February 26, 2014
Tomorrow, Thursday, February 27, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Vartanantz, commemorating the war between pagan Persia and Christian Armenia in 451. The king of Persia ordered all Christians under his rule to abandon Christianity and embrace Zoroastrianism. The Armenian clergy and ruling princes refused to follow this dictum. As recorded by the historian Yeghishe, the Christian soldiers took an oath to fight the enemies of truth: “We are ready for persecution and death and every affliction and torture for the sake of the holy churches which our forefathers entrusted to us by the power of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby we were reborn ourselves by torments and blood. For we recognize the Holy Gospel as our Father, and the apostolic universal church as our Mother. Let no evil partition come between us to separate us from her.”
Vartan Mamigonian was the leader of the Armenians in the decisive battle of Avarayr, and although outnumbered, the Armenians put up a valiant defense. Vartan and many of his soldiers were killed, but the Persians suffered greater casualties and with this battle the Persians recognized the strong commitment the Armenians had for their Christian faith.
On the eve of the battle of Avarayr, Vartan spoke to his men, assuring them that righteousness was on their side and encouraged them to be brave and fearless:
“I entreat you, therefore, my brave companions, especially because many of you surpass me in valor and precede me in princely rank. But since you, of your own free will, have selected me as your leader and commander, let my words be pleasant and agreeable to you all, great and small: Fear not the heathen hordes and never turn your backs to the frightful sword of mortal men; because should our Lord grant us victory, we shall destroy their might and the cause of righteousness shall be exalted. But if the time has come for us to meet a holy death in this battle, let us accept our fate with joyful heart, without mingling cowardice with our valor and courage. … Our Commander is not a mere man, but the Commander-in-chief of all martyrs. Fear is a sign of doubt; but as we have repudiated doubt long since, let fear also disappear from our hearts and minds.”
The struggle continued for more than thirty years. In 484 Vahan Mamigonian, nephew of Vartan, successfully negotiated the Treaty of Nvarsag, the first document in history granting religious freedom and home rule, preceding the Magna Charta by nearly 750 years.
In keeping with his traditional commemoration of Vartanantz, Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon tomorrow, Thursday, February 27, at Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, on the occasion of the Feast of Vartanantz and the name day of the New Jersey parish. Students from the Hovnanian School, grades five to eight, will attend the liturgy, take communion, and present a Vartanantz program following a luncheon hosted by the Ladies’ Guild.
His Eminence will travel to Rhode Island on Sunday, March 2, where he will celebrate the liturgy and deliver the sermon at Sts. Vartanantz Church in celebration of Vartanantz and the parish’s name day. A traditional Armenian dinner hosted by the Ladies Guild will take place in Aramian Auditorium following the liturgy. A program will be presented by the students of the Mourad Armenian School.

Clergy from the Eastern and Canadian Prelacies gathered Monday for their annual clergy conference on the occasion of the Feast of St. Ghevont and the Priests, at Holy Cross Church, Troy, New York. The conference is coming to an end today.

The 31st Musical Armenia concert will take place Friday evening (8 pm), March 28, at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, featuring Narek Arutyunian (clarinet) and Friends (Hahnsol Kim, violin; and Yun-Chin Zhou, piano).  For more information click here.
The 2014 National Representative Assembly (NRA), along with the Clergy Conference, and the Conference of the National Association of Ladies Guilds (NALG), will take place May 13-17, hosted by St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan. Delegates and guests will find more information here.
Bible readings for Sunday, March 2, Poon Paregentan (Eve of Great Lent) are: Isaiah 58:1-14; Romans 13:11-14:23; Matthew 6:1-21.
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moss nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:1-21)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Saturday, March 1, we celebrate the Feast of the 150 Fathers of the Council of Constantinople, the second ecumenical council convened by Emperor Theodosius in 381. This council confirmed the work of the first council at Nicaea, and added five articles to the Nicene Creed regarding the Holy Spirit, the Church, Baptism, and Resurrection. The Council of Constantinople is one of the three ecumenical councils recognized by the Armenian Church.

This Sunday, March 2, is Poon Paregentan, the eve of Great Lent (Medz Bahk). Poon means “real” or “genuine,” and distinguishes this paregentan from others in the liturgical calendar prior to other periods of fasting. Paregentan literally means “good living.”
Poon Paregentan ushers the faithful into the Lenten period of fasting, penance and reconciliation. During Lent the Church takes on a solemn appearance. The altar curtain is closed starting from the evening of Poon Paregentan, symbolic of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Holy Communion is not offered during Lent and the faithful are encouraged to use this period leading to Easter as a time of prayer and meditation to strengthen their faith.
