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.
The Divine Liturgy was attended by Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia; Mr. Galust Sahakyan , President of the Republic of Armenia National Assembly; Mr. Hovik Abrahamyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia; state officials, members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, foreign diplomats, and public figures from the fields of education, science and the arts.
Under canopy, a Pontifical Procession led the Catholicos of All Armenians, and President Sargsyan, to the Mother Cathedral. The Canopy bearers were; Dr. Armen Charchyan, Director of the Izmirlian Medical Center, Mr. Ara Vardanyan, Chief Architect of the Mother See; Mr. Hrant Tokhatyan, Honored Artist; and Professor Gevork Madoyan Phd, Vice Dean of the Gevorgyan Theological Seminary.
His Grace Bishop Hovnan Hakobyan, 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.
Following the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness Karekin II offered the service of Blessings of Waters. Mr. Hayk Samvel Karapetyan, an Armenian Russian benefactor of the Armenian Church, served as the Godfather of the Cross during the ceremony in the Mother Cathedral.
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.
Following is the Pontifical message of His Holiness:
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS KAREKIN II
SUPREME PATRIARCH AND CATHOLICOS OF ALL ARMENIANS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE HOLY NATIVITY AND THEOPHANY
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, January 6, 2015
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
You who are with the Father on the Throne ablaze
With Angels serving you
Today, by the will of the Father appeared on earth in the flesh
By the birth of the Virgin
Along with the army of the Angels, we ceaselessly praise you
(Holy Nativity Hymn)
Dear and Pious Faithful,
With the prayerful song of the hymn’s author, we bring to you the miraculous tiding of our Lord’s Birth and Revelation as God.
The Son of God – coadjutor to the Omnipotent Father and served by the angels – became incarnate and came down to earth from the heavenly heights, so that we may accept the hope and grace of salvation, and the ever-renewing life, which our Lord and Savior grants us. The infant born in Bethlehem brings new heart and spirit to the world – to recognize the love of God for mankind, and to turn it into justice, peace, and love for one another. He brings strength to dispel the darkness of hopelessness and to establish on earth that life full of love, which the good news of eternal life possesses.
The evangelical story of the Holy Nativity illustrates the great mystery of the presence of God in the life of mankind. The manger in Bethlehem is the prototype of the Holy Church; the simple shepherds and the wise magi are the faithful gathered together in one place to worship God; and the gifts that were presented are the good and heaven-pleasing life and works, lived with faith in God. The dawning of the Lord’s glory in Bethlehem’s celestial vault, and the message proclaimed by the resplendent angels, are the divine invitation to the world – for peace, love and goodwill among men – which today also is desired by the God-created cradle of mankind, still burdened with difficulties and challenges.
The contemporary world of great material and technical achievements and unparalleled scientific accomplishments, continues to be plagued by calamities and torments, disrupting the peace and well-being of life.
Political conflicts, military clashes, deepening financial and economic crises bring ruin, sorrow and suffering; bring new problems of poverty and insecurity. In the understanding of man, fundamental principles established by God are distorted: man is not accepted as having been created in the image and likeness of God. Life is not accepted as the greatest gift granted by heaven. Love for one’s neighbor is not accepted as likeness to God. These realities and similar distortions in thinking lead men away from spirituality and towards paths that deny God –the trampling of the rights of men and nations; the destruction of the concept of the family and of moral values.
Despite man’s antithetical way against God’s will, the Lord has demonstrated through the great mystery of incarnation that man created by God is under his boundless love and care, that earthly existence is not separate from the eternal, nor is the history of mankind separate from the presence of God. As our Lord and Savior says, “And surely I am with you always, until the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). The constant presence of the Savior in the life of man grants new meaning; conveys a high and lofty context to the comprehension of men and the world; bringing to humanity the knowledge and responsibility of being people of God, and the invitation to stay and persevere under the new commandment of our Lord to “Love one another” (John 13:34). Love for one’s neighbor elevates and gives worth to the individual and his works, keeps him in the grace of the likeness of God, and establishes the life of society in goodness.
A society guided by the love for one another, is able to spout incessant springs of spirituality to nurture life, to be truly fair and just, compassionate and merciful. With this path as commanded by the Lord, mankind is capable of freeing itself from disastrous situations and trials; to face the difficulties, to fairly solve disagreements, and with harmonious coexistence, create the new day of the life of mankind.
Dearly beloved and pious faithful, with prayerful song and glorification of the Holy Nativity, today our heartfelt prayers are joined for the sinless martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, who did not renounce the Savior, their identity, and their holy faith. Even in the most severe temptations, during the bitter years of the Genocide, the hymns of the souls of our people to the Savior, has never ceased. With our Lord, we found the spirit and strength of rebirth. We built statehood, we elevated our national life, and we struggled for our rights, believing that the paths of righteousness and truth will create a peaceful and humanitarian world free of violence.
One hundred years after the commencement of the crime of the Armenian Genocide, we continue our struggle with the same faith and confidence – for the sake of our righteous cause and our peaceful life, under conditions of unending illegal blockades, and the threat of restarting war. Today, facing many imperatives and problems in our life, dear ones, let us put more efforts and devotion, undertake homeland and nation building programs and works, for the love of the prosperity of our people, the strength of our country, and the realization of our aspirations. Let us live our lives with the traditions of our forebears, faithful to our Christian values, combating materialism with worship of God, placing the Lord’s mercy (Matthew 5:7) before greed, keeping Christ’s commandment of love (John 13:34) instead of force and constraint. Let us imitate the Good Samaritan who helps the needy (Luke 10:30-37) instead of being selfish and exploitative, implement brotherly love (Romans 12:10) in place of hate, and in the examples of our forefathers, place the nation before the individual.
Let us prosper and grow with new children being born in our families, new testimonies of patriotism and love of nation, and from our free homeland, from the far ends of the Diaspora, from our newly constructed and rebuilt churches, from all Armenian life, let us raise up to heaven our native hymn: “Along with the army of the Angels, we ceaselessly praise you.”
With the cheerful good news of the Holy Nativity, we greet 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; and all oath-bound clergy of our Church, asking for God’s help in their mission, for the reinforcement of the spiritual life of our pious people and for the glory of our Holy Church.
We greet the heads of our Sister Churches, asking for the bountiful graces of the Savior to bless them and their faithful flocks.
With our pontifical blessings, we bring our best wishes and greetings to the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsian and the First Lady, present here today for the Divine Liturgy; we extend our greetings to the President of the Republic of Artsakh, Bako Sahakian, to high ranking Armenian state officials, with our prayer for the Lord’s blessing to crown their efforts aimed at the peace and prosperity of our country and the defense of the rights of our people.
We greet and bring our best wishes to the representatives of diplomatic missions accredited to Armenia, for the success of their fruitful efforts for the benefit of friendship and cooperation among our peoples, and enforcement of stability and peace in the region.
With the glad tiding of the Holy Nativity, we extend our pontifical blessing to all of our people, with the wish that we keep with love in our warm hearts the hymn to the Lord, and that they remain under His all-provident Right Hand, faithful to their visions of rebirth, and optimistic, that with the light of heavenly justice, the blessed day of restored justice will dawn again.
We offer prayers up to heaven, for the graces of our Lord and Savior to be dispersed throughout the hearts of men; bringing peace, solidarity, and secure progress to the world. May our incarnate Lord Jesus Christ bless and guide our lives at every hour, in peace, strengthened in faith, keeping our people in unanimity and love, to praise His Holy Name, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen.
Christ is Born and Revealed.
Great Tidings to us all.