Sunday of the Prodigal Son


On February 28, on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, after a three-week break our parish family gathered again for the divine services at our church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, had recovered from the coronavirus and was able to serve the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is another Sunday preparing us for Lent. It tells us about the Prodigal Son, giving us a perfect example of repentance. “Open me the doors of repentance,” – the Church is praying these days of the preparation for the saving time of fast. It is for us now to understand how much important is to practice repentance”.
“If last Sunday we could say that most of us could not relate to the Pharisee and to the publican, because those two men are the examples of some extreme way of life, today we should acknowledge that all of us resemble the Prodigal Son. We are all like him. This is due to the whole condition the human kind has – the condition called sin. As the Prodigal Son from today’s Gospel parable, the human race journeyed to the far country, away from God. And it is able and it should come back to the Father’s house”.
“The Almighty and all-merciful God is the Creator of man. Man is God’s most final creation. We were made according to the God’s image and likeness. Thus, we are the children of God, and God is our Father. We were created good and perfect, and we could eternally stay at our Father’s house, in paradise. But like the younger son in today’s parable, we left our home. Enjoying the free will, an ability to choose, having our portion of the Father’s inheritance, we decided to leave Him. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were driven away from paradise to a far land of sin. The whole human race became remote from God and wasted its precious possession, the divine gifts of grace, through the sinful life. It had to endure all kinds of misfortunes, just as the Prodigal Son had to be starving in the far country. But the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ came to that land of misery and redeemed the man who was enslaved by sin. He came to restore the fallen image of God the Creator in us. He showed us the way of coming back to the Father’s house. And He ensured us that the doors of that house are now open to us. More than that, the loving Father is expecting us and is willing to run to meet us and to embrace us! Now, through Him, we acquired back the right to call God “the Father” and use the Lord’s prayer beginning with the words “Our Father””.
“To complete such a safe return home, we need to follow our Lord’s instruction of repentance. Only the doors of repentance will lead us to the Father’s house. There is no other way. And the image of such repentance is shown in the conduct of the Prodigal Son. We first need to come to our senses, as the Prodigal Son “came to himself”, and realize our sinful state. Then we have to come to a decision to repent, to return to the Father. Then we must arise, we must act upon our resolution. And we must return, come back, repent, confess our sins and ask forgiveness. We have to humble ourselves and declare: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son!” (Lk. 15, 21). Then, the all-merciful Lord will accept our repentance, will embrace us with His love, enrich us with His grace and order to begin a celebration in our honor”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us begin loving and practicing the saving deal of repentance. Let us seek the doors of returning to the Father’s house, our home and hope to meet our loving Father at the steps and to enjoy His eternal blessing”.

During the time of the preparation for the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed the hymns from the Lenten Triodion which begin to be sung on this Sunday, starting with the words “The door of repentance open to me, o Giver of life…”.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector spoke about his past illness. He expressed his gratitude to the parishioners for their prayers for his recovery, for their concern, as well as for their patience. He also made some announcements regarding our schedule in March.

Our Services will resume


Dear parishioners and friends of St. George!

We are pleased to announce that our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov is recovering from the coronavirus infection. Recently he had been tested negative for the Covid-19.
Therefore, we will resume our services on Sunday, February 28.
Please, check our Service Schedule for details.
Thank you very much for your prayers for Fr. Igor’s health, as well as for your patience!

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee


The Gospel of Luke, 18, 10-14:

The Lord said this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Евангелие от Луки, 18, 10-14:

Сказал Господь такую притчу: два человека вошли в храм помолиться: один фарисей, а другой мытарь. Фарисей, став, молился сам в себе так: Боже! благодарю Тебя, что я не таков, как прочие люди, грабители, обидчики, прелюбодеи, или как этот мытарь: пощусь два раза в неделю, даю десятую часть из всего, что́ приобретаю. Мытарь же, стоя вдали, не смел даже поднять глаз на небо; но, ударяя себя в грудь, говорил: Боже! будь милостив ко мне грешнику! Сказываю вам, что сей пошел оправданным в дом свой более, нежели тот: ибо всякий, возвышающий сам себя, унижен будет, а унижающий себя возвысится.

Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Sunday is supposed to prepare us for the blessed and saving time of Lent. We heard the parable of the Publican and Pharisee, about the two men who came to the Temple to pray. All about them was different. Their social status and their moral reputation were different. Their prayers were different also. And the outcome of their prayers was totally different. One of them went down to his house justified, yet another did not. We would think using our human logic that God blessed the one who was considered morally upstanding. And not justified would be the one who is despised as a public sinner. But our Lord Jesus Christ reverses the expected conclusion. God’s reasoning is different from the man’s logic. In the eyes of God the publican is justified because of his humility. The Pharisee is condemned because of his pride.
If we try to evaluate those two men, let us listen to their prayers. The Pharisee states with satisfaction that he is not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers. He is not lying. He behaves better than those bad people. He further states that he fasts twice a week. Very well, we are supposed to do the same, but who knows whether we actually fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Pharisee also tells that he gives tithes of all he possesses. This is much more than most of us do. No parishioner of this church gives tithes meaning 10 percent to his parish. It is a very painful subject. The Scripture tells us to give those 10 percent of your income for the Temple but virtually no one does it. If faithful gave at least 5 percent, our churches could do much better financially but even that does not happen often. Therefore, we must say that the Pharisee appears to be a much better person that most of us are.
As to the Publican, he appears to be worse than most of us. As we mentioned last Sunday, the publicans, or tax collectors were public sinners, crooks, extortioners, corrupted criminals, cheaters of the people and collaborators with the Romans. They committed many crimes and offended many people. Most of us are not so evil. Yet that kind of man, a despised evildoer, went down to his house justified.
Despite that the Pharisee was a public just man and the tax collector was a public sinner, God judged them in the opposite way. The reason of such an outcome is the attitude those two men had. The Pharisee was proud. He prayed, but his prayer was so preoccupied with his own goodness that he forgot about God. He actually talked to himself, not to God, in his prayer. He praised himself. And he judged others, particularly the publican. All that attitude of self-righteousness, self-exaltation and judging the others condemned him. The publican’s attitude was the opposite. He is aware of his indignity. His posture, his words of prayer express deep humility and contrition. God loves this kind of attitude. He does because it is the most fair and honest understanding of our human nature, our abilities and our position. Our nature is imperfect and corrupt. Our abilities are limited, and we are often inclined to sin. Our position is much lower than God’s position. Therefore, we need not to be proud and self-exalting. We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge our weakness, imperfection and evil propensities, as well as our evil deeds committed in the past. Then we will be exalted by God. The publican did and became justified. God opposes the proud, but exalts the humble.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us avoid pride and self-exaltation of the Pharisee and let us imitate humility of the Publican, so we will be blessed and justified in the fairest eyes of God.

36th Sunday after Pentecost

The Gospel of Luke, 9, 1-10:

At that time Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Евангелие от Луки, 19, 1-10:

Во время оно Иисус вошел в Иерихон и проходил через него. И вот, некто, именем Закхей, начальник мытарей и человек богатый, искал видеть Иисуса, кто Он, но не мог за народом, потому что мал был ростом, и, забежав вперед, взлез на смоковницу, чтобы увидеть Его, потому что Ему надлежало проходить мимо нее. Иисус, когда пришел на это место, взглянув, увидел его и сказал ему: Закхей! сойди скорее, ибо сегодня надобно Мне быть у тебя в доме. И он поспешно сошел и принял Его с радостью. И все, видя то, начали роптать, и говорили, что Он зашел к грешному человеку; Закхей же, став, сказал Господу: Господи! половину имения моего я отдам нищим, и, если кого чем обидел, воздам вчетверо. Иисус сказал ему: ныне пришло спасение дому сему, потому что и он сын Авраама, ибо Сын Человеческий пришел взыскать и спасти погибшее.

Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Sunday is the first of the five Sundays preparing us for Lent. And today’s lesson from the Gospel of St. Luke is about Zacchaeus the publican. Why this reading is selected for today? Because it is about conversion, about how a soul can change. Change of the soul is the purpose of the Christian life. So, we may observe how the soul of the publican named Zacchaeus changed because of the encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Zacchaeus was a publican, a tax collector. It means that he was a very sinful and evil man. Publicans were known to be corrupt, crooks and evildoers. And Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, thus he was the worst of the lot. Interestingly, that the name “Zacchaeus” means “the just one” or “the fair one” in Aramaic, the language spoken by the people in the Middle East at the time of Jesus. So, he did not live up to his name. And yet when our Lord Jesus Christ passed through the city of Jericho, Zacchaeus changed.
First of all, he probably decided to seek the Lord. All his actions demonstrated that wish. Then he started looking for Jesus who passed by. Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus. The trees are mentioned several times in the history of salvation. Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise because of the tree. Now their heir, a sinful man Zacchaeus uses a tree to acquire salvation. This was a sycamore, a fig tree. The fig leaves were used by Adam and Eve to cover their bodies after they sinned and became aware of their nakedness. Now another sinner being aware of his transgressions uses a fig tree to receive back the grace of the Creator. The Gospel tells us that he climbed it up because of his short stature. There is no doubt that it’s true. But any sin makes us smaller in the spiritual sense, so it is hard for us to see God. But Zacchaeus made an effort to see the Lord. Many people never make any effort to get closer to God. If it is easy for them to receive the grace, they get it. But if it becomes harder and requires an effort on our part, we do not bother to act. Zacchaeus acted and was successful. Jesus noticed him and spoke to him.
When Jesus expressed His willingness to visit the house of Zacchaeus, the latter made haste, came down the tree, and received the Lord joyfully. This is the sign that a sinful man rejoices becoming closer to the Lord, having Him under his roof. Conversion means being open to God to come and dwell within us, to work by His grace in us.
Further, Zacchaeus makes a statement saying: “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor, and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Lk. 19, 8). Now this is a real conversion. Zacchaeus not just declares that he becomes a changed man, he promises to give away a half of his wealth. He also wishes to restore justice by compensating the people he defrauded. And not just by giving back what he acquired by false accusations, but by returning fourfold! It was really a great conversion and true change that occurred in that man whose name was Zacchaeus, “the just one”. Now he began to live up to his name.
Observing the actions of Zacchaeus we should notice that he decided to change, struggled to do so, accepted God’s grace and made a proper resolution to convert truly. These are the four steps of conversion everybody should take if we truly wish to become changed or better. We must decide to convert, then struggle, make an effort to do it. Then we have to accept joyfully the Lord’s help, His divine grace. And, finally, we have to make a resolution to restore justice and to live up to our name, to our spiritual purpose. Our name, the name of a man, a human being, is great and our purpose is to be saved.

All Services are cancelled due to the Rector’s Illness

It is sad to announce that our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov has been infected with the coronavirus and tested positive.
Due to that fact all our Church services and parish events are cancelled until further notice.
The Rector will make an attempt to publish his Sunday homilies on this parish website.
We are asking you to be patient and to offer your prayers for Fr. Igor’s recovery.

35th Sunday after Pentecost. Synaxis of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church

The Gospel of Luke, 18, 35-43:

At that time as Jesus was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Евангелие от Луки, 18, 35-43:

В это время, когда же подходил Он к Иерихону, один слепой сидел у дороги, прося милостыни,  и, услышав, что мимо него проходит народ, спросил: что это такое? Ему сказали, что Иисус Назорей идет. Тогда он закричал: Иисус, Сын Давидов! помилуй меня. Шедшие впереди заставляли его молчать; но он еще громче кричал: Сын Давидов! помилуй меня. Иисус, остановившись, велел привести его к Себе: и, когда тот подошел к Нему, спросил его: чего ты хочешь от Меня? Он сказал: Господи! чтобы мне прозреть. Иисус сказал ему: прозри! вера твоя спасла тебя. И он тотчас прозрел и пошел за Ним, славя Бога; и весь народ, видя это, воздал хвалу Богу.

Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel lesson tells us about the last miracle our Lord Jesus Christ performed before His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem where He underwent His holy Passions. This last miracle was returning the sight to a blind man in Jericho. This event is described by three holy Gospels. Holy evangelist Matthew mentions two blind men, other evangelists – only one. St. Mark tells that the blind man’s name was Bartimaeus. Thus, what is important about him?
The Holy Fathers interpret this last miracle before our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem as revealing of the coming of the time of salvation. For this reason the blind man greets Jesus as the “Lord”, the common name for God. He also calls Him “the son of David”, a title deeply rooted in the people’s expectation of the Messiah. The Jews believed that the Messiah was to be born from the heirs of King David. Another important thing is that Jesus knows beforehand what the blind man wants. But He calls him to ask freely that He might answer to that. In the same way our Lord knows beforehand what we want and what we need. But He wants us to express ourselves in prayer, so He might answer us in His mercy. It is not accidental that the Church very often uses and repeats the prayerful words of the blind man: “Have mercy!” “Lord, have mercy!” is the favorite exclamation in the prayers of the Church. The holy tradition says that this prayer was the first prayer of Adam and Eve expelled from the paradise. It is the most ancient prayer. When the Temple of Jerusalem was built the first prayer under its roof was “Lord God, hear us and have mercy!” Sometimes in our services “Lord, have mercy” is repeated 40 times, sometimes even 50 times. Our prayer has to be persistent. Somebody compared such a persistent and repetitive prayer “Lord, have mercy!” to a situation when you fell into a well and try to get out. You cry for help and you don’t stop doing so. You desperately cry for it. In this way we should pray “Lord, have mercy!” many times – asking the Lord for help and mercy.
No one should stop or prevent us from asking the Lord for His mercy. The Gospel mentions that the crowd tried to silence the blind man when he asked Jesus for mercy. The multitude warned him that he should be quiet. But he cried out all the more. In our lives many times people or circumstances attempt to silence or to prevent our prayer. Even in the Church we notice how many prayers and services are being abbreviated and simplified. Despite that influence of the world we have to continue praying, keep asking the Lord in our needs. And He will answer our prayers according to the zeal of our faith.
Today we also honor our New Martyrs and Confessors, we celebrate feast of the newly-glorified Saints of the Russian Church. All of them had to be persistent and patient in their faith. The society, the authorities attempted to silence them, to destroy Christian faith in Russia. Faithful Christians, especially the clergy, were persecuted, arrested and many of them were executed. However, the voice of the Russian Church, the voice of persistent prayer, was not completely silenced; it survived and now the Russian Church is flourishing again and honors its holy heroes of faith.
Another thing we should also keep in mind is that our prayers, as well as our hope must be specific. Again, the Lord knew what the blind man wanted from Him the most, yet He asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The man could have asked, “Lord, give me the grace to live with blindness”. Some very spiritually advanced people being blind had a great grace and felt very happy without bodily vision. But the blind man in today’s Gospel asked for the sight. Faith needs to be specific, and Jesus requested to exercise a specific faith and to ask for a certain thing.
To conclude we have to understand that our merciful Lord and Savior wishes us to have a firm and persistent faith. Such a faith was found in Bartimaeus, a blind man in Jericho. His faith made him well. If we will have this kind of faith, will be enduring and persistent in our prayers, will be specific in our humble requests, the Lord may grant us what we ask for and make us joyfully follow Him.

