April 2, 2020

Every Sunday morning, at 11.00 am, you can follow the celebration of the Holy Liturgy online on the Prelacy’s website ( www.armenianprelacy.org ) or on the Facebook page of the Armenian Prelacy of the Eastern United States. 
This Sunday, April 5, is Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week. The Church is joyful after forty days of repentance. Christ is coming to Jerusalem. He is coming in the name of the Lord in fulfillment of the prophecy (Zechariah 9:9-16).
Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and adorn your bridal chamber, O Sion, for behold your King Christ, seated on the new colt, shows meekness and comes to enter into your chamber. … Cry aloud, Hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord, who has great mercy. (From the Introit of Palm Sunday)

The Executive Council of the Eastern Prelacy is committed to working as normally as circumstances allow and its members held their regular meeting on Friday, March 27, by video conference.
The Executive Council, pursuant to the authority granted by Article 87 of the Prelacy’s By-Laws, has decided to postpone the National Representative Assembly on May 13-16, 2020, in light of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country. The now postponed assembly was to be hosted by the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Further information will be released in due course about plans to hold the 2020 National Representative Assembly later this year.

A self-righteous judge refuses to entertain the pleas of a poor widow. Yet she prevails by dint of perseverance. Let us explore the full meaning of the parable offered in Luke 18:1-8. In his homily on the Sunday of the Judge, the Prelate reflects on the importance of never giving up as God always hears our prayers.

According to the Calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Sixth Sunday of the Great Lenten Fast is known as the Sunday of the Coming or Advent Sunday. This weekend has a doubly important spiritual meaning to the Armenian people because on Saturday we commemorated the feast of the Entrance of Saint Gregory the Illuminator into the deep-pit prison of Khor Virab. In his sermon on Advent Sunday, the Prelate hails the example of our great saint to face adversity with unshakeable faith. 

Yesterday our readers had the opportunity to watch the message of His Eminence Archb. Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate. The recording was made last Sunday following Holy Liturgy to be broadcast on Armenia’s “Shant” TV network. The Prelate spoke about the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the importance of turning our faith into a source of hope, without giving in to panic. 

Dear brothers and sisters,
Those of you who are familiar with history, know the following phrase: “Hannibal is at the gates.” In other words, danger is looming. For three months now, the coronavirus pandemic not only is knocking at our doors, but it has also wormed its way into every layer of society on every continent and threatens their existence. At present, New York state, and the city in particular, has recorded more than 40,000 cases. I am happy to report that only three Armenian acquaintances of mine have been infected with this virus, one of whom has already recovered and is returning to normal life as a doctor to save the lives of others.
 In this time of uncertainty, crisis, and concern, this morning we have come to St. Sarkis Church and, after celebrating Holy Liturgy, I speak from the bottom of my heart to all the children of our nation in Armenia and in the Diaspora, animated with the spirit of freedom and combat of Patriarch Hayk that comes to us from 5,000 years ago, and based on the faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago.
Dear brothers and sisters, the human being, created in the image and likeness of God, is endowed with two treasures and blessings: reason and faith.
Firstly, using our judgment, let us follow every guideline provided by public and healthcare agencies.
Secondly, dangerous and deadly as the coronavirus is, the virus of fear is as lethal or even more, as it can paralyze our intellectual, spiritual and physical life.
Therefore, I say “yes” to carefulness and caution, but an absolute “no” to fear and panic.
In regards to the second gift from God—faith—it truly is the supreme fountain of hope, health and creation, not only in the spiritual world, but also physical, individual, family and collective life. This week, the Armenian Church marked the Commitment of St. Gregory the Illuminator to the Pit ( Khor Virab ). The great saint was condemned to death in Khor Virab, yet with his faith in God, his patience and prayer, he vanquished the sentence. Similarly, isolated in our homes, let us pray to God too, without complaining, consciously, with faith, for He never abandons those who have belief in Him, like the saint.
Dear brothers and sisters, never, ever say that God has forgotten us, that God has abandoned us. Children may abandon their parents and be ungrateful, but the heart of a mother and a father always beats for their children. In the same way, the infinite love of God beats for us and tells us, “turn to me and I will turn to you.”
Therefore, with this knowledge and faith, let us all together pray to Heavenly God to keep the Armenian nation and the mankind He created under his watch and to continue bestowing his generous help to us, so we may rid ourselves of the threat of dead and bless life once again, and praise the Holy Trinity.

