August 23, 2018
In accordance with the Armenian Liturgical calendar, today the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of St. Jeremiah, one of the major prophets of the Bible. Jeremiah received his calling during a period of spiritual renewal among the Hebrew people. But, the death of King Josiah and the weak policies of his successors resulted in the conquest of their holy city, Jerusalem, and the exile of their nation. The Old Testament book of Jeremiah, as well as the book of Lamentations, chronicles this story. Although full of sorrow (he is known as the “weeping prophet”), Jeremiah’s words are Godly and hopeful. A lesson for all of us.

In what would be his last visit to Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, as the Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, Archbishop Oshagan celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered a moving sermon last Sunday. In his sermon, His Eminence spoke about St. Mary and explained the reason why we celebrate her feast for nine days, and how the Holy Spirit of God worked through her as well as the disciples. The Prelate said that in the same way we should welcome with open hearts the Spirit of God to work through us.
The community of St. Asdvadzadzin Church was blessed with a beautiful sun-filed day that was perfect for the parish’s annual picnic on the church grounds. Parishioners, neighbors, and friends from near and far enjoyed the fellowship, food, and the live music of the John Berberian Ensemble. His Eminence presided over the Blessing of Grapes ceremony together with clergy of the New England parishes. 

Clergy from New England parishes participated in the Blessing of Grapes ceremony. From left, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence; Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Worcester; Archbishop Oshagan; Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville; Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, pastor emeritus of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence; Rev. Fr. Bedros Shetilian, pastor of St. Gregory Church, Springfield/Indian Orchard.

Father John with clergy and family members, from left, Fr. George Mathew, Fr. Jacob Philip, V. Rev. Fr. T. M. Zachariah Chor Episcopos, Fr. John Thomas holding his grandson, Bishop Johncy Itty, Assistant Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, and Bishop Anoushavan.
Bishop Anoushavan attended the 70 th birthday celebration of Rev. Fr. John Thomas, and extended congratulations on behalf of Archbishop Oshagan, last Sunday, August 19. Fr. John is the Vicar of St. Mary‘s Malankara Orthodox Church in Woodside, New York. He is also president of the Council of Orthodox Churches of Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, and president of the Clergy Fellowship of the St. Thomas Ecumenical Federation of New York. The Malankara Orthodox Church is one of the ancient Oriental Orthodox churches and is in communion with the Armenian Church.

The monsoon rains that recently hit India were centered in the region of Kerala, which is the home of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church. Many areas have been devastated with the flooding that has caused loss of life, disease, and massive property damage. In solidarity with a sister church, Archbishop Oshagan has directed Prelacy parishes to offer a special prayer for victims in Kerala, India this Sunday, August 26, as well as a separate plate collection for flood relief.
Bible readings for Sunday, August 26, Second Sunday after the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, Feast of the Discovery of the Belt of the Theotokos are: Isaiah 9:8-19; 2 Corinthians 1:1-12; Mark 4:35-41.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God—and all the more toward you. ( 2 Corinthians 1:1-12)

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

We can only imagine the joy of finding possessions of the Holy Mother. This Sunday, August 26, the second Sunday after Assumption, is the feast of the Discovery of the Belt of the Theotokos. Because there are no relics of the Holy Mother’s earthly body (she was assumed into Heaven), her personal belongings became the object of devotion and veneration. During the time of the early Church, when Christians were persecuted, her possessions were kept hidden and secret. Her belt was the first item to be discovered in Jerusalem in the fifth century. This discovery is the basis for one of the eight feast days in the Armenian liturgical calendar devoted to the Holy Mother.

Next Tuesday, August 28, the Armenian Church commemorates the Holy Prophets Ezekiel, Ezra, and Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. Ezekiel prophesied for about 28 years. The Book of Ezekiel, composed of 48 chapters, is ranked third among the great prophets. It is full of rich imagery, prophetic visions, and allegories. Ezra was a learned and pious priest in Babylon. The Book of Ezra describes the return to Zion following the Babylonian captivity. Zechariah , is the father of John the Baptist. He was married to Elizabeth, and John was born to them in their old age. The promise of a son was conveyed to Zechariah by an angel.

Next Thursday, August 30, the Armenian Church commemorates St. John the Forerunner and Job the Righteous. St. John the Forerunner , also known as John the Baptist ( Hovhaness Mkrtich ), is an important figure in the Gospels. He is recognized as the “forerunner” ( Garapet ) to the Messiah. He lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea. At the age of 30 he began to preach against the evils of the times and called for penance and baptism because “the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.”

Job is a good and righteous person who experiences and endures catastrophe after catastrophe. Thus, the phrase “the patience of Job” has entered the English lexicon as a popular cliché. The Book of Job is one of the five books classified as the “poetical books” of the Bible. The central theme is the mystery of suffering. Ultimately, Job is rewarded because “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,” and “After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.” (Job, Chapter 42).

Also remembered this week are the following saints:
The Holy Apostle Thomas, Monday, August 27.
St. Stepanos Ulnia, Koharinos, Radigos, Dzamitos, Dookigos, Tuesday, August 28.
On Sunday, August 12 our parishes celebrated the Feast of the Holy Virgin and the Blessing of Grapes that is celebrated on this Feast day.

Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian officiates at the Blessing of the Grapes at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Granite City, Illinois.

Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian distributes the blessed grapes to parishioners at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey.

Sts. Vartanantz Church’s annual picnic was held indoors because of concerns about the weather. Parishioners and friends enjoyed the fellowship and good food.

Der Hovnan with campers and staff members at Sts. Vartanantz Church. 
The second annual Shushanig Summer Camp at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, ended successfully after a week of well-planned lessons and fun activities. Thirty-nine children attended this year’s camp, considerably more than last year. The week concluded with a performance by the students showcasing what they learned during the week. Parents, staff, and students concluded the week with hopes for a longer period of time for next year’s summer camp.

Coronation of Ashot I Bagratuni 
(August 26, 885)
After 457 years, the Kingdom of Armenia was restored in 885 under the Bagratuni (also called Bagratid) dynasty. The Bagratunis had been one of the powerful noble families under the Arshakuni (Arsacid) dynasty, holding the titles of aspet (horse-master) and takatir (coronant of the king).

In the eighth century, under Arab domination, the Bagratunis rose to power after the Mamikonian family lost its preeminence in successive rebellions against foreign rule. During the rebellion of 852-855, Prince of Princes Sembat Bagratuni was imprisoned by the Arab general Bugha and refused to renege his faith. His refusal led to his martyrdom, for which he later received the surname “Confessor.” Ashot, one of his seven children, became his successor as sparapet (general-in-chief). He was thirty-five-years-old. He was married to princess Katranide and had seven children himself.

Ashot strengthened the unity of Armenia, intervening to solve conflicts between princely houses, and established kinship relations between the Bagratuni, Artzruni (in Vaspurakan), and Siuni (in Siunik) families, arranging the marriages of his three daughters with prominent members of the last two families. In 862 Ashot, who ruled over the province of Ayrarat (the plain of Ararat), received the title of Prince of Prince from the Arab caliphate and ceded the position of sparapet to his brother Abas. He was allowed by the caliphate, then in a weakened situation, to become the tax collector for the entire Arab province of Arminiya, which encompassed Armenia, Iberia (Georgia), and Caucasian Albania (now Azerbaijan). This recognition of his position, concentrating the military and economic power of the region, gradually turned the Arab rule into an administrative formality.

The support of other Armenian princes helped Ashot wage war against the Arab emirs in Armenia. He neutralized a conspiracy by the ostikan of Arminiya, the legal representative of the caliphate, and expelled him from Armenia in 877. On the other hand, Emperor Basil I of Byzantium (867-886, of Armenian origin) asked the Armenian prince to crown him as representative of an ancient lineage of coronants and to sign a treaty. Before him, Patriarch Photius had made a proposal for church unity in 862. However, the religious assembly of Shirakavan, gathered in 869, rejected the Patriarch’s proposal, but not the political and military alliance with Byzantium.

At the same time, Ashot also fortified the links with Iberia and Albania, where branches of the Bagratunis had taken an important role among the nobility. The demands of Armenian princes and the Catholicos to recognize Ashot as king were finally met by Caliph al-Mutamid, who decided to send a crown to Ashot in 885 with the aim of getting Armenians out of the Byzantine orbit. On August 26, 885, Catholicos Gevorg II Garnetsi (877-897) consecrated Ashot I as King of Armenia in the fortress of Bagaran, Ashot’s residence and new capital of the country. The new king had also received a crown from Emperor Basil I, which ensured international recognition. The restoration of the Armenian monarchy was accompanied by economic and urban growth and a revival of arts and religion, as well as territorial enlargement. Ashot I restored the court system existing in the Arshakuni period, with some modifications. In 887 he crowned the first King of Eastern Georgia, Atrnerseh IV Bagratuni (Bagrationi, 887-923).

In 890, on his way of return from a trip to Constantinople, Ashot died on the road. He was buried in Bagaran. He was succeeded by his son Sembat I (890-914).

