Sunday of the Blind Man. Feast of St. John the Theologian


On May 21, on the Sunday of the Blind Man, as well as on the feast of Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, our Parish family gathered for a nice celebration. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today is the last Sunday of our Paschal celebration, and on this day the Church offers us a Gospel story about a healing of the man who was born blind. It was a great and unrepeatable miracle because, as the Gospel today says, since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind” (Jn. 9, 32). Yet the people who witnessed such a great miracle, instead of marveling and coming to believe in Christ, began the whole investigation to find out how the eyes of the blind man were opened. Today’s pretty long Gospel lesson is telling us about that. This happened because many of the Jews were not ready to embrace the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only some of them who became the Disciples of Christ, His Holy Apostles, did accept the Messiah. Among those Apostles was St. John the Theologian who wrote the Gospel the passage of which we heard today, and whose memory we celebrate on this day.”
“But even the Disciples of Christ when they saw the man blind from birth, asked their Teacher, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn. 9, 2). They did so because they were living by the Old Testament understanding of God who is a zealous and vengeful Lord punishing those who offend Him. Their understanding of God was limited and simplistic, colored by fear, the pressures of the struggle to survive in a hostile world. Such an understanding was needed in the Old Testament times because the Jews held the right belief in one God while other nations and tribes did not. So, the true worshipers were supposed to fear mixing with others and offending the true God. But by the time of the coming of the Messiah it had to be changed. This is why Jesus challenged the common view of God as angry, vengeful and ready to punish those who sin. He teaches His Disciples that blindness of that man in today’s story is not because of sin, but blindness is an opportunity for the works of God to be revealed (Jn. 9, 3).”
“We may also say that blindness of that man was an opportunity for the love of God to be revealed. The whole ministry of Christ was an act of unconditional love towards mankind. And each and every miracle, every healing performed by Jesus Christ was an act of His love. He came to the world to visit the corrupt, imperfect and sinful human nature. His response to human infirmity, disease and death was His love, His comfort, His healing and His own Resurrection from the dead. A man could be born blind because human nature is imperfect. But behold, Jesus came and by His love restored the sight of a man who could never have the sight. This is the understanding of God according to the New Testament: God is Love, God is the Lover of mankind. Of course, God is just and He will judge us at the end of the world, but first of all, God is loving us. This idea was especially preached and confirmed by Holy Apostle and Evangelist John whose memory we celebrate today.”
“Holy Apostle John wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn. 4, 7-8). “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4, 16). St. John also taught that to love God means to love your fellow man. “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 Jn. 4, 21).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Finishing the days of our Paschal celebration, let us rejoice that Jesus Christ who was risen from the dead is the God of Love. He is not vengeful and angry master, but a loving Father who is willing to help us. Even if we suffer this could be an opportunity to reveal the great works of God and His love. Let us follow His teaching and the thoughts of His beloved Disciple, John the Theologian, to abide in His endless and perfect love!”

The choir prayerfully performed hymns assigned to the Sunday of the Blind man and Paschal Aposticha during the preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying the main ideas of his English homily.

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


Sunday of the Samaritan Woman


On May 14, on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, we had a nice liturgical celebration in our temple. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

”In today’s Gospel lesson, we can clearly see how our Lord Jesus Christ combines within His Person two natures, human and divine. We see that as a human being, He could become tired, thirsty and hungry. The Gospel tells us that Jesus was thirsty and He asked the Samaritan Woman for drink. On the other hand, we see that He is also divine. Living as God in eternity, He knows the present, past and future of all. Thus as God He knows that the Samaritan Woman has already been married five times and that at present she is living in sin with another man. Also He tells her that He can give her “living water’” from an Eternal Well, and He tells the disciples that His “food is to do the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn. 4, 34).”
”As a man, Christ was a Jew, and His disciples were surprised to find Him conversing not only with a woman, but with a Samaritan Woman. A Jew would never speak with a Samaritan, especially with a Samaritan Woman. It is mentioned in today’s Gospel that “Jews had no dealings with Samaritans” (Jn. 4, 9).”
“As God, however, Christ does talk to those who are able to accept Him as the Messiah, for the vocation of Christ is universal. He says that “salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4, 22), but this salvation is only for those who accept Christ, and not many Jews accepted Him. According to the Jews, the Samaritans were heretics; they had rejected the importance of Jerusalem and much of the Old Testament, rejected the Prophets; they had confused pagan idolatry with the Old Testament. On the other hand, the Jews had rejected Christ. The Jews turned the truths and revelations of the Old Testament into a dry legalism and an arrogant racism. They had denied that Messiah, a Jew as a man, could, as God, come for the salvation of all the nations. It is that ideology which still to this day insists on what you may call “an ownership of God” – the Jews claim that they own God and that God owes to them because He proclaimed them a chosen people. The Jews had kept the letter of the Law but had rejected the spirit of the Law. And without the Spirit they were unable to recognize Christ.”
“The Samaritans had rejected the letter of the Law, but some of them, at least, did not stubbornly insist on their errors but were open to its spirit, for they were open to Christ, the Word of God, the Inspirer of the Law. If the Jews rejected Christ, the Samaritans, as we heard today in the Gospel, kept Him with them for two days and many believed in Him (Jn. 4, 40-41). And when our Lord returned from Samaria to Judea, He had to say that “a prophet has no honor in his own country” (Jn. 4, 44).”
“Why does the Church commemorate the Samaritan Woman today? Because this is the first Sunday after Mid-Pentecost, the feast that stands half-way between Easter and Pentecost. At Pascha the great truths of the Church are being revealed – that Christ is both God and man, that He is crucified and risen from the dead. However, these truths, may remain rather abstract until at Pentecost we understand their inner meaning, their implications for our daily life. By the coming of the Holy Spirit, these truths become living, and we worship Christ in spirit and in truth. Thus the Church reads to us the words that, “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4, 23).”
“And this is why this world still continues today, why the world has not yet ended. Until the Gospel of Christ has been preached in spirit and in truth, that is, in Orthodox manner, in all lands, throughout the world, the world cannot end. For as long as there are new Samaritans, new nations, new tribes to hear the Truth, as long as there are people who can still potentially become Orthodox, the world must continue, for there is harvest still to be reaped (Jn. 4, 38).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us pray that we too like the Samaritan Woman may bring others to the Church, testifying like her to the Divinity of Christ, becoming reapers of that which we have not sown.”

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

On the occasion of Mother’s Day the Rector congratulated all the mothers of our parish wishing them God’s blessings and joy in their children and grandchildren. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

The Rector also performed an order of Blessing for the Traveling by Air for the Malyshew family who are going to leave for Moscow and stay there for a month. He wished them a safe trip and a protection of the Guardian Angels.


Sunday of the Paralytic


On May 7, on the Sunday of the Paralytic, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“On this Sunday, one among the Paschal season Sundays, the Church wishes us to reflect upon a miracle of healing a person who suffered from paralysis for 38 years. He was near the pool at Ship Gate in Jerusalem, famous for healing, but could not be healed because there was no one to help him enter the water of this pool. In Slavonic language this paralytic is literally called the “relaxed one”, and this holiday is called Sunday of the Paralytic, of the “relaxed man”. We should remember that in Lent we also heard the Gospel story of another paralytic – whom four people brought to Christ. And today we hear about a paralytic, which no one helped. He himself explained this to Christ when he said: “I have no man to put me into the pool” (Jn. 5, 7). Only our Lord Jesus Christ was able to heal this man.”
“This paralytic is the image of our souls. We are near the most healing font. We have a great source for our healing and for our salvation. We have the Law of God. We have the Commandments of God. We have the Holy Church. And we are close to all of it. But, as it often happens that despite all that we have, we cannot take advantage of it. We are always missing something. It is like that paralytic said: “I have no man to help me”!”

