Changes in October Schedule due to the Rector’s Absence


Please, note that due to the Rector’s absence we are not going to have any services on 3 consecutive Sundays: October 10, October 17 and October 24.
Our updated schedule for October is available on this site.
Parishioners are encouraged to visit other Orthodox churches during the Rector’s leave.

Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross


On September 27 the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the great feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. On that day we had a festal service at St. George Church headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector and the altar server performed a procession with the Holy Cross. They proceeded from the sanctuary to the middle of the church placing the Cross on the stand and then venerated it.

During the Divine Liturgy, after the Gospel lesson, Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the Lord’s holy day dedicated not to some event in the life of Christ but to His Holy Cross. We celebrate Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of the Lord. Three centuries after our Lord was crucified, the Cross of Christ was discovered by the pious Christian people and following the order of the Holy Empress Helen. After being found on the Calvary in Jerusalem the Cross was exalted, elevated before the multitude of people by Archbishop Macarius. He exalted the Cross and blessed the people and the multitudes many times exclaimed the petition, “Lord, have mercy!” Today’s feast was established to remember that event and to honor the Holy Cross”.
“Celebrating this feast we may first of all, reflect upon the great sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ offered for us on the Cross. The Cross being a tool of shameful execution and horrible death, now became a tool of glorious salvation and new life for the human kind. This is why our pious hymns sung for this holy day call the Cross “the door of paradise”, “the invincible weapon”, “the haven of salvation” and “the resurrection of all the dead”.  Without the Holy Cross our salvation could not happen because the Lord in His merciful Providence willed to redeem us by His own death on that holy tool”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Honoring the Holy Cross we should also remember that the sign of the Cross and its precious image should be with us all the days of our life. Once we are born, the Cross should bless us in the holy rites of the Church, especially in the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation. When we live and grow up, we have to learn how to bless ourselves with that sign; how to perform that sign appropriately and rightly, without haste and neglect, but with piety and awareness. Making a sign of the Cross is essential in the life of an Orthodox Christian, so it accompanies us all our life as the Cross itself does. The Cross is everywhere in our religious and spiritual life: on the domes of the holy temples, in the churches and in our homes. The pastors bless the people and pious parents bless their children with that sign. And, finally, when we die the Church blesses our remains and our tomb with the cross and a cross is being placed over our grave. But we believe that if we live by the Cross, there will be no death: the Holy Cross will open to us the doors of paradise, the same way as the priest opens the temple doors with the cross on the early morning of Pascha”.
“However, in order to open for us the doors of eternal life the Cross of Christ has to be really honored. We have to live by the Cross. We have to follow the crucified Christ and to accept our own crosses. We should not forget the words of Christ, “He that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10, 38). Life is carrying the Cross. Many of us desire to free themselves from the cross, to live a life of pleasure and wellbeing, but such people forget or do not know that such freedom from the cross is a true slavery to sin and passion. Such freedom is finally a warrant for our eternal death. Our modern society is very much after that kind of freedom. And we Christians should beware of that”.
“To live by the cross also means to confess Christ the Crucified. Let us not forget the other words of the Lord: “Whoever… shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy Angels” (Mk. 8, 38). Let us not be ashamed to declare our faith in Christ before the world. Let us not be ashamed to make the sign of the Cross in public. Let us not be ashamed and afraid to call the wrong by its name, to call the sin ‘sin’ and to call the evil ‘evil’! Jesus expects that from us. Nowadays even some so-called Christians avoid doing that”.
“Dear Orthodox Christians! Dear true brothers and sisters in Christ! Let us today and always honor the Holy Cross! Let us worship Jesus Christ the Crucified, and let us not be ashamed of Him and of His words. Let us also take up our own crosses and follow Him. Let us follow Him with the Cross, so the Cross may open for us the doors to eternal life!”

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 of the Exaltation of the Cross before Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the clergy and the altar server performed glorification of the feast in the middle of the church.

