December 29, 2016

 WE WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR FILLED WITH

THE LOVE AND PROTECTION OF OUR

LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

WITH PEACE ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL TO HUMANKIND

ՇՆՈՐՀԱՒՈՐ ՆՈՐ ՏԱՐԻ ԵՒ ՍՈՒՐԲ ԾՆՈՒՆԴ

ՔՐԻՍՏՈՍ ԾՆԱՒ ԵՒ ՅԱՅՏՆԵՑԱՒ

A BLESSED AND HOLY NATIVITY

Next Friday (January 6) is the Feast of the Epiphany that traditionally celebrated the Nativity, the Baptism of Christ, His first miracle at the Wedding of Cana, and the visit of the Magi.  The Armenian Church has remained faithful to the original date of January 6. In the mid-fourth century the Roman Church separated the two events, celebrating the birth on December 25 and the baptism twelve days later on January 6. 

On the Eve of the Nativity (January 5) a solemn Mass is celebrated, preceded by readings taken from various parts of the Bible about the birth or the coming of the Messiah. The third chapter from the book of Daniel is read, by a deacon and three young men representing Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego, the youths who would not renounce their faith in spite of torture. In past times after the service, choir members would go from house to house singing hymns, spreading the Good News of the birth.  

On January 6, after the Divine Liturgy, a special service is performed symbolizing the baptism of Jesus, which was a turning point in His life and the beginning of His ministry. This service, called the Blessing of the Water (Churorhnek), commemorates the Baptism and the Manifestation of Christ recognizing Him as the true Son of God.  A member of the congregation acts as the Godfather. Traditionally this service would take place after the Divine Liturgy at a nearby body of water. Nowadays the water is blessed in a large bowl or font and the faithful take home a cupful of the blessed water. 

Read Archbishop Oshagan’s Christmas Message in English or Armenian.

PRELATE AND VICAR IN NEW YORK

This Sunday (January 1), Archbishop Oshagan will preside over the Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City. Bishop Anoushavan will preside over the Divine Liturgy at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston on Sunday, and in the evening he will attend services and convey greetings at the Indian Malabar Church, one of the sister churches of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

NATIVITY AND EPIPHANY SCHEDULE OF PRELATE AND VICAR

Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan:
Eve of the Nativity, Thursday, January 5, His Eminence will preside at the Divine Liturgy at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.

Holy Nativity, Friday, January 6, His Eminence will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, and the Blessing of Water Service at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City.

Sunday, January 8, His Eminence will preside over the Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, and attend a Christmas Buffet Luncheon following the services.

Vicar General, Bishop Anoushavan:
Eve of the Nativity, Thursday, January 5, His Grace will preside at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York.

Holy Nativity, Friday, January 6, His Grace will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and Blessing of Water ceremony at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.

Sunday, January 8, His Grace will preside and deliver the sermon at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey.

MEMORIAL DAY
Saturday, January 7, is Memorial Day. As is the custom in the Armenian Church, the day after each of the five great tabernacle feasts is a memorial day. Traditionally, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated on this day and afterwards the faithful go to the cemetery to honor their loved ones and have their graves blessed.
ST. GREGORY OF NAREK’S ODE TO THE NATIVITY
By Michael B. Papazian

The Church has always seen the Bible as a living organism, its parts connected in complex and fascinating ways just like the different parts of the human body. When read in isolation from the rest of the Bible, the Song of Songs, one of the books of the Old Testament, seems to be simply romantic love poetry with little if any connection to God or the Christian faith. Some Jewish and Christian scholars have at times questioned its inclusion in the Bible. But the Church Fathers recognized clues and signs in the book that show that the love of the groom and bride is a representation of the love between Christ and His Church. The Song is not just an appendix with little relevance to the rest of the Bible, but an integral part of scripture that teaches us about how strong God's love is in a vivid and understandable way.
  Deeply aware of this symbolic meaning, St. Gregory of Narek ( Sourb Grigor Narekatsi ) [c. 945-1003], one of the greatest poets and theologians of the Church, begins his ode devoted to the Birth of Christ with images from the dialogue between the bride and groom in the Song of Songs. The first five stanzas alternate between the bride and the groom, with the bride referring to herself as "black, beautiful," as she does in the first chapter of the Song. The bride is the Church, darkened by the corruption of the world in which she dwells but still beautiful through the love and grace of God. Narekatsi's ode conveys to us the way that the Church and its members should approach the coming of Christ into the world. Just as the bride delights in the presence of the groom, so too, the Church rejoices in the presence of Christ.

