Feast of the Catholic Church of Holy Etchmiadzin

Sunday Messenger

June 2, 2024

Feast of the Catholic Church of Holy Etchmiadzin

Scripture and Feast Day Notes

From Today’s Readings

Proverbs 9:1-6 Wisdom has prepared a banquet, mixing the wine and preparing the food, even hewing the seven pillars with her own hands. This is a sacred space of abundance, leading to life (v 6). The bread (although some translations say ‘food,’ the Hebrew means ‘bread’) and wine invite comparison with the communion meal and the new covenant of Jesus. She welcomes all to share in the feast and leave behind their “simple ways” to live more fully in new understanding. These verses recall the Parables of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14) and the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24) in which invitations are sent out for a great feast. Discuss/reflect; Verses 7-9 have special meaning for our times. Where in today’s headlines might Wisdom’s call to “walk in the way of understanding” help heal our divisive politics and the social movements marked by harsh rhetoric, intolerance, and even hate? These proverbs were written over 2500 years ago. Do we still see instances of insult when “mockers” are confronted?

Zec 3:7-4:9 In Zechariah’s vision, the Lord tells the High Priest Joshua to walk in His ways, promising to provide a Branch, symbol of the Messiah and of fruitfulness, as well as a stone with seven eyes, symbol of perfect knowledge. There will be prosperity such that neighbors can sit together among healthy vines and fig trees. The prophet sees a vision of a seven-branched lampstand with a bowl, seven channels to the bowl, and two olive trees feeding oil into the channels – all symbols of abundance and light. But Zerubbabel, charged with rebuilding the tabernacle, will be able to accomplish it not through these physical props but through God’s Spirit (just as the Church will one day be established). This was the Spirit – the breath – the ruach of the Lord which worked in creation (Genesis 1:2), at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:810), and that gave life to dead bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14).Discuss/reflect: When told your strength and talents alone (v 6) won’t give you your best life, the one that truly glorifies God, how do you respond?

Hebrews 9:1-10 In an impressively detailed description of vessels and priests in the ancient tabernacle, the writer affirms that none of these Levitical rituals can restore the worshipper to spiritual wholeness. Rituals are external actions, and they cannot change the heart. The Holy Spirit, driving force of the New Covenant, had yet to show the way. Discuss/reflect: Why were their “gifts and sacrifices not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper” (v 9)? See Amos 5:21-27 for further insight.

John 10:22-30 During the Feast of Hanukkah, the Jews who have gathered in Jerusalem ask Jesus to tell them plainly whether He is the Christ. Jesus declares that He has told them this before, but they don’t believe. “You are not my sheep; my sheep know my voice and follow me” (vv 25-27). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, tells us that everything depends on belonging to him. Never does our status before God depend on what we know, what we feel, or on what we accomplish. It depends on one thing only: that we are known by the shepherd: Amidst all the other voices that evoke fear, make demands, or give advice, the voice of the good shepherd is a voice of promise — a voice that calls us by name and claims us as God’s own.

Discuss/reflect: Do you honestly feel you belong to Jesus? If you did, His voice would be as comforting as a shepherd’s to his flock. What might you do to feel this way?

Etchmiadzin, the Universal Church, and The Pit

The Feast of the Universal Church of Holy Etchmiadzin (Կաթողիկէ Եկեղեցւոյ Սրբոյ Էջմիածնի Տօն) is celebrated on the second Sunday of Pentecost, following the Saturday celebrating the deliverance of St. Gregory the Enlightener from the pit. The building of the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin is a significant turning point in the life of the Armenian people in that the Holy See was built over the site of a pagan temple. Thus, a true conversion and penitential event took place as Christianity literally and symbolically displaced pagan beliefs with a new worldview, the center of which is God, the Creator, and his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The feast is a celebration of both the universal Church and the Church of the Armenian people who belong to the one Body of Christ. Holy Etchmiadzin has always been an extension of the universal Church established by the Apostles (Ephesians 2:19-22) as we recite in our Creed: “We believe also in only one universal and apostolic holy Church.”

The week prior to the Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin recalls early Christianity in Armenia. Following the evangelistic efforts of the “First Illuminators,” Sts. Thaddeus and Bartholomew, the faith in Armenia grew due to the early presence of other Christians, including three remarkable women, St. Santookht (a student of St. Thaddeus, and the first Armenian martyr), Sts. Gayane and Hripsime, as well as Sts. Voski and Sookias and their respective companions and disciples, all of whom find their origins outside of Armenia. Eventually, it was the missionary efforts and heroic evangelization of St. Gregory the Enlightener, a Parthian bishop taught and ordained in Cappadocia.

Are we following the example of Sts. Gayane and Hripsime? Like them, are we consistently faithful, enduring suffering, doing the work of the evangelist, and fulfilling our ministry? (II Timothy 4:5) Does the story of St. Gregory inspire us only as patriotic Armenians with ancestral pride, honoring our historical heritage, or does it compel and change us as Christian Armenians to do the work of Christ in this world, to endure suffering as we are cast aside, rejected, experience hunger, sickness, violence, and anxiety in the dark, lonely pits of life? What “pit” do we find ourselves in today? While we find ourselves in the darkest of “pits,” is our fear and doubt displaced with faith and peace, are we converted and sustained by God’s mercy and grace, and as a result do we bring healing and conversion to others? Pray with the Psalmist:

Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there thy hand shall lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Let only darkness cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to thee,
the night is bright as the day;
for darkness is as light with thee.

