24th Sunday after Pentecost


On November 27, on the 24 th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Apostle Philip, our Parish family gathered for a beautiful celebration. The Divine Liturgy in our temple was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he addressed the faithful with the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today in the Holy Gospel we heard a parable about a Good Samaritan in which Christ is telling us about salvation. Some lawyer which means a scholar of Jewish religion asked Jesus a very important question, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk. 10, 25). Of course, this scholar tested the Savior, tried to argue with Him and to show Him his knowledgeable superiority. Today we commemorate Holy Apostle Philip, one of the 12 Apostles. He was also knowledgeable in Jewish law, but he followed Christ without questioning Him. And later, when St. Philip was preaching in Greece, the Jewish scholars of law were not lazy to go there to stop him and to have a dispute in order to show his knowledgeable inferiority, and then to condemn him in the eyes of the local Jews and the Greeks. But St. Philip was good enough in the law to denounce the Jewish scholars and prove that they were wrong”.
Thus, the Jews were testing Jesus and they were testing His Disciples. But the question that a lawyer in today’s Gospel asked is really important: what should be done to be saved? At this question Christ is asking another, no less important question, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? (Lk. 10, 26)”.
Christ puts everything in a right order. He immediately shows who is who in this conversation; who is the Savior and who is the saved one. From now on the lawyer is not testing Jesus but Jesus is testing that Jewish scholar. We should notice that the scholar gave a right answer, he rightly indicated to what Jesus Himself called “the foundation of the law and the Prophets: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Lk. 10, 27). However, giving a right answer the lawyer does not understand who is his neighbor. In the ancient Judaism the neighbor was considered your compatriot while a stranger was not viewed as a neighbor, thus according to the Law of Moses he could not be loved as oneself. With modern Christians it could be just the opposite: we are readily help to the needy somewhere in a remote country, but we do not notice the need of the people around us”.
To answer that question, “who is my neighbor”, Jesus tells a parable about a Good Samaritan. This is the parable about Christ who came to save the dying humanity. A Jew who would listen to that parable could relate to the man who fell among thieves. And perhaps the Lord wished to create such an understanding of this parable. But a more profound sense of that story is that this unlucky man represents the whole human kind who had been robbed and bitten by the devil, so being half dead and covered with the wounds of sin, it cannot reach the holy city which is the Kingdom of Heaven”.
And behold there appears a Samaritan, a man strange to the Jews. Samaritans were considered heretics and sectarians, they were the enemies of the Jews. But he helps that man on the road. That Samaritan is an image of Christ, the Savior of the humanity”.
The parable also mentions a priest and a Levite who passed by (Lk. 10, 31-32). What can we say about them? Perhaps these people were not really bad, cruel or indifferent. They were heading to the Temple to fulfill the Law, and to touch a man who could be already dead, would defile them and would make them unfit to fulfill their obligations. Thus, on one hand, they were right in their actions, however the story gives them no justification. Christ made it very clear to His listeners that the Law does not save a man and that the Law can be fulfilled, but a man may die”.
This is important for us to understand during the days of prescribed fasting. Tomorrow we begin the Nativity Fast, and the Church calls us to fast, but the fast by itself is not a goal. You can fulfill the law and fast, but at the same time you may not help the needy, may not fulfill the works of mercy”.
Thus, this parable is very symbolic. Among the symbols is a Jew on the road who is the whole dying humanity; a Samaritan who is Christ the Savior; bandaging the wounds and pouring of oil and wine is spiritual healing; the inn and the innkeeper is the Church to whom Christ left His wealth, the grace of the Holy Spirit to care about human souls; finally a Samaritan’s promise to come back is our Lord’s second coming. But all these meanings were hidden from the first listeners of the parable. The only thing they did understand is that it is bad to be robbed and bitten while it is good to be rescued. And that initial understanding was enough”.
Thus when the scholar of law understood what is good and what is bad, Christ gives him a command, Go and do likewise” (Lk. 10, 37). Here the Lord reveals another mystery of salvation. He reveals what do you need to enter into eternal life. Thus in those words – “go and do likewise” – is the answer of Christ to the scholar’s question. Salvation is cooperation with God. It is not enough to be forgiven, not enough to be justified, not enough to be healed – you need to act in the same way, to become like Jesus, to become His Body. It is not enough to know what is good, you need to do it”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Those who know about faith, about good and about morals are many among us, but those who labor are few. The dreamers are many, but the actors are few. The called are many, but those who respond to the calling are few. Therefore, let us fulfill the Savior’s command, let us go and do likewise. Then we would become worthy to enter into 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 performed hymns dedicated to Holy Apostle Philip.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector served the memorial Litia for the victims of the great famine in in 1932-1933, commonly known as Ukrainian Holodomor. It has been 90 years after the beginning of that genocidal act of the Communist regime. The Rector preached a short sermon in Russian pointing out that there were many such genocides in the history of mankind. Presently, after 90 years another genocide is taking place in Ukraine. Evil does exist in the world and there are many evil people out there. But, we, as Christians are called to do good and to multiple love and care in the world. Seeing the example of Good Samaritan from today’s Gospel parable, we have to exercise love, mercy and compassion. If we will, the world will become better.

