St. George’s Rector visited a monastery in Florida


On June 25, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov made a pilgrimage to the Pochaev Icon Monastery in North Port, FL (ROCOR).

Fr. Igor prayed at the Divine Liturgy served by the monastery abbot, Archimandrite Stephan (Khilchuk). After the Liturgy our Rector venerated the locally honored icon of Our Lady of Pochaev and was invited to a parish luncheon served in the temple.

2nd Sunday after Pentecost, of All the Saints of Rus’


On June 18, on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost dedicated to All the Saints of the Russian Church, we had a nice liturgical celebration in our St. George Church. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ calling His first Disciples to follow Him. It is about electing the first followers. The Scripture tells that those four men, Andrew, Peter, James and John, were fishermen at the Sea of Galilee. Although these men were unlearned and illiterate, they could accept such a call. The interpreters of the Gospel tell us that those men were prepared for Jesus’ call by the preaching of St. John the Baptist. They came to listen to his speeches, were probably baptized by him and were ready to accept Christ. This is why we read that they “immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Mt. 4, 20).
“In the same way our Lord chooses and calls different men to become laborers in His vineyard, servers at His holy altar, to become priests. It happens in infinitely various ways, but the sense is the same: Jesus comes, calls them to follow Him, and they do”.
But Jesus also, in the same way, calls everybody to follow Him. He wishes every man and woman to be His disciple, His follower, to be a Christian. The calling happens also in many different ways, in different time, at different age. But it happens. God in His ineffable wisdom called St. John the Baptist from the time he was conceived in his mother’s womb, so he could leap in the womb of Elizabeth when Holy Virgin Mary, also being pregnant with Jesus, came to visit her. According to a pious tradition, God called St. Nicholas the Wonderworker when he was an infant, so little Nicholas refused to be nursed on Wednesdays and Fridays. Another tradition holds that almost ten centuries later the same was seen in the behavior of the little baby Bartholomew who later grew up and became Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, one of our greatest Saints”.
Many Saints were called at their young age, but some were called later. St. Paul converted at the age of maturity, after he persecuted Christians. St. Moses the Black converted after being a merciless criminal and killer. St. Augustine changed his life after 20 years of prayers said for his conversion by his mother, St. Monica”.
Celebrating today our Saints of the Russian Church we may also recall that one of them, Equal to the Apostles Prince Vladimir also converted at his age of maturity. Before that the Baptizer of Rus’ was a zealous pagan. But when he heard and accepted the calling of Christ, he became a pious worshiper of the true God. After being a sinner, a polygamist, he became a sincere Christian. And after being a cruel ruler he became Vladimir the “Sunny Beautiful” how he was called by his subjects”.
All of us were first called to follow Jesus when we became baptized. But for those of us who were baptized at their early age, this was just an advance invitation. After growing up we may truly accept or decline that Lord’s invitation. The world is full of stories of various people how they heard the calling of the Lord and started to go after Him. We may hear that some politician was baptized at the old age, after being a Communist and a long-time Soviet government official. We may hear that some scholar became a zealous Christian after having a dream about some of the Gospel parable”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, if it happened to those people, it could happen to us. Many of us may say that we have been already called and followed Jesus. Our presence here in the church serves as a proof of that. But even then, we need to be open to the voice of the Lord calling us to follow Him further. We need to be faithful to our vocation as Christians. We need to eliminate from our lives anything which stands in our way of following the Lord. So, let us discern the true calling of our lives and be the true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

The choir director beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to the Russian Saints during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our parishioners on the occasion of Father’s Day proclaiming traditional “Mnogaia leta!” to our men – fathers and grandfathers. Then he made an announcement regarding service schedule.

