Sunday of the Paralytic

 

On May 19, on Sunday of the Paralytic, St. George parish family gathered for a nice liturgical celebration. It had been headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. He served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.

In his homily Fr. Igor stressed that the paralytic in today’s Gospel story was waiting for 38 years at the Sheep Gate Pool and no one helped him. It tells about that man’s loneliness. The world around us is full of lonely people. A strange thing happens: we live in a world filled with so many people but many of us feel lonely. Some even say that loneliness is inevitable because finally we all end up being alone in the grave.
The paralytic in today’s Gospel lesson was also in a very crowded place, near a healing pool and in a big city of Jerusalem. But he was laying there alone and nobody helped him. Living in America we observe how people greet each other. They say, “Hi! How are you doing?” but these are just duty phrases. Not too many like to know how really are you doing. Sometimes if you begin responding to those phrases by telling the people about yourself, they either don’t listen and rush to say, “Good!” or they start to move away from you. This is a real loneliness of a person in today’s world.
But our Lord Jesus Christ acted totally different. He approached the paralytic, He spoke with him and He healed him. Jesus had acted as a true human being, a man without sin. The paralytic complained that he “had no man” to help him (Jn. 5, 7). Jesus became that man, God became Man to help not only the paralytic but the whole human kind.
Therefore, today’s story of the Paralytic teaches us to remember that God is with us. Even if we feel lonely in the world, God can always relate to us and is ready to help. Christ Himself said to His Disciples that they will abandon Him and He will suffer in loneliness. But He said, “Yet I am not alone for My Father is with Me” (Jn. 16, 32). Thus, if we believe in God, we should remember that we won’t remain alone in the grave but we will pass away to eternal life with the Lord.
This Gospel story also teaches us that in our loneliness we should join together in the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ established His Church, so we won’t be alone but will be helped spiritually and even bodily.
In the course of the history of mankind a number of people wished to be gods for their subjects. Yet God alone wished to become Man and did it, so we could be saved. Therefore, let us be grateful to Him for that and to strive to stay in the Church where we are not going to be lonely, but we may stay with God and His Saints in this life and in life eternal.

The choir beautifully performed the Stichera of Sunday of the Paralytic during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English addressing the main thoughts of his Russian homily. He also made some announcements regarding feast days of the coming week.

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

Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women

 

On May 12, on the Sunday of the Holy 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:

“On the Third Sunday of Pascha we honor Holy Myrrh-bearing Women who were also the Disciples of Christ, along with Holy Apostles. This year today’s Sunday coincides with Mother’s Day, so it makes such a day a double celebration, a special feast honoring our Orthodox women.”
“When our Lord Jesus Christ was condemned to death, when He was crucified on the cross, no men followed Him and were present at Calvary. All His male Disciples, except John the Theologian, were scattered and afraid. However, His female followers remained faithful to Him and stayed with the Lord when He died. Of course, first of all, among them was His Blessed Mother, the Most Holy Theotokos. But there were other women who did not leave Christ at that horrific time of His passions and death.”
“It is common to consider women to be weaker and more fearful than men. However, this example from the life of our Lord proves that this stereotype can be wrong. Yes, women may be more fearful and weak, especially physically, but it all depends on their motivation and inspiration. Holy Myrrh-bearing Women were motivated by great love towards their Teacher and Lord. And they were inspired by great faith in Christ, the true God. Therefore, they disregarded the fear and their own weakness and followed Jesus until His death. They also disregarded the fear and weakness after His death but decided to come to His tomb to anoint His body with the spices. Great love and great faith led them. As St. John the Theologian said, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 Jn. 4, 18). And as the Lord Himself said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt. 17, 20).”
“Love was especially instilled by God in the heart of a woman. Woman is called by the Creator to be a mother of her children and a loving partner of man. These highly important tasks require a lot of love and compassion. In many women those gifts are cherished and multiplied. Many women are good mothers, so today we may praise them for their endeavor of motherhood. But it is more precious for Christian women to have also a spiritual attitude of love and care. It is more important not only to give birth to children and to care for them but to raise them in Christian faith and piety. Thus it is not enough to give a child a gift of earthly life – it is much more important to raise a child for life eternal. Holy Myrrh-bearing Women had such gifts and made them grow. They were led not only by earthly and human love but by great spiritual love towards their Lord and Savior. Thus they had no fear to approach His tomb. So, our Orthodox women nowadays also need a motivation by great love towards God and an inspiration by great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“The history of the last century proved that our Orthodox women were worthy to be called the followers of the Holy Myrrh-bearers. During the godless persecutions of Christian faith many women kept their faith and love towards God. In the old country, under the Communist power, mostly women went to the temples, attended the church services while many men did not approach the church. Mostly women kept pious traditions, remembered the holy days and fasts. Those women – very often secretly – baptized  their children and grandchildren and later brought them to the church. Thanks to those women many young people found their faith in Christ in those years. What was driving those women? Their firm faith and their great love. In those seemingly faithless times they showed an example of faith. And they were radiant by love. Despite the slanderous imaging of religious people as mean and cruel fanatics, they were shining with love and compassion. They usually did not condemn or chastise the godless people but felt pity and prayed for them. We may note how different is that Christian religious attitude from the cruel and intolerant fanaticism of some other religions, for instance of the Islamic radicals. Therefore, true Orthodox can never become terrorists or other extreme fighters. Our Orthodox Christian people, especially women, are filled with real love and driven by true faith, not by hatred and malice.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, looking at the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women, let us cherish our faith and love towards God and other people. Let us pray the Risen Lord that He may bless our Orthodox women and mothers by the gift of true faith and great spiritual love. Let us pray to the Most Holy Theotokos that She may inspire our Orthodox women and mothers, so they may fulfill their God-given obligations of motherhood and caring fellowship and to continue to raise new generations of Christian people, granting their children the gift of life here and also life eternal!”

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, as well as on the Mother’s Day which this year fell on this Sunday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

The Rector and Warden of St. George attended Paschal Diplomatic Reception

 

On May 6, a traditional Paschal reception was held on behalf of the Administrator of Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, and Consul General of Russian Federation in New York, Sergey Ovsiannikov at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Manhattan.

Event was attended by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion; Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia; clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes, Antiochian and Serbian Churches, of the Russian Church Abroad and Orthodox Church in America. It was also attended by diplomats and representatives of community and cultural entities.

The Rector of St. George Church, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our Warden, Olga Roussanow were also present at the reception.

After the prayer and welcoming words of the Hierarchs and the Consul General, the President of the Northern America Cultural Heritage Foundation “Northern Cross” Yury Sandulov presented a project to establish a memorial sign in honor of the Russian veterans, the Knights of St. George, buried in the cemetery of the Novo-Diveyevo monastery.

Before the reception, the choir of St. Nicholas Cathedral, conducted by Alexander Chaplinsky, performed Paschal hymns. Musical works were performed for the guests in the Cathedral Hall by the soloist of the Sretensky Monastery of Moscow choir, Konstantin Stepanov.

Antipascha. Celebration of the Parish Patronal Feast of St. George

 

On May 5, on the Sunday of Antipascha, or St. Thomas Sunday, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. On this day we also observed our Patronal feast of Holy Great Victorious Martyr George transferred to Sunday from Monday, May 6.
Unfortunately, this year we had no guests for the Patron Saint’s celebration. Divine Liturgy at our parish temple was celebrated by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov with the most of our parishioners attending.

