Etchmiadzin is Mission

Armodoxy for Today: Etchmiadzin as Mission

Today’s message comes from His Holiness, Karekin I, of blessed memory, who was the Catholicos of All Armenians from 1995 until his passing in 1999. When he assumed the throne of Chief Shepherd of the Apostolic See, he coined a phrase, “Etchmiadzin is Mission.” From his sermon which he delivered on the Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin 1995, I share with you these excerpts:

“Come, let us make an altar of light, for thereby did the light shine in the land of Armenia.” (From the hymn of Holy Etchmiadzin)

The altar of light is light itself – light created by God. “I am the light of the world,” proclaimed our Lord, hence the architect of this altar at Etchmiadzin, is God Himself also, acting through His Only Begotten Son. As humans, we are called to make this altar, but I would say that actually we are to allow it to make and fashion us and our lives.

One thinks of artists, sculptors, poets and composers: they create, and their soul radiates through matter – marble, sound, words, etc. – and expresses itself. We can therefore only make an alter for God inasmuch as we become participants in God’s own creativity and the task of spiritual edification.

… What people conceive of when they speak of “Holy Etchmiadzin” is something spiritual, which radiated through the physical Etchmiadzin; for a stone on its own is nothing but a stone – dead matter!

… Etchmiadzin is first and foremost a mission; it is not an institution like other institutions. … It is not an ode to the past, a glorification of previous achievements or pride in former accomplishments. Etchmiadzin is a mission; it is the transcription of God into Armenian, the preaching of Christ’s Gospel and the teaching of the faith of our Holy Fathers.

… Human response to the divine calling is what is needed now; we have to experience a total and complete change of heart so as to be able to deserve serving at Etchamiadzin…

…I quote from the Book of Hours [of the Armenian Church]

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who, through the prayers and intercessions of the father in faith and Your long-suffering servant, St. Gregory the Illuminator… You expressed your Love and mercy in a special way by descending in this place; You struck with your golden hammer the depths of hell and dispersed its inhabitants; You wondrously created this Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and turned it into an ever abundant source of Your grace, into a [nurturing] mother and teacher… keep this See spotless and crystal clear and bright, for the sake of the glory of all our churches until the end of the World… Amen.

Let us become as the plain of Ararat, ready to receive the divine message and may Etchmiadzin become integrated into our spiritual world and our lives. So that we may glorify the Almighty Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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