Sunday of the Blind Man


On May 29, on the Sunday of the Blind Man, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters! Christ is risen! Today we celebrate the last Sunday of the Paschal period which is called “Sunday of the Blind Man”. To be precise, it should be called “Sunday of the Man Born Blind”, as it is called among many other Orthodox nations. For today’s Gospel lesson tells us about granting sight to a person who was born without being able to see, born even without eyes. This was the greatness of that miracle that the Savior not just granted the sight to a blind man, but created the organs for this man’s vision. However, the bodily sight granted by Christ to this man, should point us to the importance of the spiritual sight”.
It is a great happiness to possess bodily sight. Most of the people have this gift but do not fully appreciate it. But if you imagine for a moment that we lost our vision and we won’t see anything we saw before, that we won’t see the blue sky and the green grass, won’t see the light of the sun and the faces of the people who are dear to us, then we may become grateful to have the sight. However, many of us are not able to imagine how bad is to live without spiritual sight, and it is hard for us to define what is spiritual sight. The spiritual sight is to see the things the way they are and to understand that they are created by God. The spiritual sight is an ability to believe in true God and to follow Him. And in today’s reading from the Holy Gospel we heard how the Lord granting the bodily vision to a man, gave him an ability to acquire spiritual sight”.
The man born blind after obeying Christ and washing in the Pool of Siloam became not only having a vision, but he also understood that Jesus, who did it to him, is the Son of God and the Savior. He said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him” (Jn. 9, 38). That tells us that he acquired spiritual vision”.
Before the coming of the Savior almost all the people in a spiritual sense were similar to a man born blind. Everybody was born with a spiritual defect, with an original sin of Adam, and being unable to see the truth. Only some righteous men and women could achieve spiritual vision but it was not truly clear. The Jewish people, chosen by God, who formally knew and worshiped the one and true God, were very often spiritually blind. And today’s Gospel lesson gives us an opportunity to see that. The Pharisees and the scribes, instead of recognizing their Messiah in Jesus, do everything to fight Him. After seeing the miracle of granting a vision to a man born blind, instead of believing in Christ and worshiping Him, as that blind man did, they conduct the whole investigation. They interrogate the healed man, they interrogate his parents, and remain disappointed in the results of their investigation. They hypocritically ask the man to praise God because, as they say, Jesus is “a sinner” (Jn. 9, 24). But now this uneducated man teaches those learned scribes a good lesson: he says he does not know about the sins of Jesus but he does know that He opened his eyes and that God does not listen to the sinners (Jn. 9, 31)”.
Our Lord Jesus Christ enabled the whole mankind to acquire spiritual sight through the holy faith and through the following in His steps. But today also many people in this world continue to stay in spiritual darkness. First of all, this darkness shows itself when people refuse to believe in Christ. The Jews continue to stay in such darkness. They praise themselves as being the God’s chosen people, but in fact they had lost the light of the divine truth long ago. It is not surprising that they began to believe in different superstitions and occult teachings known under the name of Cabbalism. What the Jews consider a great wisdom of the Cabbala is, in fact, a mixture of pagan views about the world and a search of some secret knowledge, all covered by the terms taken from the Old Testament religion. This is why the Lord criticizing the Pharisees and the scribes, whose followers are the modern Jews, called them the “blind leaders of the blind” (Mt. 15, 14). Not better in their spiritual blindness, and sometimes even worse, are the Muslims, the Buddhists and the followers of the pagan cults”.
But the spiritual darkness is not only a refusal to believe in Christ. Such darkness also engulfs us, faithful Christians, when we commit sins. By the mercy of God sometimes we receive spiritual sight, but very often, being blinded by sin, we lose the light of the faith in Christ and we wander in our life in the darkness, thinking that we are able to see. Our intellect influenced by our flesh and concentrated on the cares of everyday life, loving only material goods, always leads us to oppose the teaching of the Lord. The heart of a spiritually blind person becomes hard and cruel. Such a person hears by his ears and sees by his eyes but does not listen to them. That person begins to oppose God, and then God leaves such a person”.
Ven. Seraphim of Sarov said, “If man knew what it is to see God, he would agree to come to Him through any darkness”. For everyone of us the darkness is the multitude of our sins. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us beware to sin and let us repent if we do sin. And may everyone, according to his or her prayers, the Lord grant spiritual sight, that is an ability to distinguish the sins and the good things, and to acquire a vision of the holy and such a beautiful Countenance of the Savior which is shining from the most true Orthodox faith!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.

