June 18, 2020
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On Sunday, June 21, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, will preside over the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City. Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Our faithful may follow the ceremony via live streaming.

On Sunday, June 14, Archbishop Anoushavan presided over the Divine Liturgy at St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church in Philadelphia, PA. Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian, Pastor, was the celebrant. You can read the Prelate’s sermon below:
Today the Armenian Church celebrates the feast of Etchmiadzin. “Etchmiadzin” literally means “the descent of the only Begotten Son,” and refers to an extraordinary event in the host country of Noah’s Ark, and the design of the schema of the prime Cathedral of Christendom.

The Armenian Church is indeed blessed for being established by the two Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew in the first half of the first century. The seed of the new religion of Light and Life was irrigated by the blood of martyrs like Sts. Santoukhd, Vosgyank, Hripsime, Gayane and their companions and others. St. Gregory the Illuminator, the living martyr, with God’s grace after surviving 13 years in a dungeon was brought out, healed the king, converted the people of Ararat to Christianity, and was privileged one night to have a vision: he saw Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, descending from heaven and designing the schema of Holy Etchmiadzin.

What an honor that Christ revealed Himself to one of the least desirable people on earth who was distanced from society, was condemned to death, and was thought to be turned into ashes. What a privilege that the Creator, the Architect par excellence of the universe, has offered the diagram of this Cathedral as a tangible sign of the new Ark of salvation to the people of Ararat. As the heirs of such a tremendously blessed legacy, we should be humbled with this trust transmitted to us, and cherish it by passing the torch of this valuable spiritual light to the next generations. On this occasion I would like to share with you three thoughts derived from today’s feast.

a. Throughout 17 centuries, Holy Etchmiadzin, designed by the Lord, built by St. Gregory, King Drtad and the people from all walks of life, has remained a beacon of Christian faith, where pilgrims, both Armenians as well as non-Armenians, visit to thank and praise the Lord for all His visible and invisible blessings, and to be strengthened in their sacred journey from life to Life. The Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, raised on the highlands of a strategic crossroads between East and West, reminds Mankind that the Providential care visits this world, which is the apple of His eye. Thus, as the stewards of this planet, humans should be aware of the sacredness of this asset, and of their mission to take care of this unique, collective house of faith that provides us with the taste of our ultimate home in the Heavens.
b. St. Gregory, whose feast is celebrated in Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches as well, is a role model of prayer who enjoyed the presence of God. He is a source of inspiration to all those who are cut off from society, persecuted unjustly, and condemned to lifetime imprisonment.

Most especially, I believe, he is the Patron Saint to our pandemic generation.

The name “Gregory,” which derives from Greek, means “vigilant”. As such he was vigilant by all means throughout his life. He was vigilant to read with spiritual eyes the signs, which lead a believer either to eternal crowning or damnation. As a faithful servant to King Drtad, he was challenged by the greatest temptation: to renounce his faith and enjoy all kinds of earthly honor or to decline the royal favors and to suffer painfully. But relying on his heavenly King’s word, that, “Where I am, there will my servant be also” (Jn 12:26), Gregory followed the path that led him through the tortures and the dungeon first to the earthly and then to heavenly glorification.

b. As a man of fervent prayer, Gregory did not stop believing in the power of prayer, the source of spiritual nourishment. As such, he enjoyed God’s presence through the visit of an angel, a feast which we just celebrated three weeks ago. Prayer is the best means of communication with the Source of Life, Knowledge, Power and Glory. It releases us from the impact of all negative powers and builds up a healthy personality to enjoy life, as well as to grasp the ultimate purpose of this life to be followed by perfect life.

