Clergy of the Eastern States Deanery hold a Meeting


On Sunday, February 25, following the Lenten Mission Vespers served at St. John the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NJ clergy of the Eastern States Deanery gathered to hold a Deanery meeting.
After a delicious supper served at the parish hall the Dean of Eastern States, Priest Aleksiy Paranyuk opened the meeting and expressed his gratitude to all those in attendance. The Dean welcomed new clergy of the Deanery recently ordained and appointed by His Grace, Bishop John.
The clergy further discussed a number of administrative and pastoral issues which concern our Eastern States Deanery.

Lenten Mission Vespers in Little Falls, NJ


On February 25, on the First Sunday of Lent, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov participated in one of the traditional Lenten Mission Vespers served in our Deanery. This day such service had been celebrated at St. John the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NJ.

As the Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, our Rector headed the celebration of Vespers. He was co-served by the Dean of Eastern States, Priest Aleksiy Paranyuk, Rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NJ; Archpriest John Kassatkin, Rector of the Holy Cross Church in Hackettstown, NJ; Archpriest George Konyev, Rector of the Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ; Hieromonk Stephen (Bushman), cleric of the Deanery; Priest Demetrius Sukhorukov, cleric of Nicholas Church in Bayonne, NJ; Deacon Andrew Masey, cleric of the Holy Cross Church in Hackettstown, NJ, and Deacon Nicholas DeGraaff, cleric of the Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ.

Following the Great Prokimenon a sermon in English was delivered by Deacon Andrew Masey.

After the Vespers dismissal Archpriest Igor Tarasov expressed his gratitude to the clergy and lay people present for their participation in the Mission service. Following the church service, a delicious supper was offered to the guests of the Little Falls Church in its parish hall.

First Sunday of Lent. Triumph of Orthodoxy


On February 25 the Church celebrated the First Sunday of Lent, also known as Sunday of Orthodoxy. On that occasion we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! After the first week of Lent we came to the celebration of the First Lenten Sunday, also known as feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. The Gospel reading that we heard today is about finding Christ. It tells us how the first Disciples met Jesus and came to believe that He is the Messiah. Thus today’s Gospel is about finding God.”
“One of the first Apostles, Philip found another future Disciple, Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (Jn. 1, 45). Thus Philip and Nathanael (commonly known as Bartholomew) , as well as other Apostles found the Messiah, the Christ. They have found the true Son of God; they have found God.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This is the main and the most important goal of human life – to find God, to find our Creator and our true Father. Recently we celebrated feast of the Meeting of the Lord and reflected upon that profoundly spiritual and meaningful event when righteous elder Simeon finally met the Christ and could enter into eternal communion with God. Today we reflect upon the holy Apostles, namely Nathanael and Philip who met Jesus and recognized Him as the Christ. That recognition, that encounter with the Messiah initiated a new life for them, a life which also led them to eternal communion with the Most High in His Kingdom. Therefore, every human being has to strife to encounter God and be admitted into His everlasting Kingdom.”
“Unfortunately, many people live and never truly come to know their true God and Creator. These are the men and women who do not accept Christ, who do not belong to Christian faith or those who reject the very existence of God. But even for many those who formally accept Jesus Christ and embrace Christianity, the true encounter with God may never take place. It happens either because of their spiritual inability due to sin or because of their incorrect understanding of God. Due to sin many of us are not able of meeting God in our lives. But this can be changed by true and sincere repentance, by a desire to convert. Then we, sinful people, may become able to encounter with the Lord. But it is more difficult for those Christians who do not hold the right belief. Only holy Orthodox Church can give us a chance to meet the true Christ. Only being an Orthodox Christian grants us an opportunity to encounter God because being Orthodox we can learn the correct faith and correct understanding of the truths about God.”
“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, it is important to embrace not only Christianity, but the true Christian faith which is preserved in the holy Orthodox Church. Despite our sinful state, it may give us a chance to approach God, to find Him and to follow Him into eternity.”
“Today let us also reflect upon another important question: is it enough to find God, to meet Him, to become worthy of His eternal Kingdom? Righteous Simeon, we said, met the Child Jesus and could die peacefully. For him it was quite enough. Holy Apostles encountered Jesus and stayed with Him for about 3 years. Then He died on the cross, He rose from the dead, He stayed with them for another 40 days and then He ascended into the heaven. Was that enough? No. They received the Holy Spirit. They began to preach to the nations; they converted a lot of people to Christ. Many of them died for Christ in several years, but some lived for about 20 years and kept preaching and doing their apostolic work. They did after 3 years of knowing Christ. We should remember that after His Ascension into heaven Christ did not really leave the Apostles. He told them, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28, 20). So, He was with them but they had to do their work.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, after coming to know God, after the encounter with Him, we need to do our work. Unless we die as St. Simeon, we need to act. We have to imitate Holy Apostles and other Saints who acted upon their salvation and salvation of others. How long do we know Christ? The answer to that question may slightly vary. We are all supposed to know Him after our Baptism. But since for many of us it occurred at the early age, many of us truly met Christ later. It could be 40, 30, 20 years ago depending on each person’s age and situation. Let us then ask ourselves, “What have we done after meeting Him?” Did we act? Did we preach like the Apostles? Did we undertake the endeavors of faith and piety like the heroes mentioned in today’s Epistle lesson? Were we ready to sacrifice our lives for Christ like Holy Martyrs? Did we fasted and prayed like Venerable ascetic Fathers? Did we attempt to be an example to others? The Lord is waiting for our actions, our cooperation with Him in this world.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Celebrating this Sunday of Orthodoxy, let us be grateful for the gift of the true faith and for the joy of knowing the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Let us also continuously act upon our salvation and service to others in order to achieve God’s divine glory!”