Paregentan Sunday is the last day before the start of Lent. It is marked with good and abundant food, merriment, entertainment and festivities of various kinds. Traditionally, all the food in the house that is forbidden during Lent would be consumed on Paregentan and leftovers would be given to non-Christian neighbors. During Lent all animal products, including dairy and eggs, are forbidden. The earliest Armenian tradition was even stricter and was referred to as Aghouhatz (salt and bread) because of its stringent restrictions.

Great Lent (Medz Bahk or Karasnortk) begins this Monday, March 3. Great Lent is the longest of the fasts in the liturgical calendar. It begins on the Monday immediately following Poon Paregentan, and continues for 40 days until the Friday before the commemoration of the raising of Lazarus on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. A new period of fasting begins during Holy Week.
Great Lent, a time of penance, abstinence, and devotion, is a very personal spiritual journey that is based on the 40 days Christ spent in the wilderness following his baptism. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished” (Matthew 3:1-2).

The 2014 Lenten Lectures will begin next Wednesday, March 5, and continue through subsequent Wednesdays during Lent. The theme of the lectures will be The Nicene Creed, based on the recently published Commentary on the Nicene Creed, by Archbishop Zareh Aznavorian, of blessed memory. The newly published bilingual book was translated by Deacon Shant Kazanjian, director of the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), who will begin the series with an introduction to the Creed and its origin and function.
Subsequent lecturers are: Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown, on March 12; Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Prelacy, on March 19; Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston on March 26; Dn. Shant Kazanjian, director of AREC on April 2; and Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian, pastor of St. Gregory Church in Philadelphia,  on April 9.
The Prelacy’s Lenten Lectures continue a decades-old tradition. The series is sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council, the Prelacy Ladies Guild (PLG), and the Ladies Guild of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. The lectures take place at the Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, with church service at 7:30 pm; Lecture and Q & A at 8 pm; Table Fellowship at 8:45 pm.
For information contact the Prelacy office at 212-689-7810, or arec@armenianprelacy.org or the Cathedral office at 212-689-5880.
Ms. Soheila Y. Hayek, Executive Director of The Goguikian Foundation, visited the Prelacy offices last week where she met with the Prelate, Archbishop Oshagan, and the Vicar, Bishop Anoushavan.
The Goguikian Foundation was founded in 2008 as a non-profit, apolitical, philanthropic foundation with the aim of helping the Lebanese Armenian community. Ms. Hayek described how the Foundation wants to help the Armenian community in Lebanon to be well represented and well served by the government, and to help Armenians benefit from all health and education services available.  The Foundation also aims to strengthen the participation of the Armenian community in Lebanese society while also preserving their Armenian heritage, identity, and culture.
The Foundation provides scholarships, training, and assistance in establishing careers in the public sector by publicizing the benefits and opportunities available.
Archbishop Oshagan and Bishop Anoushavan with Ms. Soheila Y. Hayek, Executive Director of The Goguikian Foundation.
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
The Reform of Armenian Orthography (March 4, 1922)
The reform of Armenian orthography in 1922 unleashed a decades-long controversy throughout the Armenian world that has not stopped until this day.
In January 1921, historian Ashot Hovhannisian (1887-1972), Commissar of Popular Education of the newly-established Soviet Armenian government, organized an advisory meeting about the orthography reform as part of a policy to foster education and fight illiteracy. Linguist and philologist Manuk Abeghian (1865-1944), who had written extensively on the issue since the late 1890s, presented a position paper on the issue. The paper repeated in its essentials the main theses of another paper (published in the same year) that he had read during a commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet in 1913. Abeghian suggested to suppress the letters օ (o) and է (e) and replace them by ո (vo) and ե (ye), as well as a series of orthographic changes that signified a radical departure from the standard usage that had been the general norm since the Middle Ages.
Hovhannisian presented the paper to a special committee, which accepted its suggestions, and had it printed and sent to various parties, with the wish of “hearing the voice of the users of the Armenian language, particularly those worried with education.” No replies were received. After the end of the February rebellion in April, Hovhannisian was replaced by translator and journalist Poghos Makintsian (1884-1937), who continued his predecessor’s efforts and created a new special committee in February 1922. This committee presented to Makintsian the conclusions of its discussions of Abeghian’s paper. Makintsian, instead of transmitting them to the Soviet of Popular Commissars (equivalent to the Council of Ministers), chose to present Abeghian’s suggestions. The Soviet, under the chairmanship of Alexander Miasnikian, approved them on March 4, 1922, and ordered their execution. In the same year, Abeghian published his paper with the title “Guide of the New Orthography of the Armenian Language.””" It was the first book in the new spelling.
