9th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 22, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Holy Apostle Matthias, our St. George parish had a nice celebration. Despite the worrisome weather forecast warning us of a tropical storm, we decided not to cancel the Liturgy but to gather in our church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov arrived from his residence in New Jersey and headed the Divine Liturgy. Most of our parishioners also came to the temple. They were joined by some parishioners of other churches where the service was canceled. After the Gospel lesson Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters! In today’s Gospel we hear how our Lord came to His disciples walking on the water in the midst of a storm. We hear how St. Peter through faith joins Him on the water. Then Peter becomes distracted by the storm and cries out “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14, 30). Our Lord reaches out and catches him and says “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14, 31)”.
“In this Gospel we see the power of faith. We see that if we have faith we can perform miraculous things. Our Lord reminds of this when he says the following: “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Mt. 17, 20)”.
“When we have faith we embark on a spiritual path that leads to God. That path often appears dangerous. As we see with St. Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water in the midst of a storm”.
“Once a passenger on a cruise ship approached the captain and said, “Captain, I found out that we are going to face a big storm on our way. Isn’t that dangerous?” The captain answered, “Don’t look at the storm. Look at the ship. Our ship is big, well equipped and updated. It can face any kind of storm. Again, don’t look at the storm, look at the ship!”
“Today we also have a storm, a tropical storm. Many people were frightened. Some churches canceled their services. Our parishioners were worried and asked whether we are having the Liturgy today. I was also concerned but we decided to proceed. And see, thank God, we are here and you came to the church. We did not look at the storm but “looked at the ship”, at the Church calling us for Sunday worship. And, as we know, the Church is the Body of Christ, so we should not look at the storm but at Christ”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! In our troublesome life we face many storms. Especially, if we are attempting to lead a pious and spiritual life. Then not only usual cares of life and life problems bother us, but the demons would attack us and tempt us to lead astray. But if we are in the ship of the Holy Church, we can go through those storms. We just have to look at the ship”.
“But if we still have any doubt as we walk this spiritual path, then the troubles and cares of this world overwhelm us. We become preoccupied with the storms that are around us because we lose our focus on God. This is what happened to Apostle Peter when he began to sink. He lost his focus on the Savior and placed his focus on the storm around him. When he did this he lost the grace that was given to him when he stepped out of the boat in faith. This should remind us as our Lord said “without Me you can do nothing” (Jn.15, 5)”.
“We have to keep in mind that sometimes we see what we want to see. Then we either see the real things or we see the things unreal. And sometimes the Lord blesses us, gives us His grace to see things invisible. Today we commemorate Holy Apostle Matthias. He was first one of the 70 Apostles but later he was promoted and became one of the 12 Apostles, taking the place of Judas the betrayer. Today’s second Epistle lesson told us that the Apostles decided to fill the place of Judas, so they elected a disciple to take that place. They had two candidates, casted lots and the lot fell on Matthias. Holy Apostle Matthias was persecuted like all other Apostles. And once his persecutors wanted to seize him but could not because all of a sudden they could not see him. He was there but they were unable to see him. That was the grace of God for St. Matthias to become invisible only for those who wished to take him into custody. Therefore, sometimes we see what we want to see or, on the contrary, don’t see”.
“When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us we have a choice to make. That choice is, do we place our trust in the Savior to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us. This is the same choice that St. Peter was confronted with as he was sinking in the water. When we are in this situation we can do two things the first is call out as Peter did “Lord, save me!” or “curse God, and die” (Job 2, 9) as Job’s wife told him in the midst of his afflictions”.
“If we choose to follow St. Peter’s example and cry out “Lord, save me!”, then we will find that the Savior is ready to reach out His hand and pull us out of the storm of temptations just like he did for Apostle Peter in the Gospel. This example shows us that the Lord is always there for us. How can we not see that the Lord is there for us then why do we doubt? It is because we are fainthearted and do not place our trust in the Lord”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! With the remembrance of these examples we should not be given over to despair but should be strengthened in our faith that the Lord will save us so that we can say as the Holy King David said, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You. For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling” (Ps. 55, 11-13)”.

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

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.

