On Thursday, June 10 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 he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today, in 40 days following the Resurrection of Christ, we came to celebrate feast of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. Today’s Epistle and Gospel lessons are telling us about that special event: how Jesus led His Disciples to the mountain in Bethany, to Mt. Olive where He was lifted up to heaven before the eyes of the Holy Apostles and “the cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1, 9)”.
“Thus, our Lord ascended into heaven. Heaven is a spiritual realm, the abode of God, of the Angels and of the souls of the just. Every Christian has to wish to be in heaven. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ who desired to save the human kind ascended into heaven along with His human body. He ascended to prepare a place for us”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, heaven is our eternal homeland. We must love that homeland and strive to become worthy to enter it. It is not like today with entering the United States: one President limits the number of those who come in and another President allows almost anyone to enter the country. Heaven has different rules of entry. In order to be admitted, you have to deserve it by Christian conduct, by your piety and love during your earthly life. And again, every Christian person should desire to end up in that homeland and to use all worthy and necessary means to be admitted there”.
“That does not mean that we should not like or should despise our earthly homeland. According to the teaching of the Holy Fathers we have to love our country where we were born or the country we now live. And although our goal is to be in heaven, it does not mean that we have to despise our earthly life and try to make it shorter. No, we have to endure all our sufferings and difficulties in order to be worthy of heaven. Our Lord Himself gave us a perfect example when He became Man. He did not rush to go back to heaven. He had to teach, to perform miracles, to fulfill His ministry on earth. Then He had to suffer, to die on the cross. Even after He had risen from the dead, He did not return to heaven but stood on earth for 40 days instructing His Disciples. Only after fulfilling all His mission on earth the Lord left His Disciples and returned to His heavenly abode”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us strive to be in heaven along with our Lord Jesus Christ, “His Blessed Mother and the Saints. Let us love that eternal homeland but still love our earthly country and the people surrounding us. Let us remember that only Christian life lived to the fullest extent of our spiritual ability and filled with the works of faith and love may grant us a passage to eternal blessedness in heaven!”
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.
The choir beautifully performed the hymns of the feast during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of Glorification in front of the festal icon singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast. Then the Rector had a brief speech in Russian to stress the main thoughts of his English homily and to greet the parishioners on the occasion of the great feast.
Following the Liturgy the Rector performed Burial service for the newly-departed Valentina Malyshev.