Fr. Igor also made an announcement regarding the Nativity Fast and invited everybody to our parish Thanksgiving luncheon. Thus, after finishing all the services, the Rector and parishioners enjoyed sumptuous and delicious meals, including the Thanksgiving turkey.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost


On November 20, on the 23 rd Sunday after Pentecost our St. George parish held a nice celebration. 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’s Gospel reading is telling us about two great miracles performed by our Lord Jesus Christ: healing of a woman who suffered from a flow of blood and the resurrection of a girl who has just died. Thus we may say that today our lesson from the Scripture concerns women”.
The woman from today’s Gospel lesson had a flow of blood for twelve years and she spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any (Lk. 8, 43-44). According to the Law of Moses she could not approach people because any woman having a flow of blood was considered unclean. Thus she was not supposed to be in the crowd pressing on Jesus and she was not supposed to touch Him. This law had been given to the people of God as a result of the original sin of Eve which brought certain impurity to all women. Due to the fall of Eve God imposed a number of sorrows upon all the women which were summarized in His words, “In pain you will give birth” (Gen. 3, 16). This pain also includes other difficulties of physiological nature that all the females suffer in this life. And as all humans suffer from different diseases, women may suffer from many illnesses resulting exclusively from their gender. One of such illnesses was the continuous flow of blood suffered by the woman from today’s Gospel. In addition to pain and sorrow that accompany all the diseases, such illnesses made those suffering women unclean and thus made their lives much more difficult. This was the strict law of the Old Testament the remnants of which we still retain in our Church life”.
But with the appearing of Christ, with the coming of the Son of God into this world, many old ways became overruled. Our Lord came to redeem the human kind from its transgression, came to save the people from their sins. This is why He was the One who would stop the flow of tears of our foremother Eve. And this is why He healed the woman suffering from the flow of blood. Jesus did not condemn her for violating the law of Moses. He did not rebuke her for touching Him. On the contrary, He praised her faith that she so firmly believed that touching the border of His garment will bring her healing (Lk. 8, 48). He manifested that now, in Christ, all the old shame is taken away and a new life with loving and caring God begins”.
In a similar way, in today’s Gospel, the Lord brings a recently dead girl back to life (Lk. 8, 50-56). Among the results of the original sin the most sorrowful and dreadful outcome was that all the heirs of Adam and Eve have to die. In today’s Gospel lesson we can read about a mature woman who is suffering from an illness and about a young woman, a girl who died. Both were the heirs of Eve and both had to undergo the penalty for the Eve’s fall. But when Jesus Christ appeared He overruled these condemnations. He did not just heal the woman, He even resurrected the girl. In His life-giving words “Little girl, arise” (Lk. 8, 54) the Lord called all the women of the New Testament to arise from sin, to overcome their weak nature and to strive for salvation. He also gave all of us, especially women, the great hope of resurrection and new life in His Kingdom”.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Human kind had been created as two sexes, men and women. Both have a great and equal value in the eyes of the Creator. But they have different nature and different tasks. Today’s reading from the Gospel mentions to us how the Lord helped the two women showing them His abundant mercy and His life-creating power. But the Lord unites all of us, men and women, in His new life with God. In this new reality many old rules had been set aside. In the Epistle lesson of last Sunday St. Paul reminded us that in Christ there is no need for men to be circumcised “for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal. 6, 15). In the same way St. Paul teaches that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” (Gal. 3, 28)”. “Therefore, let us come to understanding that in Christ Jesus we all should be united and all should follow the steps of our Lord. As men and women we will still be different in our nature, we will still possess different qualities and have different tasks in life, but we all pursue the same goal to be blessed in the Kingdom of God!”