The reform stirred huge discontent in Armenia and in the Diaspora. The great poet Hovhannes Tumanian wrote a letter to the Soviet of Popular Commissars in May 1922, where he expressed his disagreement: “I, as an Armenian writer and chairman of the Union of Armenian Writers, come to declare my astonishment and to protest against the attitude of the Commissar of Education of Armenia in this important issue. Mr. M. Abeghian has made a proposal and published it. Very well. But where did the Commissar of Education of Armenia learn that both Mr. M. Abeghian and himself, the Commissar of Education, are infallible, and without subjecting the proposal to examination, have decreed to adopt it and write and print only with that [spelling]?”
The reform was actually spearheaded by the Soviet regime as part of a general policy of adopting the Latin alphabet to write the languages of non-Russian peoples of the Soviet Union. Makintsian himself, who had presented a paper in 1919 (“On an Uniform Latin Alphabet for the People of the Socialist Federative Soviet Republic of Russia”) at a conference in Moscow, admitted in an article published in Russian on November 29, 1924, in the daily Zarya Vostoka of Tiflis: “I would have not cast my vote in favor of that reform under any circumstance if I had not considered it a step towards facilitating the work of going to the Latin characters . . . If the reform of the Armenian alphabet is bound to freeze and remain halfway, in that case it would be better to return to the old spelling without further ado. . . The sooner we throw to the archive the angular, ugly, and eye-damaging ‘Sahak-Mesrobian’ alphabet, the sooner we will get rid of Abeghian’s spelling.”
On August 22, 1940, yet another reform of spelling was decreed, executed by linguist Gurgen Sevak (1904-1981). It marked a partial return to the traditional spelling and it is the one in use until today in the Republic of Armenia, as well as among its emigrated citizens throughout the world. The Diaspora which was born after 1915 uses the traditional spelling, which Iranian Armenians also use, with small differences, as Eastern Armenians used it before Soviet times.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)
The title page of Sayat Nova's Armenian poems published in 1931 which utilizes the Soviet Armenian orthography of 1922.
The Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief is a joint effort of: Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern Prelacy); Armenian Catholic Eparchy; Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Armenian Relief Society (Eastern USA, Inc.); Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Thank you for your help
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
A Particular Way to Enjoy
Western Armenian has an interesting couple: վայելել (vayelel) and վայլել (vaylel). It is interesting because both words derive from Classical Armenian vayelel, and also because . . . the couple does not exist in Eastern Armenian, which has only adopted the latter.
What is the difference between them? One has kept the original meaning, while the other has turned into a specialized meaning. Thus,
  1. Vayelel means “to enjoy.” For instance, «Ես ընթրիքը վայելեցի» (Yes entrikuh vayeletsi – “I enjoyed the dinner”).
  2. Vaylel means “to suit” (which may be regarded as a certain way of enjoying). For instance, «Խօսելու այս ձեւը քեզի չի վայլեր» (Khoseloo ays tsevuh kezi chi vayler – “This way of talking does not suit you”).
This is not an isolated case. We may recall the Classical Armenian word աշակերտ (ashagerd, “student”), which in both branches of Armenian also gave birth to a second word: աշկերտ (ashgerd, “apprentice”).
It is common to confuse vaylel with vayelel. In any case, you cannot say «Ես ընթրիքը վայլեցի» (Yes entrikuh vayletsi). How could you “suit” the dinner?
Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)
As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we end this week’s Crossroads with this heartwarming story.
A short handwritten letter was received earlier this month, addressed to the Prelate, with a simple message:
“Your Eminence: Enclosed please find check in the amount of $50.00 to use at your discretion. As long as I live, you will be receiving the above amount every 3rd of the month, as I receive my Social Security check. I am an 88 year old Senior Citizen, and a widow, and my mother instilled in me that we take care of our churches. In Faith, Mary Antonian.”
“As I read that simple note, I felt that I was reading a modern parable,” said Archbishop Oshagan. I was poignantly reminded that it is not the amount of the gift that sets one gift above another. It is the passion and commitment of the giver that defines the gift. I thought of Saint Paul, who in his missionary journeys throughout the Roman provinces, spoke about ‘strengthening the churches,’ and urged believers to give regularly by setting aside a sum of money in keeping with their incomes.” (1 Corinthians 16:2)
In the sentiments of Saint Paul, “May her enthusiasm stir others to action.” (2 Corinthians 9:2)
2014 Prelacy Lenten Program, on Wednesdays, starting March 5, at St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral (New York City), Sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the Prelacy Ladies Guild (PLG), and the St. Illuminator’s Cathedral Ladies Guild. For information, please contact the Prelacy office at 212.689.7810, or arec@armenianprelacy.org or the Church office at 212-689-5880 or office@stilluminators.org.
