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Heal Thy People, Lord

An ancient Armenian custom was revived in New York City last week, when St. Vartan Cathedral held its inaugural “Prayers for Healing” service.

Diocesan Primate the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan presided over the service, which he described as “aiming to heal worshippers in body, mind, and soul, through prayer, music, Scripture-reading, and a blessing with holy water.”

In remarks to the crowd of about 50 worshippers, Fr. Findikyan said: “Look around our world, and you can see it needs healing—it needs a Healer. Healing is at the heart of the Gospel, and at the heart of Christ’s ministry. The Armenian people have known this from the beginning—it’s no coincidence that the story of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity is a story of healing, where St. Gregory the Illuminator healed the affliction of King Drtad.”

“Healing, therefore, is the first thing we must be doing, as the church,” he said. “To you who have come here in your own trials and afflictions, of body and spirit, we pray for each other, we pray for our world, we ask God to take away our pain.”

The service concluded with a water blessing ceremony, and worshippers came forward to be blessed with the water by the Primate’s hand, and to take away small vials of blessed water. He also gave each person a copy of his recently published book, Prayers for Healing from the Spiritual Treasury of the Armenian Church.

Seven clergymen and several deacons took part in the January 23, 2019 service, which is planned to be a monthly gathering for the faithful and the surrounding cathedral community—for Armenian Christians and others who seek to worship and find comfort in our religious traditions.

Cathedral Vicar Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, who introduced the service and described its origins in Armenian spirituality, came away from the service impressed by the reaction it evoked from the faithful. “People were truly touched. Some didn’t know what to expect from the service, but went away feeling it had addressed some of their deep needs.”

Future Prayers for Healing services are planned to take place on the last Wednesday of each month. All are welcome to attend.

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