small wonder that the people cried out, “God has visited His people” (Lk. 7, 16).
As God has visited His people resurrecting the son of a widow in Nain, so He visits us to grant us hope and comfort in our sorrow.

During the Divine Liturgy the Rector for the first time proclaimed one of the Little Ektenias in the Georgian language which will hopefully be the constant practice in our parish if we have Georgian-speaking people attending the service.

The choir beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers honored on that Sunday.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector delivered a short sermon in English stressing the main ideas of his Russian homily.

17th Sunday after Pentecost. Celebration of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


On October 16, on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost we at St. George Church also celebrated feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God transferred to the following Sunday. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today, we celebrate feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. We commemorate our Lady’s miraculous appearance in the church in Constantinople and saving of the imperial city from the attack of the enemies happened in the 8th century. The two holy men, Andrew and Epiphanius saw the Holy Mother of God appearing in the temple and covering the city with Her veil. After that the city was spared and the enemies retreated. This was a remarkable example of the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin for the Christian people.”

“We should always remember to honor the Most Holy Mother of God and pray to Her in our needs. And we have to remember that we will receive according to our faith and devotion. We must show the zeal and piety in order to attain help.”
“Our times are no less troublesome for the Church and Christian people than the times when the celebrated event of the Protection took place. The holy city of the Church and Christian civilization is now under attack from many enemies. Especially it is attacked from the two most dangerous sides. On one side it is being attacked by today’s liberal and godless society which demands the Church to renounce her spirit and the teaching of Christ in favor of the ideals of fallen and sinful humanity. On the other side Christian civilization is being taken over by the Muslims who come to live to Christian countries and wish to influence them by their faith. It is no secret that Muslims are also involved in the most of the acts of terror.”
“Considering these two challenges we Christians face in today’s world, we should ask ourselves a question, “What is so different about us that other people would see that we are right?” Or, “What can we offer to this world, so others could follow us, instead of following the false calls of our challengers?” Today’s first Gospel lesson is giving us an answer. Our Lord says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Lk. 6, 32-35). If we follow what the Lord said we make a difference in the world.”
“In today’s world everybody is looking for an average. We hear that constantly: the average American, the average husband, the average wife, the average child. If you think of that you may learn that averages are dangerous. A man who trusted the average data tried to make across the river whose average depth was two feet. He drowned in water twelve feet deep! But we are told that average means normal. On that basis the people are told that pre-marital sex is normal while self-control, chastity and virginity are abnormal because an average young person engages in pre-marital sex. We are told that an average husband is unfaithful, so infidelity in marriage is normal while being faithful is abnormal. If an average person is doing it, no matter what it is, it becomes normal. The average thus becomes our idol whom we worship at the altar of public opinion.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to be not average but above average. If an average person loves those who love him, we ought to do more. If an average person lends to those from whom he expects to receive back, we need to do more. If an average person loves his friends and hates his enemies, we ought to love both our friends and our enemies. Are other people, for instance the Muslim people, righteous? We Christians are called to be more righteous. Are the Muslims generous? We are called to be more generous? Are the liberals in our society understanding and tolerant? We are called to be more understanding and more tolerant. For this reason the Lord called His disciples the light of the world, the salt of the earth. The Saints were not average. They were above average.”
“Especially all these things are true about the Most Holy Mother of God. She was certainly way above the average. And this is why She is now our Protectress in heaven. And our second answer to the questions we ask should be the following. We may prove that we are different and can offer something others cannot offer to this world. We may prove it by offering our prayers to the Most Holy Mother of God, by venerating Her and by asking Her to cover the whole sinful world by the veil of Her Protection.”

Before the Communion of the faithful choir beautifully performed the singing of the hymns dedicated to the Protection of the Mother of God.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector along with the altar servers performed a rite of Glorification in front of the icon of the feast singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Protection.

The Rector also preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the main points of his English homily. He also called the parents bringing their children to the church to teach them to behave properly during the Divine Liturgy, especially at the most solemn moments of the service.

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

16th Sunday after Pentecost. Passing of St. John the Theologian


On October 9, on the 16th Sunday after Pentecost and feast of the Passing of St. John the Theologian our Parish community had a nice celebration in our temple. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

Following the Scripture readings he preached a homily in Russian. In that homily he pointed out that according to the story from the Gospel assigned for this day (Lk. 5, 1-11) the human understanding of things may be different from the God’s view. We should trust God and His perfect vision of the things. Although God is ineffable and incomprehensible He may also be very close and approachable to us. Holy Apostle and Evangelist John whom we honor today could stress this in his writings. He said, “God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4, 16). Therefore, if we abide in love, God is within us although He is so ineffable and unapproachable. In Christ all impossible things become possible and man unites with God.

