December 14, 2017
Delegates and guests in front of the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in Antelias, Lebanon.
The World General Assembly of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia concluded last Friday. The Assembly convened under the presidency of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, with the participation of 130 clergy and lay delegates and guests representing the prelacies of the Holy See of Cilicia around the world. The delegates to the Assembly, which gathers every four years, participated in an in-depth examination and evaluation of the activities of the Catholicosate, as well as the concerns and challenges of its churches and people.
In his concluding statement His Holiness said that the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia will continue its mission with renewed faith, hope, and vision. The Assembly passed a number of resolutions and received initiatives presented by the Assembly. Before concluding elections were held for the Central Religious and Executive Councils. His Holiness told the delegates that during the next four years the religious and executive councils will spare no effort in their service to church and community.

Bishop Anoushavan will represent His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan at this weekend’s annual gala of the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) that will take place at Cipriani at 42 nd Street, New York City. COAF is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that uses community led approaches to reduce rural poverty, with a focus on education, healthcare, community, and economic development.

Bishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian with altar servers and choir.
Last Sunday the St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church community of Greater Detroit celebrated 85 years of community life and 55 years at the current church building and site in Dearborn, Michigan.

St. Sarkis Community was honored on this special day to have His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian celebrate the Episcopal Divine Liturgy. Just prior to delivering the sermon, Serge Garabedian was ordained as a sub-deacon and two crosses for the side-altars were blessed; the crosses were donated by Mrs. Helen Mempreian Movsesian in loving memory of her parents and grandparents.

Following the church services, the congregants were directed to the Lillian Arakelian Fellowship Hall where a lavish Armenian mezza buffet awaited. Close to 200 people attended, including clergy and dear friends from St. John Armenian Church, Armenian Congregational Church, and St. Vartan Armenian Catholic Church.

Following the buffet luncheon, Master of Ceremonies Ara Topouzian gave opening remarks lauding the Anniversary Committee for planning a very successful event.  Three parishioners were presented with the Prelacy’s Certificate of Merit award by Bishop Anoushavan and Der Hrant for exceptional service to the church and community. The recipients were Arnold Kourtjian, Mary Bedikian, and Ani Pilibosian Broglin.

Following the program in the hall, the people returned to the church sanctuary for a truly enriching spiritual hour of sacred Armenian liturgical hymns ( sharagans ) sung by an inspired and humble Onnik Dinkjian, accompanied on the organ by his son Ara Dinkjian. One of the selections was especially impressive as Der Hrant sang the part of the choir and Onnik the part of the deacon for Amen Yev Unt Hokvooyt Koom . Another impressive aspect of the concert was that each sharagan was preceded by a brief explanatory comment very aptly presented by young ladies and gentlemen from the parish’s youth ministry program. Srpazan Hayr praised these young people and described them as the bright stars and hope of the next generation.

Bishop Anoushavan and Der Hrant with the newly ordained sub-deacon Serge Garabedian.
An uplifting concert of Armenian Sacred Music was presented by father and son, Onnig and Ara Dinkjian, seen here with Srpazan and Der Hayr.
Onnig Dinkjian during the concert of sharagans in the sanctuary.
The clergymen with the Certificate of Merit recipients. From left, Ani Pilibosian Broglin, Der Hrant, Bishop Anoushavan, Arnold Kurtjian, and Mary Bedikian.
Bible readings for Sunday, December 17, Fourth Sunday of Advent are: Isaiah 38:1-8; 2 Hebrews 1:1-14; Luke 17:1-10.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Luke 17:1-10)


Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore, God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.”
But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:1-14)

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

This Saturday (December 16) is the Feast of St. James (Hagop) of Nisibis (Mdzbin). He participated in the first ecumenical council in Nicaea (325), where he earned great respect from the Emperor Constantine and the other attendees. He was born and died in the city of Nisibis located in what is now southeastern Turkey, an important early Christian center in Asia Minor and a transit point of the caravans traveling east and west.
James is one of the most beloved saints in the Armenian Church. He is also honored by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, and the Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches. He was ordained Bishop of Nisibis in 320 AD.
St. James sought to find Noah’s Ark as proof for skeptics. On the eve of his ascent to the summit, an angel appeared and told him that he need not climb to the summit and gave him a piece of the Ark. The piece is kept at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The heavenly hosts rejoiced at the greatness of your feats by which you in the flesh became like the angels on high; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven. And we with a joyful voice celebrate your holy memory. O venerable witness of Christ, holy bishop James; we have you as intercessory for us before the Father in heaven. You decided on severe toils to see Noah’s Ark and from the angel’s hand received a portion of the wood which served the human race as salvation; we have you as intercessor for us before the Father in heaven.”
(Canon to St. James, Bishop of Nisibis, from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

Also commemorated this week:
St. Ignatius of Antioch, Monday, December 18
During the past 25 years one of the most pervasive tragedies felt by Armenia as a consequence of natural disaster and war was the emergence of a large orphan population. The 1988 earthquake and the war in the defense and liberation of Artsakh resulted in an orphan crisis on a scale not seen since the 1915 Genocide.
The continuing economic hardship that has faced the vast majority of Armenian families in Armenia and Artsakh compounded the problem. More than two decades ago the Eastern Prelacy began its Orphan Sponsorship Program. In the early years the orphans were all children of soldiers who died or were seriously wounded. Later the program was expanded to include any needy child in Armenia or Artsakh who had lost one or both parents.
During this joyous season of the New Year and Christmas, what better gift could there be than helping a needy child? Please consider becoming a sponsor in the Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship Program. You can do it online through the Prelacy’s web page ( ). If you prefer to talk to a live (and nice!) person, contact the Prelacy at 212-689-7810 and ask for Sophie.

View the Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship Program Video
Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian with the participants of the book presentation.
St. Illuminator's Cathedral hosted a book presentation last Sunday, for Indian-American author Abie Alexander's latest book, The Migrant and the Maverick: An Allegory. On behalf of the Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor, gave welcoming remarks and Ms. Armine Babakhanian introduced the guest author.

Abie Alexander is an Indian-American author with a special affinity for Armenia. After his banking career he switched to nonprofits, which took him to Armenia for the first time in 2006. He has made nine trips to Armenia since then on business and personal visits. The last two trips were as a volunteer with the Fuller Center for Housing. Abie's previous novels are: An American in Search of God (2007), Chasing the Wind (2008), Sometimes When We Meet (2009), and For the Love of Armine (2014). The latter has been translated into Armenian and Russian. He has also published a book of poems, Memories and Mirage (2011), which has been translated into French, German, and Russian. Armenia is always mentioned in his works.

More than 75 attendees enjoyed the presentation, that included excerpts read by young members of the community and also a special performance by the Areni Choir.

Birth of Stepan Voskan (December 14, 1825)

French culture played a very remarkable role in the development of Armenian intellectual life in the nineteenth century. One of its best representatives was journalist and writer Stepan Voskan (Voskanian).

Voskan was born on December 14, 1825, in Smyrna (Izmir), the second city of the Ottoman Empire, which would also become an important hub of Armenian cultural life. He studied at the local Mesrobian School, where he taught after graduation. In 1846 he went to Paris to continue his studies. He was already well-versed in French and took some courses at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, where he also tutored foreign students. At the same time, he followed studies at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (for technical subjects) and the Collège de France (for liberal arts).

In 1847 he started contributing to the Parisian periodicals National and Réforme, and took part in the French Revolution of 1848. The twenty-three year old student was a speaker at the barricades, as well as an active participant in the occupation of the royal palace: “Yes, we were with those who rebelled against Louis Philippe,” he wrote in 1859, “yes, we did what every man had to do for freedom and we had the honor of entering the Tuileries arms in hand.” In June 1849 he participated in a student protest against the war with Italy and, as a result, he was arrested and spent two months in prison. Months later, he graduated from Sainte-Barbe, and until 1852 he followed courses at the medical school and the School of Social Sciences of the Sorbonne.

The ideals of social justice and human rights, coupled with Auguste Comte’s positivism, had forged Voskan’s world when he returned to the Ottoman Empire in 1852. He settled first in Constantinople and then in Smyrna, where he took a position as principal and teacher. He championed the ideas of national awakening and education, as well as freedom, and was an implacable critic of public affairs: “A moral and material wound must be disclosed in order to be cured.” He published two pseudonymous pamphlets (1853-1854), where he condemned retrograde clergymen and Catholic mistaken views about the Armenian Church. He was persecuted and lost his job; as a result, he returned to Paris, where he briefly published the journal Arevelk (1855-1856). His views revealed controversial once again, and he lost the support of his wealthy sponsors.

After tutoring students for three years, Voskan published another journal, Arevmudk, in 1859, where he continued espousing his progressive views. After Arevmudk had to cease publication due to relentless opposition, he went to Italy. In Turin he was a contributor to the French newspaper L’Italie and attracted the attention of the famous Italian statesman, Count of Cavour (1810-1861), who had him tutoring his son from 1860-1861. Voskan would later resume the publication of Arevmudk (1864-1865) in Paris, again to meet a bitter end. Afterwards, he would abandon the Armenian language as a medium of expression. Paradoxically, he had been a champion of Modern Armenian and his writing and translations from French had greatly contributed to its development.

The journalist returned to his birthplace in 1866. He worked as principal and French teacher at the Mesrobian and Hripsimian schools, and published the French newspaper La Réforme (1867-1901). He published two pamphlets in French in 1878-1879, where he criticized the views of contemporary Armenian philosopher Kalust Gosdantian, another follower of Comte, and French philosopher Émile Littré.

Little is known about the last years of Stepan Voskan, who passed away in a hotel in Smyrna on February 23, 1901, in dire straits. His views would remain controversial even after his death. Nevertheless, many of them have passed the test of time and are still relevant to this day. 

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

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Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee
About Repentance

If you feel regret or changed your mind about something, then you repent . If you dedicate yourself to amend your life by turning away from sin, then you repent too. The former is a common word, while the latter is a theological concept that implies a change of heart and mind that brings you closer to God.
Unlike English, the Armenian language has two different words for “repent.” The common idea of changing your mind about something is called զղջալ ( zughchal ), and the noun that indicates this change of mind is զղջում ( zughchoom ). The idea of repentance by turning away from sin is known with the name of ապաշխարութիւն ( abashkharootioon ), and the action is ապաշխարել ( abashkharil ).

If you know some Armenian, you may have come across the word աշխարհ ( ashkharh “world”) and the negative prefix ապ ( ab ) or ապա ( aba ), equivalent to English “de” (“denationalization”) or “des” (“disinformation”). (It has nothing to do with the adverb ապա /aba “then, afterwards”.)

If you put together ab and ashkharh, you might conclude that their combination created the word abashkharil, which literally would mean something akin to “to deprive [someone] from the world,” which is what you do when you get closer to God and farther removed from the sins of this world. That is fairly possible, especially since you would not be the first to arrive to that conclusion. The Mekhitarist fathers who compiled the famous New Dictionary of the Armenian Language ( Նոր Բառարան Հայկազեան Լեզուի Nor Parraran Haigazian Lezvi ), published in 1836-1837 as the ultimate source for the vocabulary of Classical Armenian, had already come to that idea long ago.

This is, however, what linguists have labelled as “popular etymology.” Popular etymologies are those created to explain away the meaning of a common or proper noun by analyzing its components. They do not take into account either similar words in other languages or the degree of reasonability of their hypothesis. (Years ago, the former dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, had claimed that William Shakespeare was of Arabic origin, since his name could be explained as Sheik Spiro , a claim that is still held in some quarters.)

Actually, the word abashkharel has nothing to do with ashkharh. First of all, one should explain why the word ashkharh would have lost the final h to become ab-ashkhar-el or ab-ashkhar-ootioon , given that ashkharh does not lose the h in any other case (e.g. աշխարհամարտ /ashkharhamard “world war”). Secondly, the word abashkhar (pronounced apashkhar in Classical Armenian) has its source in the Iranian languages.

It is interesting to mention that Armenian loaned words from Iranian turn the original khsh into shkh. Thus, we have abakhshah in Pahlevi, abakhshad/abakhshay in Middle Persian, and bakhshay in Persian, all meaning “to pardon” and going back to a reconstructed original word *apakhshad .

To repent, in the end, also means that your sins are pardoned, but you do not come out of this world.

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( ).
The Prelacy is pleased to announce a 14-day pilgrimage to Jerusalem beginning on April 2 through April 15, 2018. Departure is on Monday, April 2, the day after Easter in the U.S. Because Jerusalem follows the Julian (old) calendar, pilgrims will celebrate Easter in Jerusalem on Sunday, April 8.

The Prelacy’s 2018 pocket diary is in the mail. The theme of the 2018 Diary is the 100 th anniversary of the 1918 Republic of Armenia. In his message Archbishop Oshagan notes that “Revisiting one hundred years ago brings to mind a glorious era in Armenian history: The independence of Armenia that was born from the furnace of death and life by the supreme sacrifice of our freedom-loving heroic people.” His Eminence goes on to say that although this “heroic Sasountsi Tavit” lived a brief time—from 1918 to 1921—it became the symbol of our struggle, our cause, and our freedom.

The Eastern Prelacy is proud to launch the brand new online store ( ). This new website provides the opportunity to present to our community all of the various books and miscellaneous items available at the Bookstore, including Armenian books, music, collectible cultural and religious items, educational tools, and more.  Take a look at the inventory, some at special discounted prices.

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

December 17 —St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Sunday School Christmas Pageant following church services.

December 24 —St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Christmas Sing-a-long in the church sanctuary following services.

January 20, 2018 —St. Stephen Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 60 th Anniversary Celebration.

March 18, 2018 —35 th Musical Armenia Concert presented by Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Prelacy Ladies Guild. Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 57 th Street at 7 th Avenue, Sunday, March 18 at 2 pm.

May 9-12, 2018 —Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly, hosted by St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts. The one-day clergy conference will take place on Wednesday, May 9. The full Assembly will convene on Thursday, May 10, at 11 am and will conclude on Saturday, May 12, at noon.

October 20, 2018 —Armenian Friends America, Inc., Sixth Annual HYE KEF 5, featuring world famous Onnik Dinkjian and the All Stars. Double Tree Hotel, Andover, Massachusetts. Details to follow. .
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