April 16, 2020
"Morning of Light" 6th Prayer

Read by Vahan Der Kosrofian
St. Advadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church, Whitinsville, MA
AN EASTER MESSAGE FROM HIS HOLINESS
CATHOLICOS ARAM I


“TAKE COURAGE;
I HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD!”
Seeing fear and uncertainty in his apostles, the Son of God, before being led to the Golgotha, told them: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).
 
The Son of God became man to destroy an anthropocentric world order, founded upon earthly goals and material gains, and establish the theocentric realm, based on heavenly truths. He had come to the world to return a man who had become prodigal to his Heavenly Father. With his Cross and resurrection, Christ accomplished his mission: he conquered the world and founded the kingdom of heaven on earth.
 
The apostles of the Son of God, armed with the truths and values manifested to the world by way of Bethlehem, and empowered by the cross and resurrection of Christ, conquered the crises and evils of the world, sowing the seeds of the kingdom of heaven in human life.
 
Driven by the task of bringing the Gospel of Christ to the world, the fathers and saints of the church were witnesses to Christ, Savior of the world, becoming spokesmen for eternal truths at the price of their own sacrifice.
 
The church, subjected to horrible persecution, throughout its history and up to this date, steady in the victory of the cross and the resurrection of Christ, remained supreme, with its mission to bring the eternal message of the Gospel to the world.
 
That is also the predicament of the Armenian Church, with its centuries-old history awash in blood and suffering. Indeed, with its vital presence in the life of its people, entwined in its sufferings and pains, our church that has walked the path of exile and genocide heard the voice of Christ: be not afraid, take courage, because I conquered the world.
 
Dear fellow Armenians,
 
Today, in a world that finds itself in the midst of a crisis, the Armenian Church, empowered with the victory of resurrected Christ, conveys the same message to our people:
 
Take courage, do not despair, because Christ our Lord has defeated evil, sin and death.
 
Live the presence of God in your life, with good thoughts and good deeds, helping your neighbor.
 
Never forget that God sent his only begotten Son for us, because he loved us (John 3:16). Christ performed miracles, preached, was crucified and resurrected for our salvation.
 
Strengthen your faith and your hope, because when we are with God, God is with us every day and in every circumstance.
 
Remember that Christ obtained the church of God with his blood (Acts 20:28) and turned us into the adoptive children of God. Let us be the obedient children and protectors of our Heavenly Father.
 
Resurrected Christ, defeating the evil of the world, opened the road of eternal life and salvation before us. Let us walk on this road, keeping away from the roads that lead us to the vices of the world. Let us walk on this road, with renewed faith and hope.
 
* * *
 
On occasion of the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias we greet with patriarchal blessing and paternal love our fellow Armenians:
 
Christ is risen from the dead!
Blessed is the resurrection of Christ!
 
We greet with patriarchal blessings His Excellency the President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sargsyan, and His Excellency the Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, as well as His Excellency the President of the Republic of Artsakh, Bako Sahakyan, with best wishes of accomplishments in their service to the homeland.
 
With warm brotherly love we greet His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, wishing him a long reign full of achievements and edifying service for the church. We also greet His Beatitude the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Nurhan Manougian and His Beatitude the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop Sahag Mashalian, wishing them a productive service in the Armenian Church.
 
With patriarchal blessings and with warm paternal love we greet the Prelates of the Great House of Cilicia, the clergy, the community leaders, the organizations and groups of our communities, praying that Resurrected Christ will reward their mission in the service of the church and the nation with new successes.
 
Dear fellow Armenians,
 
Let us pray together on the morning of Holy Easter that our Lord Jesus Christ, who defeated evil and sin with his miraculous resurrection, dispel all that is bad and evil in this world, grant health to those who are ill and success in our work, and fill our life with heavenly grace and good.
 
                                                                                   CATHOLICOS ARAM I
                                                                                   GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA
 
 
Holy Easter 2020
Antelias, Lebanon
THE VICTORY OF LIFE OVER DEATH
THE PRELATE’S EASTER HOMILY
Today Christendom is celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Fulfillment of Prophecies and of Promises; the Feast of the eternal dawn of Faith, Hope and Life; the Feast of the undeniable and unchallengeable victory of Life over Death.

