Tag Archive for: Divine Liturgy

Opportunity Lost

Armodoxy for Today: Opportunity Lost

Every Sunday, during the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, the celebrant priest, descends from the altar area and processes around the inner circumference of the church.  As he walks by the congregants, he holds a cross in one hand and censes fragrant incense with the other.

There are a variety of reactions to his presence in the congregation. Some lower their head to ask for a blessing, while others kiss the cross in the priest’s hand out of reverence. Others smile and acknowledge his presence. Still, others watch as he goes by, not interested in engaging in any manner. And of course, for those who are not there at that moment, the opportunity to interact is lost because the priest processes through the church and ascends back to the altar area to continue the Liturgy.

This part of the Divine Liturgy, symbolizes Christ’s descent from the comfort of heaven to live, walk and be among us, after which he ascended back to heaven. During Jesus’ life, there were people who sought him for miracles and healings, while others engaged with him for a blessing and merely to touch his garment. And, of course, for many, the opportunity to be made whole was there and they let him pass by.

In life, there are moments that are singular and they demand our interplay at that moment, otherwise, they go by. Sometimes, events demand that we interact.

Today a genocide takes place. Ethnic cleansing is the plot. To stay quiet and/or to ignore the horror, is an opportunity lost.

We pray, Heavenly Father, I see pain and suffering in this world. I have walked that path in the past. I said, Never Again. Today, grant me the courage to speak out against evil everywhere, so that I may have the moral authority to voice myself whenever evil confronts me. Amen.

Want More? Try this week’s Next Step “War Protest: Opportunity Eclipsed” 

Cover Photo: Lunabelle Beylerian, 2023

Celebration

Armodoxy for Today: Celebration

The first day of May, referred to as May Day, is roughly halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. In European culture, festivals would take place, and still do, to celebrate the nearing of summer. International Workers Day is also celebrated on the first day of May, with a focus on man and his labor, similar to what we celebrate in the United States, possibly with less commercialization.

The human animal is uniquely endowed with this ability to celebrate different aspects of life. We hold gatherings and create events to facilitate the celebration.

Celebrating life was important to Jesus. His parables pointed to that celebration and he himself was attuned to the need to celebrate by leading a productive life.

Although May Day and the International Worker’s Day are celebrated on the same day, they are not related to one another except by the fact that they are both celebrated. Let that celebration be a good starting point to aim for peace and harmony. Celebration sets us up as humans to see the wonders of life and stand in awe. In that common refrain, we are tuned to one another.

Is it any wonder that the leader of the Divine Liturgy is referred to as the Celebrant. Today, we pray the prayer of the celebrant of the Divine Liturgy as he clothes himself with the garments of salvation:

O Jesus Christ our Lord, clothed with light as with a garment, you appeared upon earth in unspeakable humility and walked with men. You became eternal high priest after the order of Melchizedek and have adorned your holy church. Lord almighty, having granted us to put on the same heavenly garment, make me, your servant, also worthy at this hour when I make bold to approach the same spiritual service of your glory, so that I may divest myself of all ungodliness, which is a vile garment, and that I may be adorned with your light. Amen.

A 144 year old witness to a miracle

A 144 year old witness to a miracle

Some thoughts shared with the congregation on January 5, 2024

It was Christmas Eve, five days after the New Year and we had arrived in Seattle, Washington. It was cold and wet, weather which is expected this time of the year in the Northeast. I was preparing to celebrate the Theophany Divine Liturgy and water blessing service at the Holy Resurrection Armenian Church, filling in for their parish priest who was away on assignment for the Diocese.

The Holy Resurrection Armenian Church stands just in the right position for its large stained-glass window of Christ to shine and illuminate the dark night. It was welcoming. I was greeted by the church’s deacon who led me to the vestry in preparation for the service.

At the altar table I opened the “Book of Mystery” (Khorhrtadedr) which contains the prayers, both audible and private, for the priest. The deacon pointed out the publication date printed on the first page: 1880! On the page that followed, it had the sanctioning statement by His Holiness Gevork IV, who served as Catholicos of All Armenians from 1866-1882.

The church filled up with worshipers and we celebrated the Divine Liturgy that evening. Young and old families gathered. The young children brighten the inside of the sanctuary as the stained-glass window had lit the outside darkness. The big “family” of the Church was present.

