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Catholicos’ Christmas Prayer: “Hope and Consolation for Our Heartbroken People”

His Holiness Karekin II led the Pontifical Divine Liturgy at Yerevan’s cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, marking the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of Jesus Christ, on January 6, 2021.

In a message directed to Armenian faithful throughout the world, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians assured listeners that “The miraculous birth of Christ is a source of hope and consolation for our heartbroken people—especially during these grievous days.”

With fatherly directness, the Catholicos addressed the harmful realities that threaten to endanger Armenian society in the aftermath of a painful year of isolation and war. But he went on to envision a pathway forward, through a mutual embrace of faith and unity.

“Relying on the grace of salvation and the limitless love of the incarnate Son of God, we have overcome the sufferings of war, disaster, despair, and had victories in our lives over the centuries,” he said. “In these days, too, our faith is alive with the same confidence. We are indeed capable of strengthening and enriching our homeland once again; of turning this new awakening about our life into a reality, by uniting the efforts of Armenians around the world with a joint and harmonious society in Armenia and Artsakh….”

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness Karekin II offered the “Blessing of Water” ceremony. Junior Sergeant Gor Petrosyan, from Shirak, who recently was awarded Armenia’s “Medal of Courage” for his service in the Artsakh war, was the Godfather of the Cross.

An English translation of His Holiness’s message appears below. Click on the following links to:

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The Message of His Holiness Karekin II

On the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1: 9)

Beloved Sons and Daughters in the Homeland and Diaspora:

On the feast of the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, with a prayerful spirit, united in our holy churches, we bless the newborn Savior. On this blessed day of Christmas, the true Light emanated from the manger of Bethlehem to enlighten the souls of humanity. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world,” says the Evangelist.

Like the Evangelist, the hymnologist compares the Nativity of the Son of God, incarnated for the salvation of the world, to the origin of the sun, and says: “Arising from the Father to enlighten all creatures, the Sun of Righteousness, Lord, glory be to You” (Hymn of the Nativity). The Son of God came to dispel the darkness of sin and death, to lead mankind to its Creator. From the humble cave of the Savior’s Nativity radiated the dawn of spiritual renewal, a spiritual power.

From the day Jesus was born, he was persecuted. The Savior and His family became refugees from his birthplace when Herod, wanting His death, organized the massacre of children; believing that he had killed the newborn Son of God and defeated him. But the real victory was Christ’s, who through the glorious victory of the resurrection crowned the path of suffering by his saving mission. Enduring every hardship, the Lord brought hope to a fallen mankind and salvation to all people, who had previously been immersed in the darkness of iniquity and idolatry.

Throughout history, various “Herods” have caused disaster, destruction, and misery for mankind. They have wielded opposition and enmity under the influence of evil. Alongside progressive achievements there has been poverty, oppression, and injustice. Even today, people, burdened with sin, turn away from God; the world is plagued by political intrigues; the materialism that leads to polarization has taken over societies; and justice with truth have become relative rather than absolute values.

In this contradictory and troubled world, Jesus Christ rises as the Sun of Righteousness: the true Light to illuminate humanity’s way through life.

Beloved ones: The miraculous birth of Christ is a source of hope and consolation for our heartbroken people—especially during these grievous days, when we consider that our own lives have not been free from destructive error and sin. Necessary vigilance was not shown in the face of the threats of an unstable peace and war; the interests of the homeland and the people were subordinated to individual aspirations and goals. A God-rejecting spirit and alien ideologies and habits permeated our society. Our lives were not far from the lies, insults, intolerance, hatred and enmity that were spreading and continue to spread in various ways, dividing us, drying up the love of Christ in us.

As the Gospel testifies: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand” (Matthew 12:25).

The catastrophic consequences of the Artsakh war have overwhelmed the souls of the sons and daughters of our nation with feelings of despair, anxiety, and uncertainty. The loss of a large part Artsakh, the martyrdom of our heroic sons, the pain and grief of tens of thousands of displaced brothers and sisters in dire need of shelter and material supplies, of thousands of soldiers wounded, in captivity and missing, have plunged our national life in the homeland and diaspora into the grip of a gloomy night.

Yet it is in this darkness, in this nightmarish reality, that the Sun of Justice shines brightly today: to illuminate our national life and homeland; to provide healing to the wounded soul of my nation with its warming power.

Dear faithful: Relying on the grace of salvation and the limitless love of the incarnate Son of God, we have overcome the sufferings of war, disaster, despair, and had victories in our lives over the centuries. In these days, too, our faith is alive with the same confidence. We are indeed capable of strengthening and enriching our homeland once again; of turning this new awakening about our life into a reality, by uniting the efforts of Armenians around the world with a joint and harmonious society in Armenia and Artsakh, to develop the economy, science, and education, and a highly efficient army equipped at its best.

As in the alarming days of the war, our hearts must beat with the love of the homeland, our thoughts and cherished feelings must be tied to the sacred soil of the homeland. Every commitment and every sacrifice is needed to maintain the stability of national life, to not lead the country into danger, to overcome the existing crises, and to stop the catastrophe of emigration.

In the face of a lethal test for our nation and people, let us stand strong with hope and faith, girded by the life-giving power of the Lord. With heavenly support, let us gain strength to rise from disaster, to dispel this heavy darkness forced upon us, and to illuminate new horizons for our lives.

On this soul-renewing day of the Nativity and Theophany, let us pray for the realization of our aspirations, relying on the grace of God’s salvation to crown the victory of our just rights. Let us pray that our national life will be illuminated with the heralding light of Christmas, that the Armenian Church will eternally be enhanced through the dedicated and fruitful ministry of our clergy and the committed life of our faithful people, so that Armenia may be filled with the love and hope of the incarnate Savior.

May the Lord grant peace to the entire world, to the souls of the people, and keep in peace and safety our country—Armenia and Artsakh—granting prosperous life to the Armenian people all over the world—today and always. Amen.

“Christ is born and revealed! What great Good News for you and for us!”

January 6, 2021 / Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

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