Sunday of All Saints


On June 11, on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, the Church celebrates memory of All the Saints who pleased the Lord by their pious lives. On that day we had a nice service at St. George Church. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today, on the First Sunday after Pentecost, the Church honors All the Saints. The Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles on Pentecost, gave birth to the Church, to the community of the Saints. The Saints are the people who followed Christ in their lives hoping to obtain salvation, and those who did obtain it. For the whole mission of salvation of the human race was accomplished in order to make people holy, make them the Saints. The Son of God came into this world to save us, to sanctify us, so we may be united with God”.
“Each of us is called to holiness. We are called to that by being called Christians. God had called us to that through the Mystery of Holy Baptism and through the Mystery of Chrismation. It was no accident that in the Apostolic times the very words “the Saints” were one of the names for Christians. Holy Apostle Paul called the members of Christian communities “the Saints”. Therefore, to become a Saint is a possible task, a natural thing, although to reach sanctity is a supernatural thing because it depends not only on us and on our natural strength. It also depends on God, on His grace. But it definitely depends on our efforts, our talents and our desires. If we wish to please the Lord and try to do it, He will help us by His grace. Then the Holy Spirit will help us and will find His dwelling place, His temple in our souls and bodies. St. Seraphim of Sarov said that the goal of Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit. So, if we set such a goal, the Lord will be with us and His Holy Spirit will be acquired. Then we will become holy, as our Lord is holy”.

Holiness is one of the qualities of God. Only God is truly and always Holy. When we say our daily prayers we pronounce the Angelic thrice-holy hymn, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!” During Divine Liturgy we sing the Seraphic hymn taken from the Sacred Scripture, “Holy, holy, holy Lord of Sabaoth!” (Is. 6, 3). Thus holiness belongs to God, and the holy people, the Saints are those who became filled with that God’s quality, people who fulfilled God’s plan for humanity. God created man according to His image and likeness and He desired us to be holy. The first people were holy in paradise; only the fall deprived them of that quality. But our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to restore fallen humanity, to return us to holiness and to give us a capability to acquire it”.
So, today we glorify all the Saints who by their lives showed that it is possible to be holy. Sometimes people say, “nobody is a Saint”. No, the Church shows us that it is possible to be one. And among the Saints you can find different kinds of people. There are those who were poor – the unmercenary physicians or humble desert monks. But there are those who possessed great wealth – righteous kings and princes. There are men and women Saints. There are also children Saints. There are Saints who were monks and Saints who were married. The way to sanctity is open to every person”.
“How can we find that way? It is very simple: we need
to live spiritual life in Christ, to keep the Commandments, to receive the Sacraments. This is understood. But there is one more thing mentioned in today’s Gospel lesson: it is necessary to seek God and to inquire what is eternal, not temporary. The Lord says: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10, 37). Many, especially not religious people, would say that these are cruel and harsh words. But if you think of it well, you realize that nobody can be more important than God. These words of Christ do not teach us not to love our parents, children or spouses. No! But they teach us that God is above everything and everyone. And our human love for our parents, spouses and children has its source in God who is the Highest Love. If there was no God, there would be no love. If we enjoy the sunlight and the warmth of the day, we realize that it comes from the sun. If there was no sun, there would be no sunlight and warmth. Same thing is with love. Having love in our hearts we have to remember that God is the Source of all love. If there was no God, there would be no love in the world and even no life at all. Nothing can exist without God”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, the important idea of today’s Gospel lesson is to set our priorities correctly. We ought to love eternal God more than everything else which is His creation, including ourselves and our neighbors. We need to sacrifice many things in our lives for Him like Holy Apostles did. They left everything and followed Christ. But note that the Lord does not demand everyone to sacrifice everything but to give up certain things according to our calling. This is why there are different kinds of Saints, with different endeavors and various ways of life. But all their lives were leading them to God and to His Heavenly Kingdom”.
Let us then turn to all the Saints in prayer and let us beseech those great and holy people, known and unknown, that they may entreat the Lord to make us live in unity with Him, to help us to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, being inspired by the Holy Spirit!”

