e-Tsayn e-Voice is a publication of
The Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate Department of Mission Parishes Rev. Fr. Tateos R. Abdalian, Director www.armenianchurch.net Diocesan Office: 212.686.0710
Email: dertateos@ armeniandiocese.org
a few words from der tateos . . . A Sunday morning in one of our communities – any one of our communities. A wife nudges her husband, hoping he will wake up and that this will finally be the day he goes with her. One man looks for the best tie to go with his blue suit while his wife feeds three children. A single mom pours herself a cup of coffee in her kitchen - where her college textbooks and notebooks are scattered on the kitchen table. She needs a boost of energy before waking her two kids so they all can make it out the door in time. An elderly man gets his wife and her wheelchair into the car. They’ve got to get there early to be able to park close to the entrance. A mother and her fourteen-year-old daughter argue about the outfit she’s wearing while the father and son smirk at each other as they grab a quick bowl of cereal. A few college students wait outside their dorm building for a friend to arrive. A couple gets ready in virtual silence. They have agreed to end their relationship if they can’t find someone who can help them work through their mounting problems. Yes it’s Sunday morning. All of these people are about to gather with others for about an hour and a half. They will find their seat, they will sing the songs they know and listen to the rest, perhaps pray, place some money in the plate, hear about some upcoming parish events and listen to a sermon that hopefully challenges them in their personal relationship with Christ. Following a brief conversation or two while drinking a cup of coffee, they drive out of the parking lot to face the challenges of life for another week, in many cases, just to return to the same scenario the following Sunday. What happens in the lives of these people on Monday and the rest of the week? Sadly, for them and many others the connection with their parish church is limited to attendance on Sunday morning, maybe a Men's Club or Women's Guild dinner meeting during the week, a committee meeting, an A.C.Y.O.A. gathering, or perhaps Sunday or Armenian School classes. Was this the kind of church Jesus spoke of when he told Peter, “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it”? I don't think so.
Even in a culture of individualism, independence, humanism and self-gratification, the foundational need of human beings to connect to other human beings still exists deep in the heart of every person. We long to belong. We are in desperate need to love others and be loved by others. We need to know we are part of something bigger than ourselves. God not did create us to be independent or alone. Even He is not alone. Our connection to Christianity leads us to our local church, but far too often our connection to our local church is limited to our attendance at the Sunday morning service and some conversation after. Our perspective on “church” can be restricted to the building the Sunday Badarak takes place in, the Badarak itself, the singing of the choir, or even to the parish priest. Read Acts 2; it revolutionizes our understanding of Jesus’ intention for his church. The “church” was birthed on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost took place 50 days after Passover. Seven weeks and one day later; the day after the Sabbath, which in our day – a Monday! Verses 42-47 go on to share facets of life that seem to immediately become commonplace to 3,000 new believers. They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, they experienced intimate relationships, they ate meals together, they prayed together, they shared their possessions among themselves and daily the Lord added new people to their already exploding community. These verses don’t indicate that any of these trends took place within the context of Sunday morning “church” services. These things took place on Monday and on Tuesday… All of us need to experience this kind of church and need to experience more of it in our years to come. I think Christians everywhere deeply desire a connection to a community of believers that goes beyond one morning each week. I believe we will not be satisfied until we experience the church Jesus Christ was born for, lived for, died for, was resurrected for and is coming back for. His church is not limited to an hour and a half time slot on the first morning of the week. Jesus’ church is his people. And His people need each other on Mondays and the rest of the week as well.
On the Feast of the Holy Translators, St. Sahag and St. Mesrob. The following article is taken from the book, Saints and Sacraments of the Armenian Church, written by Bishop S. Kaloustian, later to become the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Shnork Srpazan wrote in the introduction to his book: These titles present neither elaborate studies nor pious generalities. They contain plain facts and easy explanations on certain matters of interest to Church people. This past Thursday being the Feast of the Holy Translators, St. Sahag and St. Mesrob, a basic knowledge of these two giants of our Church is important for each Armenian.