Sunday before the Exaltation


On September 26, on the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we are preparing to celebrate feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. The Gospel lesson assigned for today is pretty short. It tells us basically one idea: that God so loved the world that He gave His Onlybegotten Son, so that everyone would not die but have life everlasting. And since we are going to celebrate feast dedicated to the Holy Cross and in some way commemorate salutary passions of our Lord, it is good to keep in mind why all those sufferings of our Savior took place”.
“The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son acquired human nature, took our flesh upon Himself in order to save and redeem the human race. Due to the sin of the first people, Adam and Eve, mankind offended the Creator and deserved punishment. People marred God’s image in themselves and became sinful and subject to death. In order to destroy that evil God Himself gave us a hand. He sent His Onlybegotten Son who became man and accomplished salvation of the human kind. God did not wish that mankind remained lost, but in His love desired to save it”.
“There is an old crucifix in some church in Europe. It very impressively shows the sufferings of Jesus. On the top it has an inscription saying: “Did not spare His Son.” God did not spare His only Son, but gave Him to us because He so loved us. Therefore, all passions, sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ happened because of God’s love toward us. We must be felt loved by God”.
“We may be wondering why only God could save us. It is easy to answer. Mankind being fallen could not rise without special help from God. Man was first created by God and could not come to existence without Him. In the same way the corrupted man could not be renewed and purified by himself. Such as a dead man cannot be raised without supernatural power to raise him up, so the human kind was not capable of saving itself without God”.
“But we may also ask why God, being all-powerful and able to perform anything, wished to send His Son to accomplish salvation. Fathers of the Church, especially St. Athanasius the Great explain that it was necessary for the Son of God only to become man in order to redeem us. First of all, only God could reconcile mankind with the offended God’s majesty. And only God could conquer our enemies which are sin, death and the devil. No one else could destroy the power of sin, the chains of death, and the deception of the devil. And God had to become man, to incarnate – in order to take upon Himself our sufferings and become our substitute in undergoing the due punishment. Only a perfect man could accomplish that, but there were no perfect people because of sin. Jesus was the only perfect man, because He had no sin. In addition, our Lord becoming man had to give us an example of godly life and of love toward God and neighbor”.
“St. Augustine wrote: “The principal reason of Christ’s coming was that man realizes the love of God, and to realize it that he may become kindled to love Him””.
“Dear brothers and sisters! If God loves us, it is understandable that we must love Him in return. Therefore, reflecting on the holy and salutary passions of the Lord, let us love God and show that love in our everyday life”.

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 in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements. He also served the memorial Litia for the newly-departed Anatoli Hilinski on the 9th day of his repose. Then a memorial luncheon was served for the parishioners.

Funeral Service for the newly-departed Anatoli Hilinski


The Burial service for the newly-departed Anatoli Hilinski was performed in our church on Wednesday, September 22. It had been served by Abbot Zosimas (Krampis), the cleric of the ROCOR Synodal Cathedral. Our Choir Director, Olga Roussanow performed the prescribed singing.

After the Burial service the priest, the daughter of the decedent, Tamara Hilinski, as well as some parishioners went to the Russian cemetery in Jackson, NJ where the funeral was finished by serving the Litia and sealing the grave.

13th Sunday after Pentecost. Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God