“The Holy Church tells us about this miracle, so that when we see the paralyzed, relaxed state of our souls, when we see sins overwhelming us again, we do not lose heart, but we knew that we have a Man who can save us. We have not just a man, we have Christ the God-man, who can, not just once a year, like it was at the Sheep Gate pool, manage to heal someone, but who is able to heal constantly every man who turns to Him. He saves him from death, saves from sin, heals his paralyzed soul. And He makes him able to walk again glorifying God. Look what the Lord said. He did not simply say, “I heal you”, but He said: “Arise, take up your bed and walk” (Jn. 5, 8). That means, take up those same stretchers on which you used to lay, on which you were carried, now you carry them!” Why did the Lord say so? Because now that person who was lying on these stretchers for thirty-eight years, began walking himself, and carrying those stretchers and showing it to everyone, he began to preach about the Lord, preaching about Christ the Savior in a visible way. Everyone saw how he used to lay on a stretcher, and now he himself walks and preaches about Christ.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This is what we are often lacking. We need to preach about the Savior and our Lord Jesus Christ by our Christian life. The Lord gives us the joy of life, gives us consolation, gives us deliverance from our sins. He saves us from all evil. Therefore, we are obligated to preach about Christ, just as this healed paralytic did. And we will preach this in the best way, if we lead a pure Christian life. If we forgive each other, if we are compassionate to each other, are merciful to each other, if we strive to love one another – this will be our holy preaching. Then we could cease being spiritually paralyzed (or “relaxed”), then we will rise and begin to walk.”
“Of course, it is difficult – to start preaching about Christ with your life. On this path there will be many obstacles, because the life of a Christian in an ungodly world is always difficult. That healed paralytic just started walking, and the Jews immediately began to bother him and say: “How can you wear a stretcher on Saturday? It is forbidden”! – Indeed, the Old Testament law forbade doing anything on Saturday. We have to keep in mind that our Christian law also forbids any hard and physical labor on Sunday. But the Lord of the Sabbath, the Chief of the Law himself, the One who is above all law, is the True God and the true Savior Jesus Christ commanded this, and that man had to do it. Thus, without fearing all obstacles and temptations, let us ask the Lord to help us to overcome the paralysis or relaxation of our souls, that He will give us the grace to live in Christian way: to believe, to hope, to love, to overcome all temptations.”

“And when the Savior later met this healed man in the temple, He said to him: See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you (Jn. 5, 14). Let us also, brothers and sisters, pray to our Savior, that He may give us strength not to return to sins, that He may give us the strength to avoid the worst that sin brings with it evil, godlessness, hatred and untruth. Let us strive to nourish our souls and souls of our loved ones with the great Paschal joy about the risen Christ, who gives life to our souls and to us, “the relaxed ones”, who makes us walk again in the ways of the Lord.”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the ideas of his Russian homily.

Parish Patronal Feast of St. George


On May 6th Russian Orthodox Church celebrates feast of the Holy Victorious Great Martyr George. This is the Patronal feast of our parish. On this day we had a beautiful celebration in our temple. The Divine Liturgy was headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov who was co-served by Abbot Eutychius (Dovgan) from the ROCOR Synodal Cathedral. Service was attended by our parishioners, as well as a large number of guests from other parishes. Among the visitors was Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis), our former Rector who was present at the Liturgy.

On this holy day our choir was joined by several guests, so the singing was especially beautiful. Hymns in honor of St. George, as well as Paschal hymns were nicely performed before the rite of the Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a homily in which he pointed out that our Patron Saint was a Martyr for Christ. Christianity very often means martyrdom for Christ. Today’s two Epistle lessons from the Acts of the Holy Apostles were telling us about persecutions of the Holy Apostles, especially Peter and Paul. And the Gospel reading reminded us that, according to the words of the Lord, “A servant is not greater than his master” (Jn. 15, 20). If our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was persecuted, His servants were persecuted also. Holy Apostles were persecuted and most of them died as Martyrs. And later many other followers of Christ had to become Martyrs. Our Patron, St. George was one of them. Therefore, being a Christian always means to be ready for becoming a confessor or even a martyr for Christ. But if this idea is disturbing, let us remember that our Lord is always with us and He conquered death and rose from the dead. Today’s feast of St. George always falls during Paschal season, and our Church hymns dedicated to the martyrdom of St. George are mixed with the Paschal hymns of the Resurrection. This is why we have to be of a good cheer remembering that the Lord is the Victor of evil, so the Saints like Great Martyr George are also the victorious in the Risen Lord.

The Rector also expressed his gratitude to the parishioners who labored to prepare for this celebration, as well the guests who joined us at this parish solemnity. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed to all the faithful present.

Our celebration continued at the abundant and delicious trapeza prepared by our ladies. Our clergy at the trapeza table was now joined by Archpriest Alexandre Anchoutine, Rector of Holy Protection Church in Glen Cove and Dean of the local ROCOR parishes. He had a speech congratulating the Rector and our parishioners on the occasion of Patronal feast and wishing all God’s blessings in our future religious life as a community. Fr. Alexandre also congratulated our Rector on the occasion of his recent appointment as Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes and expressed his wishes of God’s help at this responsible obedience. Another speech was later delivered by our Sacristan, Andrew Malyshew who on behalf of our parishioners expressed gratitude to our Rector, Fr. Igor, as well as the former Rector, Fr. Zosimas for their labors for the good of this parish. He pointed out that despite all the difficulties in our parish life, our church keeps serving the spiritual needs of the Orthodox believers and is under ongoing protection of its Holy Patron, St. George.

Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women


On April 30, on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, we had a beautiful service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! On this Sunday after Pascha we honor holy Myrrh-bearing Women, righteous Joseph and Nicodemus who participated in the burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. Later some of them became the witnesses of His Resurrection, as we heard in today’s Gospel lesson. A huge stone was rolled against the door of the tomb where Jesus was laid, but when He rose from the dead the stone became rolled away. As we think today of that tomb of Jesus, other tombs come to mind – tombs where Jesus is buried today, strong tombs, heavily sealed, tombs that are designed to keep Jesus isolated from our lives.”
“An author who is known as “A Monk of Eastern Church” writes: “In many souls, Jesus seems to be buried as if in a sepulcher. He seems to be paralyzed, immobilized, even dead. He is covered by a heavy stone; the stone of sin, of ignorance, of indifference, the stone of bad habits that have accumulated over years.” Buried by those errors we cry out like the Myrrh-bearing Women: “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” (Mk. 16, 3).”
“The sin is the first stone by which we can cover Jesus in His sepulcher. Our sins don’t let us give our Lord a place in our life; they keep us away from Him. First of all, it happens when we let our sins rule over us. Then we serve sin, not our Lord. And second, when our sins, or a particular sin of ours, keeps us away from God.”
“The second stone is ignorance. What kind of ignorance buries Jesus? The ignorance about Him. Ignorance about our faith, ignorance about religious matters, ignorance about basic, but very important things in our life. Many people don’t know our faith, why we believe in this or in that. Many people don’t know the pious traditions: why we do certain things in our Church, what we are supposed to have in our Church… This is the great stone that keeps Jesus buried in the tomb. If you don’t know something – ask, inquire. Talk to the priest, ask or simply listen when the priest is telling you about it.”
“The third and the greatest of the stones is indifference. Indifference is what keeps Jesus buried in the terrible grave of apathy. A priest once stopped in a coffee shop and sat at a counter next to a man. The man glanced at the priest and asked where his church was. When the priest told him, he said, “That’s the church I go myself”. “Isn’t that strange?” the priest said, “I’ve been a rector there for five years and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you.” The man replied, “Come on, Father, I didn’t say I was a fanatic”. It is OK to be fanatic about football but there is something wrong with you if you are serious about Jesus. It is that kind of indifference that keeps Jesus buried. It is an extremely heavy stone and it needs to be removed if Jesus is to become a living presence in our lives.”
“In addition, there are the people who bury Christ in their hearts, in their souls. They are the people who tell us: “I may not come to church, but God is always in my soul”. It is a very popular attitude, especially among the Russian people. They don’t participate in the Liturgy. They don’t receive the Sacraments. They don’t support the work of Christ through His Church. They seldom pray and yet – they tell us – God is in their souls. Maybe He is! But then, that’s where they keep Him dead and buried.”
“If there are those today who claim that God is dead, it is also because we Christians have buried Him in our sins, in our ignorance, in our indifference, in our souls. And if we have buried God, there is no wonder why we are so anxious and worried people today.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Roll the stone away from the tomb and let the Risen Christ step out of our indifference, out of our sins, out of our ignorance, even “out of our souls” into our lives and see what happens as a result! See what power He brings! What joy! What peace! What love!”

The choir prayerfully performed the Aposticha of Pascha during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian stressing the main thoughts of his English homily. He also congratulated our ladies on the occasion of this Sunday which is the Orthodox Women’s day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Following the Rector’s sermon the Parish Warden, Olga Roussanow spoke and congratulated Archpriest Igor on his appointment as Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. She wished that the Lord may assist him to fulfill his new obedience as a superior official of our Church in the United States and an assistant to our local Bishop. Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to the parishioners for their nice and heartfelt wishes and asked for their prayers, so he may worthily and effectively fulfill his new obedience.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. The toasts to the Rector due to his new appointment, as well as to our ladies were raised. At this time we also were happy to welcome our guests from the Syrian Orthodox community who visited our parish and were present at our service. They stayed for our trapeza and shared interesting information about their community suffering from the Islamic extremists in the Middle East.