The choir nicely performed hymns dedicated to the commemorated Saint, Venerable Lazarus of Galisia during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcements regarding the celebrations during the next week. Particularly, he pointed out that we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving Day which is a secular holiday but it has a great religious meaning. We need to be grateful to God for all his blessings shed upon us in this life.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost


On November 13, on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! The Gospel lesson we have just heard is about casting out the demons from a possessed man in the country of the Gadarenes (Lk. 8, 26-39). This story is very impressive and is presenting us a number of pictures. We hear about the dialogue between our Lord Jesus Christ and the demons, we see that the demons entered a herd of swine which runs violently down the steep place into the lake and perishes there. Then we learn that the man freed from the evil spirits became sound and in his right mind. Let us now reflect upon this story from the Holy Gospel”.
Being Orthodox Christians we certainly believe in the existence of the evil spirits. Unlike some modern Christian communities who do not take into account the existence of the devil or even reject his personal being, we do believe that he and his evil angels exist. This is why when we say the Lord’s Prayer, we finish it with the words “and deliver us from the evil one”. Many other denominations just say “from evil”, thus leaving a room for discussion, whether the devil is a real person or just some abstract evil power. For us he and his dark followers are personalities fighting against God and having a powerful influence upon us. Such an influence of the evil one was especially strong in the times before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. People lived under the direct power of their sinful passions and were the toys for the devil. In some instances the evil spirits even entered the bodies of the people, as it was described in today’s Gospel”.
But with the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into this world the power of the evil one became seriously weakened. Even before His death on the Cross and His Resurrection which became the victory over the sin and death, the triumph over the forces of evil, the Lord chased out the devil from human life. In today’s Gospel story we hear that the Lord delivered the possessed man from the demons. We should also notice that the demons were afraid of Jesus. The possessed man fell down and begged Christ not to torment him (Lk. 8, 28). The demons also beg Jesus not to send them out into the abyss (Lk. 8, 31). Thus, they recognized Jesus to be the Lord of the universe and they had to obey Him. This should remind us that the power of the devil is limited, and he is not as powerful as the Lord. God is the Creator and the demons are just His creatures that raised against Him”.
However, Jesus permitted the demons not to be cast out into the abyss, but to enter the herd of swine. This tells us that the Lord allows the devil and his angels to stay in this world before His second coming, before the Last Judgment. Then the devil and his demons will be finally condemned and sent out into the everlasting fire. But before that the Lord permits them to perform their evil deeds and to attack us. But the Lord gives us a powerful assistance in this spiritual warfare. The power of the risen Christ which is given to us Christians is able to chase the devil away from us. Holy disciples of the Lord rejoiced that they had the power to cast out the demons, the same way as Jesus could cast them out. Today we commemorate several disciples of Christ who were among the 70 Apostles. So, the Gospel says that “the seventyreturned with joy, saying,” Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”” (Lk. 10, 17). Same power is granted to the whole Christian Church. But many of us are not able to use it because we are often prisoners of our passions and we are too weak to be the agents of the divine power”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The devil has a great influence in this earthly life, so he is even called the prince of this world. His evil demons are constantly attacking us and tempting us to give in to our passions, to commit sins. But the power of the risen Christ, the power of His Life-creating Cross and the divine grace are much stronger than all the intrigues of the evil one. Last Sunday’s Epistle lesson instructs us that if a man has been crucified with Christ, it is no longer he lives, but Christ lives in him (Gal. 2, 19-20). That means that if we live Christian life and fight our sinful passions, Christ dwells within us. Not evil spirits but Christ possesses our souls and sanctifies our bodies. Let us then acquire unity with Him through spiritual life, repentance and sanctification of His abundant grace”.

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 nicely performed some hymns dedicated to the Holy Apostles whose memory was celebrated and sang the Psalm 33.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements. He pointed out that the parish incurred high expenses due to the repairs done to the building after the fire occurred in the spring. We also had to pay for the plumbing repairs demanded by the city. Therefore, Fr. Igor strongly encouraged the parishioners to support the church by their contributions.