The road toward this universal celebration of Faith, Hope and Life was paved, as our Lord Jesus Christ Himself predicted, with His Passion, Crucifixion and Entombment (Mt 16:21), in fulfillment of the Divine Blueprint, which was foreseen by the Creator as part of His eternal Plan, which is beyond the comprehension of all human beings and of evil principalities. It is a Plan only known to the Holy Triune Godhead . It is a Plan in which we all have a part, a Plan which is partially revealed to us through the words and the actions of Our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6).

And here, after the most humiliating, depressing and frustrating experience which followed the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us now follow the three Myrrh-bearers, the women, who early morning of the first day of the week leave their homes and are making for the tomb of their beloved Rabbi, for what they think is the last time. They are going to anoint His body, a rite called for by tradition. No one is escorting them, not the Apostle Peter, who had once boldly declared: “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you” (Mt 26:33), nor the Apostle Thomas, who had once courageously rallied his fellow Apostles saying: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (Jn 11:16). Not even John the “Beloved Disciple” who had stood by the Cross (Jn 19:27) is with them. It is indeed amazing to witness the unfailing commitment of these courageous women to their Master. They are going to provide him with His last Unction. They have heavy hearts. The Good News of the Abundant Life, that had once been promised to them by the Source of Life, must seem as dead to them as the expected content of the tomb. They know that their work will be difficult. We can hear them asking one another: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the Tomb?” (Mk 16:3). Yet they go on. The deep love and magnificent respect of these three Myrrh-bearers for their Beloved One, galvanized by an inner inexplicable power, motivates them to go forward, to embrace the divine mysteries of God.

And Lo! At the entrance of the Tomb they see and hear the Angel of God asking them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:5). More fear? More uncertainty? More joy? All of these emotions filled them. They are momentarily confused. But gradually things become clear, first with the appearance of the Risen Lord and later with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

The power of the Resurrection, the undeniable victory of Life over Death, became an eternal dawn of Faith, Hope and Life, motivating the Myrrh-bearing women, the Apostles, the Saints, all of the faithful through all ages. They all walked even through the most brutal valleys of death and yet never complained, or even tried to relieve their shoulders from the burden of the Cross. On the contrary, filled with the power of the ever-victorious Crucified One, with Faith, Hope, and Life, they conquered all visible and invisible enemies. 

As Armenian Christians how grateful we are to our forefathers for having welcomed the Light and the Life of the World and inaugurated the embracement of Christianity as state religion in 301. How grateful we are that our forefathers translated faith into action. Their voices echoed the divine commandment, “Let there be Light,” and illuminated the land that hosts Noah’s Ark. They invented the Armenian alphabet so that they could translate the word and wisdom of God into their daily lives. They breathed on the stones and transformed them into “ khachkars ” (cross stones). They sang every early morning “Blessed be the Lord,” “ Horovel ,” with their oxen, while they cultivated the land. They planted seeds not only for themselves, for their own use, but also for the poor, for the birds, and for strangers.

It’s true that over many centuries the horizon of Armenia has periodically been darkened.

With invasion after invasion, which culminated in the horrendous and inhuman genocide of 1915, they tried to make us desert our fertile land, to drown our peaceful songs, and even to exterminate an entire nation who had lived on that plateau for over five thousand years. Yet renewed with the providential strength of Resurrection, like a phoenix, “like stalks of wheat, after a storm has crushed but not broken them,” the Armenian people always rose up from the ashes and continued to contribute their gifts to society.

For the 2020 generation, the celebration of the Resurrection is not a mere pious tradition, but it rather has an existential message. For the last three months mankind has been experiencing a time of unparalleled global distress, agony and hopelessness, caused not by nuclear disaster but by a microscopic virus, which has plunged us into a pandemic. For the first time in history, as all our ethnic, color, gender, and age differences have merged into one united expression, we are shocked. For the first time, governments and scientific communities are perplexed. For many it seems as though the end of times is at our doors. The priorities of individuals, communities and nations are being overturned. In the midst of mankind’s impotence and despair, a sense of humility is growing, and we are becoming more conscious of and grateful for each and every day’s blessings, the blessings that some have taken for granted. It seems that after distancing ourselves from God, the Source of Life, through modern philosophy—rationalism, empiricism, the Enlightenment, idealism, existentialism, post modernism—we are now being called to rediscover our authentic identity not in Creation but in the Creator.

