Tag Archive for: children


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.

Children and Religion

Armodoxy for Today: Children & Religion

It is interesting to me that as adults we want to impose on our children systems that have not worked for us. Jesus, turns the tables on that discussion, as he usually does, by calling a child as the example of what he wanted to see in us all.

We read in Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,  and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Children are pure, but we know that purity can soon be diluted and corrupted. It seems there are more opportunities and quicker means by which children can be corrupted today. And so, we create ways of passing on knowledge to our kids. The challenge for us, is not to lose track of our goal. I have heard many well-intentioned teachers of scripture do so in literal terms. For instance, presenting the story of Noah’s Ark as literal truth, will certainly backfire when the children ask simple questions like, “What do you mean everyone was so bad that God flooded the world? What about the child that was born the night before, was she evil too?” Instead, the stories of the Old Testament are there to be used as metaphors and templates for some basic truths, such as God has rules and regulations.

The best lessons we can give children is given not with words but by action. When children see their parents and teacher live the life they preach, a greater lesson cannot be learned.

At the Armenian Monastery at Geghart, there is a room to light candles, as there is in all the monasteries. In these rooms are large trays holding sand, where people can light candles of prayer, reminding them of the Light that comes from Christ. At Geghart, however, they have a few of these candle areas that are only a few feet above the ground, making them accessible by children. Right next to their parents, children have an opportunity to stop, light a candle and begin a habit that they will carry with them through their lifetime. These habits are the way traditions are born.

The easiest and most meaningful lessons in life are those which are passed along sincerely.

We pray a prayer by Archbishop Hovnan, “Lord, my God, Your light shines upon me this morning. I lift up my heart to You and with Your blessings I walk to school to enlighten my mind and soul and to become a kind student. Lord, bless me day and night and I promise to live a meaningful life for your glory. Amen.”


Children Unheard

Next Step #732: Whether children of war or those who suffer the effects of autism, it’s the Church that is the Body of Christ in this world today. Pope Francis, Little Red Riding Hood and the bad wolf: WW3? Jesus and the problem of unchosenness. Fr. Vazken discusses the challenge of a war that is forgotten and points to a new ministry initiated in the Western Diocese, to families challenged by autism.
Pope Francis says WW3 has been declared 
Divine Liturgy at Pentecost 2022
Armenian Autism Outreach Program
Blessing Armenian Autism Outreach and children at the Cathedral (6/12/22)
Conversations with God
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Emotional Surrogacy

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #728: Spiritual Surrogacy, from a child’s teddy bear found on the streets of post-war Artsakh, to Christian ideas of transferring responsibility.
Artsakh: Power of Prayer
Marina Mchitarian-Lazaridou, PhD.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Concert for George)
Ashot Aroustamiants Yeg Im Tarus
Leo Tolstoy: Confessions and Other Religious Writings
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Children & God

Next Step #586: Do children need God? Keeping God close and in focus; Finding God not so much without as much as within, especially in the heart. Jesus’ invitation to accept the Kingdom as children; so who’s leading who? Fr. Vazken is challenged and shares some insights on making God real, front and center in the lives of our children. A model for Sunday School built into the Divine Liturgy of the Ancient Orthodox Church.
Focused Vision
St. Nectarios
Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church
Cover: Building block of God, Fr. Vazken 2019
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Extending a Hand to the Extended Hand

Next Step #355: Reaching for a hand – it can pick you up or you can pick him up – An Armodox look at the Passion of Jesus in terms that tie us to history and today. The 100 Souls project explained – Darfur, Artsakh, Syria, children, women and the homeless – commemorating the Centennial of the Genocide by stopping one now. Would you let this priest repair your brakes? Learning Brake Repair, Brain Surgery and God by reading?
Song: “Heyroor” Parik Nazarian from “Cycle of Life
100 Souls in His Shoes
100 Year Journey
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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!