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 prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to All Saints.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements, reminding the faithful of the beginning of St. Peter’s Fast on the next day and explaining the meaning of that fast dedicated to the works of the Holy Apostles.

Pentecost. Feast of the Most Holy Trinity


On June 4 of this year all Orthodox Christians celebrated Pentecost, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Our St. George parish family had a beautiful celebration in our temple. The church was nicely adorned with greenery. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate great feast of the Pentecost. It is the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. We also often call this holy day the feast of the Most Holy Trinity because on this day God finished revealing Himself as one God in Three divine Persons. If we recall the sacred history of our salvation, God first revealed Himself as the Father. It had been in the times of the Old Testament. Then the Son of God comes to the world, becomes human, reveals Himself in Jesus Christ. Finally, on the 50th day, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit. Thus, today, recalling that Descent, we celebrate the final manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity. Reflecting on that holy event of the Pentecost, we should say that for the Holy Apostles it was a special and stunning experience. So, let us speak about that aspect”.
In all areas of human life we need an experience. Most of us know how it is important if you want to get a job. Usually, the employers ask whether you have an experience in the work you seek. Older people are often considered to be wiser because they have a life experience – they lived longer to know more. In order to speak about something and to be persuasive, you need to experience those things. Many people who discuss things like war or politics, are not really convincing because they had never been in the war, never fought on the battlefield, or they had never been exposed to real politics. But they like to talk about those matters. Sometimes they are stopped and reminded that they had never experienced those things for real, thus, they should not speak of them so adamantly”.
Same is with the spiritual life. In order to be profound in faith and spiritual matters, one must experience God’s presence, His love and grace. And this had been experienced by the Holy Apostles when they became worthy of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. The event of Pentecost described in the Epistle lesson was a very impressive experience of coming of the Divine Comforter. Let us recall what the Epistle says: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2, 2-4)”.
God cannot be fully expressed. In fact, a God fully defined is no God, but He can be experienced. If someone does not believe in God, it is difficult or even impossible to prove to him that God exists. If someone believes in a wrong way, again, it is difficult to rectify his belief. But if someone experienced true God and true faith, he feels God and knows the truth. As we said, God expressed Himself once in the Old Testament as the Father of the chosen people. He wished to be experienced by His people as the great Lord and Creator, to as the Giver of law. Then in the New Testament He expressed Himself as Jesus Christ. The purpose of that expression was that He might be experienced in the lives of His people as Emmanuel – God with us. No one can prove to you that Christ is the Son of God. We have to find out for ourselves. It’s like love – you can only love by experience, not by reading it in a book. And finally, God expressed Himself as the Holy Spirit. By that expression He desired to come and dwell within ourselves by His grace, by His spiritual power. Again, no one can prove to you that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and continues to abide with the Church. You have to feel it by yourself”.
This is why the Scripture says,“Come and see” (Jn. 1, 46). When the Disciples found Christ and one of them had doubts that they really found Christ, another one said it to him. Or, as the Samaritan woman said to her neighbors, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did” (Jn. 4, 29), or as the Psalm says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 33, 8). We have to see, taste or experience God in order to have a true faith. Every Liturgy from this day of Pentecost and until the next Pascha we sing, “We have seen the true Light, we have received the Heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith, we worship the undivided Trinity”. We have seen, we have received, we had an experience, thus we are able to worship the Holy Trinity”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! May our spiritual life be a blessed experience, continuously and constantly enriched by the divine grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of God the Father and by the communion of the Holy Spirit!”

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar server performed the rite of Glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the festal icon in the middle of the church. Then the Rector greeted the faithful on the great holy day. He also congratulated Elena Malyshev on her past name day proclaiming the Polychronion and handing her the Theotokian prosophora.

After the Liturgy the Rector served Pentecostal Vespers with kneeling prayers.

Following all our festal services we enjoyed delicious luncheon and a nice company at the coffee hour.