Our Rector attended Deanery Meeting


On December 17, on the feast of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended clergy meeting of the Eastern States Deanery of the Patriarchal Parishes. It was held at St. John the Baptist Church in Little Falls, NJ.

The meeting was preceded by the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Deanery clergy and headed by the new Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes, Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov. Since our Rector has a special devotion for St. Barbara, as well as for St. John of Damascus, the Saints honored on that day, he could not miss such an opportunity to serve the Liturgy on that day.

Following the Liturgy the Fathers present at the meeting were offered a modest but delicious lenten lunch at the Parish hall. Then the Dean of Eastern States, Priest Yulian Ryabtsev, headed the meeting. Certain current affairs were discussed. At the conclusion, the Dean and the clergy expressed a desire to hold the next meeting on May 6, 2023, in our St. George Parish, attending our Patronal feast.

27th Sunday after Pentecost


On December 18, on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of Venerable Sabbas the Sanctified, St. George Parish family gathered for a beautiful celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we read the Gospel about the healing of ten lepers (Lk. 17, 12-19). First of all, that story is supposed to teach us to be grateful: grateful to God for His blessings and grateful to other people for their good deeds towards us. But today we will also speak about people being together as a group or as a community, and also about us acting alone”.
“Today we celebrate feast of Venerable Father Sabbas the Sanctified. He lived in the 4th and 5th centuries, and all his life he was a monk. Being a 8-year-old boy, Sabbas was left for some time in a monastery in Alexandria by his parents. After 9 years they came to take him back home, he refused and became a monk at his early age of 17. Later St. Sabbas moved to the Holy Land and lived in the desert monasteries near the Jordan River. He became a founder of several monastic communities, especially of a large monastery bearing his name – the Lavra of St. Sabbas. He is called the Sanctified because he was a priest while most of the monks of those times did not receive the holy orders. St. Sabbas was the author of the liturgical and monastic rules known as the Jerusalem statute. And the specific of his monastic rule was that the monks live as a community, live together in a so-called koinobia, in common living, a living as a community. We should recall that first Christian monks usually started their desert life alone. However, later many of them gathered together or some community of disciples gathered around some elder who started alone. Thus, the community living of the monks became more spread, and St. Sabbas was one of the founders of such type of monastic life”.
“As we can see, dear brothers and sisters, people join together to make their life or their efforts easier. We join into different kinds of groups, social communities, business partnerships, political parties, religious congregations, and that help us. The philosophers say that human being is a “social animal”. Therefore, it was natural and useful for the monks to prefer living together in the monasteries, as St. Sabbas organized, and not alone. Praying together, holding services together and supporting each other in many ways – that is helpful for the monks. In the similar way, we, as Orthodox Christians, get together in our parish communities. We gather for the services, especially for the Divine Liturgy where we have the greatest celebration of the communion with God, the Holy Eucharist. When we pray, we say “Let us pray to the Lord”, not “Let me pray”. We say “Blessed be our God”, not “My God”. And, finally, the Lord taught us to pray “Our Father”, not “My Father”. The whole Orthodox Church is such a community keeping us together as the Body of Christ”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, it is good to belong to a community, especially to such a holy community as the Holy Orthodox Church. However, not every group of people is helpful and beneficial. There are the gangs of criminals, the hordes of villains or heretical sects. It is better for a man not to join them. The Book of Psalms starts with the impressive words, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the ungodly” (Ps. 1, 1). If there is such a council, such a group, it is better to be alone than to join them”.
“In today’s Gospel the lepers also joined together in a group. There were ten of them staying together. As we read, they asked Jesus to help them. You may say that it was some kind of communal prayer, a resemblance of a church. But, in fact, the lepers joined for convenience, not for a high cause. They were comrades in misfortune: due to their illness, the lepers were outcasts of the society and could not communicate with other people. So, they joined in such groups. And as we see, that group had no real unity. When they became healed, they no longer stuck together: only one came back to Jesus to give thanks. Thus, even if the other nine were still together, the one separated to do the right thing. He was alone but he did it and he did not walk in the council of the ungodly”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we have to learn to be wise and selective in our choices. We have to understand that it is better to be in a community, in a right gathering to achieve beneficial results. We have to stay in the Church to be saved. We have to belong to a parish to attend the services and receive Sacraments together, to listen to the Word of God and to the sermons of the priests. But when we have danger or temptation to join a group of people whose goals are ungodly, or sinful, or not beneficial for our well-being – then we have to avoid such a group, then we better stay alone. Many holy men and women preferred to be alone than to belong to some bad company, a wrong crowd or a community of sinners. These days of December we often commemorate the Old Testament Prophets. Very often they were alone in their cry against the iniquities of the people while most of the society lived in sin. Nowadays many people around us live ungodly, forgetting about God. But we should not join them. There is a popular saying that if everyone else will decide to throw themselves from the bridge, will we follow? We better be in a minority, better even be alone than to be with them. And in today’s Gospel one of the healed lepers was alone in his gratefulness to the Lord, in his God-pleasing attitude while nine others were joined in their ungratefulness”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us be wise and discerning what is good and beneficial for our souls and what is bad and dangerous. Let us remember that we are being saved in the Holy Church, in a sanctified gathering, but we are saved individually. Salvation is our own personal agenda. If we see that people around us do not care for salvation, we better avoid them and take care of our souls. But if we see the true Church of God, the true Body of Christ where we may be saved, we have to be there. Thus, like those ten lepers, let us be together for acquiring the divine grace, to receive the healing of the souls, but like one of them, let us be alone in our personal journey for salvation. And may the all-merciful Lord by the prayers of Venerable Sabbas praise our efforts and bless our ways, both common and individual!”

