Tag Archive for: history

The Story

Roots of Armodoxy: The Story

After your first visit to Armenia, and especially once you make the rounds to the monasteries and ancient sites, you can’t help but ask, how come no one knows about this?

You’re in the first Christian nation. You’re standing in front of the oldest Christian Cathedral on Earth at Holy Etchmiadzin, you’ve maneuvered through the caves at Geghart, you’ve entered into a pit where the Miracle of the Illuminator took place, and just about anywhere and everywhere you turn there are stories and sights that are, well to use a very crude but descriptive term, mind-blowing! You’ve watched your share of documentaries on Discovery and National Geographic, and this is your first glance at these sacred shrines and holy spaces, that have somehow escaped the curiosity of Hollywood producers. Where ever you look, there are stories waiting to be heard. You can’t help but make comparisons: Etchmiadzin is 800 years older than The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Karahounj predates Stonehenge by 5,000 years. The vortexes here pull more than they do in Sedona. Where am I and why am I just learning about this? you ask yourself.

Visiting Armenia is a journey. It is not about facts and figures but about the mysterious flow of energy that moves through this land. There is really no way of explaining or expressing the resilience and the supernatural means by which this country and its people have survived against adversity, except by resigning to the fact that this is a story that needs to be absorbed.

I was standing with a group pilgrims at one of the sacred spaces in Armenia when a group of tourists walked by and I heard the tour guide explain the history of the monastery that stood before us. She was good. She was young, born in Armenia, spoke and articulated herself in English and weaved the history together, just as you would expect to read it in a textbook. And then, she and her group moved on. Unfortunately, her group didn’t get the story behind this marvel of architecture and faith. They received the history, but the story was not there.

You’re in Armenia. It is a small, land-locked country, at the crossroads of three continents. It is inhabited by a peaceful group of people who have tapped into the Power of Christ, in their witness and expression. This Christ force, is expressed in its history and its story. That is what you witness in these sacred spaces and it is the reason why this place has survived atrocities, perils and even genocide.

The story is what we understand as Armodoxy, that is, the essence of the history with a connection to our lives today. Inside the monastery, the churches and the sacred sites, stone upon stone have absorbed the prayers, the candle drippings, the smoke of the incense and the tears and laughter of the people for centuries. This is the story that we tell. It’s no different than your life. You are not merely a list of historical events, but you have your candle drippings and incense filled walls as well. Yours is a story of relationships, dressed by love, hurt, pain and joy. You are who you are because of the friends who sat next to you, to the hand you extended to your children, the mother and father who disciplined you, the love that hurt you. That’s your story. Armenia has a story that is at the root of Armodoxy. It is why we understand Christianity as a power that can move mountains and heal the soul. Armenia is the living expression of the Christian experience, and every corner you turn, that power and that energy can and should be tapped into.

Tomorrow, we fly with “wings” up to the Datev Monastery, overlooking eternity.

We pray, “Lord our God, open my heart to the wonders that are around me. Allow me to find the Kingdom that is within and without me, so that my story becomes a part of the story of Life. Amen.”

Mt Davidson Time Capsule Unearthed

Time Capsule Unearthed at San Francisco’s 
Mt. Davidson Cross Commemorating First
 Easter Sunrise Service in 1923 Reveal of 90 year-old time capsule items and burial of new time capsule; 
Religious and political leaders joined for historic event

On Saturday, April 1st, 2023, a time capsule was unearthed from the foot of Mt. Davidson Cross in San Francisco in front of a large crowd of onlookers.  Ninety years ago to the day, San Francisco officials and community members gathered at the top of Mt. Davidson Cross to witness Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 bury a sealed copper box at the foot of the Cross to commemorate the first Easter Sunrise Service held there on April 1st, 1923.

“Historic moments like these held at Mt. Davidson Cross illustrates how our Armenian-American communities can enrich and inspire society by bringing people together under the ancient canopy of our resilience and hope,” commented Fr. Mesrop Ash, Pastor of St. John’s Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco and Board Member of the Mt. Davidson Cross Armenian Council.

During the time capsule unearthing, representatives from the San Francisco Historical Society were present to delicately receive the items which will be prepared for archiving and placed on display for the public to view at their San Francisco museum in June.

