Tag Archive for: Artsakh

Saints and the Power Within

Armodoxy for Today: Saints

All Saints Day in the Armenian Apostolic Church is celebrated on a Saturday in November. Saints are perhaps the most misunderstood features of our Church. Protestants criticize the intercession of the saints on several grounds, one of which being that the saints are dead people. We in the Armenian Church do not believe life ends at the grave, in fact, we believe that the soul is eternal. Just as we ask a friend or a family member to pray for us, we may also turn to the saints to pray for us, with the assurance that they live with us. This is why during the Liturgy we remember several saints, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the teachers and some of the saints we remember by name, for instance the Kings Abgar, Constantine, Tirtads or the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, and of course the Holy Mother of God, the Asdvadzadzin. We ask that they pray with and for us.

By rejecting the saints, we miss a very real opportunity to connect with the Divine. As a Christian, I hold as my highest ideal Jesus Christ. When, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48) it is a standard that is very difficult, perhaps even impossible to achieve. We hold Jesus as the primary example of that perfection; however, we must remember that he is God. But the saints are people like you and me. Every one of them has a will, desires, wants, has dealt with envy, pride and all that define us as humans. Every one of them has been challenged with the realities of everyday life and, somehow, they have managed to rise above the situation. They have risen to a place of goodness that inspires us. This, then, is the power of the saints in our lives. They are people just like us. Not gods, but people. They have faults. And with their faults they have overcome life’s challenges. In other words, they are realistic examples for us. Looking at their lives, we know that we too can rise from our human nature and our situation. So how did they do it? By having Christ, the Christ-force, inside them and by tapping into that power.

I’d like to talk to you about that power especially today as we realize what we all have known and have now rediscovered: We Armenians are alone! The attack on Artsakh is not a border skirmish, it’s a backdoor entry by our enemy to finish what they attempted in 1915. They are ready to finish us off. This is the existential threat – the threat to end Armenia and the existence of Armenians. And when we look around us, we see ourselves alone on the world stage.

We have heard the story of Khirimian Hayrik in Berlin. In the mid 1800’s he went there to participate in a conference with other nations. He writes a poignant letter to the Armenian people, describing the meeting as nations huddled around a pot of heriseh (a porridge made with meat and grains, its thickness being its noted attribute). Khirimian writes that all the other nations came to the table with the clanging swords and dug deep into the heriseh with “iron ladles” and pulled out their portion. However, then the turn came to Khirimyan to pull out the portion for the Armenians, he had no swords or guns, but a letter in his hand. He called this the paper ladle, which easily flopped by the weight of the heriseh. He tells the Armenian people, when you return to Armenia arm yourself with weapons, weapons and more weapons. “People, understand above all else that you must put the hope of your freedom upon yourself, on your brains, the might of your fist…  Man, for himself, must work for his deliverance.”

That Berlin story is over 150 years old. And here we are, once again in 2020, standing on the world stage with our hands stretched out asking for others to assist us. Why have we forgotten the words of Khirimian Hayrik? Even more important, why have we forgotten from where his strength came? And our Primate, Abp. Hovnan, expressed it so concisely the other day, “Armenia cannot stand with the crumbs given by foreigners.”

Khirimyan was a priest of the Armenian Church. He became Catholicos. He was so loved that they referred to him as hayrik, yet under all the titles and layers, he was a priest, a priest of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just like, when we speak of the composer and musician Gomidas, we speak of his musical prowess or his genius, but we forget that first and foremost he was a priest of the Armenian Church, he was Fr. Gomidas, a priest of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And today, in our world with all of our materialism and egocentric culture – with all the things we buy and sell – things that we claim to have “value,” we have forgotten, we have laid to one side, the strength that we have within us. We have forgotten that we were born of the font of baptism and drink from the fountain of immortality – connecting us to Jesus Christ. As the Apostle says, If God is with us, who can be against us? (Rm 8) When we think of Artsakh and the threat to Armenia and to our being, we look for strength, for assistance, and ultimately to be saved. Why are we looking outside of ourselves? Why are we not looking within? Khirimian Hayrig, Gomidas Vartabed were the beginning of a long line of clergy – church leaders – from Mourapekian, Gevork Catholicos, Chorekjian and in our times the greats such as Vazken Vehapar, and in his shadow the bishops that we have today, from our Catholicos to our Primate who were his students. Against all the odds and with huge obstacles before them, they took us from the Yeghern of 1915 to Sardarabad, through the communist era, to the Karabaghian-sharzhum, to the independence of Armenia, with the Gospel message: Unless a grain of wheat falls and dies it remains a single seed, but by dying it produces a harvest. (Jn 12) All the time, they connected us to the power of Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ was the first non-violent revolutionary. I am convinced that Tirdat the King, who was the king of Armenia in the 4th century, who had armies (plural!) under his command, who understood strength and diplomacy, who understand military strategy… I am convinced that Tirdat accepted Christianity because he saw it as power for victory and not for surrender. He saw the strength of Faith, based on the message of Jesus Christ, was about overcoming the evil with the power of love. He understood the power of resurrection over death!

