April 9, 2020
Prelate’s Easter Message
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: a Feast of the fulfillment of Prophecies and Promises; a Feast of an eternal dawn of Faith and Hope; a Feast of undeniable and unchallengeable victory of Life over Death.
The road toward this universal celebration of Faith, Hope, and Life was paved, as predicted by our Lord Jesus Christ, with His Passion, Crucifixion and Entombment (Mt 16.21).
Let me ask you a simple question: Have you ever questioned yourself or your Pastor, why we call the Friday preceding Easter, a day of deepest sorrow and lament, disappointment and frustration, insecurity and uncertainty, “Good Friday”? Actually all these and more are valid questions, but from the Human perspective only. Yes, that Friday seemed to be the end of a new Era of goodness and of peace. That Friday seemed to be the day when the dream of the Evil power became true: that “I will ascend to the tops of the clouds / I will make myself like the Most High” (Is 14.14). This is, however, from the Human perspective only. From the Divine perspective, everything was running according to His plan of Redemption. As God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Is 55.8). Unlike those who cling to the Human perspective believe, God reminds us that, “My power,” His Power, “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12.9). Therefore, that Friday was a good Friday, and every year we have a Good Friday, because it is the day that heralded the Resurrection and manifested the absolute truth that the final verdict belongs to God, who said, “Let there be light, and there was light”. It is indeed Good Friday for it ushered in the Resurrection and on it the mortal stings of death were swallowed up in the victory of our Lord (cf. I Cor. 15.55). It is indeed Good Friday because climaxed in the Resurrection, and on that day Mankind was granted eternal life through the unconditional love of the Sacrifice on the Cross.
With this understanding, amid the universal distress, agony, and hopelessness caused by the coronavirus pandemic, let us all pray for Almighty God, Lord of Creation, to shower upon us His wisdom, so that our human perspective does not misguide and perplex us. Let us pray that His perspective will show us the way forward and help us conquer each and every Gethsemane and Golgotha experience in our lives and turn them into victory for His glory. Let us greet each other with the most invigorating and ever-victorious good news, “Christ is risen from the dead” Halleluiah!
Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the United States
March 26, 2020
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRELATE
We Shall Overcome
This story has been the subject of countless science-fiction films and TV series, but it is no longer fiction. The memory of the H1N1 pandemic of 1918 (the so-called “Spanish flu”), with 500 million people infected and 50 million victims worldwide, has only survived in the work of historians and scientists. For the first time in living memory—perhaps ever—a large part of the world is quarantined. Humankind, misled by the experience of millennia into believing that it is unstoppable, has come to a sudden halt. A microscopically tiny yet deadly virus, invisible yet omnipresent, has us locked up in our homes, only venturing outside to buy the essentials, many of us wearing protective masks and gloves.
Yet as a church and a nation, we shall emerge stronger in our faith from this test. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair,” as we read in 2 Corinthians 4:8.
If history is any guide to the present, we Armenians have learned to find strength in adversity. Faith is our indestructible rock. In every calamity that has befallen us, faith has been the source of our rebirth as individuals and as a nation.
And now the coronavirus finds the entire world in the same predicament. One lesson this calamity may teach humanity is how irrelevant are the artificial divisions we create when our lives are endangered by the same threat. The Bible offers the key to understanding a reality that at times may appear incomprehensible and overwhelm us: “For whatever was written in former days for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
As the Spanish saying goes, hope is the last thing lost. We shall overcome.
March 19, 2020
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRELATE
As a consequence of the recent decision of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, we hereby announce to the Pastors, Boards of Trustees and the pious people of our Prelacy that, for the next three Sundays (March 22, 29 and April 5) either Holy Badarak or Morning Services will be conducted behind closed doors and in accordance with local circumstances. In spite of this, we respect the heartfelt desire of our faithful to light candles and pray within the church and allow it on the condition that their presence does not exceed the limits set by state and local civic and health authorities. Wherever possible, we suggest that Holy Badarak or morning services be live streamed via social media.
Also, wherever possible, special morning or evening Lenten services may be performed only behind closed doors, while Bible studies and other gatherings and activities must be canceled.
We are certain that our voices, lifted up to God in prayer at home or in church, will be heard by our merciful and loving God and save us from the worldwide pandemic caused by the coronavirus as well as from all visible and invisible threats.
In conjunction with the other services, the sacrament of Baptism can only be performed in cases of extreme need and only in the presence of a small number of people. Funerals must be performed with the same understanding.
Eastern United States
March 16: Wednesday Lenten services have been cancelled.
A Message from the Prelate
March 12, 2020
In light of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic and the declared state of emergency in many states throughout our Prelacy, I am writing to reassure you that the health and well-being of our church community is our highest priority. For this reason, we wish you to know the following:
- Being the Lenten Season, the parts of the Divine Liturgy which would normally entail direct contact (i.e. Holy Communion; Kiss of Peace and kissing of the Bible) are not performed for the duration of Lent. Further information about the post Lenten period will be forthcoming.
- We urge you to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control:
- Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
In addition to the above, I am working with both the Religious and Lay members of the Executive Council of the Prelacy in consultation with the pastors of our various parishes, to formulate an action plan in our churches for the continued health and well-being of all of our faithful after the Lenten season is finished.
In the meantime, we ask that the Board of Trustees in each of our parishes take the necessary actions to make sure the church sanctuary is clean and disinfected every week and that hand sanitizer will be available during services.
It is our goal that all of our faithful parishioners who attend services and worship in our church will feel comfortable and not fearful or uneasy. If you feel uncomfortable about coming to church, please rest assured that we totally understand if you decide to stay home.
Also, if you have recently traveled outside the country or have come into contact with someone who may be infected with COVID-19, you should stay home for at least two weeks to ensure that you have not been infected.
Please know that we all need to weather this together as a community of faith, trusting in the Almighty to protect us from all mishap. As we often pray:
“Guardian and hope of the faithful, Christ our God, preserve, protect and bless all your faithful people under the shadow of your holy and glorious Cross in peace. Save us from visible and invisible enemies and make us worthy to glorify you with thanksgiving, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen”