Day of Remembrance, Day of Thanks

As Armenian Christians mourn the losses among their courageous countrymen in Artsakh, they will also acknowledge the abiding presence of God in their lives.

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His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, issued a call this week to observe Sunday, November 22, as a worldwide “Day of Remembrance,” to honor the memory of the heroes who gave their lives in defense of our homeland during the Artsakh war. He made the declaration jointly with Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian, following a meeting of the two leaders.

Armenian churches throughout the Eastern Diocese will mark the Day of Remembrance this Sunday with a special prayer during the requiem service. As we ask our Lord Jesus Christ to remember His devoted servants, we should also give thanks for the bravery they showed, the sacrifice they endured. We should be thankful that such exemplary souls have arisen from every rank of the Armenian people, in our times of deepest need. We should affirm that the terrible losses suffered—as individuals, as families, and as a people—will not be in vain.

It is a spirit we should carry forward with us, as we approach America’s traditional day of thanks. Like so much else in 2020, the coming Thanksgiving Day will be different from the familiar holiday of the past. But in light of all the travails we have witnessed this year, the deep inner meaning of the day—to acknowledge, with gratitude, God’s presence in our lives—can shine through with greater intensity.

“Thanksgiving,” in its deepest sense, is something that we cannot, as a Christian people, ever consent to abandon. The word is the literal meaning of Eucharist, the holy sacrament at the heart of our Badarak (which itself means “sacrifice”). So we must never cease to thank God, to praise Him, to ask for His blessing and seek His guidance. We must do so even when His purposes are mysterious to us; even when the surrounding world tries to discourage us; even when ancient Armenian sanctuaries are closed to us.

In the coming days, every Armenian home can be a house of prayer, where God is thanked, and where His servants are remembered. As a church, we will continue to sing grateful hymns to our risen Lord, until all of His hallowed places can be filled once more with the music of Armenian prayers.

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By Christopher H. Zakian

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