St. George’s Rector headed Burial Service in Philadelphia for the newly-departed Archpriest Vincent Saverino


On Tuesday, September 25, clergy and faithful of greater Philadelphia gathered in St. Michael the Archangel Church to bid farewell to their long-time pastor, Mitered Archpriest Vincent Saverino who fell asleep in the Lord on September 20. Fr. Vincent labored for many years in the Patriarchal Parishes, carrying the obediences of the Rector of St. Michael’s Parish in Philadelphia, Dean of the Atlantic States and a member of the Bishop’s Council.

The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended that funeral ceremony. In the absence of our Bishop, Fr. Igor, as the Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, headed the burial service for our newly-departed cleric.

Early in the morning, the Dean of the Atlantic States, Archpriest John Vass celebrated the Divine Liturgy being co-served by the parish Rector, Priest Gregory Winsky and a multitude of clergy from the Patriarchal Parishes, the Russian Church Abroad, and other local Orthodox jurisdictions.

Following the Divine Liturgy, the priestly burial office was served by Archpriest Igor Tarasov assisted by all other clergy. At the beginning of the service Fr. Igor read aloud condolences to the family and parishioners of St. Michael Church from the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk. After the service dismissal the traditional rite of the farewell kiss had been performed by the clergy and faithful.

The church was filled with parishioners wishing to lift their prayers and pay their respects to the priest who served faithfully their parish for more than 30 years.

Following the service in the church the clergy proceeded to the cemetery where Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the final memorial service including the Litia for the repose of the newly-departed and the sealing of the tomb.

A repast was then held in the parish hall of St. Michael Church prepared by the parish sisterhood. 

Sunday before the Exaltation. Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God


On September 23, on the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross, we had a nice celebration at St. George. We also observed the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God which fell on the last Friday and had been transferred to that Sunday. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our church. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we came to celebrate the great feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. This holy day is the first great celebration after the beginning of the New Church Year. And this has its significance: as we start the new year of the Church life, we commemorate the day on which the history of our salvation began, we celebrate the day of birth of the Most Holy Mother of our Savior.”
“This day was “the joy of the whole universe”, as we sing in today’s troparion. It may be compared to the beginning of the dawn. Early in the morning we see the darkness around us and we wait for the sun to rise. Especially now, in the fall, the sun does not rise too early and the nights are becoming longer. So, we may wait for the day to begin and for the sun to rise, but it does not happen so fast. But before the sun rises the sky in the East becomes lighter. This is called the dawn of the new day. So the Nativity of the Theotokos can be compared to the dawn of the new day, of the day of our salvation. The Akathistos to the Most Holy Mother of God says: “Rejoice, o dawn of the mystical day!” The mystical day is the salvation of the human race. That mystical day is the spiritual day where Jesus Christ, the Sun of truth had shone for the whole world. But before the appearance of that Sun, the dawn of the Nativity of the Theotokos appeared, appeared to proclaim the beginning of our salvation.”
“Now we are gathered in the temple and we pray to the Most Holy Mother of God because it is the impression that we live in the world full of darkness. That darkness is overshadowing us. The murk of sin and the shadow of godless attitude had filled the souls of men. The weight of that apostasy in the world we feel in our everyday life. The fruits of such a godless life we experience in our sorrows, misfortunes and evil things which happen to us. The darkness of hostility is seen in today’s world. People are so much divided and hating each other. We are now witnessing a sad division among the Orthodox people and even between the particular Orthodox Churches. It is not surprising that the evil one was attempting to make a quarrel among us, but it is very sad that some of us succumbed to that temptation and began to fight. Another sad example is this country. Here, in America, the society is so divided over political issues, over the support or disappointment of today’s President. Instead of remembering that all the Americans are supposed to be united as one nation and political preferences should not be their priority, they fight and show intolerance to each other.”
“Looking at all that darkness of sin, godlessness, hostility and evil around us we may ask: was all the whole cause of our salvation in vain? Was the coming of Christ for nothing? The world is still in the darkness of sin and the men are still hating, killing and disrespecting each other, as it was before Christ. Was the Nativity of the Theotokos, the dawn of the mystical day in vain? No, dear brothers and sisters! The difference between the world before Christ and our today’s world is tremendous. Before Christ, even the best minds of humanity could not change much, could not free themselves from sin, because they were living under the curse of apostasy which man placed on himself when he violated God’s only commandment in paradise. Even the most righteous men and women who lived before Christ could not lift that curse. And thus, the dawn of the salvation had appeared, the Most Holy Theotokos was born, the one who after some twenty years had to give birth to the Savior! And Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ was only one who was able to lift the lift the condemnation. As we sing in today’s troparion, “by annulling the curse, He bestowed the blessing, by destroying death, He has granted us eternal life”. Thus the ancient curse was annulled, abolished and the blessing was bestowed due to the coming of Christ. And the harbinger of that salvation was the birth of the Most Holy Mother of God.”
“And today, in the same way as the dawn of our salvation had shone over the world that had no salvation, the Holy Church again and again proclaims our salvation, reminds us that the light of God may shine in our souls. And even our darkest sins can be annihilated; and even our most terrible sorrows can be chased away; and we can be freed from any trouble. It is now depending on us: whether we would turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, would pray for Her intercession and help, whether we would ask Her to lead us to Her Son, to teach us to live a pious life, to keep the Commandments, to pray, to receive the Holy Sacraments. It is now up to us whether we would live in the darkness of the world, in the murk of sin, or we would walk in the light of Christ. Therefore, let us praise the Most Holy Mother of God on today’s day of Her wonderful birth and let us acclaim to Her the words of our pious prayer: “Most Holy Mother of God, save us!””

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector proclaimed additional petitions for the peace in Ukraine and for preservation of the unity of the Orthodox Church.

The choir nicely performed the hymns in honor of the Nativity of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. The Rector also preached a short sermon in Russian to convey the main thoughts of his English homily.

Celebration of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God at St. Nicholas Cathedral


On Friday, September 21, on the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York. He was co-served by the cathedral clergy: Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov), Protodeacon Igor Panachev and Deacon John Peters.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor preached a homily about the celebrated holy day.

16th Sunday after Pentecost


On September 16, on the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our Parish. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.

The Rector offered two kinds of interpretation of the parable on the talents (Mt. 25, 14-30). The earthly and simple sense of the parable is that God gives people different gifts. We in America declare: “All men are created equal”, and this is true but only to some extent. We are made equal by God and all of us are His children who are dear to Him, thus we should have equal rights and opportunities. However, in everything else there is nothing that makes us equal. Everybody is different in his or her abilities and talents. This is why in the parable the lord gave different sums of money to his different servants, according to everyone’s ability (Mt. 25, 15). But we should note that every servant received at least one talent: every man who is born receives at least one gift from God.
However, if we think of it, we may see that every person has more than one talent. For instance, a good engineer in his spare time may be a good cook or a good artist. The Lord is very generous to many of us. And it depends on us how we use those talents in our life. We may be very successful using them or we may bury them in the ground and not achieve much.
The spiritual interpretation of the parable suggests that the talents are the gifts of the divine grace. They are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are generously given to us by God. And again, in we are not equal in acquiring of those gifts. Some Saints were blessed earlier, some later. St. John the Baptist, for example, was pious already in the womb of his mother and greeted the Son of God and His Blessed Mother when Mary visited Elizabeth. St. Nicholas and St. Sergius of Radonezh were blessed in their early childhood and refused to be nursed on Wednesdays and Friday, on the days of fast. But Holy Apostle Paul converted only in his mature age. Thus we are not equal in God’s gifts but we receive them and need to multiply those talents. It means that we have to grow in our devotion, in spiritual life and in our salvation. For instance, if we pray once a day, we should start praying twice a day, then we should pray before and after meals. If we come to church on great holy days, we should begin coming every Sunday. If we go to confession once in a while, we should begin to confess more often. We should not stop but should progress to receive more gifts of grace. And, on the opposite, if we won’t progress in our spiritual talents, we may lose even those gifts that we had.
The Rector concluded his homily by calling the faithful to ask the God’s help to grow our faith, to cultivate our piety and to multiply our spiritual talents. Then at the end we may hear the words of praise from today’s parable: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Mt. 25, 21).

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector proclaimed two additional petitions for the preservation of the unity of the Orthodox Church that according to the decision of the recent session of the Holy Synod have been blessed to take in all Russian churches due to the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

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

Following the liturgical celebration the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and an interesting conversation at the coffee hour.

Patronal Feast at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ


On Wednesday, September 12, the Rector of St. George Church, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended celebration of the Patronal feast at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ. This is one of the largest ROCOR temples in the United States.

A beautiful liturgical celebration was held in that parish on that festal day of the memory of the Faithful Prince Alexander Nevsky. The service was headed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. He was co-served by His Grace, Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church and many Orthodox clerics from the ROCOR, Serbian Church, Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, OCA, as well as from other jurisdictions. Fr. Igor joined them praying at the Liturgy in the sanctuary.

Following the liturgical service the celebration continued in the cathedral hall where a festal luncheon was served. Archpriest Igor Tarasov had a speech greeting His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, His Grace, Bishop Irinej, the clergy and the faithful present on behalf of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA on the occasion of the Patronal feast expressing a warm wish of God’s blessings and warm protection of St. Alexander Nevsky.

15th Sunday after Pentecost. Beheading of St. John the Baptist


On September 9, on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish held a nice celebration. In addition to the Sunday observance we celebrated feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist that had been transferred to Sunday. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Scripture he preached a homily in English.

