January 30, 2020
In Faith I Confess 20th Prayer - English

Read by Michael Bederjikian of
Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church of Ridgefield, NJ.

On Sunday, February 2, is the Eve of the Fast of the Catechumens ( Paregentan Arachavorats Bahki ). A catechumen is someone who is receiving instruction in the fundamentals of the faith while preparing for baptism. This occurs three weeks before Eve of Great Lent ( Poon Paregentan ) and ten weeks before Easter. The Fast of the Catechumens is five days of strict fast ( dzom ). Traditionally, the Catechumens were instructed for several hours daily and required to stand through every church service, separate from the baptized congregation. This continued until Easter, when the catechumens were baptized and anointed and received their first communion.
The fast is unique to the Armenian Church as it was established by St. Gregory the Illuminator when Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion. 
On Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020, the newly appointed Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sports Ms. Vartineh Ohanian-Kevorkian, accompanied by Lebanese MP Hagop Pakradouni, visited His Holiness Aram I, who congratulated Ms. Ohanian-Kevorkian on her appointment and gave his blessing.

Born in 1984, Ms. Vartineh Ohanian-Kevorkian is the youngest minister in Lebanon’s newly formed government. She holds a BA in Social Sciences from the Lebanese University and a Project Management Diploma from Haigazian University. A social worker by training, she is currently the director of the Zvartnots Center for Children with Special Needs, following her work at the Bird’s Nest and the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon.

Lebanon had been in turmoil and without a government since October 2019 after discontent over corruption and sectarianism forced Prime Minister Saad Hariri out of power. Newly named Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the formation of a government on January 21, following a meeting with President Michel Aoun and Speaker of the House Nabih Berri.

You may now reserve your tickets for the 2020 Musical Armenia Concert, which will take place on Sunday, March 15, 2020, at 2:00 pm at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. This is the 37th edition of the much-loved series that began in 1982. Our 2020 event showcases three outstanding artists who will present a stimulating and inspiring program: pianist Tatev Amiryan, vocalist Anna Hayrapetyan, and cellist Laura Navasardian.

Musical Armenia, established by Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian and the Prelacy Ladies Guild, is dedicated to promoting young Armenian artists and to the performance of music by Armenian composers. Over the past 38 years, many of our performers have established solid professional careers. The Prelacy thanks Musical Armenia’s devoted supporters for their contributions to the artists’ development. 

As in the past, Musical Armenia’s sponsors and supporters can make a key contribution to the development of these artists. Prospective sponsors may join any of these categories: diamond ($1,000 donation), platinum ($500), gold ($300), or silver ($200). Diamond, platinum, and gold sponsors will receive two complimentary tickets.

Tickets for the concert cost $25. For further information or to purchase tickets, please contact the Prelacy at 212-689-7810 or via e-mail at sophie@armenianprelacy.org.
Bible Readings for Sunday, February 2, Third Sunday after Nativity are: Isaiah 61:10-62:9; 2 Timothy 2:15-26; John 6:15-21.
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. (John 6:15-21)


Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”
In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:15-26)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Saturday, February 1, the Armenian Church commemorates Saint Gregory the Theologian, also known as St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who is considered to be one of the great fathers of the Eastern Church. He was the son of the bishop of Naziansus in Cappadocia. A great orator, his famous Five Theological Orations were powerful statements of faith and an eloquent defense of orthodoxy that earned him the title “the Theologian.” He also wrote poetry, letters, and with St. Basil compiled a selection of writings by Origen.

In this week's Prelacy Reflection, Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church of Philadelphia, PA reflects upon the upcoming Bible passages of this Sunday, the third Sunday after the Feast of the Nativity.

Do you remember this teaching tool?

In this picture Degeen Silva, from the Racine Marzbed Armenian School is using an alphabet chart with pockets (made by ANEC in the 1980’s!). The students pull items from a bag and have to identify them and place them in the pocket marked with the corresponding letter.

The Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship program was established in 1993 and continues to be the central mission of the Prelacy’s projects in Armenia and Artsakh. As part of the program, letters are received regularly from sponsored children addressed to their sponsors. We are pleased to share some of these letters through Crossroads .
This week’s letter is from Vardouhi* who is sponsored by Arthur Bedrosian. (The letter has been written by Narek’s mother).
Dear Sponsor,
This is Vardouhi. I am 11 years old. I live in Ashtarak region, in the village of Karin. I go to school in our village. I am in 6 th grade. I am a good student, but not one of the best. I love to learn and to draw pictures. I love reading fairy tales. I go to afterschool programs of English and Russian to improve my grades.

I like to watch cartoons with my friends and have fun. I like meeting new friends. This summer I went to Tsaghkadzor Summer Camp [ Translator’s note : organized annually by Der Aram Stepanian & St. Nerses] and I loved the days spent there. I met new friends, got baptized, and learned new things, especially about the baptism sacrament and what making the sign of the cross means. This was my first time in camp, and I liked it a lot.

Lately, we also went to Bjni with the group of camp kids. I enjoyed spending time with friends.
* In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names.

Currently there are children on the waiting list for the Prelacy’s Sponsorship Program. If you would like to sponsor a child please click here for quick and easy online sponsorship. You may also contact the Prelacy by email ( sophie@armenianprelacy.org ) or telephone (212-689-7810), ask for Sophie. 
The St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization (Medsn Nerses) is now supporting its beneficiaries who pursue college education: the young who reach the age limit of 18 will receive aid that may be vital for their careers.

The College Sponsorship Program starts this year. An annual stipend of $250 will help defray some of the costs for the young men and women who have enrolled in an institution of higher education.

This marks the latest evolution of a program that then-Prelate Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, of blessed memory, urgently put together right after the 1988 catastrophic earthquake. At the time, the priority was to provide immediate help for earthquake survivors. Soon thereafter, the Orphan Sponsorship Program emerged as a priority benefitting thousands of children.

The programs have grown and blossomed greatly, and currently also include aid to orphanages, schools, students, the elderly, disabled servicemen, and a summer camp. Now, former members of the Orphan Sponsorship Program have become college students and will be needing new sponsors. With the highest standards observed since its inception, the St. Nerses the Great Charitable Organization will continue to track down potential candidates and bringing them to your attention.

Sponsors who have generously ensured a stipend for children may continue to do so as they mature into young professionals.

If you would like to sponsor a young student in the College Sponsorship Program օr a young child in the Orphans Sponsorship Program, you may contact the Prelacy by email (sophie@armenianprelacy.org) or telephone (212-689-7810).

Levon Abrahamian
This book intends to discuss the old and the new constituents of Armenian identity, such as language, religion or shared history in the broader Transcaucasian and former Soviet Union context. It focuses on the shaping of the paradigms of Armenian identity and the transformation of its key symbols in the last years of the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet period. The sixteen chapters and 67 subchapters of the book cover the converging and forking paths in the nation’s history that make up the diversity of Armenian identity.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore ( books@armenianprelacy.org   or 212-689-7810)
Opening of the Charents House-Museum in Yerevan (January 30, 1975)
Yeghishe Charents (1897-1937), the greatest poet of Soviet Armenia, was arrested in 1937 during the Stalinist persecutions and passed away in prison, seriously ill, on November 27 of that year. Recent research has turned out that, otherwise, the poet would have faced a firing squad, since he had been already sentenced to death by an infamous “troika” (trio) of agents of the Soviet secret police, the NKDV (predecessor of the KGB), in an open and shut “trial.”
Charents’ name, as an “enemy of the people,” disappeared from public mention for the next seventeen years. He was rehabilitated in 1954 and his life and works started being published, studied, and explored to this day. On February 8, 1964, a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR turned the house where Charents had lived from 1935-1937 into a museum. After ten years of preparatory activities, the Charents House-Museum was opened to the public on January 30, 1975. The original address, 6 Sundukian Street, had become by then 17 Lenin Avenue. After the end of the Soviet regime, it became 17 Mashtots Avenue. All directors have been women: Nvard Baghdasarian (1975-1983), Emma Budaghian (1983-1989), Lilit Hakobian (1989-2016), and Anahit Asatrian (2016 to present).
The area of the museum was expanded by decision of the Armenian government in 1987. It currently has 626.3 square meters (6,741 square feet), including three halls and a “memorial apartment,” with more than 8,000 exhibits of unique value in its catalog. One of the halls is reserved to temporary exhibitions and museum events, while the other two halls present Charents’ life and work, and show sculptures of Charents and his contemporaries.
The memorial apartment has been reconstructed as closely as possible to the actual quarters where Charents and his family lived, including the original furniture and decoration as well as the poet’s work office as he described it in his last poems. Charents’ library, which contained close to 6,000 books in the 1930s, was mostly destroyed after his arrest. Nevertheless, around a quarter of it has been preserved and currently counts 1,422 books. The collection, which includes books in Armenian, Russian, and other languages, has valuable and rare books of literature, arts, religion, and other fields. Many of them have autographs and marginal notes by Charents’ hand, and there are many books dedicated by others, both Armenian and non-Armenian.

About the many items that were recovered and/or rescued after the death of the poet, it is particularly interesting the story of Charents’ Pathé phonograph. After his arrest, his wife Isabella Kodabashian decided to sell some goods to maintain her two young daughters. She asked Regina Ghazarian, a family friend, to sell Charents’ phonograph with nine discs. Regina asked Angela Mkrtumian, her landlady, to help her. In the meanwhile, Charents’ wife was also arrested and exiled to Siberia. Regina Ghazarian went to Moscow and the phonograph remained with A. Mkrtumian. After the end of World War II, Ghazarian returned to Yerevan and learned that her former landlady had passed away and the phonograph had been inherited by her brother Albert Mkrtumian. Ghazarian’s efforts to explain the origin of the phonograph and have it returned were in vain. In September 1999 Mkrtumian put the phonograph on sale in the Vernissage, the flea market of Yerevan. Ghazarian’s friend Hrant Babanian noticed the phonograph by chance and learned from the seller that it had belonged to Charents more than six decades before. Babanian checked with his friend the authenticity of this claim, bought it, and presented it to Regina Ghazarian, who at her turn donated it to the Charents’ House-Museum.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
How the Mother of God is also the Mother of a Priest?
Words usually go from the general to the particular. English “lord” first meant “master of a household, ruler, superior; husband” around the 14 th century, and the form “Year of our Lord” (Latin anno domini ) appeared later in that century. The word reflected a polite form of address to a bishop from 1540s. Therefore, it means that the word first referred to earthly people and then to God.

What about the Armenian word տէր ( der )? It probably had the same evolution, although we cannot determine whether the chicken or the egg was first. It meant “ruler, grandee, prince, superior; God” in Classical Armenian, and its semantic field was enlarged in Modern Armenian. The latest dictionary of Western Armenian (Beirut, 1992) has 22 acceptations, the first being “owner,” the seventeenth, “God,” and the eighteenth, “Christ.” In this list, der appears as term of respect to address any celibate priest ( vartabed, bishop, archbishop, et cetera) on number 19: Հոգեշնորհ Տէր (Hokeshunorh Der ) for a vartabed and Գերաշնորհ Տէր ( Kerashunorh Der ) for a bishop or archbishop. On number 21, we come across its use accompanying the name of a married priest, e.g. Տէր Պօղոս ( Der Boghos) , which perhaps is a shortened form of Տէր Հայր ( Der Hayr, “Reverend Father”).

The combination of the use of der as term of respect and to name the Son of God was extended to the word տիրամայր ( diramayr , literally “mother of the lord; Mother of God”). The particular devotion of the Catholic Church for the Virgin Mary—the Armenian Church is no less devout to the Mother of God—has led to churches named as “Our Lady of…” (the Armenian Church has limited herself to Սուրբ Աստուածածին/ Soorp Asdvadzadzin “Holy Virgin”). For instance, the name of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy in the United States and Canada, “Our Lady of Nareg,” is translated as Նարեկի Տիրամայր ( Naregi Diramayr ).

