August 13, 2020
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THE EXPLOSION THAT SHOCKED THE WORLD
Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters,

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, a devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, shocked the world, which rallied around a country that had been experiencing a severe socio-economic crisis for a year. Within this immense pain, we find comfort in goodness being alive in society: governments and individuals are reaching out to mitigate the unbearable anguish of those who are suffering due to the loss of their loved ones and their own injuries, and of those who are now displaced or have lost their jobs.

Upon the pontifical appeal of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, the Prelacy has launched a Lebanon Relief Fundraising. His Holiness has officially announced that a Central Coordinating Committee has been established with the participation of all Armenian denominations and organizations, and a special account has been created to be used primarily for humanitarian and other needs.

We are pleased to inform that, with the cooperation of our clergy and with the help of our generous donors, so far, we have raised $50,000 dollars, and the first transfer has been done today. In the interests of accountability, the list of donors will be published every Thursday on Crossroads. We will respect the wishes of the donors who would like to remain anonymous.

May God bless us and help us all in our Homeland, Artsakh, Diaspora,

shower His mercy upon Mankind,

and keep strong the Land of the Free.

Prayerfully,

Archbishop Anoushavan,
Prelate
“OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD”
As your Prelate, I am humbled and touched by your overwhelming response to the appeal of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I to help our brethren in Beirut following the huge explosion that cost at least 200 lives and left thousands of injured. At the time of this writing, there are at least 13 Armenians among the casualties and 100 people are still missing. According to Lebanese government sources, at least 300,000 have been left homeless by the blast in the port of Beirut.

Tragedies test our mettle. As Armenians, we are sadly familiar with the tests history puts us through. That explains why Armenia and our Diaspora was among the first and most generous responders to the suffering in Lebanon, one of the dearest to our nation and which opened the doors to our survivors when Turkey put us on the brink of extinction in 1915. Now was the time to give back. And, I am moved to be witnessing it, we are, massively.

We all know how vital Lebanon is and has been for the Armenian nation. Throughout some of the toughest years of the civil war that broke out in 1975 and went on for fifteen years, it continued to churn out intellectuals, priests, writers, teachers, and books while keeping its vital, foundational community alive while bombs were raining down and families were crying so many losses and so much suffering, and rebuilding their schools, businesses, and their lives every day, in the hope and the certainty that better days would come. Even when besieged by an endless war, Beirut kept on giving, keeping our schools and churches and communities throughout the Diaspora alive.

It is no chance that the Holy See of Cilicia has established itself in Antelias. Since the Genocide, Lebanon has been the home away from home for every Armenian, even when fate has been as harsh on the Lebanese as it has been on the Armenians.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21). This time, the quote is not an appeal. It is, rather, a description of your generous actions in the face of the adversity our brethren in Lebanon are going through. It is, also, my way of thanking you, for I am a loss for words to do so.

Prayerfully,

Prelate, Eastern Prelacy of the United States

“ARMENIANS OF LEBANON!
THE ENTIRE NATION STANDS WITH YOU”
That was the first statement by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia on Sunday, August 9, in the message he delivered at the Cathedral of the Holy See in Antelias. After the horrific explosion in Beirut on August 4, His Holiness expressed profound thoughts, after urging our people “to turn to God not only during trials and tribulations, but always.”

His Holiness remembered the hard days of the past, during the civil war of Lebanon, while he was prelate. “I have served our people often under rockets and walking through landmines, I’ve even been hurt by a bullet on my right hand. In those days I have also witnessed the damage caused by bombing. Nevertheless, what happened a few days ago was unprecedented: with its scope, its magnitude, and the victims and destruction it caused.”

While expressing his anger and emotion, wondering “why humans cause such criminal acts, intentionally or not,” His Holiness prayed that “God receive in the celestial kingdom the souls of the victims from our community and all of Lebanon” and that He “grant a quick recovery to all the injured.” Catholicos Aram reaffirmed that reconstruction “is the only open way before us, which we will walk together, hand in hand, heart to heart, with a profound faith, with strong will and a lively vision,” ensuring “that our church, our brotherhood and myself will walk with you and will do everything possible to help the Armenian community of Lebanon to heal its wounds, mitigate its pain and reestablish its pivotal place and role in the life of our nation”.