The choir prayerfully performed penitential hymns and hymns of the Sunday of Orthodoxy during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed prayer service of the Sunday of Orthodoxy solemnly declaring the Orthodox faith and proclaiming eternal memory to the champions of that faith and the polychronion to the Church hierarchy and Orthodox Christians.

At the conclusion of the service the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian stressing the main thoughts of his English homily and congratulated the parishioners on the completion of the first week of Lent.

Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete


On February 21, on Wednesday of the first week of Lent the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Compline with the reading of penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.

This Canon is composed as a conversation of a person with his own soul. It reveals that often we imitate sinners mentioned in the Scripture but do not wish to follow the steps of the righteous ones. It also calls us to bring the fruits of repentance and not to exalt ourselves.

Following the service the Rector preached a sermon about the significance of penitential Canon for the faithful. He pointed out that the Canon teaches us to seek spiritual perfection and to acquire the divine grace to become saved. In order to acquire the grace one needs to bring the fruits of his spiritual endeavors and to make a sacrifice pleasing the Lord. Recalling the sacrifices of the first men, we know that righteous Abel offered to the Lord the best of his flock while Cain offered just any kind of fruits of the soil. God favorably regarded on Abel’s offering but not at Cain’s. Thus we need to offer God the best we can. Then we can acquire His blessing, His grace and His assistance. At this time of the beginning of Lent, our best things to offer the Lord would be our endeavors of repentance, fasting, prayer and avoiding bad habits. Thus the Lord may bestow His blessings upon us and help us to endure this journey of Lent.

Cheesefare Sunday. Feast of the Meeting of the Lord


On February 18, on the Cheesefare Sunday, we had a nice and prayerful celebration in our parish. We also celebrated feast of the Meeting of the Lord transferred to Sunday. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Today is Cheesefare Sunday, the last day before the beginning of Lent. Today the Church wishes us to commemorate the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise. Today we also celebrate feast of the Meeting of the Lord, a great holy day which is always celebrated 40 days after Christmas. On this day we recall that the Most Holy Mother of God brought the Child Jesus into the Temple of Jerusalem to present Him before the Lord and God. By doing so, the parents of Jesus fulfilled the command of the Law of Moses. Since He was the first-born Son of His Mother, according to the Old Testament law He had to be offered to God. His parents had to come to Jerusalem, to the holy Temple and to perform a ritual, a sacrifice for Him. And they did so. They accomplished this after 40 days of His birth because, again according to the law of Moses, the Blessed Mother had to wait 40 days to be considered purified after childbirth to be able to enter the Temple.”
“The Gospel of the feast tells us that there was a righteous man named Simeon who met the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus in the Temple. Simeon received Christ in his arms. He knew immediately that this Child was the Redeemer promised by all of Israel’s prophecies. Being inspired by the Holy Spirit, Simeon uttered prophetic words which form the hymn sung or chanted at the end of every Vespers service: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word…” (Lk. 2, 25-29). Thus, this holy elder finally met His Lord and Savior, achieved a goal of his life – to unite with God. But holy tradition tells that Simeon waited many years for this moment. The Most Holy Mother of God waited 40 days of purification while Simeon waited much longer – years, even centuries.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord always gives some time to wait, to go through a labor, a test. The number 40 is very much frequent in such spiritual matters. We just said that Meeting of the Lord occurred 40 days after His Nativity. But we may recall that 40 years God made the Jews to wander in the wilderness before they became ready and worthy to inherit the Promised Land. 40 days our Lord Jesus Christ fasted in the wilderness before He began His earthly ministry, His mission of salvation of the world. And 40 days, according to our pious beliefs, human soul after death is waiting to be admitted into the place where it will wait for the Last Judgment- either to heaven or to hell. 40 years, 40 days…”
“Tomorrow we start Lent, the 40 days of spiritual endeavor, spiritual labor and warfare. This is given us to prepare for Pascha, for the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. These 40 days of fast are given us as a symbolic time to return to the paradise lost by Adam but regained by Christ. Just like the Jews in the wilderness aiming to the promised land, just as the Blessed Mother waiting to bring Her first-born Son to the Temple and just as Jesus Christ Himself who fasted in the wilderness, we are supposed to reach our goal: to become ready and worthy to celebrate Holy Pascha, to enter into the joy of our Lord, to feast rejoicing of His Resurrection from the dead. But this symbolic goal must remind us of our main and real goal: to join the Lord Himself in His eternal Kingdom, to enter into His everlasting joy, into the banquet hall of His never-ending feast. It did happen to righteous elder Simeon who waited and was not disappointed. It could happen to us. And it will if we endure the test, if we fulfill the endeavor, if we win the warfare.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother to assist us in our journey towards Holy Pascha. Let us ask them to lead us through these 40 days of Lent and through our life to reach eternal Kingdom of the Lord, so we may, along with holy Simeon say,” Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace!””

