10th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 21, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed 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! We past the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Today’s Sunday is between two great holy days – Transfiguration and Dormition. Today’s lesson from the Gospel is about our Lord coming down from the mountain of Transfiguration and facing the evil of this world – a man possessed by a demon. Not long before Jesus was showing His Disciples His shining face of the Son of God, He was conversing with Moses and Elijah, and now He is back to the reality of the corrupt human life. He has to cast out a demon. In order to succeed, the Lord desires to be supported by the faith of the people. Thus that reading again shows us how it is important to have faith. And faith is comforted by prayer and by fasting”.
The child possessed by a demon described in today’s Gospel was tormented in different ways. Sometimes he would fall into the fire, at other times he would fall into the water. In other words the demon, who lived inside the son, was trying to destroy him by burning him to death or drowning him, in order to occupy that soul to all eternity”.
The falling into fire and water also show us how the demons abuse God’s creation. Fire is not a tool with which to burn and destroy, but a gift of God for heating, cooking and other useful activities. Water is not a tool with which to drown, but a gift of God for drinking and washing and other useful activities. Moreover, we can see how fire is also a symbol of the fire of passion and anger which can possess those who are attacked by demons, and water is a symbol of the waves of despair which can also possess those who are attacked by demons”.
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. Not only the son’s unbelief, but also the unbelief of the father and others around the son who could have cared for him and given him faith. 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”.
Understanding that, we may still ask: What is the solution to the sickness of the son? The answer is “prayer and fasting”, for this is how Christ casts the demon out of the son. Prayer and fasting are the deepening of faith. The Fathers of the Church call prayer and fasting a “two-edged sword”. In other words, where there is prayer and fasting, there is faith. And as St. Theophan the Recluse wrote: “Where there is no prayer and fasting, there are the demons””.
Referring to the word of St Theophan, we could say therefore that much of the modern world has become the dwelling-place of demons. It seems that each day that passes brings us news of some new instability, some new disaster and misfortune. Presently, every day we hear about the atrocities of the war in Ukraine, and we wonder how this could happen in the 21st century, but it did. It did because of the lack of faith in Christ, because of the lack of true spiritual life among those who started that war”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The fact is that, whenever we are faithless and cease to pray and fast, then we lose the protection of the grace of God and we are besieged by the demons and the world falls into fire or water. And when such thing happens, any place, any country or any city becomes the favorite resort of the demons. And as today’s Gospel made it clear, you need prayer and fasting to draw those evil spirits away, thus you need faith. It is all a question of faith. Let us then be faithful in order to be worthy of the Transfiguration of Christ, the glorious event we recently celebrated and continue to celebrate today. Being truly faithful we will be worthy of our own transfiguration, our salvation in Christ. And may the Most Holy Mother of God whose Holy Dormition we anticipate, in whose honor we keep this fast, save us and lead us to Her Son, 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.

The choir nicely performed hymns of the Transfiguration during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector encouraged faithful to spend the rest of the Dormition Fast in proper abstinence and piety preparing for the major Theotokian feast.

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:

Today we celebrate great feast of Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. That celebrated event took place before the three chosen Apostles. Our Lord showed them His divine glory, He made them see His true face, the face of the Son of God. So, when we reflect upon this holy and awesome event, we usually emphasize the divine nature of the Lord and that we, the followers of Christ, are invited to acquire His divine nature, to become like Him through pious and godly life. But we should also note that in this event Christ also showed the true face of humanity, the face of a blessed and incorrupt Man. For humans disfigured that face by sin, and Christ transfigured to show its first glory”.
Speaking of that holy event, we may recall the place where Transfiguration occurred: Mt. Tabor itself. This mountain is for us some kind of an image of perfection. Like the Disciples, in order for us to see the Transfiguration or to hope to be transfigured ourselves, we will have to ascend, to be lifted up from our present condition. Otherwise any transfiguration or change for the better in our lives is impossible”.
It is interesting that people who had an opportunity to go to the Holy Land, pilgrims who were blessed to be at Mt. Tabor tell that Tabor is not a mountain at all. It is rather a long, sloping hill with many rocks and boulders, many obstacles on the path of those who ascend it. And our transfiguration or salvation is like Mt. Tabor. Even if we try really hard, we are not guaranteed salvation through a quick and swift climb. It’s not happening fast, in one day. Salvation takes the whole life. It is a long ascension upon a long slope, which is why the Lord gives most of us so long to live. Salvation is a long struggle which requires determination and perseverance, patient long-suffering”.
Our spiritual progress is not sudden and dramatic. And there are many obstacles in our path in our daily struggle. To pick up our prayer books in the morning and again in the evening is a struggle and there are always obstacles in our path. We have meals to prepare, traffic to beat, phones to pick up. Religious life means that we have to make little sacrifices all the time, to overcome little obstacles. There are prayers to say, fasts to be kept, donations to be made and confessions or Communions to be prepared. And if we are more active in our parish, then there also cleaning of the church to be done, flowers to be bought, a service to be prepared for the choir”.
As we come now towards the end of the Church Year (and the Church Year ends in September), we should ask ourselves many questions. We should ask what little sacrifices we have made since last year. How far have we ascended up our own Mt. Tabor? How have we changed over this last year? What have we done to lead a better life since then? How have we improved? What have we given God that we did not give Him before? It is this that people usually call progress. But as I like to say quoting our fabulous Saint, Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky: we Christians need not progress but Transfiguration; for progress is a movement forward, but we need to move up, to heaven. Thus we may ask: what way am I a better Orthodox Christian than a year ago?”
Dear brothers and sisters! We are called to struggle daily, whatever the rocks or boulders are on our way, whether they are pride or selfishness, lust or discouragement, envy or judging of others, we have to struggle to ascend our personal Mt. Tabor, we have to fight for our personal transfiguration. If we do not do this, then the grace of God will move away from us. For we can both go up and go down a slope. We can be transfigured by the love of God or we can be disfigured by the love of sin. And like transfiguration, disfiguration is not sudden and dramatic, it is a slope, as we say, a slippery slope”.
May the Lord Jesus Christ who transfigured upon the mountain help us and number us among His closest Disciples to see His heavenly and everlasting glory!”

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.

9th Sunday after Pentecost. Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross


On August 14, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross, as well as memory of the 7 Maccabees Martyrs, we had a nice and rich celebration in our temple.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov solemnly transferred the cross from the altar to the middle of the church and placed it on the stand.

