On Sunday, Feb. 13, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I presided over the Eve of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple (Dyarnuntarach) at the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator in the Catholicosate, with a ceremony including the blessing of the land, the presentation of children to the temple, and the lighting of a traditional bonfire. On this occasion, His Holiness gave a Patriarchal message to the faithful.
The Catholicos thanked God that once again the people had the opportunity to mark the spiritually fulfilling ceremony. He said that these traditions are some of the most influential expressions of the Christian faith. His Holiness added that in the same way that parents bring their 40-day-old children to church to receive God’s blessing, all of us, too, come to church to offer ourselves to the Lord.
Then His Holiness cited the three settings that are meant to be the sources of our moral values and the education of our children: church, family, and school.
Speaking about the church, His Holiness said that in the final moments of His earthly existence, Christ gave his disciples the obligation of the apostolate. Even though little children do not fully understand the church ceremony, they see and learn our spiritual and moral values there. “I get happy when I hear children’s voices during church ceremonies,” the Catholicos said. “That’s something positive,” he said, urging parents to send their children to Sunday schools.
The family, His Holiness said, is a little church, as has been described by the Fathers of the Church, and a sanctuary where our children will be educated, with parents being their fundamental teachers. Specifically addressing mothers, the Catholicos said: “Dear mothers, your first calling is to feed your children with spiritual and moral values.”
Finally referring to Armenian schools, the Catholicos said that along with the state curriculum, the schools must pay attention to religious and moral education, to enable students to learn about biblical values, principles, and truths in Religion classes and Bible study. His Holiness advised parents to send their children to Armenian schools։ “With its educational role, the Armenian school forms part of the comprehensive family and church mission for us,” His Holiness said. “And just because of that, look at our life, the Armenian school has always been next to the church, because our church has considered the Armenian school an inseparable part of its mission.”
The Catholicos concluded his message by praying to God Most High, so He may make the life of our people flourish with His heavenly blessings and graces and that with His presence, He may lead our children to such a life that irradiates heavenly values and truths.
Following the message, the parents approached the Holy Altar, where priests of the Cilician Brotherhood dedicated their children to God, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, following tradition, the procession marched to the inner courtyard of the Mother Monastery, where the Catholicos lit the traditional bonfire of Dyarnuntarach with a flame brought from the Holy Altar. Seminarians sang religious and patriotic songs and the faithful brought home candles that symbolize the light of Christ.