Among the items found in the capsule– which were much more plentiful than the organizers were expecting– were a leather-bound Bible, a San Francisco telephone book, pamphlets, a Boy Scout pin, a municipal record of 1933 and several newspapers including the March 27, 2932, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, featuring a full front-page photo collage of an Easter celebration, and several other newspapers from the time, many with headlines referencing a murder case.

Following the unearthing of the old time capsule, a new, larger copper time capsule was buried at the same spot. Memorable items were presented by various local clergy leaders including Archbishop Salvadore Cordieone, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco and Metropolitan Gerasimos, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco.

In front of the crowd, Archbishop Cordieone read a poignant quote from Pope Francis in 2015 during his visit to Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Armenia and placed a copy of that inside the new capsule.

On behalf of the Armenian American community, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, placed a New Testament Bible from Constantinople (Istanbul) from 1884 belonging to a Genocide survivor and an Armenian Cross Stone (Khachkar) made especially for this event into the new time capsule.

Aside from the clergy, it was an honor to have many state and city politicians in attendance for this historic event. CA Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, as well as San Francisco Supervisors Myrna Melgar and Ahsha Safai all provided brief remarks and ceremonially added their own small San Francisco-related momento into the new time capsule.

The historic event was organized by the the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California (CAAONC), a coalition of more than 30 Armenian-American organizations that purchased the Mt. Davidson Cross through a City of San Francisco public auction in 1997. The CAAONC has renovated the Cross and maintains it and the hilltop as an offer of thanks to San Francisco for becoming a safe haven for survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

“The San Francisco Armenian American community was gratified to save the Cross from demotion in 1997 and serve as its caretaker for the past 25 years in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turkish government, remarked Roxanne Makasdjian, Founding Board Member of CAAONC and event Mistress of Ceremonies.

“We do this as a way of thanking San Francisco for taking in the Armenian refugees a century ago, and as a way to honor our history, both as the first nation to adopt Christianity in 301 AD, and as descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. For us, this Cross and this time capsule embody the importance and purpose of remembrance,” commented Makasdjian.

Watch the Video

Listen to The Next Step Podcast #390 by Fr Vazken Movsesian, produced on November 16, 2015, starting minute 33, when Fr Vazken recaps a Pilgrimage by a group of  St Peter Armenian Church members, Glendale, led by him. The Pilgrimage was to 7 Churches in 3 days, including a hike to Mt Davidson Cross.

Listen to the Podcast

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian’s Remarks at the Mount Davidson Cross

Watch the live stream here:

Infinity and Eternity in the Highlands

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #731: A conversation with Dr. Marina Mchitarian-Lazaridou, Ph.D., A scientist with artistic interests, who opens the door and mind for a conversation on peace. An international traveler and scholar who gives language to photographs that tell a story of a people, a history, a philosophy and a way of life. In this interview, Dr. Mkhitaryan talks about her own spiritual journey through science, physics, her baptism and her expressions. The fifth dimension / “the Divine dimension”: A dialogue with God. Home and identity. “Peace building” – more than an absence of war.
Links to Marina Mchitarian-Lazaridou, Ph.D.

Serj Tankian “Amber” (Clouds) Rolling Stones
Cover: Train of the mines of Akhtala, Armenia
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!
Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Forgotten 4th Dimension

Next Step #630: The Church in 2020 exists in a unique space and time, we’ve forgotten the basic reality of our physical universe. History and truth: changes in both? Here’s a candid look at changes that threaten and true Changes that insure growth. Coining the Fourth Dimensional Church – first looks.
Gor Mkhitarian “Protect Us
Gor Mkhitarian
AoC on Jesus view
NS#576 “Images of Jesus
John Meyendoroff, “Living Traditions”
Cover: Fourth Dimensional Angel, Artsax 2019, Fr. Vazken
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand! 

When Truth Isn’t Silly

Next Step #629: Truth is being challenged, history is up for debate and the silliness is in the eye of the beholder. From Korea, to BLM, to credible news, to the schism in the Church (Armenian and Universal). Fr. Vazken moves the discussion from silliness to empathy: Accepting forced negative realities. MLK’s Letter from Birmingham now available in Armenian. And more…
“My Favorite Things” Datevik
Korean War at 70
Letter from Birmingham Jail English
Letter from Birmingham Jail Armenian (Gegham Mughnetsyan)
WD168 this week
Junipero Serra statue toppled
Cover: Silly Blowup Cautions Fr. Vazken 2013
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!