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 dedicated to the commemorated Venerable Sabbas the Sanctified during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted our Sacristan and altar server, Andrew Malyshev on the occasion of his past name day. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the Theotokian prosphora given. Then Fr. Igor handed the presents from St. Nicholas to the parish children.

26th Sunday after Pentecost


On December 11, on the 26th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish family gathered for a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed the Divine Liturgy in our St. George Church. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today the Holy Gospel tells about the healing of a woman who was sick, bent over for 18 years (Lk. 13, 10-17). She came to the synagogue on the Sabbath, and our Lord Jesus Christ who was there teaching the people delivered her from her infirmity. You may think that all the people present there should rejoice seeing that healing. However, as the Gospel says, some of them condemned Christ for that act because it was done on the Sabbath when, according to the Jews, no labor can be performed”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, today we should speak about proper keeping of the Fourth Commandment of God, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Ex. 20, 8). That Commandment was very important for the Jews in the times of Christ and it is still very important among them. “Sabbath”, or in Hebrew shabat means rest, discontinuance of any work. That Commandment was set by God, so after 6 days of work man may rest on the 7th day; that he may stop working physically but may engage in some spiritual work – to remember about God and to pray. In a similar way, according to the Book of Genesis, God Himself was creating the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th day and blessed that 7th day (Gen. 2, 1-3). And when God was giving His law to Moses, it contained that Commandment to remember that 7th day of Sabbath and to keep it holy”.
“However, that Commandment was not always understood correctly. The Jewish religious sect of Pharisees in the times of Christ was teaching to keep the Sabbath very strictly, but mostly outwardly. And their cause was continued by the Jews after Christ. If the Sabbath starts, they stop everything. Nothing can be done. They may not even walk longer than it is prescribed. They may not light the fire. Nowadays they say that you may not drive a car or ride in the elevator. A bunch of Jewish books were written about that – they call them the Talmud. And it contains so many prescriptions: what can be done and what cannot be done on the Sabbath, so the common man can easily get confused. This is why, when Jesus came to the world, He began to denounce the Pharisees telling them that they replaced the Commandments of God by the teaching of men”.
“Thus Jesus in today’s Gospel was condemned by those Talmudists because He performed a healing on the Sabbath. But the Lord properly responded to the accusers. He called them hypocrites and reminded that even on the Sabbath they perform necessary works, like, for instance, they loose their ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it (Lk. 10, 15)”.
“For the Jews, Sabbath was the day of the Lord, and for us such day is Sunday. In the New Testament it replaced the Sabbath because on that day, the first after the Sabbath, our Lord was risen from the dead. Therefore, in the Russian language that day is called voskresenie, the Resurrection. And every such 7th day is a little Pascha, commemoration of the Christ Resurrection. And if you take the Slavonic word for Sunday – nedelia – it is from the words “ne delati” meaning “not doing”. It means that on this day we don’t work. So, for us the Fourth Commandment had never been abolished. In our Christian observance, first of all, we need to keep the spirit of the Lord’s day: for 6 days we have to do our work, and then the 7th day should be dedicated to God. It means that on Sunday we have to abstain from physical and any unnecessary work, and to come to the church for prayer and participation in the Divine Liturgy. We should also perform the works of mercy and charity on that day. However, many people violate that Commandment, especially nowadays”.