There is no doubt that like the Myrrh-bearing women, a terrifying question—“Who will roll away the stone of this global threat?”—is strangling and torturing our minds, hearts and souls. Yet in the light of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, if the most agonizing Friday is known as Good Friday, then perhaps the horrible experience that we are currently living may turn out to be a new and good starting point in the life of our society. In this time of social distancing we, distanced from Him because of our sins (Is 59:2), may come closer to the mercy of God. In this time of isolation we, who had often marginalized and neglected Him in our recent lives (2 Chronicles 12:5), may discover the most imperative of priorities: confessing God as our sole Lord. In this time of the loss of our beloved ones, we may be transformed and actually see the Paradise Lost. 

As much as it is painful to express, I believe that the lesson of coronavirus, more than being threatening, is signaling to us the horror of eternal damnation. It is alerting us to be attentive not only to our physical welfare, but to our spiritual wellbeing as well. It is pointing to the fragility of matter, time and space, and redirecting our focus through the Empty Tomb of the Risen One to Our Lord Himself.

Let us pray, let us be alert and vigilant, and let us be patient. Let us pray for the recovery of all those who have been infected by this severe virus. Let us remember in our prayers all of the physicians, nurses, and medical staff who are on the front lines of this invisible war, oftentimes risking their own lives in their noble mission. Let us remember all of the public servants, who are providing for our necessities and comforts. Let us remember all officials in the many governmental agencies, who are dedicated to support the scientists while they search for the cure for this virus.

Let us all pray unto Almighty God, the Lord of Creation, to shower upon us His wisdom in order not to be misguided and perplexed by the human perspective, but rather to be led by His perspective, and to conquer each and every Gethsemane and Golgotha experience in our lives, and to turn them into victory for His glory. Let us greet each other with the most dynamic and ever-victorious salute and ever-victorious good news, “Christ is risen from the dead,” Hallelujah!
  
ARCHBISHOP ANOUSHAVAN
Prelate

DURING THE HOLY WEEK
As we all know, since it shut its doors in mid-March under the coronavirus emergency, the Prelacy has continued an intense activity online, working towards being a daily presence in the life of our faithful and bring consolation to those going through difficult times.

This activity became especially visible in the course of the Holy Week, when alongside the daily reflections, the Prelacy continued offering without any interruption educational online sessions about resources for praying, Bible studies; biblical stories for children, and the daily Bible readings. On the initiative of the Armenian National Education Council, we now also have online reading sessions by teachers from Armenian children’s book and the presentation of songs.

This past Holy Week His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian presided the Divine Liturgy at St. Sarkis Church (Douglaston, New York) on April 9, 10 and 11 during the ceremonies of the Washing of the Feet, Tenebrae and Entombment, which were live-streamed.

Archbishop Anoushavan celebrated the liturgy and delivered the homily during the celebration of Holy Easter on Sunday, April 12, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. 
We note with gratitude that these initiatives by the Prelacy are widely appreciated to judge from the letters and comments received as well as the number of people watching the live-streamed liturgies and the online courses.

RADIO VOICE OF VAN INTERVIEW: PRELATE DISCUSSES
CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON COMMUNITY
Listen to the interview now by clicking the photo above.
In an interview with Lebanon’s Radio Voice of Van on Wednesday, April 15, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian said that there are 42 patients with coronavirus in the Eastern Prelacy communities of the United States. According to the latest figures available to him, another ten community members died because of COVID-19: five in New York; one in New Jersey, and four in Massachusetts. The number of casualties may rise to twenty if we take into account the losses suffered by the churches under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Diocese. 

“Let me add a piece of good news amid this most painful situation,” the Prelate said. “A New Jersey Armenian doctor who had been infected and had recovered got back to work and saved the lives of 80 patients.”

Archbishop Anoushavan asked for everybody’s prayer in these trying days.

“We ask our compatriots to constantly pray to God Most High; to take every precaution and follow the instructions of public and health agencies, and to be patient, not to lose their peace and not to panic.”

During Divine Liturgy on Sunday, a special prayer is offered for patients and victims of the coronavirus, as well as for the doctors and the medical staff and everyone who is providing public services. Prayers are also said for the quick discovery of a cure.   
 