Having the historical background of this venerable feast, let us implement its blessings in our present individual and collective lives.

a. The feast of Holy Etchmiadzin, the descent of the Only Begotten Son of God, is an historical appearance in the life of a saint. Nevertheless, the entire Scripture brings us the good news that God is not remote and does not dwell in sanctuaries only, but enjoys visiting and dwelling in the hearts of those who joyfully welcome His commandments and live accordingly. The promise of Jesus in this regard is very clear, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14:23). Therefore, being taught by St. Paul that we are the living temples of God (2 Cor 6:16), let us not be careless but vigilantly prepared to host this Divine visit in us.
b. St. Gregory is indeed a saint for all seasons, whose choice produced blessings for an entire nation and Christendom as well. To make a choice is the privilege of rational beings. If we look at St. Gregory’s choice from a materialistic perspective, it is folly to give up all the bounties, and instead to live a miserable life. But we know that society is built by those who have sacrificed their lives for noble causes. Hence, by using our spiritual lenses and having in sight the big picture of our eternal existence, because of temporary failures, fatalities, disasters and so on, let us not deviate from the right path walked by St. Gregory and all saints; rather as St. Paul says, “let us look to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was before Him endured the cross”(Heb 12:2).
c. St. Gregory was not only socially distanced, but literally was buried alive in the womb of the earth. Nevertheless, armored with unshakable hope and prayer against all odds, he overcame death. Indeed, hope and prayer are deeply interwoven, for prayer energizes hope and hope stimulates prayer constantly to be in communication with the Almighty Lord. The 21st century generation is indeed blessed for being surrounded by technological innovation. Actually, carrying a small smartphone in our hand, via satellite, we are in communication with an infinite world. Hence, through prayer we can communicate not only with and for each other but also with the source of Life, Wisdom and Power, our heavenly Father for our benefit.

Being nourished with this special spiritual meal, while celebrating both St. Gregory’s coming out of the pit as well as the gradual decrease of lockdown, let us all, dear brothers and sisters, thankfully pray and remember all the physicians, nurses, and medical staff who are on the frontlines of this invisible war, oftentimes risking their own lives in their noble mission. Let us remember all the public servants, who are providing all our necessities and comforts. Let us remember all officials in the many governmental agencies, who are dedicated to supporting the scientists in the discovery of a cure for this virus. Let us pray also for those who have been injured, for the souls of those who have lost their lives, and for those who mourn in the midst of the current conflict of social injustice. 

On a personal note, I would like to remind you all of the remark that I made at the very beginning of this pandemic by quoting an Armenian saying, which refers to human shortcoming. It says, “When the storm passes, we forget the saint.” In other words, I beseech you all: let us always pray fervently and wholeheartedly both in the time of turmoil as well as in time of peace. As St. Gregory turned the darkness of dungeon into positive light and life, let us also turn our pandemic experience into wisdom and faith-generating power. Let us always feel close and be thankful to our Heavenly Father, who will shower upon us His blessings now and in the Eternity. Amen.

Prelate, Eastern United States

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). 
Bible readings for Sunday, June 21, Third Sunday after Pentecost, Eve of the Fast of our Holy Father St. Gregory the Illuminator, are: Isaiah 1:2-15; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 12:1-8.
Romans 6:12-23
Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 12:1-8
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”  

