Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God


On August 28, on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God we held a nice celebration at St. George Church. 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:

““In giving birth Thou did preserve the virginity; and in falling asleep thou did not forsake the world, O Theotokos”, – by these words of the festal troparion today we praise the Most Pure and Blessed Virgin Mary”.
“Why does the Church emphasize those two events in the life of the Most Holy Mother of God – Her giving birth to Christ and Her falling asleep? This is so because in the life of any person these are the most important events, someone’s birth and passing away. Human life is a journey from the point of birth to the point of death. A birth of a man is a joyful event. However, from the Sacred Scripture and from our own life experience we know that because of the fall of humanity the very birth of a man is filled with bitterness. A famous French writer, Victor Hugo said: “Man is born with a cry and dies with a groan”. The beginning and the end of life is bitter. This is the bitterness of sin, and it appeared because man did not wish to abide in God. Therefore, the sin like venom penetrates the whole essence of the human life and makes it poisoned. It brings man sufferings from birth and until death. God did not create man as sinful, but man by himself, by his own will, tasted the bitterness of sin”.
“Now, the significance and joy of today’s feast of the Dormition is that the Mother of God overcame that bitterness of sin. That event tells us that a miracle took place: an end of the earthly life, something always linked to pain and sorrow, to suffering and unhappiness, for the Theotokos became bright and joyful. When She gave birth to Her Son, Jesus Christ, the Mother of God remained a Virgin. And Her Dormition was also awesome and wonderful. There was no fear of death, no sorrow, no bitterness, no lamentation, but it was a passing from earthly life to life eternal. The Mother of God did not die but fell asleep in this world to wake up in the heavenly glory, in the Kingdom of God”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! We are accustomed to think that the laws of the sinful world inevitably dominate over man, and that the sin is so powerful that it would never let us go, from our birth until death. It is true: man is born with sinful inclination and he dies in sufferings because of sin. However, here is the example of the Most Holy Theotokos: She also lived in this world full of sin. But by the power of God’s grace and by Her own strife for holiness She overcame the sin. Thus we should not think that sin is something inevitable, because the Mother of God destroyed that dependence using the gracious way opened by our Savior Jesus Christ to all of us. By Her own life She demonstrated that now the sin does not have to dominate over humanity”.
“The Holy Church gives us gracious means to make our soul free from sin and to keep it in God’s hands. Look at the icon of the Dormition: we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is holding the most pure soul of His Mother in His hands. This is the image of God’s Providence over the world, of His Providence for every human soul”.
“Let us then beseech the Theotokos that She may help us, so our souls may be in God’s hands as Her soul was at the time of Her Dormition. Let us ask that we may always be with the Lord, that we may inherit eternal life and that by overcoming the sufferings of our life journey we remember that the Lord is leading us to salvation by the prayers of His Most Holy Mother”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God and Her Dormition during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the icon of the Dormition in the middle of the church. Then the Rector congratulated all the faithful on the feast.

11th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 23, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov  headed the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today the readings from the Epistle and the Gospel are dealing with material goods. And if the Gospel lesson is telling us a parable, so the money and the debts described there are symbolic, in today’s Epistle Holy Apostle Paul is talking about real things, about temporary goods and compensations. Therefore, we may commemorate today’s Saint, Holy Martyr Lawrence. St. Lawrence was an archdeacon of the Roman Church in the early centuries and the bishop, the pope of Rome placed him in charge of the Church treasury, over the Church belongings. During the persecutions, when the pope was martyred, he blessed St. Lawrence to distribute the treasures among the poor. Later the Emperor summoned Lawrence and wished to seize the Church property and treasures. But the Saint called the beggars, the poor people of Rome to come over and said to the Emperor, “Here are our treasures!” Then St. Lawrence had been tortured and died as a Martyr for Christ. He was finally burned on the grill.”
“Remembering that example of a Saint’s life, we may now begin to speak about today’s Gospel lesson which tells us about the money and the debt but those things should be understood rather symbolically. The lesson tells us a parable about a cruel and unmerciful lender who himself owed ten thousand talents to the king, but did not wish to forgive his fellow servant a debt of one hundred denarii.”
“This parable teaches us how kind and merciful is our Lord. In this parable He is shown as a kind king who forgives a large debt and releases his servant. The servants in the parable are us, people. We are the servants of God. And our Lord constantly forgives us our debts, our transgressions. We have a lot of them in our life. Just think how many sins a person commits during the lifetime? But if he or she sincerely repents and asks forgiveness, God in His compassion forgives all of them. However, the compassionate Lord is expecting from us a similar compassion towards our neighbors, all other people. It is no accident that the Lord’s Prayer has the words: “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. God’s forgiveness of our sins depends on our forgiveness of the sins of others against us. If we will act like an unmerciful servant, the Lord will justly condemn us for our transgressions. And our Lord finishes the parable with the words: “So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Mt. 18, 35)”.
“Unfortunately, we do not always remember that God’s command to forgive from our heart the trespasses of our brothers. During the course of our lifetime we may see many times how people fight, argue and hate each other because of the fact that someone offended someone and there is no forgiveness. Some people do not wish to forgive. It is sad, but they may finally receive a due condemnation from our Lord at the Last Judgment”.
“We should also note the huge difference between our trespasses against God and the trespasses of our neighbors against us. We commit sins every day. And every sin is an offense of God’s majesty, His infinite goodness. Thus we owe God the whole lifetime. And our lifetime is full of sins, full of lesser or greater transgressions. At the same time, another servant owed his fellow servant one hundred denarii. And that was an average wage for one hundred days of labor. Perhaps, it was much, but it may not be compared to ten thousand talents owed to the king. Ten thousand talents was a very large amount of money, the amount someone could never earn even in the course of a lifetime! But we often make a big deal out of trespasses of our brothers against and do not wish to forgive. God forgives us terrible iniquities while we do not wish to forgive insignificant shortcomings”.
“An example could be how some people carelessly omit the church services. It is not a very direct example, but it does illustrate how different are our trespasses against the Lord and the trespasses of other people against us. Many religious people easily miss the church services, even Sunday Liturgy. Of course, may have an excuse if they are busy, if they are working or got sick. But in many instances our parishes suffer when people who belong to them, do not show up as they should. We owe to God our keeping of the Commandment to sanctify the Lord’s Day. All of us owe Him participation in His Mystical Supper. But many seem not to realize that. However, if someone did not come to those people on the occasion of their personal celebration, they would be offended. They would be not easy to forgive. Some may not forgive at all – depending on a personality. But God forgives us our trespasses if we do repent.”
“Thus, having in mind the parable on a merciful king and unmerciful servant, let us be understanding towards the shortcomings of our neighbors and forgive them their trespasses. For God forgives us ours. Let us be compassionate towards other people and excuse their defects. For God excuses our shortcomings and forgives us. Let us be kind and forgive if our neighbors offend us. For the Lord is kind and forgives the offenses and iniquities we commit against Him if we repent. Let us do that, so the Lord may be merciful to us and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements.

Following the Liturgy Fr. Igor performed a memorial Litia on the request of Tatiana Migal to commemorate her deceased relatives. Then the Rector engaged in conversation with some of our parishioners.

Transfiguration of the Lord


On August 19th Holy Orthodox Church celebrates feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On that day we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