The Rector pointed out that in the first Gospel lesson our Lord Jesus Christ was asked a provocative question: “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt. 22, 36). The Pharisees and the scribes were looking for a way to find an error in the teaching of Christ, so they asked him different questions to test Him. Jesus answered that the great commandment is to love God, and another one is to love your neighbor (Mt. 22, 37-39). In this way He emphasized that all other commandments are based on the law of Love. Those two commandments were not among the Ten Commandments we all should know but they were among numerous God’s prescriptions of the Old Testament. Thus the Jews could not pay much attention to them. However, if you look at Ten Commandments, you may see that the first four of them concern our relationship with God and the rest six Commandments are about our relationship with our neighbors. Therefore, all Ten Commandments are about love of God and of our neighbor. And the Lord stressed that on those two commandments of love “hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 22, 40).
At the same time, if we compare Ten Commandments and the two commandments of love, we may see that Ten Commandments are formulated in a negative way. They prohibit certain behavior or certain deeds. On the other hand, the commandments of love are spelled out in a positive way: they prescribe doing something good. And, of course, it is a more mature way to think and to adhere to something. However, human nature makes people needing prohibitions. Unfortunately, many people are not mature and they need to be told that certain things are forbidden. Celebrating the Beheading of St. John the Baptist we learn that king Herod needed to be told that he acted unlawfully. St. John the Baptist was fearless to tell him that and as a result the just man, the holy Forerunner of Christ was executed. Although Herod was not stopped, such reminding of the God’s law is important.
At the conclusion of his homily the Rector called the faithful to adhere to the Commandments and to be watchful. We need to remind ourselves to stop if we desire to break the Commandments. And we should warn others from violating the God’s law: in that way we could show them our real love. The Rector also asked to pray to St. John the Baptist to make us worthy of eternal life with God.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed the Rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification in the middle of the church in honor of the feast of the Beheading of the Forerunner. Then the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian explaining the main ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our parishioners Natalia Soho and Natalia Tsyvilyova on the occasion of their past name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

14th Sunday after Pentecost


On September 2, on the 14th Sunday after Pentecost St. George Parish family had a beautiful celebration at our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On this Sunday again we hear a parable told by our Lord Jesus Christ to His opponents. In a similar way, it is a parable about the Kingdom of heaven. Last Sunday Jesus compared God to a landowner who planted a vineyard, and the people to the vinedressers or tenants. Today’s story compares God to a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. Let us look closely unto that parable.”
“God desired to invite man to His heavenly Kingdom, to return him to paradise. For that reason God sent His Only-begotten Son to redeem the human race. His Son is a Bridegroom who is going to unite in a mystical way with humanity, with His Bride, the Church.”
“At first, the wedding banquet of God’s Son was prepared for the chosen people, for the Jews. Today’s Gospel lesson says that the king sent his servants to call “those who were invited to the wedding” (Mt. 22, 3). The servants here are the Prophets whom God was sending to His people. But those who were invited, as we hear in today’s Gospel, disregarded the invitation or even mistreated the king’s servants (Mt. 22, 5-6). Same was done by the Jews to God’s Prophets. Then the king commands his servants to go to the highways and invite totally different people to the wedding (Mt. 22, 8). In this way the Holy Gospel proclaims the transfer of the Kingdom of God from Jews to Gentiles. If the Jews, the chosen people, the people who were invited to God’s joyful feast, became unworthy of that generous invitation, other nations should fill the banquet hall of the King’s celebration.”
“Through holy Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation we are brought into union with Christ. Through those holy Mysteries we are brought into marriage with the Lord, the mystical marriage of the Church with her heavenly Bridegroom, the Christ. However, being invited, even for us, does not mean an automatic stay in the wedding hall. Today’s Gospel tells us about a man who came to the marriage banquet without a proper wedding garment. He was cast out of the hall (Mt. 22, 11-13). The wedding garment, dear brethren, is the grace of God which has to be put on. For as many of us were baptized into Christ , have put in Christ (Gal. 3, 27). In the times of Jesus, a special wedding garment was given for each guest at the wedding. The host provided such garments for the guests. This is why, it was strange to see a guest who did not have a wedding garment put on. In today’s parable the king saw a man without it and asked how could he enter without a proper dress. The guest was speechless (Mt. 22, 12). In the same way, many people who became baptized lose or refuse to put on the garment of divine grace, the garment of pure and pious life. They avoid spiritual life, they refuse to attend the church, they decline reception of the Sacraments. All these things, like a wedding garment, are provided by God for us. But many of us refuse to take it. And when the Lord comes and demands an answer, we become speechless. We have nothing to say.”
“Dear brother and sisters! Hearing the parable about a wedding feast, let us be worthy of God’s invitation. Let us come joyfully to the Lord, let us attend His holy wedding. For us, every Divine Liturgy is such a wedding banquet. Let us not miss it. Let us avoid the attitude of those who declined the king’s invitation. And let us not forget to be appropriately dressed for this important occasion. Our appropriate dress, our wedding garment is our pure soul, a heart cleansed of all impurity in the holy Sacrament of confession. Let us not become speechless and then cast out into the outer darkness, but come into joy of our Lord and feast with Him in the everlasting joy of His Heavenly Kingdom!”

Since on the first Sunday of September the Russian Church holds a special day of prayer for the preservation of God’s creation, during the Litany of fervent supplication the Rector offered special petitions for that cause, as well s special prayer after that Litany.

The choir was prayerfully singing the hymns of the Dormition, the feast which had still been celebrated on that day.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English conveying the main ideas of his Russian homily. Following that the Rector he also offered a prayer for the schoolchildren who begin their new school year. The Rector blessed our children and wished them a successful study and acquiring of knowledge.

After the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the trapeza table.