July 16, 2020
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On Sunday, July 19, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, will preside over the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at Soorp Khatch Church (Bethesda, Maryland). Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, Pastor, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Our faithful may follow the ceremony via live streaming.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I sent his blessing to the Armenian Armed Forces during a telephone conversation on Monday, July 13, with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. His Holiness expressed his support for the troops that are defending the homeland against renewed aggression by Azerbaijan.

Catholicos Aram also spoke with Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan, expressing his concern over the attack by the Azeris and repeating his blessing for the Armed Forces.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported that four Armenian Army soldiers were killed Tuesday, July 14, as Azerbaijan continued unsuccessful efforts to breach the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, with attacks centered on civilian targets in Armenia’s Tavush Province. The Azerbaijani defense ministry has reported 11 deaths on Tuesday, among them an army general and four colonels. On July 13, Azerbaijani forces also shelled the peaceful population of Chinar and Berd but there have been no casualties. Following a one-day lull, Azerbaijani army units have launched attacks towards the villages of Movses and Aygepar attempting to take the Anvakh (Fearless) border defense outpost.

The Armenian troops have repelled the enemy attack, causing casualties among the Azerbaijani forces. Following the rebuffed offensive, the Azerbaijanis shelled the aforementioned villages.
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I condemned the decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to convert the Basilica of Saint Sophia into a mosque and urged political and religious leaders to stop the genocide that Turkey continues to perpetrate by desecrating churches and destroying the Christian heritage of the country.
The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque ignores the symbolic meaning of the spiritual and cultural monuments, as well as international conventions, and distorts historical facts, His Holiness said in a statement.
Second, the Catholicos said, Turkey is ignoring the reactions of its old and new friends.
“Third, Turkey’s present policy will destroy the confidence gained so far in Christian-Muslim cooperation and dialogue on local, regional and international levels. Turkey is ignoring such warnings,” His Holiness said.
Fourth, he added, the current ruling reveals the cynicism and hypocrisy behind Turkey’s stated intention to open up to the West and Christian communities.
His Holiness Aram I asked the political and religious leaders to remember that soon after the Armenian Genocide, Turkey confiscated thousands of Armenian Churches and transformed them into bars, coffee shops and public parks, ignoring the reactions and appeals of the international community.
“Yes, genocide continues by the same genocidal authorities in full view of the world,” His Holiness said. “The chauvinist ideology of the Ottoman Empire is infiltrating and spreading throughout the Arab World and the West.”
The Basilica of Saint Sophia was built in year 537 during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian and served as the Patriarchal Seat of the Greek Orthodox Church. Following the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, it was converted into a mosque. In 1934, the government of Turkish president Mustafa Kemal turned it into a museum.

This Sunday (July 19) the Armenian Church observes one of its five major feasts, the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ ( Aylagerbutiun/ Vartavar). This Feast is observed fourteen weeks after Easter, and therefore can fall between June 28 and August 1. It commemorates an episode in the New Testament recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Peter, recalling Christ’s ascent up Mount Tabor with disciples John, James, and Peter.

The Transfiguration took place on the “holy mountain” (believed to be Mt. Tabor) where Jesus went with his three disciples. As He was praying, “His face shone like the sun and his garments became white as light.” Moses and Elijah appeared at his side, representing the law and the prophets. It was at this moment that his appearance was “transfigured” revealing himself as God to his disciples as a voice from above said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Jesus urged his disciples to keep silent about what they saw, but the incident was recorded in the Gospels.

The pre-Christian festival Vartavar (Festival of Roses) was assimilated into this new Christian holiday. Armenians would decorate the temple of the goddess Asdghig (goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and water) with roses, release doves, and engage in water games on this popular pre-Christian holiday. St. Gregory the Illuminator combined Vartavar with the Transfiguration. The fifth century historian Yeghishe wrote the prayer that is recited in church on this feast: “O Lord, bless the harvest of this year and defend from all the perils, and may your right hand, O Lord, protect us for the whole year.”

Vartavar became a traditional day of pilgrimage to churches named in honor of St. John the Baptist. The most popular destination was the Monastery of Sourp Garabed of Mush, founded by Gregory the Illuminator in the province of Taron near Mush. (Garabed means Forerunner, referring to John the Baptist). The monastery was large and expansive and built like a fortress in the mountains. More than one thousand pilgrims could be accommodated. After 1915 the complex ceased to exist. The monastery was destroyed by the Turkish army, and the ravages of time, weather and scavengers completed its destruction. The once large and thriving Armenian monastery is now a mass of stone and rubble.

