The Russian Church Group “Unity” is grateful to St. George’s Rector for receiving the Holy Relics in our Parish

 

The Russian Church Working Group “Unity” headed by Mr. Valeriy Balakirev expressed a heartfelt appreciation to our Rector, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov for a worthy reception of the holy relics of different Saint in our Parish temple on the feast of the Annunciation, April 7, 2019.
Fr. Igor received a special letter of commendation from the Church Working Group, as well as a poster about representing the said event. He also wrote a letter to His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad and thanked him for a blessing to bring the relics to different Orthodox parishes in America.
The gratitude of the Rector was also expressed to Mr. Balakirev and to Abbot Eutychius (Dovgan) who accomplished the mission of bringing the relics to our temple.
A report about such a significant event was presented to His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh who gave his blessing to hold it.

Рабочая Группа Русского зарубежья «Единение» возглавляемая г-ном академиком Валерием Балакиревым выразила сердечную признательность нашему настоятелю, канцлеру Патриарших приходов в США протоиерею Игорю Тарасову за достойную встречу мощей различных Святых в нашем храме в праздник Благовещения, 7 апреля 2019 года.
Отец Игорь получил особую грамоту от Рабочей Группы, а также плакат, представляющий данное событие. В ответ он направил письмо Высокопреосвященнейшему митрополиту Илариону, Первоиерарху Русской Зарубежной Церкви, где поблагодарил его за благословение приносить святые мощи в различные православные храмы Америки.
Благодарность отца настоятеля также была выражена уважаемому академику В.С. Балакиреву и игумену Евтихию (Довганю), которые осуществили принесение мощей в наш храм.
Отчет о данном знаменательном событии был представлен Его Преосвященству, епископу Сурожскому Матфею, который благословил его проведение.

 

Palm Sunday. Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem

 

On April 21, 2019 the Orthodox Church celebrated feast of the Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, also known as Palm Sunday. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed festal liturgical service in our parish.

After the reading of the Hours the Rector blessed the pussy-willows and distributed them to the parishioners who were holding them during the service resembling the people of Jerusalem who greeted Jesus Christ with the olive and palm branches during His triumphal entry to the city.

Following the readings from the Scripture at the Divine Liturgy the Rector preached the following homily in English:

“Today is the great feast of the Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem. And today we came to the God’s temple holding the branches, following the example of those children who came out to greet the Savior and our Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. Commemorating that special event we may reflect upon the fact that first of all, children were those who greeted Christ.”
“Childhood is a special time in our life. Our brightest memories are usually about our childhood. Usually we remember all good things which took place when we were little. It happens because our soul was pure at that time. We also tend to remember the bitterest things which happened to us as little children. It also happens because our soul in childhood was not defiled by the sins of this world, and sinful passions had not yet build a poisonous nest in our heart. Therefore the Lord once during His preaching called a child and placing him before everyone said: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 18, 3).”
““Become as little children”. What did the Lord mean? He was talking about a purity in heart of a child and of an openness of human soul in childhood. He was talking about how a child looks at the world when he had not yet been exposed to lie and hypocrisy, when all his feelings are sincere.”
“But the Lord also said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5, 8). So, not just children but everyone who is sincere, could see God in his life. The grace of the Lord may grant everyone a spiritual sight, so he can be sincerely joyful and sincerely sorrowful.”
“Children were greeting Jesus Christ with joy. They held the palm and olive branches, placed them over His way and shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” They repeated the words they heard from the adults and perhaps did not even understanding those words. They did not understand them by their mind but their heart understood them. They greeted the Lord Jesus because Christ is true God who came into the world and who entered Jerusalem to suffer for the sins of the world.”
“The grown-ups also came out to greet Jesus. But most of they were doing it not because their hearts were filled with joy about God, but because they heard that Christ resurrected His friend Lazarus. They heard about the miracles of Christ, about His “signs”. They thought that the Messiah came who will establish a joyful earthly kingdom where everything will be good. They thought that there came a Liberator to free them from the foreign dominion and to renew an independent kingdom of Israel. But the Kingdom of Christ was not of this world. That is why they very easily, in a couple of days, turned away from Him and condemned Him to be crucified.”
“Comparing the adults’ and children’s perception of Christ, we may also compare how Christ is perceived by those who believe and those who don’t. For those who believe, through faith the mystery of God’s Kingdom is being revealed. Such is the Kingdom where miracles take place, good prevails over evil and justice reigns over. But others are not able to see that because their heart is either not pure enough or is too harsh. In the same way in Jerusalem, some joyfully welcomed the Savior but others did not rejoice about His coming. “There are no miracles”, they thought. They were members of the high society. They were thinking about important issues. They were thinking how to liberate Israel from the Roman rule. They were thinking how to trade with other countries. They were thinking about many things but failed to see what was the most important. And when Christ, the Conqueror of death, came to Jerusalem and children greeted Him, they looked upon that with disbelief and skepticism. They were indignant with those children and rebuked Christ because of them (Mt. 21, 15-16).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! The world does not change much, and now some people go to the church to joyfully greet Christ and they ask that Jesus may enter into their lives as He once entered the city of Jerusalem. Yet others look at that and do not understand. They don’t rush to the temple and may even say, “Why do you go to the church? There are so many other important things to do” Some think of how to improve the political and social life, how to vote at the elections, how to make the economy better [ …. ]. And they may say to us, “Why do you spend time at the services, pray, bless yourself, kiss the icons? There is no miracles!””
“Dear brothers and sisters! It is very important for us to preserve that faith in miracles, to maintain that childlike perception of the great and supreme things in our life. It is important not to harden our soul, not to make it callous and not to become insensitive to the God’s miracles, to His Kingdom, as it happened to the adults in Jerusalem and how it happens with many people and in all the times.”
“Thus today we came to greet Christ who is coming to His sufferings. As we sing in the festal hymn, “Today the grace of the Holy Spirit had gathered us” and we, receiving the branches, as little children, pray to the Lord that also our hearts may be pure, so we may see the Lord Jesus Christ as our God and Savior. And we pray to Him that the spirit of godlessness, the spirit of unbelief may not penetrate our souls. As a sign of victory of Christ over death, we hold these branches which seemed to be dead in winter but behold, they became alive. Let us pray that our souls may bloom along with our Lord Jesus Christ to whom is due all glory for ages of ages!”

The choir beautifully performed festal hymns during preparation for Holy Communion and selected special melodies for some parts of the Liturgy.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification before the festal icon. Then Fr. Igor preached a short sermon in Russian explaining the ideas of his English homily. He also reminded the parishioners about our service schedule for the Holy Week and Pascha.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

 

