PRESS RELEASE
Catholicosate of Cilicia
Communication and Information Department
Contact: V.Rev.Fr.Krikor Chiftjian, Communications Officer
Tel: (04) 410001, 410003
Fax: (04) 419724
E- mail: [email protected]
Web: http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/

PO Box 70 317
Antelias-Lebanon

Armenian version: http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/doc/Arme nian.htm

Watch the video summary here:
http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/do c/Videos/Blessing%20of%20Holy%20Muron%20by%20His%2 0Holiness%20Aram%20I,%20Catholicos%20of%20Cilicia% 20-%20Saturday%207%20June%202008,%20Antelias.avi

BLESSING OF THE HOLY MURON IN ANTELIAS

The Blessing of Holy Muron is an occasion of unique importance for the
Armenian Church. June 7, 2008 thus became a historic day for the
Catholicosate of Cilicia, which was filled with waves of joyful and excited
believers who had come to witness this ceremonious event.

The Blessing of the Holy Muron was performed by His Holiness Aram I on the
platform built for this purpose at the entrance of the Saint Gregory the
Illuminator Cathedral. Representatives from all the dioceses of the
Catholicosate were present at the ceremony: Archbishop Norvan Zakarian
(Primate of the Diocese of France), Bishop Yezras Nersisian (Primate of the
Diocese of Russia) represented the Catholicosate of All Armenians in
Etchmiyadzine. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem was represented by the
Grand Sacristan of the Saint Hagop Cathedral, Archbishop Nourhan Manougian.
Patriarchal Vicar Arch. Shahan Sevadjian attended on behalf of the
Patriarchate of Constantinople. He headed a delegation formed of Rev. Fr.
Tatoul Anoushian and Father Vagharshag Serovpian. Alongside him on the
platform, the Pontiff had also the Diocesan Primates of the Cilician See,
who participated in the Holy service.

Thousands of pilgrims, who had flocked to Antelias from all over the world,
filled up the Catholicosate's headquarters to attend this ceremony, which
occurs only once every seven years. This phenomenon is itself a testament to
the love and commitment of our people towards the Armenian Church.

Also sharing this majestic occasion with the Armenian Church and nation were
the representatives of various Christian communities in Lebanon: Maronite,
Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Coptic
Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Chaldonean Protestant and
Armenian Protestant. The Nuncio Apostolic in Lebanon and government
officials were also present. His Holiness received on this occasion letters
from heads of churches and ecumenical organizations expressing their
spiritual love and fellowship.

The service started when the Pontifical Procession, led by Bishops followed
and the Armenian Pontiff, proceeded from the Veharan towards the altar built
on the platform outside the Cathedral especially for this occasion. The
Godfather of the service was Mr. Vrej Armoyian, a community leader of the
Prelacy of Canada.

The Catholicosate's "Shenorhali" Choir performed the hymns. Members of the
Cilician Brotherhood brought out the historic Cauldron of the Holy Muron rom
the Cathedral carrying it on their shoulders and placed on the platform
outside, in front of the Pontiff.

While the lid of the Cauldron was being lifted, it seemed as though the
doors to the souls of believers were also laid open. Reciting prayers, the
Catholicos added to the Cauldron the main ingredient of the Muron, the
Balsam, and the old Muron, which according to tradition contains samples of
the oil that the Apostles used to cure patients. The Apostle who evangelized
Armenia, Saint Tateos, is said to have brought a part of this oil to
Armenia. Amid the excitement of the faithful, Catholicos also mixed in the
Cauldron a sample of Holy Muron blessed in St. Etchmiyadzine as a symbol of
the unity of the Armenian Church. During the service, the representative of
the Catholicos of All Armenians read out His Holiness Karekin II's address
on this occasion, in which he welcomed the blessing of Muron in Antelias and
expressed his brotherly affection for His Holiness Aram I.

At the most sacred moment of the service, Catholicos Aram I stirred the new
Muron with the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator sanctifying
the new Muron with the blessings of the Patron Saint of the Armenian Church.

In his address to the thousands of pilgrims, His Holiness conveyed the
meaning and symbolism of the Holy Muron.

His Holiness summarized his thoughts in the following four points:

A) The Muron as a guarantor of the Armenian Church's continuity

During the blessing of the Holy Muron, the old Muron was mixed with the new
Muron. This is not a mere tradition or a coincidence. It symbolizes the
eternal path of the Armenian Church. In its true being the Church is a
mission. In the life and mission of the Church, the past, present and the
future are consistently present in a harmonious way. Neither time, nor
historic circumstances or geographical distances can cause disruption in the
Church's continuity. Beyond this theological concept, in our Church the Holy
Muron is the spiritual force through which our church refuses any thought
and attempt of becoming part of the past and continues to exist with its
path always headed to the future. Through the old Muron, our catholicoi, our
saints and martyrs come to unite with the new Muron with their faith and
their vision. Therefore, this Muron is a living history. To be blessed with
the Muron means to come in live contact with our nation's and church's
history. Receiving the Muron of the Armenian Church means being stamped with
the faith and sanctity of our fathers who had embraced Jesus Christ in their
lives.