His Holiness also emphasized that “the strengthening of the Armenian community of Lebanon is the strengthening of Armenia and the Diaspora,” describing the traditional role the community has played in the life of the Diaspora and in the nation-building effort after Armenia regained its independence. He also expressed his gratitude for the wave of support and help coming Armenia and the Diaspora, as well as from non-Armenians. “The work of reconstruction of the Armenian community of Lebanon will be a collective, joint effort that will be carried out in a planned and consistent manner, with help from Armenia and the state of Artsakh and from every organization and individual of our nation.”

Catholicos Aram reaffirmed that “the Armenian community of Lebanon, yes, stands with the state, but it is against officials who draw illicit benefits from their public office.” In reference to the health, financial as well as social and political crisis that Lebanon has been facing for the last six months, His Holiness said that the last two crises were a consequence of an “irresponsible and dishonest conduct” by government officials, as well as a “lack of accountability and corruption.”

The Catholicos echoed the public’s discontent about the lack of accountability to savers about their bank deposits. “There is no acknowledgement of the wrongs committed against the people, and the individuals or organizations that misused the money of the people or managed it with negligence are not being held to account.”

He also repeated the question that is on everybody’s mind and mouth: “How can a massive amount of an explosive and toxic substance be kept without any precautions, even though it was well known how dangerous it was? What an immoral and reckless behavior is this? With what conscience do the individuals behind this terrible crime watch the dead, the injured, the destruction they caused?”
In recalling that the priest is an ambassador for Christ, in the words of the apostle (2 Corinthians 5:20), Catholicos Aram said: “I can’t be silent in the face of these crimes that afflict our people, destroy the economic life of our people and endanger its safety. A few days ago, the Lebanese president declared that Lebanese courts of justice will be open to everyone: we hope and expect it. Rest assured, however, that the Lebanese courts will not have enough room to admit all the defendants…”

He warned that “when the people resolutely take to the streets, the seats of officials that are mired in corruption begin to shake,” as the past and the present attest that “the people are not subjected to government officials, but the government officials are subject and accountable to the people that elected them and we are all subject to the laws of the country.” Hence, the Catholicos said, “we demand a rapid solution for the grave financial situation of Lebanon as well as that the people behind the blast in Beirut receive the maximum punishment.”
RECONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE SET UP IN BEIRUT
On the recommendation of Catholicos Aram I, on Sunday, August 9, representatives of all major Armenian denominations and community organizations established a committee for the reconstruction of the Armenian community of Lebanon under the chairmanship of Archbishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate.

The group was created to help the community deal with the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, the financial crisis and the explosion of August 4 in the port of Beirut. In addition to the Armenian Apostolic Church, the meeting for the creation of the Lebanese Armenian Community Reconstruction Committee was attended by the heads of the Armenian Catholic and Armenian Evangelical communities, representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, the Social Democrat Hunchakian and the Armenian Democratic Liberal (Ramkavar) parties, as well as representatives of AGBU, the Armenian Educational Beneficent Union and the Lebanese Armenian Relief Society. 

After referring to the appeal of Catholicos Aram calling for a joint and collective effort by all Armenians in the homeland the Diaspora, Archbishop Shahe emphasized that the priority of the newly created body should be rebuilding homes, churches and community organizations, healthcare plans and educational help.

The Lebanese Armenians’ Prelate said that the reconstruction committee should immediately begin its work, defining a quick, efficient and effective action plan. Archbishop Shahe emphasized the need for a unified view and initiative to communicate to the people a spirit of vitality to build, endure and persevere. 

The representatives of the three denominational communities, three political parties and three beneficent organizations formed an executive subcommittee that will begin work immediately.  

PRAYERS FOR LEBANON AT ST. SARKIS
Prayers for Lebanon and a requiem service were held on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at St. Sarkis Church Armenian Apostolic Church.

His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, presided over the services, accompanied by Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, and Rev. Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan, Pastor of The Armenian Church Of Holy Martyrs.

The Sunday vigil vespers were followed by a requiem service offered for the souls of the victims of the deadly blast in Beirut.

Following the prayers, Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, Pastor of St. Sarkis Church thanked the clergy for accepting his invitation to pray together for Lebanon. He reflected on the main hymn of the service that has a central theme of encountering the true Light Jesus Christ. Fr. Terterian said that the community’s role is to provide financial and emotional support to lead the suffering Armenian brothers and sisters in Lebanon to the light of Christ, from the state of despair and devastation that the blast created. He then invited Fr. Abraham and Archbishop Anoushavan respectively for their messages.

