Sunday of All Saints


On June 19, on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, the Church celebrates memory of All the Saints who pleased the Lord by their pious lives. On that day we had a nice service at St. George Church. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the First Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate feast of All Saints. We pay our respects to all men and women who lived their lives as holy and God-pleasing people, the just and righteous ones. It should be understood because as a result of the Descent of the Holy Spirit the Church was born, and members of the Church became able to acquire holiness. The Saints we honor are the people who conquered evil in their own lives, in their own souls, just as our Lord Jesus Christ did it for the whole world”.
“It is the nature of the human existence that if every person overcomes evil in himself, he achieves a victory that affects other people and the whole world. Universal evil, being conquered even in one single person, suffers a great loss. Even one single holy person means a lot to the whole world. By their very existence the holy men and women whom we call the Saints, bring down to the earth a great blessing from God. St. Barsanophius teaches that a prayer of three holy men once preserved the world from total destruction. Because of the Saints, even of those who are unknown, the course of the universal events changes. Every Saint has a significance because by his life he crosses the boundaries of earthly history and reaches into eternity. The Saints are the salt of the earth. They are the sense of human existence. The very earth is preserved because of them. When the earth would stop producing the Saints, the force which preserves the world from a disaster will disappear. In the Old Testament we read that Abraham asked God whether the Lord would spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous men. The Lord answered: “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” (Gen. 18, 32). St. Siluanos says: “The world stands by the prayer, and when the prayer will weaken, the world will perish.””
“Many people do not understand the connection between the religious life of an individual and the well-being of the world, between internal warfare against evil within one person and everlasting life. People often think that spiritual life of an individual is significant only for him and that it will cease to exist if it stops to exist in the soul of an individual. But in reality the spiritual life of the Saints affects the life of the whole world. And if there will be no Saints in the world, the world will end”.
“Therefore, today we honor those people who became the best out of human race. Today’s kontakion calls them “the first-fruits of nature” offered by the universe to the “Planter of creation” who is God. Such sacrifice, the lives of the God-bearing martyrs, along with the holy Apostles, Venerable Fathers and Mothers, all other Saints, became possible after our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His work of redemption of humanity. Now the redeemed humanity could bring forth the fruits of holiness and faithfulness. Some holy men and women could be found even before that, in the Old Testament. These were righteous people living according to the will of God despite the great abyss of sinfulness in which the whole humanity was kept. Their number was not so great. But in Jesus Christ thousands and millions of people could reach holiness. In fact, all Christians are called to be holy, to be Saints. This is why when St. Paul composed his letter to the Colossians he wrote the following address, “To the Saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse” (Col. 1, 2)”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us honor those holy men and women, because of whom the world existed. Let us, by ourselves, conduct spiritual life and our own warfare against evil. In that warfare we need to be supported by the assistance of divine grace. Such grace is acquired in the Holy Church. But we also have to be mature and independent in our own actions. Lately I had to notice that you are not paying attention to our parish life. I forgot to announce that on Pentecost Sunday our services started at 9 am, not at 10, as usually. But that information was in our monthly schedule which is available on the paper and on our website. In addition, I made an announcement on the website regarding our Pentecost services. Just in case, I decided to text most of our parishioners about that. What happened? Almost no one knew about that! Almost everyone replied that they were not aware of the change in schedule. Then on Pentecost Sunday I forgot to announce that the week after Pentecost is a compact, privileged week, and there is no fasting. So, I texted almost all of you about that. And again, most of you did not remember that. Well, that information was also in our monthly schedule, the paper version. It seems that you do not pay attention, do not study the schedule, are not aware of what is going on in the Church and parish life. You seem to act like children who need someone to remind you, to lead you. But most of you are Orthodox Christians, members of the Church for years. You are churched and attend the temple. Thus you have to be mature and independent in things like paying attention to the calendar and to the schedule. On the other hand, some our parishioners think that they are independent enough to decide for themselves to leave the parish or to change the spiritual father. First, they should be mature to pay attention to the feasts, fasts and schedules, and then think of making important decisions of their spiritual life.”}
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, again, let us properly conduct our spiritual life: along with the Holy Church and by being mature in our actions. In that spiritual life let us imitate the Saints and strive for holiness, because we are Christian people. Then we will be able to receive the awards promised by our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel, then we will inherit eternal life”.