This is the basic Faith that we have had throughout the centuries, that our Church has preached through its priests before we came to America and were filled with distorted understandings of religion that are tied with material wealth. This is the faith the Church preached whether Khirimian or Gomidas, Shnorhali or Datevatsi, or today in the trenches of Artsakh where our soldiers make the sign of the cross, are baptized and go into battle to defend the lives of their loved one.

This then is the power and the message of the Saints. It’s the connection with the Source of Life, connecting not with the manger in Bethlehem but with all of eternity – In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God! … He came to his own and his own did not accept him, but to those who believe he gave the power to be Sons of God. (John 1)

Yes, WE are the children of God. We are the people of God. The SAINTS understood this. This is why and how they accomplished their miracles. This is how we have stood up and won against every enemy. …To those who believe he gave the power to be Children of God.

Israel is not a piece of land in the Middle East, nor is it a country with ethnically same people – it literally means “Triumphant with God!” the People of God!  It isn’t enough that the Garden of Eden is in Armenia (Gen 2:10) and Noah’s Ark lands in Armenia (Gen 8:4), it isn’t enough that we were the First Christian Nation, but each of us who is baptized of the Holy Font of the Armenian Church, each of us who is born again from our Holy Mother, as we come out of the water of Baptism, and the confirmation of the Holy Miuron – the priest sings, “We are called the New Israel! In Christ and we are a portion and joint heirs of Christ! (Նոր Իսրայէլ կոչեցաք ի Քրիստոս, եղաք բաժին Տեառն և ժառանքակից Քրիստոսի)

What power!!! We are connected to the Revolution that Christ started! Do you understand now? Every story in which Jesus give the sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and life to the dead, he caps with the words, “Do not be afraid.”

The Saints, are the connection to the Divine. They have been through this path. They have reached out of their humanity and have been able to tap into Divine because Jesus Christ has been at the center of their being and the expression of their being. With all due respect to our brothers and sisters who have come and created new denominations, that reject and find little to no value in the saints, they have kept you away from the source of life. They have kept you from the HOLY MIURON! From that life-energy that ties you with all the SAINTS. That ties you to Christ, who is there from the beginning, and lives in the saints, Asdvadzadzin, Thaddeus and Bartholomew, Hripsime and Gayane, Loosavorich and Tirtad, 40 Martyrs of Sebatia, Shoushan and Santoukh, Datevatzi, Naregatzi, Shnorhali, in the Holy Martyrs of the Genocide, and on the front line in Artsakh and in all of us! The New Israel.

Let’s not look elsewhere. Return to the Church that connects us to the power of Christ. The Church with its Miuron from the time of St. Gregory the Illuminator and spread on the foreheads of the soldier on the front line in Artsakh. We are called to march with the saints. We are called to come to Armenia’s defense with the weapons that we have always had. You are the new TRIUMPHANT in God! Pack with you the weapons of thought, speech, writing, aid, business, and money. Jesus Christ ushered in the Revolution and we have been connected to it. Today is the day to realize that the invitation is there for you to answer. Christ is in each of us. If you write, write, If you cook, cook, if you sew, sew, if you pray, pray, if you are a doctor, heal, if you are a person, have compassion, share that compassion and just see how, you can tap into the Divine. The Saints did it. So can we.

God bless you, the Armenian People, the Armenian nation and Armenia. Amen.

Words for Prayer

Armodoxy for Today: Words for Prayer (for Artsakh)

Ever since Nagorna Karabagh, Artsakh, was violently taken over by the Azeris, Armenians the world over have been searching for words and expressions to share with others, and with God, their frustration, disappointment, anger, and acceptance of the hideous crime on the road to genocide.

