Episcopal Divine Liturgy in Fresno on the 100th Anniversary of the Heroic Resistance of Musa Ler

On the weekend of September 5, 2015, the 100th anniversary of the heroic resistance of Musa Ler was commemorated in Fresno with a number of events spanning three days held at the Fresno County Peace Officer’s Training Grounds. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, accompanied by Very Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian, arrived in Fresno on Saturday to preside over the ceremonies.

The commemoration began on Saturday evening with the blessing of salt for the Herisa conducted by His Eminence, assisted by Fr. Boghos and Pastor of Holy Trinity Church Rev. Fr. Vahan Gosdanian. The Prelate first explained the meaning of the blessing of salt, after which he conducted the ceremony and placed the salt in the shape of a cross on top of the madagh pot. The festivities continued into the night with traditional entertainment.

On Sunday morning, the Prelate celebrated Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and conducted the blessing of Herisa. He was assisted at the altar by Fr. Boghos and deacons. His Eminence began his sermon by giving thanks to God for the opportunity to collectively commemorate the 100th anniversary of the heroic resistance of Musa Ler and to celebrate the spirit of courage, resilience, and rebirth that is a trademark of the Armenian people. The Prelate went on to highlight the resilience of the Armenian people, stating that we are here today, with an independent republic, a strong Diaspora, and with our faith and heritage alive and well, because the Armenian people are fighters and survivors, as evidenced throughout our history and in our modern history with examples such as the resistance of Musa Ler. Thus, he commended the descendants of Musa Ler for keeping alive the legacy of their forefathers and their distinctive traditions and urged all to continue to “remember and demand,” in this centennial year and beyond. “We have survived and thrived thus far as a distinct people due to our unity and collectivity. If we are to succeed in reclaiming our rights, it will be because of our united will and collective efforts. Together we will shape our nation’s destiny, inspired by the faith and valor of our forefathers, with the intercession of our holy martyrs, and with the God of righteousness and justice as our strength,” stated the Prelate.

In the next portion of this sermon, His Eminence reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from Mark 7:31-37, in which is recorded the miraculous healing of a deaf-mute by our Lord Jesus Christ. Tying in the message of the reading with the message of the day’s commemoration, the Prelate exhorted the faithful to pray for the Lord to open our spiritual ears and loosen our tongues so that we can heed the call for justice and be the collective voice of our martyrs as we continue to remind the world of what our people suffered one hundred years ago and pursue our rightful demands. The Prelate concluded by touching upon the forthcoming Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, stating through His death on the Cross and Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ gave to us the resounding message that He is the way, the truth, and the life. “May our ears be open to receiving His life-saving message and promise of redemption and salvation and may our tongues be freed to proclaim His goodness; to declare proudly that we are faithful children of God and the worthy heirs of the legacy of our forefathers, and as such, we will commit ourselves to serving for His glory and for the advancement and prosperity of the Armenian church and nation,” concluded His Eminence.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, prayers were offered for the souls of our blessed martyrs. A presentation by Mr. Levon Filian, Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America Western Region, followed. Mr. Filian highlighted the legacy of the Musa Ler resistance and expressed gratitude to the countries and organizations that offered invaluable humanitarian assistance to the Armenian people during the Genocide.
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The blessing of Herisa followed, after which the Prelate conveyed his well wishes to all. The ceremony came to a close with the collective singing of the Cilician, Musa Ler, and Armenian national anthems.

The festivities continued into the evening. The commemoration concluded with a victory breakfast on Monday morning.

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