”Dear brothers and sisters! Today we celebrate the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Once more time in our life we are spiritually present on the Mt. Tabor. Through the eyes of faith together with the holy Apostles Peter, James and John who came to that mountain along with the Lord Jesus Christ we are seeing the glory of God during the sacred moments of that holy event. This happened not long before the holy passions and death of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
”You know that the Son of God who came down to our earth for the sake of eternal salvation of the people, appeared not in His Divine glory. If He did so, He would blind us, the sinful people, with His Divine light. But He came to us in a humble appearance, covering His divinity with the image of man. Here, on the mountain of Transfiguration, He showed Himself in the shining of His glory in which He is staying forever and in which He will be seen by those of us who by his or her life will become worthy of that”.
“On the mountain of Transfiguration along with the Lord holy Apostles saw the Prophets Moses and Elijah. Moses lived 16 centuries before the birth of Christ, and Elijah 9 centuries before. That means that Moses and Elijah aren’t dead, they are alive. They were alive on the day when the Apostles saw them, they are living today, and they will be living in the infinite ages because God in Whom we believe, as the Scripture says, “is not God of the dead but of the living” (Mt. 22, 32). In the Lord all are living. Thus the Apostles seeing the Prophets who for that moment appeared from the heavenly world, saw the confirmation of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “He who believes in Me has life everlasting” (Jn. 6, 47)”.
“It is then understood why holy Prophets Moses and Elijah appeared at the time of Transfiguration. We may ask then why the Lord chose only three of His disciples to follow Him to the Mt. Tabor and to sow His glory only to them. St. John of Damascus explains that saying that holy Apostle Peter was taken because he confessed the faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Such a faith needed to be confirmed, and it was confirmed when Jesus showed His Divine nature. Holy Apostle James was chosen because he was the one who was to die first for Christ, to be baptized in the bath of blood shed for the Lord. And, finally, holy Apostle John the Theologian was chosen to come with the Lord to the Mt. Tabor because He was the special disciple, a virgin saint, the one who had to write in his Gospel that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1, 1). And He saw in the Transfiguration that the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, was with God”.
“Yet another reason why our Lord did not show His Divine nature to all of His Apostles was because He did not wish to show it to His betrayer, to Judas. Transfiguration had to be a secret until the death and Resurrection of Christ. Now that secret is revealed to us, the Christian people. Let us then be worthy of it. Let us not allow the sin to destroy our relations with God and His trust to us. Let us be watchful because sin deprives us of the joy to see the Lord and to be with Him in eternity”.
“Therefore, we are asking today that the Lord Who transfigured upon the Mt. Tabor may enlighten our souls. We are asking that the everlasting light of His divinity may shine for us the sinners and may show us the way we should follow to pass our earthly life. May it shine to make us worthy of the dignity we are given, the dignity to be the dwellers of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us live with the Lord and let us die with the Lord. And may our heart learn to foretaste the joy to see the Lord, to worship Him and to be with Him forever!”

Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed festal hymns of Transfiguration.

Following the Ambo prayer the Rector performed traditional Blessing of fruits.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day and preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the ideas of his English homily.

10th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 16, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish family had a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached a homily in English on the appointed Gospel lesson:

“The Gospel lesson of today is telling us about the importance of faith. The disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ were unable to cure an epileptic. Jesus rebuked them and called them “faithless and perverse generation”. He also said that even little faith can do great things, can make the mountains move. “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt. 17, 20)”.
“These days of the summer we celebrate the memory of the Holy Prophet Elijah who spent his life on earth surrounded by the mountains. On one of them, Mt. Carmel he took a refuge and worked a miracle which shamed the ministers of the idols. We also celebrate the great holy day of the Transfiguration, the event which took place on the mountain, on Mt. Tabor. God often revealed Himself to the people on the mountains. Moses received Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Our Lord Jesus Christ preached His first homily on a certain mountain, so it is called Sermon on the Mount. Then the Lord transfigured on the mountain. He also died on Golgotha which was also a hill, an elevated place, often called a mountain. He then ascended into heaven from Mt. of Olives. Many important things in the Scripture happened on the mountains. Naturally, the Holy Land is located in the region full of the mountains”.
“Mountains are important in the Scripture. They should be understood in a literal sense, as well as in a symbolic sense. We should not doubt that even a little, but true and firm faith can do amazing things. If so, it would be able to move physical objects, even so huge as the mountains. But in a symbolic, spiritual sense, a mountain may mean a great achievement, a highness of glory, as well as a great obstacle or a difficulty. We should not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil also on a high mountain. “The devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and He said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me’” (Mt. 4, 9). Thus a mountain can mean spiritual success, it can also mean spiritual failure. Our Lord overcame the temptation and answered to the devil, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Mt. 4, 10). Will we also overcome the temptation in certain time when it will come? Will we find a proper answer to the tempter? Will we move that mountain of temptation from the way of our salvation? Unfortunately, many times in our olives we cannot answer ‘yes’. Mountains in the spiritual sense bother us and our faith is insufficient to move them away”.
“We should especially understand the disappointment that our Lord felt about His disciples if we remember that the event described in today’s Gospel took place very soon after the Transfiguration. After our Lord showed three Apostles the radiance of His divine glory, made them the partakers of the uncreated light of God – they failed to cure the epileptic. We have also received great gifts from God. We were baptized, chrismated, received the Body and Blood of Christ. But it still does not stop us from falling into sins or being unsuccessful in our spiritual achievements. What should be done about it? Jesus gives us an answer: “If you have faith as a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you”. So, first of all, we need faith. Even if we have it, it must be perfected. Faith means both a belief and a trust. We have to believe in God and we have to trust Him”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be grateful for a wonderful gift of faith. But let us also work on this gift in order to make it stronger and greater. As such, it may actually do great things, make us spiritually successful and move the mountains standing on our way to salvation”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed the customary blessing of the new honey.

