Antipascha. Sunday of St. Thomas


On April 23, on the Sunday of Antipascha, also known as Sunday of St. Thomas, we had a nice service at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate Sunday of St. Thomas which calls us to think about belief in the Resurrection of Christ. It is the second Paschal Sunday. Holy Resurrection will be with us throughout 40 days, until the feast of the Ascension”.
“Pascha is with us, and in these joyful days we greet each other with the words “Christ is risen!” We say these words instead of usual worldly greetings like “Hello” or “Good morning”. That is why I often correct some of you if you forget and continue to say something like “Hello” but remind you, “Not “Hello” but “Christ is risen!”” When we say that greeting, we proclaim our faith that our Lord Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. And when we respond and say, “He is truly risen!” (or “Indeed He is risen!”, depending on our translation), we confirm that faith even more. We say that it is true that Christ was risen from the dead. Proclaiming that His Resurrection is true and did happen, we manifest our belief in the greatest miracle that happened in the human history”.
“Today’s Gospel lesson tells about Holy Apostle Thomas who was not present at the first appearance of the Risen Lord to the Disciples. Thus he did not wish to believe in Christ Resurrection. He required a proof or that. Later, as we read in the Gospel, Jesus appeared again when Thomas was with the other Apostles, and offered him to touch His wounds. Then Thomas became certain and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn. 20, 26-28). Unlike Thomas we tend to believe without any proof. If we really mean what we say when we exclaim, “Christ is risen – He is truly risen!”, we believe without seeing the risen Christ, without having a chance to examine His body, to touch His wounds. If we are really sincere and honest in our words, if we don’t just say it automatically, out of the custom or tradition, we are the blessed ones; we are those of whom Jesus said in today’s Gospel, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20, 29).
“It was not easy to believe in the Resurrection of Christ in the times of the Apostles. There were not too many witnesses. The risen Lord appeared only to His Disciples, to those men and women who were close to Him. Therefore, many other people could say that the Apostles were interested persons, so they spread the word of His Resurrection, spread what we know call the “fake news”. They could say that the Myrrh-bearing women were crazy, so they had some vision of the risen Jesus. And the real opponents of Christ, the Jews, did a good job to hide the Resurrection of Christ. They bribed the warriors who kept a watch near the Lord’s Tomb. They paid them asking to say that the Disciples stole His body away while they slept. The Gospel says that this saying became commonly reported by the Jews until this day (Mt. 28, 12-15).“Until this day”, of course, meant the days of the Apostles, however, it is a firm conviction of all the Jews today. They are very adamant in saying that the body of Jesus was stolen and that Christians declared that He rose from the dead. The Jews reject Christ Resurrection and reject His divinity. They keep spreading the “fake news” that Jesus never rose from the dead”.
“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, when we proclaim to others that Christ is risen, we confess a very important belief, a belief that has no solid proof. There is no scientific evidence that Christ was risen. There is a testimony that He lived and died – it can be found in the writings of some ancient authors. But Resurrection of Christ was described only in the Sacred Scripture, the writings that are not trusted by everyone, only by Christian believers. Thus, we are not unbelieving but believing. Thus, we are blessed”.
“Thomas had doubts but Jesus gave him a chance to reject them. When we doubt, let us look at the world around us. The world around us is filled with the signs of God’s presence, with the footprints of God! Every sunset, every sunrise, every tree, every flower that is blooming at this time of spring, every lake, every blade of grass, every twinkling star – is a footprint of our Creator. The Scripture tells us:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handwork” (Ps. 19, 1)”.
“Most of the religions believe in the Creator. But only Christianity believes that God so loved the world and so loved the human kind that He became Man and died for us. Therefore, God has not left us only His footprints. He has revealed Himself to us through His Only-begotten Son who lived among us, who died on the cross and who was risen from the dead. The footprints of the setting and the rising sun may tell us that God exists. But only the nail-prints in the hands of the Savior can tell us that God is Love. Jesus appeared to the Disciples, and to Thomas, showing them the wounds in His hands and side – wounds that were proof of His Resurrection, of His victory over death and evil. But they were also the proof of His love; the proof of His divinity, and the proof of our future blessedness in His Heavenly Kingdom”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, if we sincerely say “Christ is truly risen!”, we continue the faith of the Disciples of Christ. And we need to keep and to cherish that faith of ours and to resemble the Apostles, to imitate St. Thomas – not in his unbelief, but in his desire to believe. We need to discern the “fake news” about faith and to reject them spreading the true and honest news, the Good News of the Holy Gospel, the true news of the Lord’s Resurrection. And let us ask the Lord to help us in our doubts and our unbelief in order to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven”.