The Armenian Law Students Association organized a vigil at the Loyola Law School here in Los Angeles to honor the lives lost during the Artsakh Genocide. An open invitation was sent to the student body as well as the entire community. They assembled, with candles they prayed. I wish to share their prayer here, for those searching for words, especially in a world that keeps adding wars and new sufferings on people. This, they adapted from a prayer written for Armenia and Artsakh in the Eastern Diocese (November 13, 2020).

Blessed are you, O Lord we come to you in a supremely difficult time for the Armenian people. With broken hearts and tears filling our eyes, we are united in grief over the loss of the ancestral holy lands of Artsakh. The Armenian people are forced to leave behind their sacred temples of worship and silence their joyful prayers within their glorious churches. In this state of unbearable pain, we appeal to you, O Lord, to hasten to their aid in your divine mercy and love. 

Dispel their deep sorrow; heal their wounded spirits; pull them back from the error of hopelessness and despair. Help them to find strength and refuge in your loving arms, and to unite the Armenian nation under the warm and caring wings of your Holy Church. Grant us the humility and wisdom to accept the things we can no longer change; and give us courage to effect needful change where we still can.

 In a time of unrest and turmoil in Armenia, give the people the peace you granted to all your followers: breathe into them, too, your life-giving Holy Spirit, so that they too may find peace from worldly commotion, worry, and fear. Help them to work together in love, directing their sincere efforts toward the recovery of our society. Guide them in rebuilding their broken homes, and heal their wounded families who lost loved ones during these bitter days of war.  

Remember with love, Lord, as our Creator, the souls of the heroic soldiers and brave civilians who sacrificed their lives in your name. For those who have now lost their lifelong homes and must flee to safety. Remember them, bless them, and receive them into your Kingdom. Comfort their loved ones by the grace of your Holy Spirit. 

Lord, today we are overwhelmed by the sense of loss and tragedy that has come upon the Armenian people. But we know that you are always near to the brokenhearted, and you rescue those who are crushed in spirit [cf. Psl. 34:18 2]. We trust that all things are possible through you [cf. Philip. 4:13 3]. Help us realize that even when matters lie beyond our understanding, you still know the plans you have for us—plans to help us prosper and not come to harm; plans to give us hope for the future [cf. Jer. 29:11]. We cast our anxiety to you, lean not on our mortal understanding, and trust in you with all our heart [cf. Prov. 3:5]. For we have faith that in all things, you work for the good of all who love and honor you [cf. Rom. 8:28].  

We are humble, Lord, and you are our glory; your very name is wondrous, triumphant, and holy. Surrounded by the great cloud of our newly martyred witnesses to you, we praise you along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always, and unto the ages and ages. Amen.

Cover: Envato Elements


Armodoxy for Today: Alive

Sunday was proclaimed as a National Day of Prayer for Artsakh and for the Armenian Artsakh. Throughout the world, Armenians especially, got down on bended knees to pray. The prayer was not to a state leader, a diplomat, a politician, a social media personality, musician or celebrity.

In the Western Diocese, we celebrated the Holy Divine Liturgy at the St. Leon Ghevontians Armenian Cathedral. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, the Primate, called on the community to unite in prayer, “turning that prayer into the soil for new life. From that prayer,” he said, “Will come the inner power arising from faith, to manifest good works.”

At a time when the losses of the Armenian people are so great, the call to a life of prayer, has changed the emphasis of finding answers from within, rather than seeking them from without.

As the Archbishop was about to end his sermon, a group of Sunday School students came into the packed sanctuary and lodged themselves at the foot of the altar, in the chancel area of the huge cathedral. They were holding in their hands sheets of paper with crosses drawn on them. Each child had drawn and decorated a cross to bring to church this morning. Archbishop Hovnan announced that the day was dedicated to the Holy Cross of Varak (a small town in the Van region of Armenia, where the Cross of Christ was kept during a time of persecution). The young kids were now the new owners of these crosses.

The Archbishop asked the children to raise their cross drawings up high, so that members of the congregation could see them, as we all sang the Lord’s Prayer together. The kids began buzzing with excitement. They took their papers with ornamental crosses painted on them and they began waving them as we sang the Lord’s Prayer. In that wave, we witnessed energy and vitality. Their enthusiasm was dispensed and transmitted to all of us. We smiled at their naive understanding of faith and realized we were being given the signal from God. The next generation was sharing an enthusiasm that came from deep within each child. We were singing “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and we were being treated to the manifestation of God’s will – the love and life expressed by these children – in our holy sanctuary.