On April 14, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent our parishioners gathered for a liturgical celebration in our temple. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters! We have reached the Fifth Sunday of Lent when we read a passage from the Holy Gospel about the Disciples of Christ, James and John, asking that the Lord may grant them the best places in His Kingdom. At the same time, today we honor Venerable Mary of Egypt. We have passed most of the weeks of Lent and we have only one of them left until we will celebrate Palm Sunday, until Passion Week when we will spiritually revive the sufferings and death of our Savior. Thus today’s Gospel lesson begins with the words of reminder of that when Christ Himself tells His Disciples that soon they will enter into Jerusalem and there He will be condemned to death (Mk. 10, 33-34).”
“Today we should think how we evaluate ourselves and others in our life, and we should compare our evaluation to the one which God Himself would make on our behalf. The sons of Zebedee, Apostles James and John approached Christ and asked, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mk. 10, 37). We have to admit that it is a natural and understandable human request: all the close companions of some important person can hope that they would get the best places near him when he will come to power. We may condemn it but these are the human relations, this is our sinful nature. In the case of James and John, they both were very close Disciples of Jesus; they followed Him from the beginning, they labored with Him all the time. He made them special Himself, along with Apostle Peter: for instance, He took only three of them to Mt. Tabor where He transfigured. Therefore they could consider to have a right to ask their Teacher about such a favor. They graded themselves so high. And they relied on “connections” to their Teacher, on their position of His closest followers. The Lord answered them that yes, they could be with Him until the end, to drink the cap that He drinks, and to be baptized by the baptism He is baptized (Mk. 10, 39). That means that His Disciples will be worthy to suffer like Him and to be ready to die like Him. However, to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared” (Mk. 10, 40). Thus the places in the Heavenly Kingdom will be granted according God’s command and according to the final judgment, a final grade given by the Almighty Lord.”
“If we would try to argue that Jesus Christ Himself being the Son of God could prepare a certain place for whom He wishes, we should remember that James and John had not finished their earthly life yet, and it was too early to grade them. And it was too early to reserve a place for them in heaven. The Lord firmly said to the thief on the cross: “Today you will be with Me in paradise” (Lk. 23, 39). But He said that because the thief was dying. And He did not indicate which place in paradise the thief will take.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, the most important grade for our life and for our merits will be the judgment of God. And before that it is hard to say what is waiting for us in eternity.”
“We receive many different grades in our life. When we go to school in our childhood, we always get grades which reflect our success in studies. Sometimes those grades are unfair but usually they honestly show how good we are in certain subjects. But often happens that a student who was bad improves and starts to get better grades. It also happens that a good student becomes lazy and his grades become lower. Often we may see that those who were not very good at school become more successful in their adult life than those who were excellent students. Similar things can be in colleges where we also have a lot of grades, tests and exams. And it also happens that someone who was a “C” student in college, becomes a good professional, gets a better job, and even not because of his connections. Human grades are relative.”
“In the same manner we get different grades in our life itself. This is very personal: which grade can be given to a person as a husband, a wife, a child or a parent. These grades are even more important than those we receive in school. It happens that a girl is very good student in her school but later she grows up, gets married and becomes a mediocre wife. Or a boy is an excellent student but later grows up and becomes a lousy father. Same thing takes place everywhere. It takes places in the Church too: someone is a good parishioner, someone is not so good, yet someone is listed as a member but is no parishioner at all. Everywhere we can be graded, evaluated and weighed.”
“Today the Church especially honors Venerable Mary of Egypt. All her youth she spent in the sins of flesh being a harlot, a fallen woman. What grade would the society give her? How was she evaluated by the people who knew her? But a miraculous conversion took place: Mary turned away from sin. Those who read about her life could learn about it in detail. She abandoned the sin, she headed to the desert and she spent the rest of her life in prayer, in piety and in the ascetic endeavors. She changed completely – in her appearance and in her inner state. The Lord granted her a special grace, made her worthy of special spiritual gifts. And Zosimas, a monk who encountered her in the wilderness, could give that holy woman a totally different grade. But the most important grade for the whole life of Venerable Mary gave the Lord God when He received her in His everlasting Kingdom and made us, His Church to glorify her among the Saints and to venerate her in these holy days of Lent.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we should not give premature grades to our neighbors and to ourselves. We should remember that a person can always fall and rise, can always make his grade lower or higher.”
“Today’s Sunday also teaches us to be humble. The Lord today teaches His Apostles: “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mk. 10, 43-44). Nowadays it is very humiliating to be called a servant; it is by far more shameful to be called a slave. A “servant” is already a very bad mark for a person nowadays. However, the Lord teaches us to be servants to each other, and if someone wants to be in charge, he has to be a slave of all. He teaches so because He Himself was the servant of all mankind and because He Himself, like a slave, suffered and died on the cross. Thus, if we consider themselves followers of Christ, we have to serve others. Then in the eyes of God our grade will be high.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Hearing the reading from the Holy Gospel and having an example of Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt, let us be zealous in fulfilling our Christian duties, let us strive for spiritual growth and for endeavors of piety, so not just our neighbors but the Lord Himself would give us a high grade and that at the end of our earthly journey He would highly graded us and received into His Kingdom granting us a proper place in His glory!”

The choir prayerfully performed penitent hymns and hymns in honor of Venerable Mary of Egypt during the preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English stressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also made announcements about the future celebrations of the Holy Week and Pascha and regarding an importance to receive the Holy Mysteries of Penance and Eucharist in these special days of Lent.

After the Divine Liturgy the Rector performed the Sacrament of the Anointing of the sick. All persons who desired to receive that Mystery participated in the service and were anointed with the blessed oil. At the conclusion of the office the Rector preached a brief sermon about the significance of this Sacrament.