Looking back at the last four months, the Prelate said that “certainly the picture would be completely different if the powers that be had reacted sooner with forceful measures and the public cooperated in response to the signs.” However, as the saying goes, “Hannibal is at the gates,” he added. “In this case the pandemic has penetrated every layer of society, being an invisible enemy.”

The Prelate praised the measures adopted by the Armenian Church worldwide, expressing “his filial gratitude to His Holiness, Catholicos Aram I who, understanding the compelling circumstances, and after consulting His Holiness, Catholicos Karekin II, most wisely, circumventing the liturgical rules, ordered the celebration of Holy Liturgy behind closed doors and the celebration of sacraments as needed. There is no doubt that this guidance reflects the principle enunciated by our Lord Jesus Christ, “The law was made for man, not man for the law.”
 
In his conversation with Radio Voice of Van’s Houri Papazian-Emmiyan, Archbishop Anoushavan said that technological resources were allowing the Prelacy to continue functioning, overcoming the limitations caused by the lockdown orders.

In addition to a weekly video conference with the Pastors and live streaming of the liturgy, the Pastors take turns to share daily their reflections online with the faithful; there are weekly sessions of Bible Study online; the Prelacy is offering educational online sessions about resources for praying, also on a weekly basis; there are Bible readings for children every day; there are online reading sessions from Armenian children’s book; and in terms of social services, the Pastors are also personally in touch with elderly people who live alone to provide them with food and medicine.

As the interview came to a close, Archbishop Anoushavan summed up his prescription for the times of the pandemic: “Prayer, prudence, patience.”

BIBLE READINGS
Bible readings for Sunday, April 19, New Sunday , are: Acts 5:34-6:7; James 3:1-12; John 1:1-17.
Acts 5:34-6:7
 
But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”
 
They were convinced by him, and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
 
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
 
The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

 
***
 
John 1:1-17

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
 
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
 
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
 
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 1 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
THREE COMMENTS ON A VESTMENT
Dear Archbishop Anoushavan,

While I was watching the Easter Badarak at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, I felt the soaring soul of my late Diramayr’s soul who sewed your garment.

Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian (Detroit)
Dear Archbishop Anoushavan,
 
Of all of the “Easter presents,” this morning, the greatest was the humility in which you presented yourself, vested as a humble priest before the awe-filled altar-table representing the emptied Tomb of Jesus Christ.
 
Srpazan, I genuinely thank you, sincerely admire you, for having the inner conviction which you have, to vest as a priest —not as a bishop— for this morning's celebration. I do not know how many other people have commented, or whether they even understand the powerful significance of what you have done, but I feel that I must tell you, with all sincerity, how much you have humbled the world through this action. May the heavenly Father, who has accepted your Badarak quietly this morning, reward you openly in many new ways.
 
On personal note, whoever was the tailor for the rich red Shourchar should be commended for the bottom hem which is so elegantly scalloped. I have never seen such detail. Is it an old vestment set, or did you ask that the hem be scalloped? It is very solemn.
 
Happy Easter!

Dr. George Leylekian (Bahamas)
Not sure why when there is need and poverty in all communities as well as the Armenian community that there is so much opulence in the vestments of Armenian priests. I find myself thinking especially on Easter, would it not be money better spent to feed the hungry?

Shaké Topalian (Facebook)
The Archbishop thanks all those who joined the live streamed Easter Badarak from St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, NYC. With simplicity of heart he appreciates all the comments from Detroit, Bahamas, and Facebook. Blessed be the memory of Diramayr Knarig Stepanian, who presented this vestment thirty years ago to then Fr. Anoushavan, on the occasion of his elevation to the rank of Dzayrakooyn Vartabed. If anyone is ready to buy this vestment, the Archbishop will gladly provide the money to feed the hungry.

LETTER OF APPRECIATION
Dear Srpazan Hayr,

This has been the first time in my life I have ever missed going to church on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday and I feel cheated and pained that I could not sing and enjoy our beautiful Badarak with the rest of our parishioners. Your live broadcasts of services during Holy Week, however, truly lessened that longing and pain for me as well as for several hundreds of churchgoers. While watching your services on the computer I couldn’t help but sing along with the Badarak at the top of my lungs. It wasn’t the same as being there in person, but it went a long way to meeting my spiritual needs. Thank you for going out of your way to allow us shut-ins an opportunity to commune with God during these trying times ---even if only through a computer screen.

Likewise, let me thank you and all of our Prelacy clergy for the Daily Reflections and Bible readings. I thought I knew my Bible stories, but reading them again every day during Holy Week revealed details I never knew before. You have given me the spiritual comfort I desperately needed at this trying time.

Holy Week is a very taxing time for all of our clergy both physically and mentally since some days you perform services both day and night. To do a service to an empty church must be very disheartening but you all did it with grace, determination, and devotion. One look at the Facebook broadcast index will show several thousand people tuned in to the broadcast. It appears that you not only met my needs but also those of many more people than one could imagine from all over the country.

Thank you and may God bless you and all of our wonderful Prelacy clergy.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Mirakian
REGISTER FOR THE 34TH ANNUAL DATEV SUMMER INSTITUTE
Due to the circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, the Prelacy’s St. Gregory of Datev Institute will hold a condensed online Summer Program for youth ages 13-18 from June 29 to July 3, 2020, instead of its regular sessions at St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania.

There will be an hour-long class (11 am to noon), Monday to Friday, which will include a brief church service, followed by mini-sessions on the Bible, Armenian Church history, and a panel discussion on current issues.

We invite our youth, and especially past Datevatsis, to take part in this unique Christian educational program.

Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

To register, please send your contact information (name, address, phone number, email address, and DOB) to Dn. Shant Kazanjian at skazanjian.sk@gmail.com. If you have any questions, please contact Deacon Shant by email or at 212-689-7810.
The Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship program was established in 1993 and continues to be the central mission of the Prelacy’s projects in Armenia and Artsakh. As part of the program, letters are received regularly from sponsored children addressed to their sponsors. We are pleased to share some of these letters through Crossroads.

This week’s letter is from Asya* who is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Davit Sharoyan. 
Dear Sponsor,
 
Greetings. This is Asya writing to you again. I am 7 years old. I am now in 2nd grade in school. I started the school year really well. I have more homework and get really tired, but my sister never lets me go to school without finishing all my homework. As I have so much homework to do, I can’t go out to play. I live with my family: my mom, sister, and brother.
 
My brother is now serving in the Armenian Army, my mom stays at home, and my sister is in 11th grade in school. She is a good student. I want to grow up and be a good person. I like to dance and sing.
 
Thank you for being by my side. May God bless you with good health and success in all your endeavors.
 
* In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names.
PLEASE CONSIDER SPONSORSHIP:
The St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization’s orphans’ sponsorship program now has two branches:
 
a.      Minors up to the age of 18.
b.     Orphans who upon turning 18 continue their studies at a higher education institution.
 
If you would like to sponsor a child on the waiting list of the Prelacy’s Sponsorship Program, please click here for quick and easy online sponsorship. Alternatively, for the sponsorship of both minors and university students you may also contact the Prelacy by email ( sophie@armenianprelacy.org ) or telephone (212-689-7810). 
FROM OUR SCHOOLS
ARMENIAN SONGS AND STORIES FOR CHILDREN NOW ONLINE
The principals of the schools under the jurisdiction of the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) agreed to post songs and readings from Armenian children’s books on the Eastern Prelacy’s Facebook page. The stories, read by teachers, will be updated twice a week.
 
The decision was taken by the principals in a conference call with ANEC Executive Director Mary Gulumian. On the days preceding Easter, two Holy Week songs were posted, prepared by St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School teacher Maro Arakelian, as well as two books of children stories read by Vicky Ashjian.
 
You may find the reading posts under the title “OUR TEACHERS READ TO OUR CHILDREN”; and the songs, “THE GIFT OF SONGS: FROM OUR TEACHERS TO OUR CHILDREN.”

