40 days of Lent; a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving

12. February, 2013NewsNo comments

The principles and practices of Lent in the Armenian Church are deeply rooted in the Bible, the ancient Christian traditions, the life-example of Christ and His disciples, and the lives of the great church fathers, all of whom contributed to the establishment of the canons of Lent. The focus of Lent is on “Man the Sinner”: on his repentance, his spiritual cleansing, and his eventual salvation.

The Armenian Apostolic Church has ruled on the traditions of Lent by creating canons based on the thought of the apostles. Apostolic Canon #8 reads: “The Apostles ordered and affirmed that the 40 days be set aside as days of abstinence from evil-doing, from sin and from food, preceding [the day] of the passion of our Savior.”

The period of Great Lent in the Armenian Church begins with the Monday following the Eve of Great Lent, and continues to the Saturday preceding Holy Week. Each Sunday during this period is named after a parable embodying some spiritual truth, and the Scriptural readings for each Sunday underscore the day’s lesson.

The first Sunday of Lent is called The Sunday of Good Living. The second Sunday of Lent is named The Sunday of the ExpulsionThe third Sunday of Lent is known as The Sunday of the Prodigal Son. The fourth Sunday of Lent is The Sunday of the Steward, Lent’s fifth Sunday is known as The Sunday of the JudgeThe Sunday of Advent is the sixth. Great Lent ends with Lazarus Saturday; the following day is Palm Sunday.

The Prelacy through its churches across Canada has organized a Lenten Lecture series, which will focus on “The Year of the Armenian Mother,” will begin on Wednesday, February 13 and continue to March 20.  The lectures of Great Lent are under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Hagopian. For Peace Service, the Rest Service, the Sunrise Service and a listing of the topics and speakers, please contact your local churches.

Feast of Vartanantz

7. February, 2013NewsNo comments

Today, Thursday, February 7, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Vartanantz, commemorating the war between pagan Persia and Christian Armenia in 451.

The king of Persia ordered all Christians under his rule to abandon Christianity and embrace Zoroastrianism. The Armenian clergy and ruling princes refused to follow this dictum.

As recorded by the historian Yeghishe, the Christian soldiers took an oath to fight the enemies of truth: “We are ready for persecution and death and every affliction and torture for the sake of the holy churches which our forefathers entrusted to us by the power of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby we were reborn ourselves by torments and blood. For we recognize the Holy Gospel as our Father, and the apostolic universal church as our Mother. Let no evil partition come between us to separate us from her.”

Vartan Mamigonian was the leader of the Armenians in the decisive battle of Avarayr, and although outnumbered, the Armenians put up a valiant defense. Vartan and many of his soldiers were killed, but the Persians suffered greater casualties and with this battle the Persians recognized the strong commitment the Armenians had for their Christian faith.

On the eve of the battle of Avarayr, Vartan spoke to his men, assuring them that righteousness was on their side and encouraged them to be brave and fearless:

I entreat you, therefore, my brave companions, especially because many of you surpass me in valor and precede me in princely rank. But since you, of your own free will, have selected me as your leader and commander, let my words be pleasant and agreeable to you all, great and small: Fear not the heathen hordes and never turn your backs to the frightful sword of mortal men; because should our Lord grant us victory, we shall destroy their might and the cause of righteousness shall be exalted. But if the time has come for us to meet a holy death in this battle, let us accept our fate with joyful heart, without mingling cowardice with our valor and courage. … Our Commander is not a mere man, but the Commander-in-chief of all martyrs. Fear is a sign of doubt; but as we have repudiated doubt long since, let fear also disappear from our hearts and minds.”

The struggle continued for more than thirty years. In 484 Vahan Mamigonian, nephew of Vartan, successfully negotiated the Treaty of Nvarsag, the first document in history granting religious freedom and home rule, preceding the Magna Charta by nearly 750 years. 


4. February, 2013NewsNo comments

His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Hagopian was in California for the annual clergy gathering and conference on the occasion of the Feast of St. Ghevont and the Priests that began Monday evening and concluded the evening of Wednesday, January 31, 2013.

This year the three North American Prelacies joined to commemorate this holiday, hosted by the Western Prelacy. The conference took place at St. Gregory Church in San Francisco, under the presidency of the three prelates, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian (Western), Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan (Eastern), and Archbishop Khajag Hagopian (Canadian).

Elected to serve as the executives of the conference were V. Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian and V. Rev. Fr. Meghrig Parikian, co-chairmen; and Archpriest Fr. Viken Vasilian and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, secretaries.

The Feast of Ghevontiantz is celebrated each year preceding the Vartanantz Feast. The collective name is in honor of brave clergymen who preached and fought against tyranny before, during and after the war of Vartanantz. It is named in honor of Ghevond Yerets (Leondius the Cleric), who was in the front lines with Vartan at Avarayr. The Feast has now become a time of renewal, reflection, and fellowship for the clergy, as well as a time to remember and honor the clerics who served and passed on.

According to the historians Yeghishe and Ghazar Parpetsi, the clergy who are collectively known as the Ghevontian saints include: Catholicos Hovsep Hoghotsmetsi (also known  as Vayorstzoretsi), Bishop Sahak Rushtouni, Bishop Tatik of Aghbak, the priests Ghevont, Arshen, Manuel, Abraham, Khoren, and deacons Kachach and Abraham.