Bible readings for Sunday, April 5, Palm Sunday-Christ’s Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem are: Song of Songs 1:1-2:3; Zechariah 9:9-15; Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 20:29-21:17.
Readings for Tuesday, April 7, Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God : Song of Songs 1:1-11; Proverbs 11:30-12:4; Isaiah 52:7-10; Zechariah 2:10-13; Malachi 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1; Luke 1:26-38,
Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice[a] in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.[b] 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 20:29-21:17

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard[e] the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies
 you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Saturday, April 4, we commemorate the Raising of Lazarus as told in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11. Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha were good friends of Jesus. Their home in Bethany (near Jerusalem) was Jesus’ home whenever he was in Jerusalem. Lazarus’ sudden death threw his sisters into deep mourning. Jesus also wept for his friend. John’s gospel account emphasizes the fact that Lazarus was indeed dead by pointing out that his body was in the tomb. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus convinced many people of his divine powers, and according to John, the authorities took steps to try to silence him.
Lazarus represents humankind and Bethany represents the whole world. The major themes of this day are the forthcoming victory of Christ over death, the supreme sacrifice of love, and the resurrection as the ultimate triumph of love.
The forty days of Great Lent ( Medz Bahk ) come to an end with Vespers on Friday prior to the commemoration of the Raising of Lazarus. A new fasting period for Holy Week begins on Monday and continues through Holy Saturday.

This Tuesday, April 7, is the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God that is celebrated nine months before the Nativity. It is the celebration of the announcing of the forthcoming birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.

“And behold. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

The unspeakable mystery hidden from the nations and ages has been revealed today by the descent of the archangel to the holy virgin Mary, whom we have as intercessor for our souls before the Lord. …O joy of our sorrowful nature, blessed virgin Mary; at the greeting of the good news you received and bore in yourself the giver of the law of greeting. Always intercede for our souls before him .” (Canon for the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

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 Mary* who is sponsored by Maral Tashjian.  
Hello, my dear friend from the Diaspora,
A lot of things changed in my life since my last letter to you. I will tell you about the most important of those events.
I finished the first semester at school with very good grades. Then the beloved winter vacation started.
I had a very interesting vacation. Our relatives from abroad visited Kapan and we welcomed the New Year together. The weather this year wasn’t very winter-like, so we celebrated the coming of the New Year in warm and spring-like mood. We were all hoping for snow, but the weather disillusioned us.
Dear friend, I had told you in my last letter that my brother got admitted in the university of his choice. Currently, he is doing his military service in the Armed Forces. After two years, he will resume his studies. A few days ago, we went to visit him and participate in the Taking the Oath ceremony. His service in the army represents a reason of great pride for our whole family. 
The winter vacation ended long ago. I started the new semester in high spirits and hoping to learn lots of new things. Along with my school classes, I take English classes. I think that learning foreign languages is a great possibility to achieve even more success.
Dear Sponsor, I just learned from my mother that my friend from the Diaspora has sent me a special gift. She said that you had sent me $25, for which I am very thankful!
I hope that my next letter, my very dear friend, will be more interesting.
* In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names.
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). 
Last week, Der Antranig Baljian, on behalf of St. Stephen's parish, presented the Watertown Police Department with vinyl and protective latex gloves for the safety of the officers and firefighters, who are on the frontlines to keep the community safe.

Avedis Hadjian
Like many other Armenians, for a long time Avedis Hadjian had assumed that no Armenian presence remained in eastern Turkey after the 1915 Genocide. But from time to time, there were rumors in the Diaspora about communities of Armenians leading a secluded life in the historical provinces of Western Armenia—like Sasun, Mush or Dikranagerd—and elsewhere in what is now Turkey. Hadjian travelled to the towns and villages once densely populated by Armenians, recording stories of survival and discovery from those who remain in a region that is deemed unsafe for the people who once lived there.
This book takes the reader to the heart of these hidden communities, unearthing their unique heritage and identity. Revealing the lives of a people that have been trapped in a history of denial for more than a century, Secret Nation is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide in the very places where the events occurred.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore ( books@armenianprelacy.org   or 212-689-7810)
Birth of Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikian (April 3, 1922)
The Bazhbeuk-Melikians, a family with old roots in Tiflis, nowadays Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, have formed an artistic dynasty. Famous portraitist Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikian (1891-1966) had three children, Lavinia, Zuleyka (b. 1939) and Vazgen (1941-2004), and all of them followed their father’s career. Lavinia was named after the daughter of Titian, the famous Italian Renaissance painter.

