19th Sunday after Pentecost. Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


On October 15, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, our Parish also celebrated Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday after Pentecost and we also observe feast of the Most Holy Mother of God – Her Protection. In today’s first Epistle lesson we are told strange words that St. Paul says the Lord Himself told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12, 9). This is a paradox of our Christian faith: strength is made perfect in weakness”.
We have to say that Christianity is full of paradoxes, of certain contradictions. Philosophers and theologians call them antinomies. Our faith is full of them. We believe in God Who is ineffable, inconceivable and incomprehensible, yet we believe that we may know Him. We say that God does not belong to the world, yet He is present everywhere in the world. We believe that God is Spirit, yet He became man. We believe that God is strange to our nature, yet He acquired our own nature. We believe that God is inapproachable by men, yet we may become the partakers of His nature. In the same way St. Paul tells us that the Lord says that our strength is made perfect in our weakness”.
When we are weak, then we are strong. This is so because our weakness makes us lean on God’s strength. There is a story of a sheep that limped and never went away from the shepherd. Someone asked about this sheep – why it limped and why it never left the shepherd’s side. The shepherd explained that that sheep was partially deaf and could not hear the shepherd’s voice. As a result, it was often in danger. Many times it had to be rescued. Finally the shepherd had to injure the sheep’s leg. Since then the sheep limped, but it stayed closer to the shepherd and it was safe. The sheep was weak, but it was strong along with the shepherd”.
In today’s Epistle reading St. Paul tells that he was also afflicted by some “limp”. It did not come from God, but from the evil one. Paul says that he was given “a thorn in flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor. 12, 7). Many interpreters of the Scripture guessed what kind of “thorn on flesh” St. Paul had. It could be a chronic illness, or troublesome Christians who criticized him, or hard-hearted Israelites who persecuted him, or even some sinful desire which burned St. Paul, tempted his flesh. We don’t know for sure. But what we do know is that God allowed that thorn to remain in order to keep Paul weak, “limping” at the Shepherd’s side where he would find constant strength for his weakness. And when St. Paul discovered that the true purpose of that thorn was to keep him close to the Source of power, he rejoiced. He said, “Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12, 9)”.
All of us, at least once in our lives, were driven into a corner from which there seemed to be no way out. If this happened, you may be sure that God allowed it, so He may come with His almighty power to deliver you. But first He wants you to discover that you are powerless and that you have to depend on Him. “When I am weak then I am strong.” If we are weak, let us admit it and accept it. Let us not pretend that we are able to do a lot of things. Accept the weakness, but not just the weakness. Accept that such feeling of weakness is needed to lead us to Him Who is the real source of strength”.
Today, as we celebrate the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, we may recall the history of this feast. The imperial city of Constantinople was under a siege. The enemies surrounded the city and wanted to take it. The inhabitants of Constantinople were weak, desperate. There seemed to be no way out of that danger to be conquered and killed by the enemies. But they prayed. They prayed to God and to His Blessed Mother. And one of them, a humble holy man saw the apparition. The Most Holy Mother of God appeared in the sky and covered the city with Her veil, with Her protection. And a miracle took place: the enemies retreated and the city was spared. In the same way, we may come to the intercession of the Holy Mother of God in our desperate needs and see that through Her prayers and Her Protection God will deliver us”.
Some young man once said to a priest, “Don’t you see, your religion is a crutch!” The priest replied, “Sure it is. But who is not limping?” Like the sheep in the story, we have to limp by the Shepherd’s side. St. Paul did and became strong”.
St. Paul prayed three times that the thorn in flesh, his weakness might depart from him. God answered him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Cor. 12, 9). To all our weaknesses God may give us His help which will be enough to overcome the difficulties, to solve the problems and to feel secure. And God said to Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. Paul discovered that God is right. In his weakness Paul leaned on Christ and found power beyond what he thought possible. So we can also lean on Christ and on His Blessed Mother to discover that His grace and Her intercession are sufficient to support us in our weaknesses, temptations and struggles”.
Let us then, dear brothers and sisters, ask our Lord and His Blessed Mother that our weaknesses may drive us closer to Him and to Her, and that we may find in Him and in Her the strength to follow Jesus on the path of our salvation. Let us then boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us!”