Following the lessons from the Holy Gospel the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He stressed that on Sunday after Pascha called the Antipascha, we need to renew our Paschal spirit of joyful celebration and spiritual uplifting. During the Bright week we got used to the Resurrection of Christ and could have already contaminated our souls with some sins. Now the Church gives us an opportunity to renew the right spirit of Pascha. A very important meaning of our feast is that Christ by His death and Resurrection had conquered the evil and hell. Many ancient icons of the Resurrection picture Him trampling the broken gates of hell and stretching His hands to Adam and Eve, leading them out of Hades. That is the meaning of Pascha: our Lord liberated human kind from hell and from death. Death begins with sin. We still die because we still commit sins but Jesus gives us a great opportunity to repent and to be with Him in eternal life.
Our Patron Saint, Holy Great Martyr George also called the Conqueror because he conquered evil in his heart and chose death for Christ rather than a sinful life of idolatry. He is often pictured killing a dragon. There is a story about that in his life. However, without doubting the truthfulness of that story, we need to understand that imaging of St. George as symbolic because he really killed the evil one in his life, destroyed the spirit of evil by his great endeavors of holiness.
In the conclusion of his homily, Fr. Igor called the faithful to pray the Risen Lord that He may renew in us the spirit of true celebration of Pascha. He also called to pray to St. George to intercede for us and to strengthen our spiritual efforts.

The choir beautifully performed Paschal hymns, hymns of Antipascha and in honor of St. George during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Ambo prayer the Rector proclaimed a prayer for the distribution of Artos.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and altar servers performed the rite of glorification before the icon of St. George singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of that Saint. The Rector also proclaimed a special prayer to St. George.

After that the Rector preached a short sermon in English stressing the ideas of his Russian homily. He also congratulated Vitaliy Malyshev on the iccasion of his name day, the memory of Venerable Vitalius. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. Then the Artos had been distributed among the faithful.

Our celebration continued at the luncheon prepared by our ladies where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

The Rector of St. George received a special Patriarchal Award

 

On Bright Saturday, May 4, the Rector of St. George Church, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov was awarded a medal “In Memory of the 100th Anniversary of Restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Orthodox Church”.

Fr. Igor was awarded that medal along with a number of clerics and lay people of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA by the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill.

We congratulate our Very Reverend Rector on this special Patriarchal award!

Celebration of Bright Saturday in Baltimore

 

On Bright Saturday, May 4, Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA Bishop Matthew of Sourozh celebrated Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Baltimore, MD. The day was timed to coincide with celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of that Parish. The Rector of St. George, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our Parish Warden, Olga Roussanow traveled to Baltimore to attend that celebration.

His Grace was co-served by our Rector, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Tarasov; Archpriest Victor Potapov (Rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC (ROCOR)) as well as Deans and clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes and guest clergy.

Before the beginning of the Liturgy, Bishop Matthew performed the tonsure and ordinations of new readers and subdeacons for parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA. At the Little Entrance, with the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, Bishop Matthew conferred the Church awards upon several clerics of the Patriarchal Parishes. After the Eucharistic Canon, Bishop Matthew ordained Subdeacon Artemy Kulikovsky a deacon for All Saints of Russia Church in Pine Bush, NY.

Following the Ambo prayer a procession was held around the street block with the singing of the Paschal Canon. During that procession Bishop Matthew unveiled a new street sign renaming the street where the parish is situated “Holy Trinity Way”.

At the end of the service the parish Rector, Archpriest John Vass greeted Bishop Matthew and expressed his gratitude for arriving for the paschal celebration as well as the prayerful commemoration of the Parish’s Centennial Anniversary. His Grace, in turn, congratulated the clergy on the feast of the bright Resurrection of Christ, as well as on the significant anniversary of the church. The Archpastor highlighted the works of the Rector, President and members of the parish council of Holy Trinity Church, who organized a hospitable reception for the clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes.

With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill, Bishop Matthew bestowed jubilee medals in honor of the “100th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church” on parish Rectors of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA. Among them, our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov was also awarded the said medal.

Interaction between the Archpastor, clergy and faithful continued during a festal reception in the Parish Hall. For the anniversary of the Parish, a historical exposition of the parish detailing its history and modern life was presented to the attendees.

Later, our Rector and our Warden attended a Meeting of the Bishop’s Council held at Holy Trinity Church on that day. The Council discussed some issues, especially, a preparation for the Convocation of the Patriarchal Parishes in the fall of the current year.