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.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performs hymns dedicated to All Saints.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements, especially reminding the faithful of the beginning of St. Peter’s Fast on the next day. He also repeated, in the Russian language, his concern regarding lack of parishioners’ attention to our schedules and the Church calendar.

After the announcements Fr. Igor congratulated our men on the occasion of Father’s Day. The traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was proclaimed. Then he also greeted our relatively new parishioner, Iuliana Avram on her past birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on her behalf.

Following the liturgical services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed coffee and delicious meals prepared by Iuliana Avram to celebrate her birthday.

Pentecost. Feast of the Holy Trinity


On June 12 of this year all Orthodox Christians celebrated Pentecost, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Our St. George parish family had a beautiful celebration in our temple. The church was nicely adorned with greenery. 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 we celebrate one of the greatest feasts of our calendar. One of the names of this holy day is Pentecost which is translated as “the 50th” because it is celebrated on the 50th day after Pascha. The real reason of our celebration of that 50th day after Easter is that on this day the Holy Spirit descended upon the Holy Apostles”.
“Today’s Epistle lesson vividly describes that holy event. It tells us that the Apostles were all together in one place when the day of Pentecost had fully come (Acts 2, 1). It should be said that the Jews have their own celebration of Pentecost. This feast is called the Feast of Weeks , and it comes 50 days after Passover. It was a celebration of the firstfruits of harvest. People used to adorn their homes with greenery, in the same way as we Orthodox Christians do it now for our celebration. It was a feast of the greenery, as it is called now in some Slavic countries, the “Green holidays”. The Jews also believe that this was the day when Moses received Ten Commandments from God, the day when the Jews acquired the Law of God. Thus, Holy Apostles were in Jerusalem on the Jewish celebration of Pentecost. They stood together as the Lord commanded them to do when He ascended into heaven”.
“The Epistle lesson says that they were together in one place. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2, 1-2). Then the Epistle says that divided tongues, as a fire, appeared to the Apostles, and one sat upon each of them (Acts 2, 3). This was the appearance of the Holy Spirit, as a mighty sound of the wind from heaven and the tongues of fire. It also had great results. After each of the fiery tongues sat upon the Apostles, they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2, 4). This was the first miraculous sign of the Holy Spirit filling the Apostles. They became able to speak different languages. The Epistle tells that people from different countries who were gathered in Jerusalem for the feast could hear their native tongues from the Apostles. All these people were Jews. They could be born Jewish or were proselytes, Gentiles who converted to Judaism. At those times the Jews already lived in many different countries and spoke different languages. Today’s reading mentions a number of those ancient countries from where the pilgrims came to Jerusalem and became witnesses to that miraculous speaking of the Apostles”.
“We know that the Apostles were not very educated men. Some of them were fishermen from Galilee. However, the Holy Spirit made them wise and enabled them to catch a lot of men to the nets of salvation in Jesus Christ. Today’s festal troparion describes that saying, Blessed art Thou, Christ our God, Who didst make the fishermen wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them didst draw the universe into Thy net…”The Holy Spirit made these people who were not wise in the world wise in Christ”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! If the Old Testament Pentecost celebrated the birthday of the Mosaic Law, our Pentecost is the birthday for the Church. If the Jews celebrated acquiring of the Torah, we celebrate acquiring of God Himself, His Holy and Good and Life-creating Spirit. The same Spirit Who “was hovering over the face of the waters” in the first creation and made order out of chaos came upon the Disciples of Christ. But in the similar way as the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles when they expected Him to come praying together, this Spirit continues to come upon us when we are together as members of the same Apostolic Church. Recently, I had a conversation with a person who was once baptized but is not really practicing Christian faith. He was asking why should we assemble in the temples and attend the church services. The answer is in the Apostolic behavior. The Lord Himself commanded them to stay together in Jerusalem, to pray in humility and to wait for the promised gift, the Holy Spirit. Only upon all of them being together the Holy Spirit could descend. Thus, only if we are gathered in the temple the Holy Spirit could come upon us and bestow His abundant gifts, His rich graces. We may pray alone, we may conduct a righteous life alone, but in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit we need to be together, in the community of believers, in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is why I am so concerned with your attendance of the church services. This is why the Church commands us not to miss Sunday Liturgy. Together we may be blessed in a special and unique way”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Church existing for us. Let us pray that today especially, but also on any other day, the Holy Spirit may come and dwell within us, and may cleanse us of all impurity and save our souls!”