Every one of us was about to participate in a miracle, a miracle which may have gone unnoticed even though everyone was a part of it. There were no thunderbolts or lightning strikes to announce this miracle. In fact, this miracle had its origins before electricity even reached our houses! In front of the Holy Altar was a book, the Khnorhrtadedr, which was printed 144 years ago (in 1880), before cars or flight and for much before the Genocide which is a marking point for our people. This book had made it through the Genocide, through the years of communism and was now in a spot half-a-world away from where it began, leading the worship of Armenians. The fact that we weren’t supposed to be living and are now, not only alive, but worshipping Christ – Christos dzunav yev haydnetsav – in all corners of the world, against all the odds is a testament to the greatest miracle of all!

The Divine Liturgy, represented by this old book, is the constant witness to the miracle.

On this Christmas eve, when we remember the Baby in the manger, and the voices of the heavenly hosts proclaiming, “Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men,” let’s acknowledge this miracle and accept that we can be the agents of peace and goodwill in this world. Christ is born and revealed!

Fr. Vazken Movsesian

King of Glory

Armodoxy for Today: King of Glory

Armodoxy has developed in a land and among a people that have not known peace for long stretches of time. Armenia, at the intersection of three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia, has been trampled on by invaders, barbarians and would-be conquerors.

Sunday after Sunday in the Armenian Church, there is a “question-and-answer” session which takes place during the Divine Liturgy. This Q&A has been going on for centuries. The deacon, with the chalice in hands, approaches the priest and asks that the doors be opened for the “King of glory.” The priest asks, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle?” The questioning continues and upon his second inquiry, the deacon announces, “This is the King of glory!” and hands-off the chalice for the priest to prepare the Holy Eucharist.

It was the Psalmist who first framed the dialogue on behalf of a hurting world (Psalm 24:8-10). And it has been heard and overheard from altar areas ever since, during times of trouble, persecution and war.

Priest: Who is the King of glory… mighty in battle?

Deacon: This is – He is – the King of glory!

Wars are won and wars are lost but in the case of Armenia, the number losses far outnumber the wins, prompting a more appropriate question: Who is this King, so mighty in battle, that the war was lost? Perhaps not as an audible chants by the deacon, but definitely in the solitude of the mind. Ultimately, what does it mean to proclaim God as almighty – mighty in battle – in the face of horrific tragedies that we endure?

In Holy Scripture, time and time again, we find our Lord Jesus teaching by example. When a tragedy befalls another, he touches them with his love and asks us to do the same. During the Divine Liturgy, the deacon is heard inviting people to worship. He beckons the congregation to stand in peace, to pray fervently, to listen in awe, to prepare themselves and to approach the Blessed Sacrament. Simply put, he calls everyone to celebrate the victory of Christ. His pronouncement “He is the King of glory!” is a response to the priest’s question and at the same time it is an invitation for us to engage in the Kingdom which is in our midst.

“The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” says Christ our Lord, “Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

“The King of glory mighty in battle,” is the answer the Deacon proclaims to the priest and in-turn to all of us, every Sunday. We are invited to explore, engage and discover the King of glory for ourselves, “mighty in battle” who is here answering us, our sufferings, our dilemmas, and our wars, by touching us with his love and compassion. By accepting the invitation, we engage in the Kingdom of God. We accept a call to personal and community responsibility to extend ourselves. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within us!

The Q&A, the Divine Liturgy and hence, our Church is calling us to this higher understanding of our Christian Faith, as members of the Kingdom, to engage in the struggles and sufferings that are all around us, not with a question but with the solid answer: He is the King of glory, mighty in battle.

Today we pray from the Lords prayer, “Our Father, may your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

The Psalm 24 Q&A

Deacon: He is the King of glory!

With a war that cost thousands of lives and the loss of land, another question surfaces: Who is this King, so mighty in battle, that we lost the war? Perhaps not as audible as the chants of the deacon in church, but in the solitude of the mind, many ask this question and for some, it becomes the tipping point to abandoning hopes in a Divine Protector, or just plainly, a disbelief in God.

The Q&A of Psalm 24 is about relevance. What is the relevance of our church service and our Faith to the events shaping the world today? It is an echo of Jesus’ condemnation, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” recorded in Matthew 23. What is the connection between our actions on Sunday mornings and our response to the tragedies that take place during the week? There is an existential crisis brewing in Armenia, in Artsakh, and ultimately, we have to ask, what does it mean to proclaim God as almighty – mighty in battle – in the face of horrific tragedies – rape, mayhem, and executions?