This Sunday is the name day for those named Vartkes, Vartavar, Vart, Vartouni, Alvart, Sirvart, Nevart, Lousvart, Hyvart, Baidzar, Vartanoush, Vartiter, Varvar.

On Sunday, July 12, Archbishop Anoushavan presided over the Divine Liturgy at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Douglaston, New York. Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, Pastor, was the celebrant. You can read the Prelate’s sermon below:
Today according to the Armenian Church Calendar is the sixth Sunday after Pentecost. We are enjoying the season of daily Bible readings from the Gospel according to Matthew, and today’s reading is from chapter 14:13-21.
This passage is quite familiar to all of us because it narrates one of the most fascinating miracles Jesus did by blessing five loaves and two fishes and feeding five thousand hungry people who had followed Him into the desert.
As much as the miracle is captivating, I would like to share with you three thoughts derived from the few lines preceding the miracle. After hearing that John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus withdraws by boat to a deserted place to be by Himself. But when the crowd heard that Jesus had left, they followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus lands ashore, He sees a great crowd. The Evangelist describes a very moving gesture by saying that Jesus had compassion for them and cured their sick. Thus, the healing of the sick was followed by feeding. These two miracles transcend our understanding, nevertheless, as I mentioned I'll focus not on the miracles but on another aspect.
The first part of this reading presents a precious incident in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, which reflects the union of His perfect divinity with His perfect human nature. That is looking for solitude to bereave the loss of the Voice who heralded His coming. In our Creed, we confess that Jesus has taken upon Himself “body, soul and mind, and everything which is of a human being, truthfully and not with mere supposition”. Our beloved Church-father, Gregory of Datev, summarizes by saying that Perfect God has become perfect human being, united in one inseparable nature. The compassion which Jesus extends to people of all ages and in all times shows forth the union of Divine Love for all Creation with the humane concern and comfort for all created beings. The miracle of the loaves and the fishes takes the words and puts them into good works.
It is true that our Lord deplored the unjust end of John's earthly life, yet having the comprehensive understanding of eternal life as designated by the Creator, there was another dimension in His bereavement which surpasses all human grief. He lamented over the fallen nature of humanity which has been enslaved to sin, and unable to free itself from that bondage. Consequently, human beings, whether willingly or unwillingly, malfunction and perpetrate more calamities. He lamented over the human proclivity, motivated by evil, to kill, to silence and to bury not only a man like John the Baptist but the very voice of righteousness. He lamented the deafness in humanity, caused by evil, not to hear the voice of God when asking, generation after generation, “Cain, where is your brother?” (Genesis 4:9) He lamented as humanity distorted the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), once so immaculate at the Creation, but since tarnished by descendants unable to restore the former glory. He lamented the rejection by humanity, crying “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, and yet you would not allow it!” (Matthew 23:37) Therefore, Jesus, through the union of divine and human natures, was bewailing for our sake and for the sake of the decay in our original nature. This decline generates resistance to God’s will and failure to uphold His commandments, and ultimately causes death of the soul. Jesus advises all of us: “Fear not those things which kill the body yet are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear the evil which is able to destroy both the soul and the body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). While mourning the physical death of John the Baptist, Jesus emphasized to the people that the death of the soul is far more grievous.
The second point that I would like to highlight is the following. Jesus reaches out in great compassion to heal the sick. This gesture of Christ showing mercy to others while He Himself was looking for some private time of solitude does not require any interpretation. It provides us with the greatest practical life teaching for all generations. Whenever we go through any crisis, be it just or unjust, in the footsteps of our beloved Master if we share each other’s burdens, sorrows, and worries, this experience generates a little miracle that lightens our own pain. It generates healing, peace and blessings not only for the person whom we cherish but amazingly even to us. Is this magic? No, it is not. But it does provide the instance for us to appreciate when God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8).
Let us nurture ourselves with the divine bread of wisdom mirrored in our Lord Jesus Christ in order to face our daily challenges with prayer, prudence and patience, with joy, compassion and blessings, glorifying the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.        