On September 19, on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, our parish had a beautiful celebration. In addition we observed feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God transferred to Sunday. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 13th Sunday after Pentecost and joyful feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God”.
“Today’s first Gospel is the parable of the vineyard. We heard that story of the owner who built it and was sending his servants to get the fruits in due time. And we heard how the tenants treated them and how they treated even the owner’s son”.
“It is understood that the vineyard in this parable is Israel. The owner is God. The tenants are the Jews. The servants are those sent by God, the prophets and the just ones who reminded the Jews that Israel was not theirs but God’s. But they beat and stoned and killed first the servants and then the heir, the Son of God. They did so because they wanted the vineyard to belong only to them. And so they ceased to be God’s people”.
“At the end of the parable of the vineyard we hear that the owner will “lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons” (Mt. 21, 41). And if we read the whole chapter of the Gospel, we hear the words of Christ: “Therefore I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Mt. 21, 43). These words were not included in our Sunday reading but they confirm the idea of the parable. And that idea is that the vineyard was given to the new vinedressers. They became the New Israel, the Christian Church. And they are expected to render to God the fruits in their seasons, they have to bear the fruit of the Kingdom of God”.
“How then we, the New Israel, the chosen Christian people, ought to render to God the fruits in their seasons? We have to live according to Christian faith. We have to keep the Commandments. And we have to be good children of the Holy Church, observing its pious customs, its feasts, fasts and seasons. There may be a lot of thoughts and examples to illustrate that obligation of ours. But since today we celebrate the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, let us recall how Her holy parents rendered their spiritual fruits to God”.
“Holy tradition holds that Joachim and Anna were advanced in age and they had no children. That was considered a curse, a punishment from God. So they had to endure a reproach from their neighbors and their countrymen. But they were praying and giving alms. Finally, they received a great blessing from God: Anna conceived and gave birth to a holy infant who became the Blessed Mother of the Savior. First the holy parents Joachim and Anna were considered not rendering God their proper fruits in their seasons, because it was expected that a married couple should have children. But God gave them a blessing, a possibility to render the most precious and seasonable fruit, their holy daughter. Thus it was the God’s will that the fruit of their holy marriage was to be rendered later. And we should understand that every person is given his or her time to render to God the fruits of their spiritual endeavors”.
“Speaking of the Most Holy Mother of God Herself, we should also see that She was bearing the most precious fruit of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Onlybegotten Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We pray to Her exclaiming along with St. Elizabeth, “Blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb” (Lk. 1, 42). That fruit, the Son of God and the Son of Man was the fruit His Blessed Mother rendered to God”.
“Although the chosen people of the Old Testament had to bear the fruits of the God’s Kingdom, they and the whole humanity were spiritually barren. We all were barren, unable to bear real spiritual fruits because until Christ was born through the Virgin, we were condemned to sin, passion and death. This is why the Church praises today’s feast singing, “Today the barrenness of our nature has been loosed”. And even today those who reject the message of Christ still remain barren and condemned. Some of them are just careless about their souls and preoccupied by the earthly vanities. They may be too overcome by their passions. But some are also hostile and wicked like those evil vinedressers from today’s parable. In such case they ignore the voice of God, they fight the Church and Christian teaching. They replace true moral values with false morality and godless culture. And if they could, if Christ would come to them, they would probably crucify Him again. But they should beware: the Son of God, the Heir of the Owner is coming! And in this time He won’t be willing to be crucified but He will judge the living and the dead. So,“He will miserably destroy those wicked men” as today’s Gospel says (Mt. 21, 41)”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us avoid the attitude of the evil vinedressers, a godless and impious attitude of the wicked. Let us be humble and faithful servants of the Lord and worthy tenants of His vineyard. Let us bring forth good and best fruits of our piety, love and virtue imitating the holy parents of the Theotokos, righteous Joachim and Anna. Let us pray to their Blessed Daughter whose Birthday we are celebrating to save us and to watch over us, so the Kingdom of God will be granted to us forever!”

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 beautifully performed the hymns of the Nativity of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.

Fr. Igor expressed his condolences to Tamara Hilinski for the loss of her father Anatoli and announced that the burial service for the newly-departed will be held in our temple on Wednesday.

Fr. Igor also greeted Phoebe Ching-Huei Li on her past name day proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf and handing to her the Theotokian prosphora.

Our Condolences to Tamara Hilinski


We express our sincere condolences to Tamara Hilinski on the loss of her father, Anatoli.
He passed away on Friday, September 17, being almost 101 years old.
Burial service will be held in our temple on Wednesday, September 22, at 9:30 AM.

May the Lord grant Heavenly Kingdom to His newly-departed servant Anatoli!

Мы выражаем искренние соболезнования Тамаре Хилинской по поводу безвременной утраты ее отца, Анатолия.
Он скончался в пятницу, 17 сентября, едва не дожив до 101 года.
Чин погребения будет совершен в нашем храме в среду, 22 сентября в 9:30 утра.

Царствие Небесное новопреставленному рабу Божию Анатолию!