Fr. Abraham gave a heartfelt message, saying that he and the community of the Armenian Church of Holy Martyrs support the Armenian brothers and sisters in Lebanon, recalling that Beirut has always been a very important center for the Armenian Diaspora, and supporting and rebuilding that community was imperative. For his part, Archbishop Anoushavan focused his remarks on the message of hope that we need to convey to our Lebanese Armenian brothers and sisters through our financial and emotional solidarity.
 
ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER, POLITICAL PARTIES
MARK CENTENNIAL OF TREATY OF SÈVRES
The Treaty of Sèvres ushered in a new era of self-determination as the ruling principle of international relations, said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday, August 10, on occasion of the centennial of the seminal accord signed after the First World War. It signaled “the end of the cursed years,” he said in remarks read at a conference entitled “The Treaty of Sèvres and the Armenian Question” hosted by Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences.

“Like the Treaty of Versailles in Europe, the Treaty of Sèvres was forming a new system of inter-state relations in the region,” the Prime Minister said in prepared remarks read for him at the conference by the Academy’s Vice President Yury Shukryan, as he did not attend the conference. Sèvres, Mr. Pashinyan said, introduced “new principles and values, it was establishing not only peace but also justice in [Asia Minor].”

The principle of self-determination and equality of nations is at the core of the treaty, which ended imperial subjugation and gave independence and freedom to peoples of the region.

“Moreover, by providing the right to establish national states in historic territories, it was creating favorable conditions for the peaceful coexistence of Muslim and Christian people in the region, the preservation of civilized diversity of the region and their further development,” said Pashinyan.
“The Treaty of Sèvres is the international document that recognized and affirmed Armenia’s independence,” the Prime Minister said in the previously prepared remarks. “The Republic of Armenia was acting as a legally equal party to this treaty. Centuries after losing independence, the Armenian government was for the first time signing an international treaty with the Great Powers. The Republic of Armenia was being recognized in the defined borders of the treaty as a full member of the international community and a legally equal subject to international law.”

He also highlighted the major historical dimension of the treaty by establishing the right of the Armenian people to their original homeland of the Armenian Highlands, the Prime Minister said, reflecting on its importance.

“Article 89 of the Treaty of Sèvres was stating and affirming the Armenian people’s historic and undisputed relation with the Armenian Highlands, where the Armenian people were born, lived and shaped their statehood and culture for millennia,” said Pashinyan.

Mr. Pashinyan also highlighted the providential nature of Sèvres, which came on the heels of the Armenian Genocide.

“The Treaty of Sèvres was signed in the wake of the Armenian Genocide as the Ottoman Empire was trying to resolve the ‘Armenian Question’ by exterminating the Armenians. Our people were subjected to the most brutal and inhuman suffering. Enormous losses were inflicted on our nation. Meanwhile, the Treaty of Sèvres paved the way for overcoming the consequences of the Genocide. The establishment of the independent Armenian statehood in its ancestral homeland was the fair solution of the “Armenian Question.” Historical justice was being restored. Favorable conditions were created for reinstating our people’s economic and demographic potential and ensuring its natural development,” Pashinyan said.

“Although the Treaty of Sèvres was never implemented, it continues to be a historical fact, which reflects our long journey to restore our independent statehood,” he said. “We are bound by duty to remember it, realize its importance and follow its message.”

In a joint declaration issued on the day of the 100th anniversary, the three traditional political parties—the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, and the Armenian Democratic Liberal (Ramkavar) Party—highlighted that the “Treaty of Sèvres is the only treaty signed by both Turkey and the Republic of Armenia, with the free will of the Armenian side.”

In the statement, the parties said that in addition of holding “Turkey as responsible for its war crimes, it also demands that Turkey take steps to facilitate the process of punishing those directly involved in the crime”. It further “demands that Turkey repeal the 1915 Abandoned Property laws and the supplementary provisions thereof, compelling it to return all confiscated properties to individual or community owners.”

A century later, the joint declaration says, “the Republic of Turkey continues to show hostility towards the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people. Until Turkey fulfills its obligations under the provisions contained in the Treaty of Sèvres based on international law, Turkey is obliged to:

a. End the 27-year illegal land blockade of the Republic of Armenia
b. Stop its aggressive steps against Armenia, especially recently
c. Stop its anti-Armenian policies within Turkey – including on our historic and occupied lands – or outside, against the Armenian diaspora formed as a result of the Genocide

The parties say they are “confident that the day will come when, as the author and perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey will have to bear its responsibility and compensate all losses of the Armenian people.” They conclude by declaring that “in cooperation with other Armenian political forces, and especially with the Republic of Armenia, will continue our struggle until the restoration of historical justice.”
ARCHBISHOP ANOUSHAVAN IN WHITINSVILLE
On Sunday, August 16, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, will preside over the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, Pastor, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Our faithful may follow the ceremony via live streaming.

