Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the I Ecumenical Council


On May 28, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Following the Church’s spiritual experience of the Ascension, on today’s Sunday the Church draws our attention to the teaching of the I Ecumenical Council, calling us to glorify the Holy Fathers who gathered there”.
That first Ecumenical Council which took place in the year 325 in the city of Nicaea, discussed a very important question: who is the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He the best creation of God or the Son of God? Is He the true God or a supreme being lower than God? Is He created by God or is God Himself? We may wonder whether these discussions are important. Some may say that it is not so crucial because the main thing is that we know Jesus Christ, we know about His life, His teaching and His works. Why do we need those complicated theological quarrels?”
Dear brothers and sisters! It is so important for us because it concerns everyone. If Christ is not the Son of God, if He is not the true God, then nothing supernatural or miraculous may happen in our life because we may just believe in God but rely on our personal strength and approach God only by our human efforts. But if we know that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He is the true God, and being the true God, He is with us “always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28, 20), then we understand that our faith cannot be in vain. Despite our weakness, our inability to live a righteous life, despite our unworthiness, we don’t lose hope. Why? Because we know that Christ, the Son of God came into the world, so”whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3, 16)”.
If Jesus Christ is the true God, He has a power to save us. If He is the true God, it is in His power to forgive our sins, to cleanse and sanctify us. If He is the true God, it is in His power to grant us eternal life. And if He is the true God, it is in His power to help us in our temporary life”.
Thus we begin to understand the words of today’s Gospel lesson: And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17, 3). No one comes to God except through His Son, Jesus Christ (Mt. 11, 27; Jn. 14, 6). In the same way, if we see the light of the day, we know about the sun. Thus if we believe, we come to know the true God. If we hear someone speaking, we come to know that person, we begin to know about his knowledge and his intellect. Thus through Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, through the Son of God and the Son of Man we come to know the true God”.
But how could we know Him if we have a limited mind and weak human senses? We can know Him through the life of the Church of Christ. The power of God manifests itself in the Church where Christ is really and truly present. This is the essence of our faith and, therefore, that erroneous teaching which was discussed at the I Ecumenical Council was so threatening and deceiving. At those times some priest named Arius did not believe that Christ is the Son of God, did not believe that Christ was not created, but considered that Jesus is the best creature of God. If it was so, God would not be with us. God would be separated from us. He would be very remote, He would be inaccessible as it was before our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. But after His coming into the world the true God stood in our midst. He is close to us. He is in our lives, in our souls. He is in the Church of Christ to which we belong. And in that Church He abides to the end of age”.
Such is the meaning of those theological controversies that were discussed at the I Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. And the Holy Spirit made the Fathers of the Council understand and define the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the way we confess it. In that way the Holy Spirit revealed the true and firm teaching about the divinity of Christ to the Church. Let us then firmly keep that faith of ours, cherish it in our hearts and follow it in our 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 director performed hymns dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the I Council.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor made the announcements, especially regarding our June schedule and the schedule of the Pentecost services.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed the memorial Litia to commemorate Raisa Stanislavskaya on the 40th day of her repose.

The Rector also performed the Mystery of Baptism over David Trujillo who desired to convert and to join the Holy Orthodox Church. Following the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation David received his first Holy Communion.

After all the services Fr. Igor and parishioners had coffee and refreshments prepared by Malyshev family to commemorate their departed relative Raisa Stanislavskaya.

