Second Sunday of Lent

The Gospel of Mark (2, 1-12):

At that time Jesus entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Евангелие от Марка (
2,  1-12):

Во это время пришел Он в Капернаум; и слышно стало, что Он в доме. Тотчас собрались многие, так что уже и у дверей не было места; и Он говорил им слово. И пришли к Нему с расслабленным, которого несли четверо; и, не имея возможности приблизиться к Нему за многолюдством, раскрыли кровлю дома, где Он находился, и, прокопав ее, спустили постель, на которой лежал расслабленный. Иисус, видя веру их, говорит расслабленному: чадо! прощаются тебе грехи твои. Тут сидели некоторые из книжников и помышляли в сердцах своих: что Он так богохульствует? кто может прощать грехи, кроме одного Бога? Иисус, тотчас узнав духом Своим, что они так помышляют в себе, сказал им: для чего так помышляете в сердцах ваших? Что легче? сказать ли расслабленному: прощаются тебе грехи? или сказать: встань, возьми свою постель и ходи? Но чтобы вы знали, что Сын Человеческий имеет власть на земле прощать грехи,– говорит расслабленному: тебе говорю: встань, возьми постель твою и иди в дом твой. Он тотчас встал и, взяв постель, вышел перед всеми, так что все изумлялись и прославляли Бога, говоря: никогда ничего такого мы не видали.

Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the Second Sunday of Lent we read the Gospel story about healing of the paralyzed man and we honor St. Gregory Palamas, a Holy Father who lived in the 14th century. The Scripture reading of today is telling us a number of things. First of all, it is about a spiritual effort, a labor which must be performed in order to receive God’s favor and to acquire salvation.
Holy Evangelist Mark tells us today that when our Lord Jesus Christ was in Capernaum and He stayed in a house, so many people gathered there to hear His teaching. Then four men came carrying a paralytic. They could not approach Jesus because of the crowd, so they uncovered the roof where He was. Then they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. These men took a great effort to bring their friend to Jesus, they labored to achieve that goal. And, as a result, the Lord saw their faith and healed their friend. This has to teach us that any spiritual achievement and, above all, our final salvation, requires a great work on our part.
If last Sunday we mentioned the heresies, we have to say that a great heresy of our times is to believe that salvation can be acquired without labor. Many people live with such a wrong attitude that if you are so-called “good person”, you may end up in heaven without special spiritual works like penance, prayerful life or attending the church services. Positive thinking and nice attitude by themselves will not save you. They may only help you in your work, but that work must be done. Any person who did not start making spiritual efforts is like a paralytic. We are all more or less spiritually disabled, paralyzed. Only a great spiritual labor will make us healthy and successful. That labor consists of prayerful life, fasting, penance and participation in the Church life. Only these things will heal our spiritual paralysis.
Therefore, let us look at them as our four friends who may bring us to Jesus, as those four friends brought to Him the paralytic in today’s Gospel. Again, those our four friends are prayer, fasting, repentance and participation in the life of the Church. It is impossible to be saved, it is impossible even to get closer to the Lord without having those four friends. May all of you look at yourselves and see whether you are friendly with those things. Very often we realize that such friendship is not always and fully maintained. But let us admit that it must be. No other force will bring us to the Lord’s grace, His favor and to our salvation except the power of the spiritual works.
The Saint whom the Church wishes to honor on the Second Sunday of Lent, Holy Father Gregory Palamas, archbishop of Thessalonica, is known for his writings and teachings where he instructed that people, being subject to sin and imperfection, have a chance to become holy through the works of spirit: through prayer, fasting and penance. He also teaches that men are able to achieve a highest level of spirituality and become so holy, that he may be worthy to see the uncreated light of God, the same light the Apostles saw on Mt. Tabor when Jesus transfigured before them. Such light is from God, thus it is not created, but comes from Him. This may sound very remote from our daily life, especially if we do not practice much spirituality. But this is how much any person is able to reach if he or she will take an effort, to do the work, to perform a labor.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let today’s Second Sunday of our great spiritual journey towards holy Pascha teach us to take spiritual efforts, to use help of the four friends, prayer, fasting, repentance and Church life, and to strive for achieving holiness and salvation.

