10th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 25, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George parish family had a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached a homily in Russian on the appointed Gospel lesson:

“Дорогие во Христе братия и сестры! Главные мысли сегодняшнего Евангельского чтения о вере, молитве и посте.
Продолжая праздновать Преображение Господне, мы вспоминаем нетварной Фаворский свет Божества, который возсиял мiру и дал возможность человеку стать причастником Божественной природы. Ведь Христос пришел на землю, чтобы спасти человека, победить грех и ад, восставить падшего Адама, вернуть человеку его человеческое достоинство, и более того, чтобы дать ему возможность стать богом по благодати. «Если Бог стал человеком, то и жизнь Божественная стала жизнью человеческой, и могущество Божественное стало могуществом человеческим, и истина Божественная стала истиной человеческой, и правда Божественная стала правдой человеческой: все Божие стало человеческим», – так пишет преподобный Иустин Попович.
Но размышляя об этом и о сегодняшнем Евангелии о том, что если бы мы имели малую веру, как горчичное зерно, то могли бы передвигать горы, надо сказать, что за словами Господа о перемещении гор открывалась новая реальность. А именно, объявляется закон новой жизни, новой жизни нового человека, человека веры и могущества, человека, для которого нет теперь ничего невозможного. Вера вселяет в человека всего Бога — как говорит апостол Павел, «уже не я живу, но живет во мне Христос» (Гал. 2, 20), — тогда человеку все Божественное становится возможно — как снова говорит апостол Павел, «все могу в укрепляющем меня Иисусе Христе» (Флп. 4, 13).
Но главное в этом всемогуществе, как пишет тот же преподобный Иустин Попович, «силой воли своей повести и привести Богу всю душу свою, все сердце свое, весь ум свой, всю крепость свою, сплавить их в единый подвиг — веры в Богочеловека, и тогда человеку даются все Божественные силы и все Богочеловеческие добродетели, нужные ему для вечной жизни в обоих мiрах (см.: 2 Пет. 1, 3-8)».
Итак, сильная вера дает человеку божественное могущество. Но если посмотрим вокруг, то едва ли видим многих, имеющих такую сильную веру. Даже среди нас, верующих православных, есть люди, которые веруют поверхностно. Заявляют о свем православии, а сами живут жизнью мiра сего и его страстей. А если вообще посмотреть на мiр, то большинство людей сейчас вообще не думают о вечной жизни, о спасении, о Боге. И можно спросить: «Как же так?» Ведь Господь наш Иисус Христос спас всех нас, искупил всех нас на кресте. А потом Своим Воскресением из мертвых Он опустошил ад. Вывел из ада всех праведников, всех томившихся там. Двери рая открыты для человека! Но человек туда не спешит.
Да, дорогие братия и сестры, дверь спасения открыта Христом. Но насильно никто туда не будет толкать. Поэтому далеко не все проявляют веру и ищут силы Божией.
О таких сегодня в Евангелии воскликнул Христос: «О роде неверный и развращенный, доколе буду с вами? Доколе буду терпеть вас» (Мф. 17, 17). Вот так вопрошает Спаситель. Вопрошает, ибо Ему нужны верные люди. Но сами знаем, как немного таких. И опять, говоря о нашей жизни, можем также вместе со Христом воскликнуть, глядя на людей: «О роде неверный и развращенный!» Возьмите наш город Нью-Йорк: в нем ведь сейчас грех возведен в закон. И раньше города жили во грехах, но по крайней мере, внешне соблюдались приличия и грех не поддерживался. А ныне грех стал похваляем и законен. Беззаконе стало законом! Поэтому и мы, верующие христиане, можем воскликнуть: «Доколе будем терпеть вас?»
Однако на этот вопрос «доколе» Господь Сам дал ответ в другом месте Святого Евангелия. Он сказал: «Я с вами до скончания века» (Мф. 28, 20). Т.е. Господь всегда с нами, если мы сами хотим Его, хотим Его помощи, веруем в Него. Господь всегда готов быть рядом с нами, помочь нам, если мы сами Его просим, любим и веруем в Него.
Христианство – относительно легкая религия, ибо в ней мы хоть и должны взбираться на высокую гору совершенства, Господь постоянно сходит с этой горы к нам и помогает нам по ней взбираться. Но для того, чтобы Он к нам спускался, нужна твердая вера.
А делами этой нашей веры являются, согласно сегодняшнего Евангелия, молитва и пост. Без них наша вера не осуществится. Поэтому нет настоящей веры у тех, кто только о ней заявляет, но не практикует молитву и не соблюдает пост.
Поэтому, дорогие братия и сестры, давайте стараться жить верою, творить молитву и упражняться в посте – тогда и мы достигнем великих дел в этой жизни и удостоимся войти в жизнь вечную.”