The choir prayerfully performed the Exapostilarion of Pascha during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcements regarding the coming feast of the Ascension and about the next month service schedule.

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman


On May 22, on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, feast of the Translation of the Relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov being on vacation in Florida, made a pilgrimage to the Monastery of Our Lady of Pochaev in North Port, FL (ROCOR).

Fr. Igor attended Sunday service at the monastery temple, performing reading of the 6th Hour. He also prayed in the sanctuary during the Divine Liturgy and read the Epistle.

After the Liturgy our Rector had an opportunity to venerate the relics and the revered  icon of Our Lady of Pochaev held in the temple. He also had an interaction with the local clergy and parishioners.

Sunday of the Paralytic


On May 15, on the Sunday of the Paralytic, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen! Today we celebrate Sunday of the Paralytic. We commemorate the event described in today’s Gospel lesson: healing of the paralytic at the pool located at the Sheep Gate (Jn. 5, 1-15). The pool was called in Hebrew Bethesda which means the “House of mercy”, “Mercy house””.
The state of paralysis reminds us of the state in which the whole mankind was living due to sin. The human kind was spiritually paralyzed. It needed a Savior, a great Healer. But who could become such a Healer, such a Savior? In many legends and myths people thought that it should be a great man, a hero. Even the Jews who believed in one God thought that the Messiah should be a human person. However, this was not possible for any man because human kind was sinful. It could be done only by God, but God willed to do it becoming also a Man”.
The whole attitude of waiting for a man, for a hero to save is reflected in today’s Gospel. The paralytic says, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up…” (Jn. 5, 7). He put his trust on men and he was unsuccessful for many years. He should have learned from the Scripture saying, “Do not put your trust in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps. 145, 3). These words of the Psalm we sing every Sunday at the Divine Liturgy. People who attend the church should know them by heart. We should not put our trust in men but in God”.
Jesus was the Son of God, thus He could help the paralytic. So, He can help all the people in need, in sufferings, in pain. He is able to do this because He conquered death, was risen from the dead”.
On the other hand, the people who follow Christ, who are united with Him, can also become the partakers of His power. They continue His miracle-working and the mission of salvation. In today’s Epistle we heard that Holy Apostle Peter was able to heal the paralytic also. And he was able to raise a recently dead young woman. St. Peter healed by the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 9, 34). And it is not accidental that today’s Epistle mentions that the followers of Christ were already called “Saints” (Acts 9, 32). People dedicated and belonging to God are the holy people, the saints. Such people are able to conduct the divine grace and the will of God. If we put our trust on God, He can act through us”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us put our trust in God. Let us be faithful to our calling as Christians. Let us strive for being the partakers of our Lord’s grace and the conductors of His power. Let us also acquire this power in the Church where we can meet the people dedicated to God, the Saints of our days. The Church is our House of mercy, our healing place, a place of God’s graces. Let us belong here and become a part of our Lord’s Resurrection”.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.

The choir prayerfully performed the Exapostilarion of Pascha and the “Angel exclaimed” during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.

