January 11, 2018

On Saturday, January 6, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, entered the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator as the bells chimed, announcing the Incarnation of the Son of God in Bethlehem. A large number of the Faithful, including community leaders and dignitaries, participated in the Holy Liturgy. His Holiness presided over the Liturgy and delivered the sermon.

In his sermon, His Holiness said, “The Incarnation of the Son of God in Bethlehem demonstrates God’s purpose for humanity. As wars, polarization, and misery of the people grow, the message of Bethlehem reminds humanity of its vocation to establish peace with justice based on mutual respect.” The Catholicos emphasized that justice means protecting the rights of others and acknowledging and respecting one’s neighbors. His Holiness also addressed the issue of Jerusalem, reaffirming its special status, identity and importance for all three monotheistic religions. He condemned unilateral approaches that deny the rights of the local population and that do not acknowledge the legal rights of all three monotheistic religions. He emphasized that “the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem has existed since 638 AD, during which time 97 Patriarchs have served…. We reject unilateral decisions declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel that undermine justice and jeopardize Middle East peace processes.”

Read the Pontiff’s sermon in Armenian and English or see the video below .
Archbishop Oshagan delivers his sermon during the Christmas Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral in New York City.
The Blessing of the Water service.
On Saturday, January 6, Archbishop Oshagan celebrated the Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon and officiated the Blessing of the Water service at St. Illuminator Cathedral in New York City. Serving as Godfather of the Cross during the Blessing of the Water was Raffi Rejebian, son of Mr. & Mrs. Arakel and Rima Rejebian.

On the frigid evening of January 6, the Prelate and Vicar greeted the well-wishers who attended the Prelates annual Christmas reception. In spite of the record-breaking low temperatures and snow that had turned to ice, the Prelacy’s reception hall was filled with parishioners and friends who embraced the warmth of the Prelacy and enjoyed its hospitality. The traditional Blessing of the Home service was offered by Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. During this ceremony the officiating priest blesses bread, water, and salt—all considered to be essential to life. It is customary to burn incense, echoing the words of the psalmist, “Let my prayers be counted as incense before you,” (Psalm 141).

The Christmas reception was sponsored by Michael and Barbara Mirakian of New Jersey. His Eminence thanked them and noted that Michael came forth a few months ago, without being asked, and said that after attending the Christmas reception for many years and enjoying the hospitality and friendship, he and his family would like to sponsor this year’s reception. His Eminence expressed his gratitude for their generous gesture of giving.

O Christ our God, guardian and hope of all your faithful, protect and keep in peace your people under the protection of your holy and venerable cross; and especially this family, their home, the bread, the salt, and the water. Save them O Lord from visible and invisible enemies and make them worthy to glorify you with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always, forever and ever. Amen.
(The Benediction from the Armenian Blessing of Homes ceremony)
Bishop Anoushavan conducts the Blessing of Water service at St. Sarkis Church.
A scene from the Christmas Hantes presented by the Saturday School.
Despite the snowy conditions and bitter cold weather, a large number of parishioners gathered at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York, to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity and Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Prelacy, who also delivered an inspiring sermon. Following the Liturgy the Blessing of Water Service, symbolizing the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan took place. The Godfather of the Cross was Hovsep Terterian, eldest son of Rev. Fr. Nareg and Yeretzgin Annie. Hovsep is a Saturday School student, a Sunday School students, and an altar server at St. Sarkis Church. At the conclusion of the service parishioners received a portion of blessed water and then went to the main hall to attend the Christmas Hantes presented by the Saturday School students.
Bible Readings for Sunday, January 14, First Sunday after Nativity are: Isaiah 54:1-14; 1 Timothy 1:1-11; John 2:1-11.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:1-11)


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:1-11)

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

Saturday, January 13, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Naming of our Lord Jesus Christ, in accordance with the Hebrew tradition. The commemoration of this event (Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:30-32; Luke 2:21) comes seven days after the Feast of the Nativity (the eighth day of the octave of Nativity). This event of the naming and circumcision of our Lord is the basis for the tradition of baptizing children eight days after birth—a tradition that is rarely followed now. “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
On Monday, January 15, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Forerunner (also known as St. John the Baptist). The elderly couple Zechariah and Elizabeth welcomed with great joy the birth of their son who they named John just as the angel Gabriel had instructed. Neighbors and relatives, who had gathered to celebrate the birth of this special child, pondered about his future asking, “What then will this child become?”