12th Sunday after Pentecost. Beheading of St. John the Baptist


On September 12, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish held a nice celebration. In addition to the Sunday observance we celebrated feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist that had been transferred to that day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Scripture he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as we observe feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist transferred to Sunday”.
“Today’s first reading from the Holy Gospel deals with a very important question, about everlasting life. The young man presented such a question to our Lord Jesus Christ saying: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Mt. 19, 16). The young man did not doubt that eternal life exists, but he wanted to know how to enter into it”.
“Answering his question, our Lord reminded him of the Commandments. He said that in order to enter into eternal life, one must keep them. He enumerated certain Commandments pertaining to the love of the neighbor. Jesus did it to stress that loving or pleasing God is impossible without loving our neighbors”.
“We should also be confronted with that very important question: “What shall we do to have eternal life?” It is known that our life here on earth will end. We will have to leave this world. But our holy faith tells us that after our earthly existence we will enter into everlasting life. Faith also tells us that everlasting life will become eternal blessing and happiness for one and eternal punishment and torment for the others. Therefore, when the young man was asking about “having eternal life”, he wished to know how to acquire everlasting happiness. We should also reflect upon that question”.
“This earthly life is a brief moment in comparison with the eternity that is waiting for us. Therefore, this life has to become our preparation for the life everlasting. Again, Jesus reminds us of the Commandments of God given to the people through Moses. Keeping them we may rightly prepare for the eternity”.
“Today we commemorate the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. The second Gospel lesson was telling us about that terrible event (Mk. 6, 14-3). It was about murder, about breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Executing St. John was an unjust and deceptive murder of a righteous man. And it was also about adultery, about breaking of another Commandment. King Herod took the wife of his living brother Philip and married her committing adultery. Both Herod and Herodias lived in that sin”.
“St. John the Baptist was living a life that sought perfection. If the young man from the first Gospel lesson could not give up his possessions and follow the Lord, Holy Forerunner John could and did. He lived a holy life in the wilderness not possessing any wealth but trying to serve the Lord. As a part of such service was to be a Prophet, to tell the people about God’s will. Thus St. John was bold to say to King Herod that he is breaking the law by marrying his bother’s wife. And we heard from the Gospel that Herod was not happy with the words of St. John but did not  dare to commit a murder. However, his unlawful wife, Herodias found a way to procure the murder of the Holy Prophet. The Gospel tells us how she acted using her daughter Salome. Our festal kontakion says about Herodias that “she did not love the law of God, nor the eternal age, but preferred the delusive, the temporary one”. Herodias preferred a brief moment of this earthly life instead of having life everlasting. She preferred this delusive age living in a sinful pleasure. In that earthly life she had a glimpse of sinful delight, of vicious happiness and triumph over the just man. But it did not last long. Even her earthly life was not so happy. Herod, being a subject to the Roman emperor, was swept of his authority and exiled to Europe. Herodias and her daughter Salome followed him. In Europe, in today’s France, they experienced a cold winter. Once Salome was crossing the river over the ice and she fell through it. Her neck became trapped in ice. She was dangling her legs under the water, she was dancing in the icy river. Then her neck was cut by the ice and her head remained on the surface while her body was drowned and was never found. Her head then was brought to her mother on the plate, the same way as she once brought the head of the Holy Forerunner. Herod and Herodias died later being fallen into the ground”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us see how deceptive is sin and how delusive is this earthly life! Again, it has to be spent in preparation for life eternal, for the everlasting age which was loved by the just man, St. John but not preferred by sinful Herod and Herodias. They died and perished shamefully. On the other hand, the righteous man, St. John by keeping the Commandments and even going further than that – by his life of perfection – inherited eternal life in the Kingdom of God”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Keeping of the Commandments leads to eternal life. Their breaking leads to eternal punishment. The young man said to Jesus that he kept all of them. But, in fact, he was not perfect in doing so. He was attached to his wealth and he left Jesus in sorrow when he heard that he should sell everything and give it to the poor. His riches became his passion that precluded him from acquiring eternal life. Same happens with many of us because we have our weaknesses, our passions that preclude us from being saved. It is not easy to acquire salvation. But Jesus assured us that with God everything is possible, so a rich man may enter into eternal life if he trusts God and serves Him. A sinful man may enter into eternal life if he is asking God’s help”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us keep the Commandments, and let us do so with God’s help, acquiring His grace, let us pray to the Holy Forerunner and Baptist John to help us also, so by his righteous prayers we would enter the life everlasting!”