9th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 9, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, our parish held a nice celebration. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. 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! Today’s Gospel lesson tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ walking on the water. There is nothing amazing about that. He is the Son of God and He has a full dominion over nature. In fact, at the end of today’s reading the Apostles confess their faith in Him worshipping Him and saying: “You are the Son of God” (Mt. 14, 33). What is amazing is that His Disciple, Peter could walk on the water also. It is not surprising that God can do amazing things. The real miracle starts when He invites man to do amazing things”.
“The Gospel tells us that Holy Apostle Peter wished to come to Jesus on the water. The only provision he has is that the Lord will command him to do so. Jesus quickly answers with one word: “Come” (Mt. 14, 29). Then Peter comes down out of the boat and starts walking on the sea, just as Jesus did. However, he could not make all his way to Jesus. Peter saw that the wind was boisterous, became afraid and began to sink. He cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” Jesus saved him and rebuked him for having too little faith”.
“Today’s Gospel teaches us that with God we are able to do anything. Having firm faith and sincere hope generates greatest powers in man. Today we commemorate Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon. He was an Unmercenary physician who by the power of Christ performed miraculous healings. Before being baptized, this Saint could heal a child bitten by a venomous snake. He prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing, and the child lived and became cured. After that Panteleimon received Holy Baptism and became a zealous Christian doctor. Later he was condemned to be tortured for his Christian faith. His life story describes many different executions he endured and it says that in all of them he remained unharmed. When he had to be beheaded, the sword of the executioner became soft like a piece of wax. Only later, being comforted after a fervent prayer, the Saint himself ordered his torturers to kill him. Therefore, we see that St. Panteleimon having a firm faith in Christ could perform great works during his life and at the time of his martyrdom he showed great miracles”.
“A firm faith enables us to perform great things, as it was revealed in the life of St. Panteleimon. Our faith and our hope become our comfort in difficulties and our foundation in calamities. Speaking of walking on the waters, let us ask what do we need to stand on something or to walk on something? We need foundation and comfort. Naturally, we are unable to walk on the water because it does not have sufficient foundation for our body. But St. Peter could do it, at least for a brief moment, because his faith and trust in Jesus became his foundation”.
“In today’s Epistle lesson we also find thoughts of the Holy Apostle Paul regarding that. He calls Jesus Christ the foundation of our life in Him. “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3, 11). Having such a foundation we may build our life on Him. God will empower us to do many amazing things. St. Paul teaches that we may build using gold, silver or precious stones. He refers to a fruitful and rich life in Christ, life full of virtue and good deeds, life of holiness. This kind of life is very hard to conduct, it may even seem to be impossible, just as walking on the waters. But as an example we have a great number of people whom we call Saints. They could live such a life. They were always trying to do impossible things because they had faith as a foundation and they never lost the Christ from their sight”.
“But even if we fail, if we became overcome by doubt, by fear or by something else, Jesus still stretches His saving hand to us. Even if we start to sink, like Peter, it would be enough just to cry out: “Lord, save me!” And help will come. St. Paul tells that some may build their structure with wood, hay or straw. Although such building will not be strong, it still has a very strong foundation. It may be damaged, destroyed, but it could be rebuilt again. Thus when we experience difficulties, go through troublesome life, when we fall, let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ may help us and save us”.
“Let us attempt to have firm faith and full trust to do amazing and great things for the glory of God. Let us try to walk on the waters of our uncertain and unreliable earthly existence. God will help us. But even if we doubt, even if we become afraid, even if we fail, even if we fall and begin to sink, let us remember that Jesus is with us. Let us call Him. Let us say even a little prayer. He will come and help us. He will come and save us. For He is our Foundation, our Comfort and our Hope”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns to St. Panteleimon during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short homily in English addressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also reminded parishioners of the beginning of the Dormition fast next week. Then Fr. Igor congratulated our small parishioner, Elena Malyshew and her parents on the occasion of her birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