The choir beautifully performed the hymns of the Meeting of the Lord during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English stressing main ideas of his Russian homily. He also made some announcements regarding the beginning of Lent and the service schedule.

Following the Divine Liturgy the Rector performed Vespers with the Rite of Forgiveness. After the singing of the Great Prokimenon he changed his priestly vestments to the Lenten color of black.

After the Vespers dismissal the Rector preached a sermon about the importance of forgiveness in our spiritual, as well as our earthly life. After finishing the sermon he asked for forgiveness bending his knees. The parishioners also knelt down and asked their pastor for forgiveness. Then each one of the faithful could come to the Rector to kiss the cross and to express the forgiveness.

Following the services of this special day the Rector and parishioners joined at the Blini Lunch. We enjoyed delicious meals, especially the blini, nicely prepared by our ladies.

2018 Annual Parish Meeting


The Annual Parish Meeting of St. George Church was held on Sunday, February 11, 2018, following the Divine Liturgy. Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov presided.

Church Warden, Olga Roussanow read the minutes of the last Annual Meeting held in 2017. The Rector reported on financial situation. He informed that parish income in the year 2017 was much higher  than in the previous year, but it was only due to a special donation of 10,000 euros (11,677 dollars) generously made by a Ukrainian businessman and politician. Otherwise, we would have a deficit due to the increasing expenses. Thanks to a generous contribution from Ukraine, we had almost a $ 10,000 surplus.  Thus, financial support of the parish and paying membership dues are very important.

It had been noted that Parish membership increased due to the joining of 3 persons.

Further, a future project to change the flooring in the church was discussed. The Rector pointed out that the donation made to our Parish should cover the most of the expenses anticipated in order to complete such a project. It had been recommended that several estimates taken from the companies willing to perform the work of changing our flooring to wood. The work is planned to be done some time after Pascha.

Parishioners discussed also some other issues and concerns.