The choir beautifully performed the hymns in honor of the Holy Theotokos before the Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English addressing the thoughts of his Russian homily.

Following the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners had a modest luncheon and coffee enjoying lenten refreshments and a nice company. The Rector congratulated our parishioner Olga Vnukova on the occasion of her past birthday. A traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Transfiguration of the Lord

 

On August 19th Holy Orthodox Church celebrates feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On that day we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Feast of the Transfiguration is one of the very important among the holy days. Today we celebrate a miraculous change which was manifested by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples on the Mount Tabor. Taking Peter, James and John to that high mountain, He transfigured before them. As the Gospel states, “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Mt. 17, 2). Before that they knew Jesus to be a great Teacher, a wonderworker, the Messiah promised by the Old Testament. But they did not fully realize that He was the Son of God and God Himself. At the Mount Tabor Jesus revealed who He really was. Thus the Apostles could see the glory of the true God, the light shining from the divine nature.”
“No one ever saw God. God’s essence and nature is incomprehensible to our limited mind. However, God revealed Himself and showed some part of His nature to certain holy people. In the times before Christ, God appeared to Moses and Elijah. Holy Prophet Moses could see God. God appeared to Moses as the burning bush or a cloud. But God also showed Moses Himself in a special, mystical way, as the Scripture tells “from behind”, because a man cannot see God and live. Holy Prophet Elijah was also blessed by seeing God who revealed Himself in a breath of the calm wind. These were the men of the Old Testament whom God blessed with His appearance. And it was not accidental that those two holy men appeared on the Mount Tabor to converse with Jesus when He transfigured before His disciples. Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament which were fulfilled in Jesus.”
“With the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world, God revealed Himself in a very comprehensible and accessible way. He became man, so we could see God in our form. And Transfiguration of our Lord had to teach His disciples of the mystery of the union of human and divine natures in Christ.”
“There are many different ideas about God. Some philosophers or other intelligent people may imagine God to be some universal force or some worldly order. But such God is not personal. We believe that God is a Person, the one to whom we can refer, with whom we can speak. And in Jesus Christ who became one of us, a partaker of the human nature, we find such personal God much easier. Also, through His taking up the human nature and interweaving it with His divine nature, we may become the partakers of the divinity. As we all created in the image of God, through Christ we may acquire the likeness of God.”
“This is what is called by the Fathers the process of deification or theosis. Human nature becoming divine. This teaching was elaborated by the Holy Fathers of the III and IV centuries, especially by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. Interestingly that this teaching is not very much remembered or used by Protestants and Roman Catholics, by Western Christians. It is known that today’s Western world likes to talk about the dignity of man and to extol humanity. But this is a secular way of praising the human nature, the so-called humanism. It desires to serve man and to forget about God. It strives to praise human nature with all its weaknesses and passions, a nature corrupted by sin. Our Eastern Church adheres to the teaching of the Fathers which extols human nature in a Christian way. We say that man is called to become like God not by being proud and sinful, but through the pious life, through the partaking of divine nature, through the acquiring of divine grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. What could be more honorable for a man than an idea of becoming like God? But that way of deification is the way of piety, spiritual and sacramental life in our Lord Jesus Christ, life in which we hear the beloved Son of the Father. It is the way of Transfiguration, a movement from below to above.”

Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed festal hymns of Transfiguration.

Following the Ambo prayer the Rector performed traditional Blessing of fruits.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day.

 

