On Friday, April 26, 2019, the Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church community gathered together in order to commemorate the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and to observe the 104th Anniversary of the “Great Calamity” that came upon the Armenian people in April of 1915.
Following the evening service and nakhadonag (Pre-festal observance) during which the hymns composed on this occasion were sung and the Holy Martyrs were commemorated in prayer, the faithful gathered in Jaffarian Hall for a fellowship meal prepared by the Ladies’ Guild of Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church.
Following the dinner, a commemorative program was held featuring students of Saint Gregory Sunday School. During the program, the students presented about the historical province of Kharpert in Armenia. In the years leading up to and during the Genocide, the vast majority of Armenian immigrants who settled in the New England area originated in Khapert Province. These included the ancestors of virtually all of the program’s participants.
Also during the program, a scale model of Dzidzernagapert, the internationally known monument located in Yerevan, Armenia, and dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs, was unveiled. As a labor of love, several of the students and their parents had built the model out of cardboard and other materials. Flowers were placed all around the monument, as in real life thousands upon thousands of visitors pay their respects to the deceased by placing flowers at Dzidzernagapert every April 24th.
Following the students’ presentation, Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of Saint Gregory Church made closing remarks. Der Hayr commended the students for their effort and for a job well done in learning about their heritage and their communal history. He reflected on the province of Kharpert, once referred to as the “Slaughterhouse Province” due to the extreme persecution and violence that took place there between the years of 1895 and 1918. In his remarks, he encouraged not only the students but also everyone in attendance to learn more about his/her family history, village of origin and more about each villages unique story and way of life.
The evening ended with a benediction and the singing of Giligia.
CHRIST’S RESURRECTION AN INVITATION TO PROGRESS FROM DEATH TO LIFE
Paul the Apostle, in his letter addressed to the Ephesians says that God “has called us once again to life in Christ.” (Eph. 2:5) In other letters of the Apostle as well the above-mentioned fundament is emphasized, it comprises the objective of the Son of God’s mission, and therefore the focus of the Christian faith.
“Death” in the scriptural understanding is not merely the end of physical existence; rather it is a distancing from God, meaning to become subject to the tyranny of sins. “Life” is the presence of God, the fidelity of man to his Heavenly Father. Christ, at the beginning of his mission on earth, said, “I came that they may life.” (John 10:10) God enacted his plan for salvation by means of Christ, his Son, once again offering life to mankind. It is necessary to approach the incarnation of the Son of God from this perspective, as well as those encounters, miracles and teachings that comprise his mission on earth. His Resurrection, facilitated by the cross, became the pinnacle of Christ’s salvific mission to once again restore mankind to life.
The Christian faith, founded upon the Holy Scriptures, reminds us that-
Through the Resurrection of Christ we were liberated from the bondage of sin. Man had sinned against God’s commandments and betrayed his God-given calling. Because of mankind, the Creation entrusted to him was also corrupted. As the Apostle testifies, “Through the blood of Christ we have received forgiveness of our sins.” (Eph. 1:7) Through his blood spilled on the cross, God’s Son wiped away the sin of mankind. By ascending the cross, Christ freed mankind from its sin and led it toward eternal life.
Through the Resurrection of Christ we became worthy of the divine gift of becoming adopted children of God. Man, who had been called to be a co-worker of God, became a cohort of Satan. Man, who had been given the honor to be decorated with heavenly graces, by his own free will became enslaved to earthly passions. In other words, man had denied his Heavenly Father and had turned prodigal. Through the Resurrection of Christ, mankind, buried in the mud of sin and death, received a divine invitation to live a life filled with hope in resurrection.
Through the Resurrection of Christ we became worthy of inheriting salvation as a heavenly gift. Man had distanced himself from God, the creature from the Creator, the child from the Father. Man had rejected the spiritual values and truths and created his own class of values, his own governance. Through his glorious Resurrection, the Son of God, who had come to the world in order to bring salvation to mankind who was in the abyss of death, opened up before him the way that leads to resurrected life.
According to the testimony of the Gospel, the actualization of the Divine plan of salvation that began with Christ’s becoming man and was crowned by his resurrection will reach its completion in the second coming of Christ, when he will obliterate “the evil forces, powers and principalities,” and “the final enemy which he will destroy will be death.” (I Cor. 15:25-26)
Christ’s Resurrection is a promise and at the same time an invitation, to traverse as adopted children of God:
From the path of sin toward the path of salvation;
From the abyss of death toward the valley of life;
From the defeat of Golgotha to the victory of resurrection.
In Christ’s resurrection God has granted us victory over evil, sin and death. Christ was resurrected in order that “we might live a renewed life.” (Romans 6:4)
Therefore, let us live with faith, because through Christ we are reconciled with God.
Let us live in hope, because we have become worthy of the gift participating in Christ’s resurrection.
Let us live with Christ, because through Christ’s resurrection we have inherited a renewed life.
Behold, Armenian people, the message of Christ’s glorious resurrection.
On the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Patriarchal blessings and warm Christian love we greet the President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sarkisyan, and the Prime Minister, Nigol Pashinyan, as well as the President of the Republic of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan, wishing them dedicated service to their fatherland filled with continued successes.
With warm brotherly love, we greet His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, wishing him a long reign filled with church-fortifying service. We greet also the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, and the Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, wishing them fruitful service in the vineyard of the Armenian Church.
With Patriarchal blessings and fatherly love we greet the Diocesan Prelates of the Great House of Cilicia, the clergy, the Executive Councils, those organizations and bodies that work amongst our people, and also our faithful people, praying of God that the beloved sons and daughters of our nation would live their lives strengthened by the victory of the Resurrected Christ, remaining firm in their Christian faith and faithful to the spiritual, moral and national values of our Nation.
Christ is risen from among the dead. Blessed is the resurrection of Christ.
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia
April 21, 2019
Translation: Fr. Stephan Baljian
On Saturday, March 30, Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, Vicar General, representing Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, attended the annual Gala Reception of the Massachusetts chapter of the Lebanese-American Council on Democracy (L.A.C.D.). Accompanying Hayr Sahag was Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in North Andover. This annual event is hosted by the L.A.C.D. Massachusetts chapter, in conjunction with the Boston area (Northeast Region) Consulate of the Republic of Lebanon.
The aim of the event, which took place at Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Maronite Church in Boston, was to bring the Lebanese-American community to the forefront, while also reaching out to the ethnic communities and organizations that have historically existed and thrived in Lebanon.
Attending the event as guest of honor was His Excellency Gabriel Issa, Ambassador of the Republic of Lebanon to the United States of America. Also in attendance were the Consuls of the Republic of Lebanon, the Honorable Marty Walsh, Mayor of the City of Boston, Senator Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire and many other dignitaries and clergy from various communities. A representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation was also in attendance.
Three prominent Lebanese-American doctors from the New England area had been selected to receive awards and were honored by Ambassador Issa during the evening’s program. Also honored that evening was Honorary Consul Mr. Ibrahim Hanna, founder and CEO of Cedar’s Foods (a Middle Eastern food company operating out of Haverhill, Massachusetts), for a lifetime of achievement and service to the Lebanese-American community.