EVE OF THE FAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
THE PRELATE’S HOMILY
On Sunday, August 9, Archbishop Anoushavan presided over the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, Pastor, was the celebrant. You can read the Prelate’s sermon below:

Today is known as the “Paregentan” Sunday, which commences the upcoming fasting-week in spiritual preparation for the great feast-day of Asdvadzadzin in honor of the Holy Virgin Mary. Our scriptural reading is from the Gospel of St. Mark, chapter 2, verses 1-12. The Evangelist tells us that Jesus was preaching in Capernaum in a home that was overwhelmingly crowded. Four people tried to enter into the house, carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. When they saw that they had no access to Jesus through the house, they dared to break open a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher with the paralyzed man lying upon it. Jesus, seeing their faith, addresses the paralytic and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Some of the scribes who were present and heard this questioned in their heart whether this was blasphemy, since they believed that only God can forgive sins. Jesus, perceiving in His spirit their attitude, questions them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?” Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, Jesus says to the paralytic to get up, to walk and go home. The assembly in the house was amazed at this and they glorified God.
The content of this passage is indeed rich, and there are many issues to discuss. Nevertheless, I would like to highlight two of them.

First. This is one of the most beautiful readings, in which we feel the showering of Divine mercy over mankind. Jesus is the source of Life, Goodness, Kindness, and a positive spirit flows from His essence, behavior, thoughts, and deeds. Upon seeing the commitment of the four persons, he highly appreciates it and instantly rewards it. One of the weaknesses of human beings is that for different reasons most of the time we are afraid to compliment and to encourage others in their good achievements. So many valuable talents have been tarnished because, for one reason or another, they have not been properly acknowledged. By following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by appreciating each and every element of the society, be it our immediate or extended family member or neighbor, a colleague or employee, we could reach the peak of ideal life in this world to be followed in the life to come.

Second. In this passage we encounter the visible and invisible vulnerability of human life. In other words, in response to the physical sickness which we all see, we try everything in our capacity to take care of the person, and to heal by all means as much as possible. The other sickness, which is invisible and more serious, unfortunately is elusive from our immediate attention. God is constantly concerned about our physical condition that is often visible, and about our emotional wellbeing, which is often invisible. The inner world of each and every individual is inundated with innumerable conscious and unconscious sinful thoughts, wishes and ambitions that eventually impact on our deeds, behavior and aspirations. That is why Jesus asks: “Which is easier to say, ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘stand up’?” We human beings are focused upon and worried about our physical life, health or sickness, but we ignore the spiritual dimension of our own existence that is as critical as the former. Because of our sins, we are so alienated from God that unfortunately our soul is numbed and paralyzed (though this is not to say that the soul is dead), and consequently all the senses of our soul are deprived from enjoying their raison d'être and their original purpose. The question by Jesus is a warning, a wake-up call that, just like physical paralysis, sickness and death, there is also spiritual paralysis, sickness and death. The spiritual frailty is often far worse than the physical weaknesses. These few verses remind us about how tremendous God’s tender love and mercy are. In other words, we are asking for a penny and God is granting us millions. We are asking for temporary, limited and perishable things, and He is showering us with eternal goodness.

As mature men and women let us not miss the opportunity which this life grants us to reevaluate and enjoy it with Divine perspective. More than at any other time, our generation is conscientious about physical health by diet, exercises, fitness, etc. More than at any other time, the pandemic is calling us to be vigilant about our health and wellbeing, and each of us is called to monitor our interaction and to be cognizant of the needs of others who are alone and suffering from the virus. Hence, if we practice the same measures for the safety of our spiritual health, then truly we shall enjoy its benefit in our earthly and celestial life.

Dear fellow brothers and sisters,

Since last Tuesday, besides the pandemic, the international community experienced the sad news of the devastating explosion that took place in Lebanon, with shockwaves that were felt as far away as Cyprus. It took the lives of 135 citizens, of which 11 were Armenians; 5,700 are seriously injured, of which 250 are Armenians. The material damage to the country is enormous and unimaginable. The Catholicosate, churches, institutions, stores, and thousands of residence have been damaged indiscriminately. The psychological impact on the people is devastating. The one thing that Lebanese citizens hold is Hope. Today’s Gospel reading indeed carries an existential message. It teaches us how the paralyzed man was healed physically and spiritually by Jesus because of the commitment of four friends. Today, Lebanon is the paralyzed one. The four people stand for mankind stretching from the four corners of the world. Let us do our best to pray and to assist, and God will do the rest to heal and restore.