The choir director nicely performed Paschal hymn “In Flesh Thou Didst Fall Asleep” and the Aposticha of Pascha during preparation for Holy Communion.

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

The Rector made some announcements, especially regarding our Patronal feast of St. George which comes soon.

Finally, the Rector distributed the Artos among the parishioners.

Funeral service for the newly-departed Raisa Stanislavskaya


On Bright Thursday, April 20, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed Burial service for the newly-departed Raisa Stanislavskaya. It was held in our parish temple. Due to the time of the Bright Week the funeral office was celebrated in a special Paschal manner with the singing of the hymns of the Resurrection, instead of usual burial hymns and prayers.

Before the farewell rite Fr. Igor preached a sermon in Russian. He pointed out that this funeral is held during the Bright Week of Pascha and that makes us think a lot about our own resurrection in the future. Further the Rector discussed the theme of the final resurrection and our future destiny in the eternal life.

After the Burial service our Rector and cantor went to the Holy Trinity Cemetery in Hewlett, NY where they finished the burial of the newly-departed by serving a Litia and sealing the grave.

Raisa Stanislavskaya passed away

We announce with a deep sorrow that Raisa Stanislavskaya, former mother-in-law of our Sacristan Andrew Malyshev, fell asleep in the Lord on Bright Tuedsay, April 18.
Raisa occasionally attended our church and will be remembered by St. George Parish family as a pious Christian, a good grandmother, and a very nice and sweet person.

С глубоким прискорбием извещаем, что в Светлый вторник, 18 апреля, спочила в Бозе Раиса Станиславская, бывшая теща нашего пономаря Андрея Малышева.
Раиса временами посещала наш храм и останется в памяти членов приходской семьи святого Георгия как благочестивая христианка, хорошая бабушка и очень приятная и добродушная женщина.



On April 16 of this year 2023 all Orthodox Christians celebrated the greatest holy day, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Pascha.

Celebration at St. George Church began before midnight on Saturday, April 15. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed Midnight service at the Lord’s Tomb. During the service the priest transferred the Holy Shroud to the altar.

Soon after midnight joyful Paschal celebration began. The Rector assisted by the altar servers led faithful in the procession around the temple. At the end of the procession everyone stood in front of the closed church doors where Fr. Igor began Resurrection Matins and proclaimed the Easter greeting, “Christ is risen”. Faithful responded and sung Paschal troparion. Then the priest opened the doors of the temple and faithful entered into the church.

After the Matins Fr. Igor served the Divine Liturgy. The Gospel lesson on Pascha is traditionally read in several languages. The faithful had an opportunity to listen the verses of the reading in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Church Slavonic, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Serbian, Romanian, Belorussian, Polish and Spanish. Following the Gospel reading Fr. Igor proclaimed Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom on Pascha. Following the Ambo prayer he also performed the blessing of the special Paschal Bread called Artos.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector greeted the parishioners on the occasion of the greatest Christian holy day.

Following main services the Rector blessed Easter food.

Rector and parishioners continued their celebration of Pascha at the table where they had an opportunity to enjoy delicious meals after the long time of fasting.

Holy and Great Friday


On April 14, on the Holy and Great Friday we had two special services in our parish temple. This day is the most sorrowful day in Christian calendar. On Holy Friday we commemorate crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross, as well as His burial. St. George Church’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Vespers with the procession of the Shroud at 4:00 PM. .

At the end of this service holy Shroud had been solemnly carried out from the altar to the middle of the church and placed there for veneration.

Following the dismissal the Rector preached a homily. He stressed that Holy and Great Friday is the saddest and most sorrowful day of the year because on this day the Son of God died on the cross. “God is dead”, – such was a statement made by some non-religious philosophers. But on Good Friday we observe that God who became Man truly died. Further Fr. Igor called the faithful to be with Jesus always, not just on the joyful days of His triumph but also during the Holy Week when He suffered.

At 7:00 PM Fr. Igor celebrated Matins on the Lord’s Tomb. Most of this service was performed before the Shroud placed in the middle of the church. After the Great Doxologion the priest, the altar server and parishioners performed the procession around the church. The Rector carried the holy Shroud resembling burial of the Lord.

Holy and Great Thursday


On April 13, on the Holy and Great Thursday when the Church commemorates the Last Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ we had a service in St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Vespers with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.

Following the dismissal Fr. Igor preached a homily regarding the importance of commemoration of the Last Supper on which our Lord Jesus Christ instituted two Holy Mysteries, of Priesthood and of the Holy Eucharist.

