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Holy Tuesday: Remembrance of the Ten Virgins

Today the Armenian Church marks Holy Tuesday with an observance called the “Remembrance of the Ten Virgins.” The theme of the day comes from a parable Christ told late in his ministry, which conveyed his cautious advice to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom, “for you know neither the day nor the hour” that it will arrive.

The story is told in Matthew 25:1-13:

“The kingdom of heaven will be like this,” [Jesus said]: “Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, but five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

“Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Annunciation to the Virgin Mary

This same day, April 7, is also the fixed date for the Armenian Church’s celebration of the “Annunciation to the Virgin Mary”—the story of Mary’s acceptance of her role as the Mother of God. The Gospel tells the story of how she was visited by an angel, who assured her that “With God, nothing is impossible.”

Read the story at Luke 1:26-38:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you!”

But she was much perplexed by his words, and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

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