“We may recall that in our old country many people were not raised in faith, so most of them now do not observe the Lord’s day. The Communists who were in power in those lands, were fighting the religion and wanted to alienate the people from keeping the Lord’s day. They were holding special working days on Sunday, requested schoolchildren to collect scrap metal. The farmers during the reap season were forced to work relentlessly in the fields. As the result, many Soviet people, even those who were not complete atheists, began not to observe Sundays: they did cleaning of their homes, washing of their clothes or cultivating their gardens. Only a minority, and mostly the inhabitants of the regions occupied by the Soviets later – like people in the Western Ukraine – kept many Christian customs and observed that Commandment”.
“But nowadays even the people living in the Western world which was not under the godless Communist rule, people in Europe and America, lose Christian faith and neglect the Commandments. And therefore, now we see everywhere that the Fourth Commandment is not observed: the people mow their loans, wash their cars or do other physical work on Sundays. There used to be so-called the “blue laws” in America that prohibited to open the stores on Sundays, but now most of them are repealed”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, all these things are sad. But, despite the spirit of this world, we have to keep the true faith and strive to observe the Commandments of God. But in our observance we need to beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees”, meaning that we need to observe Sunday not only outwardly. For among us we may have some legalistic persons resembling the Pharisees. They would not work, would not even use the scissors on Sunday, but would judge the neighbor or would not help him. We need temperance in everything, not an unwise zeal. Therefore, as the Lord taught us, we need to observe the spirit, not the letter of the law. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”, – He taught (Mk. 2, 27). Therefore, any good deed done for another person should always be performed, especially on the holy days. To visit the sick, to feed the hungry, to serve others, as the Gospel teaches – all that should be done. On the other hand, we should not hide behind the “help of your neighbor”, but do cleaning or washing on Sundays if that’s convenient for us. We need to have reasoning and desire to please the Lord”.
“That sick woman who was bent over and could not straighten up is the image of our soul. Sometimes sin bends our soul, so in our life we see nothing but dirt, nothing but earthly and vain things. And only our Lord Jesus Christ is able to straighten our souls, so they might see the divine heaven. And we need to strive for it, but in such a way that we would not appear Christians only outwardly; that we would seem to be Christians because we observe the external rules that the Holy Church gives us, but to be Christians in our souls”.
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! May today’s story of the healing of the bent woman teach us the correct observance of the Commandment regarding the 7th day, the day of the Lord. Let our observance of that precept be meaningful, not only external but internal and spiritual. May the keeping of Sunday, of the Lord’s day, holy lead us to the future day of the Lord when His Kingdom will come!”

