Tag Archive for: Shnorhali

Finding the Primer

Armodoxy for Today: The Primer

There is one word for love “սէր” (pronounced sehr) in Armenian and in this one word, the erotic (eros), brotherly (philia), and unconditional (agape) elements of love all come together, remarkably, but not surprisingly.

In science and specifically in the field of physics attempts have been made to describe all the fundamental forces and the relationships between elementary particles in a single theoretical framework. A unified field theory has been the quest of many great physicists. During my youth I was fascinated by the notion that everything might be explained in a unified field theory. I carried my interest and curiosity for an answer with me into seminary. If there exists one explanation, if there is a unified field theory, I thought, why must it be limited to the physical world? A true unified field theory would also pertain to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual world and therefore be explained as a part of religion. From a religious vantage point, particularly a Christian one, the unified field theory would also account for God. The problem there, of course, is that God has to be greater than the words that can contain or describe Him. And so, I thought, is it possible that God is the Unified Field Theory? But, who in the scientific community would entertain such an assertion?

Throughout the years as I contemplated this puzzle, I was fascinated by the work of physicists who pondered the question and came up with theories. I would dive, even if shallow, into experiments with particle accelerators and the latest with Higgs boson or Higgs particle, especially when the term “The God Particle” was assigned to the work.

Something was missing. There was a missing piece to everything I was absorbing. I needed a primer – a piece of the puzzle that would give meaning to everything else. And then it happened! One Sunday morning as we were singing the Hymn “Aravod Louso” a verse that I had sang a thousand times before jumped out at me. St. Nersess Shnorhali writes, in the 36 verse hymn, in the 29th verse, the words, “The name of love is Jesus.”  It clicked! From that moment on, I saw something very clearly, that relied on the truth of pure logic, that is, if A = B and B = C, then A = C. If God = Love and if Love = Jesus, then God = Jesus. In other words, the primer opened the world of understanding by expressions of equality. God, Jesus and Love could be used interchangeably.

I went ahead and tested this discovery. Jesus makes a statement, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” This has caused isolation and rejection of Christianity by people who only had a superficial understanding of the terms. Testing began. I interchanged the word “Love” for Jesus. Can we now agree – everyone agree – that Love is the way. Love is the truth. Love is the life? It works! It was remarkable but not surprising. Jesus Christ, is the fulfillment of the law and the profits, the Alpha and the Omega. The Way is a person, the Truth is a person and Life is a person. They are Jesus Christ. The primer works! It connects the story of Jesus Christ to all of eternity, to the beginning and end of time. Armodoxy makes this bold proclamation, and everything we teach is based on this solid foundation, that there is only one element from the beginning of the universe to the end, and that is love. It is the strongest element in this universe. It is the beginning and the end.

Let us pray, O Lord Jesus Christ, you are the way, the truth and the life. Help me to walk in your path of love. Guild me to proclaim boldly the name of Jesus Christ and in so doing, may I carry this message to the hurting world. Amen.

Cover: Luna & Gregory Beylerian


Melting Love

Armodoxy for Today: Melting Love

When we were kids, one of our favorite fairy tales was “The Frog Prince,” rendered by the Brothers Grimm. My sister and I would listen to an old phonograph record which told the story of a spoiled princess who reluctantly befriended a frog. The friendship was the frog’s request as his reward for retrieving her golden ball. She was irritated that she, a beautiful princess, would have to hold, or just be in close proximity, of this old repulsive waddler. But the frog kept pushing his friendship on the princess. Little did she know that he was a prince who had a spell cast upon him and was trapped in the body of the frog.

Our phonograph record would play with the pops and hisses that we were accustomed to hear when playing the black vinyl, and we’d listen to the old froggy voice beg for the princess’ love. In his reptilian voice, he spelled it out, “Love could melt the heart of stone!”

As children those words were very powerful. A stone heart melting through the power of love! It was many years later that as a seminarian I heard similar words, not from the raspy mouth of a frog but from the golden hymn of Nersess Shnorhali, “Jesus, by name love, may your love crush my heart of stone.” Ser anoun Hisus, sirov kov jmlya sir dim kareghen. Yes, indeed, the power of love is so great that it can crush the heart of stone.

There are many images that are exaggerated as a matter of romantic reflection, whether in a fairy tale, or in a hymn. Heaven knows how many poems and songs have been penned with images touting the magical powers of love.

And certainly, the entire Gospel message, is one of Jesus instructing us to repay evil with love and he even demonstrates this on the Cross. The Resurrection itself is the victory of Love over the ultimate evil.

So today we ask, at what point did we stop believing in the power of love? When did we lose the faith in love’s power to melt or crush a heart of stone? When did we give up on love? When did we stop answering evil with the power of love?

As children we tend to take things literally. When the coach says, “Keep your eye on the ball, we may awkwardly walk up to the ball and place it under our eye until we realize that it is merely an expression to pay attention. There is a naivete that is characteristic of childhood and as we grow older we come to understand expressions in place of the literal meanings.

In the case of Jesus and his expression of love, he took it to the end exactly as he expressed it throughout his ministry. The Creed of the Armenian Church saw, “Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, the same for eternity.” Armodoxy attests that Jesus is Love incarnate, and therefore love, is the same yesterday, today and for eternity.

So we must conclude that Love has always been powerful. Love can indeed melt or crush the heart of stone. It is us that need to retrain and revert to our initial understanding of Love, literally as the means by which we overcome evil. It is on us, then, to seek and find, Love and as it was given to us through the Babe in a manger, to bring peace on earth and good will toward one another.

We pray today, “Lord Jesus Christ. God is love. Your name is love. Love exists in the eternal present. Rekindle in me the flames of love that were present in my childhood, when I believed the power of love could overcome the worst of the worst. Direct my path in the direction of my childhood dreams, where goodness and love are my strengths and my protection. Amen.”

3 Across; 8 Down

Next Step #601: Senate passes Genocide Resolution: bigger miracle than stars in the sky flashing is the change of heart. Puzzled: Looking for Jesus in the crosswords and finding in a Soviet sale of a Shnorhali book? Yes, puzzled. Armenian Patriarch of Turkey elected. Sophia Armen: the “erasure” factor. Moon craters explained: Children’s Memorial thoughts.
Element Band “Spirit of Christmas”
Sophia Armen, L.A. Times
Senate passes Genocide Resolution (unanimously) Menendez
Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Elected
Jesus, Vorti (Son) 
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Unplanned Silence

Next Step #426: Failed test for the Church: planned silence in Armenia. A look at the virtues of silence: “Be still and know that I am God” writes the psalmist. “Unity in Essentials, Liberty in the secondary items and in all things, Love” from Augustine to Shnorhali and today, applying the formula. A commentary that leaves us wondering how to reconcile all the pieces.
Yar Ko Parag Boyin Mernem” by Element Band
Unity in Essentials ; more on unity
Armenia Protests
Be still and now that I am God
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!