June 25, 2015
By order of the Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan, parishes of the Eastern Prelacy will offer Pontifical Prayers and Blessings this Sunday, June 28, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the election and consecration of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia.

His Holiness was consecrated Catholicos on July 1, 1995, after serving as Prelate of the Armenian Orthodox community in Lebanon for fifteen years.

During the past 20 years, His Holiness has enriched the legacy of the Holy See especially through its Seminary which has produced outstanding clerical and lay leaders for the Armenian Church, and the ecumenical encounters that have elevated the Armenian Church presence in the greater Christian family. During Catholicos Aram’s pontificate the Catholicosate’s prolific printing press has produced an impressive list of books on theology, history, biography, music, and literature.

We wish His Holiness good health and many more years of his devoted leadership.

His Holiness’ recent visit to the Eastern Prelacy greatly strengthened his connection with the people, as the following very personal article written by Tom Vartabedian vividly shows.

by Tom Vartabedian

All but lost in a “Holy See” of emotion was an anniversary that should be applauded.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, can look upon his month-long visit to the Eastern Prelacy as both a personal and historic milestone.

His presence during the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Washington and National Representative Assembly in Watertown no doubt created euphoria of its own.  Perhaps overlooked during the visit was his very own 20th anniversary as the Catholicos of the See of Cilicia, having been elected and consecrated in 1995.

For two decades, the Pontiff has enriched the Armenian communities under his jurisdiction, fostered an allegiance among people of all distinctions and character, and continued bringing a wealth of piety and education to his church and people.

To know him is to love and respect him. Anyone who garnered his presence throughout the month of May was surely enamored by a man whose humility and spirituality never took a backward step.

We saw him at the Canonization of Sainthood in Etchmiadzin where 1.5 million martyrs were being anointed.  He spoke with passion. Even a dove that somehow perched itself on an iconic piece of artwork seemed to be listening. Was this God’s answer to victims of our genocide?

A couple hundred campers were mesmerized by his presence at the AYF Junior Seminar in Pennsylvania.  This was no ordinary man in their midst but a Catholicos who made it a point to come to spend time with them.

More than anyone, he continues to engage and embrace our youth, knowing they are the future of our church and nation. Here in Watertown, he toured the schools and held a breakfast meeting with the younger generation.  A hundred guests turned out for an informal rap session.

To read the whole article click here.

His Holiness emphasizes a point during one of his many eloquent encounters.
His Holiness Aram I at the AYF Junior Seminar at Camp Lutherlyn in Butler, Pennsylvania.
The 29th annual summer program for youth ages 13-18 is scheduled to be held at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from June 28—July 5, 2015. Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the summer program offers a unique weeklong Christian educational program for youth. It aims to instill and nurture the Armenian Christian faith and identity in our youth through a variety of educational activities, coupled with daily church services and communal recreational activities. For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website at armenianprelacy.org/arec/datev or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org.

Happy Father’s Day wishes were in the air everywhere last Sunday at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, during the Sunday School’s Father’s Day Picnic celebration that took place on the church grounds immediately after the Divine Liturgy. About one hundred people attended and enjoyed the delicious outdoor grilled picnic food celebrating Fathers Day, as well as the year-end of the Sunday School, and the first day of summer.

Attending the annual celebration this year was the Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan, who presided over the Liturgy, and later blessed the table of delicious food. As in previous years, staff members and families of Sunday School students helped to prepare, cook, and serve the food. Children enjoyed special entertainment that included magic and bubble show, outdoor games, and the ever-famous and fun Pinata.

Archbishop Oshagan blesses the table.
Ladies from Sts. Vartanantz Church serve food they've prepared.
Children blowing bubbles.
Fathers gather for a group photo.
Bible readings for Sunday, June 28, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of the Discovery of the Box of the Theotokos are: Isaiah 2:5-11; Romans 9:30-10:4; Matthew 13:24-30.

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from ? He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”  (Matthew 13:24-30)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
Today, June 25, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Sts. Sahag Bartev and Mesrob Mashdots, The Holy Translators. The feasts dedicated to the Holy Translators are among the most beloved commemorations for Armenians. Sahag and Mesrob are honored two times during the liturgical year: on the Thursday following the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, which is today, and on the second Saturday of October.

St. Sahag is remembered for his strong leadership during some of the most difficult days for the Armenian Church, as well as during some of the most glorious. He is also remembered for his vast body of literary work. After the development of the Armenian alphabet, he was the guiding force for the translation of the Bible as well as in the translation of the works of the Holy Fathers.