9th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 18, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, Prefeast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, our parish held a nice celebration. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On this Sunday we hear the Gospel lesson about our Lord Jesus Christ walking on the waters. We also hear about the boat with the Apostles being tossed by the waves due to a storm. And, finally, we hear about Holy Apostle Peter attempting to walk on the waters (Mt. 14, 22-34).”
“This rather impressive Gospel reading makes us think about our relationship with God, with our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us attempt to interpret it. The sea and its waves described in that lesson is our life. The wind and the storm are all the tribulations and difficulties we face while we live. The boat is the Holy Church in which we should stay if we wish to sail over the sea of life and be spiritually safe. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can make us feel secure and certain. And if we attempt to get out of the boat, we need to be strengthened by faith in the Lord and to keep our eyes on Him, not on the temptations and obstacles such as the winds and the storms.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ never said that in our sailing over the sea of life we won’t encounter the storms. He never promised that our life will be free of difficulties, sorrows, sufferings and troubles. In fact, He told just the contrary: “In the world you will have tribulation” (Jn. 16, 33). But He assured us that we won’t perish in that sea of life if He will be with us. He told us: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Id.). Therefore, if we believe in Christ and follow Him in our life, such a life won’t be freed from troubles but the Lord will save us from them. Some people presume that if they are faithful to God, believe in Him, say their prayers, attend the church and do good things, they should be spared from all the problems in this life. No! It does not work that way. Our Lord Himself, being the Son of God, was not spared from the temptations of the devil in the wilderness; He was not spared from the persecutions of the Pharisees and scribes; and He was not spared from being condemned to death and from His death on the cross. But, as we know and believe, He conquered death by death and was risen on the third day.”
“If we live in the world, we will always face different troubles and difficulties. Therefore, it is important to stay in the Holy Church. The Church is the safe boat in which we could cross the stormy sea of this life. Once crossing the ocean, a large ship confronted a huge storm. One of the passengers being afraid of that approached the captain and said, “Look, we are facing a very big storm. What is going to happen?” The captain seemed to be calm. He replied, “Don’t look at the storm. Look at the ship”.”
“It is common that big ships that are well built and equipped can endure the storms. Thus the captain was calm and certain that the storm was not a problem. In the same way, being good members of the Holy Orthodox Church should give us a certainty that we are secure and can endure any storms of our life. We have to just look at the ship, not at the storm. We have to look at the Holy Church, not at the troubles of earthly life. In the course of its two-thousand-year history the Church endured many storms. It survived all of them. It happened because our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and because He Himself said that even the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt. 16, 18).”
“Being the Head of His Church, being in charge of the saving boat of our life, our Lord Jesus Christ has to be the One at whom we should look in all our troubles and difficulties. In today’s Gospel Peter began to sink when he looked at the storm, not at the ship, when he looked at the waves and the wind, not at Christ. If we are really faithful Orthodox Christians, we should keep our focus on Christ. Then we will be able to endure all the temptations of life and survive all the storms of our earthly journey.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us stay in the Holy Church led by our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us trust Him and keeping our focus on Him, let us approach Him over the stormy waters of life and strive to be united with Him here and forever!”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed the customary blessing of the new honey. Then he preached a short homily in Russian addressing the main ideas of his English homily. The Rector also congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of their little daughter Elena’s 5th birthday celebrated last week. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.

 

7th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On August 4, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple.

After the Scripture readings he preached a homily in Russian language interpreting the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel.

The choir beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to the Saint commemorated on that day, Holy Equal to the Apostles Mary Magdalene, before the Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of t5he Liturgy the Rector congratulated our parishioner, Valentina Malyshev on the occasion of her past nameday and birthday and handed her the Theotokion prosphora. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Our Parishioners visited the Cathedral in San Francisco

 

These days our two parishioners, our altar servers, Andrew Malyshev and his son Anton, travel across the United States. They now reached California and arrived in the city of San Francisco.

In San Francisco they had an opportunity to visit the Joy of All Sorrows Cathedral of the Russian Church Abroad and to venerate the relics of St. John of Shanghai. We hope that their prayers before this revered and beloved Saint may be heard and the All-Merciful Lord through the intercession of His holy servant John may bless all of us!
We wish Andrew and Anton to continue their trip safely praying that the Angels may accompany them and that they soon return home!

6th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of St. Vladimir

On July 28, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils, and feast of the Equal to the Apostles Prince Vladimir, we had a beautiful liturgical service at our parish temple. The Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy on that triple celebration.