Ascension of the Lord


On Thursday, June 25 of this year the Orthodox Church celebrated great feast of the Ascension of the Lord. St. George parish had a nice celebration on this day. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson Fr. Igor preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate feast called the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. On the 40th day after His Resurrection our Savior ascended into the heavenly abode, left the human kind on earth to join the glory of His Father in heaven. Let us now concentrate on that miracle of the Ascension and to attempt understanding what it is and what it means”.
Just as the Lord Jesus came to earth in a supernatural way, so He left in a supernatural way. One of the best descriptions of the Ascension is found in today’s Epistle reading, in the Acts of the Holy Apostles: Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”” (Acts 1, 9-11)”.
“The words “He was taken up” do not mean that Jesus was elevated so many feet above the earth. They mean that through His Ascension Jesus entered a higher existence. When a school boy says that he has been promoted to a higher class, we do not take him to mean that he was transferred from a classroom on the first floor to one upstairs. Likewise, the words “He was taken up” mean that Jesus was promoted to glory, to a different realm of life, to heaven”.
“It is interesting to note that when one does go “up” into outer space, one enters a new and different realm than what we know here on earth. Scientists tell us that some time in the future we will be able to break the light barrier just as we did the sound barrier. People will be able to travel at the speed of light: 186 thousand miles per second. To reach the nearest star at the speed light would require 10 years: 5 years to go and 5 years to return. We here on earth will be 10 years older when the astronauts return while they will be only 10 days older. Why? Because they will break the light barrier, they reach the point where time almost ceases to exist. Time there, in the outer space, is not as here on earth. It is a completely different realm. So it is when the New Testament says that Jesus “was taken up”. It means that he entered a new realm, a completely different world from what we know here on earth”.
“But Jesus not just left us to go into that different life in heaven. His Ascension became an act of elevating us to heaven, a moment in which we became closer to the Heavenly Kingdom. We also became promoted. For Jesus came down from heaven as the eternal Son of the Father, and when He went back to the seat of honor and glory at God’s right hand, He took with Him our human nature. He returned to the Father as God-Man. It was our nature in everything, except sin, that sat down at the right hand of God. The Son of God descended to become one of us and ascended to enable us to ascend with Him. Since the manhood of Jesus was taken up to the heavenly places, our manhood will also be taken up. The Ascension is proof that we were made for heaven, not for the grave. Holy Apostle Paul does not hesitate to describe Christians as enthroned with God, as seated with God “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2, 6)”.
“We can also say that Jesus is awaiting us there, in heaven. He said, “I go and prepare a place for you… that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14, 3). The Ascension gives us a certainty that we have a Friend – not only on earth, but also in heaven. He is our Forerunner who has gone on before us to prepare for our arrival. To die is not to go into the dark; it is to go to Him”.
“And in conclusion we have to say that Jesus ascended for us. He did everything for our sake. Let us remember and let us be thankful for that. Our Lord came to us into this world, He died for our sake. He rose from the dead to liberate us from the evil. And He was taken up to heaven in order to prepare a place for us that we can be with Him forever”.

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

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.

Then Fr. Igor said a few words noticing that most of the people present at the Liturgy were men. It reminded of the words of today’s Epistle lesson, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand…?” (Acts 1, 10). In the same way we may ask, “Men of Bayside, why do you stand here?” Men of Bayside are blessed to have a strong faith. Now we need to imitate the Apostles who were praying and awaiting the Holy Spirit and we have to keep our faith and lead spiritual life.

Sunday of the Blind Man. Feast of St. John the Theologian


On May 21, on the Sunday of the Blind Man, as well as feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov performed 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, Christ is risen!Today is the last Sunday of our Paschal celebration, and on this day the Church offers us a Gospel story about a healing of the man who was born blind. It was a great and unrepeatable miracle because, as the Gospel today says, since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind” (Jn. 9, 32). Yet the people who witnessed such a great miracle, instead of marveling and coming to believe in Christ, began the whole investigation to find out how the eyes of the blind man were opened. Today’s pretty long Gospel lesson is telling us about that. This happened because many of the Jews were not ready to embrace the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only some of them who became the Disciples of Christ, His Holy Apostles, did accept the Messiah. Among those Apostles was St. John the Theologian who wrote the Gospel the passage of which we heard today, and whose memory we celebrate on this day”.
But even the Disciples of Christ when they saw the man blind from birth, asked their Teacher, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn. 9, 2). They did so because they were living by the Old Testament understanding of God who is a zealous and vengeful Lord punishing those who offend Him. Their understanding of God was limited and simplistic, colored by fear, the pressures of the struggle to survive in a hostile world. Such an understanding was needed in the Old Testament times because the Jews held the right belief in one God while other nations and tribes did not. So, the true worshipers were supposed to fear mixing with others and offending the true God. But by the time of the coming of the Messiah it had to be changed. This is why Jesus challenged the common view of God as angry, vengeful and ready to punish those who sin. He teaches His Disciples that blindness of that man in today’s story is not because of sin, but blindness is an opportunity for the works of God to be revealed (Jn. 9, 3)”.
We may also say that blindness of that man was an opportunity for the love of God to be revealed. The whole ministry of Christ was an act of unconditional love towards mankind. And each and every miracle, every healing performed by Jesus Christ was an act of His love. He came to the world to visit the corrupt, imperfect and sinful human nature. His response to human infirmity, disease and death was His love, His comfort, His healing and His own Resurrection from the dead. A man could be born blind because human nature is imperfect. But behold, Jesus came and by His love restored the sight of a man who could never have the sight. This is the understanding of God according to the New Testament: God is Love, God is the Lover of mankind. Of course, God is just and He will judge us at the end of the world, but first of all, God is loving us. This idea was especially preached and confirmed by Holy Apostle and Evangelist John whose memory we celebrate today”.
Holy Apostle John wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn. 4, 7-8). “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4, 16). St. John also taught that to love God means to love your fellow man. “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 Jn. 4, 21)”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Finishing the days of our Paschal celebration, let us rejoice that Jesus Christ who was risen from the dead is the God of Love. He is not vengeful and angry master, but a loving Father who is willing to help us. Even if we suffer, our sufferings could be an opportunity to reveal the great works of God and His love. Let us follow His teaching and the thoughts of His beloved Disciple, John the Theologian, to abide in His endless and perfect love!”