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

This Saturday (June 20) the Armenian Church commemorates Catholicos Nerses the Great and Khat the Bishop. Nerses the Great was the father of Catholicos Sahak I. He succeeded two catholicoi whose reigns were unexceptional, and the people were eager to return to the line of their beloved Gregory the Illuminator. Nerses was a student of St. Basil of Caesarea, one of three great Cappadocian Fathers. Nerses’ pontificate was the beginning of a new era. He brought the church closer to the people, rather than to royals and nobles. He convened the Council of Ashtishat that resulted in numerous laws on issues related to marriage, worship, and customs. He built many schools, hospitals, and monasteries. He sent monks to preach the Gospel throughout the country. His bold actions resulted in great displeasure by the royal family and in 373 he was reportedly poisoned by the king. His accomplishments for the spiritual and social wellbeing of the common people earned him the gratitude of the entire nation and the honorific “Great.”
The office of the Prelacy’s charity in Yerevan is named St. Nerses the Great Charitable and Social Organization in honor of the saint.
Khat the Bishop worked closely with St. Nerses the Great. Like Nerses he had great passion for social issues, especially helping the poor. Nerses entrusted most of the benevolent work of the church to Khat. He is so closely associated with St. Nerses that the church honors them on the same day.
By the light of unspeakable grace of your divine knowledge you arose on the land of Armenia, merciful heavenly Father, have compassion on us who have sinned. Saint Nerses, pure in soul, from birth you were chosen to inherit the paternal lot of shepherding righteously and lawfully. You adorned the Church with the laws of truth and established good order within it; through his prayers have mercy on us, O Christ. With great honor Saint Nerses was honored by the blessed chosen holy fathers of the Council where he confessed the Spirit true God with the Father and the Son. You revealed to Saint Nerses the hidden mystery of times yet to come; through his prayers have mercy on us, O Christ. At the command of the heavenly King he accepted the cup of death from the king and was translated into heaven into the heavenly nuptial chamber. (Canon to the Holy Patriarch Nerses the Great from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)
This Tuesday (June 23) the Armenian Church remembers Constantine the Great and his mother, Helena. Constantine was the first Christian emperor of Rome. In 330 he founded Constantinople as a “second Rome,” and considered himself to be a servant of God. He was buried amid the apostles in the basilica he founded in their honor in Constantinople. Helena followed her son in becoming a Christian and devoted her life to charitable work. She built many churches and monasteries and is believed to have played an important role in the recovery of the true cross in Golgotha. She is also believed to have helped find Christ’s exact place of burial where later the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built.
Also commemorated this week:
Thursday, June 18, Holy Princes Sahag and Joseph
Monday, June 22: St. Epiphanius of Cyprus 
On Sunday, families across the country come together to celebrate Father’s Day. Fathers preserve a central role in providing for their families’ wellbeing as well as temperance for the inevitable challenges life puts in the way of every household. By definition, the Church offers the quintessential template for fatherhood, a fundamental institution in Christian life for the protection and guidance of families.
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 Vagharshak who is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Bedrosian.
Dearest Sponsor,

This is 14-year old Vagharshak. I live in the village of Aghavnadzor in the Kotayk province of Armenia. I am now in eighth grade in school.
I love sports. I do boxing, and I recently had a victory. I also want to take swimming classes.
In school I am doing well. I like to bike with my friends after finishing my homework. I also like to play computer games. I often help my younger brother with his homework, and I help my mom in her house chores when she needs me.
Dear Sponsor, I would like to thank you and your family for finding me and my family in this faraway village and giving us your support.
I wish you and your family good health and long life. May God protect you.
I hope to meet you one day and invite you to our home.

Your dear Vagharshak

* In order to protect the privacy of the children we use only their first names.

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). 
The last class of the Siamanto Academy for the 2019-2020 period on Saturday, June 13, featured Archbishop Anoushavan, who went over with the young audience about the preparation of the Crossroads newsletter.
For the meeting on Zoom, the Prelate had prepared a special issue of Crossroads , with which he outlined the content, the religious, historical and social topics covered and its importance for the readership not only in the U.S. but also for others in Armenia and the Diaspora. The students discussed with Surpazan about other newsworthy matters that they will analyze in the coming weeks.
The students were expecting with enthusiasm the videoconference with Archbishop Anoushavan, who engaged the teenagers with his friendly approach, paving the way for the students to speak frankly about the issues discussed. 
The Siamanto Academy will resume its remote classes via Zoom during the summer.  

Hamasdegh first grade Zoom session, in a screenshot taken by Ms. Sarine Koftikian-Olden.
Hamasdegh Armenian School, of Bethesda, Maryland, is planning to reopen its doors on Sunday, September 13, 2020, if the conditions permit it. The school is currently monitoring the situation, with a final decision contingent on an assessment of the health emergency as well as CDC guidelines. 
With all these factors taken into account, and depending on the number of enrolled students, the school may also schedule two shifts for classes.
The Board of Trustees and the school principal had decided to close the school on Sunday, March 15, as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the health crisis unfolded rapidly, the school staff adapted itself to remote teaching, with synchronous and asynchronous modalities, including videoconferences on Zoom, instructional videos and emailed material. 
The school is planning a private graduation ceremony for the kindergarten and 8th grade students and their parents only on Sunday, September 20, 2020. 

