Our Rector successfully defended his Doctoral Thesis at Kievan Theological Academy

 

On December 26, 2017, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov presented his doctoral thesis at the Academic Council of the Kievan Theological Academy. The dissertation topic is “Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the United States from the Middle of the XX century until Our Days: Internal Life and External Activity”.
After a proper procedure the thesis had been successfully defended before the Academic Council and Fr. Igor awarded a degree of the Candidate in Theology (equivalent to a PhD).

St. George’s Rector participated in St. Spyridon Feast celebration in Kiev

 

On December 25 the Orthodox Church, according to Julian calendar, celebrates feast of St. Spyridon the Wonderworker. On this day Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov attended the patronal feast celebration at St. Spyridon Church in Kiev, Ukraine.

The Divine Liturgy was headed by His Excellence, Mitrophanus, Metropolitan of Luhansk and Alchevsk who was co-served by the Rector of St. Spyridon Church, Archpriest Nicholas Danylevych, and other clergy, among whom was our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.

Following the Gospel lesson Metropolitan Mitrophanus preached a homily about St. Spyridon’s life and his significance for the Orthodox Christians.

After the Liturgy the clergy performed a prayer service to St. Spyridon along with the procession around the temple in which an icon and the relics (a shoe) of the Saint were carried.
At the end of the temple celebration the Rector of the church, Fr. Nicholas expressed his gratitude to the visiting clergy, among them to Fr. Igor who came from the United States to participate in that celebration.

Patronal feast celebration continued at the Parish center where the clergy and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice conversation. Among the guests was the Consul of Greece to Ukraine  with his family. The toasts in honor of many persons present were raised and traditional Polychronia (“Mnogaia leta!”) performed. At the end of the trapeza parishioners enjoyed singing Ukrainian folk songs.

 

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

 

On December 24, on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, the Divine Liturgy at St. George Church was served by Priest Mark Rashkov who substituted for our Rector.
Following the reading from the Holy Gospel Fr. Mark preached a homily.
The choir prayerfully performed hymns of the festal season.

Patronal Feast at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York

 

On Monday, December 19, the feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk led the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York. His Grace was co-served by our Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and by other clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes and the ROCOR. Our Parish Warden Olga Roussanow also attended that service.
At the Little Entrance, for their dedicated service to the Holy Church, Bishop John awarded clerics of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Priest Mark Rashkov the right to wear the gold pectoral cross, and Deacon Yulian Ryabtsev the right to wear the double orarion within the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.
After the Cherubic Hymn, Bishop John ordained cleric of the cathedral, Deacon Dmitrii Schieffler to the Holy Priesthood.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, His Grace and the clergy served a short moleben before the icon of St. Nicholas. Afterwards, Bishop John preached a sermon, expressed his gratitude to the clergy who came to celebrate the Patronal feast, and congratulated Priest Dmitrii with his ordination.
Interaction between the clergy and faithful continued over a festal meal in the cathedral refectory.

28th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On December 17, on the 28th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. On that day the Church commemorates Great Martyr Barbara and Venerable Father John of Damascus. Liturgical service was led by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the Gospel lesson of the Divine Liturgy he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s lesson from the Holy Gospel is about being grateful. Our Lord Jesus Christ healed ten lepers, but only one of them expressed his gratitude. Jesus sent them to the priests to confirm their healing, and only one out of ten came back to give thanks (Lk. 17, 15-16). If we would decide to give a very broad interpretation of that Gospel passage, we may say that this story is about our coming to God. Man was created to stay with God. Once man had sinned, his goal of life became coming back to God. Ten lepers represented sinful humanity that had been cleansed by the Savior, by the Son of God. But only one out of ten came back to give thanks for that beneficence. This one cleansed leper represents those who accepted the teaching of Christ and who really attempted to dedicate their lives to pleasing God, to be grateful to Him and to seek Him and His Kingdom.”
“Every day the Church commemorates a number of Saints whose life was dedicated to those important goals. Today we honor Great Martyr Barbara. She lived in the 2nd century in the Middle East and was born in a pagan family. Her father was a very rich and noble man who took a good care of his daughter but he was so overprotective that he kept her in a tower where she lived alone. Only her servants and teachers could come in. Barbara observed the world from the windows of her tower and she came to understanding that there must be one and true God who created this world. She made a decision to dedicate her life to Him. This is why Barbara told her father that she will not get married. Her father then changed his policy and allowed Barbara to get out of her tower, to meet people, make friends and become attracted to the life of this world. Being among different people Barbara met Christian believers and converted. Later she asked the workers who built a new bath in their palace to make three windows in the bath, instead of two. In this way she wished to honor the Holy Trinity, so the light would shine from the three windows like the three-sun light shines from the Triune God. She also drew a cross above the entrance to the bath. When her father returned home and saw these renovations, he was surprised, and Barbara told him about her faith and called him to renounce idolatry and to embrace Christianity. But her father became furious and was willing to kill his daughter. Barbara fled to the mountains and hid herself but later the father caught her and brought to the local pagan governor to be tortured. Barbara had undergone many sufferings but did not renounce Christ. Finally, she was beheaded, and her own father volunteered to execute the Great Martyr. Thus, dear brothers and sisters, St. Barbara was seeking her way to God. First intuitively, then being aware, she tried to find her way. And she did. Her strife to venerate the true God, the Holy Trinity and her sufferings and death for this true God was her way of coming over to Him.”
“Today we also commemorate Venerable Father John of Damascus. He also lived in the Middle East but later than Barbara, in the 8th century. At that time most of that area was conquered by Arab Muslims but many people preserved their Christian faith. Among them was John who even became a prime minister to the Caliph, a Muslim ruler. At those times Muslims were tolerant and allowed Christians to live and prosper in their countries. It was ironic that in the neighboring Christian state, in the Byzantine Empire, true Christians were persecuted because its Emperor Leo was an Iconoclast, held a heretical view that the icons may not be honored. Being sorrowful for the fate of Christianity and for the disrespect for holy images, John wrote three books defending veneration of the icons. The wise and God-inspired writings of John enraged the emperor. But since the author was not a Byzantine subject, the emperor was unable to punish him. The emperor then resorted to slander. A forged letter to the emperor was produced, supposedly from John, in which the Damascus official was supposed to have offered his help to Leo in conquering the Caliph’s capital. This letter was sent to the Caliph. The Caliph immediately ordered that John be removed from his post, that his right hand be cut off, and that he be led through the city in chains. That same evening, they returned the severed hand to Saint John. The Saint pressed it to his wrist and prayed to the Most Holy Theotokos to heal him, so that he could defend the Orthodox faith and write once again in praise the Lord. After a while he fell asleep and upon awakening, he found that his hand had been attached to his arm once more. After learning of that miraculous healing the Caliph understood that John was innocent. He offered him his position back. But John refused and decided to spend the rest of his life in the monastery. He became a monk in a famous monastery of St. Sabbas near Jerusalem. Where St. John composed a lot of great writings, including many Church hymns which we use in our holy services. Thus, dear brothers and sisters, St. John of Damascus was seeking God, desired to come over to Him. He wished to praise the Lord, to use his talent to compose beautiful hymns, pious services, as well as wise theological writings. And St. John did come to God, found his way to His Kingdom.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Hearing the life stories of these two heroes of faith, these Saints whom we honor today, let us ask ourselves: are we seeking to come over to God? And if we are, what are we bringing to the Lord? St. Barbara offered Him her youth, her faith and all her life. St. John of Damascus offered Him his talent, his faith, his endeavors of asceticism, and finally, also his life. God gave us life, all various gifts both physical and spiritual. Let us in return bring him our gifts of faith, hope and love. Let us give Him thanks. Let us give Him prayers, fasting and works of charity.”
“This time of preparation for Christmas is known to be a time of giving gifts. One of our Nativity hymns says: “What shall we offer Thee, o Christ, Who for our sakes hast appeared on earth as a man? Every creature made by Thou offers Thee thanks: the Angels offer a hymn; the heavens, a star; the Wise Men, gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, its cave; the wilderness, a manger, and we offer Thee a Virgin Mother!” Yes, human race offered Him the Blessed Mother. But each one of us should offer his or her faith, gratefulness, piety and love. This would be a proper return to God and coming over to Him and His Kingdom.”