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

Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women


On May 8, on the Sunday of Myrrh-Bearing Women, as well as feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, we had a beautiful service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. He was co-served by our guest, Priest Nenad Flora, Rector of St. Seraphim Mission in Dominican Republic. After the reading from the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Christ is risen! On this Sunday after Pascha we honor Holy Myrrh-bearing Women, righteous Joseph and Nicodemus who participated in the burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. Later some of them became the witnesses of His Resurrection, as we heard in today’s Gospel lesson. A huge stone was rolled against the door of the tomb where Jesus was laid, but when He rose from the dead the stone became rolled away. As we think today of that tomb of Jesus, other tombs come to mind – tombs where Jesus is buried today, strong tombs, heavily sealed, tombs that are designed to keep Jesus isolated from our lives”.
A Monk of Eastern Church writes: “In many souls, Jesus seems to be buried as if in a sepulcher. He seems to be paralyzed, immobilized, even dead. He is covered by a heavy stone; the stone of sin, of ignorance, of indifference, the stone of bad habits that have accumulated over years.” Buried by those errors we cry out like the Myrrh-bearing Women: “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” (Mk. 16, 3)”.
The sin is the first stone by which we can cover Jesus in His sepulcher. Our sins don’t let us give our Lord a place in our life; they keep us away from Him. First of all, it happens when we let our sins rule over us. Then we serve sin, not our Lord. And second, when our sins, or a particular sin of ours, keeps us away from God”.
The second stone is ignorance. What kind of ignorance buries Jesus? The ignorance about Him. Ignorance about our faith, ignorance about religious matters, ignorance about basic, but very important things in our life. Many people don’t know our faith, why we believe in this or in that. Many people don’t know the pious traditions: why we do certain things in our Church, what we are supposed to have in our Church. I can speak hours telling you the stories of people’s ignorance about faith, Church life and other spiritual things. For instance, today we celebrate feast of the Holy Apotsle and Evangelist Mark who wrote the second Gospel. By the way, today’s Gospel reading about the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women was from the Gospel of St. Mark. This Apostle was a disciple of the Holy Apostle Peter, and he also traveled along with Holy Apostle Paul. St. Mark was not one of the 12 but one of the 70 Apostles. So, many people, if they recall St. Mark they would be confused. If they won’t find him among the 12 Apostles, they would wonder why he is an Apostle. It is an ignorance. We should know that there were 12 and also 70 Apostles of Christ”.
I read a story about a Lutheran pastor who was in the Soviet GULAG and being there he was trying not to forget basic accounts of his religion. So, he was recalling the names of the Apostles. The author of the story says that the minister was enumerating, “Peter, Paul” and so on. Right there we find a mistake. Either the pastor forgot that St. Paul was not one of the 12 or the author confused the names. Ignorance!”
So, ignorance. This is the great stone that keeps Jesus buried in the tomb. If you don’t know something – ask, inquire. Talk to the priest, ask or simply listen when the priest is telling you about it. You can call the priest or text the priest with your questions, and he will be happy to answer and to make you knowledgeable, not ignorant”.
The third and the greatest of the stones is indifference. Indifference is what keeps Jesus buried in the terrible grave of apathy. A priest once stopped in a coffee shop and sat at a counter next to a man. The man glanced at the priest and asked where his church was. When the priest told him, he said, “That’s the church I go myself”. “Isn’t that strange?” the priest said, “I’ve been a rector there for five years and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you.” The man replied, “Come on, Father, I didn’t say I was a fanatic”. It is OK to be fanatic about football but there is something wrong with you if you are serious about Jesus. It is that kind of indifference that keeps Jesus buried. It is an extremely heavy stone and it needs to be removed if Jesus is to become a living presence in our lives”.
In addition, there are the people who bury Christ in their hearts, in their souls. They are the people who tell us: “I may not come to church, but God is always in my soul”. It is a very popular attitude, especially among the people from our old countries. Some famous Russian priest who already passed away said about that attitude, “Then do everything in your soul! Eat in your soul, drink in your soul, get married in your soul”. But, as we all know, people prefer to eat, drink, get married and do other things not in their souls but by their bodies and by actual facts. However, many do not wish to actually practice their faith but keep God “in their souls”. Such people don’t participate in the Liturgy. They don’t receive the Sacraments. They don’t support the work of Christ through His Church. They seldom pray and yet – they tell us – God is in their souls. Maybe He is! But then, that’s where they keep Him dead and buried”.
If there are those today who claim that God is dead, it is also because we Christians have buried Him in our sins, in our ignorance, in our indifference, in our souls. And if we have buried God, there is no wonder why we are so anxious and worried people today”.
“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! Roll the stone away from the tomb and let the Risen Christ step out of our indifference, out of our sins, out of our ignorance, even “out of our souls” into our lives and see what happens as a result! It will bring the great power, the great peace and the great joy! Christ is risen!”