Prelate, Eastern United States

As the Prelacy has redoubled its efforts in these trying days of the Covid-19 emergency, so have grown its needs. More than ever in our living memory, we need your support. Please give as generously as you can, “remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
Please help us keep alive the huge achievements we have attained with our joint efforts. We will emerge stronger with the hand you lend us.
Bible readings for Sunday, July 19, Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ (Aylagerbutiun/Vartavar) are: Wisdom 7:25-8:4; Zechariah 14:16-21; 1 John 1:1-7; Matthew 16:13-17:13.
1 John 1:1-7

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Matthew 16:13-17:13

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

On Saturday (July 18) the Armenian Church commemorates the Old Ark of the Covenant and the Feast of the New Holy Church. This combined commemoration takes place on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Transfiguration. Celebrating the old and new shows the perpetuity of the Church. God revealed Himself to humankind gradually through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the prophets. The church existed from the beginning, and that is why the Old Testament is accepted as part of the Holy Scriptures and recognized as a preamble to the New Testament. The hymn designated for this day proclaims, “ O Wisdom of the Father, from the beginning you established the Church in wisdom, the prefiguration of which Moses saw and depicted by the heaven-like tabernacle, being illuminated by the glory of God."
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 Mark* who is sponsored by Lida Surenian.
Hello, my dearest Sponsor,
I grew up some more, but I still don’t know my letters. I don’t go to school yet, but I really want to go. When I see my older brother going to school, I really want to go at least to kindergarten.
Thanks to him, I’m learning to speak Russian and English and to count, and I can do additions and subtractions.
Thank you very, very, very much.
May God bless you.
These are my little hands and fingers.

The St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization’s orphans’ sponsorship program now has two branches:
a.      Minors up to the age of 18.
b.     Orphans who upon turning 18 continue their studies at a higher education institution.
If you would like to sponsor a child on the waiting list of the Prelacy’s Sponsorship Program, please click here for quick and easy online sponsorship. 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). 
For many decades, the Prelacy has sponsored an annual raffle drawing that benefits its educational and religious programs. The drawing usually takes place in May at the conclusion of the National Representative Assembly. This year, the coronavirus pandemic hit when the raffle was underway, and the National Representative Assembly, to be originally hosted by St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Philadelphia, PA, had to be postponed. The new drawing date has been set for September 12, 2020. The top prize is $5,000; second prize is $2,000; and third, fourth, and fifth prizes are $1,000. However, we always like to point out that in this raffle there are no losers, because all of the money raised benefits our Prelacy programs.

Please consider purchasing one or more tickets ($100 each). For information, please contact your local parish or the Prelacy office (email@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810).
From left to right: Ms. Lala Demirdjian Attarian, Mrs. June Mangassarian
Mourad Armenian School of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, is pleased to announce the appointment of Lala Demirdjian Attarian and June Mangasarian as new co-directors of Mourad Armenian school. They follow in the footsteps of former co-directors Anahid Hajian-Kibarian and the late Araxie Arzoomanian, who voluntarily devoted almost 30 years to our school.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Haigazian University in Beirut, Mrs. Demirjian-Attarian pursued her master’s degree in Comparative and International Education at the University of Oxford. Returning to Lebanon, she worked for a UN agency, as well as several local NGOs involved in refugee education, reconstruction, and vocational training. She has been involved in research and publications in the field of international education. In 2008, she moved to the United States and worked with local Armenian communities and Armenian day schools in San Francisco and Boston. Mrs. Demirjian-Attarian is also the executive director of the Armenian Relief Society.
A teacher for four decades, June Mangassarian began her career at Alex Pilibos School in Hollywood, California. Mrs. Mangassarian holds a master’s degree in English as Second Language and became certified in grades K-12. She has taught ESL in Coventry as well as the Smithfield and Barrington School Systems. Mrs. Mangassarian this year was appointed co- director of the Saturday Mourad Armenian School.

The first summer class of the Siamanto Academy took place on Friday, July 10, via Zoom. Two additional sessions have been scheduled for July and August.

The July 10 class was different, as teachers Silva Bedian, from Chicago, Narineh Abrimian, from Watertown, MA, and Sossi Essajanian, from New Jersey, had prepared a number of Armenian language games.

This trio of specialized teachers are also the creators of the Armenian as Second Language (ASL) program, which is already available to Prelacy schools on the Hye Teachers’ Hub site (hyeteachershub.org) as a learning tool։ the games brought to class by Mrs. Bedian, Ms. Abrimian and Ms. Essajanian sparked the interest of students about the language and ultimately their identity. As the class was coming to an end some students proposed the next session to focus on orthography, while others expressed a wish to study more about Armenian History or learn to speak in Armenian.

The next Siamanto Academy summer class is on Friday, July 24, at 4:00 pm. 

Sts. Vartanantz Church of Providence is holding its 6th annual Summer Bible Camp virtually this week, with a group of 16 campers and the theme of “Zooming towards God.” Anticipation began to grow last week as counselors Berge and Jayne Zobian personally delivered to each camper’s home bags they had filled with craft kits and Zoom instructions for the week.