Having gained his voice after months of silence, Zechariah said, “And you, child will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79)

Hasten to our help from on high, Saint John, apostle and prophet and forerunner and baptizer of the Son of God and intercede for us before Christ. You are the priest who offered himself on the cross; beseech him to grant purification from sins to me who composed this hymn and to those who celebrate your memory; Saint John, intercede for us before Christ.”
(Canon for the Nativity of John the Baptist according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

Also commemorated this week:
Tuesday, January 16: Sts. Peter the Patriarch, Bishop Blaise, and Deacon Absolom.
Thursday, January 18: St. Anthony the Hermit. 
Mr. Razmig Arzoumanian speaks about the Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund.
Sunday School students with Bishop Anoushavan, Ambassador Robert Avetisyan, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Dn. Shant Kazanjian, and teachers.
On Sunday, January 7, at a successful fundraiser co-hosted by St Illuminator’s Cathedral and the ARF Armen Garo Gomideh, $12,135 was raised to fund military first-aid kits for Armenian troops on the front lines of Artsakh and Armenia. The event featured inspiring speeches by Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General of the Prelacy, Robert Avetissyan, Representative of Artsakh to the United States, Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of the Cathedral, and Mr. Armen Caprielian all of whom emphasized the importance of the Diaspora’s role in supporting and building Armenia’s self-defense forces.
Razmig Arzoumanian, co-founder of the Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund (AWHF), provided an overview of the program to deploy U.S. Army first-aid kits and related training to troops protecting Armenia’s borders. This has already resulted in multiple lives saved on the front, which is constantly subjected to Azeri aggression. To date, 6 of 10 regions of Artsakh have been fully outfitted with this advanced equipment, and fundraising efforts are underway to cover the entire Artsakh front by the end of 2018.
Inspired by the presentations and by the moving performance of patriotic songs by the St. Illuminator's "Huyser" Ensemble, the attendees once again stepped up to the challenge and joined this unique effort to protect Armenian heroes in Artsakh and care for wounded soldiers. 

St. Stephen’s Church of Hartford-New Britain, Connecticut, celebrated Deacons day during services on Sunday, December 24. Archpriest Father Aram Stepanian (center) is pictured with Deacon Ara Stepanian on left and Archdeacon Edward Varjabedian.
Birth of Mateos Zarifian (January 16, 1894)
Armenian literature in the nineteenth and twentieth century had a host of names who were victims of a disease that was considered incurable until a vaccine was introduced in the 1920s: tuberculosis.

Poetry and tuberculosis had a link of sorts. Four talented Armenian poets, among others, died from the disease without reaching the age of forty: Bedros Tourian (1851-1872), Vahan Terian (1885-1920), Misak Medzarentz (1886-1908), and Mateos Zarifian (1894-1924).

Zarifian, the less known of the four, was born on January 16, 1894, in the neighborhood of Gedik Pasha (Constantinople). He spent his childhood and youth in Scutari. He studied at the school of Ijadieh, the Robert College, and the Berberian School, which he finished in 1913. He was an active sportsman and earned prizes in the Armenian Olympic games organized in Constantinople (1912-1913)

He went to Adana to work as a teacher of English and physical education at the local Armenian school. The first symptoms of tuberculosis, a strong chest pain, appeared at that time. In 1914 he interrupted his work and went to Lebanon, hoping that the mountainous air would help cure him. At the beginning of World War I, he was drafted into the Ottoman army. While studying at the school of non-commissioned officers, his unruly behavior landed him before a military tribunal, which sentenced him to exile. However, some influential interventions helped commute this sentence to long-term prison. Some months later, he was freed and started serving at the military hospital as a male nurse.

After the armistice of Mudros (1918), Zarifian went to the interior as translator for the British army to participate in the task of gathering Armenian survivors. Between 1919 and 1921 he worked at his alma mater, the Berberian School, as teacher of English and physical education. His illness prompted him to pour his life experience into literature. In 1919 he started publishing poems in the daily Jagadamard. His poetry reflected a hopeful approach to life and death, and his love poems disclosed the melancholic overtones of his soul, “Ah! The superb poem of my soul,/ Of my ruined, destroyed soul…”

He published two volumes of poetry, Songs of Grief and Peace (1921) and Songs of Life and Death (1922), which were critically acclaimed. His long battle with tuberculosis came to a critical point after 1922. Zarifian, the last representative of Western Armenian poetry, passed away on April 9, 1924, at the age of thirty.