Prelate, Eastern Prelacy of the United States

THE EASTERN PRELACY’S
2020 MEMBERSHIP DUES
AT A LOSS TO EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE
“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work”. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

Your support in this initial period of our membership campaign is exceeding by far our best expectations and encourages us to persevere in our commitment to serving our parishes and our faithful as we adjust to life during the pandemic. We at the Prelacy are humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude by the generous response of so many members and friends as we still deal with the unprecedented health emergency. In the words of a donor who wrote to us: “Thank you for all you do to help us keep the faith and be hopeful for the future.”
BIBLE READINGS
Bible readings for Sunday, August 16, Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, are: Song of Songs 4:9-15; 8:14; Isaiah 7:10-16; Galatians 3:29-4:7; Luke 2:1-7.
Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

***
Galatians 3:29-4:7

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
The Blessed Virgin Mary holds a high place in the Armenian Church, next to Christ. We begin our Divine Liturgy with these words, “Through the intercession of the holy Mother of God, O Lord, receive our supplications and save us.” In every Armenian Church the painting on the main altar is of Mary, holding the infant Savior. The Gospels teach us that Mary was blessed and called by God to fulfill God’s divine plan of salvation. Mary has a primary place of honor because through her and by the Holy Spirit God became incarnate, became human.

This Sunday, August 16, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption (Verapokhoum) of the Holy Mother of God, the fourth of the five major feast days in our Liturgical Calendar. Verapokhoum in classical Armenian means “transport up.” According to tradition, when the Holy Mother died she was buried by the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. Bartholomew who was not present at her funeral wished to visit her grave. When the gravestone was lifted they were surprised to find that her body had disappeared. It was believed that Christ had come and taken his mother to the Heavenly Kingdom. Based on this event, the Church Fathers established the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is one of the five tabernacle feast days in the Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. The feast is preceded by a week (five days) of fasting and followed by a memorial day.

Because Bartholomew was very fond of the Holy Mother, the apostle John gave him an image of her (which she had given to John). Bartholomew took this image with him to Armenia to Darbnots Kar in the province of Antsev, Vaspurakan (Western Armenia) where a convent for nuns, Hogyats Vank (Monastery of the Spirits), was built and where the icon was kept. Most depictions of Bartholomew show him holding this icon.

The concept of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is old as evidenced in sacred prose and poetry dedicated to the Holy Mother. However, it did not become a basic doctrine of the church until the ninth century and it was in the twelfth century that the feast was called “The Assumption.”

This Sunday is the name day for those named Mariam, Maro, Mary, Mari, Makrouhi, Mayrenie, Maroush, Serpouhi, Dirouhi, Takouhi, Lousig, Lousnag, Arousiag, Arpine, Markarid, Nazig, Azniv, Seta, Dzaghig, Verjin, Arshalouys.

Today the saints have gathered together, the blessed apostles and the holy virgins in bright garments with their lighted lamps and in unison they sang: Blessed are you, all-praised among women.
          
Today having placed the holy Virgin at the door of the tomb, they awaited the coming of the Lord himself. And behold, they saw on the heights the Creator coming with a multitude of angels; and in unison they began to sing in praise: Blessed are you, all-praised among women.
          
Today they saw the holy Virgin floating through the air and on the fiery chariot ascending into heaven with the wise virgins entering into the heavenly tabernacles; and in unison they sang in song: Blessed are you, all-praised among women.
          
Today, accompanied by the many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim you entered into the radiant tabernacles and saw the various thrones prepared for you, O Lady; with them we also sing: Blessed are you all-praised among women.
 
From Canon for the Assumption of the Mother of God, according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
BLESSING OF THE GRAPES
The Blessing of the Grapes takes place on the Feast of the Assumption, although there is no connection between the two events. This ceremony is rooted in the Biblical tradition as commanded by God to the Israelites, through Moses, to donate the “first bearing of all their fruits, on the Tabernacle in order that with this first offering all fruits would receive Your blessing…” The hymn Park Sourp Khatchet (Glory to Your Sacred Cross) is sung; Biblical passages are recited, followed by a prayer composed by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali specifically for this occasion. After the prayer, the grapes are blessed three times with the words Orhnestsee Bahbanestsee and then the blessed grapes are distributed to the faithful, many of whom have refrained from eating grapes until after this blessing.