Please like the page of the Armenian Prelacy of the Eastern United States on Facebook and follow us!
"BLACK ANGEL: THE LIFE OF ARSHILE GORKY"

NOURITZA MATOSSIAN
In “Black Angel,” the first full-scale biography of Arshile Gorky, one of the most mysterious of major twentieth-century artists, Nouritza Matossian uses for the first time his original letters in Armenian and other new source material, writing about the powerful influence the painter’s Armenian heritage had upon his work. She also provides an informed and important critique of the entire body of his major work. Gorky, a genocide survivor, was one of the first abstract expressionists and a major influence on the New York art scene, which included de Kooning, Rothko, Pollock, and others.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore ( books@armenianprelacy.org   or 212-689-7810)
Birth of Shirvanzade (April 18, 1858)
Shirvanzade, one of the major names in Armenian realist novel and theater, was born Alexander Movsisian on April 18, 1858, in the town of Shamakhi or Shamakha, currently in Azerbaijan. Shamakhi had then a sizable Armenian population and was the center of the Armenian homonymous diocese. The violent earthquake of 1872 ruined the town and led to the emergence of Baku as a pole of attraction for the Armenians. After attending the Armenian diocesan school and the Russian provincial school, the future writer was forced to drop school in 1875 due to his father’s unexpected bankruptcy and leave for Baku to work and help his family. For the next eight years, he worked at the provincial administration, oil company offices, and various companies as scribe, assistant bookkeeper, and bookkeeper.

He started contributing to the Armenian and Russian press. In 1883 Shirvanzade moved to Tiflis (Tbilisi) and published his first short story, “Fire in the Oil Factory,” followed by the novella “From the Memories of a Clerk.” Two years later, his novel “Honor” made him famous. From 1886-1891 he worked as secretary at the weekly Ardzagang of Tiflis, and published various novels and short novels in serialized form there.

Shirvanzade wrote and published his best works in the 1890-1905 period, which coincided with social and political ascent in the Russian Empire. Among his production we should mention the novel “Arsen Dimaksian” (1895), the short novel “Evil Spirit” (1895), and the novel “Chaos” (1898), among others, in which he continued to depict different aspects of social reality. “Chaos” is considered a masterpiece of Armenian realist novel both for its literary and ideological values.

The writer was a member of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party at the time and he defended the cause of Western Armenians with articles and activities during the Hamidian massacres of 1895-1896. He went to Russia to organize activities to gather material support for his compatriots in Turkey, but he was arrested and jailed in the infamous prison of Medekh, in Tiflis. As a result, he was exiled to Odessa from 1898-1901.

Shirvanzade played an exceptional role in the history of Armenian theater and play writing. He has been usually put in a trilogy with Gabriel Sundukian (1825-1912) and Levon Shant (1869-1952). He brought Armenian modern life on the scene, depicting social contradictions, political conflicts, and moral relations. His plays written during the first quarter of the twentieth century include familial, social, psychological, and political dramas (“The Princess,” “Evgine,” “Did She Have the Right?, “Honor,” “For the Sake of Honor,” “Evil Spirit,” “The Ruined One,” “In the Days of Terror”), and comedies (“The Charlatan,” “Morgan’s In-Laws”). “For the Sake of Honor” and “Evil Spirit” have been translated into English.

The writer lived in Paris in 1905-1910 and then returned to the Caucasus. The nightmare of World War I and the Armenian genocide left a heavy impression on him. He referred in many articles, letters, and literary works to the causes of the genocide and the inhuman actions of the Turkish authorities, as well as the political games of the great powers.

Shirvanzade went back abroad again in 1919 to receive medical treatment and resided in Paris until 1926, when he settled in Yerevan and continued his literary activities. He earned the titles of Popular Writer of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as Emeritus Cultural Worker of Transcaucasia. He passed away on August 7, 1935, in Kislovodsk (Northern Caucasus), where he had gone for medical reasons. He was buried in Yerevan at the city pantheon (now Komitas Pantheon).

Several of Shirvanzade’s works became film scripts: “Honor” (1925), “Evil Spirit” (1927”), “For the Sake of Honor (1956), “Morgan’s In-Laws” (1970), and “Chaos” (1973). Schools and streets in Yerevan and other places in Armenia bear his name, as well as the State Theater of Kapan. 

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
God’s Blessing or God’s Help?

The pandemic has brought much of our daily rush to a halt and many of us have the need to get creative about how to spend our time in a useful way. How about learning or relearning some pieces of basic knowledge?