The choir directed by Olga Roussanow prayerfully sang the hymns of the feast.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of Glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of St. John the Theologian. The Rector also preached a short sermon in English expressing the main thoughts of his Russian homily.

Sunday after Exaltation. Celebration of the Rector’s Name Day


On October 2, on the Sunday after Exaltation, we had a beautiful service in our parish temple. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. Following the Gospel lesson he delivered the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today we celebrate Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Our Lord teaches us in today’s Gospel that His every true follower has to deny himself and take up the cross (Mk. 8, 34). Thus a Christian life requires a sacrifice and an endeavor.”
“A lot of us grew up listening to stories of heroes who sacrificed themselves for their country. They were often about heroes of different wars, especially the Second World War. Sometimes, we heard about people in other countries and even some of the Church’s Saints. But whatever we heard, we may notice that all these stories teach us courage, patience, hard work and self-denial. In some cases, the hero gave his or her own life to save others.”
“Our Savior, Jesus Christ, explained how all of us can be heroes of self-sacrifice. He taught this in today’s Gospel saying that by saying that whoever wants to be like Christ must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Christ and the Gospel will save his life. And whoever is ashamed of being with Jesus (in or out of church) and ashamed of His teachings will be rejected by Christ when He returns on Judgment Day.”
“In some instances, a person sacrifices all his or her life to some noble cause and lives to fulfill it. This is seen in many men and women who dedicate themselves to the monastic life. This is also seen when a young mother decides to raise a child without any help from her relatives and renounces her own personal or professional life for this child. But self-denial may also lead to the ultimate sacrifice, not to dedicating, but to losing one’s life in the name of the Gospel. Our calendar is full of different Saints, especially the Holy Martyrs who lost their lives for Christ and for the Gospel.”
“Today we commemorate my patron Saint, Holy faithful prince Igor who lived in the XII century. Although he is not a clear example of a person who died for Christ, his tragic destiny showed how the words of today’s Gospel are true. St. Igor became the Great Prince of Kiev at the time of a cruel struggle for the Kievan throne between the two princely factions. He belonged to one of them and he was placed on the throne of Kiev by that group. But after being betrayed by his own subjects who kissed the cross to be faithful to him, after losing a battle to his enemies and after being held captive, St. Igor agreed to renounce this world and to become a monk.  He probably understood the words of Christ who said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk. 8, 36). The power of a prince which he lost so fast, and the throne of Kiev which was taken away from St. Igor – all this proved that there is no profit for a man to gain anything if he loses his soul. Therefore, St. Igor being tonsured a monk, decided to retire from the political struggle and to spend the rest of his life in endeavors of piety. However, the evil people from the Kievan nobility decided to kill the prince-monk. They incited the mob who attacked St. Igor in the church, during the Divine Liturgy, seized him and tried to murder. He was first rescued by his brother, but the mob chased Igor further and finally brutally killed him. As I said, although St. Igor did not die for Christ sake, he did die because of the evil which overcame human nature of his enemies. Those people did not wish to follow Christ because they did not deny their sinful nature, their evil desires and cruel passions. A Christian should understand that political, social and other preferences are not so important as our spiritual life. Nowadays people tend to be very passionate about their political preferences or social views, making others who hold different views their enemies. Hostility and enmity became a usual attitude. But we should understand that this leads us to a sinful passion. And we should avoid that attitude remembering that our political positions should not interfere with our spiritual life.”
“Remembering about the Holy Martyrs honored by the Church we should also remember that there are also persecutions and murders going on at this minute. Christians are harassed and killed all the time all over the place. This is not new, but it is a new manifestation of an old hatred of Jesus and His Church and His Gospel.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us understand our true calling, a calling of a Christian. It is to deny ourselves, to deny our sinful nature, an evil nature and passions. Let us take our crosses by fulfilling our duties and being patient in our lives. Let us follow Christ who Himself is the Way to the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom to which we can come by the way of the Holy Cross.”

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to the Holy Cross, as well as to St. Igor commemorated on that day. We were glad to welcome the guests from St. Nicholas Church in Whitestone, Thomas and Alexandra Zedlovich who joined our choir in singing during the service.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy our parish Warden, Olga Roussanow congratulated the Rector on the occasion of his name day presenting Fr. Igor with a gift. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

After being greeted on his name day the Rector also congratulated our parishioners Vera Koretz and Sophia Kay on the occasion of their past name day and proclaimed the Polychronion for them.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners, along with some guests of the Parish, enjoyed delicious meals and an interesting conversation. The toasts to Fr. Igor, as well as for Vera and Sophia were raised.