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

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 in Christ! Today we celebrate the great holy day of the Transfiguration. The Gospel lesson told us today how it happened. Our Lord Jesus Christ took three of His disciples, Peter, James and John, led them to the mountain and transfigured before them. Jesus’ face became shining like the sun, and His garments like a light. Our Lord showed His disciples His divine glory, He showed Who He really is. The reasons we consider that event so important are two. We believe and confess that our Lord has two natures: divine and human. And everything we celebrate about Him concerns those two natures. Today, as we said, our Lord showed the Apostles that He is God. And this is one reason to honor this event. But we celebrate Transfiguration also because our Lord’s human nature was transfigured. The humanity taken by our Lord became so linked with the divine nature, so it also shone like the sun. And we may add to that reflection that it happened by the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father, Whose voice witnessed to the Son’s divine nature”.
“Celebrating Transfiguration we are perhaps reminded of another feast of the Church taken from the Holy Scriptures, where the divinity of Christ was also witnessed to by the Father and the Spirit proceeding from the Father – Theophany, the Baptism of Christ. Both these feasts have a great prominence in our Church. In both of them we may see the manifestation of the Holy Trinity and an indication that our Lord Jesus Christ is the true God and the true Man”.
“Transfiguration shows us that the human and divine natures of Christ are united in One Person of Jesus. As the Orthodox Church professes, those two natures are bound together in a mysterious way, being not mixed and undivided, not commingled and yet inseparable. It is also important to remember that no such a unity is possible without the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is taking part in every event of the life of the Lord manifested to us. His action is seen in the Nativity of Christ, in His Baptism and in His Transfiguration”.
“Another important aspect of today’s feast is that our Savior is the Lord over life and death. The Scripture tells us that two holy persons appeared at the Transfiguration: Moses and Elijah. They represent two kinds of people: those who died and those who live. Moses was dead long before Jesus came into the world. And Elijah also lived several centuries before Christ, but he did not taste death, but was taken up to heaven. Now, at the Mt. Tabor they both appeared to worship the Son of God, the Lord of the living and the dead”.
“And lastly, we may notice that today’s feast which has been lost outside of the Orthodox Church. In the similar way, the feast of Theophany is almost unnoticed outside of the Orthodoxy. They are not really celebrated in the communities where people do not believe in the words of the Holy Scripture, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father alone. This error makes those Christians deprived of the right believe in Holy Trinity. But it also makes them deprived of the true understanding of the importance of the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ becoming a man, so men could become divine, could unite with God. Such a unity was shown in Christ Transfiguration. Such a unity is possible through Christ and the Orthodox faith. Because Christ united those two natures for us. And the Orthodox faith gives us an opportunity to unite them in our lives, being partakers of the divine nature”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us then keep our faith in true God and pray that His everlasting light may shine to us!”

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.



8th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 15, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we heard the Gospel story of a miraculous feeding of the five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Our Lord Jesus Christ worked a great miracle: a large number of people were fed with such a small amount of food. It is interesting that this miracle is described in all 4 Gospels. It makes us understand how important this event was among the other works of our Savior”.
“The Gospel of Matthew which we heard today tells that Jesus seeing so many people following Him He “was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Mt. 14, 14). After that, also due to His compassion He decides to feed these people with 5 breads. This is a very elementary work – to feed the hungry, a basic work of mercy. And the Lord does it in a perfect, miraculous way. We might consider that this is the fulfillment of His mission – to heal the sick, to feed the hungry and to make everybody happy. Many Jews expected their Messiah to do just that – to build a perfect society, to give enough food, a lot of wealth and to make Israel strong and independent country. But we should know that the real mission of the Son of God was not directly related to the things of this world. He brought us salvation from sin, not from poverty or starvation. He came to redeem us from the captivity of the evil one, and not to provide us with a good lifestyle. Our Lord wished to give us the real and eternal life, a life truly abundant, and not just good life here on earth”.
“Many people wished to build a better society, to make a good life only here, on earth. For instance, the Socialists used to exclaim: “First feed the hungry and then demand them to be moral!” They promised good life here if they overthrow the governments and the kings and build their societies based on social justice. But when they succeeded, they created much worse life with more oppression of the people, and they could not solve even social problems. The hungry were still around and even grew in their number”.
“This is why our Lord Jesus Christ in the very beginning of His mission, when He was tempted in the wilderness, rejected the proposal of the devil to command the stones to become bread. If He did He could feed all the hungry, to solve a social problem. But Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4, 4). Only the knowledge of the will of God can make us happy. Without that knowledge we won’t be able to solve any social problem”.
“Therefore, the significance of the miracle of feeding those 5 thousand people with 5 loaves of bread is not about giving food. It is about making the people partakers of the divine presence, making them connected to God. This miracle is the image of the Holy Eucharist, a mystery in which our earthly bread becomes the Body of Christ. The same Jesus Christ becomes multiplied as those 5 loaves of bread to be consumed not by 5 thousand men, but by all the faithful who are willing to receive Him. Christ is not divided; He remains the same. In today’s Epistle Holy Apostle Paul is asking, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1, 13).  No, dear brothers and sisters, Christ does not divide. Yet in every church, at every Divine Liturgy Christ is being distributed to the partakers of the Holy Communion. Christ cannot be consumed. Yet every time we receive Communion we consume Him. Isn’t that a miracle? And this miracle happens every time we participate in the Liturgy”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Keeping this in mind, let us appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving gift of the Eucharist He gave us. Let us strive for eternal, spiritual and truly real things instead of temporary, material and passing things of this world. For were our treasure is, our heart will be also”.