I began the week sharing with you my frustration at a Church which provided the Blessed Mother and grapes, without making the connection to their relevance and significance. We journeyed together along a path that looked at the faith we profess and its application in real terms, that is, to understand miracles as part of our daily life. We spoke of the transformation of the supernatural to the natural. Religion, and especially our religion, Christianity as practiced by the Armenian Church, is about accepting the truth of our belief, without compromise. In the case of Psalm 24 Q&A, Yes, He is the King of Glory, mighty in battle. Accepting this, now the burden is upon us – you and me – to believe it to the point where we stop looking for worldly and political solutions and trust the Faith that has brought us here against the odds.

Today’s lesson is a proclamation that has been repeated in our Liturgy for two millennia. If He was not mighty in battle, if He was not the King of Glory, we certainly would have written it out of the text of the Liturgy. There is a reason why it is repeated and repeated often, because it a profession of reality. We come to find this one profession is at the Center of our Divine Liturgy, which is celebrated throughout the world. In that profession, we are called to engage with the King of Glory. And so, today, we take one step closer, where we understand the answers and solutions to our dilemmas, difficulties, wars and evil, are not in the hands of others, but the invitation has come to us. We understand that the supernatural, is the natural, and it is in us – you and me. Now enters responsibility, our personal responsibility.

We will take a break here to continue next time. Until then, let us pray, “Lord our God, you have called each of us to serve within the Kingdom. Give me the strength and courage to overcome the difficulties of the day and bring my talents to the quest for Peace. Amen”

Thanksgiving Expressed

In the United States we have a beautiful tradition holiday called Thanksgiving. It recollects the gratitude of the first pilgrims in America. In the Church, the tradition of Thanksgiving is as old as Christianity itself. Here is a special Thanksgiving presentation of AC101, an episode where the Thanksgiving service of the Armenian Church – the Eucharist or Badarak – is shown to parallel the traditional holiday outing and dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to all….

Between 23 and 25

Next Step #620: Health care workers on the front-line with COVID-19 patients, the new heroes of today, lack basic Medical Protective Personal Equipment (PPE). Interview with Lilya Baghmouri and Sousanna Pogosyan who are changing that and bringing aid to those heros. Also, identity definitions, 105 years removed from the Genocide. Challenges for a new and newer generation, here’s what you can expect in 2040.
Zulal “Yes boojour em”
Medical PPE for LA County Community Go Fund Me Page
April 24 Divine Liturgy
Leveraging Love
Message 99th Anniversary at Montebello
Greetings of Hope from Armenians to Darfuris
2006 In His Shoes Promo (God one of us)
2005 IHS 7×77 project
Martyrs as Saints (Dedication of Monument 2015)
WD168 for this Week
Ushadrutyan Kentron (Armenian)
Cover: When the fuchsias pop, Fr. Vazken 2011
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! 

Badarak in the Age of Pandemic

Next Step #618: Holy/Great Thursday and the Institution of the Last Supper, the Holy Badarak, that is, the means by which we connect to the life-saving Crucifixion and celebrate the Resurrection. Thanks to technology we’re watching in our living rooms, with candles, incense and prayers. The message of St. Basil is read during the Liturgy explaining the essence of the Eucharist: “Never look at this as bread and wine” … it is the life-giving blood and body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now… that being said, what are we fearing? Where is our faith? How can a virus so small stand between us and the Lord’s Body. In this episode Fr. Vazken shares insights about the Badarak today and the adaptation to ultra-pandemics in the past. How to participate in the virtual ceremonies?
VEM Radio
WD168 This week
Holy Thursday message 2019
Holy Friday message 2019
Cover: Badarak in the age of Pandemic, Fr. Vazken 2020
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! 

Where’d everyone go?

Next Step #512: A mid-Holy Week tally of who’s who and what’s what. What happened to the thousands of friends who ushered Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and left him alone for his death only four days later? Don’t wait for Easter to be April fooled! Singling out Pilate – no Judas here – in a second-creed puts Easter in the history book and out of the connection book. Heading out to Utah to celebrate Easter and the Holy Divine Liturgy, Fr. Vazken shares a very special resurrection message.
Vem “Khatchi Ko Christos”
Palm Sunday – A Telling Expression
Jesus Christ Superstar “Pilate’s Dream
TedX: Bible & Homosexuality
Suffering & Hope
Tamar Kabanjian Art Exhibit
Palm Cross Instruction
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Subscribe to In His Shoes » Next Step with Fr. Vazken by Email
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!

Frankenstein’s Fear

Next Step #351: In this episode: lessons from science and experience. Trying the new and rising above the fear; Identity definitions; Mourning the past and loss; The “Squandering” Son; the Divine Liturgy beyond reason and words; Armodoxy applications. Personal experiences from the week.
Song: Ani by Ara Gevorgian
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Armenian Identity Movement
InHisShoes.org
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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!