First Sunday of Lent. Triumph of Orthodoxy


On March 21, on the First Sunday of Lent, also known as celebration of the Triumph of the Orthodoxy, St. George parish had a nice liturgical service. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the first Sunday of Lent we commemorate the victory of the true faith over the heresy of iconoclasm. It happened in the 9th century when a wrong teaching prohibiting to venerate the holy images was defeated and condemned at the 7th Ecumenical Council. For that reason today’s Sunday is known as Sunday of Orthodoxy. The feast itself was introduced to mark the victory over the iconoclasm. But at that point in the history, after those seven Councils, the Church completed its proclamation of the Christian teaching. The Church formulated and defined all main truths of faith in the decisions of those Councils. This is why we call that victory not the triumph of the veneration of the icons, but the triumph of Orthodoxy”.
“It does not mean that no more heresies emerged after this triumph. On the contrary, much more of them appeared following the 9th century. But today’s feast means that all the heresies are condemned in advance by the teaching of the seven Councils”.
“In today’s world we may see two main heresies. The one is the wrong understanding who Jesus Christ is, and another is the new iconoclasm, refusal to venerate the holy icons”.
“Some modern heretics call Jesus Christ the Great Teacher; they like His teaching, but they do not consider Him the Son of God.  Even if they admit that He is God’s Son, they still refuse to believe in His miracles and His resurrection. For instance, they often interpret the resurrection of the Lord in the spiritual sense only and deny the resurrection of His Body. All these errors of thought were condemned b the teaching of the seven Councils”.
“If Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, born from the Holy Spirit and the ever- Virgin Mary, and if He did not rise from the dead, then no salvation of the human race took place. Then we remain in sin and death has the power over the world. Then our life has no sense”.
“But we believe that the life has a great value because our Lord Jesus Christ – the Son of God who became man – saved us from the sin and death. And today the Church celebrates the victory of that saving teaching”.
“Another modern heresy is denial to venerate the holy images. Such a wrong conviction can be seen in all the Protestant denominations. Some of the preachers of that heresy call the icons idols. This is not new in the history. They just repeat the mistakes of the ancient iconoclasts”.
“Modern iconoclasts have pretty primitive philosophy. They say that Ten Commandments prohibit to worship the man-made images. The ancient Greeks had more sophisticated grounds to deny the icons. They believed that the matter is evil, thus God cannot unite with the evil things. They went further saying that the Son of God could not unite Himself with the human nature, to become man. But the Holy Scripture clearly states that all created by God is good. God did not create evil. The matter is good because God made it. Our flesh is good, our environment is good, the whole universe is good. The Son of God united with what is good”.
“Thus God who became man can have an image. His human nature can be shown on the holy icons. The true Christians venerate our Lord Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother and the Saints who are pictured on the icons, and not the wood and paint. In this way we worship the true God who became man and venerate the image of His Incarnation. Jesus Christ for us is a true God and true Man, not an idol. By proclaiming the veneration of the icons the Church protected the truth of the Incarnation”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us listen to the Church saying to us today: “Come, let us venerate the holy images of Christ, His Pure Mother and Saints, and let us reject the evil faith of those who proclaim bad tidings””.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

The choir prayerfully performed the 33rd Psalm during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed prayer service of the Sunday of Orthodoxy solemnly declaring the Orthodox faith and proclaiming eternal memory to the champions of that faith and the polychronion to the Church hierarchy and Orthodox Christians.

At the conclusion of the service the Rector preached congratulated the parishioners on the completion of the first week of Lent and wished them to continue an endeavor of further observance of the fast. He also made some announcements.

Compline with penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete


On March 17, on Wednesday of the first week of Lent the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Compline with the reading of penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.

This Canon is composed as a conversation of a person with his own soul. It reveals that often we imitate sinners mentioned in the Scripture but do not wish to follow the steps of the righteous ones. It also calls us to bring the fruits of repentance and not to exalt ourselves.

Following the service the Rector preached a sermon in which he pointed out that the Canon of St. Andrew is all the time referring to the Sacred Scripture. It mentions the just men or the sinners described in the Bible. Ven. Andrew was very well familiar with the Scripture. Unfortunately, many people, even the believers, are not so knowledgeable about the Bible. Thus such people listening to the reading of the Canon may not fully understand its references. That fact urges us to read and study the Sacred Books. However, any faithful Christian, even if he does not know the Bible, can understand the most important message of the Canon – to repent. Repentance is the most important matter taught by that Canon and the most important feature of Lent.

Cheesefare Sunday


On the Cheesefare Sunday the Church commemorates the exile of Adam from paradise. This day is also known as the Forgiveness Sunday because Orthodox Christians ask mutual forgiveness before they begin the spiritual journey of the Great Lent. On this day, on March 14, St. George parish had services in our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Services were attended by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyk), the ROCOR cleric, who prayed in the sanctuary. After the reading from the Gospel the Rector preached the following homily:

 “Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Tomorrow we will start Lent, a time of fasting. Today, on the Cheesefare Sunday, as we prepare for that, we commemorate the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise. It is a proper time to make such commemoration. If we reflect upon that most sadly event in the history of mankind, we observe that the only commandment given by God the Creator to man was related to fasting. The first man was allowed to eat the fruits from all the trees in the Garden of Eden but was not allowed to eat only from one tree. However, Adam and Eve refused to fast. As a result, they were expelled from paradise. Therefore, the day of expulsion may be compared to today’s day. After being excluded from blessedness, the mankind had to start a very long period of living in the fallen state, a long time of being cursed, sick, unhappy and needy. That period ended with the salvation accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ becoming Man and dying for us on the cross. It completely ended by His glorious Resurrection. In the same manner, Lent is a pretty long time of our labors, struggles and efforts, both spiritual and corporal. It will also end with our reviving of the holy Passions of the Lord, His saving death on the cross and His holy Resurrection. Lent will end when the Holy Week will come, and we will stop fasting with the celebration of Pascha”.
“Although these aspects of the Cheesefare Sunday are very important, the Gospel of today does not mention that. It speaks about three other things. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself gives us instructions for this saving time of Fast. He provides us, as some modern priest said, with the “three recipes for Lent”. These are the recipes of forgiveness, fasting and laying up treasures in heaven. While some of us may think what kind of meals we will cook during Lent when many of our regular types of food are not allowed, we may consider those three spiritual recipes not for our table, but for our way of living”.
“First recipe is to forgive others their faults against us. Every day we should remember about our duty to forgive because we remind ourselves reciting the Lord’s Prayer. We declare: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. We should then know that if we forgive, then the Lord will forgive us. He confirms this in today’s Gospel: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6, 14-15). Why should we forgive? Because after Adam whom we commemorate, no man is perfect, everybody makes mistakes, commits sins. If we do not forgive, we are not honest with ourselves. We are proud and extol ourselves. Then God will despise us for that, as we heard in the parable of the Publican and Pharisee. Forgiveness is the expression of humility, an acknowledgement of our sinful state. It is also an expression of love. If we forgive, God will forgive us”.
“The second recipe is fasting. It is important. The Lord did not say that fasting is not needed. But He teaches us that it must be spiritual, not just for the body; it must be profound, not superficial. Recently we spoke of the fasting done by the Pharisees. The Lord criticized this type of fasting. He calls us for the spiritual, profound and fruitful fasting. Fast by itself is not the goal, but the means to attain the goal which is spiritual life”.
“The third recipe is to lay up treasures in heaven. It is a good financial advice. Many people care very much about collecting earthly treasures, making good investments, preserving their material wealth. Our Lord Jesus Christ declares all this to be unreliable. He reminds us that all material wealth and earthly treasures may be destroyed or taken away. Finally, no one will be able to carry them into eternity. Thus, it is unwise to invest in those things. We should rather invest into things we may carry into eternal life. And these treasures laid up in heaven would be our good deeds, our works of love, our endeavors of faith. They will be laid up and wait for us in heaven where we will be blessed according to them”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us take and use those three recipes for Lent in order to achieve a right to worthily celebrate Holy Pascha after it, and also to have a right some day to enter again into the paradise which is God’s eternal and heavenly Kingdom”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed the hymns of repentance.

Following the Divine Liturgy the Rector performed Vespers with the Rite of Forgiveness. After the singing of the Great Prokimenon he changed his priestly vestments to the Lenten color of black.

After the Vespers dismissal the Rector preached a sermon in Russian regarding the meaning of Lent. He stressed that fasting should strive to perfect our spiritual state and to make us become closer to God. We should realize where is our true place: on one hand we are sinful and should be aware of that. On the other hand, man was created to live with God in paradise. Therefore, our Lenten journey should be directed towards God and His Kingdom. After finishing the sermon he asked for forgiveness bending his knees. The parishioners also knelt down and asked their pastor for forgiveness. Then each one of the faithful could come to the Rector to kiss the cross and to express the forgiveness.

Following the services of this special day Fr. Igor, Fr. Eutychius and parishioners joined at the Blini Luncheon. All of them enjoyed delicious meals, especially the blini, nicely prepared by our ladies and different kinds of fish. A toast to Fr. Igor and his recovery from the illness was raised. The Rector also raised a toast wishing everybody a good and fruitful fast.

2021 Annual Parish Meeting


The Annual Parish Meeting of St. George Church was held on Sunday, March 7, 2021, following the Divine Liturgy. Parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov presided.

Church Warden, Olga Roussanow read the minutes of the last Annual Meeting held in 2020.

The Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov had a speech. He made some introduction stating that the last year was difficult because of the pandemic. Our church was closed for a month in April. However, later we began to function and we have got 3 new parishioners. And all of them are very active.

Then the Rector reported on financial situation. He stressed that in the last year our parish received a number of generous donations that made its revenue higher than in the past year. Most of them were made by some of our new generous parishioners. In addition, we collected special donations for the renovations in our temple. Those renovations were made and the new floor installed in the altar and ambo area. But the cost was totally covered by some benefactor, so the parish did not spend anything on the renovations. For that reason the said renovations were not even indicated in the financial report. That assistance does not mean that our parishioners should not generously support the church. We know that some of them did offer their time, labor and assistance in performing different parish activities, for which we all should be grateful. But financially members of the church should still be active in supporting it.