Fourth Sunday of Lent. Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God

 

On April 7, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, as well as the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. On that day our temple was blessed by receiving the holy relics of different Saints, including the relics of our Parish Patron, Holy Great Martyr George. By the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh the relics were brought by Mr. Valeriy Balakirev, a distinguished scholar and the keeper of those relics. This special event attracted many guests to our church, so the attendance of our Sunday service was much higher on that day.

Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. He was co-served by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), a cleric of the ROCOR. After the readings from the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached the following homily in English:

“Today we celebrate feast of the Annunciation. On this day the Angel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that She had been chosen by God to bring the Savior to the world. We call it in English “Annunciation” because it is announcing of the greatest good news mankind has ever heard: the coming of God into the world, and more specifically, into our lives. It is the announcement of the good news that God is coming to overcome sin and death for us, to make us His own sons and daughters, the heirs of His everlasting Kingdom.”
“This was really good news brought by Archangel Gabriel. Especially if we compare it with other news we hear in our life. The news is so bad these days that one doesn’t know whether to watch the six’ o’clock news and not be able to eat dinner or to watch the ten’ o’ clock news and not be able to sleep. We have a lot of bad news. Recently, we also started to get a lot of fake news. How can we deal with them?”
“The ancient Greeks killed anyone who brought them bad news. But that is not a solution.  The bad news remains. Or maybe we can deal with bad news as some father of the four children tried? He refused to hear about bad news regarding his kids. He told his wife: “Please, if you don’t have good news about them, say nothing!” His wife then told him once: “I do have good news for you. Three of your four children didn’t break their arms today.””
“Our Christian faith doesn’t use such solutions. It does not begin with good news; it begins with acknowledging the bad news that exists in our world and in our lives: sin, death, suffering, despair, loneliness, hopelessness. Good news cannot be good news unless we first have a sense of the bad news of our situation.”
“It was into the world full of bad news that Christ came to Himself Good News. And the whole life and ministry of our Lord in the world is best described by the Greek word “Evangelion” – the Gospel, which means the good news. The whole teaching of Christ is Good News. Not good advice, but good news; not good views, but good news. This is the Gospel of Christ.”
“And the book of the Holy Gospel has many stories about people in whose lives our Lord Jesus Christ brought good news. Today, along with the feast of the Annunciation we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and we hear the Gospel lesson about a healing of a boy who had a mute spirit. It was really bad news for that boy’s family that he was so sick and demon-possessed. It was bad news for the Disciples of Christ who tried to heal the boy but were not successful. Finally, it was even bad news for Jesus. He was disappointed and exclaimed, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” (Mk. 9, 19). But let us look how He dealt with those news: the Lord asked to bring that possessed boy to Him, He spoke to the boy’s father, He asked whether the father has faith. When Jesus saw the faith of the father who acknowledged that his faith is small, He healed the boy (Mk. 9, 20-24). That’s how Jesus dealt with bad news turning them into good news! And in every Gospel story we see that when our Lord Jesus Christ was coming into someone’s life, He was always bringing good news and making a great difference.”
“He made difference about many things. First of all, about God. The greatest difference and the greatest news about God is that He does not hate us. He loves us. He does not want to punish, but to forgive. God sent His Onlybegotten Son Jesus not to condemn the world but that the world may be saved through Him (Jn. 3, 17).”
“Jesus also made a difference about death. Death is man’s last and greatest enemy; it comes to put an end to our earthly lives. But in the darkness of death there shines the light of the risen Christ who came back from the grave and said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11, 25).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! We all need good news about God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s power for our weakness, God’s Resurrection for our death. Good news about the Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory, worship and thanksgiving now and unto the ages of ages. Amen!”

The choir beautifully performed hymns of the Annunciation during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian addressing his thoughts of the English homily. Then he asked Mr. Balakirev to have a speech about his mission of keeping and bringing the relics to different parishes. Following the speech the clergy and Rector and the altar server performed a short prayer service before the relics and the festal icons. That service included the rite of glorification of the feast, as well as troparion, kontakion, magnification and a prayer to the Parish Patron, Holy Great Martyr George.