B) The Muron as a holy bind for the indivisible unity of the Armenian
Church.

During the ceremony, the Muron of the Catholicosate of All Armenians was
mixed to the Muron of the Catholicosate of Cilicia. The same will be
repeated in Saint Etchmiyadzine in September, when the Muron of the
Catholicosate of Cilicia will be mixed with the Muron of the Catholicosate
of All Armenians. This symbolic gesture concretely expresses the indivisible
unity of the Armenian Church. The Holy Sees that have come to exist in the
Armenian Church due to historic circumstances and necessity can in no way
shake the internal unity of the Armenian Church. More than ever, our nation
needs the strengthening of its unity in order to overcome the threats facing
our spiritual, cultural and national identity both in Armenia and the
Diaspora. In this Holy moment of Muron Blessing we greet our spiritual
brothers Catholicos of All Armenians His Holiness Karekin II, the Armenian
Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Torkom Manougian and the Armenian
Patriarch of Constantinople Archbishop Mesrob Moutafian, wishing them a rich
and long term of service. We also greet in the spirit of Christian love and
fellowship all the representatives of churches who are with us at this
ceremony, as well as all church leaders who through their prayers share this
spiritual event in the life of our church.

C) The Holy Muron as an invitation to participate in the life of the
Armenian Church

The Armenian Church is not a structure, a set of rituals or dogma. It is the
wholeness of our nation, constructed as a community on the faith of Jesus
Christ. Through the Holy Muron we become part of the Church's wholeness, its
collective life. Our children are blessed with the Holy Muron. The items
used in Church life are ordained with the Holy Muron. Those called upon to
serve the Church are ordained with the Holy Muron. The Holy Muron is a path
that leads to participation in our Church's common life. The Holy Muron is
the heavenly power taking the Church's God-given mission, evangelism and
service to the people. We should approach the Holy Muron with this
awareness. Let us not forget that on our foreheads is stamped the
centuries-old Muron of the Armenian Church. With our life and work we should
remain loyal to the Holy Muron, its symbolism and its message.

D) The Holy Muron as a source for spiritual renewal

As a mission the church has an essential need for internal renewal. The
Muron is the renewing and revitalizing presence of the Holy Spirit in the
life of the Church. It is through it that the Church remains active in its
life and mission, resisting the rust and dust of time. It is through the
presence of the Holy Muron that the Church renews its spiritual life and
keeps itself strong against all types of distorting influences. In front of
the challenges of the current world, our Church has such an imperative and
immediate need for spiritual renewal, so that it can make its mission in the
life of the nation more effective. We consider the infiltration of our
church's spiritual values in our nation's life, its spiritual invigoration,
the adoption of evangelical truths in our individual, family and collective
lives as priorities for our church. Therefore, the Blessing of the Holy
Muron should become an opportunity and an invitation for spiritual renewal
and the strengthening of the mission of faith in our Church.

His Holiness then dedicated the new Holy Muron to the new generation: We
express gratitude and satisfaction to God that this is the third blessing of
the Muron that we perform. We dedicate the blessing of this Holy Muron to
our new generation, the generation that is called upon to build the future
of the church. He continued: In the globalised world, faced with new
lifestyles, new viewpoints questioning our Christian faith, out spiritual
truths and moral values, it is not easy to be true Christians. It is also
not easy to stay Armenian in a context of a culture of globalisation, which
destroys nation and culture, identity and tradition. Therefore, stay alert.
Let the winds blowing around you not push you away from your roots. Be proud
of your spiritual and national values, for the preservation of which your
ancestors shed blood. You have the Armenian Muron on your forehead. Keep
your faith strong, the Armenian Muron pure and in front of the current world's
storms transform your life into one stamped with spiritual and national
values.

The faithful remained in Antelias until late at night, approaching the Muron
pot with great awe and kissing it. A committee formed by the Catholicosate
especially for this event had prepared several souvenirs, which were
distributed to the faithful at the entrance of the Catholicosate.
Particularly impressive was the presence of students, who were wearing
special shirts with the theme of the blessing of the Muron.

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View the photos here:
http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/do c/Photos/Photos271.htm
http://www.armenianorthodox church.org/v04/doc/Photos/Photos272.htm
http://www .armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/doc/Photos/Photos2 73.htm
http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/d oc/Photos/Photos274.htm
http://www.armenianorthodo xchurch.org/v04/doc/Photos/Photos275.htm
http://ww w.armenianorthodoxchurch.org/v04/doc/Photos/Photos 276.htm
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The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is one of the two Catholicosates of
the Armenian Orthodox Church. For detailed information about the history and
the mission of the Cilician Catholicosate, you may refer to the web page of
the Catholicosate, http://www.armenianorthodoxchurch.org The Cilician
Catholicosate, the administrative center of the church is located in
Antelias, Lebanon.