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 piously performed the magnification of the feast along with the verses during the preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the festal icon in the middle of the church. Then the Rector greeted the faithful on the great holy day.

After the Liturgy the Rector served Pentecostal Vespers with kneeling prayers.

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the I Ecumenical Council


On June 5, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Last Thursday we celebrated feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. Today’s Sunday following that feast is dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council. This was the first gathering of the bishops from the whole Christian world after a long period of persecutions of the Church. It took place in the city of Nicaea near Constantinople in the year 324 A.D. After three centuries of being persecuted the Church of Christ could live and flourish in the Roman Empire when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the state. Last Friday we commemorated him along with his holy mother, Empress Helen. So, these holy royals allowed the Church to flourish in their Empire and stopped the persecutions of Christians”.
“It is natural for this time of the year, after we have celebrated the bright Resurrection of Christ and His glorious Ascension after the 40 days – to think Who Jesus Christ really was. Jesus was the Son of God and He also was the Son of Man. Jesus came from heaven but He was born on the earth. Jesus was All-Powerful God who worked miracles but He also was a vulnerable Man who was scourged, bitten and crucified. Jesus was a Man who died but He was also risen on the third day. Being risen Jesus kept appearing to the Apostles and then He ascended into heaven. All these things motivate us to seek the answers Who He was or what kind of nature He had”.
“As it is natural for us to seek an understanding of the Person of Christ, it was also natural for the Christians in the 4th century, after the long years of persecutions, to reflect upon the question Who their Savior was. If some Christians were seeking the sound and correct understanding, others engaged in different speculations regarding Christ and taught about Him erroneously. Such errors we call heresies. It took several centuries for the Holy Church to finally decide on that. It took six out of seven Ecumenical Councils (or we may even say that all seven of them) to reject the heresies and to define all the aspects of the true Orthodox Christian teaching regarding Christ. What we commemorate on this Sunday was just the beginning of those definitions. What we commemorate is the First Council and whom we honor are the Holy Fathers who participated in that gathering”.
“The First Ecumenical Council was in the 4th century. At those times, although the years of tribulations were over, the Church began to suffer from different erroneous teachings, the heresies. They altered the teaching of Christ and tended to spread their false opinions among the Christian people. The most dangerous heresy of that time was the teaching of Arius who refused to recognize the Son of God to be equal to God the Father and who understood Jesus to be inferior to God, to be a creation. This is why the Council was very much needed to condemn that heresy. The Council also adopted the Creed, a short collection of beliefs held by the true Christian Church. That Creed is now a part of our prayers and we sing or recite it at every Liturgy”.
“Today’s Sunday is dedicated to the Holy Fathers of this Council because they continued the works of the Apostles. Today we read the Gospel lesson of St. John containing the Pontifical Prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 17, 1-13). The Lord said this prayer at the Last Supper. He was asking God the Father to preserve His disciples in unity and in truth. He prayed that they may have eternal life which is to know the true God and whom He sent, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Jn. 17, 3). After the Lord ascended into heaven the Apostles awaited for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. And He did descend upon the disciples of the Lord. After that the Holy Apostles began their ministry of making all the nations the followers of Christ. Their work was continued by the bishops of the Church. And the 1st Ecumenical Council showed how important is the role of the bishops, the Fathers of the Church. They were the protectors of faith, the shepherds of the God’s flock, the guards of the Church and the keepers of the truth”.
“Nowadays we also see a lot of heresies. Various false teachings shake the souls of believers and seek to dismiss them from the Holy Church. So now we especially need to pray to the Holy Fathers, that they may guard the Holy Church and each of us from error”.
“The words of Christ the Savior are unerring: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16, 18). Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us adhere to the true teaching of Jesus Christ preserved by the Apostles and by the Holy Fathers in the Church. For we know that those who will follow the teachings of the Holy fathers, will remain firm and steadfast in the Orthodox faith and inherit eternal life promised by our Lord Jesus Christ”.

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.

During preparation for Holy Communion the choir performed the magnification of the Ascension and hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the I Council.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted our young parishioner Elena Malyshev on the occasion of her past name day, memory of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Queen Helen. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed and the Theotokian prosphora delivered.

Following the Liturgy Fr. Igor performed the memorial Litia on request of Malyshev family to commemorate Valentina Malyshev of the 1st year of her repose.

Ascension of the Lord


On Thursday, June 2 of this year the Orthodox Church celebrated great feast of the Ascension of the Lord. St. George parish had a nice celebration on this day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Our friend and neighbor, Deacon Matthew Keil attended the service along with his big family joining a small number of our parishioners who came to the church on a working day.

After the Gospel lesson Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! Today we celebrate glorious feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. It has been 40 days after the Resurrection of Christ that He was taken up from the earth to the heavenly abode. All these days our Lord Jesus Christ being risen from the dead kept appearing to His Disciples. He was spending time with them speaking of the Kingdom of God (Acts 1, 3). He was teaching and instructing, granting His blessings and showing them the way they were to proceed. On the 40th day He gathered them and led from Jerusalem to Bethany. Jesus commanded the Apostles not to leave the holy city but to wait for the promised gift, for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them (Acts 1, 4-5). They all were outside of the city, on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended. Today’s Gospel says that the Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed the Apostles. It also says, “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven” (Lk. 24, 50-51).
“Dear Father, dear brothers and sisters! Ascension of Christ teaches us humility. Although the very word “ascension” means some uplifting upon the earth and upon anything inferior, our Lord ascended into heaven only after He lived on earth, endured human life, voluntarily endured His passions and death on the cross. Even after His Resurrection He did not leave the earth and His disciples but stayed for forty days, appearing to the Apostles, spending time with them. When He accomplished His ministry as the Savior of the world, He could allow Himself to leave”.
“Some people act differently. For instance, many people wish to leave their native town to pursue a new life in a big city. If they do so, very often they like to forget about their native place, and may even be ashamed of it. In this way they feel “ascended” and lifted above their past. Such attitude is a pride which may lead them to a failure. Pride always leads to a failure, at least to a spiritual one”.
“Our Lord, on the contrary, reached His Ascension through humility. He humbly led His earthly life and endured temptations, sufferings and His death. Holy Apostle Paul says that Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2, 8). But that humility and obedience made Jesus highly exalted. It made Him lifted up upon the earth and ascended to God the Father”.
“We have to note that by ascending into heaven our Lord Jesus Christ took both His divine and His human nature. And since He did share our human nature with Himself, it is also our nature that ascended to the heavenly abode of His Father. As St. John Chrysostom wrote, “Now, with awe and astonishment we see that Man sits in the deepest mysteries of the Holy Trinity”. That Man is Jesus. Jesus made our humanity worthy of heaven, accepted in the highest realm of the divine dwelling. That is an important point to remember when we celebrate this glorious feast of the Ascension”.
“Therefore, dear Father, dear brothers and sisters, being aware that in Christ our human nature was ascended into the heavens, ascended collectively – we should also strive for our own, personal ascension. Such personal ascension can be accomplished through humility, through our own endurance of the temptations and different tests, through our own service to God and to our neighbors. We can attain it by being humble and obedient to the will of God. We have to imitate Christ in His love, work and service to others, so our human nature may join Him in heaven. Let us thus strive for that in our earthly life to be worthy of life in heaven, life everlasting and blessed!”

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 hymns of the feast during preparation for Holy Communion.

After 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.