In the Armenian Apostolic Church, every time you greet a married priest, whether a քահանայ ( kahana ) or an աւագ քանահայ ( avak kahana ), whether in person or by phone, you ask for God’s blessing. The Armenian verb “bless” is օրհնել ( օrhnel ) and the word for “blessing” is օրհնութիւն (orhnootyoon ). There is an aspirated “h” after or and before nel/nootyoon (if you want to transliterate օrnel/ornootyoon , that’s your choice, but it is less accurate), not a “t.” Therefore, the words  ortnel/ortnootyoon or օrdnel/ordnootyoon, which we see sometimes in Facebook postings, English letters, or elsewhere, are gibberish in the most perfect sense of the word and do not belong to the Armenian language.

When you ask for that blessing, you say Օրհնեցէք, Տէր Հայր ( Օrhnetsek, Der Hayr ) “Bless [me], Reverend Father.” The priest conveys God’s blessing through his mediation: Աստուած օրհնէ ( Asdvadz orhneh “God bless) [you].”

By the way, if you misspeak and say Օգնեցէք, Տէր Հայր ( Oknetsek, Der Hayr ) “Help [me], Reverend Father,” be aware that you are confused, since you do not ask for the priest’s help.

The reason for such misspeaking could be that you confused the married priest with a celibate priest. You ask for God’s help:

1) When you greet a աբեղայ (apegha), վարդապետ (vartabed) or ծայրագոյն վարդապետ (dzayrakooyn vartabed) , Աստուած օգնական, Հայր Սուրբ ( Asdvadz oknagan, Hayr Soorp ) “God help [me], Holy Father.”

2) When you greet a եպիսկոպոս ( yebisgobos “bishop”) or արքեպիսկոպոս ( arkebisgobos “archbishop”), Աստուած օգնական, Սրբազան Հայր ( Asdvadz oknagan, Surpazan Hayr) “God help [me], Most Holy Father.”
3) When you greet a կաթողիկոս (gatoghighos “Catholicos”), Աստուած օգնական, Վեհափառ Տէր ( Asdvadz oknagan, Vehapar Der ), “God help [me], Your Holiness”).

In all three cases, the response of the celibate priest is Աստուած պահապան ( Asdvadz bahaban “[May] God protect [you].”

Since you ask for God’s help, you do not ask for God’s blessing. Therefore, if you write or say Asdvadz orhnagan, Asdvadz ortnagan, or Asdvadz ordnagan to a celibate priest, be aware that you have simply stepped in the mud: you are using Armenian words in the wrong place ( orhnagan ) or inventing them ( ortnagan, ordnagan ).

In this shelter-at-home days, use some of your extra time to improve your Armenian education. You will not regret it.
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APRIL 24: A CALL FOR JUSTICE
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 ( Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style )
April 24  —Commemoration of 105 th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the St. Illuminator’s Cathedral (New York). The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor, and the sermon will be delivered by Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate. The Divine Liturgy will be livestreamed.

April 25  —Due to the health emergency, the Siamanto Academy will hold its class online on Saturday at 10:30 am. For information, contact ANEC Director Ms. Mary Gulumian at anec@armenianprelacy.org or call 212-689-7810. .
 
May 13-16  — POSTPONED —National Representative Assembly (NRA) of the Eastern Prelacy hosted by St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church of Philadelphia..
 
May 17  — CANCELED —Following Divine Liturgy, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral will host a talk by academic and author Rubina Peroomian.
 
May 31  — POSTPONED —Save the date. St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, Douglaston, New York, 30th Anniversary Banquet.
 
June 29—July 3  —St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program online. For information, please contact Dn. Shant Kazanjian at 212-689-7810 or s.kazanjian.sk@gmail.com.
 
September 26-27  —St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley (North Andover, Massachusetts), 50 th Anniversary, under the auspices of Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate.
 
October 4 —Save the date. St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church of New Britain, CT, 95th Anniversary Banquet.
 
October 17 —Hye Kef 5 Annual Dance, presented by the Armenian Friends of America, Inc.. Featuring: Steve Vosbikian Jr., Mal Barsamian, John Berberian, Ara Dinkjian and Jason Naroian. At the DoubleTree Hotel in Andover, MA. For details, visit ArmenianFriendsofAmerica.org or call Sharke at 978-808-0598.
 
November 15  —Save the date. The Eastern Prelacy's Annual Thanksgiving Banquet.
 
November 28  —Save the date. Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church 80th Anniversary Celebration, under the auspices of Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate. Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet, Cranston, Rhode Island.
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