After accepting the financial report, the parishioners discussed the election of the parish Treasurer. For several years the duties of the Treasurer were temporarily performed by the Rector. At this point the Rector proposed to elect our new but very active parishioner, Emilian Suric, to become the Treasurer. That proposal was unanimously supported and Mr. Suric was elected.

The Rector and the Warden then reminded the parishioners of their duty to pay the parish dues of 2021. Several members made their membership contributions right away.

It has been brought to the members’ attention that our church would need a person supervising the sale of candles. After some discussion, Phoebe Ching-Huei Li volunteered for that obedience.

Having discussed some other matters the meeting was adjourned.

Meatfare Sunday


On March 7, on the Meatfare Sunday, our parish family gathered for a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Sunday is dedicated to the commemoration of the Last Judgment. This event is going to occur in the future of the world, at the end of it. Usually we commemorate something which already took place. But today we ought to reflect upon something which is going to happen some day. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself told us that at the end of this world He will come again to judge the living and the dead. In today’s Gospel lesson we heard the words of the Lord describing how that final and dreadful judgment is going to happen”.
“First of all, we have to notice that the Last Judgment will be for everyone. The Gospel says that “all the nations will be gathered before Him” (Mt. 24, 32). It should be understood that not only nations, but all the people personally will be summoned to that judgment. No one will escape this adjudication. Therefore, we should not believe some false teachings attempting to say that some people will not appear at the Last Judgment. Everybody will be there”.
“Further, we should consider that all human kind will be divided in the two large groups. One group will be blessed and invited to the Kingdom of God prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Another group will be cursed and condemned to the everlasting punishment. Therefore, the eternal life which will start after that is going to be completely different for those two parts of the human race. The one part is going to enjoy the blessedness of heaven and paradise, yet the other will be tormented in hell”.
“Because the Last Judgment will be for each one of us and because it will end by either total blessing or total condemnation, it was called the “dreadful” judgment. And the Church wishes to remind us about that inevitable event, so we may prepare for it during the course of our earthly lives. But in today’s Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ desired not just to declare that the judgment will take place. He also told us in advance what kind of evidence will be considered there. After listening to the Gospel we realize that the main criteria according to which we are going to be saved or condemned will be whether we practiced the works of love and mercy towards the others. Our Lord lists those main works: feeding of the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, taking in the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick or a prisoner. He also says that doing those things to one of the least of these His brethren equals doing these things to Him. By these words our Lord teaches us to love our neighbor and to consider such love equal to our love of God, to our faith. And it is not accidental that the Lord is not talking about faith or prayer or other spiritual works to be considered at the Last Judgment. First of all, He requires our love and compassion towards “one of the least of these His brethren””.
“Whom should we consider those “least of His brethren”? We should see them in everybody who is in need. Again, the Lord gives us a list. These are the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick or the imprisoned, all the people in need, in trouble, in pain. Generally speaking, this is the whole human race, all our fellow men and women. The final sentence at the Last Judgment and our eternal destiny will depend on whether we fulfilled the works of love to these least brethren. Therefore, let us not delude ourselves thinking that when we fail to do something good, it was not done against God Himself. Let us stop thinking that when we refuse to love, to help or to be nice to someone, we just fail to please a man, not God. The Son of God became Man in order to care for everyone, so He wishes us to imitate Him in such a lovely care”.
“There is an ancient story of some king who dressed as a poor and simple person and used to walk on the streets of his capital city. That king was observing how his subjects live, what they do and what they say. He also looked at how they behaved, how they treated each other. So, the people did not recognize their king because he was disguised as a plan person, a poor man. And some of them treated him badly, but some were nice to him. In the same way our Lord Jesus Christ is our King in disguise. He is in a symbolic, spiritual sense because He says that if we do something good or bad to our brethren, we do it to Him. Thus when we see someone in need, let us remember the story of the king in disguise”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us, therefore, prepare for the Last Judgment of the Lord by fulfilling the works of love, doing them for our neighbors and thus doing them for the Lord. Let us earn for ourselves a place at the right side of the Son of Man who will judge us on the last day. Let us work now to become worthy of the eternal Kingdom prepared for us at the foundation of the world”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the Rector had a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.

Since there were no services for the departed performed on Meatfare Memorial Saturday, the Rector added the Litany for the deceased to the Liturgy with commemoration of those who had fallen asleep.

The choir prayerfully performed penitential hymns from the Lenten Triodion during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian concerning the commemoration of the departed and made some announcements.

After the liturgical service the Annual Parish Meeting was held.