The cantor prayerfully performed the hymns in honor of the Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following 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 greeted Maria Malyshev on her past name day handing her the Theotokian prosphora and proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf.

18th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 8, on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Scripture readings he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!The Epistle lesson for today is about giving. St. Paul teaches the Corinthians saying, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart…” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Thus, today we will talk about the way we should give to the Church and how St. Paul instructs us to give”.
Speaking of giving leads us to talk about money. We all heard a saying, “Money talks”. This words are sometimes true, and not always in a negative sense. For instance, the way we spend our money will say a lot about us, about our preferences. If a biographer wanted to write a book about you, he would want to review your old financial records, for instance, your old checks. They could tell him what kind of person you are. He could find out that you are a member of the church. But suppose that in looking through your checks and other records he learned what your income is, and discovered that in a typical year you spend one percent of your income for God’s work and ten percent for your personal luxuries. Then he would probably be justified to write that you loved the Lord in the amount of 1 dollar per week and loved your personal luxuries in the amount of 10 dollars per week. Money talks! It tells what kind of people we are, what we value most in life, what we love and care for most”.
Our church giving is very often much less than our spending for our different needs. This is why it is important to understand that our giving has to be proportionate to what we have. The important thing in Christian giving is not “how much” we give, but “how much in comparison to our ability”. A gift does not need to be large in order to be significant. It is great or small in proportion to the amount of other things we possess. One of the greatest examples of Christian giving is the poor widow who came in to the Temple one day and gave “all that she had”. It was not very much, just two copper coins, but the Lord said about her, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all of those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mk. 12, 43-44)”.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us give proportionately as God blessed us. And let us give lovingly. The Christian giving is a personal commitment to Christ. Therefore, if you don’t love God, don’t give. God does not need a support from those who do not really care. But if you do care about the Church, about God’s work, let your giving be some indication of your love”.
Give proportionately, give lovingly, give generously. St. Paul says, “He who saws sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who saws bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9, 6). When it comes to giving to God and His work, if you must make a mistake, make it on the side of generosity, as you would if you loved one were in need and asked you for something. Make a mistake on the side of going beyond what is practical and try what is spiritual. Then if you saw bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Give abundantly and you will receive abundantly”.
Today’s final advice of St. Paul to us is to give gladly. He says, “Let each one give… not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9, 7). Give from your heart, give cheerfully. Even a dog knows the difference between reluctant and cheerful giving. Throw him a bone and he will go away without wagging his tail. But call him kindly, pat him and then give him a bone, and he will go away with a wagging tail. In both cases it is the same act of giving a bone. But the way, the spirit of giving makes a difference”.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us then ask ourselves how do we give to God? Do we give proportionately? Do we give to Him lovingly, generously, gladly? Do we give Him not only our money but also our energy, our talents, our abilities, our time, our very lives? Today we commemorate Venerable Father Sergius of Radonezh. He did not give his material wealth to the Church because he was a humble monk. He became the abbot of the monastery but, as a monk, he had no money to give. But he did give his talents, his time, his labor, his prayers and ascetic fits – all his life – to the Church and to God’s work. He is an example of how we may not give the money to our Church but then we need to give all our life. Our time, our work, our talent can also be generously offered as a great help to the Church. We are always grateful that when we need some help in our parish, the people show up and do it. There not too many such people but they are always available”.
Dear brothers and sisters! If our giving to God is proportionate, loving, generous and cheerful, then God, as St. Paul teaches us, will provide for us with His blessings. St. Paul assures us that we will be “enriched in everything… which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Cor. 9, 11). If our giving is abundant, God’s giving to us will be even more abundant”.