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s website ( ).

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(Prepared by Armenian National Education Committee)

When Being Free Becomes Risky
English has two words for the same concept, “freedom” and “liberty,” the former coming from Old English and the other from French. Armenian has only one, ազատութիւն ( azadootioon ), which has Iranian origin. Indeed, the adjective “free” is ազատ (azad), and when you hear or say “Free Armenia,” with “free” used as an adjective, that is ազատ Հայաստան ( azad Hayasdan).

As any speaker of English knows, there is another use for “free,” which entered the language in the sixteenth century from the notion of “free of cost,” that is, not requiring an expense. The sweet sound of being told that something is free of charge does not probably get lost on anyone.

Of course, this meaning of “free” has nothing to do with freedom or liberty. You do not say that you enjoy freedom of charge, do you? This should give a hint to avoid falling into the abyss of funny translations.

If we go to a lecture and we do not have to pay for attending it, the advertisement will probably say that it is “free of charge.” The Armenian translation for that is մուտքը ազատ է ( moodkuh azad eh), which means “access is free.” As you see, we do not use a literal translation like վճարումէ ազատ է ( vujaroomeh azad eh ), which does not exist in real life.

The adverb “gratis,” another word for this meaning of “free,” is much less used indeed. However, its Armenian translation, the adverb and adjective ձրի (tzuri ), is very common. We use it any time that we do not have to pay for something or we do something without expecting a payment. We also use it to say that we did something for no reason.

Other than that, if they ask you when you are available to go out for dinner, think twice before saying “I am free on Friday” as « Ուրբաթ գիշեր ձրի եմ » (Oorpat kisher tzuri em) . To the casual listener, you might be implying that you do not charge on that day.

Since you actually wanted to say that you do not have any other engagements on that day, then the real answer should be « Ուրբաթ գիշեր ազատ եմ » (Oorpat kisher azad em).

Otherwise, get ready for a Homeric laughter (you may want to read the Iliad or the Odyssey to find out why it is called “Homeric”).

“Armenia!” the major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is set to open on September 22. Dr. Helen C. Evans, curator of the exhibit, describes the exhibition as “The first major exhibition to explore the remarkable artistic and cultural achievements of the Armenian people in a global context.” The exhibit features 14 centuries of Armenian history from the 4 th century to the 17 th century.

A short video about the exhibit is on the Museum’s website. To view it click here.
The Travel section of this Sunday’s New York Times will feature a beautifully written article under the title “My Armenia,” by Pulitzer Prize winning poet and writer Peter Balakian. The article, with some marvelous photographs, is already online and can be seen here.

SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. New term begins on September 22, 2018. For information: or 212-689-7810.

September 8 —Special session of the Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly for election of Prelate, will take place at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City. Meeting will begin at 1 pm sharp.

September 9 —St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, Picnic-Festival on the church grounds, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, 12 noon to 5:30 pm. Featuring Armenian music by Leon Janikian (clarinet); John Berberian (oud); Jason Naroian (dumbeg, vocals); John Arzigian (accordion, vocals). Lamb shish kebab, losh kebab, chicken kebab dinners, vegetarian dinners, Armenian pastries. Great Procession of the Holy Cross to take place around the church premises. Games and activities for all. Free parking and admission. For information (978-685-5038).

September 16 —St. Stephen’s Church of Hartford-New Britain, 167 Tremont Street, New Britain. Annual Picnic, 12:30 pm in church hall and backyard tent. Shish & Lu-lu Kebab, Roasted Chicken, Hot Dogs, Pilaf, Salad and Pastry table. Raffle and Armenian music. Rain or shine.

September 22, 2018 to January 13, 2019 —“Armenia!” a large exhibition dedicated to the medieval period of Armenian history and culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The exhibit is the first at the Met dedicated solely to Armenia. Curated by Dr. Helen C. Evans.

September 29 —Special Live Concert featuring Arsen Grigoryan, sponsored by Philadelphia’s Artemis Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society, at 7:30 pm in Founders Hall of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia. The concert will benefit the ARS’s “Sponsor a Birth” program in Gyumri, Armenia. Donation $50 (includes hors d’oeuvres and desserts). For tickets: Elizabeth Dramgotchian (215) 920-6054; Madonna Kzirian (215) 760-4106; Rima Chapanian (856) 981-8203.

October 20 —Armenian Friends America, Inc., Sixth Annual HYE KEF 5, featuring Onnik Dinkjian, John Berberian, Ara Dinkjian, Mal Barsamian, and Jason Naroian. Double Tree Hotel,  Andover, Massachusetts.  For information: .

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