After the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily in English. He addressed the story from the first Gospel which is telling about the healing of the paralytic. Before performing a miracle of healing our Lord Jesus forgave the paralytic his sins. This occurred because the cause of all our infirmities is our sinful state. Paralysis is a terrible disease. A person is not able to move, to command over his body. However, there are many people suffering from spiritual paralysis. They cannot make a right move and choose a right thing.
Today’s memory of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils reminds us of the importance to have a right faith, a sound and a correct doctrine. Nowadays most people are so confused that they cannot discern what is right or wrong. They need a right guidance but cannot get it if they are not in the Orthodox Church. The Fathers of the six Councils (out of the seven) defined the dogmas and truths of our faith, so we may not be confused but see what is right to believe.
Honoring St. Vladimir and commemorating the Baptism of Rus’ also reminds us of the importance of a correct way. More than one thousand years ago there was also a hard time for St. Vladimir to decide which faith is right for him and for his people. The chronicles tell that St. Vladimir was comparing different religions held in the neighboring countries. He finally chose Orthodox Christianity. These days Blessed Onuphrius, Metropolitan of Kiev calls the politicians of Ukraine to repeat St. Vladimir’s action and to confirm his choice. However, it is very difficult. People in the world and even in the Orthodox countries are now not fully united under the guidance of the true Church. And if you look at today’s world, you may see that there is no nation which totally adheres to the true faith.
But we still have hope. Yesterday there was a great procession of the Orthodox faithful in Kiev honoring the feast of St. Vladimir and commemorating the Baptism of Rus’. According to the official Church report, around 300 thousand took part in that procession. Pious actions as such give a great hope that we won’t lose our correct way of Orthodoxy.
The Rector further pointed out that we, Orthodox believers, have to make a right choice, to have a true faith, to adhere to a sound and correct doctrine. We can no longer rely on the rulers, governments and nations. The emperors of Byzantine Empire who used to call the Ecumenical Councils to gather, or the Russian tsars who protected Orthodoxy, are no longer around. And the nations are no longer holding the same ideas. Thus it is our own responsibility to possess that holy and rich inheritance of our true faith and to preserve it for ourselves and for the next generations.
We have to be of good cheer that we are not alone in that. We have the Orthodox Church – same Church that had been chosen by St. Vladimir, same Church that was fortified by the Ecumenical Councils and their Holy Fathers. That Church helps us not be spiritually paralyzed.
In the conclusion of his homily the Rector called the faithful to preserve the faith, the fidelity to the Holy Orthodox Church, as well as our valuable heritage of St. Vladimir to be saved and spiritually whole.

The choir beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to St. Vladimir during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed the rite of glorification before the icon of St. Vladimir and proclaimed a special prayer on the occasion of the commemoration of the Baptism of Rus’.

Then he preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our parishioners on the occasion of their past name day, memory of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Princess Olga: our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow and our active parishioner and singer, Olga Vnukova. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. Additional greetings and a toast was raised in honor of those who celebrated their name day.

 

5th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan

 

On July 21, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, our Parish family had a nice celebration. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.

Following the Gospel reading the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He pointed out that demonic possession can manifest itself as an extreme form described in today’s Gospel lesson, or not so clearly. The latter happens very often if we neglect the God’s law or disregard it. The inhabitants of the Gergesine region kept the swine and probably consumed pork meat because they disregarded the Law of Moses. Thus the Lord punished them permitting the demons to enter the herd of swine and allowing the evil spirits to destroy those animals. Similar things happen to the people who disregard God and His law. They become demon-possessed.
All our modern civilization tends to serve Satan because it serves human passions and sinful desires. Our technological progress is directed to degrade us to the lowest level of spirituality and culture. Contemporary man becomes more and more alienated from nature, and we lose all the gracious natural gifts and the laws given by God. We have no real connection to the nature above which man was set as a master, thus the nature is no longer controlled by humanity. All our technologies are an abuse of nature, its defilement and alteration. We all know what disasters are taking place nowadays because of that systematic destruction of our natural environment.
All this happens because contemporary people lose God. And after losing God humanity destroys absolutely everything. It spoils itself, the environment and the future generations. Such misfortunes concern not only nature, but social life as well. All modern social changes officially directed towards human freedom and human rights, in fact, lead to enslavement of human being. Our civilization leads us to the Gadarine Lake where the herd of swine was thrown. And humanity strives to get there.
People easily deceived by the decoys of modern civilization, in fact, forget about culture and lose it. And by losing culture they lose the sense of spirituality and become similar to animals, to those swine that threw themselves into the lake.
This is why it is important to preserve spiritual culture, not to lose human image even in today’s world full of the challenges from the civilization that lost spirituality. Only preservation of spiritual values leads man to the real and true domination here on earth. Man becomes a true master over the nature only if he acquires true spiritual culture.
Unfortunately, nowadays such spiritual culture is almost lost. But we can feed ourselves from our past, from our Christian and Orthodox roots which last already more than thousand years. If we nurture from those roots, we may not lose our spiritual culture and even make it grow.
The Rector concluded his homily by calling the faithful to pray to the Most Holy Theotokos Whose Icon of Kazan we honor today, that She may lead us to the true understanding of our spiritual roots and that She may help us to preserve our faith and spiritual culture leading us to God and salvation.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns in honor of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector said a few words in English addressing the points of his Russian homily.