Requiem Services: Hokehankist Today Will Be For: Kilhatir Alis Sisian on the one-year anniversary of her eternal rest. Requested in loving memory by her daughter Denise.

Coffee Hour: There will be no coffee hour today.

FAR Update:  The Fund for Armenian Relief’s Children’s Center desperately needs to renovate the bedrooms and replace decrepit windows to ensure vulnerable kids have decent living conditions. The Center safeguards children who are victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect. Since 2000, more than 11,000 children have been helped by them. If this touches your heart, please support their efforts by going to Ayo (weareayo.org)

Send Kids Of War Heroes To Summer Camp:  This summer, you can be a hero for children grieving displacement or the loss of a father in war. Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR)’s Ayo! Program as committed to sending 60 kids in difficult circumstances to summer camp in beautiful, forested Hankavan. It costs only $250 to sponsor one child’s unforgettable two-week experience. (Any donation helps. Camp costs $16 per child per day). If we raise more money, we can send even more kids to camp! Donate here to support Ayo!’s #HappyCamper campaign: https://secure.qgiv.com/event/ayoisyou/ 6/16

Attention Graduates! – Looking for graduates to be included in an upcoming issue of the LOOYS (all levels). We invite you to submit your own details for inclusion. Write-up should include: full name, parents’ names, name of institution, grade level or degree achieved, activity involvement (church or school), and future plans (further education/work/other). Please include a picture (in high resolution color), if possible. Everything should be sent to choirboss@hotmail.com by July 30, 2024.

Fund for Armenian Relief – Bringing English to the Regions

Ինչքան լեզու գիտես, այդքան մարդ ես։ “You are as many people as the languages you know.” 26-year-old Lilit has always been passionate about English. When she graduated from Yerevan’s linguistic university during the pandemic, she moved back home to the region of Berd and reached out to our Diocesan organization Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) to make her dream of opening a language school come true. She was quickly and pleasantly overwhelmed with interest from 7-year-old to retirees. From lively discussions and interactive group activities to thought-provoking quizzes and immersive English movie screenings, Lilit ensures that her students remain engaged and make progress as they learn the language that will open doors for them. Since 2013, FAR has steadfastly supported communities in Armenia’s eastern Tavush region through the “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty” program that is made possible by support from the Mardigian Family Foundation. To help drive change in border villages, please consider donating to FAR today: www.farusa.org

AYO – Spring is here and Ayo! has just launched its new project “Put Down Roots.” In partnership with the Yerevan Botanical Gardens, the project aims to create an educational-therapeutic horticulture space to provide opportunities for forcibly displaced children (and others) to get their hands dirty, de-stress and learn about the environment! Once built, this special section of the botanical gardens will be available for children and youth for years to come. You can directly support the initiative here: https://secure.qgiv.com/event/ayoisyou/.

Armenian Sisters AcademyThe best way to learn about ASA is to experience it for yourself! Visit our campus to see how our deep appreciation for the Armenian language and culture empowers our students, promotes self-respect, and prepares future role models. All visitors must have a scheduled appointment and may not freely enter the building without prior notice. To schedule your private tour contact Legna Santerian at Lsanterian@asaphila.org or (610) 687-4100.

Stay Connected with our New Church PortalOver the past several months Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church has changed to a new Church Management System called One Church.  The new software puts you in control of your information (email, phone number, giving information, etc.), allows us to communicate with you more effectively, facilitates online, text, and app donations, and provides greater connectivity throughout our community.  You should have received an email.  If you have not gotten one (please make sure to check your spam folder), then reach out to the church office.

Humanitarian Support for Artsakh Ongoing From The Knights And Daughters Of Vartan – As the Azeri government still cracks down on the Armenian people in the nation of Artsakh, the people are not giving up! Please consider making a donation to the Knights and Daughters of Vartan Call to Action Committee! Donations will go towards humanitarian aid. For further information please visit the Knights and Daughters of Vartan website at https://kofv.org/a-call-to-action-from-kdv-for-artsakh/

Mail your donations to Knights of Vartan, Mr. Ronald Nazeley, Treasurer, 558 Kentwood Bluffs Drive, Los Angeles 90045.

Checks should be made to Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Memo: Artsakh, and brought or mailed to church. Online donations can be made by going to www.holytrinity-pa.org, go to donations, scroll down to Open Donation and enter Artsakh.

Seeking Part-time Organists – the Choir of Holy Trinity continues to seek multiple talented musicians who would be seriously interested in playing the organ for the Sunday morning Divine Liturgy (Badarak) on a rotating schedule. Organ lessons will be provided to the interested candidates, along with one-on-one direction from a senior choir person.  For further information, contact Karinne Andonian at karinne.hov@gmail.com.

The Kiss of Peace – After the gifts of the Eucharist are brought to the Altar Table, the deacon proclaims, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”  The person giving the greetings says, Kristos ee mech mer Haydnetsav – Christ is revealed amongst us.  The recipient would respond, Orhnial eh Haydnootiunun Kristosee – Blessed is the revelation of Christ.

The Nicene Creed/ Havadamk – This is the Profession of our Faith which is recited every Sunday moments after the Gospel is read from the altar. Sometimes it is sung, but more often it is recited by the Deacons and/or the Choir.  We invite you to affirm your own “Profession of Faith” by reciting along with us.  God longs for all of us to express our faith and devotion to Him.

~~~~~~~~~~TODAY’S EVENTS~~~~~~~~~~

Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin
Jun 05        Bible Study with Rev. Fr. Hakob
Jun 16        Father’s Day
Jul 04         Independence Day
Jul 07         Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord