7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 15, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Placing of the Precious Robe of the Most Holy Mother of God, St. George Parish held a beautiful celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

After the readings from Sacred Scripture the Rector preached a homily in English. He reflected upon the Gospel lesson about two miracles performed by our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt. 9, 27-35). The first miracle described in the reading was giving sight to the blind men who begged Jesus to heal them. The Lord asked whether they believed that He is able to perform such a sign, and the blind men said, “Yes, Lord”. Here we see how important is our faith. If we wish that God would act in our lives, we need a firm faith in Him. That faith cannot be limited to a statement, a declaration. If we are asked whether we believe in God, we answer, “Yes, I do” but we also need to live by that faith. Our faith must be active and be fulfilled in our deeds. The blind men did not only believed but they proved their faith by following Jesus, by begging Him, by crying, by being persistent. Thus we need not to limit ourselves by declarations but to live a life of prayer, fasting, repentance, to receive the Sacraments, to attend the church.
The second miracle in today’s Gospel lesson was healing of a mute and demon-possessed. Here Jesus did not ask him about his faith. But the mute and possessed man could not speak and answer for himself. But the Lord saw the faith of the people who brought that poor man to Him. In the same way, if we are unable to speak for ourselves, the Church does it for us. It happens, for instance, when the little babies are baptized and later brought to the church for Communion. Yesterday the Holy Synod of our Church made a historical decision to bless an office of praying for the deceased unbaptized children. This is the case when those poor souls cannot ask for themselves but we as the Church can pray for them although they were not baptized, but never committed any sin. This decision was long-time waited by the Church because we had to refuse to hold public prayers for those children.
The Rector concluded his homily by asking the parishioners to keep and practice faith and to adhere to the Holy Church.

The choir nicely performed hymns in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God before Holy Communion.

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

Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

 

On July 14 we held celebration of the feast of the Major Holy Apostles Peter and Paul which had been transferred to Saturday. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.

The Rector pointed out that Holy Peter and Paul had different views on their Apostolic ministry and argued about their differences. We may say that Peter was conservative and Paul was more progressive, or, as many of us say, “liberal”. People usually are divided in that manner. But Holy Major Apostles, although they had their differences, never divided the Church and never separated from the community of Christ. And their feast shows that both Peter and Paul died on the same day, being killed because of the persecution of Christians in Rome. This is an important lesson for us: we may hold different, even opposite views but should be united in our Orthodox faith and our belonging to the Church. We should adhere to the firm and solid faith declared by St. Peter in today’s Gospel lesson: that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God. And we should not create schisms and hostilities because of our differences. Therefore, we have to ask that the Lord through the prayers of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul grant us unity in spirit, so we may be led to eternal Kingdom of God.

Our cantor Olga Roussanow nicely performed hymns in honor of the Holy Apostles.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed a rite of glorification before the icon stand in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. The Rector also preached a short sermon in English stressing the ideas of his Russian homily.

 

6th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On July 8, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish family held a nice celebration at our church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

”Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel tells us about a miraculous healing of a paralyzed man. Before healing that man our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed that the sins of that man are forgiven (Mt. 9, 2). Some Jewish elders whom the Scripture calls the Scribes were present there and began to think that Jesus is blaspheming. Only God can forgive sins. Knowing of their thoughts the Lord rebuked them saying that not only sins of that man are forgiven, but his body will also be freed from the infirmity. He tells the paralytic to stand up and walk, and the paralytic does stand, takes his bed and walks to his own house (Mt. 9, 6).”
”This reading teaches us that our illnesses are caused by sin. Mainly, of course, our infirmities are not the consequence of our personal sins, but rather the effects of the sinful state, a sin that is all around us in the world and to which we are subject.”
“The doctors tell us that many illnesses are the result of bacteria coming from the world and attacking a weakness in our bodies. Such a weakness may be inherited through what we now call genes. Or perhaps that weakness comes in old age when our bodies began to fail as they wear out. In both cases illness is caused by a corrupted state of humanity where a spiritual failure caused physical imperfection.”
”On the other hand, a sickness may be the result of overeating or an unhealthy diet. Then again it is a result of sin called gluttony. It may be the result of using of alcohol or drugs. Then it is a sin of drunkenness or debauchery. Some of us get sick because of a lack of physical activity. Then it may be a sin of laziness. Finally, our illness such may also be the result of a state of mind. Then various sins of our mind, sins of thought and heart make us unhealthy. This is why today’s Gospel does not tell us about any particular cause of the man’s illness. But it shows that he was paralyzed not because of bacteria, old age, unhealthy diet or poor mental state, but because his sins were not forgiven.”
“Our body and our soul are very much connected. They both compose a human person. This is why we should always remember to take care of ourselves, to love ourselves. That means to love our souls and our bodies. If our souls are healthy, not burdened by unforgiven sins, our bodies would be much healthier. And on the opposite, if we live in sins and vices, we should not expect our bodies to be well.”
“Today the Orthodox Church honors the holy memory of Venerable Martyr Febronia who was a nun in some Eastern land. She was persecuted and tortured by the Roman officials. One of those torturers who was especially fierce and cruel died soon after he put Febronia to death. Other his companions even converted to Christianity but that one was very angry and evil. So he died of that anger. Of course, it was God’s punishment but the cause of death was that man’s mental state which influenced his physical health and resulted in his death.”
“Having an example from the life of today’s Saint and coming to an understanding that our bodily weaknesses are the result of our sin, let us ask the Lord’s help. Let us ask Him to forgive our sins in the holy Mystery of Confession. Let us use that great medicine, that healing Sacrament. Unfortunately, this Sacrament is in a great neglect in our times. Protestants don’t have it. Catholics have it but don’t use it much. Even many among many Orthodox it is in neglect, like it is seen in the Greek or Antiochian parishes. In our Russian parishes Confession is used but many people don’t know how to confess correctly; they like to have a conversation with a priest, to tell him about his life but don’t confess their actual sins. Clergy should teach faithful to do that.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us use the Holy Confession in a right way to truly repent and receive absolution of our sins. Let us also fight our sins and bad habits to be freed from possible sicknesses of the body which may be caused by our wrong behavior. And let us then follow our Lord Jesus Christ to His eternal glory.”

The choir beautifully performed hymns in honor of St. John the Baptist whose Nativity the Church celebrated on the previous day.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to convey the main ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our long-time active parishioner, Natalia (Dolores) Soho on the occasion of her past birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals. A toast in honor of Natalia (Dolores) was raised during the luncheon and a birthday cake presented for the dessert.


 

5th Sunday after Pentecost

On July 1, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached a homily in Russian.

In his homily the Rector addressed the issue of evil existing in the world. The Gospel lesson of this Sunday tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ casting out the demons from possessed men and permitting the demons to enter into a herd of swine, so the animals perished (Mt. 8, 28 – 9, 1). This shows that evil does exist although the philosophers stress that evil has no substance but it appears as a lack of good. We feel evil’s existence if we are in pain or in suffering. The purpose of coming of the Lord into this world was to fight the evil and to show us the way to avoid it. Sometimes God permits evil to have a moment of triumph. It happened with the demons entering the herd of swine and destroying the animals. It happens with the people also. For instance, it occurred when German nation became overcome by the evil ideas of Hitler. God allows such bad things to happen for certain purposes. It is our task to fight and to avoid evil in our lives, to do good and to seek God’s help in this spiritual warfare.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English stressing the thoughts of his Russian homily. He also made some announcements.

4th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On June 24, on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. In the absence of our Rector, the Divine Liturgy was served by Priest Mark Rashkov, cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral.

Fr. Mark preached a homily in Russian and English languages interpreting the Gospel lesson assigned for this Sunday.