After the prayers the faithful had an opportunity to venerate the relics and to kiss the cross from the hands of the Rector.

Following our liturgical celebration the clergy, along with our distinguished guests and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals prepared by our ladies and a nice company at the trapeza table.

The Rector of St. George served the Mystery of the Anointing of the Sick at the Romanian Church in New Jersey

 

On Friday, April 5, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church and Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA was invited by the clergy of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolia in America to celebrate the Mystery of the Anointing of the sick at the Life-Giving Fountain Romanian Church in Long Valley, NJ.

The Mystery of the Anointing was celebrated traditionally by the seven priests. The local Dean of the Romanian Metropolia was heading the celebration, being co-served by four Romanian priests from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Our Patriarchal Parishes were represented by Fr. Igor and Priest Andrew Massey, Rector of the Holy Cross Church in Hackettstown, NJ.

According to the Romanian tradition, this Sacrament for all the faithful willing to receive it is always celebrated during Lent. Also in the Romanian Church the anointing by the blessed oil is administered only after the office of the Sacrament but by the seven priests, so each person is being anointed seven times but in one ceremony.

Fr. Igor proclaimed the second Gospel during the celebration. After the dismissal of the service he preached a short sermon about the significance of the Sacrament for the healing of soul and body. Then a long sermon was preached by the Dean. At the end all the faithful present received the anointing by the blessed oil.

Holy Relics of the Saints are going to be brought to St. George Church

 

By the blessing of His Grace, Bishop MATTHEW of Sourozh, the Interim Administrator of Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, on April 7, 2019, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God, THE RELICS OF THE SAINTS OF GOD will be brought to our St. George Church.
We expect the relics of the following Saints:

HOLY VICTORIOUS GREAT MARTYR GEORGE, our Parish Patron.
As well as of
ST. BASIL THE GREAT
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ST. NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER
HOLY GREAT MARTYR AND HEALER PANTELEIMON
HOLY PRINCE ALEXANDER NEVSKY
VENERABLE SERAPHIM OF SAROV
VENERABLE ELDERS OF OPTINA AND DIVEEVO

The relics are being brought by Mr. Valerii Balakirev who received a special blessing from His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
WE INVITE ALL THE FAITHFUL OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH TO VISIT OUR PARISH AND TO VENERATE THE HOLY RELICS!

_____________________

По благословению Преосвященнейшего МАТФЕЯ, Епископа Сурожского, Временно Управляющего Патриаршими приходами в США, 7 апреля 2019 года, в праздник Благовещения Пресвятой Богородицы, в наш храм святого Великомученика и Победоносца Георгия будут принесены МОЩИ СВЯТЫХ УГОДНИКОВ БОЖИИХ:

СВ. ВЕЛИКОМУЧЕНИКА И ПОБЕДОНОСЦА ГЕОРГИЯ, нашего храмового Святого. А также:
СВЯТИТЕЛЯ ВАСИЛИЯ ВЕЛИКОГО
СВЯТИТЕЛЯ ИОАННА ЗЛАТОУСТОГО
СВЯТИТЕЛЯ НИКОЛАЯ ЧУДОТВОРЦА
СВ. ВЕЛИКОМУЧЕНИКА И ЦЕЛИТЕЛЯ ПАНТЕЛЕИМОНА
БЛАГОВЕРНОГО КНЯЗЯ АЛЕКСАНДРА НЕВСКОГО
ПРЕПОДОБНОГО СЕРАФИМА САРОВСКОГО
ПРЕПОДОБНЫХ ОПТИНСКИХ СТАРЦЕВ И ДИВЕЕВСКИХ СТАРИЦ.

Принесение осуществляется г-ном академиком Валерием Сергеевичем Балакиревым, который получил на данное дело благословение Высокпреосвященнейшего митрополита Илариона, Первоиерарха Русской Зарубежной Церкви.
ПРИГЛАШАЕМ ВСЕХ ВЕРНЫХ ЧАД ПРАВОСЛАВНОЙ ЦЕРКВИ ПОСЕТИТЬ В ТОТ ДЕНЬ НАШ ХРАМ И ПОКЛОНИТЬСЯ СВЯТЫМ МОЩАМ!