After the Hours the Rector served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, we also celebrate feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross. We have the Cross in the middle of the church for veneration. On this day the Church also commemorates the Old Testament Martyrs, called the Maccabees who suffered for the faith in true God. It is the first day of the Dormition Fast, and our devout people know that on this day we bless the new honey and should have the blessing of water”.
Speaking of the water, we recall that today our Sunday Gospel is about Jesus walking on the waters (Mt. 14, 22-33). That was a quite impressive picture for the Apostles: to see their Teacher walking upon the Sea of Galilee. Believing that Jesus is the Lord and the Son of God, we may say that it was nothing strange about it. If Christ is God, then the laws of nature are not controlling Him. If He is the Creator, He can override the laws of creation. God can do anything. And thus, that picture of Jesus walking on the sea is supposed to convince us and convince His Disciples that He is actually the Son of God. The Gospel mentions that first they thought that they see a ghost (Mt. 14, 25). They thought so because they had never seen a man walking on the water. When Jesus spoke to them and told them not to be afraid, they recognized Him (Mt. 14, 26)”.
It was important to convince the Apostles and later all the Christians that our Lord Jesus Christ was a real human person but, at the same time, He was the Son of God. And it was important to remember that it was actually Him who performed the miracles and later suffered for us on the cross. Not just once, at the Sea of Galilee, the Apostles thought that they see a ghost when Jesus was before them. When He rose from the dead and appeared to them, they also perceived Him to be a ghost (Lk. 24, 37). But He was real. And some heretics in the old times taught that real Christ could not be crucified; it was only a vision, an illusion of Him being on the cross; the real Jesus was spared. No, we believe and we proclaim it in the Creed that our Lord was crucified, suffered and was buried. Honoring today the Holy Cross we have to remind ourselves of that truth, of that divine reality – that God actually became Man and suffered on the cross. Jesus was not some magician who could show how He walks on the water, perform other magic tricks. He was the Son of God, He performed not tricks but true miracles. And later He did not create some illusion of being crucified, but actually “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross”, as says St. Paul (Phil. 2, 8)”.
First Jesus lifted Himself above the stormy waters of the sea, conquering the laws of nature, showing the Disciples that He is able to do that. Then later, at the end of His mission, He lifted Himself above the sinful earth on the Precious Wood of the Cross to show His love. He submitted Himself to death because of that love. And then, on the third day He rose from the dead, He trampled death by death, He lifted Himself again – above the law of the sinful world. And He showed His divine power. And among many of His gifts for us He left us the gift of the power of His Precious and Life-giving Cross”.
Dear brothers and sisters, in today’s Gospel we also heard that Jesus invited Peter to walk on the waters with Him. And that is something else besides the power of Jesus being the Son of God. That is telling us that Christ is calling His faithful people to act along with Him, to override the usual laws of this world being in union with Him. Having true faith we can be part of His miracles, we can participate in His divine works and we can lift ourselves above our corrupted nature. And following Christ we may also bear our own crosses and be ready to die with Christ in order to be resurrected with Him and to live with Him in the age to come”.
The Gospel says that Holy Apostle Peter did actually walk on the water along with Christ. He probably made a couple of steps but then he became afraid of the wind and began to sink (Mt. 14, 29-30). Thinking of that we should conclude that Peter, in order to continue walking on the water, had to have stronger faith and to focus on Jesus, not on the wind. Same thing with us: in order to be lifted above our corrupt nature, in order to override it, to become holy, we need a strong faith and a focus on what is godly and spiritual. Faith is a gift and we need to pray for it. But our focus on Christ and His Cross is something we have to exercise. God will certainly help us in both things – in acquiring faith and in supporting our focus on Him. In today’s Gospel Jesus stretched out His hand and rescued Peter (Mt. 14, 31). In the same way Jesus is ready to save us. But we have to desire to be saved. The Holy Cross is also among us to help us, to rescue us from the evil things in this world. The Church always reminds us of the Cross. Every church has a cross above its dome. That should also help us to focus on Christ, on what is godly and spiritual. Of course, it is easier in a Christian country where you have a lot of churches. Being there you can look any direction and see the cross. It is much harder in a non-Christian land but still you can find a cross somewhere”.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us cherish the strong faith and let us focus on our Lord Jesus Christ being helped by His Holy Cross. May its invincible, ineffable and divine power strengthen us in our fidelity to the Lord. May the Precious Cross preserve us on our journey to salvation bestowing upon us the grace of Christ and leading us for the eternal blessedness!”

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.

Before the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed hymns of the celebrated feast.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our young parishioner, Elena Malyshev on her past 8th birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on her behalf.

Following the Divine Liturgy we had the Lesser Blessing of Water performed by the Rector in the middle of the church. After that service Fr. Igor blessed the new honey and sprinkled the temple and the faithful by the newly-sanctified water. At the end of the celebration the Rector and parishioners venerated the Holy Cross.

