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Crossroads E-Newsletter - February 26, 2014

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  • Crossroads E-Newsletter - February 26, 2014

    Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apost. Church of America and Canada
    H.E. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan
    Prelate, Easter Prelacy and Canada
    138 East 39th Street
    New York, NY 10016
    Tel: 212-689-7810
    Fax: 212-689-7168


    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: =80=9CWe 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

    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

    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
    you, of your own free will, have selected me as your leader and
    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
    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
    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
    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;
    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
    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
    a[email protected] 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

    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 =85 (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

    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 (

    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,

    Vayelel means `to enjoy.' For instance, `Ես
    ընթ=80ի=84ը վայելե=81ի' (Yes entrikuh vayeletsi - `I
    enjoyed the dinner').

    Vaylel means `to suit' (which may be regarded as a certain
    way of enjoying). For instance, `Խ=85սելո=82 այս ձե=82ը
    =84եզի չի վայլե=80' (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 աշակե=80տ (ashagerd, `student'), which in both branches of
    Armenian also gave birth to a second word:
    աշկե=80տ (ashgerd, `apprentice').

    It is common to confuse vaylel with vayelel. In any case, you cannot
    `Ես ընթ=80ի=84ը վայլե=81ի' (Yes entrikuh
    vayletsi). How could you `suit' the dinner?

    Previous entries in `The Armenian Language Corner' are on the
    Prelacy's web site (


    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 [email protected] or the Church office at
    212-689-5880 or [email protected].

    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: To contact the ARS Auction
    committee: [email protected].

    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 [email protected] or Carol at
    [email protected]. Also online at For information call the church,

    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:
    [email protected] 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,

    June 1-Ladies Guild Annual Brunch, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New

    June 1-St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Toronto Children's Choir
    concert in the church sanctuary.

    June 29-July 6, 2014-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, contact the AREC office at
    212.689.7810 or at [email protected].

    Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy's web

    To ensure the timely arrival of Crossroads in your electronic mailbox,
    add [email protected] 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:
    [email protected]