Tag Archive for: Asdvadzadzin

Connection to Tragedy

Armodoxy for Today: Connection

We just celebrated the Assumption of the Holy Asdvadzadzin. In our last message, I spoke about the connection between the grapes and the Blessed Mother. Even more, we cited the passage from the Gospel of St. John about the Jesus being the vine, the Father the vinedresser and we, the branches, are called to bear fruit.

In traditional churches such as the Armenian Church, it is easy to lose the connection between these celebrations and the purpose of these celebrations. Every celebration, every feast, every event, in the Armenian Church has to point to Jesus Christ. Without Christ, these stories are only a part of a history which may be interesting but bear no connection to “the vine.”  In other words, they are irrelevant to the lives we lead.

This past week, the blockade in Artsakh continued. Here in Southern California hundreds of protesters took to the Los Angeles freeways, stopping traffic, demanding attention to the plight of the Armenians in the Artsakh, who are now facing another genocide. Meanwhile, the Armenian Churches celebrated the Assumption of St. Mary, with grape blessing ceremonies and people flocked to those churches to taste the fruit of the vine, without understanding the implications such as ceremony and story have on their lives.

St. Mary, who is revered as the Queen of Saints, and whose icon adorns the altars of Armenian Churches from Armenia to Los Angeles, to New Zealand and India, is an example of humanity elevating to godliness. St. Mary’s greatest action in life was that she said, “Yes” to God. “I am the servant of the Lord.” With that yes, she took on bearing Christ in this world.

The sad reality was too unnerving this past weekend and church after church offered commemorations of the Assumption and performed grape blessings without a connection to the reality that is unspeakable – a reality, Armenians have promised, “never again” and today find themselves begging others to the resolve for them.

The “Yes” that St. Mary said to the Lord is the example she lays for each of us. We read in the Luke chapter 1 that she is asked to bear Jesus. The consequences for pregnancy without marriage in those days was death by stoning. She asks, “How can this be, she has never known a man.” And the reply is, “Nothing is impossible for God.” She said Yes to God in the face of the death.

Today, the struggle in Artsakh requires extra ordinary, supernatural resolution. We know this, and yet we continue to appeal to governments that could care less about a group called Armenians. The only people who will care about this group is the Armenians and we have the power to do something. God has asked us to bear Christ, just as He asked St. Mary. We have not tried this option, if we had we would not be blocking freeways and protesting in foreign lands. The protest would take place in Azerbaijan.

In Yerevan, Zinvori Tun (the Soldiers’ Home), stands as a testament to the ugliness of war. Soldiers in the 2020 war were young children. They were killed and those who lived are in immense need of physical and psychological recovery. Our In His Shoes ministry has been supportive of these recovery efforts. Earlier this summer we visited the Home and saw first-hand the recovery effort. At the entrance of Zinvori Tun is a room which houses a khatchkar (Armenian Cross Stone). The president of the home, Haykuhi Minasyan, explained that the work they are doing for these “soldiers” is beyond human powers, and the khatchkar is placed as a reminder that their work is possible only with a prayer and God’s assistance.

This is the connection that we must receive from the Church, and if we don’t, then all of our efforts are futile and in vain. History shows us that we have to rely on our own resources and those resources accented by God are a powerhouse. Our smallest efforts are magnified with God.

This week, in the shadow of the Assumption, I’ll be sharing the connection of St. Mary’s Yes, and the grapeblessing to our real world problems. Join me, on these Armodoxy for Today sessions.

The reading today is from Luke chapter 1, the annunciation, “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest.

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. For with God nothing will be impossible.

Then Mary said, “Behold the servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Cover Photo: khatchkar at Zivori Tun

St. Mary and the Grape Connection

Armodoxy for Today: St. Mary and the Grape Connection

My grandmother was one of four sisters. She was the oldest. Her name was Marie, a derivative of Mary. Her sister’s names were Lousaper (the Light-bearer), Srpuhi (the Holy One) and Diruhi (The Lady, as in the feminine of Lord). These names were names attributed to St. Mary. No other saint is revered as much as St. Mary by Armenians, and the fact that in one family, four daughters are named after the blessed Mother is a testament to the respect and devotion she has had among the people.

St. Mary is referred to as the Asdvadzadzin which means the bearer of God, referring to her unique position of giving birth to Jesus, the Son of God. While the traditional churches celebrate the Assumption of St. Mary, only the Armenian Church has the unique tradition of the blessings grapes on that day.

My grandmother would recall how the first-fruits, the best fruits, were taken to the church on that day for a special blessing. The offering of the fruits was a gesture of thanksgiving, thanking God for the blessings He has bestowed upon the people, the temperance of weather, the fertility of the soil and the abundance of sunshine which yield the grapes. In fact, she would add that the townspeople would not eat the fruit of the vine until they were blessed on this day.