The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to St. Barbara during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian conveying the ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our Sacristan and altar server Andrew Malyshev on the occasion of his past name day wishing him God’s blessings, a warm intercession of Holy Apostle Andrew, great success in his service to the Church and many happy years. A traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.

Following the Liturgy the Rector performed a Memorial service (Litia) requested to commemorate the deceased members of the Malyshev family.

 

27th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On December 10, on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. On that day the Church celebrated feast of the Icon of our Lady of the Sign. The Rector preached a homily in Russian following the reading from the Holy Gospel.

In his homily the Rector interpreted the Gospel lesson assigned for this Sunday (Lk. 8, 10-16). He stressed that the woman who had been bent over for 18 years and who was healed by our Lord Jesus Christ is an image of the human race. The humanity had been bent over spiritually because of the condition called sin. Sin did not allow human beings to look at heaven. And in a physical sense mankind was suffering also because of sin, suffered infirmities and death. Citing St. Gregory of Nyssa the Rector pointed out that the humanity needed a Savior from that state. And that Savior, Redeemer and Physician came in Jesus Christ. However, sin still dominates over us if we give in and become slaves to our passions. Any sinful passion, any sinful habit deviates our soul and body, so they both suffer. Take any of them, for instance, drug or alcohol addiction: they ruin human life, bend it over, damage human soul and cause the body to suffer. Only divine grace can free us from such passions. We need grace, we need Christ. In the same way as He healed the woman in today’s Gospel, He may deliver us from our spiritual infirmity. To attain that we need to stay in the Church, which is a spiritual hospital.

The choir prayerfully performed hymns in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English addressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also congratulated our young parishioner and altar server, Anton Malyshev, on the occasion of his past birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. At the end the Rector welcomed our former parishioner, Anastasia Flora who had moved to Dominican Republic and came to visit us on this Sunday.

26th Sunday after Pentecost. Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple

 

On December 3, on the 26th Sunday after Pentecost, our parish family gathered at St. George Church for a nice celebration. On that day we also observed feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple which had been transferred on Sunday from December 4. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Gospel he preached a homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Our first Gospel lesson of today is telling us about a rich man whom God called fool (Lk. 12, 16-21). That man was certain about his future and thought that he may relax because his wealth secured him a lot of happy years to live. But, in fact, he had no future because that very night he was going to die. This is why God called this man a fool. Our second Gospel lesson, a reading always dedicated to the feasts of the Most Holy Mother of God, is telling us about a woman, named Mary who “has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10, 42). These two Gospel readings have a lot in common, so it is not difficult for us to think of them together.”
“The rich landowner in the first Gospel lesson did not do anything wrong or sinful. His error was in his trust in material things and in forgetting the reality of human life. Our Lord telling this parable pointed out that this man’s attitude is laying treasure for himself, instead of being rich toward God (Lk. 12, 21). It is not wrong to gain possessions or to be wealthy. But it is wrong to trust in those possessions and consider them the goal of life. It is also wrong and foolish to forget that our earthly life is limited, and we may not know the time of our passing away. But it is wise to become rich in the eyes of God which means to use his riches to serve God and other people.”
“Looking for such a way to please God and to become rich toward Him is choosing a good part which will not be taken away from us. The riches and possessions of that landowner from today’s Gospel were taken away from him when he died. But the riches gathered in the eyes of God will not be taken away. Mary in today’s second Gospel had also chosen a good part. She preferred to listen to the words of Jesus instead of being preoccupied with much serving, as her sister Martha did. Martha did not do anything wrong and sinful. In fact, she was doing a great thing trying to be hospitable to the Lord. But her serving was not something which would last forever. The meals or drinks or comfort she offered would not last. But the words of Jesus would remain in Mary’s heart. The difference between Martha’s part and Mary’s part is not the difference between right and wrong, but the difference between good and perfect. And our Lord came to this world to teach us to choose what is perfect.”
“However, most of us usually choose not a good part, but a worse part. Like that foolish rich landowner we prefer to put our trust in material things, in earthly concepts and in the life of flesh. It is understood because it is much easier to come down from the mountain than to climb it. The world gives us a lot of recipes of an easy life but none of them leads to eternity.”
“Today we celebrate feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple. This was a glorious and mysterious event in the early life of the Blessed Mother: She had been presented before the Lord in the Temple by Her holy parents, Joachim and Anna. They chose to give their only daughter away, to offer Her to the Lord and to leave Her to be instructed at the holy Temple. Of course, they were advanced in age and were not probably able to raise Her by themselves. But they probably could get help from their relatives and leave Mary in their home. However, they had chosen a good part. They had chosen what is perfect: to entrust their Blessed daughter to the Lord.”
“Unfortunately, nowadays many parents do not follow this perfect example. They fail to bring their children to the holy church, to make them participate in the life of the Body of Christ, to receive the Holy Sacraments. Some prefer sports practice or dancing lessons for their children on Sunday morning instead of the divine services. And the society does not acknowledge that problem at all, but instead, is encouraging this secular and godless attitude. Recently I have read that in Britain many Christian children who become orphan or taken from their parents, may be easily given to be raised in Muslim families. Thus we may see a lot of negative examples. But there are also positive examples when Christian parents raise their children in piety and bring them to the Church.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us imitate Mary and the holy parents of the Blessed Mother and choose a good part which will not be taken away from us. Let us try to choose what is not just “good”, but what is perfect. And those perfect and spiritual things will last forever. Let us also love the holy temple of the Lord and attend it to live spiritual life and to gain in the temple what is everlasting and really secure. Let those spiritual gains of ours become our treasures in heaven that would await for us there, because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6, 21).”