The Rector also greeted Maria Malyshev on her past birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on her behalf.

21st Sunday after Pentecost


On November 6, on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish resumed its services after a two-week break due to our Rector’s leave. We had the Divine Liturgy served by Archpriest Igor Tarasov after his return from Italy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel lesson is telling us about life beyond the grave. It is describing the destiny of the two human souls after death. It tells us about a rich man who lived very nice life and a beggar who suffered. They lived totally different kinds of life, but their lives came to the same end: both of them died. However, this was not the end of their existence. They continued to live, and their destiny became different again (Lk. 16, 19-31)”.
So, today we may talk a little bit about life after death. This subject is very mysterious and pretty much unknown to us. People had always been puzzled by the question, “what happens when we die””.
The Church of Christ teaches us that death is a separation of the soul from the body. It also teaches that after death the soul continues to live and awaits its future resurrection and the Last Judgment. When we recite or sing the Creed we finish up by saying, “I wait for the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting”. But even before the resurrection of the dead the souls of the dead people are alive. Furthermore, after death they already receive a partial judgment according to their deeds. Today’s Gospel story about a rich man and Lazarus describes what happens to the human souls after they are judged. After his death, poor Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom while the rich man ended up in hell”.
Today we can reflect what is expecting us beyond the grave. Unfortunately, many contemporary people do not hear much truth about that. Teaching of the Church, the opinion of the Holy Fathers and even direct words of the Sacred Scripture regarding life after death are often replaced by the ideas of different preachers, by the authors of popular books or simply by some charlatans who dare to speak different false things about that subject. This why many of us tend to think that after death “everything is going to be just fine”, we will suffer no longer, we will probably go to heaven, and so on. Well, let me tell you that according to teaching of Christ it is not totally so. For many of us, first experiences after death may not be pleasant. After all, not all of are going to end up in heaven. And for the most of us the first experiences after death are not going to be easy. Why? Because we will enter in a totally different world of which we know very little. When you go to a different country, even if you know about it, you still need some time to get used to the local life, to adapt to the climate, language and customs. Many of us came to America, so we had to get used to the life here. For many of us it was not easy. Some immigrants even after many years of living in the United States cannot feel totally home here. This happens in this world. But what is going to be when we will have to enter into a completely different reality of life beyond the grave? It will certainly be difficult. It is not quite easy for a soul to start living without a body. Our funeral hymn composed by Venerable John of Damascus reflects that in the following impressive words, “Woe is me! What manner of ordeal does the soul endure when it is parted from the body! Alas! How many are then its tears, and there is none to show compassion! It raises its eyes to the angels; unavailing is its prayer. It stretches out its hands to the people, and finds none to succor…” Thus, dear brothers and sisters, the beginning of life after death is not quite easy”.
But we are not going to be there alone. Today’s Gospel tells us that the angels accompanied Lazarus and carried him to the bosom of Abraham. Just as at the hour of death the dead body is surrounded by relatives and friends, so also is the soul which abandons the body is accompanied by the spiritual beings related to it. The virtuous soul is surrounded by bright angels of light, while a sinful soul is surrounded by dark and evil beings, that is, the demons. Thus, while the soul of Lazarus was escorted by good angels, the soul of the rich man, as St. John Chrysostom says, “was claimed by certain fearful powers”. St. John also says, “If we need a guide to go from one city to another, the soul certainly needs guides, when separated from the body”. The All-merciful God sends His holy angels to help the righteous souls to start their life after death, while the souls claimed by the devil become surrounded by evil spirits. Therefore, we have to realize that life after death is not going to start just as a fairy tale. It is going to be a serious beginning of our eternal existence. We are going to be judged according to our deeds. And we have to prepare ourselves for this”.
The rich man in today’s Gospel was condemned not because he was wealthy, but because he had not done enough to help others, particularly, the poor Lazarus who was lying at the gates of his house. This was a person near him, his neighbor in a very literal sense, but he did nothing to help Lazarus, to make his life easier, to show him love and compassion. We are going to be judged by the same principles. Our life, our actions and our choices are going to be evaluated in the same manner. This why it is important for us to realize what is going to happen and to prepare. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself stated when He anticipated His sufferings and death, “For the ruler of this world is coming, but he has nothing in Me” (Jn. 14, 30). The ruler of this world is the devil. He was coming even when our Lord Himself was going to die. He was coming to attempt to claim what belongs to him. But he had nothing which could belong to him in Jesus, since Jesus was without sin and was the Son of God. It is different with us who are the sinners. The evil one will try to claim what is his because of our transgressions. And in the case of the sinful and unrepentant souls he, unfortunately, will be successful”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us not fool ourselves but prepare by good deeds, prayer, acts of charity, repentance and receiving of the Sacraments. Let us be aware that the time will come when we will be confronted with life after death, with the judgment of Christ and with anticipation of the Last Judgment. Thus let us prepare in order to be blessed and carried to the Abraham’s bosom.”