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

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(Prepared by Armenian National Education Committee)

In the Beginning, the Ass Was a Horse
Asses have had bad publicity since ancient Greek times, and anyone with some exposure to English colloquial language may hear one of many combinations of the word “ass” (or the word itself) on a daily basis to typify clumsiness and stupidity. The same happens with Armenian speakers, even though there are not that many combinations of the word էշ ( esh) . However, you may find a wide (someone would also say fine) collection of phrases including esh in Armenian. One should add that asses were highly esteemed in ancient Armenia for their usefulness.

Intriguingly, “ass” and esh do not sound that far from each other. The English word is cognate with a series of Germanic and Slavic languages, and it is likely that all of them ultimately derive from Latin asinus (e.g. Spanish asno, Old French asne ). Apparently, the form of the Latin word indicates that the ultimate source was a language of Asia Minor. On the other hand, the Sumerian language (a non-Indo-European, non-Semitic language spoken in southern Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C.) had the word anshe (“ass”).

The Armenian word esh is native Indo-European. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European word ek’wo (“horse”), from which we have, among others, the Latin word equus (“horse”; compare English “equestrian,” “equine,” and other horse-related terms). If you are puzzled by the transformation of k’ into sh, we also have Sanskrit ashva and Farsi asp (both “horse) , among others.

Despite their formal closeness and meaning, Armenian esh is not the source for Turkish eshek (“ass”), which had its cognates in other Turkic languages of Central Asia. However, it is not impossible that it could have been the unidentified language of Asia Minor that became the initial source for Latin asinus and, in the end, for English “ass.”

There is another puzzle to conclude: Armenian esh did not keep the original meaning of “horse,” for which we have another word of Indo-European origin, ձի (tzi).

As Mr. Spock, of “Star Trek” fame, would have said, “fascinating.”

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ).
Monday (January 15) is a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a civil rights leader who adopted the ideals of Christianity and the non-violent teachings of Gandhi. In 1964, at age 35, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Four years later on April 4, 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

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

January 12— New York Hamazkayin, International art connoisseur Nika Babayan from Armenia will present his newly published books entitled: “Awards of the Armenian Church” and “Awards of the Republic of Armenia, 1991-2011.” World renowned pianist Shahan Arsruni will introduce the speaker. 7:30 pm at Pashalian Hall at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City. Free admission.

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

January 28 —10 th Anniversary of Ordination of Fr. Stephan Baljian and 48 th Anniversary of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts. Under the auspices of Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate; Episcopal Divine Liturgy followed by banquet and commemorate program in Jaffarian Hall. For tickets contact Sossy Jeknavorian (978-256-2538). Adults $45; students $10.

February 4 —Armenian Relief Society, NJ Shakeh Chapter presents Kev Orkian, British-Armenian musician, comedian, and actor from London, 4 to 7 pm at Mahwah High School, 50 Ridge Road, Mahwah, New Jersey. Tickets: $50, $40, and $30. For information and tickets: Maggie Kouyoumdjian, 845-598-3284, maggie11370@yahoo.com ; Maral Kaprielian, 201-289-6486, kaprielianmaral@gmail.com .

February 5-7 —Eastern Prelacy’s Annual Ghevontiantz Clergy Gathering hosted by Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. This year’s theme is “Freedom,” in accordance with the encyclical issued by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.

March 11 —Annual General Membership meeting of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts; Sunday of the Judge, 12:30 pm in Jaffarian Hall; light luncheon will be served.

March 17 —“Sirusho in Concert” presented by Hamazkayin NJ and ARS Agnouni Chapter, dedicated to the 100 th anniversary of the Armenian Republic and the 90 th anniversary of Hamazkayin. With participation of Nayiri Dance Ensemble. Felician University, Breslin Theater, 262 South Main Street, Lodi, New Jersey, 7:30 pm. Tickets: $85, $65, $45. Purchase online here or email sirushonj@gmail.com .

March 18 —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 —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 —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. www.ArmenianFriendsofAmerica.org .
The Armenian Prelacy 
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