Certainly we can say that the Blessing of the Grapes is a symbolic celebration of the fruitfulness of the earth. Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Noah planted a vineyard immediately after disembarking from the Ark (Genesis, Chapter 9) in Nakhichevan, Armenia. And, of course, the wine of the Divine Liturgy comes from grapes.

Bless, O Lord, the grape plants and vineyards from which these grapes are taken and presented to the holy church, and make them bountiful and fruitful; let them be like good and fertile land, protect the vineyard from all kinds of misfortune and destruction which come from above because of our sins, from hail, from cold, from hot winds, and from destructive insects, so that we may enjoy that which You have created in this world for our enjoyment and for Your glory, and grant that we may be worthy to eat and drink with You from the bounty of Your most fruitful vine at the table of Your Father’s Kingdom, according to the just promise which You made, to the honor and glory of Your coexisting Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the most Holy Spirit to whom is due glory, power, and honor, now and forever. Amen. (From the prayer written by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali for the Blessing of the Grapes).
FEAST OF SHOGHAKAT OF HOLY ETCHMIADZIN
This Saturday, August 15, is the Feast of Shoghakat of Holy Etchmiadzin that is always observed on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Assumption. Shoghakat refers to the vision of the rays of light seen by St. Gregory when God chose the site for the Mother Cathedral. The feast is celebrated at the time of Assumption because the Cathedral in Etchmiadzin is named in honor of the Holy Mother, although through the years it became known as Etchmiadzin. The name of St. Shoghakat was given to the church, according to tradition, because it was built where "the divine light had shed" (shogh gatadz er) on the Hripsimiants virgins.
REMEMBRANCE OF THE DEAD (MEMORIAL DAY)
Monday, August 17, is Memorial Day (Merelotz). In accordance with the tradition of the Armenian Church, the day after each of the five tabernacle feasts is designated as a Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of the dead. Traditionally, on Merelotz, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated with a requiem service for all souls and for those specifically requested. Following the service the clergy and faithful go to the cemetery where the graves of loved ones are blessed.
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LETTER OF APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE
Dear Archbishop Tanielian,

I want to thank the Prelacy for the wonderful programs rendering throughout this Pandemic. The daily Reflections by clergy, the Bible studies and your visits to the churches are just wonderful. By doing so, we feel as though we are not missing out on church. I enjoy all the Masses from all the churches and get to see how beautiful they are all.

Thank you again for your service to the Armenian Church.

Janet Der Aprahamian
Rocky Hill, CT
FROM OUR PARISHES
PRELATE PRESIDES ANNUAL PICNIC AT WORCESTER
On Sunday, August 9, the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Worcester had its Annual Picnic. His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian presided over the Divine Liturgy and delivered his sermon, where he praised the virtues of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and spoke about the situation in Lebanon, exhorting the faithful to actively support their brothers and sisters, who experienced turmoil.

At the end of Badarak, Archbishop Anoushavan, alongside Archpriest Fr. Vazken Bekiarian and Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian, the pastor of the Church, performed the “Antasdan” service and later blessed the grapes.

Parishioners received their picnic-food and the blessed grapes through curbside pick-up system, where around 254 meals were sold, all on pre-order basis.
INTERFAITH SERVICE IN SOLIDARITY WITH LEBANON
St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Dearborn, Michigan and Father Hrant Kevorkian joined St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Livonia, Michigan at an Interfaith Prayer Service on Wednesday evening.

Candlelight Vigil took place and prayers were raised in honor of the living and in memory of the victims of the massive explosion in Lebanon that caused over 200 deaths and 6,000 injured, and left around half a million people homeless.

Participating in the prayers were Fr. George Shalhoub and V. Rev. Boulos Moussa, from St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church; Imam Mohamad Mardini, from American Muslim Center; Imam Ahmad Hammoud, from Islamic Center of America; Fr. Elias Eid, from St. Michael Melkite Catholic Church; Fr. Roby Zibara, from St. Maron Maronite Church; Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian, from St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church; V. Rev. Aren Jebejian. from St. John Armenian Church; Pastor Fr. Ata Mikhael, from Middle Eastern Bible Fellowship; Fr. Imad Albanna, from Sts. Peter and Paul Syriac Orthodox Church, and Samer Amer, representing the Mashykha of Akel of Druze in Michigan.
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 children addressed to their actual or potential sponsors. We are pleased to share some of these letters through Crossroads.