St. Sahag and St. Mesrob are two great saintly figures, who conceived the idea of translating the Bible into Armenian. Their names are always remembered together. They are the “matchless associates” who laid the foundation of Armenian secular and religious education. From the point of view of age, family background, religious rank, and profound learning, St. Sahag is the greater of the two. It was, however, the eternal glory of St. Mesrob to have started the movement and to have found the tool—the Alphabet—for the translation of the “Greatest Book ever written.” Until the beginning of the fifth century, Armenian was not a written language for the simple reason that it did not have its own alphabet. State documents were written either in Persian or in Greek. Church services were conducted either in Greek or in Syriac. It was St. Mesrob who made Armenian a written language in the year 404 A.D. St. Sahag was the last male descendant of St. Gregory, the Enlightener of Armenia. He was born in 354 and educated like his forefathers in Cæsarea of Cappadocia and then in Constantinople. He was married and had one daughter, who became the mother of the famous Armenian national hero, St. Vartan Mamigonian. St. Sahag was ordained Catholicos in 387 and became one of the longest reigning heads of the Armenian Church, remaining in the office for fifty years. He was a great scholar and could use fluently the international languages of the time, Greek, Persian and Syriac. He died in 436. We do not know much about the background and education of St. Mesrob. The main thing we know about him is that he was the chief secretary of the royal court of Armenia during the last quarter of the fourth century. This high office implied higher education and a noble family background. It also implied knowledge of foreign languages and state affairs. In fact, St. Mesrob had all of these. After serving many years efficiently in this office, he felt the calling to serve the Eternal King and His Kingdom on earth. From the palace he went to a monastery and prepared himself for missionary work. He gathered some disciples around him and went to preach in remote parts of Armenia where Christianity had not yet sufficiently penetrated. However, not having the Bible in Armenian was a great handicap for him to make his mission successful. Conducting the Church services in foreign languages, of which the public could hardly understand anything, was troubling his mind and soul. He finally made up his mind to find a proper Alphabet for his people to translate the Bible and the entire Church Ritual into Armenian. He came to the headquarters of the Church in Valarshapat and met St. Sahag, who was the Catholicos of the time. They had known one another before and were close and intimate friends. They discussed together the matter and went to see King Vramshabouh, the temporal head of the nation. The King, himself a wise and progressive minded person, knew St. Sahag as his spiritual guide, and St. Mesrob as his respected and capable former secretary. He was wholeheartedly in agreement with them. The King put at their disposal his treasury and his authority for the successful undertaking of this sacred task. It was inspiring to see the close and harmonious cooperation between the religious, intellectual, and temporal authorities in a most noble cause, which was eventually crowned with amazing success.
St. Mesrob was sent to consult some well-known Greek scholars. He traveled widely and extensively. However, these scholars were not of great help to him. They suggested that he use the Greek letters after modifying them, and after adding new signs for those sounds which were proper to the Armenian language alone. St. Mesrob put his trust in God and in himself. In a moment of inspiration, he “created” the Armenian Alphabet, and then presented his work to St. Sahag. The Catholicos who had talents also in music and in the arts, re-shaped and re-arranged the letters and they together gave the final touch to one of the most perfect of alphabets. It contained thirtysix characters. Two more letters were added to the alphabet in the late Middle Ages. St. Sahag and St. Mesrob immediately trained their disciples in the new Alphabet. These disciples opened schools all over the country to teach Armenian boys and girls to read and write in their native language. St. Sahag and St. Mesrob, with the collaboration of their disciples, began the great work of translating the Bible and the Church Ritual. It took them many years to complete this colossal work of translation. They later revised their first and hasty translation according to a more “accurate” text, especially brought from Constantinople. The translation and the revision of the whole Bible (about 75 books according to our text) took thirty years. It was begun in 405 A.D. and completed about 435 A.D. For the perfection of style and accuracy of meaning, the Armenian Version is called by some scholars, “The Queen of the Translations.” Armenian was the fifth language into which the Bible was translated, the first translation being in Greek, the second Egyptian, the third Syriac, the fourth Latin, which was finished in the year 405, almost at the time when the Armenian translation was begun. The first English translation was completed in the year 1380, more than 900 years later than ours. By the year 1928 the Bible had been translated into 856 languages and dialects. At the present time, the number of translations has already passed the limit of one thousand. After their great achievement, St. Sahag and St. Mesrob and their disciples translated many other literary and religious works from Greek and Syriac languages into Armenian. They produced also their own original writings on many subjects. These literary works were written in such perfection and beauty that the first period of the Armenian classical literature is considered the Golden Age of Armenian Literature.
As we will commemorate the Fourth of July, we offer the words of Emma Lazarus’ Famous Poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty National Monument The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" —Emma Lazarus, 1883
"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness . . . It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart." Mahatma Gandhi! !