Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Montebello Holy Cross Cathedral Name Day Celebration

On Sunday, September 13, 2020, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was celebrated in Prelacy Churches with Divine Liturgy, blessing of the four corners of the earth (Antasdan), and blessing of basil. Given that the feast marks the name day of Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, celebrated Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and conducted the blessing of basil and madagh at Holy Cross Cathedral. Holy Cross Cathedral Dean, Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian participated in the service, while parish pastor, Rev. Fr. Ashod Kambourian assisted at the altar. H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, celebrated Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and conducted the blessing of basil at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in San Francisco.

Prior to his sermon, the Prelate conveyed the blessings and greetings of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, noting that throughout the month of September His Holiness has been holding virtual meetings with all Prelates and Executive Council Chairpersons to discuss the status of our Churches and schools amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, as well as fundraising efforts for our community in Lebanon following the catastrophic explosion. The Prelate stated that His Holiness commended the efforts of all during this difficult time, offered his paternal guidance as well as his blessings and well wishes to our Prelacy.

The Prelate began his sermon by stating that on the name day of Holy Cross Cathedral, during Divine Liturgy he prayed for the health and safety of all parish community members, for all clergy and lay servants to remain resolute in faith and will, and for the souls of the founding members and all servants throughout the years who served with faith in the power and might of the Holy Cross.

His Eminence gave a brief overview of the historical account of the feast of Exaltation, which commemorates the return of the sacred relic of the Holy Cross to Jerusalem by way of Armenia in the 7th century by Emperor Heraclius, adding that the feast is of particular significance for the Armenian nation as our forefathers contributed to its return and shed their blood in the preceding battles. The Prelate emphasized that we continue to exalt the Holy Cross centuries on, for the Cross is the key which opens the door to heaven and the path to salvation. The Cross is the supreme symbol of God’s love, power, wisdom, sacrifice, and salvation. It signifies a victory that we would be unable to win for ourselves, freedom from sin, and triumph over death. It is a weapon against enemies, protection for those who believe, and comfort to those who fear. By His crucifixion and ultimately His resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ became our atoning sacrifice and paved the path to reconciliation, redemption, and salvation.

Next, the Prelate spoke on the challenges we have all faced this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed countless lives, shuttered economies across the globe, altered our daily lives as churches, schools, and businesses have remained closed for months, and taken a toll on people’s mental and emotional health. “Many have found themselves wavering in their faith, strength, and hope as the pandemic rages on. However, this feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross comes to remind and reassure us that we need not despair, worry, or be anxious, for the risen Christ is by our side; He is our ever-present living Lord who dwells in our hearts and grants us the strength we need to conquer any and all obstacles and challenges. Thus, let us seek and we will surely find strength, comfort, hope, and peace in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” stressed the Prelate.

His Eminence concluded by stating that our forefathers rejoiced and triumphed at the return of the Holy Cross because they viewed the Cross as the manifestation of God’s absolute love and power, as a shield of fortification and seal of triumph against the enemy. Thus, no matter the circumstances, we too are to look to the Cross alone as the ultimate source of strength, guidance, hope, peace, and protection, for more than ever we need its power in our individual and collective lives, for the rebuilding of Lebanon and Syria, peace in the Middle East, and for the protection and prosperity of Armenia and Artskakh.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, the Prelate conducted the blessing of basil and madagh. The service closed with Cilicia.

Afterward, the Prelate conducted the blessing of Ron and Goharik Gabriel Pre-School in preparation for reopening its doors on Monday, September 14. In attendance were the dean and pastor of Holy Cross Cathedral, Mesrobian School Principal David Ghoogasian, Pre-School Director Angin Iskajyan, Pre-School sponsor Goharik Gabriel, and ARF “Tro” Gomideh representative Viken Pakradouni. The Prelate conveyed his best wishes for a safe and productive academic year and hoped that all of our students are able to return to their schools in the near future.

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