This week’s letter is from Nané* who is on the waiting list for a sponsor. 

*In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names. 
Dear Sponsor,

My name is Nané. I was born on March 5, 2006. I live with my grandmother, grandfather, father, brother, and aunt. I go to school in our village of Sayat Nova in the Ararat region of Armenia. I am a straight A student and will try to maintain my standing. Because of the coronavirus, we have our classes online.

I go to English classes. I love studying languages and I want to concentrate my efforts on improving my English skills. Besides that, I like to draw pictures, and I participate in the after-school program’s art classes. I like to spend time with my girlfriends; I have many friends who are always with me.

My dream is to become an ambassador.

Thank you for accepting me into the program.

YOUR SPONSORSHIP WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE RIGHT NOW
The program of the St. Nerses the Great Organization includes both orphans up to the age of 18 and orphans who become students at a higher education institution upon turning 18. There are children of all ages in the waiting list of the Prelacy’s Sponsorship Program. Now we also have orphans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consider sponsoring a child. For quick and easy online sponsorship of minors up to the age of 18, please click here. 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).
THE PRELACY RAFFLE IS ON!
DRAWING DATE: SEPTEMBER 12, 2020 
The drawing of the Prelacy’s annual raffle is on September 12, 2020. The top prize is $5,000; second prize is $2,000; and third, fourth, and fifth prizes are $1,000.
We always like to point out that in this raffle there are no losers, because all the money raised benefits the Prelacy’s educational and religious programs.
Tickets cost $100 each. For information, please contact your local parish or the Prelacy office (email@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810).
“ARMENIA: A HISTORICAL ATLAS”
ROBERT H. HEWSEN
In this atlas, historian and geographer Robert H. Hewsen traces Armenia's turbulent history, from ancient times to the present day through more than 230 full-color maps packed with information about physical geography, demography, and sociopolitical, religious, cultural, and linguistic history. Robert Hewsen's work is the first definitive historical atlas of Armenia and the first such atlas to be published for any of the former Soviet republics.
 
The book is divided into five sections, each of which begins with a chronology of important dates and a historical introduction to the period. Specialized maps include Ptolemy's second-century map of Armenia, as well as maps of Roman, Cilician, Ottoman, tsarist, and Soviet Armenia. Other maps show the Persian khanate of Erevan, the Caucasian campaigns of World War I, the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian monuments in Turkey and Transcaucasia, the worldwide diaspora, ground plans of selected cities, and plans of the great monastery of Echmiadzin in 1660, 1890, and 1990. The atlas concludes with maps portraying the Karabagh war and the new Republic of Armenia.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore (books@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810)















 
































Death of Nikol Aghbalian (August 15, 1947)
Educator, literary critic, public figure, scholar. These are some of the many hats that Nikol Aghbalian wore and that he put to the service of his people wherever he went.

He was born in Tiflis (now called Tbilisi) on March 24, 1875. He went to the parish school of his neighborhood, then to the Gevorgian Seminary of Holy Echmiadzin, and he finally graduated from the Nersisian School in Tiflis. He went to several universities for higher education (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, and Lausanne), but he could not graduate. The constraints of life and public service took precedence. He entered the ranks of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in his youth and served it with total dedication.

Aghbalian became a teacher in the 1890s and he would work as an educator for the rest of his life. At the same time, he started his contributions to the Armenian press and would soon establish himself as a seasoned literary critic and commentator. He cooperated with poet Hovhannes Toumanian to establish the famous literary circle known with the name of “Vernadoon” (Attic).

His life would take a hectic turn in the 1910s. He was the principal of the Armenian school of Tehran (Iran) from 1909-1912, and after returning to Tiflis, he became the editor of the ARF daily Horizon in 1913. In 1914-1915 he was a member of the Armenian National Bureau and of the steering committee of the Armenian volunteer battalions that fought alongside the Russian army. He later worked in the difficult task of providing shelter, food, and medical treatment to the refugees from the genocide.

Nikol Aghbalian had also a role in the events leading to the declaration of Armenian independence; the declaration of the Armenian National Council that proclaimed Armenian self-government on May 30, 1918, was in his handwriting. He became a member of the Armenian Parliament in late 1918 and minister of Public Education from 1919-1920. During his tenure, he established the grounds for Yerevan State University and sponsored new literary values, such as poet Yeghishe Charents.