As face-to-face gatherings are not possible, the group is spending time together each morning as they pray, share Bible lessons, do fun crafts, and praise God through song and music. Even on a virtual platform, the campers are full of energy and eager to participate as they spend 45 minutes together each morning.
When World War I began, Karnig Panian was only five years old, living in the Anatolian village of Gurin. Four years later, American aid workers found him in an orphanage in Antoura, Lebanon. He was among nearly 1,000 Armenian and 400 Kurdish children who had been abandoned by the Turkish administrators, left to survive at the orphanage without adult care.

This memoir offers the extraordinary story of what he endured in those years―as his people were deported, his family died in a refugee camp in the deserts of Syria, and he survived hunger and mistreatment in the orphanage. The administrators of the Antoura orphanage sought to transform the children into Turks by changing their Armenian names, forcing them to speak Turkish, and erasing their history. It was an act of genocide by itself, as defined by article 2 of the Genocide Convention.

Panian's memoir is a story of loss, resistance, and survival, but told without bitterness or sentimentality. His story shows us how even young children recognize injustice and can organize against it, how they can form a sense of identity that they will fight to maintain. He paints a painfully rich and detailed picture of the lives and agency of Armenian orphans during the darkest days of World War I. Goodbye, Antoura assures us of how humanity, once denied, can be again reclaimed.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore (books@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810)
Shara Dalian was an extraordinary singer of Armenian popular songs and opera, especially as an unsurpassed interpreter of the role of Saro in the famous opera “Anoush.”

He was born on July 16, 1893, in Tiflis (Tbilisi). His love for music was in his genes. The Dalian family was famous in the music realm; the great-grandfather of the future singer was the noted Ashough Kamali, his father the well-known Ashough Jamal, and one of his father’s close relatives was Ashough Sheram (Krikor Dalian). Shara Dalian studied in the Nersisian School of Tiflis from 1901-1913, while taking music classes from composer Grigor Suny and one of Gomidas Vartabed’s disciples, Spiridon Melikian. He started singing as a soloist in the school choir at the age of thirteen and presented his first solo concerts in Shulaver and Tiflis in 1911-1912.

His breakthrough came in 1912, at the age of nineteen, when he first interpreted the main role in Dikran Chuhajian’s operetta “Leblebiji Hor-Hor Agha,” and in the same year, when he took the central role of Saro in the premiere of Armen Tigranian’s opera “Anoush,” held in the composer’s birthplace, Alexandropol (currently Gyumri), in August 1912 with a resounding success.

The singer worked as teacher of singing and choirmaster in the Armenian school of Svyatoy Krest (currently Budyonnovsk) in the Northern Caucasus from 1913-1916, and he spent the following year studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, while singing as a soloist in the choir of the local Armenian church. The following year, Shara Dalian performed in many cities of Transcaucasia with the theater groups he created. He organized the group of opera and operetta of Alexandropol in 1923.

He moved to Yerevan in 1927, the same year he founded the folkloric group “Armenian Ashoughs,” and in 1936 he formed an ensemble of troubadour songs.

Shara Dalian was one of the creators of the Opera Theater of Yerevan, founded in 1933, and a soloist there for more than twenty years (1933-1954). He developed more than thirty roles along with Saro, including King Arshak (“Arshak II,” Tigran Chuhajian) and David Bek (“David Bek,” Armen Tigranian).

His career peaked with his interpretations of Armenian popular songs. He gave many concerts in Armenia and abroad, entitled “Night of Armenian Song.” Along with Mushegh Aghayan, he wrote down, compiled, and edited the first collections of songs of Sayat Nova (1946, 1963) and Ashough Jivani (1955) with musical notation.

Shara Dalian earned the title of Popular Artist of Armenia in 1939 and won the State Prize of the Soviet Union in 1946. He was a member of the Supreme Soviet (Council) of Armenia for many years. He gave his last recital in 1956 on occasion of the second, ten-day festival of Armenian art and literature at the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow. He passed away on November 7, 1965, in Yerevan. One of the music schools of Vanadzor, as well as streets in Gyumri and Yerevan, bear his name.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
This is the subject that Rev. Fr. Bedros Shetilian, pastor of St. Gregory Church of Indian Orchard (Ma.), analyzes from a Christian perspective in his latest article. You can read it here.
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 items may be edited to conform to space and style )
July 24 —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 15  —Save the date. The Eastern Prelacy's Annual Thanksgiving 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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