Ode to the Nativity
Written by St. Gregory of Narek
(translated by Michael B. Papazian)

Black am I, beautiful,
A daughter of Eve, Jerusalem.

Behold this is my delightful bride,
bound through love with her groom.
 

My beloved is like the gazelles,
The young deer.
Behold the voice of my beloved,
made tender and soft through love.

Come my beloved, come my companion,
My bride from the cedars of Lebanon.
See how she exults:
"Cover me with apples and
Lead me to the house of wine!"
Her eyes are like a dove's
Her sleeves are cords of red, her necklace gold.
Behold she is a mountain of incense
Redolent of nard and myrrh.
 

My beloved is beautiful,
An infant child and yet timeless.
Behold he is a lofty mount,
A lily of the valleys, a flower of the plain.
 

The ranks of the prophets
Sing from on top of that hill,
Behold he is the mountain of the lily,
His fragrance is of rose, cinnamon.
 

Arise and look to Bethlehem,
O children of Zion,
Go forth to the cave;
Bow down before the King.
 

Sing with the shepherds,
Worship with the magi.
Behold the gold of the King,
The incense of the Only-Begotten of God the Father,
  To Whom we give glory and thanks,
And endless exaltation;
Now and forever may
Christ be blessed by all.

(The translation is based on the Armenian text in Matean oghbergutean ew ayl Erkasirutiwnk [Book of Lamentations and other works], Antelias, 2003, p. 646-7, where it has the title "Sweet ode" [Tagh kaghtsrik].)

BIBLE READINGS

Bible Readings for Sunday, January 1, Sixth Sunday of Advent and third day of the Fast of the Nativity are: Isaiah 51:15-52:3; Hebrews 13:18-25; Luke 22:24-30.

A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.

“You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:24-30)

***

Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon.

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
 

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free, and if he comes in time, he will be with me when I see you. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you. (Hebrews 13:18-25)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

2017 BIBLE READINGS

The complete list of the Calendar and Daily Bible Readings for the year 2017 according to the Donatsooyts of the Armenian Church are now on the Prelacy’s web page (www.armenianprelacy.org). The calendar is prepared by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC).

HOLY APOSTLES JAMES AND JOHN; PAREGENTAN OF THE FAST OF THE NATIVITY

Today (December 29) we commemorate the Holy Apostles James and John, “Sons of Thunder.” Today is also the Paregentan of the Fast of the Nativity that leads us to the celebration of the birth and baptism of our Lord and Savior. 

The apostles James and John (Mark 10:35-41) were called the “Sons of Thunder” because of their passionate and quick-natured character. James was a Galilean fisherman, who was called along with his brother John to be two of the twelve apostles. They, together with Peter formed the inner core among the twelve who were present at the raising of the daughter of Jarius, the Transfiguration, and the agony of Gethsemane. James is sometimes referred to as “James the Greater” to differentiate from the younger apostle also named James, James was the first of the apostles to be martyred by order of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2). He is considered to Santiago de Compostela, which became and remains a popular destination for pilgrims. John is also called “The Divine.” It was to John that Jesus on the cross, entrusted the care of his mother. Paul names Peter, John, and James as the “pillars” of the Church (Galatians 2:9).

THE HOLY FATHERS

This Saturday (December 31) we commemorate the Holy Fathers Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Sylvester of Rome, and Ephrem the Syrian. 