 

4th Sunday after Pentecost. Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

 

On July 14, on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. On that day we also observed feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul which was transferred to Sunday. Service was well-attended. In addition to our parishioners, several Merchant Marine Academy cadets came and prayed at our Liturgy.

After the readings from the Sacred Scripture the Rector preached the following homily I English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost and we also celebrate feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul.”
“Our Sunday Gospel lesson is telling us about a healing of the servant of the Roman centurion performed by our Lord Jesus Christ from the distance. The centurion was a Roman officer under whose command there were one hundred soldiers. It is interesting that today we have representatives of the military present at our church. We welcome them and we are glad that they came on this Sunday when we read the Gospel about a military man, a centurion. He approached the Lord and beseeched Him to cure his servant who was lying at home dreadfully tormented. Jesus agreed to come and to heal him. But the centurion was a Gentile, a pagan, so he considered himself unworthy for Christ to enter into his home. Thus he said to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Mt. 8, 8). These words impressed Jesus and He said that He found no such faith in Israel. The Lord also prophesied that other nations, the Gentiles will come to God and will take the seats along with Jewish Patriarchs of old while many present Jews will be cast out (Mt. 8, 10-12).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! The centurion from today’s Gospel is a great example of firm faith and trust in the power of the Lord. It is also an example of humility, a humble attitude of being unworthy before God. All these beautiful virtues can be found in the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul whom we honor today.”
“Our second Gospel lesson today tells us how Holy Apostle Peter expressed his very firm faith in the Lord Jesus calling Him “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16, 16). Jesus was also impressed by that faith and called Peter the Rock on which He will build His Church (Mt. 16, 17-18). But Peter had also a trust and a humble attitude. He trusted heavenly revelation and humbly accepted what heavenly Teacher instilled in his heart, and when he was asked, he professed that truth. Every learning begins with humility and trust in the teacher. Same with the knowledge of spiritual and divine matters. His humility, his trust made Simon Peter “the Rock” on whom the Lord desired to build His Holy Church.”
“Holy Apostle Paul, at first, was not one of the Disciples of Christ. He was an enemy of Christ, a persecutor of Christians. But the Lord appeared to him in a shining light and revealed that He is Christ whom he is persecuting. And Paul humbly followed where Christ was leading him. He also had humility and trust that the One who appeared to him is the Lord and God. And Paul persevered in many labors, sufferings, sorrows and perils. In today’s Epistle lesson we heard how he himself testifies that he suffered more than all other Apostles (2 Cor. 11, 23-32). But Paul did not praise himself for that. On the contrary, he preferred to boast in the things which concern his infirmity. And willing to tell about the revelation he received, he says that it is not profitable for him to boast. But he speaks about himself in the third person: “I know a man in Christ… such a one was caught up to the third heaven… he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12, 2-3). St. Paul had such a revelation, he was caught to heaven, but he does not want to boast, to exult himself.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! The power and holiness of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is in such humility. They humbly follow their Teacher and they do not praise themselves for being close to Him. They teach nothing from themselves but only what Christ entrusted them to teach. Holy Apostle Peter even asked to be crucified upside down because he felt to be unworthy to be crucified like Christ. Holy Apostle Paul also repented all his life for being a persecutor of Christ. In his Epistle he called himself a “one born out of due time”, “the least of the Apostles, not worthy to be called an Apostle” (1 Cor. 15, 8-9). He wrote that all his success and miracles he witnessed and made were due to the grace of God, not to his own merits.”
“And because of their faith, trust and humility, Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul are the teachers of the universe, our guides to Christ and to His heavenly Kingdom. We know that usually good students become later good teachers. And good students are those who believe and trust their teacher and humbly receive the knowledge offered to them. Let us remember that the gates of hell won’t prevail not only against the Holy Church built on the rock of true faith of the Apostles, but those terrifying gates will not prevail against us if we will be in the Church, and if we will have faith, trust and humility of the Holy Apostles. Let us then follow Christ with a firm faith, trust and humility as the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul did!”

The choir nicely performed hymns in honor of St. Peter and Paul during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed the rite of glorification in the middle of the temple singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the Holy Major Apostles. He also preached a short sermon in Russian stressing the main ideas of his English homily.

