THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
August 16, 2020
Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God
St. Mary: Doorway to Salvation, Window toward Heaven
by Father Garabed Kochakian
In the month of August with the Feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God- one of the five major Tabernacle Feast of the Armenian Church/ Daghavar- St Mary once again finds an important place in our hearts and minds. In the universal Church on this earth, she is the first of all the saints. And, our Holy Mother in a special way is remembered and honored for her role in the History of our Salvation. She became the central objective of God’s love for humanity.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. [ Jn 3; 16]
Go to your church and look upward above the main Altar. You will see the Icon of the Holy Mother gazing forward with her dominating presence like a doorway for us to enter Heaven. She is seated upright, and majestic in a commanding position.
Her sacred Icon immediately captures our eyes and our senses, as she presents to the faithful, the Son of God seated on her lap and with His right hand offering the world a blessing often holding a globe or a scriptural message for us to read. St. Mary herself as Queen of Heaven is seated on an embellished throne and likewise herself becomes the throne for Jesus Christ the Saviour of all humankind. The Blessed Mother of God calls to us saying, come sit at the Right hand of Christ my Son and with Him kneel before the Throne of God Our Father.
Though we see her image every time we stand in worship facing the Holy Altar table, we may wonder why her Icon specifically is placed in every Armenian Church.
Some Background about The Icon of St. Mary and why her Icon as well as those of other saints are important to honor in our praises to God.
Of all the painted images of Saints in the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Icon of the Virgin Mary is preeminent. As we venerate her as number one among all the Saints. Herstory and the tradition and history of St. Mary’s Icon, comes from Apostolic times, even before the Church in Armenia was officially established.
Two Armenian fourth century historians Agath’angelos and Movses of Khoren beautifully described how her icon became an integral part of the iconography in Armenian sanctuaries. They record in their historical writings how one of the twelve Apostles, St. Bartholomew brought her image with him to Armenia during the evangelization of our people in the first century. Also, other theological writings in Orthodox Church sources name Saint Luke the Evangelist and himself an artist as the one who painted her icon.
However, in the received tradition of our church, it is these two Armenian historians that clearly describe the account of how her Icon- graced with miraculous powers- eventually became an important part of the visual dress of our theology and placed in the Armenian Church. They cite the monastery called Hokeyantz Vank (Monastery of the Souls) in Armenia that her Icon first came to be placed during the first century.
Subsequently it was at the third Ecumenical Council of the universal Church held at Ephesus in 431 A.D. when she was officially proclaimed by the Church, as the Mother of God, Theotokos /ASDVADZADZIN [Bearer of God] thus giving her the primary place as a mediatrix and intercessor to Christ. This proclamation not only elevated her but defined her image to be preeminently placed in church buildings.
But, throughout ensuing centuries the presence of her Icon and its veneration- as well as images of other saints -faced stiff opposition from heretical groups particularly beginning in Armenia in the early seventh century in 604 and onward. It was sometime in 607 and thereafter that all painted icons were officially declared as a canonical part of Armenian Christian piety and worship.
An Armenian Bishop named Verth’annes Kertogh [the Grammarian /Poet], the Locum Tenens of the Holy See of the Armenian Church, authored a treatise and declared Icons bring us closer to God. A later Catholicos of the 8th c. St. John of Odzoon at the Council of Dvin in 719.A.D., also mentions that all Icon should painted in the churches are to be anointed and honored/ venerated. These two Armenian Church fathers set the stage giving the raison d’etre- the Invisible was made visible,… that which is ‘spiritual’ and is revealed in the ‘material’ clarifying why and how in the Armenian Church tradition, the Icon functioned as part of prayer, piety and our lived historical experience in our Christian tradition. They became visual reminders of God’s presence through Divine revelation, and through special people and sacred events. With her call at the Annunciation, the Holy Mother was the first of these special people named Saints.
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
- Galatians 3: 29-4:7 (page 172) New Testament
- Luke 1: 26-38 (page 51) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
- Isaiah 7:10-16 (pages 687-688) Old Testament
REQUIEM SERVICES: Hokehankist today will be for:
- DEBORAH HANAMIRIAN (4th Anniversary of Her eternal life) requested by Pauline Haufler, John Kash and John Hanamirian.
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night….” (Nehemiah 1:5-6).
Prayers are requested for Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Alice Charles, Armen & Theodora Mirakian.
FAR UPDATE: Distribution of PPE to Clinics Throughout the Tavush Region – With the troubling rise of COVID-19 cases throughout Armenia and the low supply of much-needed medical equipment, FAR recently delivered a third round of more than 30,000 items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items, including masks, gloves, medical suits and gowns, thermometers, shoe covers and sanitizers to medical clinics throughout Armenia’s impoverished Tavush Province.Dr. Gagik Mikaelyan was happy to receive the protective suit from FAR since he administers PCR tests for the community of Movses on the border with Azjerbaijan. “Unfortunately we have registered positive cases, but I feel more protected now when I wear this suit before going to a patient’s home,” says the doctor who makes house calls and is the only general practitioner for a rural community of nearly 2,000. To learn more, go to: https://www.farusa.org/post/far-distributes-ppe-to-clinics-throughout-the-tavush-region
On the occasion of the Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rite of the Blessing of Grapes, the following have made donations to our Church:
- Grapes donated and prepared by Alice and Karnig Torossian
- In memory of Diramayr Hripsime Ayvazian and Maxim Torossian
- Richard and Linda Vishab
- In memory of Armen J. Alahverde Sr. by Doris E. Alahverde & Family
- In memory of Anna & Haroutoun Kazigian, Vera Kazigian,Victoria & Yeznig Kazigian
- Richard Kazigian, Alma Altoonian, Hripsime & Hagop Altoonian & Joseph Carr by Gary and Eileen Altoonian
- In memory of Ann Chopoorian, Virginia Der Hagopian and Melena Ayjian by Jeanette Der Hagopian.
- In memory of John & Rose Serabian, Edward & Rose Karnikian, Ned Santerian & Corrine Santerian Moore by Merle Santerian
- In memory of Patrick Killian, John & Dorothy Chalikian by Joyce Killian
- In honor of Der Hakob, his dedicated altar servers and our beautiful choir by Robert and Elizabeth Barone
- In memory of the Jamgochian Family by Mary and Pearl Jamgochian
- In memory of Mary Panjayian and Mary Aznavuryan by Armenoui Aznavuryan
- In memory of Robert Sarkisian by his wife Mary Sarkisian and sister Mary Parnagian
- In memory of John D. Mirijanian, Harry Mirijanian, Raymond Mirijanian & Diran Mirijanian by Jan D. Mirijanian
- In memory of Vahan Boyajian by Florence Boyajian
- In memory of our departed & beloved family members by Garo and Bertha Sekdorian
- In memory of Russ Tandourjian, Lisa & Michael Cook by Maggie Tandourjian
- In memory of John and Nicholas Kashkashian by Ronald A. Kashkashian
- In memory of Mary Mirakian, on her name day, and Naomi Antaramian and Rose Minassian by David and Marta Brann.
- In memory of Diramayr Serpouhi Arzoumanian by Hagop Arzoumanian
There will be no live stream today.
Please join us at church