Palm Sunday. Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem


On April 9, 2023 the Orthodox Church celebrated feast of the Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, also known as Palm Sunday. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed festal liturgical service in our parish.

Following the reading of the Hours the Rector blessed the pussy-willows and distributed them to the parishioners who were holding them during the service resembling the people of Jerusalem who greeted Jesus Christ with the olive and palm branches during His triumphal entry to the city.

After the readings from the Scripture at the Divine Liturgy the Rector preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate great feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday. In one week we are anticipating another holy day, the greatest feast for us – Holy Pascha. That feast of the feasts and solemnity of solemnities is always a great joy for a Christian soul. And in today’s feast we hear about a joy, a joy the people in Jerusalem experienced when they greeted Jesus Christ who entered the holy city. Why did they rejoice? Why did they greet Jesus? Because they were fascinated by His miracles. Those people had 3 years to observe Jesus, so in those years they watched His deeds and achievements, they saw His miracles. They admired the wonderful signs of His power. Especially, they were impressed by the resurrection of Lazarus who has been already dead for 4 days, but whom Jesus raised from the tomb. So, the whole scene of the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is built around the joy of the people. They are so happy to see Him, so enthusiastic that they take the branches of the trees, place their clothes on His path, shout “Hosanna”. And they proclaim Him their King. It is admiration, fascination of the people. So, let us think about that.
When we admire someone, become fascinated by that person, we are ready to do a lot of things. But there is a problem with that. And such problem appeared in the story of Jesus: the same people who so enthusiastically greeted Him entering Jerusalem, in a few days with the same zeal wished Him to be crucified. People often do that. We may easily become fascinated or obsessed with someone, and later hate that person and be ready to destroy him. Thinking of that, we may see that our human admiration, fascination easily becomes an obsession and leads us to creation of an idol. And the idols are dangerous; they are false. Furthermore, sometimes having an idol may lead to a greatest disappointment. When something goes differently than we expected from our idol, we may become hugely disappointed and start hating our idol. Such things especially happen in politics. People are fascinated with some political figure, are ready to place him on a pedestal, but when something goes wrong, something goes against their expectations, they become ready to bury him alive. That is the danger of human admiration and fascination”.
Let us then recall what happened later, when Jesus was crucified and His Disciples left Him. There was a person beside the Cross of Christ who was not fascinated by Jesus at all. It was a Roman centurion, an officer who had to watch the place of the execution. That centurion stood at the cross and observed that the Jews crucified their King. The inscription on the cross said that. So, the officer observed that someone whom the Jews several days ago called their King now is dying on the cross. And when he saw the whole thing, when he witnessed the behavior of Jesus, when he witnessed His death, when he saw the earthquake that happened then, the centurion exclaimed with an awe, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27, 54). The centurion had no fascination with Christ but he experienced an astonishment, an amazement. And that was the right attitude towards God”.
Dear brothers and sisters! We have to avoid fascination and obsession with anyone, even with God. Such attitude leads to a false cult. We rather have to imitate the Roman centurion at the Cross and have an amazement before God. A feeling of surprise, a felling of astonishment, a feeling of awe. Through His humble readiness to suffer for our sake, through His death on the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ showed something that should cause us to experience such feelings. The same feelings we often experience when we learn about the lives of the Saints. A week ago we could feel that about Venerable Mary of Egypt. Her life makes us wonder, makes us to be amazed, surprised and astonished. Today Jesus Himself causes such feelings. The Almighty God who became Man enters into Jerusalem sitting on a donkey’s colt. The King of the Jews later takes up the cross and goes to the Calvary. The Son of God dies on the cross”.
Pontius Pilate was also surprised by Christ. He heard that Jesus is a King, so he asked him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”. Christ answered, “It is as you say” (Lk. 23, 3). But Jesus did not say to Pilate much about Himself. God never tells us everything, He always leaves some room for a mystery. He wishes us to fill that room. He leaves that room for our reaction, for our surprise, for our awe”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Today, when we hold those branches resembling the people of Jerusalem who greeted Christ, let us not be fascinated or obsessed but let us wonder. Let us not expect from God what we want but let us seek what God wants from us. Let us be amazed by the great works of the Lord. Let us be astonished, so such feelings will make our hearts to seek the true God, not some idol. Let us experience an awe that God is so great that He always makes us wonder!”