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 to the Holy Martyr Aretha and others commemorated with him on that day.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements and greeted our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow on the occasion of her birthday. The traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

The Rector also distributed candles blessed on the holy relics of St. Nicholas and anointed the parishioners with the myrrh from the Saint’s relics mixed with water that Fr. Igor acquired at the holy site in Bari, Italy.

Rector of St. George Church visited the relics of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy


Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov recently had a vacation trip to Italy. During that trip he visited a number of cities. Particularly, Fr. Igor made pilgrimages to the holy sites: the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome, the relics of St. Jannuarius (also known as St. Gennaro) in Naples, and the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Bari.
Our Rector’s visitation of St. Nicholas sanctuary in Bari was especially remarkable and is worth to mention. Fr. Igor arrived in the city on Wednesday, October 26 by train from Rome. On the evening of the same day he visited the Basilica of St. Nicholas where the relics of our beloved Saint are rested in the crypt.
We should recall that the holy relics of the Saint were translated to Bari from Myra in Lycia in 1087. In Myra (in Asia Minor, today’s Turkey) St. Nicholas used to live in the 4th century, being the archbishop of that city. There he served the people, worked miracles, then died and was buried. According to our Church tradition, that translation is deemed to be God’s will and was blessed by St. Nicholas.
In the 11th century the lands of the Byzantine Empire where Myra was located became endangered by the invaders and the holy sites were numerously desecrated and robbed by the Muslim hordes. That shocked all the Christians, both Eastern and Western. Christians in Italy were particularly concerned about the relics of St. Nicholas, especially because among them were many Greeks. The inhabitants of the city of Bari, located on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, decided to save the relics of their beloved Saint. In the year 1087 merchants from Bari and Venice went to Antioch to trade. Both these and others also proposed to take up the relics of St. Nicholas and transport them to Italy on the return trip. In this plan the men of Bari commissioned the Venetians to land them at Myra. The relics were not guarded and the monks who served at the temple where the relics rested were given guidance from the Saint himself. St. Nicholas appeared to one of them. In this vision he ordered the careful preservation of his relics. This account encouraged the citizens of Bari to take the relics.
On May 8 1087 the ships arrived in Bari, and soon the joyous news made the rounds of all the city. On the following day, May 9, they solemnly transported the relics of St. Nicholas into the church of St. Stephen, not far from the sea. The solemn bearing of the relics was accompanied by numerous healings of the sick, which inspired still greater reverence for God’s Saint. A year afterwards, a church was built in the name of St. Nicholas and consecrated by Pope Urban II.
Nowadays the church of St. Nicholas is a Roman Catholic papal basilica which is in the care of the Dominican Order. Both Catholics and Orthodox revere the Saint and make pilgrimages to that holy place. Many inhabitants of Bari bear the name Nicola in honor of the great Saint. Every Thursday morning an Orthodox Divine Liturgy is celebrated on the altar above the holy relics in the basilica’s crypt. There is also a small Orthodox side altar in the crypt. In addition, in 1913 a Russian Orthodox church was built in Bari and, of course, dedicated to St. Nicholas. Now it is a representation Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
On Thursday, October 27, Fr. Igor arrived in the basilica and prayed during the Orthodox Liturgy near the altar. The Liturgy was served by the Rector of the Russian Orthodox representation Church, Archpriest Viacheslav Bachin. He was co-served by the clergy from Poland, Serbia, Ukraine and USA. The service was attended by about a hundred pilgrims from different countries. Following the service Fr. Igor had an opportunity to venerate the relics beneath the altar.
Our Rector acquired candles blessed at the holy place, as well as the small container of water mixed with the myrrh flowing from the St. Nicholas relics. He will share those blessed things with our parishioners.