Pontifical Divine Liturgy for the Holy Nativity and Theophany in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

8/1/14

On January 6, on the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Mother Cathedral by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Under canopy, a Pontifical Procession led the Catholicos of All Armenians, and Mr. Serzh Sargsian, President of the Republic of Armenia, to the Mother Cathedral. The Canopy bearers were; Mr. Hrach Martikyan, Armenian Sudanese benefactor; Mr. Armen Elbakyan, art patron in the Republic of Armenia; Mr. Hravard Hakobyan, art critic; and Mr. Tigran Nersisyan, celebrated actor in the Republic of Armenia. His Grace Bishop Hovnan Hakobian, Grant Sacristan of the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin; and His Grace Bishop Mushegh Babayan, Operations Director of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin; assisted His Holiness during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

During the Pontifical Divine Liturgy the Catholicos of All Armenians extended His Pontifical Blessings and Message to All Armenians worldwide, conveying to everyone the Good News of the Angel.

Message of His Holiness KAREKIN II
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
On the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, January 6, 2014

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”
John 14:6

Dear and faithful people in Armenia, Artsakh and the Dispersion,

It is with the exultation of Christ our Lord’s Holy Nativity that we offer today our joyful gratitude to God. We glorify our Savior – the infant Jesus born in Bethlehem. On the blessed day of the Holy Nativity, the earth became heaven, and the ray of Justice with the light of righteousness dawned to illuminate the souls of men, so that they know, see, and find their salvation.

The Son of God humbled Himself from the heights of heaven, became man and came to earth, to save man who had been exiled from paradise through the deception of the intriguer, from sin and from the power of Satan who breeds sin. He came to return the lost generations of the first-created man who had come out against God in transgression to the kingdom of heaven, and to turn them into the children of God. “Teach me the way I should go, Lord, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Psalms 143:8). In response to this plea of mankind that was raised up to heaven by the psalmist’s lips:, the voice of our Savior resounded: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

By making truth and life one with Himself, our Lord proclaimed that truth is a value equal to life. He dispersed the darkness of aimless wanderings and sinfulness with the rays of truth, and granted to men the Holy Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), so that the path of mankind be established in a life of peace and righteousness – a life founded on love and honesty for one another.

Through the Lord’s act of salvation, the defeated evil fights today as well with fury for the souls of men, trying to obscure with fog the light of truth brought by Christ; so that men do not see the path that leads to heaven, and by leading them astray through snares of deception, be denied the eternal life of the kingdom of God. Evil has no rest – it works day in and day out and works through men. Evil creates the path when vigilance for the truth is lacking in life, and falsehood finds its collaborators. The beguiling ways of evil are strengthened when man strays from the principles taught by Christ – filling life with falsehoods and distortions. It is thus that the presentation of realities are transformed into intrigues and false evaluations; arbitrary and selfish interpretation in religions, give birth to cults; by the demands of the defense of human rights, society is at times also compelled to adopt behaviors that are contradictory with societal thinking and value structures.

It is in this manner that morality in the world cedes ground to immorality, freedom of speech is transformed to licentiousness of speech, and testimony becomes the distortion of truth. By distorting the truth, political interests often oppose peace and justice, frenzy to acquire the material and selfish desires oppose mercy and philanthropy, and multiply the conflicts, sorrows, wants and pains in the world.

The world shall be liberated of these life-agitating realities when men accept the truth of Christ, when they witness the presence of the Lord through their faithful works, and like the Apostle, proclaim, “…the truth of Christ is in me!” (2 Corinthians 11:10). Only by bearing the truth can mankind secure the progress of life, reformation, beneficial results and development; because nothing that lasts is built on deception – neither relationships between individuals, nor a vibrant societal life or statehood. When truth is not within men, dedication, righteousness and brotherhood have no value; however through truth they take on strength and the power to be transformed into work.

In our reality, dear pious faithful, regrettably we also find impropriety and slander, indifference towards the general welfare of the country. Traditional family values are in retreat, and in the face of difficulties, the spirit of conscientiousness. Unreserved behavior and insult are regarded as courageous; responsibility is subordinated to rights. Frequently, the right to express one’s personal opinion is wrongly utilized to distort the truth, in order to spread subjective or biased opinions.

It is in this mentality that falsehood is veiled with a mask of truth, debate becomes argument, discussion transforms into scorn and condemnation, from which the Spirit of God’s truth and the wisdom of God move away; and we have difficulty – yes, even cease – to see the good and the just; and faith and trust in one another, as well as hope and optimism for the future, all weaken in our lives.

Dear faithful, it is the child born in Bethlehem who is the way, the truth and the life. We must rely on Him, we must bear His truth in our hearts so that our lives are transformed, be filled with unwavering trust, and the strength to overcome difficulties, and everything will be made right through the power of God’s benevolent will. The truth is liberating. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32), says our Lord. Let us live and work with Christ’s truth; let us make his word and commandments the light that disperses the darkness in our lives; let us make His love and mercy for us the power that unites us – the power that creates the unity of the nation. Let us keep steadfast and strong our unanimity, spirit of harmony, let us care for and attend to one another, for our country and the elevation of our spiritual and national life. It is in this manner – and only in this manner – that we shall build and create our vibrant and prosperous homeland. It is only in this way that we shall transform the 100th anniversary commemorating the Genocide of the Armenians into the platform of victory for our righteous cause, and lead to a just and positive solution the fundamental issue of Artsakh. It is in this way we shall keep the Diaspora vibrant and energetic, and become the hope and refuge for our Syrian-Armenian brothers and sisters bearing the adversities of conflict. And may all of our labors be with the Lord.

It is with this wish and the good tiding of the Holy Nativity that we extend our greetings to the incumbents of the hierarchal sees of our Holy Apostolic Church: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Beatitude Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; to all of our oath-bound and devoted clergy; and to the graceful heads of our sister Churches.

With pontifical blessings and the appeal for the graces of the Holy Nativity, we greet the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsian and the First Lady, present here for the Divine Liturgy today. We convey our greetings to the President of the Republic of Artsakh, Bako Sahakian, to all high-ranking state officials of the Armenian people, to the leaders of diplomatic missions accredited in Armenia and representatives of international organizations.

From God-built Holy Etchmiadzin and the Holy Altar of Descent of our Lord and Savior, with the good tidings of the Holy Nativity, we extend our pontifical love and blessings to all of our sons and daughters dispersed throughout the world.

On this joyful day, let us pray for the graces of the Savior’s birth to always reign over the earth, and with the entreaty of the prophet, “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” (Psalms 85:10).

May the illuminated rays of our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth give brilliance to our Holy Church, our Homeland, to Armenian life in the Diaspora, so that it be glorification to the Most-High God and grant to our nation constant and endless spiritual happiness, and today and always, may we always proclaim with joy,

Christ is Born and Revealed
Great Tidings to All

***

Following the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness Karekin II offered the service of Blessings of Waters. Mr. Hayk Maghakelyan, an Armenian Russian benefactor of the Armenian Church, served as the Godfather of the Cross during the ceremony in the Mother Cathedral.

Mr. Tigran Sargsian; Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, State Ministers of the Republic of Armenia, high-ranking state officials, members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, foreign diplomats and representatives accredited to Armenia and representative from the fields of education and culture.

Following the conclusion of the Liturgy, an official reception was held in the Alec and Marie Manoogian Treasury House Museum, where the Catholicos of All Armenians offered his blessings and best wishes to those present on the occasion of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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