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 dedicated to the commemorated Saint, Venerable Martyr Stephen the New during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made a remark regarding the Nativity Fast. He said that we have passed two weeks of that fast, so if someone did not get attuned to the fasting mood and observance, should brace himself and get involved in that spiritual exercise.

25th Sunday after Pentecost. Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple


On December 4, on the 25 th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, 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:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 25 th Sunday after Pentecost and feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple. The first Gospel lesson is telling us about a wealthy man whom God called “fool”, although he was not a fool by this world standards. He was a good and successful businessman, a landowner. Yet he was fool in the eyes of God because he grew rich for Himself instead of becoming rich toward God”.
Our Lord says, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Lk. 11, 23). It happens that a man is working all his life gathering his wealth, taking a good care of his business, worrying about making more and more riches and thinking that it will sustain him for many years. But at the end it turns out that all these efforts are useless because this treasure is gathered without God. God is not there, thus it has no worth. Thus all such man’s labors become unsuccessful and fruitless. The only true wealth and true possession is the one which a man does not lose here on earth, but takes it along with himself into afterlife. Such a treasure is gathered in the Lord”.
How could we become rich toward God? All our actions and all our desires need to be in accordance with the faith of Christ. They need to be in accord with the Commandments of God. Jesus Christ has to lead our lives. Then we could gather the treasures that will be in Christ and become rich toward God. And such a treasure will never be taken away from us. Just as Mary from today’s second Gospel lesson listening to the words of Christ acquired a better part than her sister Martha who worried about unnecessary things. The Lord said that Mary will not be deprived of her chosen part (Lk. 10, 42)”.
If you think about Martha’s efforts, you may compare it to our usual preparations for a party. Recently we celebrated Thanksgiving and many people had special dinner at their homes, invited guests. They probably were very busy with cooking and serving. And it is a very good and nice thing – to be hospitable, to treat your family or friends. However, what happens later? The dinner is over, the meals are eaten. The leftovers are given away or stay in your refrigerator. If you are an Orthodox, you were not supposed to eat most of them on Friday, you had to finish them on Saturday and Sunday. Then what? Your celebration is behind, your guests are away, your enjoyment is over. You labored only for that event which is now finished. Same was with Martha: she was right in caring for the guests, especially since Jesus was at her house, but she was wrong in her overwhelming with that. Mary was more correct in taking her time listening to Christ. Because the words He spoke, although at some point He finished speaking them, those words remained in Mary’s heart forever. And they became her treasure that could never be taken away from her, the true wealth that probably led her to salvation. It never finished, was not ended like some celebration we may hold”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The true wealth which may never be taken away from us consists of things belonging to spiritual and eternal world, things coming from God. Therefore, if we do not labor and do not gather with the Lord, we cannot acquire any good or any truth. And if we possess anything without Christ, it is illusionary, not real, not valuable. Therefore, all our efforts and our works will be useless”.
Celebrating today’s feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God, we see the Virgin Mary as a four-year-old girl brought to the Temple by Her parents Joachim and Anna. Their daughter was the most precious treasure they possessed. And they wished to offer that treasure to God. Most Holy Virgin stayed in the Temple until such time as She Herself will accept to become a temple, Her womb becoming the dwelling for God Incarnate. The Virgin becomes the Mother of God, She who from that day on inhabits the Temple, Herself becomes the Temple of God. What treasure can be greater than that?”
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves: what is our treasure? Does it belong to eternal world, to the divine things? Or it is temporary and won’t last forever? And which world therefore we seek? Which things we wish to inhabit us? Which is our choice? Do we gather with Christ or do we scatter? In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks to us: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk. 11, 28). Let us, therefore, not only hear the words of Christ, but also keep them, inhabiting the world of God, the eternal and spiritual things, so that God will then come and inhabit us”.

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 the hymns of the feast of the Entrance.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector greeted the faithful on the great holy day of the Theotokos and pointed out that we passed the first week of the Nativity Fast.