The miracles are always around us. If we are willing to open our hearts to God’s love, we can become witnesses to those miracles. Today, we record a miracle as a first step toward victory. Children living, making noise and waiving the cross, the symbol of resurrection and victory, in the midst of an Armenian church. We understand it as a miracle because it happened before a community that knelt and prayed. And if at any time you doubt that such a small gesture is a true miracle, think of the fact, that only a 100 years ago, the same enemy had proclaimed that there would be only one Armenian left and that Armenian would be found in a museum. Every noise, every prayer, ever raised cross is a miracle pointing to victory. Add to this, it all takes place inside an Armenian Church 12 time zones away from where the Armenian Church began, on the other side of the planet, at Holy Etchmiadzin. Only by the Grace of God does this miracle take place.

We prayer the prayer from the Evening Hour of the Armenian Church. Lord our God, increase within us Faith, Hope and Love. Amen.

Oil to Prayer, Miuron

Armodoxy for Today: Oil to Prayer

One of the sacred traditions of the Armenian Church is the preparation and blessing of the Holy Miuron (Chrism). It is done with much fanfare and grandeur, once every seven years. Holy Miuron was scheduled to be blessed this year, 2023, on October 1.

The process of blessing begins forty days earlier. That special ceremony took place presided by His Holiness, Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. The base of the Miuron is olive oil and the essence of 40 different fragrant flowers. Just as this, the mixture, was absorbing the prayers, hymns, incense and the energy of Holy Etchmiadzin, the spiritual center of the Armenian Church, the Azeris fired on the innocent civilians of Artsakh, prompting the Blessing of Muiron to be postponed.

At the blessing of Holy Miuron, the holy relics of the saints are brought out of their sacred spaces within monasteries, to the altar table of Holy Etchmiadzin, along with the sacred Geghard, the Holy Lance that pierced the side of Our Lord Jesus on the Cross (John 19). The Holy Miuron is mystical and powerful. It unites us to Christ and the History of the Holy Church. It is used to christen individuals into the Church, to consecrate clergy and buildings into the sacred service of the Holy Church. It is the life blood of the Church.

This year, the body of Armenian Church, took a major hit. A large portion of that body, namely Artsakh, was cut off of the Body. Understandably, the life blood, the Holy Miuron, would need to strengthen. With the postponement of this year’s blessing, His Holiness, the Catholicos, has ordered the holy relics of the saints and the Holy Geghard to be brought to Etchmiadzin’s Holy Altar during this most difficult time, to console the people with a special blessing.

This Sunday, October 1, has been designated at an International Day of Prayer for Artsakh and the Artsakh Armenians who now seek refuge as their land is occupied and they are exiled from their homes. A Day of Prayer is a call to the children of the Church to focus on God as their only hope. This is our opportunity to return to our roots and understand the true power of God to work His miracles through each of us.

We at Epostle.net will be simulcasting the ancient Armenian Divine Liturgy from the St. Leon Ghevondyants Armenian Cathedral with English commentary. Please join us for a live stream at 10:30AM Pacific Daylight Time, on October 1, that’s Coordinated Universal Time -7 at Epostle.net.

Today we conclude with Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.

Day after Crucifixion

Armodoxy for Today: After the day

If you were in Jerusalem in the early Spring of the year 33, and you happened to see the persecution, mock trial, torture and eventual execution of Jesus of Nazareth, you’d most definitely be confused, as were the people of the time.

The year is 33. Jesus began his ministry only three years earlier. He spoke of love. He healed the sick and miraculously cured the people of their many social and physical ills. He spoke out against the establishment, which got him into trouble with the religious authorities. They persecuted him and finally arranged for his crucifixion. It was Friday afternoon. Word had gotten around that he was, in fact, the Son of God, and so they mocked him, saying, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:42-43)

If on that Friday evening you left town, after witnessing the life beaten out him you would have only been privy to half of the Jesus story. If you witnessed the crucifixion and left, you would understandably believe that the Jesus story ended there and then. You would believe evil has won and the promise of God was merely, words with no action.

Fortunately, we know the story didn’t end of Friday with the crucifixion. That is why we have the audacity and courage to refer to that day as “Good” Friday. We know that on Sunday, Jesus resurrected from the dead.