8th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of the Holy Prophet Elias


On August 2, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Prophet Elias (Elijah), we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the service of Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Sunday Gospel tells us about a miraculous multiplication of the five loaves of bread our Lord Jesus Christ performed. He fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fishes. In doing so, Christ showed that He is the Son of God. He repeated what God did to His chosen people when He fed them in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. In both instances God interfered with the powers of nature to help the people whom He loved. Such interference is called a miracle”.
“We are not very much accustomed to the miracles in our daily life. Many of us tend to think that miracles are almost impossible. Some of us consider them totally impossible. However, life in faith gives us numerous examples when something unusual and extraordinary happened. A person who deeply believes in God, would certainly admit that miracles do happen. Holy Scripture tells us about many instances when the God’s power and omnipotence, His love and compassion worked in a way that the usual order of things was overridden. Today’s Gospel is one of those instances. It is physically impossible to feed five thousand men and many more people with only five loaves of bread. But through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ it was accomplished. It was also impossible to feed the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, but God took care of them sending them food literally from heaven or giving them other chances to feed themselves. When God wishes the order of nature becomes overridden. He is the Creator of this world. He is the Lord of nature. Thus the nature may be altered only by Him”.
“Today we also observe the feast of the Holy Prophet Elias. This holy man lived long before Jesus Christ, was faithful to God and was blessed by special gifts. Miracles did happen in his life. Holy Apostle James wrote about him the following: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (Jam. 5, 17-18). Holy Scripture of the Old Testament also tells us that Elijah was sent by God to a place called Zarepthah where a widow had to provide for him. Encountering that widow Elijah asked her to give him something to eat. But the widow complained that she has no food, but some flour in the bin and some oil in the jar. Elijah insisted on feeding him first and then he promised to the poor widow that “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’”(1 Kings 17, 14) It happened exactly as Elijah predicted according to the will of God. They could eat from that little portion of flour and oil for a long time. Isn’t that similar to multiplying the five loaves of bread? God is infinite. When He wants, things He created and granted to us may also become infinite”.
“Even the end of the earthly life for Holy Elijah was miraculous. He did not die, but was taken to heaven by the chariot of fire, as the Scripture says. Thus the order of human nature sometimes becomes changed due to the will of God”.
“If the miracles happened many times in the life of the righteous people like Elijah, they may happen in our lives. Let us remember that God can do anything. If we have a true and firm faith, miracles will be worked in our lives. God will stretch His hand to us overcoming the obstacles of nature, our spiritual nourishment will never stop, His love shall not be used up, nor His grace will run dry, until the day the Lord comes again”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of St. Elias before his icon. Then Fr. Igor preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying the thoughts of his English homily. He also congratulated our new parishioner, Emilian Suric, on the occasion of his past name day handing to him the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming a traditional Polychronion.