St. Vartanants Celebration

On Thursday, February 4, 2016, Prelacy clergy and faithful gathered at Holy Martyrs Church in Encino to collectively celebrate the feast of St. Vartanants. Divine Liturgy was celebrated on this occasion by Very Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian, who also delivered the sermon.

Prior to the sermon, parish pastor Archpriest Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian greeted his fellow clergymen and noted that H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, had traveled to Lebanon to participate in meetings of the Central Committee in Antelias. Fr. Razmig also wished the two new clergy members, Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Ashekian and Very Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian success in their assignments within the Western Prelacy. Clergy members then congregated before the altar to sing the hymn dedicated to this feast.

Father Barouyr began his sermon by giving praise to God for the day and for gracing him with the opportunity to serve within the Western Prelacy, and expressed gratitude to His Holiness Aram I and thanks to the Prelate for trusting him with this new mission, wishing them both many more years of leadership.

The theme of Fr. Barouyr’s sermon was Psalm 124:2-3, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive when their wrath was kindled against us.” Father Barouyr focused on the twofold religious and national message of Vartanants, and its implication in our lives today. First, he spoke of spiritual battle, both against evil and within us. As people of faith, we, clergy and laypersons, are God’s soldiers here on earth, and we are all called to spread the message of the glory of His kingdom and fight against evil, he said. Each one of us also faces internal struggles. However, just as a captain does not send his soldiers onto the battlefield without armaments, so too, our heavenly Father, does not leave us without any reinforcement. God is by our side at all times, and when we draw near to Him, we will triumph over all evil and hardship, he stressed.

Next, Fr. Barouyr spoke of the nationalistic message of Vartanants and how the battle awakened and cemented the nationalistic spirit and identity of the Armenian people. That spirit led us to overcome tremendous obstacles throughout our history, and today the Armenian people still survive, with an independent homeland, despite the numerous challenges we have faced.

At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, clergy and faithful together sang a number of beloved patriotic songs. The service concluded with Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem. A reception hosted by the parish Ladies Guild followed.

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