St. Gregory Church of San Francisco Celebrates its Name Day

Saturday, March 16, 2013 was the Feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Descent into the Pit, which is also the name day celebration for churches named St. Gregory in honor of the founder, father, and illuminator of our faith.

On this occasion, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate visited the St. Gregory Church parish community of San Francisco where on Sunday, March 17, His Eminence celebrated Divine Liturgy and conducted the blessing of madagh.

Parish Pastor Archpriest Fr. Khoren Habeshian thanked the Prelate for celebrating the name day of the Church with the community, and wished him a safe journey in his travel to Rome to participate in the inauguration of His Holiness Pope Francis.  He then invited the Prelate to deliver his sermon.

His Eminence greeted the Pastor and faithful who had gathered for the special occasion, including Parish Delegates, Board of Trustees and Ladies Guild members, Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Principal, teachers, and students, and Sunday School students, and noting that this feast is also the pilgrimage day for St. Gregory the Illuminator Mother Cathedral in Antelias, read the prayer of H.H. Catholicos Aram I to St. Gregory.

In the first part of his sermon, the Prelate spoke of the exemplary life and faith of St. Gregory, stating, “St. Gregory is the most beloved of our saints, revered for his extraordinary faith and will.  Centuries later, the example of St. Gregory remains the ideal guide for our spiritual lives.  St. Gregory is the model of unfading hope, unyielding faith, and unfathomable will.  Today is a pilgrimage day for this parish community.  As pilgrims, let us vow that we will carry on the legacy of St. Gregory the Illuminator by pledging to remain unshaken in our faith no matter what obstacles and challenges may come our way.  May the remarkable life and faith of our first Pontiff serve as an inspiration for us to become fortified in our faith and to submit ourselves to His Holy Will with absolute trust.

The second part of the Prelate’s sermon focused on the sixth Sunday of Great Lent and the day’s passage from Matthew 22:34-23:39 recording the last few days of the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this passage, Jesus addresses the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees who taught and judged according to the Law of Moses, yet did not obey the very laws they were teaching.  Through their flawed teaching of the law, they created intolerable burdens for the people which they themselves did not carry.  They were also putting on a show of piety for the attention of others, but there was no substance beneath their outwardly appearance.  Through this reading, we are given an idea of the state of the religious leadership in Jesus’ day.  They were hypocrites in that they pretended to serve God but in reality served only themselves, their pride, and their desire to be respected ad honored by their people.  They appeared religious to others but inside they were lawless and broke every commandment of God.  “The Gospels give a multitude of examples of hypocrisy that we can learn from.  In fact our Lord Jesus Christ had strong words about the scribes and Pharisees and what awaits  them, ‘For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:20). On this day of pilgrimage, let us examine ourselves to make certain our faith is genuine and our lives are in keeping with God’s commandments, let us follow the laws of the Bible and not our own version and interpretation of the laws, let us practice our spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and confession, loving and serving God and our fellow man with pure hearts and intentions, and leading others to the path of righteousness with our actions.  May we all follow in the prime example of St. Gregory the Illuminator who loved the Lord with all his might, faithfully adhered to His commandments and His will with a clean and pure heart and unwavering resolve, and inspired not by words, but by actions”, concluded the Prelate.

The Prelate then conducted the blessing of madagh in the Church courtyard, congratulated all those bearing the name Krikor, and concluded the celebration with the benediction.

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