Проповедь настоятеля, прот. Игоря Тарасова

Дорогие во Христе братия и сестры! Сегоднешнее евангельское чтение рассказывает нам о последнем чуде совершенном Господом нашим Иисусом Христом до Его торжественного входа во Иерусалим, где Он претерпел Свои святые Страсти. Этим последним чудом было возвращение зрения слепому в Иерихоне. Это событие описано в трех Евангелиях. Св. евангелист Матфей упоминает о двух слепцах, другие евангелисты – об одном. Св. Марк говорит нам, что слепого звали Вартимеем. Что же можно сказать о нем важного для нас?
Святые Отцы толкуют это чудо перед входом Господним во Иерусалим как Божие откровение о том, что время спасения наступило. Поэтому слепой приветствует Иисуса, называя Его «Господом», то есть именем свойственным Богу. Он также называет Его «Сыном Давидовым», званием, которое было глубоко укоренено в ожидании людьми Мессии. Евреи верили, что Мессия должен родиться среди потомков царя Давида. Таким образом, слепой величает Иисуса как Господа и Сына Давидового, то есть провозглашает, что Он является Мессией, Спасителем міра.
Другой важной вещью является то, что Господь наш Иисус Христос, конечно, знает чего хочет слепой. Однако Он спрашивает слепого, чтобы тот сам назвал Ему свое желание. Именно таким образом Господь всегда знает наперед чего мы хотим и в чем мы нуждаемся. Но Он желает, чтобы мы выражали свои чаяния в молитве, чтобы Он мог ответить нам Своей милостью. Это неслучайно, что Церковь часто употребляет и повторяет молитвенное слово слепого: «Помилуй!». «Господи, помилуй!» явлется самым любимым возгласом в молитвах Церкви. В некоторых местах службы оно повторяется 40 раз. Наша молитва должна быть настойчивой. Никто не должен останавливать нас или препятствовать нам в наших просьбах Господа о милости. Евангелие упоминает о том, что толпа старалась принудить слепого замолчать, когда он просил Иисуса помиловать его. Люди говорили, чтобы он молчал. Но он кричал еще громче (Лк. 18, 39). В нашей жизни также очень часто люди или обстоятельства стремятся заглушить нашу молитву или чинить ей препятствия. Даже в Церкви мы иногда видим как кто-то хочет сократить или упростить некоторые службы. Слава Богу, что это не очень удается сделать в нашей Русской Православной Церкви. Но если мы вглянем на других, инославных христиан, то увидим как много своих богослужений они сократили и упростили. Да и в некоторых иных православных юрисдикциях службы совершаются сокращенно, не так как раньше. Не взирая на это влияние міра, мы должны продолжать молиться, просить Господа в наших нуждах. И Он ответит на наши молитвы по мере нашей ревности в вере.
Сегодня мы также почитаем наших Новомучеников и Исповедников Русской Церкви, празднуем Собор этих новопрославленных наших святых. Все они были настойчивы и тверды в своей вере. Общество и власти желали их заглушить, заставить замолчать, уничтожить Церковь Русскую. Верующие люди, особенно духовенство, были гонимы: их арестовывали, многих из них казнили. Но голос Русской Церкви, голос непрестанной молитвы не был полностью заглушен и Церковь пережила все эти лихолетия. И сейчас Церковь в России возродилась и мы почитаем этих наших подвижников веры.
Кроме того нам нужно помнить, что наши молитвы, так же как и наши чаяния, наша надежда – должны быть четкими и определенными. Опять-таки вспомним, что Господь знал наперед, о чем слепой будет у Него просить, однако спросил его: «Чего ты хочешь от Меня?» (Лк. 18, 41). Слепой мог ответить: «Господи, дай мне силу, благодать жить с моей слепотой». Некоторые люди, достигшие великой духовной зрелости, могли бы так ответить. Есть примеры, когда святые подвижники или очень духовные люди, будучи слепыми, не желали прозреть, ибо чувствовали себя блаженными в этом состоянии. Рассказывают про одного слепого монаха, который был счастлив и говорил, что не хотел бы прозревать, чтобы не видеть міра с его грехами и пороками. Однако у слепого в сегоднешнем евангельском чтении было простое желание: он хотел прозреть. И он его выразил четко и определенно. Вере нужно быть четкой и определенной, и Господь желает от нас четкой веры и молитвы, прошения об определенной вещи.
Чтобы сделать заключение в нашей беседе, мы должны понять, что наш милостивый Господь желает, чтобы у нас была твердая и настойчивая вера. Такой оказалась вера Вартимея, слепого из Иерихона. Его вера спасла его (Лк. 18, 42). Она его исцелила. Если у нас будет такая же вера, если мы будем стойкими и настойчивыми в нашей молитве, если будем четко выражать то, о чем мы смиренно просим Бога, Господь подаст нам то, чего мы просим. Тогда мы, подобно слепому, который прозрел, сможем с радостью пойти вслед за Господом нашим Иисусом Христом.