St. Basil, called the “Great,” was an exceptional leader who helped spread Christianity. At the age of 26 he gave up his wealth and became a monk and dedicated his life to serve the people by establishing hospitals, hostels, and public kitchens to feed the needy. He was a talented writer and many of his prayers are used in the Armenian Church and other eastern churches. At a time when a solitary life of a hermit was considered to be spiritual, he instead urged monastic communities believing that no one is totally self-sufficient. 

St. Gregory of Nyssa was the younger brother of Basil, and friend of Gregory of Nazianus. He was educated in Athens and influenced by the writings of Origen and Plato. He was a professor of rhetoric, but became disillusioned with his life as a teacher and became a priest. He served as Bishop of Nyssa and Archbishop of Sebastia. 

St. Sylvester served as the Bishop of Rome during the era of Constantine for more than twenty years. During the time of his service many great churches were built. He took part in the negotiations concerning Arianism at the Council of Nicaea. 

St. Ephrem the Syrian lived in Mesopotamia (Syria) during his entire life. He was baptized at age 18 and he served under St. James of Nisibis. He is credited for introducing hymns in public worship services. He visited St. Basil in Caesarea and upon his return he helped ease the famine during the winter of 372-73 by distributing food and money to the poor and needy. He was a prolific writer and his work, written in Syriac, was immediately translated into Greek, Armenian, and Latin.

HONORING DEACONS

Last Sunday on the occasion of the commemoration for St. Stephen, the first deacon and proto-martyr, parishes honored their deacons. The deacons serving the altar wore crowns in honor of this special day and offered incense to the holy altar.

Archbishop Oshagan and Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian with the honored deacons at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey. The deacons are Harout Takvorian, Hagop Tekeyan, Kostan Charkhutian, and Vahan Kouyoumjian.

At St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, the deacons honored were Shant Kazanjian, Hagop Haddad, Ryan Tellalian, Kevork Hadjian, Krikor Esayan, and Dickran Kabarajian. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian congratulated the deacons and wished them strength in serving the Church.

At St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York, Bishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Nareg joined in congratulating the deacons that included Bedros Kalajian, Michael Gostanian, and Zaven Varjabedian.

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of Nairi Zarian (December 31, 1900)
Many Soviet Armenian writers who flourished in the first half of the twentieth century were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Several of them were from Van, and one of them, famous and infamous for different reasons, was Nairi Zarian.

His actual name was Hayastan Yeghiazarian. He was born on December 31, 1900, in the village of Kharagonis, in the province of Van. He was a fifteen-year-old boy in 1915, among the survivors of the first phase of massacres in the surroundings of Van around the time of the self-defense of the city against Ottoman regular forces (April-May 1915). Van was saved by the arrival of Russian troops and Armenian volunteers, which were ordered to retreat in July. The Armenian civilians took refuge in the Caucasus and young Hayastan was among them. From 1915-1921 he lived in orphanages of Dilijan and Yerevan, where he received his initial education. He published his first poem in 1918.

He met poet Yeghishe Charents around this time, who shortened his long name. “Hayastan” became the poetic name for Armenia, “Nairi,” and abbreviated “Yeghiazarian” into “Zarian.”  Nairi Zarian graduated from the Diocesan School of Yerevan and, in 1927, from the School of History and Literature of Yerevan State University. In 1933 he finished graduate school in literature at the State Academy of Art Sciences of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

Zarian entered the literary fray in the 1920s, while Soviet Armenian literature confronted the winds of modernization brought by “proletarian” literature, which would be soon crushed by state control that would lead to Stalinism. He published his first collection of poetry in 1926. In the 1920s and 1930s he was on the editorial board of several short-lived literary periodicals, such as Grakan dirkerum and Grakan serund, and his literary positions would be characterized by their intense politicization. He first became noted by his poem “Rushan’s Rock” (1930), which depicted “the socialist resistance of an Armenian village.”