The choir director prayerfully performed hymns of the feast during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of glorification before the festal icon. Then Fr. Igor greeted everybody on the occasion of the feast. He also congratulated Paraskeva Kosmidis on the occasion of her past birthday and proclaimed a Polychronion on her behalf.

After the service the Rector and parishioners had a luncheon enjoying delicious lenten meals.

Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God


On April 7, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served Vespers and Divine Liturgy in our temple. Before the service our Warden, Olga Roussanow beautifully adorned the festal icon stand with the flowers. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture Fr. Igor preached a homily in Russian. The English translation of that homily is as follows:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s feast is called the Annunciation. We celebrate the announcement made by the Holy Angel to the Blessed Virgin Mary. That announcement contained a very special message: Mary will conceive and bring forth a Son who will be the Messiah. In other words, it was bringing of the Good News. This announcement became a declaration that through Mary the Savior is coming to the world. Therefore, today the Church sings in the festal troparion, “Today is the beginning of our salvation”. But apart from that greatest meaning of this feast, we should note that it was also a moment of decision making. The Blessed Virgin had to accept the good news of being chosen to become the Mother of the Savior. Thus, today is also a celebration of the free will”.
We humans are blessed by the Creator to have a free will. The Angels are much more limited in that. In the beginning of the world they could make a choice: either to follow God or to reject Him. After that the Angels made their decision and are not able to change it. Their nature does not allow them to choose. Holy Archangel Gabriel sent to the Blessed Virgin Mary to bring Her the news of Annunciation, had no choice – he had to follow God’s command. But we humans have a choice all the time. We live making decisions. We exist making choices. When we get up in the morning, we decide on which foot we will stand, what we are going to do first. We may choose what to have for breakfast. We may choose to go to work or to stay home. And today, as we see, many our parishioners made a choice not to come here to the church. Some had a real excuse, for which I am aware. But I don’t know about everyone’s reason not to come. In any event, it was their decision”.
Thus, our life is full of choices. There may be little choices and great choices. We may decide what to eat for breakfast – a little, everyday choice. And we may decide whether to be a good person or a bad person – a great life choice. We will live by the results of our choices”.
The Most Holy Theotokos made Her greatest life choice in today’s holy event. She accepted the God’s blessing to become the Mother of the Savior. If we carefully read today’s Gospel lesson, we may see that She had a conversation with the Angel (Lk. 1, 26-38). Mary questioned him about God’s plan and how it is going to be fulfilled. The Angel answered Her questions and explained the most important parts of that plan. He also mentioned such a detail that even Her relative, Elizabeth, who was considered barren and who was of old age, has conceived a son. So, Gabriel was persuasive, and Mary could make (what we call it) an informed decision. And She did, She decided to work with God in fulfilling of His plan of salvation. She said, Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1, 38)”.
Now, thinking of the Blessed Mother’s choice, we can recall the first choice of humanity in paradise. Who made that first choice? The woman. Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit. Who conversed with her? The Angel. But that angel was Satan. He was also persuasive, and she made a decision to listen to him and to disobey God. Now, in the event of the Holy Annunciation, many things are similar but the choice is completely different, and the result is the opposite. Mary, the New Eve, converses with the Angel of God and decides to obey the Lord. Eve started the history of our curse, and Mary started the history of our salvation. Woman is the one who gives life, and the first woman brought spiritual death. Now, in the Annunciation, woman, the Holy Virgin, brings spiritual life and a promise of life eternal”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! All of us, men and women, are always confronted with lots of choices. Nowadays we often hear about the woman’s right to choose whether to have child or not. Certain people say that they belong to a “pro-choice” movement. Certain women shout, “My body – my choice!” Of course, they do have a choice. But it is a choice between giving life and killing. A choice between being a mother and being a murderess of your own child. We do have to choose – all the time. As we said, big decisions and small decisions”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! We, as Christians, are given a special opportunity to make the biggest decision, the most important spiritual choice of our life – to choose salvation, the Good News of Christ, to choose life in Him. Or, we may choose the opposite – being away from God, to disregard His Gospel, to end up spiritually dead. An awareness of such two choices is especially clear to us during Lent. If we attempted to spend it appropriately, doing more prayers, observing fast, receiving more Sacraments, attending the church – then we better realize that such choices are always in front of us. And if we make certain decision, we have to live by its results. Adam and Eve made their choice, and the whole humanity became cursed. The Most Holy Mother of God made Her choice, and the human race became blessed”.
“The Good News is that as long as we live here in this world, we may change our decision, we may override our past wrongs, we may make a new and right choice. Angels can’t do that and the souls of the departed cannot, but we, the living, still can. Therefore, let us first understand the choice, let us study what it will entail. Again, the Most Holy Theotokos did that, She had to understand the implications of Her decision. To help Her understand She spoke with the Angel. Now, to help us to understand, we have the Church, we have the Holy Gospel to do the explanation. Let us learn from them. Then, having learned of the joyful proclamation of salvation, let choose life over death, salvation over damnation and eternal blessedness with the Lord and His Blessed Mother in heavenly paradise!”