The choir prayerfully performed the Exapostilarion and Aposticha of Pascha during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcements, especially regarding the coming feast of the Ascension.

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman


On May 14, on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, we had a nice 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 heard a pretty long Gospel reading containing a lot of thoughts and instructions from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He spoke with the Samaritan Woman and later with His Disciples. In that Gospel lesson, we can clearly see how our Lord Jesus Christ combined two natures, human and divine. We see that as a human being, He could become tired, thirsty and hungry. The Gospel tells us that Jesus was thirsty and He asked the Samaritan Woman for drink. On the other hand, we see that He is also divine. Living as God in eternity, He knows the present, past and future of all. Thus as God He knows that the Samaritan Woman has already been married five times and that at present she is living in sin with another man. Also He tells her that He can give her “living water’” from an Eternal Well, and He tells the disciples that His “food is to do the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn. 4, 34)”.
“As a man, Christ was a Jew, and His disciples were surprised to find Him conversing not only with a woman, but with a Samaritan Woman. A Jew would never speak with a Samaritan, especially with a Samaritan Woman. It is mentioned in today’s Gospel that “Jews had no dealings with Samaritans” (Jn. 4, 9)”.
“As God, however, Christ does not hesitate to talk to those who are able to accept Him as the Messiah, for the mission of Christ is universal. He says that “salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4, 22), but this salvation is only for those who accept Christ, and not many Jews accepted Him. According to the Jews, the Samaritans were heretics; they had rejected the importance of Jerusalem and much of the Old Testament, including the Prophets; they had confused pagan idolatry with the Old Testament. On the other hand, the Jews had rejected Christ. The Jews turned the truths and revelations of the Old Testament into a dry legalism and an arrogant racism. They had denied that Messiah, a Jew as a man, could, as God, come for the salvation of all the nations. It is that ideology which still to this day insists on what you may call “an ownership of God” – the Jews claim that they own God and that God owes to them because He proclaimed them a chosen people. The Jews had kept the letter of the Law but had rejected the spirit of the Law. And without the Spirit they were unable to recognize Christ”.
“The Samaritans had rejected the letter of the Law, but some of them, at least, were open to its spirit, for they were open to Christ, the Word of God who gave the Law. If the Jews rejected Christ, the Samaritans, as we heard today in the Gospel, kept Him with them for two days and many believed in Him (Jn. 4, 40-41). And when our Lord returned from Samaria to Judea, He had to say that “a prophet has no honor in his own country” (Jn. 4, 44)”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Sunday is the one following Mid-Pentecost, the feast that stands half-way between feasts of the Resurrection and of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. At Pascha the great truths of the Church are being revealed – that Christ is both God and man, that He is crucified and risen from the dead. However, these truths, may remain abstract until at Pentecost we understand their inner meaning, their implications for our daily life. By the coming of the Holy Spirit, these truths become living, and we worship Christ in spirit and in truth. Thus the Church reads to us the words that, “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4, 23)”.
“And this is why this world still continues today, why the world has not yet ended. Until the Gospel of Christ has been preached in spirit and in truth, that is, in Orthodox manner, in all lands, throughout the world, the world cannot end. For as long as there are new Samaritans, new nations, new tribes to hear the Truth, as long as there are people who can still potentially become Orthodox, the world must continue, for there is harvest still to be reaped (Jn. 4, 38)”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us pray that we too like the Samaritan Woman may bring others to the Church, testifying like her to the Divinity of Christ, becoming reapers of that which we have not sown”.

The choir director prayerfully performed the Exapostilarion and the Aposticha of Pascha during the time of preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our ladies on the occasion of the Mother’s Day proclaiming the traditional Polychronion to them. Then he also greeted Tamara Gusnezow on her name day proclaiming the Polychronion and handing her the Theotokian prosphora.