Meatfare Sunday


On February 11, on the Meatfare Sunday, we had a nice liturgical service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today is Meatfare Sunday, and I will begin this homily by quoting one of the great Church writers, St. Demetrius of Rostov. He wrote:
““Recently we were celebrating the Nativity, the first coming of Christ into this world. Today we commemorate His second coming. Not long ago we were glorifying the Christ born, and now we are hearing about the same Christ who is going to come in His glory. Not long ago we were rejoicing about His first coming, and today we are trembling imagining His second appearance. The One who came the first time and the One who will come again is the same Jesus Christ, but those two comings are different.””
““At the first time He came as a meek and mild Lamb, at the second time He will come as a fearsome and vengeful lion. At the first time He came to take away the sins of the world and to grant forgiveness; at the second time He will come to judge the sins of the whole world and to reward everyone according to his deeds. At the first time He was expected and foreseen by the Prophets but He came in silence. For the second time He will come unexpectedly, but with a great noise and commotion. Then the earth will be shaken, the mountains will tremble, the dead will rise from the graves, all the works of human hands will burn, the skies will change. At the first coming, the eyes of man saw Him as a Baby who was swaddled, lying in a manger, held by His Mother’s hands and nourished by the breasts; in the second coming, we will see Him no longer an Infant, but a Man sitting on the throne with many glories, angry at lawless ones, shaking heaven and earth and ruining the whole universe. Oh, how terrible will be the second coming of the Lord!””
“These were the impressive and beautiful words of St. Demetrius of Rostov, a Church Father who lived more than 3 hundred years ago. If we read his homily on Meatfare Sunday, you may see that nothing had changed over those 3 hundred years. We are still waiting for the second coming of Christ and the human nature is still corrupted by sin, so we expect to be judged. But if we examine the Gospel lesson that we heard today, we may conclude that the Last Judgment of the Lord will be based on one important thing – on our works of mercy. Our good or bad deeds will be evaluated, but the Lord will be looking for the works of love, the works of mercy to bless us. And only if He finds none or not much of them, we will be condemned.”
“This is the way the Church prepares us for the special and saving time of Lent. On the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee we were taught to appreciate a humble prayer. On the Sunday of the Prodigal Son the Church instructed us to repent and convert. And today, on Meatfare Sunday we are reminded that our good deeds, our works of mercy are the most important criteria of our defense before the dreadful judgment seat of Christ. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, says the Lord (Mt. 9, 13). That means that all our prayers, our conversions may be in vain if we do not practice mercy towards others. That means that all our services, long vigils, our fasts, feasts and keeping all the customs may become useless if we don’t love and don’t show mercy. Those holy traditions are important to make us ready to do those important works of mercy. But if we fail to feed the hungry, to give drink to a thirsty, to take in the stranger, to clothe the naked, to visit a sick or a prisoner, we may not justify ourselves by our prayers, fastings and Church services. St. Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13, 1-2).”
“Thus, the Last Judgment will be dreadful for those who sin, for those who lack love and compassion and for those who fail to do good. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us hurry to do good deeds, to practice the works of mercy. Otherwise, at the end of the world we may resemble those sinners who, according to the words of the Gospel, will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” (Lk. 23, 30). We would prefer not to live through the Last Judgment but, on the contrary, everybody will be alive, for the dead will rise and the living will change to stand at the judgment. Let us prepare by love and by the works of mercy to stand at the right hand of our Lord and Savior and to reign with Him in His eternal glory!”

Since there was no services for the departed performed on Meatfare Memorial Saturday, the Rector added the Litany for the deceased to the Liturgy with commemoration of those who had fallen asleep.

The choir prayerfully performed penitential hymns from the Lenten Triodion during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian stressing the main thoughts of his English homily. He also made some announcements regarding the schedule and Church rules of the coming week.

After the liturgical service Rector and parishioners held Annual Parish Meeting.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Feast of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church


On February 4, on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, as well as the feast of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, our parish family held a beautiful celebration. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Scripture readings he delivered a homily in Russian.

In his homily the Rector compared the parable about Prodigal Son to the sad situation in which the society of former Russian Empire found itself after Russian Revolution. Like the Prodigal Son it went away from the Father’s house which was the traditional living, to a far country of godless existence and erroneous conduct. It began to build a new Tower of Babel but very soon it felt hunger and need. But not every member of that society fell into that delusion. Many faithful sons and daughters of the Orthodox Church wished to remain with their traditional belief and in the Holy Faith. They were persecuted and murdered by godless authorities. Therefore, we now have so many Martyrs and Confessors in the Russian Church. Thank God, they did not betray their faith and now they are our intercessors in heaven. Fortunately, in the recent decades the society of the former Soviet Union understood its error and began to return to a normal living. However, not all wish to follow the example of the Prodigal Son who returned to the Father’s house. Some did repent, converted to the Orthodox faith but still many did not. And the society in Russia as a whole did not repent for the crimes of the past. There are still monuments to the leaders of godless regime and the streets and towns are still bearing names of the murderers and persecutors of the Christians.
What should be done in this situation? Christianity is a religion of seeming contradictions. We are being saved only as a community, in the Church. But, on the other hand, salvation is a totally personal affair. We wish that the society may be saved as a whole, but we realize that what is really important is that each one would save his or her soul. Therefore, we need to save our own souls. We ourselves need to repent and to follow the example of the Prodigal Son. And then we need to pray to the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church that as many as possible could be saved and find their way back to the Father’s house.

During the time of the preparation for the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed the hymns from the Lenten Triodion which begin to be sung on this Sunday, starting with the words “The door of repentance open to me, o Giver of life…”. After those hymns the singers also sung the hymns dedicated to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Rus’.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a brief sermon in English stressing the main points of his Russian homily. He also congratulated the altar server Anton Malyshev on the occasion of his past nameday and handed to him a Theotokian prosphora. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial service (Litia) to commemorate all the deceased who suffered during the time of godless persecutions.