St. Mesrob developed the Armenian alphabet with the help and support of St. Sahag, after a long period of travel and investigation. According to tradition, during one of his travels Mesrob was meditating in a cave in Palu, and it was there he saw a vision that helped him complete his task of creating an alphabet for the Armenian language.

The two saints, Sahag and Mesrob, are forever linked in the minds and hearts of the Armenian people. There are many Armenian churches throughout world named in their dual honor.

The holy translators, like stewards, were interpreters of the divine Scriptures by inventing letters by means of which are preserved on earth as living words for the shepherd flock of the New Israel; praise God with a sweet sounding hymn.\

They looked on the greatness of earthly glory as on darkness and having put their hope in the immortal bridegroom they were made worthy of the kingdom of heaven; praise God with a sweet sounding song.

By the power of the Father’s wisdom the uncreated existing One by means of their translation they made firm the throne of Saint Gregory; praise God with a sweet-sounding song.

Saint Sahag having dressed in the new word adorned the Armenian churches; praise God with a sweet-sounding song.
(Canon to the Holy Translators from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)
This Saturday, June 27,  the Armenian Church remembers King Drtad, Queen Ashkhen, and Princess Khosrovitoukht. After torturing and condemning St. Gregory to the pit and because of the cruel and fatal treatment of the Hripsimiantz nuns, King Drtad became inflicted with strange and debilitating maladies. Queen Ashkhen and the king’s sister, Khosrovitoukht (who had secretly become a Christian) convinced the king that only Gregory could cure him. Thus, Gregory was released from the deep pit. With the king’s subsequent recovery, all three helped Gregory spread Christianity throughout Armenia. In their later years the queen and princess lived in the fortress of Garni and the king retired to St. Gregory’s retreat on Mt. Sepouh.

This Sunday, June 28, is the Feast of the Discovery of the Jewel Box of the Asdvadzadzin.
The Holy Mother was assumed into heaven, and there are no relics of her earthly body. Therefore, her personal belongings became valued and venerated. The box that was discovered contained the Holy Mother’s veil and it is this event that is celebrated this Sunday.

Tuesday, June 30, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Zechariah the Prophet. Zechariah is the eleventh of the twelve so-called “minor” prophets of the Old Testament. They are called “minor” not because they are less important but because the books attributed to them are shorter than those of the “major” prophets.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Death of Hampartzum Limonjian (June 29, 1839)
Hampartzum Limonjian, better known by the sobriquet Baba Hampartzum, was one of the most important figures of Armenian music. He opened a new era in Armenian songs, as he cleaned them from foreign influences, and became the creator of the Armenian new musical notation, which helped maintain the heritage of popular and spiritual songs.

Limonjian was born in Constantinople in 1768. His childhood was marked by poverty. As soon as he had learned how to write and to read, he became an apprentice in a tailor shop and, after learning the trade, became a tailor himself.

He had an innate love for singing and music, and in his free time he devoted himself to learning music, and this is how he advanced in musicology. He later became a student of Zenne Boghos and learned Armenian religious music. He met Turkish dervishes and in a short time learned the style of their classical singing. The mystic teachings of the dervishes made a great impact on him, as well as their introspective life and their prayers that were accompanied by songs, music, and ritual dances.

Afterwards, Hampartzum Limonjian, who was already known as Baba Hampartzum, studied also European musical theory. His acquaintance with Hovhannes Chelebi Duzian became crucial. Hovhannes Chelebi, who was also a music lover, noted the exceptional abilities of Baba Hampartzum and had him hired as a music teacher in the Mekhitarist School of Constantinople. Simultaneously, he also worked as a scribe for the Balians, who were the imperial architects. 

Once he assured his living, Baba Hampartzum strove to improve his musical knowledge. He took lessons from Greek musicians and maintained his links with the dervishes. He also studied old Armenian religious songs and tried to transcribe them. The European notation was not appropriate and he invented an Armenian notation system that resembled the khaz (the Armenian notation used in the Armenian hymns or sharagan) and corresponded to the European musical scale. He worked on his invention until 1815. In 1837 he wrote his autobiography, in Turkish, where he wrote about the motives that had led him to create the Armenian notation.

Hampartzum Limonjian had a group of students who continued his work, among them his son Nezen Zenob (1810-1866), Tamburi Alexan, Apisoghom Utudjian, Aristakes Hovhannesian, Bedros Cheomlekian and Hovhannes Muhendisian.