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

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed the hymns of the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed glorification in the middle of the church singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the icon stand.

Following that he Rector congratulated Alexander Bezkrovny on his name day, as well as Moses Dunetz on his past name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the Theotokian prosphora was divided among those two parishioners. The Rector also made some announcements, especially regarding the Bible study which started in our parish and is planned to be held every Saturday.

After the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the trapeza table.


The Bible Study in our Parish


Dear parishioners and friends of St. George Church!

We will begin our Bible Study meetings. You are invited to come to our church to study and discuss the Sacred Scripture.
Our first meeting will be held tomorrow, on Saturday, September 11, at 2 pm in our temple.
Our Rector will be lecturing through Facetime or Zoom from his residence.

11th Sunday after Pentecost


On September 5, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost St. George Parish family had a beautiful celebration at our temple. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Our temple was visited by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), a ROCOR cleric who prayed in the sanctuary and received Holy Communion. After the Gospel lesson our Rector preached the following homily:

“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We are very happy to gather again in our church. Last week our area was hit by the flood. Thank God that our church was spared although we are actually in the basement. Some other churches were flooded but thanks to the Lord and to St. George we did not suffer”.
“Today is the 11th Sunday after Pentecost and today we finish the celebration of the feast of the Dormition. We have the final day, the leave-taking of the feast. Our Gospel lesson for today is telling us a story, a parable about a merciful king and an unmerciful lender (Mt. 18, 23-35). It is supposed to teach us to forgive. Let us interpret that parable to understand it better”.
“The king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants is God. He is our Master and Benefactor, and we are His servants and we owe Him a lot. But God is merciful and forgiving. His mercy is unlimited. That unlimited mercy and forgiveness of God is illustrated by today’s parable. The king forgives the debt of his servant, so God forgives a multitude of our sins. Thus, a debt to the king described in today’s parable is a sin against God. We are in debt to God because we commit sins. This debt originates with our neglect of God’s will”.
“Ten thousand talents the servant owed to the king is an impossible sum. It was more than a laborer could earn during his all lifetime!  Thinking of that we may see that we owe God all our life. It is a gift from God. But this life of ours is full of sins and mistakes. It could be impossible to pay this debt off. But God is merciful as the king in this parable. A hundred denarii is contrasted to the 10,000 talents. It was equivalent to about a hundred days’ wages. Thinking of that we may understand that our fellow men are usually owing us much less than we owe God”.
“Just as the king in the parable showed mercy toward his servant who fell down before him and asked to have patience with him (Mt. 18, 26), so does God show love toward us if we ask for forgiveness, if we repent. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we need to fall before God asking Him to be patient with us, we need to ask for His mercy. The best way is to show not only humility and sorrow, but true repentance – a desire to make things better, a desire to change for better.  We need to practice receiving the Mystery of Confession. True confession provides that no matter how great and terrible our sins are, if we sincerely repent, we receive forgiveness, our sins are absolved. Our debt is written off”.
“And on the other hand, just as the king showed strictness toward the servant when he found out that the servant himself had no compassion, so does God shows strictness toward us if we do not repent our own sins or do not forgive others for their trespasses against us. Our Lord Jesus Christ concludes today’s parable saying, “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)”.
“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel parable teaches us that because God forgives us, we in return are obliged to grant this gift of forgiveness to others. When each Christian forgives from his heart, true reconciliation and healing come to the Church by God’s grace. Therefore, let us ask God to forgive our debts to Him which are great, and let us forgive others their debts to us which are certainly not so great. Let us grow in love and forgiveness, so the Lord will bestow His mercy and compassion on us”.

Since on the first Sunday of September the Russian Church holds a special day of prayer for the preservation of God’s creation, during the Litany of fervent supplication the Rector offered special petitions for that cause, as well s special prayer after that Litany.