She was born in Tbilisi on April 3, 1922. She moved to Yerevan in 1935 and, after finishing high school, she entered the Panos Terlemezian Art Institute in 1941, graduating three years later. In 1951, she graduated from the V. Surikov Art Institute in Moscow.

In 1962, she participated in the groundbreaking exhibition of the “Five,” which opened the path for Armenian modernist art. The most famous name of the five painters included in this exhibition was that of Minas Avetisian (1928-1975), who was accompanied by Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikian, Alexander Grigorian, Arpenik Ghapantsian, and Henrik Siravian. In 1967 L. Bazhbeuk-Melikian earned the title of Artist Emeritus of Armenia and in 1983 she was named Popular Artist of Armenia. Five years later, she was elected corresponding member of the Art Academy of Russia, becoming full member in 2002. She earned the title of Emeritus Artist of Russia in 1997.

She was a master of portrait, in her father’s steps, showing her contemporaries with psychological detail. Several of her portraits are particularly noted: “Self-portrait with S. Zhilinskaya” (1973), “Theater director Marat Varzhapetian” (1973), “Self-portrait” (1979), “Zuleyka’s portrait” (1987), “Arshak” (2003). Her landscapes (“Rocks,” 1976), still lifes (“Still life with statuette,” 1965; “Still life,” 1972; “Still life with Venus mask,” 2000), and symbolic images (“Angel,” 1998) have also been praised, and they are characterized by the vitality of their colors and details. Her works are found in the National Gallery of Armenia, the Museum of Modern Art of Yerevan, and other collections.

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikian’s last years were shattered by the robbery of 21 masterpieces of her father from her home in August 2003. Although the thieves were apprehended, tried, and sentenced, the details of the robbery were not disclosed, as well as the fate of the paintings, about which there were various contradictory statements and publications. The shock suffered by the eighty-year-old painter and her inability to change the situation led her to illness and finally death on November 8, 2005, in Yerevan, at the age of eighty-three.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
“The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (Matthew 21:7-8). The triumphal entrance of Christ to Jerusalem is what we celebrate on Palm Sunday.

The Armenian name of the feast is Ծաղկազարդ (Dzaghgazart, literally “Flower Ornament”), different from other languages: Palm Sunday, Domingo de Ramos (“Branches Sunday,” in Spanish), et cetera. This shows that the Armenian name has a special meaning. Like many other feasts of our religious calendar, the advent of Christianism absorbed and adapted a pagan celebration.

Around this date, there was the celebration of the ancient feast of spring, which was also dedicated to trees and flowers, and contained the idea of the Tree of Life. It was common to decorate the trees with colorful pieces of cloth, and for this reason the feast of Dzaghgazart took the popular name of Ծառզարդար (Dzarzartar “Ornamenting of Trees”).

During Dzaghgazart , in different regions of Armenia they prepared marionettes related to rain and drought, which had different names, even though the most common one was Նուրի (Noori) . Scholars have assumed that it was a representation of the water divinity Nar. The marionettes were made of brooms or wood, and their face was made with white cloth. They were also endowed with a belt made of colorful fabric, a veil with brilliant beads, and a flower crown on the head. 

A procession took Noori through squares and neighborhoods. People threw pitchers of water over the procession from windows and doors, and gave little gifts to the participants. 
Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
Please remember that the deadline for submitting items for Crossroads is on Tuesday evenings.
All parish news, photographs, and calendar items should be emailed to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org . Please send also your inquiries and comments (English and/or Armenian) to the same email address.

 ( Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style )
April 4 —Due to the health emergency, the Siamanto Academy will hold its class online on Saturday at 10:30 am. Students are kindly reminded to respond to the ZOOM conference call invitation if they have not yet.
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  —Save the date. Following Divine Liturgy, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral will host a talk by academic and author Rubina Peroomian.
May 31   —Save the date. St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, Douglaston, New York, 30th Anniversary Banquet.
June 28—July 5   —St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program: the 34th annual Datev Summer Program for youth ages 13-18 will take place at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). For information, please click  here  or contact the AREC office—212-689-7810 or  arec@armenianprelacy.org   .
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 His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian. Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet, Cranston, Rhode Island. More details to follow.
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