Sunday of the Paralytic


On May 7, on the Sunday of the Paralytic, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

On this Sunday, one among the Paschal season Sundays, the Church wishes us to reflect upon a miracle of healing a person who suffered from paralysis for 38 years. He was near the pool at Ship Gate in Jerusalem, famous for healing, but could not be healed because there was no one to help him enter the water of this pool. In Slavonic language this paralytic is called the “relaxed one”, and this holiday is called Sunday of the Paralytic, of the “relaxed man”. We should remember that in Lent we also heard the Gospel story of another paralytic – whom four people brought to Christ. And today we hear about a paralytic, which no one helped. He himself explained this to Christ when he said: “I have no man to put me into the pool” (Jn. 5, 7). Only our Lord Jesus Christ was able to heal this man”.
This paralytic is the image of our souls. We are near the most healing font. We have a great source for our healing and for our salvation. We have the Law of God. We have the Commandments of God. We have the Holy Church. And we are close to all of it. But, as it often happens that despite all that we have, we cannot take advantage of it. We are always missing something. It is like that paralytic said: “I have no man to help me”!”
The Holy Church tells us about this miracle, so that when we see the paralyzed, relaxed state of our souls, when we see sins overwhelming us again, we do not lose heart, but we knew that we have a Man who can save us. We have not just a man, we have Christ the God-man, who can, not just once a year, like it was at the Sheep Gate pool, manage to heal someone, but who is able to heal constantly every man who turns to Him. He saves him from death, saves from sin, heals his paralyzed soul. And He makes him able to walk again glorifying God. Look what the Lord said. He did not simply say, “I heal you”, but He said: “Arise, take up your bed and walk” (Jn. 5, 8). That means, take up those same stretchers on which you used to lay, on which you were carried, now you carry them!” Why did the Lord say so? Because now that person who was lying on these stretchers for thirty-eight years, began walking himself, and carrying those stretchers and showing it to everyone, he began to preach about the Lord, preaching about Christ the Savior in a visible way. Everyone saw how he used to lay on a stretcher, and now he himself walks and preaches about Christ”.
Dear brothers and sisters! This is what we are often lacking. We need to preach about the Savior and our Lord Jesus Christ by our Christian life. The Lord gives us the joy of life, gives us consolation, gives us deliverance from our sins. He saves us from all evil. Therefore, we are obligated to preach about Christ, just as this healed paralytic did. And we will preach this in the best way, if we lead a pure Christian life. If we forgive each other, if we are compassionate to each other, are merciful to each other, if we strive to love one another – this will be our holy preaching. Then we could cease being spiritually paralyzed (or “relaxed”), then we will rise and begin to walk”.
Of course, it is difficult – to start preaching about Christ with your life. On this path there will be many obstacles, because the life of a Christian in an ungodly world is always difficult. That healed paralytic just started walking, and the Jews immediately began to bother him and to say: “How can you wear a stretcher on Saturday? It is forbidden”! – Indeed, the Old Testament law forbade doing anything on Saturday. We have to keep in mind that our Christian law also forbids any hard and physical labor on Sunday. But the Lord of the Sabbath, the Chief of the Law himself, the One who is above all law, is the True God and the true Savior Jesus Christ commanded this, and that man had to do it. Thus, without fearing all obstacles and temptations, let us ask the Lord to help us to overcome the paralysis or relaxation of our souls, that He will give us the grace to live in Christian way: to believe, to hope, to love, to overcome all temptations”.
And when the Savior later met this healed man in the temple, He said to him: See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (Jn. 5, 14). Let us also, brothers and sisters, pray to our Savior, that He may give us strength not to return to sins, that He may give us the strength to avoid the worst that sin brings with it evil, godlessness, hatred and untruth. Let us strive to nourish our souls and souls of our loved ones with the great Paschal joy about the risen Christ, who gives life to our souls and to us, “the relaxed ones”, who makes us walk again in the ways of the Lord”.

The choir director performed the Aposticha of Pascha during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy a coffee hour was held, so the Rector and parishioners could join for a meal and a nice conversation.

Patronal Feast of St. George


On Saturday, May 6, our Parish celebrated its Patronal Feast of the Holy Victorious Great Martyr George. Our festal service was performed by a number of clergy. We welcomed Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov; the Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Eastern States, Priest Mark Rashkov; Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk) from the ROCOR, and Protodeacon Igor Panachev from St. Nicholas Cathedral. The Divine Liturgy was headed by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

The choir director beautifully performed hymns dedicated to St. George during preparation for Holy Communion.

At the Communion verse Priest Mark Rashkov preached a homily in English on the celebrated feast of St. George.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the clergy performed the rite of glorification of St. George in front of his icon in the middle of the church. They sang the troparion, kontakion and magnification of our temple Saint. Then the Chancellor addressed the Rector in Russian and greeted him and all the people present on the feast. He also said a few words about our celebrated holy patron and at the conclusion of his speech he presented Fr. Igor with the icon of St. Luke of Crimea.

The two group photographs were taken: one of the clergy, then another of all present at the celebration. Abbot Zosimas (Krampis) from the ROCOR had arrived at the end of the service and joined other clergy for the taking of the group picture.

Our Patronal Feast continued after the liturgical service. All were invited to a luncheon at the nearby Greek restaurant where the clergy and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.