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 and of some vegetables. He also made some announcements and explained the meaning of certain Church celebrations of this month. Fr. Igor pointed out that there is some difference between the ecclesiastical understanding and names of the holy days and the names of such feasts as known among the people. For instance, on August 19 we celebrate feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord which is also known as “Yablochnyi Spas” (literally, “the Apple Savior”) because on that day a blessing of apples and other fruits is performed. The Church accepts the people’s customs to bless certain fruits on such feasts but we should be aware of the primary meaning of those holy days.

The Rector also congratulated our young parishioner, Elena Malyshev on her past 7th birthday and proclaimed a Polychronion on her behalf.

7th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 8, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish family had a nice liturgical celebration. Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and our guest, Priest Nenad Flora, Rector of the mission parish in Dominican Republic.

Following the Gospel lesson Fr. Nenad preached a homily on the appointed reading. He stressed that our Lord Jesus Christ extended His grace manifested in His healing power to cure all the illnesses and diseases among the people. Being His Church, we have to appreciate His grace and actively support our parishes.

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

The choir prayerfully performed the Theotokian hymns during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech reminding the parishioners of different minor feasts and commemorated Saints during the past and following weeks. He also congratulated Paraskeva Kosmidis on her name day, expressing his heartfelt wishes, proclaiming a Polychronion on her behalf and handing to her the Theotokian prosphora.

After the service Fr. Igor, Fr. Nenad and parishioners enjoyed coffee and refreshments, as well as a nice conversation.

6th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Councils


On August 1, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 6 Ecumenical Councils, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov and the guest of our parish, Priest Nenad Flora from the ROCOR mission in Dominican Republic.

After the readings from the Sacred Scripture Fr. Nenad preached a homily.  He addressed the theme of the Gospel lesson appointed for that Sunday. The preacher stressed that the Lord is very merciful towards us. In the Gospel reading we heard that He did not question what sins the paralyzed man committed but He forgave his sins and healed him. Therefore, we have to appreciate our Lord’s compassion and mercy which are granted to us without our merits, so we should become aware of that gift from on high and become worthy of it.

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

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the Councils during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech welcoming Fr. Nenad in our parish where he used to be a lay parishioner and where he was preparing spiritually to embrace his priestly ministry. Presently, he is serving as a missionary in a place considered to be a “paradise”, a resort place, however serving there is very difficult and hard. We are admiring Fr. Nenad for his endeavor and wishing him the best in his further ministry.

Then Fr. Igor greeted our Parish Treasurer and altar server, Emilian Suric on his past name day handing over to him the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming the traditional Polychronion on his behalf.

After the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial Litia requested by the two families of our parishioners. He also performed a blessing of the large icons acquired by our parishioner, Richard Beltran and donated to the Orthodox mission in Dominican Republic.

The clergy and parishioners continued their interaction at the luncheon enjoying pizza, coffee and cookies together.