One of the reasons given for the connection between St. Mary and the grapes is that grapes can be propagated without seed, alluding to the virgin birth. But the best reason comes from Christ himself who sets up this analogy, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:1-4)

As always, Christ’s metaphors are simple and to the point. In this case the metaphor points to productivity. It is impossible to bear fruit without being connected to the vine. The life of a Christian is completely dependent on an unfaltering connection to Christ himself. Jesus presents the picture of the vine, the branches, and the fruit. And the operative is God the Father who prunes the branches. Just as the soil, weather and sunlight are necessary for delicious and juicy grapes, so too, our connection to Jesus the Vine is necessary for our lives to be flavorful and beautiful.

The grape blessing service is a call to productivity. God gives us a world and we are the stewards of this beautiful life. Armodoxy attests that Christianity is not an escape from this world to another, but the importance being the agents that make Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray. This is from the grape blessing prayer that is offered on the feast of Assumption,  Bless, O Lord, the grapes. May we enjoy that which You have created in this world and grant that we may be worthy to eat and drink with You from the bounty of Your most fruitful vine at the table of Your Father’s Kingdom, according to the just promise which You made, to the honor and glory of Your coexisting Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the most Holy Spirit to whom is due glory, power, and honor, now and forever. Amen.

And it doesn’t end here…

Mary’s Yes

Armodoxy for Today: Mary’s Yes

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the first of all the saints in the Church. In the Armenian Church she is referred to the Asdvadzadzin (= Bearer of God) or Asdvadzamayr (= Mother of God). These titles tell us more about the primacy of Jesus Christ in our Faith, than they do about Mary, but they point to the reverence with which we must approach the Blessed Mother.

Unique in the Christian story, Mary is chosen by God to bear the Christ Child. We encounter Mary in the Scriptures at the Conception, the Birth, in the adolescent period of Jesus and finally at the Crucifixion, at the foot of the Cross watching as her child is beaten, tortured and killed by the same humanity for which he came to save. Mary is the only witness, according to Scripture, of Jesus’ life from “cradle to grave.” Though it may be possible that Joseph lived as long, there are no details of his life beyond the story of Jesus at age 12. (Luke 2:41-49).

While much has been said and written throughout the centuries about Mother Mary, her story is a simple one which takes place in the first two chapters of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Even more, the simplicity of Mary’s story can be summarized in one word: Yes! Mary, the Holy Mother of God, is revered and set apart from all the saints because of a simple and courageous “Yes” that she said to God’s invitation.

The story of that “Yes” cannot be more eloquently expressed than it is in the Gospel of St. Luke (chapter 1),

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you…” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary’s “Yes” to the angel is simple, yet powerful. It seems to have flowed off of her tongue, yet took the courage of a lifetime to utter. Mind you, we’re talking about 2000 years ago, in the Middle East. This story is not in 21st century USA. The sentence for unwedded pregnancy was death, not to mention the humiliation, dishonor and stigma it cast on your family. The pressure, both real and psychological to say “No” was great, and so the value of that “Yes” was beyond measure. And so it was that her “Yes” changed the course of human history, for unto her a child was born who is the Son of God.

Now, invite Mary’s action to your 21st century. Every day and every moment we are asked to bring Christ into this world. Christ is the incarnation of love. By loving, caring, being empathetic to the needs of others, we are bringing Christ into this world, we are saying “Yes” to God. It’s as simple as that and the level of difficulty to do so, is up to us. Armodoxy is a testament to a people who have chosen to bear Christ to the world. It has not been easy, but the reward has been great. Every Armenian Church altar bears the image of St. Mary presenting, offering, Jesus Christ, Love to the world. Every altar is a reminder that this “Yes” changes human history.

We pray, “Lord, Jesus Christ, your holy mother said yes to the invitation to bear you and present you to the world. You came into a world of darkness and brought light, into a world of hate and preached love. I say Yes today, to bring light and love to a hurting world. Shine in my life, move me in the paths of your love, always. Amen.”

Enlightenment at Assumption

Next Step #480: The missing piece to the Asdvadzadzin puzzle – how to put it together based on the Gospels and Scriptural passages given by the Church Fathers. More puzzle pieces found: Clarification on Australia: Apples and Grapes. Back route details en route to the Eclipse, parked in Reno.
Morning has Broken by Cat Stevens
Australia Holy Resurrection Church
Yettem Pictures
Bible Studies and YouTube Armodoxy Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/armodoxy
Total Eclipse of the Sun
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Gender Equalizer through the Grapevine

Next Step #375: Gender equality issues that you didn’t hear through the grapevine! Fr. Vazken connects the dots between St. Mary, the Asdvadzadzin, grapes and our work – our mission – the rhyme and reason for life, in a unique manner – Gender equality is achievable in a most personal way. Putting the St. Mary history lesson to one side, we find the answer to the mystery question of: “If God created everything, then who created God?” And the great Burger King/McDonalds caper.
Song: “Havoun Havoun” by students of Vazkenian Seminary
St. Mary the Birthgiver of Love
Blog by Dr. Harry Hagopian
Blog by Dr. Anna Harmandarian
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Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!