8th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 7, 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:

Today, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, and our reading from the Holy Gospel tells us about miraculous feeding of five thousand men by five loaves of bread and two fishes (Mt. 14, 14-22)”.
This special miracle tells us that the power of God is endless and God Himself is infinite. In that miraculous multiplication of bread He just showed some of His eternity. It is more important in this miracle for us to see a symbol of another miracle happening with us every time when we become present at the Divine Liturgy, a miracle of the Eucharist. For every time at the Liturgy bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Christ. And the Eucharist is accessible not only to five thousand men but to all faithful Orthodox Christians. The same Christ is being offered on the sacred altar in every temple and is being distributed in Holy Communion at every Liturgy. When the priest is breaking the holy Lamb and prepares it for the Communion, he says the following words, “Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God; broken but never divided; ever eaten, yet never consumed…” Thus Christ in the Holy Communion is being broken into many pieces yet is never divided; he is being eaten by the partakers yet is never consumed. And if the five loaves of bread were consumed even after they were multiplied, leaving only the fragments and crumbs, the holy Bread of the Eucharist never ends on the earth”.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be faithful to that treasure. Coming to the temple for the Divine Liturgy we become worthy of the greater miracle than the one happened in the desert with those five thousand men. They were given plain bread while we are given Christ Himself. The five loaves of bread, though they were multiplied, were finally finished but the Eucharist will never be finished until the end of this world. Those people were filled with the material bread while we are fed with the Bread from heaven. Their visible advantage is in the fact that Jesus Himself was present with them. But with us the same Jesus is also present though being invisible”.
Therefore, let us become aware of the importance of the holy Liturgy and the importance of being faithful to the Lord and follow Him. The Gospel tells us that the multitude of people followed Him to the desert. They were listening to His words and remained with Him until night (Mt. 14, 15). We can imagine how these people left their usual business and forgot about their cares following the Lord into wilderness. And among us, contemporary Orthodox Christians, there are many those who on Sunday prefer not to come to the church and not to participate in the Divine Liturgy. They find excuses and reasons why they could not come to the temple and to become united with Christ, to be faithful to Him, especially on this holy day of the Lord”.
This is why, dear brothers and sisters, we need to be aware what kind of treasure we possess. Someone said that if the people truly knew what kind of thing is happening in the church during Divine Liturgy, they would not hesitate to attend but even if they were infirm, they would crawl to the church to be at the Liturgy! But people do not do that. People do not appreciate the miracles happening all the time. Do not appreciate due to the lack of faith. But the people who really believe, do not need miracles. But on the other hand, such people see miracles all the time. They appreciate them, discern them in our life”.
Today we commemorate the Dormition of the Righteous Anna, mother of the Most Holy Mother of God. Our pious tradition holds that St. Anna was barren, she could not have children. Along with her husband Joachim she had to suffer from moral reproach, because being childless was considered a curse and a shame among the Jews. Both Joachim and Anna were righteous people who lived according to God’s Commandments. They invited God into their lives. And God visited Joachim and Anna and blessed them with the holy Child. Anna conceived in her old age and bore Mary, the Mother of God. This tells us that if a person believes, miracles do happen. Just as the breads were multiplied in the desert, Joachim and Anna were given a blessing to be fruitful and multiply. This also, dear brothers and sisters, tells us that God may act in our lives and work His miracles”.
“Righteous Anna shows the miraculous things after her Dormition that took place before the birth of Christ. The relics of the holy grandmother of Jesus are in different sacred places. I saw her left foot on Mt. Athos, in the Skete of St. Anna. That foot is maintaining temperature of the human body although St. Anna is fallen asleep for more than 2 thousand years! I venerated that relic and I felt the warmth of that foot. There is another foot in a different monastery on the Holy Mountain. And some relics of St. Anna are in Rome. Some are in Canada, at the famous shrine of St. Anna in Quebec where Roman Catholics venerate that holy person. They hold a forearm of St. Anna. I was there many years ago. Recently the Pope visited that place and served his Mass there. A lot of people were healed at that place, so there is a collection of crutches in that shrine, the crutches the sick left after being healed”.

