Ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving Message
New York, NY
March 2, 2019
I would like to welcome you all in this sanctuary of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the first cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America since 1915. This sanctuary has been a beacon of Hope, Endurance and Positive creativity for thousands of Armenians, who found refuge in this blessed Land of the Brave and the Free before and after the first Genocide of the 20th century.
In this sanctuary hundreds and thousands of Armenian Volunteers, Gamavors, received their blessing before they joined the Allies in 1917 and fought courageously in the battlefield of Arara and in other parts of the Middle East. It was in this Sanctuary that from the 1950’s to the 70’s thousands of Armenian families were hosted when they came to the United States of America from different countries of the former Soviet Bloc and the Middle East. It was in this sanctuary that blessed be their memories His Holiness Vazken the I the Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of Cilicia, and later of All Armenians, met and prayed after the disastrous earthquake of Armenia. The last but not the least, it was in the year 2000 that for the first time relics of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 were brought here, to this continent, from the Desert of Der-el-Zor, and were placed on the Martyr’s Altar of this Sanctuary, as a living message that the Almighty Lord was with us throughout the martyrdom and resurrection of our Nation, as He was during the Crucifixion and Resurrection of His only Begotten Son.
And today we are here to pray to at the dawn of a new service in the vineyard of the Lord for His glory.
Indeed I am humbled to have been elevated to this sacred position by the National Representative Assembly of our Prelacy with the blessings of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. This responsibility entails overseeing a flock spread from the Midwest to New England, and from the Tri-State area and Pennsylvania down to Maryland, Virginia and beyond. With your prayers and cooperation I pray that, guided by the love revealed on the Cross, I will be able to finish this race—in the words of Saint Paul, to be “a worker who causes no shame” (2 Tim 2.15).
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as the voice of the Almighty Creator and the Heavenly Father, has been under fire by the evil powers throughout ages, sometimes in the form of denial, sometimes in the temptation of grasping the Uncontainable in the contained forms, sometimes in compromises, and in many other ways. Today, more than ever, the pivotal values, which have sustained the society, are being shattered in a materialistic world in the name of different “ISM”s promising green lands leading us to no man’s land. In this regard, the celebration of the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople is not just the remembrance of a past historical event, but a reminder that the Universal Church does not ignore or escape challenges, both within and without, but rather confronts them, trusting that the Lord, through His Mercy, will make Her (/the Church) emerge victoriously from all sorts of trials and tribulations—as gold is purified through the furnace of fire. This Feast reminds us that all those who personally or collectively walk with God in His Word, led by the Holy Spirit, will discover and enjoy the Divine Truth. The Council of Constantinople also reminds us that sharing this Truth and translating it into action is the ultimate mission of the Church, the Body of Christ.
With this understanding, let us all pray with the Holy Fathers of the Council of Constantinople and say:
Come Holy Spirit, come and fill the fragile sail of our human boats to be able to navigate in peace in a world that is in turmoil, and guide us with your wisdom to follow the path of Truth and only the Truth revealed and manifested in the person of Jesus the Christ.
Come Holy Spirit, come and renew us to see our oneness in our diversity, and season our thoughts and deeds with Divine love to transform the Paradise lost.
Come Holy Spirit, come and in the words of Saint Basil the Great,
To perceive and seize every opportunity to serve.
Without assessing its value.
Without seeking rest.
It is Your will we fulfill. Amen.