He passed away on June 29, 1839, at the age of 71. Decades later, Kevork IV, Catholicos of All Armenians, took the initiative to organize the teaching and the promotion of the notation system invented by Baba Hampartzum, which was particularly important in the maintenance and the normalization of Armenian religious music.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)
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Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
From Paradise to Yettem, California
The word for “garden” in Classical Armenian was bardez (պարտէզ). It came from the language of the old Iranian sacred book, the Avesta, which had the word pairidaeza (“park”). This word has kept the same meaning in our current language. However, it is interesting to note that English paradise and Armenian bardez are actually first cousins, but with different meanings. The English word came from Old French, which at its turn had Latin paradisus as its source. The source for Latin was Greek paradeisos, and the latter came again from Avestan pairidaeza.

However, we do not say bardez in the case of the Paradise. The book of Genesis tells us that Eden was actually a region where God planted a garden and placed Adam (Gen. 2:8). The Armenian word corresponding to “garden,” in the translation of the Bible, was trakhd (դրախտ), which was borrowed from the Iranian languages, where it actually meant “tree.” In the same way that the “garden of Eden” became, over time, Eden (Paradise), its Armenian equivalent trakhd yetemagan (դրախտ եդեմական) became simply trakhd (“Paradise”), and gradually lost its meaning “garden.”

Nevertheless, we also have the Armenian word Yetem (Եդեմ), which is the same as the English Eden. You may recall that the Californian town of Lovell, at the beginning of the twentieth century, was renamed Yettem due to the overwhelming presence of Armenians there. Yettem, located 18 kilometers north of Visalia, has a population of 211, according to the U.S. Census of 2010, and few, if any, Armenians nowadays, but St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church, founded in 1911, is still active there.
(Pastor of St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York)

Episode 43: News from the Seminary; Interview with Subdeacon Berj Agopian…and much more.
June 27—Armenian Food Fair, sponsored by Ladies Guild of St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, 11 am to 7 pm, in Jaffarian Hall, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Enjoy losh, chicken, and shish kebab, salad, pilaf, kheyma, veggie plate, and desserts. For information: Sossy Jeknavorian (978-256-2538) or Ann Apovian (978) 521-2245.

June 28—Annual “Madagh Picnic,” St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin, Blessing of the Madagh will take place at 11 am by Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian, and served at noon. All are invited to enjoy the picnic all afternoon up to 7 pm. Enjoy marinated shish kebab and chicken dinners, sarma, penerlee, khurabia, and other Armenian delicacies and pastries. Live Armenian music and children’s entertainment. Raffle drawing at 6 pm.

June 28—St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain and Hartford, Annual Church Cookout at the church hall and grounds after church services. Come for a day of relaxation, fun, great food, and friendly people! Shish, Losh, and Chicken Kebabs, Pilafs, Salad, Armenian bread, famous baked goods, and more.

June 28-July 5—29th annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program for youth ages 13-18 at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy’s website at armenianprelacy.org/arec/datev or contact the AREC office at 212-689-7810 or arec@armenianprelacy.org.

July 11—St. Stephen’s Church Ladies Guild, Hartford-New Britain, Connecticut, “Elizabeth Park Brunch.” Come see the roses and 100 acres of formal gardens, and enjoy offsite brunch and meeting at Pond House in the park. For reservations contact Sue Shabazian or Suzanne Midinian. For information: church office, 860-229-8322.

July 11—60th anniversary of Ladies Guild of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, at Alpine Country Club, Cranston, Rhode Island, 6 pm, featuring Hachig Kazarian, John Berberian, Ken Kalajian, Jason Naroian. Dinner/Dance $50.00 per person; Dance only (8 pm) $25.00 per person. For information and reservations contact Joyce Bagdasarian, 401-434-4467.

July 18—Blessing of the Holy Muron (Oil) by His Holiness Aram I, at the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. For details click here.

August 9—“Pizza, Popcorn, and a Movie,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, hosted by Ladies Guild. Lunch and movie, $10.

September 13—St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain and Hartford, Annual Church Picnic at Winding Trails in Farmington. Family and Friends Day; Bring a Friend. New spectacular venue for our picnic this year. Lots of sporting activities for the children and young adults and Holiday Boutique “Trinkets and Treasures.” Pavilion next to hall with lots of room in case of inclement weather.

October 5-9—Clergy gathering of Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies.

October 25—Breakfast in the church hall ($10) after the Liturgy, St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, sponsored by the Ladies Guild.

November 15—“Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future, 1925-2015,” St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, 90th Anniversary celebration. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the banquet at Farmington Club, 162 Town Farm Road, Farmington, Connecticut. Details to follow.

December 6—ARS Holiday Dinner, St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, after church services. Save the date. Details to follow.

December 20—“Soup, Sandwiches, and Bingo,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, following church services, sponsored by Ladies Guild.
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