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns to the Holy Apostle Mark, as well as Paschal hymns during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our ladies on the occasion of this Sunday which is the Orthodox Women’s day. He also greeted them on the occasion of today’s celebrated Mother’s Day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. Then Fr. Igor also greeted Mark Deleon and Tamara Gusnezow on the occasion of their past name days, proclaiming a Polychronion on their behalf and dividing the Theotokian prosphora among them. Finally, Fr. Igor expressed his best wishes of God’s blessings and success for the pastoral ministry of Fr. Nenad Flora who will soon be returning to his missionary community in Dominican Republic.

After the Liturgy the Rector performed a memorial Litia requested by Olga Kniazeva.

Patronal Feast of St. George


On Friday, May 6 our Parish celebrated its Patronal Feast of the Holy Victorious Great Martyr George. Our festal service was headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. He was co-served by the guest clergy from the ROCOR: Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), Priest Nenad Flora and Deacon Matthew Keil. After the reading of the Hours they celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Later, during the service there arrived Abbot Zosimas (Krampis) who was praying along with the faithful in the temple.

Following the readings from Sacred Scripture Priest Nenad Flora preached a short homily in English. He stressed that in the Gospel reading appointed for this feast the Lord says, “These things I command you, that you love one another” (Jn. 15, 17). Thus the Lord did not ask or suggest that we love another but He commanded that. Love is a crucial commandment of Christianity and it should be practiced if we wish to attain salvation.

The choir beautifully performed hymns dedicated to St. George, as well as Paschal hymns during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the clergy and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification of St. George in front of his icon in the middle of the church. They sang the troparion, kontakion and magnification of our temple Saint. Then the Rector greeted everybody present on the feast and said a few words about our celebrated holy patron. The two group photographs were taken: one of the clergy and altar servers, then another of all present at the celebration.

Our Patronal Feast continued after the liturgical service. All were invited to a luncheon at the nearby Italian restaurant where the clergy and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.

Antipascha. Sunday of St. Thomas


On May 1, on the Sunday of Antipascha, also known as Sunday of St. Thomas, we had a nice service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our temple. He was co-served by Priest Nenad Flora, Rector of St. Seraphim Mission in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Following the Gospel lesson our guest, Fr. Nenad preached a homily in English about celebrated feast.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.

The choir beautifully performed the Aposticha of St. Thomas Sunday and the Aposticha of Pascha during preparation for Holy Communion.

Since we did not hold a service on Bright Saturday when the Paschal blessed bread, called the Artos is usually distributed, the Rector proclaimed the prayer for the breaking of the Artos following the Ambo prayer.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector welcomed Fr. Nenad who used to be our parishioner and is a very good friend of our community of St. George. Fr. Igor also preached a sermon in Russian addressing the spiritual importance of knowing God in the life of every Christian. Holy Apostle Thomas recognized His Lord Jesus Christ seeing His risen body. Very often people learn about God studying the Scripture and Theology but doing that they not always come to the true knowledge of God. Some Romanian priest acknowledged that he came to know God not after he studied in theological schools, but only when he ended up in prison. God reveals Himself to the people in suffering. Nowadays a lot of people suffer terrible things in Ukraine. And if someone wonders where God is in these misfortunes, we may answer that God is truly there, among the suffering people. They can easily know Him. If there is a desire to know God, He will permit to become known. Thomas sincerely wished to believe although he demanded proof. But when the Risen Lord had appeared to him, Thomas forgot about his demand and recognized Him.
The Rector also made an announcement regarding our Patronal feast of St. George which comes soon.
Finally, the Rector distributed the Artos among the parishioners.