The cantor nicely performed the hymns in honor of Venerable Sergius during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy our parish Warden, Olga Roussanow had a speech and on behalf of our parishioners congratulating the Rector on his past name day. Traditional Polychronion was proclaimed to Fr. Igor. Then the Rector also greeted our parishioner and Treasurer, Emilian Suric on his past birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on his behalf.

Following the service the priest and parishioners enjoyed a delicious luncheon served in honor of the Rector’s name day celebration. Toasts were raised on behalf of Fr. Igor and Emilian Suric.

Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross


On Sunday, October 1, our St. George parish family had a beautiful celebration. On that day we observed great feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. Our service was headed by the parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

Before the reading of the Hours the Rector and the altar server performed a procession with the Holy Cross. They proceeded from the sanctuary to the middle of the church placing the Cross on the stand and then venerated it.

During the Divine Liturgy, after the Gospel lesson, Fr. Igor preached the following sermon:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we observe one of the great holy days, Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. It is a feast of the Lord but it is not dedicated to Him but to the Holy Cross on which the Son of God was crucified. That is why today we heard the Gospel lesson about the Passions of Christ, about the crucifixion of our Lord. And apart from that, this feast is not a commemoration of the crucifixion, but a memory of another historical event”.
In the year 70 A.D., the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. And the sacred places of Christ Passion and Resurrection became desecrated by the pagan Romans. They built pagan temples on those spots and they also contaminated them with different debris and rubbish which covered those sites. Three centuries later, when Christian faith became dominant in the Roman Empire, Holy Empress Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, ordered to clean up the rubbish and to destroy pagan temples in Jerusalem, then to start excavations. She wished to uncover the holy places where Jesus was crucified, buried and where He rose from the dead. After the uncovering the grounds on Golgotha, the three crosses were found. You should remember that the two thieves were crucified along with Jesus. In order to find out which cross was the Cross of Christ, St. Helen did the following. There was a funeral procession going nearby. The Empress ordered the body of the deceased to be attached to those three crosses. After touching the Cross of Christ a miracle took place – the dead man came to life. Then the Cross was cleaned and washed. A multitude of people gathered there desiring to see the Cross of Christ. Then the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Macarius began to elevate, exalt the Cross before the people and the multitudes fell on their knees and exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy!” many times».
“Dear brothers and sisters! That is the history of this holy day. Now, let us think how it may relate to our life. That story is an image of what we should do with our own soul”.
We are the Christians. We were baptized in Christ and vested in Christ. And the Cross of Christ should always be in our soul. But what is happening with our lives? We contaminate them with different debris and rubbish. We erect pagan temples, temples of idolatry on the sacred places of our souls. How are we doing that? We follow our sinful desires, our earthly passions. We spend time in vain worrying about futile cares of this life. We cover the image of the Cross in our souls by all that rubbish, so it becomes invisible. Moreover, we constantly commit sins. And by doing that, we actually engage in idolatry. If we serve our passions, we serve the idols. So, when the Cross of Christ is being buried in our lives, it becomes replaced by different rubbish and debris or by the temples of idolatry”.
Thus, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is calling us to wake up and to exalt the Cross of Christ in our hearts. It calls us to follow the example of St. Helen to discover the Cross. It means that we need to clean up the rubbish collected on the sacred place of the soul, we need to set aside our earthly cares and to focus on the spiritual life. And it means that this feast calls us to repent. Through repentance we may destroy the idols that we have exalted in our souls, we may abandon to serve our own sins”.
Dear brothers and sisters! The Cross of Christ has to be cleaned by our repentance, washed by the tears of compunction and exalted by the acts of piety.
Today the Precious Cross is placed in the middle of the church. Looking at that Cross, praying before it, let us ask our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ that we may never forget that we are baptized in Him and that we may worthily follow Him and His Holy Cross. Let us pray that the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ may always be a saving and the most important sign in our lives, to which is glory now and forever!”

The choir director prayerfully performed hymns of the Exaltation of the Cross before Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor greeted the faithful on the occasion of festal celebration and made some announcements. Then the Rector and the altar server performed glorification of the feast in the middle of the church and venerated the Holy Cross.