The Christian has the unique perspective of viewing life through the looking glass of the Resurrection. In other words, we’ve seen the Crucifixion but we know the Resurrection awaits! Viewed from Easter Sunday, from the vantage point of the Resurrection, we can proclaim along with St. Paul, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting.” (I Corinthians 15:55)

Today we stand in witness of the Crucifixion of the Artsakh. As the Armenian Church, we are the witness to the Resurrection. We were there in the year 33 on that Sunday morning at the Empty Tomb. We were there at the end of St. Gregory’s imprisonment at Khor Virap in the 4th century. We were there at Avarayr with St. Vartan in the 5th century. We were there during the persecutions of barbarians through the centuries. We were there in 1915 and in 1918. We mourned the loss of our martyrs and also rang the bells of Sardarabad. We were there through communism and there when communism fell. We are there today, proclaiming the same Truth we have for centuries. The Crucifixion is not the end because there is Resurrection. Good overcomes evil, life is what is lasting over than death. Darkness can never overcome the Light. And Love is always more powerful than evil.

If at all we feel hopeless, we only open our hearts to the message of Resurrection from the Holy Church.

Today’s meditation is from the Resurrection account of St. Luke,
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’

Hours Later

Next Step #781 – September 21, 2023 – Hours after the cease-fire in Artsakh, people deal with the new reality. Fr. Vazken shares thoughts from the 1988 protests to this day.
CBS News Account
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Amerikatsi Movie
Armodoxy for Today. Today
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Leveraging Love
CNSY Living with War
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Fasting as a Tool

Armodoxy for Today: Fasting

In the Gospel of Matthew (17:13-21) we read,

A man came to Jesus, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus said, “Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

So Jesus said to them, “… This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

In this short story from the life of our Lord, he mentions fasting, perhaps only as an addendum to prayer, but we understand that it is a powerful tool for the Christian.

Yesterday, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, the Primate of the Western Diocese announced a 24 hour fast for solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Artsakh. For the last year, the Azerbaijan government and people have blocked food and medical supplies from reaching the Armenian population of Artsakh. They have targeted the Armenians for annihilation, in other words, they are in the process of committing the second Armenian Genocide.

Like prayer, fasting is one more necessary element in the life of the Christian. In Matthew 6, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about the necessity of fasting. Not only did he teach it, he practiced fasting, most notably during his 40 day period of seclusion in the wilderness following his baptism and prior to beginning his ministry.

Fasting strengthens the will and resolve of an individual. During a fast, an individual feels hunger, sometimes accompanied by pain. It is at those moments of physical yearning that we understand the words of Jesus during his 40 day fast, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

A call to fast and prayer is a call to learn about your strengths and limits. It is necessary to prepare and strengthen your inner self for spiritual warfare. Behind all the physical wars out there, there are even bigger spiritual wars that cannot be escaped. Often, people look outside of themselves for the solutions to their fears and problems. Let us not forget that the Christian is called to personal responsibility. We may look at the current situation, whether in Armenia, in the Ukraine or in Sudan, and look for answers from others, especially large governments but that excludes us from the solution. Each of us have it within ourselves to rebel and be a part of the solution. Fasting aligns in the proper modality, and in the case of a nationwide fast, as the one called for by the archbishop, we align with others of similar goals. We begin to form a block in the spiritual warfare we wage.

Today’s meditation is a reading of Jesus’ temptations while fasting for 40 days and nights,

When He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.


Armodoxy for Today: Goals

The entrepreneurial spirit was defined yesterday by risk. The parable of the talents, offered by Jesus (Matthew 25), illustrated the importance of risking talents and resources with which God has entrusted you. We ended yesterday by pointing to the prize, which was the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not enough to work or labor unless the goal is worthy of that toil and effort.  The goal of our efforts must always be in our focus.

Goals may be devious. In the parable of the talents, it is easy to assume that the monetary riches are the goal of their managerial skills, but on closer inspection, it is obvious that the monetary amount is the reward, and not the goal itself.

With the world in turmoil and with fighting close to home, it is imperative that we zoom in on the goal that sits before us. Jesus sets it as the “Kingdom of Heaven.” This is not a place or a time to come, but in Orthodox understanding, it was enacted with Jesus. It is a state of mind. It is, within and without us. It is, as Jesus says, “…Like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

When our efforts and actions have purpose beyond the temporal plane, meaning comes to our life.

Today, there is a blockade of food and medical supplies to the Armenian population of Artsakh. The government of Azerbaijan has targeted the Armenians for annihilation, in other words, they are in the  process of committing the second Armenian Genocide. Like the expressive monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – the world has closed its eyes, ears and mouth to the plight of the Armenians.

So, what now?