The choir was prayerfully singing the hymns of the Dormition which leave-taking was celebrated.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed the glorification of the Dormition in the middle of the church. Then Fr. Igor greeted Abbot Eutychius on his coming name day and presented him the Theotokian prosphora. The traditional Polychronion was proclaimed on behalf of our guest.

Following that the Rector performed the blessing of the students who begin the school year.

10th Sunday after Pentecost. Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ


On August 29, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hand of the Lord, our parish family had a beautiful celebration. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we continue to celebrate feast of the Dormition and on this day right after the Dormition we also celebrate the Translation of the Image of our Lord from the city of Edessa to the imperial city of Constantinople. That image of our Lord was not made by hands; it had been imprinted by our Lord Himself on the piece of cloth, on a towel. There is a history of that celebration”.
“During the time when our Lord was performing His earthly ministry, a Syrian ruler of the city of Edessa whose name was Abgar, was afflicted with leprosy. That ruler heard about great miracles of Christ. Although not having seen the Lord, Abgar believed in Him and wrote a letter requesting Christ to come and heal him. Abgar sent his court painter, Ananias, with this letter to Palestine telling him to paint an image of the Divine Teacher. Ananias was not able to paint Jesus because of the crowds around Him. But Jesus Himself called Ananias and promised to send one of His disciples to heal Abgar. Then the Lord called for water and a towel. He wiped His face with the towel, and on it was His Divine Image. The Savior sent the towel and a letter to Edessa back with Ananias. With thanksgiving Abgar received the sacred Image and started healing. He continued healing until the arrival of St. Thaddeus, one of the 70 Apostles. The Apostle preached the Gospel and baptized Abgar and all living in Edessa. Later, in the 10th century, the Image Not Made by Hands was translated from Edessa to Constantinople, and today we commemorate that translation. And later the Image was taken by the Latin Crusaders and disappeared. In our Orthodox Church devotion, that image is very popular and revered”.
“Today’s Sunday lesson from the Holy Gospel is about casting out the demon. It is about faith. We mentioned faith last Sunday. Today we may be convinced again how faith is important. Referring to the story of the Syrian ruler Abgar healed by the Image of Christ imprinted on a towel, we see how faith was crucial for that healing. Abgar believed without seeing Christ but he was awarded with the Image of the Savior not made by hands. That Image cured him of the disease”.
“In today’s Gospel story, the child possessed by a demon was tormented in different ways. We may wonder how did the demon get inside the man’s son and possess him? To this question we have the reply of Christ: “O faithless and perverse generation” (Mt. 17, 17). The demon came into possession of the son through unbelief, faithlessness. It was not only the son’s unbelief, but also the unbelief of the father and others around the son. However, as with everything that God allows to happen, there is a positive, providential aspect to this illness. It is clear that because of the illness of the son, the father has been brought to know humility. Thus he calls Christ, “Lord” and asks, “Have mercy on my son” (Mt. 17, 15). This shows humility, not pride. God gives His grace to the humble ones. Thus the possessed son of the humble father was healed”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s festal troparion says: ”Of Thine own will Thou were pleased to ascend the cross in the flesh to deliver Thy creatures from bondage to the enemy”. Our Lord voluntarily endured death on the cross in order to save us, to deliver us from the slavery of the devil. That slavery was seen in the demon-possessed youth. But that slavery was ended. However, the world and the human kind continue to serve the enemy and to be possessed. The image of God imprinted in our nature is often being darkened and perverted. Our modern generation may also be called “faithless and perverse”. Therefore, the Image of the Savior in the middle of the church today, the Image Not-Made by Hands, should remind us of our true destiny – to be the image of God. As the father of the possessed young man we need to become humble, to recognize God, not the enemy, to be our Lord, and then to ask the Lord to be merciful to us. And, of course, we need faith to be worthy of the Lord’s presence in our lives. We need the faith of the persons healed by the Lord, the faith of Abgar”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us humbly ask the Lord to grant us faith through 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 festal Sticheras of the Dormition during preparation for Holy Communion.

The interaction between the Rector, parishioners and guests continued at the trapeza table during the coffee hour.