After the rise of Stalin to power, Zarian aligned himself entirely with power. His poem “Stalin” earned him the Lenin State Prize in 1935. After the death of Aghasi Khanjian, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia, in July 1936, he set himself to denounce the so-called “nationalist and Trotskyist” tendencies of some of Khanjian’s protégés and the best writers of the time, like Charents, Axel Bakunts, and many others, in an article published a week later. He concluded it with the following statement: “The real, true way for the literature of Soviet Armenia is the road of Socialist Realism, the road of people’s brotherhood and a society without classes, the road of Lenin and Stalin.” Zarian’s active role in 1936-1937, when the main names of the Soviet Armenian intelligentsia were arrested, shot, or sent to Siberia with trumped-up charges of conspiratorical or ideological deviation, earned him powerful criticism after the death of Stalin (1953). Nevertheless, in 1937 he was arrested, but he saved himself by writing the novel Hatsavan about the collectivization of the economy, executed by Stalin in the early 1930s.

During World War II, when nationalism was briefly conflated with Soviet patriotism, Zarian followed through with works of this kind. Some of his patriotic poems, as well as his play in verse Ara the Beautiful (1944), earned him recognition. He was president of the Armenian Writers Union from 1944-1946, and from 1951-1958 he was deputy of the Soviet Supreme of Armenia and president of the Armenian Committee for the Defense of Peace.

Nevertheless, after 1953 he gradually lost his influence in literary life, although he continued publishing books of poetry and prose until the end of his life. In a meeting of the Writers Union about the cult of personality during Stalin’s time, the writers debated violently, with accusations flying from one to the other. Nairi Zarian reportedly said in his own defense: “Even Isahakian gave tribute to Stalin’s glorification.” Avetik Isahakian (1875-1957), who was president of the Union since 1946 and a well-known name in Armenian poetry, responded: “Comrade Nairi just spoke about tribute. I suggest: let’s take back those tributes from my writings and Nairi’s writings, and see what remains underneath…”
Nairi Zarian passed away in Yerevan on July 11, 1969. A street in the Armenian capital carries his name.

 Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web page ( www.armenianprelacy.org ).
PLEASE DO NOT FORGET:

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ARMENIAN LANGUAGE CORNER
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Do You Print Money?

You may just earn a salary or be on the way to become a millionaire. In both cases, the English language has the same way to say that: “you make money.” Whether it is money or coffee, it allows you the use of the same verb: “to make.”

However, as you know, when you make money you obtain it, regardless of the way you do that. It means that “to make” is used as a figure of speech. You can make a cake, but the power to actually make money belongs to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

This may already give you the hint about why the expression դրամ շինել ( tram shinel ) is nothing more than a slavish Armenian-American translation of “to make money.” The word shinel has 14 different definitions, according to the latest dictionary of the Armenian language (Beirut, 1992). The most basic meanings are “to built” and “to create.” However, the meaning “to obtain” does not exist.

Therefore, to say «Ես դրամ շինեցի» (“Yes tram shinetsi”) as translation for “I made money” is basically wrong. If someone heard you saying that out of America, s/he would think that you are in some shady business of printing money.  When you want to speak real Armenian, the actual way to say that is «Ես դրամ շահեցայ» (Yes tram shahetsa). The verb shahil literally means “to win,” and you can literally say that when you came out from the casino, for instance, with something extra in your pocket. Since when you win money, you earn it, then you can use it to make us understand that you get a paycheck. Therefore, Armenian speakers “win” money, while English speakers “make” it.  

Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web page (www.armenianprelacy.org).

FROM THE BOOKSTORE

FROM THE BOOKSTORE…A REPEAT OF A SPECIAL OFFER:

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
SIAMANTO ACADEMY —Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810. NEW TERM BEGINS SEPTEMBER 10.

March 31—Eastern Prelacy’s annual Musical Armenia concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, New York City at 8 pm. Featuring: Hasmik Vardanyan, cello; Karen Hakobyan, piano; Haik Kazazyan, violin; Hayk Arsenyan, piano. For tickets ($25) and information call Carnegie Hall Box Office (212-247-7800) or Prelacy Office (212-689-7810).

The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email: email@armenianprelacy.org