The choir director performed hymns of the festal canon during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal the Rector performed glorification in front of the festal icon in the middle of the church singing the troparion and kontakion of the Annunciation. Then he congratulated the faithful on the great feast.

Fifth Sunday of Lent


On April 2, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent our parishioners gathered for the liturgical celebration in our temple. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we came to the celebration of the 5th Sunday of Lent which makes us realize certain new things as we spiritually journey towards the Kingdom of Heaven. The Gospel lesson read today is telling us that the usual human and social rules may not apply in the God’s Kingdom. The Lord explains to His Disciples that if “whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mk. 10, 43-44). Today we also honor Ven. Mother Mary of Egypt whose life is a great example of how our earthly judgments can be wrong and an example of how a person can change if he or she is being helped by the divine grace”.
The Gospel lesson shows us that Holy Apostles were living by earthly attitudes. Since they believed that their Teacher is the Messiah, they hoped that He will achieve a great power. Therefore, they asked Jesus to reserve for them the most influential positions in His Kingdom. They wished to be set at His right and at His left hand in His glory (Mk. 10, 37). It was a typical human desire to advance, to gain the best from a leader to whom one is faithful and loyal. Jesus Himself told the Disciples that there are different positions in the Kingdom of Heaven. But the Lord had to explain to them that our ideas about the Kingdom of Heaven are not accurate. Even among His followers on earth He wishes that they behave differently than the usual worldly communities. In such communities the rulers lord over their subjects and the great ones show their importance and their power over the others.“Yet it shall be not so among you”, says the Lord (Mk. 10, 43)”.
Dear brothers and sisters! These words of Christ teach us that the Kingdom of God is different from our world. Therefore, if we desire to reach that Kingdom, we need to abandon our earthly attitudes and human ambitions. And if we wish to become more important among others, or having certain authority among men, we need to learn to serve. The Lord does not condemn leadership or the authority among His followers. But He warns us that if we wish to become someone having such a call, we need to serve those who are entrusted to our care. Jesus reminds us that He Himself did not come to the world to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10, 45). And we know that He proved it by His passions and sufferings, by His death on the cross”.
And the life of Ven. Mary whom we honor today teaches us many things. Perhaps the first lesson we can learn from her is that we should never judge, never pre-judge. Who will be saved, who will be greater or lesser in the Kingdom of God? It is impossible to answer that question. The Lord told the Apostles: “To sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared (Mk. 10, 40). We cannot answer that question because it is never too late to change, to repent. Humanly speaking, when we consider the life of Mary until her 29th year, we might think that salvation had become impossible for her. She was a very sinful woman; she was a harlot, and she enjoyed it. And yet the service to her calls her “the greatest of saints”. Why? Because she did change; she changed completely. Humanly speaking, because of our sins, we are condemned; but by the grace of God everything, including the height of repentance, is possible”.
The life of Ven. Mary of Egypt also teaches us that we need to accomplish our salvation along with the Holy Church. Ven. Mary retreated from the world, from human society, she lived in the desert, she accomplished all her endeavors of holiness alone. Yet she began her endeavors by receiving the Holy Sacraments of Penance and Communion, and she finished her life by confession and Holy Communion. There is no salvation outside of the Church; and there is no perfect Christian life without the Sacraments”.
Beginning the last week of Lent, let us come to an understanding that we are willing to approach a Heavenly, not earthly, Kingdom where everything will be different. Thus we should be prepared for that. And the life of Ven. Mary of Egypt is supposed to teach us how to prepare for everlasting blessedness of Paradise. We have to repent, constantly attempt to change our life and to be comforted by the Holy Sacraments of the Church. In this way we will be able to enter into the glory of Christ and to deserve our prepared seats in his Kingdom!”

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 prayerfully performed penitential hymns during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal the Rector made the announcements about the future celebrations of the coming feasts of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday, and regarding the importance to receive the Holy Mysteries of Penance and Eucharist in these special days of Lent.

After the Divine Liturgy the Rector performed the Sacrament of the Anointing of the sick. All persons who desired to receive that Mystery participated in the service and were anointed with the blessed oil.