Murad Hasratyan and Zaven Sargsyan
Written by a leading specialist of Armenian architecture, Murad Hasratyan, and with 120 superb photographs by Zaven Sargsyan, this bilingual book, in Armenian and English, gives the reader a well-illustrated introduction to Armenian church architecture.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore (books@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810)
Death of John Kirakosian (June 20, 1985)
In the period 1965-1985, John Kirakosian established himself as one of the most influential voices in a new generation of Soviet Armenian historians dealing with the previously taboo subjects of the Armenian Question and the Armenian Genocide.

He was born on May 6, 1929, in Yerevan. After finishing high school, he entered the School of International Relations of Yerevan State University and graduated in 1951. He pursued doctoral studies in Moscow, at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and specialized in the modern history of Eastern countries. In 1954, he defended his dissertation on the British military intervention in Iran in 1918-1921.

Kirakosian returned to Yerevan and, afterwards, his life would be divided between scholarship and work as a party and state official. From 1955-1962 he headed the propaganda section of the party monthly Leninian ughiov. Afterwards, he was deputy head of the section of propaganda and political agitation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia (1962-1966) and president of the state committee of TV and Radio of the Council of Ministers of Soviet Armenia (1966-1969). In 1969, he became head of the department of science and educational institutions of the Central Committee of the party. His final position, and the one for which he became better known abroad, was that of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the republic (1975-1985). While the ministry depended entirely of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, it also had an informative function for the leadership of the Armenian republic, and during Kirakosian’s tenure, which coincided with the explosion of political activism in the Diaspora, it was particularly active.
As university professor, Kirakosian first taught at the School of History of Yerevan State University (1967-1968), and then went on to teach at the newly founded School of Eastern Studies, first as professor and then as head of the chair of history of Eastern peoples.

His actual contribution to Armenian historiography started in the 1960s. The revival of national feelings and the relative liberalization of rigid ideological constraints allowed for the rise of social sciences, particularly in the field of Armenian Studies. In 1964, Kirakosian, together with his colleagues Hovhannes Injikian and Tzatur Aghayan, signed off on a project of activities for the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the genocide in 1965 that was adopted by Yakov Zarobian, the progressive first secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia, and then forwarded to Moscow and approved.

Besides various scientific articles, Kirakosian became the author of three groundbreaking monographs that helped restoring the status of the Armenian Question and the Armenian genocide as subject of historical research. They made a thorough critique of Ottoman policies against the Armenian population of the empire and the historiographical distortion by Turkish historians. World War I and the Western Armenians (1914-1916), published in 1965, was reprinted in 1967 and translated into Russian in 1971. It was followed by the two-volume The Bourgeois Diplomacy and Armenia (1978 and 1980), encompassing the 1870s and 1880s, of which the first volume appeared in Russian (1981), and the two-volume The Young Turks before the Judgment of History (1982-1983). The latter was posthumously published in English translation (1992).

He also edited and prefaced a voluminous collection of documents, Armenia in the Documents of International Diplomacy and Soviet Foreign Policy (1828-1923) (1972).

Following heart complications, John Kirakosian passed away at the age of fifty-six, on June 20, 1985, in Moscow. He was buried in Yerevan. He earned the State Prize of Soviet Armenia, posthumously, for his historical works. His son, Ambassador Arman Kirakosian (1956-2019), who was Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in the U.S., among other positions, followed his steps as historian and diplomat in post-Soviet Armenia.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( www.armenianprelacy.org ). 
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 )
June 29—July 3  —St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program online For information, please contact Dn. Shant Kazanjian at 212-689-7810 or  shant@armenianprelacy.org .

July 10 —First 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.

September 26-27 POSTPONED —St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley (North Andover, Massachusetts), 50 th Anniversary, under the auspices of Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate.

October 4 —Save the date. St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church of New Britain, CT, 95th Anniversary Banquet.

October 17 CANCELED —Hye Kef 5 Annual Dance, presented by the Armenian Friends of America, Inc.. Featuring: Steve Vosbikian Jr., Mal Barsamian, John Berberian, Ara Dinkjian and Jason Naroian. At the DoubleTree Hotel in Andover, MA. For details, visit ArmenianFriendsofAmerica.org or call Sharke at 978-808-0598.

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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