While the Armenian Apostolic Church also uses the word Diramayr as a synonym to Աստուածամայր ( Asdvadzamayr “Mother of God”), it is customary to use the word in lowercase, diramayr, to refer to the mother of any priest, whether married or celibate, as a show of respect. In the same way that you address a priest as Տէր Հայր ( Der Hayr ) and his wife—when married—as Երէցկին ( Yeretsgeen ), you address the mother of an ecclesiastic as տիրամայր ( diramayr ). This custom probably went from the particular (the Mother of God) to the general (the mother of any priest who preaches the Word of God) and remains perfectly valid today.

Of course, the name is also extended to the mother of a Catholicos. But in this case, when an ecclesiastic is elected for such a high position, there is a change: the diramayr becomes Վեհամայր ( Vehamayr , “mother of His Holiness”). This word has been consecrated by recent practice. The oldest Armenian manuscript (number 10680 in the collection of the Matenadaran of Yerevan), which may have been created in the seventh century, is a Gospel. Since famous Armenian Gospels have names, this one has one too. The manuscript was kept in Artsakh from the sixteen century on, and at the time was called “Aged Gospel” or “Protector Gospel.” In 1975 the primate of the diocese of Artsakh, Bishop Vahan Terian, took the Gospel to Holy Etchmiadzin and presented it to Vazken I, Catholicos of All Armenians, who donated to the Matenadaran in the same year in memory of his mother, Siranush Baljian. For this reason, it took the name of Վեհամօր Աւետարան (Vehamor Avetaran, “the Vehamayr’s Gospel”). The age of the manuscript became the reason to be chosen as the Gospel used in the ceremony of oath for the presidents of the Republic of Armenia since 1991.  
Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 

Please send your inquiries and comments (English and/or Armenian) to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org . Please remember that the deadline for submitting items for Crossroads is on Wednesdays at noon.

All parish news, photographs, and calendar items should also be emailed to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org .

Comments received may be shared from time to time. We are looking forward to yours.

( Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style )
February 8, 2020 —The next Siamanto Academy class at the Prelacy office on Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. For more information, contact Mary Gulumian, director of the Armenian National Education Committee by email (anec@armenianprelacy.org) or phone (212-689-7231).

February 9, 2020—  The Celebration of the Feast of St. Sarkis at St. Sarkis Church (Douglaston, NY). Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, during which an icon of Sts. Vartanantz will be consecrated.

February 18, 2020   —Celebration of Sts. Ghevontiantz at St. Stephen’s Church (Watertown, MA), presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate. Icon of Sts. Vartanantz to be consecrated during Badarak.

March 4, 2020 —The Embassy of Armenia in the U.S. and PostClassical Ensemble present “An Armenian Odyssey: The Color of Pomegranates,” a multimedia performance of Armenian music, culture and history, featuring Jivan Gasparyan and others, at 7:30 pm at Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

March 15, 2020 —Save the date and watch for details for the Eastern Prelacy’s 37 th annual Musical Armenia concert, 2:00 pm, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, West 57 th Street at Seventh Avenue, New York City.

March 28, 2020 —“Faith Building Women 2020 Symposium,” a daylong conference to heighten awareness of women in the Bible, organized by the Adult Christian Education department of St. Peter Armenian Church. The Symposium will take place at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Keynote speakers are Dr. Roberta Ervine and Arpi Nakashian.

March 29, 2020 —The New Jersey Shakeh Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society presents Kev Orkian, 4:00 pm, Abadjian Hall, at St. Leon Armenian Church, 12-61 Saddle River Rd, Fairlawn, NJ. For more information and tickets, call Maral: (201) 289-6486 or Sita (201) 320-2859.

May 13-16, 2020 —National Representative Assembly (NRA) of the Eastern Prelacy hosted by St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Philadelphia. The Clergy Conference will begin on Wednesday, May 13; the full Assembly will convene on Thursday, May 14 and conclude on Saturday, May 16.

May 31, 2020 —Save the Date. St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York, 30 th Anniversary Banquet.

June 28—July 5, 2020 —St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program: the 34th annual Datev Summer Program for youth ages 13-18 will take place at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). For information, please click here or contact the AREC office—212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org
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