Thus, dear brothers and sisters, miracles do happen around us. Wonderful things do exist in God’s world. However, if someone has no faith or has little faith, such person would not notice those miracles or won’t be convinced by them. Let us then cherish our faith and attempt to feel God’s presence. Nowadays Jesus does not walk through our cities and villages, but He is spiritually present everywhere. But He is even more present in the holy temple, in our sacred rites and Sacraments, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us then appreciate that gift and discern the miracles of God in our lives to be worthy of salvation, of life everlasting!”

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 hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos (The Magnificat) during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector had a speech in Russian. He made the announcements regarding the upcoming Church celebrations in August and stressed the main ideas of his English homily.

7th Sunday after Pentecost. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils


On July 31, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils, St. George parish family had a nice liturgical celebration. Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate 7thSunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils. Last week we celebrated memory of Equal to the Apostles Prince Vladimir who introduced Christianity in the lands of our ancestors”.
The Gospel reading of this Sunday tells us about giving sight to the two blind men and healing of the man possessed by a mute demon”.
Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils in the course of several centuries (from the 4th until the 7th century) were working on defining the true Christian faith, were spelling out what orthodoxy means and in what we must believe in order to be saved. Following all these times in history, only in the 10th century, our common ancestors, the people of Kievan Rus became the followers of Jesus Christ and confessors of the true faith. The greatest role in that played by St. Vladimir, the ruler of the country who by the Divine Providence could choose among different religions the true faith and holy tradition of the Eastern Church. As his troparion says, he was seeking good pearls and found a priceless pearl – Jesus Christ”.
Thus, dear brothers and sisters, today we speak about the true faith. The true faith is knowing the true God. And as Christ proclaimed in His prayer to God the Father, knowing true God gives eternal life. It also makes people seeing spiritual truth. While in today’s Gospel our Lord gave physical sight to the blind men who begged Him to have pity on them, acceptance and professing Christ gives all the people spiritual sight. Thanks to the Holy Fathers we may know how to use that sight and how to set it in a right direction. Thanks to St. Vladimir our Ukrainian, Russian and other people, the heirs of Kievan Rus’, stopped to be spiritually blind. True faith also makes people free from slavery to the evil one. While today’s Gospel tells about freeing a man from a mute spirit, acquiring and learning true faith sets us free from evil and from any wrong spirit or error. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” – says the Lord (Jn. 8, 32). Thanks to St. Vladimir our people renounced the idols and came to know the truth, came out from the darkness and blindness of paganism and received the light of Christ”.
In our days many people tend to lose the truth and the light of Christ. Many wrong and false teachings overspread the earth. Statistics says that more than a half of the American people believe in reincarnation, believe that a human soul may live many times in different bodies. The teaching of Christ totally denies that. But many people who formally belong to Christian denominations privately believe in that heresy. Many today’s people believe in astrology, tend to admit that the stars and planets can rule our lives. All these people look like blind or possessed by demons. They may search for the truth, but look for it in the wrong places. They are not seek the truth in the right place because they are blind or possessed. They find something which seems to be the truth for them, but they are unable to make a right judgment. Even formal membership in the Church may not help them because they lack awareness and firm faith”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Only by the grace of God we may come to the truth, embrace the right belief and acquire the spiritual knowledge of God. Only by the light of our Lord Jesus Christ we may stop being spiritually blind. Only by the power of Christ we may be freed from the slavery to our primal enemy. Let us then appreciate and hold firmly our true faith, faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, faith defined by the Holy Fathers of the Councils, faith brought to us by St. Vladimir, faith which teaches us the truth, faith which is our 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.

The choir director nicely performed Psalm 33 and Theotokian hymns during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted our parish Treasurer and altar server Emilian Suric on the occasion of his name day, the memory of the Holy Martyr Emilian wishing him God’s blessings, fervent intercession of his heavenly patron and many years. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed and Theotokian prosphora presented.