The choir was prayerfully performing for the first time of this year the pre-Nativity hymns, as well as the hymns of the feast of the Entrance.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of glorification in front of the icon of the feast. The Rector then preached a short sermon in Russian to convey main ideas of his English homily.

25th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 26, on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of St. John Chrysostom, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.

After the Scripture readings the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He addressed the parable of the Good Samaritan contained in the assigned Gospel lesson and pointed out that this parable reveals for us the mystery of eternal life. We need to show mercy, love and compassion to inherit eternal life. We need to help those who need, regardless whether these people are our friends or enemies. Unfortunately, people are divided and prejudiced. And we are much more capable of persecuting others. Commemorating St. John Chrysostom we should recall that he was persecuted at the end of his life – persecuted not by some pagans, heretics or atheists, but by Orthodox Christians and his fellow citizens. Being a good shepherd of his flock and an honest preacher, Holy Father John was hated by the powerful elite of Constantinople. He was exiled and died far from home because his enemies forgot the attitude of Good Samaritan, but lived by sinful desires. Christ teaches to see our neighbor in everyone who is in need, even in an enemy. If we are not going to have hatred in our hearts, we will be along with God, and God will be with us, thus we are going to have eternal life.

The choir prayerfully performed the hymns dedicated to St. John Chrysostom during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also wished everybody a good beginning of the Nativity fast which starts in two days.

After the service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals including fish soup, pelmeni and turkey continuing celebration of the past Thanksgiving Day in parish environment.

24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 19, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish family gathered for a nice liturgical celebration. Our service was headed by the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the Gospel lesson of the Divine Liturgy he preached the following homily in English:

“The Gospel lesson assigned for today is describing two miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: healing of the woman with an issue of blood and resurrection of a girl who just died. Interestingly, both these miracles were performed on women, the one of which was adult and having specific female health problems, and another was a young girl, a 12 year-old, who have just reached the age of maturity according to the Jewish law. Therefore, the Lord Jesus shows His abundant love and immeasurable mercy to the women, just as He shows them to all human kind.”
“Any Gospel lesson can be compared to a treasure chest containing a lot of precious stones and jewels. Any Gospel story can be studied and interpreted in many different aspects. As we said, today’s Gospel, apart from revealing the great power of our Lord to heal the sick and to raise the dead, shows us the Savior’s mercy to the women. And if we reflect further, we may learn something more.”
“First of all, we can learn from Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue whose daughter was sick and died. Our Lord preached in that synagogue in Capernaum but many of the people present there did not accept His teaching. They looked for any reason to condemn Jesus, to find a fault in Him. But one of them, Jairus, came to Jesus, fell at His feet and begged Him to come to his house to heal his daughter (Lk. 8, 41). He later was so patient that he waited when Jesus healed the woman in the crowd and spoke with her. Imagine, his daughter was dying, but Jairus never pushed Jesus to hurry up. He patiently waited believing in the power of Christ. And the Lord knowing his heart, granted Him mercy according to his faith. And the faith of Jairus was not in vain: his great sorrow had changed to a great joy. Therefore, we can learn from Jairus to be patient, to be trusting God and believing in God’s power and mercy.”
“Another aspect of today’s Gospel is about the healing of the woman with an issue of blood. She became healed by touching the hem of the Lord’s garment. Thus she believed so much that she did not even ask Jesus, but only touched his cloth. Apart from teaching us about the importance of faith, this example serves us as a foundation of our belief in the holy objects, the icons and especially the holy relics of the Saints. Let us recall how the shadow of Holy Apostle Peter or the garments of Holy Apostle Paul could heal the sick. Let us recall how many miracles were done through the miraculous icons of the Most Holy Mother of God, through Her precious garments and even Her precious belt! Every icon and every piece of cloth belonging to a holy person contains the divine grace given to us if we venerate it with faith.”
“The third reflection we may have today is regarding those who were the witnesses of the miracle when the Lord raised the young girl from the dead. The Gospel says that when Jesus came to the house of Jairus, the girl died and the people wept and mourned for her. When the Lord told them not to weep, they did not listen but ridiculed Him (Lk. 8, 52-53). In the same way nowadays many people make fun of religion and of our faith in the Word of God. Therefore, the Lord put those people all outside. He permitted only His three closest Disciples and the girl’s parents to come in (Lk. 8, 51-54). Only those who believed were the witnesses of the miracle. Only they were worthy of seeing that great work of the Lord. Others who had no faith were unworthy to be present. Thus the holy and great things are not accessible for those who have little or no faith. This is why many people complain that God never shows them His miracles, never appears to them. This is because of their lack of faith. For God shows Himself only to those who really believe. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine”, says the Lord (Mt. 7, 6).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us study the Word of God. Let us find precious treasures of spirit in every Gospel lesson we hear in the church. Let us be grateful for the Lord’s mercy towards the human kind, to men and women. Let us imitate the faith of Jairus and of the woman with an issue of blood, so we can be granted according to our faith. Let us also be worthy of God’s revealing us His great works by firm faith, trust and humility.”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the main thoughts of his English homily. He also wished the parishioners a happy Thanksgiving Day and expressed a desire that we would first remember to give thanks to God for all His blessings and then indulge ourselves by feasting at the holiday table.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost

 

On November 12, on the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.

Following the Gospel lesson the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He pointed out that man possessed by the evil spirits in the Gospel story assigned for this Sunday (Lk. 8, 26-39) is an image of our passionate and sinful soul. We are often possessed by many passions. Those passions are our demons whose name is “legion”. Different vices like anger, lie, laziness, drunkenness may overcome our will. Being dominated by those passions we do strange and terrible things and later may be surprised that we do them. But the power of Christ can liberate us from those passions, just as this power healed the demoniac in today’s Gospel lesson. Our sinful soul can be freed in repentance, in reception of the Sacraments and by living spiritual life. We need to stay with Christ, to be in His Church which is a hospital for our spiritual infirmities. We also should do as the healed demoniac did. He wanted to stay with Christ, but the Lord told him: “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you” (Lk. 8, 39). We read that he went his way and preached. Thus he became the disciple of Christ and a preacher of the Gospel. Since we declare that we are the followers of Christ, we need to preach our spiritual successes, to preach what great things God has done to us. We may do it directly, by telling others about our spiritual life or we may do so by being an example of righteous living.

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English to stress the main points of his homily.

Following the liturgical service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour. Our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow was congratulated on the occasion of her past birthday. She was presented by a picture portrait of her own, artistically made by the Malyshew family. Maria Malyshew was also congratulated on her past birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed and the toasts raised to these parishioners.