March 1—St. Sarkis Sunday School, Dearborn, Michigan, Poon Paregentan Costume Party for everyone, at Lillian Arakelian Hall.
March 2—St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City, Poon Paregentan Manti Luncheon and Program, at John Pashalian Hall, 1 pm, sponsored by the Ladies Guild of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. Admission $30.
March 8—Sunday Teachers’ Seminar for NY-NJ region, at St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral (New York City), sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). Theme: The Nicene Creed.
March 8—Anthropology/Armenian Museum will present “The Mark Kyrkostas Remember Me with Music” Dance and Music Concert with audience participation in Kaloustian Hall at the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs, Bayside, New York, at 7 pm.
March 16—Armenian Earthquake Rescue Efforts…Remembered, at Soorp Khatch Church (Arabian Hall), Bethesda, Maryland, at 1 pm. Presentation by Lt. Michael Regan and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Virginia Task Force 1, the U.S. emergency rescue team deployed to the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Rescue team members will be recounting their experiences.
March 26—St. Sarkis Ladies Guild, Dearborn, Michigan, Mid-Lenten Luncheon following the Lenten morning service, Lillian Arakelian Hall.
March 28—Musical Armenia Concert presented by Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies Guild, at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, 8 pm, featuring Narek Arutyunian (clarinet) & Friends, Hahnsol Kim (violin) and Yunqing Zhou (piano).
March 27-April 6—Third Annual Online Auction hosted by Armenian Relief Society, Eastern USA, Inc. Auction items include Weekend Getaways, Unique Gifts, Restaurants, Hotels, Spa and Salon Services, Jewelry, Electronics, Artwork, Sports Memorabilia, and more. To view and bid on auction  items during the auction dates: www.biddingforgood.com/arseastusa. To contact the ARS Auction committee: arseusaauction@gmail.com.
March 8—Sunday School Teachers’ Seminar for NY-NJ region, at St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral (New York City), sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC) and hosted by St. Illuminator’s Sunday School. Theme: The Nicene Creed.
March 14—St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Douglaston, New York, Commentary on the Nicene Creed book presentation at 7:30pm, by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Executive Director of Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC) of the Prelacy.
March 28—Musical Armenia Concert presented by Eastern Prelacy and Prelacy Ladies Guild, at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, 8 pm, featuring Narek Arutyunian (clarinet) & Friends, Hahnsol Kim (violin) and Yun-Chin Zhou (piano).
March 28—St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, book presentation, Commentary on the Nicene Creed, at 8:00pm, by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, Executive Director of Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC) of the Prelacy.
March 29—Concert by Zulal Armenian A Capella Folk Trio at Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, 4 pm, followed by a reception in the church hall. Tickets $25, if purchased before March 8; $30 after March 8. To purchase tickets email Janis at sitto1031@yahoo.com or Carol at carolhalfmann@gmail.com. Also online at http://zulal.ticketleap.com/zulal/. For information call the church, 508-852-2414.
April 5—Sunday School Teachers’ Seminar – New England region, at St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). Theme: The Nicene Creed. 
April 24—“Walk to Honor our Martyrs,” organized by the New York ARF and the ANC of New York, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. Badarak and Hokehankist, 10:30 am to 12 noon. Walk begins 12:30 pm from the Cathedral. For information: office@stilluminators.org or 212-689-5880.
April 27—Annual Times Square Gathering, in commemoration of the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan with the support and participation of all churches and organizations. Free bus transportation from area Armenian churches, and other locations.
May 13-17—Clergy Conference and National Representative Assembly, and Annual Conference of the National Association of Ladies’ Guilds (NALG) of the Eastern Prelacy, hosted by St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.
June 1—Ladies Guild Annual Brunch, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.
June 1—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Toronto Children’s Choir concert in the church sanctuary.
June 29–July 6, 2014St. 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, contact the AREC office at 212.689.7810 or at arec@armenianprelacy.org.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
To ensure the timely arrival of Crossroads in your electronic mailbox, add email@armenianprelacy.org to your address book.
Items in Crossroads can be reproduced without permission. Please credit Crossroads as the source.
Parishes of the Eastern Prelacy are invited to send information about their major events to be included in the calendar. Send to: info@armenianprelacy.org
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