Our celebration continued after the service at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious and abundant meals and a nice company.

3rd Sunday after Pentecost. Nativity of St. John the Baptist

 

On July 7, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, our St. George parish community had a beautiful celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel readings he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost and great feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.”
“The first Gospel lesson tells us how our Lord Jesus Christ Himself teaches us to set our priorities in life. He says to care first about our soul, about eternal and spiritual things. “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6, 31-33). Thus the Gospel tells us to put spiritual things first. It further teaches us to do our best and then leave the rest to God, to trust in God. Modern life, on the other hand, tells us to constantly worry, to be stressed. Such a worry only causes depression, for it excludes God and His loving Providence. On the other hand, there is nothing inevitable in the life of those who believe in Divine Providence. Even the most terrible situations can end up positively if we let God into our lives and societies. If we include God then we can exclude worry and depression.”
“The model presented in today’s Gospel had been fulfilled by those who devoted all their lives to God and spiritual endeavors. The ascetics, mostly the monks and nuns chose a difficult but spiritually rewarding path of abstinence and renunciation of the worldly things. They elected a life without worries of this world. And one of the examples of such life was Holy Forerunner and Baptist John whose Nativity we celebrate today.”
“Today’s second Gospel lesson that tells us a story of St. John the Baptist’s birth, also mentions that “the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Lk. 1, 80). Thus St. John lived in the deserts, not in the world. He led a monastic kind of life. Therefore, his life is an example for those who follow the advices of the Lord to renounce everything and to follow Him. In the Church St. John the Baptist is called “an earthly angel” and “a heavenly man”. This is why on his icons he is shown sometimes as having wings. These are not, of course, physical wings; they are the spiritual wings of one who prays unceasingly, which is the task of all, but especially of those in the monastic life.”
“St. John, being the Forerunner of Christ is also called a star compared to Christ who is the Sun of Righteousness. Our Lord Himself called him the greatest one. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Mt. 11, 11). We may wander and ask whether Jesus called St. John greater than Himself. But we have to listen carefully to the words of Christ: He says “born of women” while Jesus was born of a Virgin, not of the woman while St. John’s birth was from a woman. Although it was special and extraordinary, it was humanly natural.”
“The Holy Baptist stands at the very end of the Old Testament, but also at the very beginning of the New Testament. That is why he appears at the beginning of the Gospels. He opens up a new way and answers in a new way the old question which people have posed from ancient times. John the Baptist who never married, who remained a virgin, who prophesized, tells us that the purpose of life is to be spiritually fruitful. This is his prophetic revelation to us. Whether we are called to marriage and having children or not, we are called to bring forth spiritual fruit, to improve the world and not to worsen it, to be fruitful, and not to be barren, as his parents had been. But his parents were barren physically until the Lord blessed them with a child while all of us are called not to be barren spiritually.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Being inspired by today’s two readings from the Holy Gospel, let us seek what are really and truly important – spiritual and eternal things. Let us trust God that He in His Divine Providence will provide for all our needs. Let us also honor and imitate Holy Forerunner and Baptist John. No matter whether we live a married or single, worldly or monastic life, we should bear a spiritual fruit and thus be blessed by the Lord through the prayers of His Holy Forerunner and Baptist John.”

The choir prayerfully performed hymns in honor of St. John the Baptist and his Nativity during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English addressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also made some announcements regarding the following Sunday celebration.

Deanery Meeting of the Eastern States Clergy

 

On Saturday, June 29, the Eastern States Deanery clergy gathered in Saint John the Baptist parish in Little Falls, NJ to hold a Deanery meeting. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended that meeting.

At the beginning, the clergy welcomed two newly-ordained clerics of the Deanery – Priest Nicholas DeGraaff, who was ordained on the feast of Saint Nicholas in 2018 and serves at the Three Saints Church in Garfield, NJ, and Deacon Artemy Kulikovsky, who was ordained on Bright Saturday in 2019, and serves at the Church of All Saints, Pine Bush, NY. 

The clergy also talked about the current situation in their respective parishes. In general, our parishes are hurting from low attendance and participation at the Divine services and events (some more than others), but everyone remains committed to doing their best with what they have – be it leading their communities in worship, educating them, or being present in the greater communities. 

To conclude the meeting, St. George’s Rector and Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, updated everyone on the upcoming Convocation of the Patriarchal Parishes to be held in Antiochian Village September 30 – Oct. 3, 2019 reminding that registrations have to be submitted by September 7.