Today, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, the Primate of the Western Diocese will announce a 24 hour fast for solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Artsakh. This is a simple effort by which a huge goal can be accomplished by a small group of people. It is an effort in which everyone can participate. Most importantly, the goal of the effort benefits others. Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) It is in sacrifice that love is revealed and the Cross as the symbol of suffering transforms to the symbol of Love. Make the connection with the Parable of the Talents and now we understand that if the end goal is the Kingdom of Heaven, then it is expressed by the love we have for one another.

Tomorrow we will look at the power of fasting to overcome the worst evil. For today, accept the challenge to fast. (*The fast will be announced at 5PM PDT, at the Azerbaijan consulate in West Los Angeles.) Obstain from eating for 24 hours. It’s hopeful to expect that the Azeris will have a change of heart because of your fasting, but have no worries, because something remarkable will happen as a result of your fasting. You will have a change of heart. You will understand the power that is within you to bring about change. You will not need to look elsewhere for solutions that are within you. The Kingdom has been enacted!

We pray the prayer that the Lord Jesus taught us,

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours in the kingdom and the power and the glory. Amen.

Natural Solutions with Supernatural Consequences

Super Solutions that are Natural

Next Step #780 – August 18, 2023 – Looking for solutions to the supersized crises from the blockade in Artsakh to the wildfire in Hawaii, Fr. Vazken points to natural solutions with supernatural consequences. Empathy comes alive, lip-service ends, children learn, and so do we. Begging others –  America, Russia or France – ends. Weapon and resources we’ve always had and echoed by Khirimian Hayrig himself. A call to donated to Hawaiian Wildfire Relief. Effective protest- to the point and ones which get answers – tried and proven. Religious prejudice and Carlos Santana’s Supernatural. Jesus’ natural supernatural abilities.

Links from today’s podcast:
Blockade in Artsakh
Open Wounds and you’d never know
Los Angeles Freeways Blocked
Carlos Santana gets away with Supernatural talk
Hawaiian Wildfire Tragedy
In His Shoes – Hawaiian Wildfire Relief
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Cover Photo – Finger & statue at Cascade 2014
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Appealing to the Supernatural

Armodoxy for Today: Appealing to the Supernatural

A wildfire in Hawaii, one of the largest natural disasters in American history, has devastated the landscape and wreaked havoc on the lives of the inhabitants of Maui’s Lahaina district. The war in Ukraine continues almost a year and a half since it started with more and more weapons and armor being sent to the country. And in a small, remote part of the world, a land known as Artsakh, but unknown to most the world, a blockade of food and medicine threatens the population. Because the population is overwhelmingly ethnic Armenian, and because the ruling Azerbaijan government has sanctioned the blockade, this action is genocidal, that is, the government has decided to annihilate the population of Armenians there.

Over the weekend, the Armenian Church celebrated the Assumption of the Asdvadzadzin, the Holy Mother of God, and officiated at the traditional grapeblessing service. I shared with you my personal frustration with the Church that didn’t make the connection between the supernatural events in the Blessed Mother’s life and the supernatural response that we need to seek for the difficulties we face. This is a continuation of this theme of messages.

If we believe the stories of supernatural occurrences, such as the Virgin Birth, why do we hesitate to seek the supernatural assistance that we need to overcome our problems? As we discussed last week, Albert Einstein, among the most prominent within the scientific community speaks about the need mystery and awe, acknowledging reality beyond our five senses. And, we in the Christian community acknowledge life beyond the temporal. So why are we hesitant, at the very least, to include supernatural solutions?

One of the key reasons for grapeblessing is that opens the door for the possibility of something more than us. The grapeblessing service in the Armenian Church has to do with bringing the first-fruits of the community to be blessed. In so doing, the person (in this case the farmer) acknowledges that there is a source for the goodness s/he enjoys, that is the One who is thanked. The grapeblessing takes attention off of ourselves shifting it onto something greater. Whether you call that God, nature, the weather system, the seasonal rotation of the planets, it acknowledges that some of life’s occurrences are beyond our control and beyond our care. Also, the ego becomes deflated, because the grapes, the harvest or our product is dependent on much more than the self.

In fact, one of the most important reasons to be involved in a church community is because we understand that our life is dependent on so many others. Each of us is part of the network of life, and, like it or not, no one is indispensable.

We will stop here today, only to continue tomorrow. Our lives as people is defined in the relationships we have with others, even if the relationship are with the natural phenomena that sustain us.

We conclude with this passage from Ephesians (5:18-21). Listen attentively to these instructions, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.