Armodoxy for Today: The Road to the Center of Light – a five-part mini-series of daily messages dedicated to this special week in the life of the Armenian Church. Five days, five inspirations, five sparks that connect to shine the Christ Light.
Day 2 – Gayané: If Hripsimé was the spark of the Christian revolution in Armenia, Gayané was the kindling. Gayané was the head of the convent, what might be commonly referred to as a Mother Superior. When Hripsimé ran from Emperor Diocletian it was into the embrace of Gayané. She could not have had a better ally. Gayané was a woman of principle and high morals and for this reason she was charged with the leadership of the sisterhood.
It is important to remember that the Church, at this point, is still functioning underground. That means, the gatherings of the community were secretive. There were pockets of Christians throughout the Empire, but for the most part they were discriminated against, and were dispensable. Furthermore, the Bible had not yet been compiled, but there were scriptures – mostly Psalms and Proverbs – that were read among the believers, and of course, St. Paul’s letters had risen to the status of “epistle,” meaning that they were general letters to the community.
Gayané knew Jesus Christ from the Holy Tradition handed down to her by the Holy Church. She did not read the words of Christ but heard his voice, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
Gayané had picked up her cross in the vows she had taken to serve God by serving others. When the King realized that Hripsimé was not budging from her stance, he approached Gayané, as the head of the sisterhood, to persuade Hripsimé to give into his desire. Just the opposite, Gayané insisted that Hripsimé not trade the pleasures of this world with the rewards of eternity. And so it was they escaped, but at the cost of their mortal existence.
The king’s muscle was exerted on these young girls in an unbelievably disgusting manner. The details of the torturous death they succumbed to would be called crimes against humanity today. Gayané was just the right kindling to Hripsimé’s spark. They played as a team as this Revolution began in Armenia. Gayané brought stability to the team by standing firm to her faith and being a pillar of strength to the young Hripsimé. Each of the characters we meet this week, come to us from over 1700 years ago, but their stories connect to our lives today. The struggles we go through every day, perhaps not as dramatic, still shake us to the core. These characters inspire us to live with hope and overcome the worst of the worst. In their inspiration today, we understand that these stories are timeless.
Every revolution needs a leader, and he was on the horizon. Tomorrow: Gregory the Parthinian, who would come to be known as the Illuminator.
Today is the feast of St. Gayané. Let us pray, Christ our God, you crown your saints with triumph and do the will of all who love you, looking after your creatures with love and kindness. Hear us from your holy and heavenly realm by the intercession of the Holy Mother of God and by the prayers of all your saints, especially the holy martyr St. Gayané. Hear us Lord, and show us your mercy. Forgive, redeem and pardon our sins. Make us worthy thankfully to glorify you with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.