After the sovietization of Armenia, he was imprisoned from February 9-18, 1921, along with Levon Shant, Hamo Ohanjanian, and other political and cultural figures. He was liberated from prison and probable death thanks to the February 1921 revolt. After the end of the revolt in April 1921, Aghbalian, along with his comrades, was constrained to abandon Armenia, leaving his family behind. He would spend the rest of his life in exile, first in Iran, and then in Egypt, where he was principal of the Armenian school of Alexandria, while continuing his cultural activities. In 1928, he founded in Cairo, along with Shant, Ohanjanian, Kaspar Ipekian, and others, the Hamazkayin Cultural Society, and in 1930, he moved to Beirut with Levon Shant to found the Armenian Jemaran (Lyceum) of Hamazkayin, which would later become the Nishan Palanjian Jemaran (now Melanchthon and Haig Arslanian Jemaran).

Until his death, Aghbalian did not stop his prolific educational, intellectual, and political activities. He taught Armenian classics, history of Armenian literature, and Classical Armenian. He organized series of popular lectures to enrich the knowledge of the general public about Armenian culture and art.

He published several books in his lifetime, but most of his output in literary, scholarly, and political writings remained scattered in the press. It was collected in four volumes, posthumously published between 1959 and 1970 in Beirut.

Nikol Aghbalian passed away in Shtora, near Beirut, on August 15, 1947. He remained a censored name in Armenia until the final years of the Soviet regime. Today, the school No. 19 of Yerevan bears his name.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org). 
There Are Ways to Sleep
 
There are ways to sleep, and the Armenian language has several words to designate this: քնանալ (kunanal), նիրհել (nirhel), մրափել (murapel) and ննջել (nunchel).

Of course, the most widespread and usual word is kunanal. You will hardly find someone who tells you Ննջելու կ՚երթամ (Nuncheloo gertam) or Նիրհելու կ՚երթամ (Nirheloo gertam) when going to bed at night. You will hear Քնանալու կ՚երթամ (Kunanaloo gertam).
 
These words also have some metaphorical meanings, but only two of them also mean “to die”: kunanal and nunchel.
 
The root of nunchel is նինջ (ninch), which means “sleep, light sleep.” This verb already had the metaphorical meaning “to die” in Classical Armenian. Our old language has also provided us with the word ննջեցեալ (nunchetseal), which means “late, defunct.”
This meaning of the word nunchel also went into Modern Armenian, and it appears, for instance, in the last lines of Nahabed Rusinian’s well-known poem (and song) “Cilicia,” when the last wish of the writer is: «Երթամ ննջել զիմ Կիլիկիա, աշխարհ որ ինձ ետուր արեւ» (Yertam nunchel zim Giligia, ashkharh vor intz yedoor arev “I will go to sleep in my Cilicia, the land that gave me the sun”).
 
The Church uses the word ննջում (nunchoom) to underscore that the Virgin Mary did not die, but “entered into sleep” and was transported to the heavens in the Assumption, as Jesus had promised.

Of course, the basic meaning of nunchel has been kept in two words of common use, ննջարան (nuncharan) and ննջասենեակ (nunchaseniag), both literally meaning “sleep room,” namely, bedroom.
Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org). 
WRITE TO US
Crossroads welcomes your inquiries and comments (English and/or Armenian), as well as parish news, photographs, and calendar items. Remember that the deadline for submitting items is Tuesday evenings. Please write to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
(Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style)
August 17, 24 —Second session of a 3-part Bible Study via Zoom on St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon, Monday evenings from 8:00-9:00 pm (EST), conducted by Archdeacon Shant Kazanjian, Director of Christian Education (Eastern Prelacy). To register, please email your name, email address, and phone number to  shant@armenianprelacy.org .
 
August 16  — Blessing of the Grapes and church special Picnic with take-out dinners. Sts. Vartanantz Church (Providence), 11:45 am-12:45 pm.

August 16  — Blessing of the Grapes and church picnic. Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church (Whitinsville).
 
August 21 —Last summer class of the Siamanto Academy at 4:00 pm. For further information, please contact ANEC Director Mary Gulumian at anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810.

September 12 —National Representative Assembly (NRA) of the Eastern Prelacy to meet by videoconference, hosted by the Prelacy.
 
October 4 —Save the date. St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church of New Britain, CT, 95th Anniversary 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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