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A Challenge to Clarify Our Attitude Towards God

Armenia’s annual Armed Forces Day—observed every year on January 28—was an especially poignant occasion in 2021, coming in the wake of the defense of Artsakh at the end of last year.

His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians, spent the morning of that day at Yerablur military cemetery, laying flowers over the graves of departed soldiers. The following day he presided over a service at Holy Etchmiadzin’s Sourp Asdvadzadzin chapel, attended by members of the monastic brotherhood, officers of Armenia’s Armed Forces, chaplains of the Army’s chaplaincy, and Armenia’s Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan.

Celebrating at the altar was Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan: lately chief chaplain of Armenia’s Armed Forces, who was recently appointed by the Catholicos as the new Primate of Artsakh. In his sermon, he referenced the tension and pain experienced by the Armenian people during the past year; but he encouraged listeners to view these trials from a deeper spiritual perspective.

“Every situation is a challenge to reflect,” he said, “and to clarify our attitude towards our Creator.”

“Even in moments of desperation, it is important not to surrender, for we are assured that God is always with us. Let us never cease singing in the words of the Bible: “My power and glory are from God”; “God is my helper”; “My hope is on God.” The Christian does not place his trust in superstitious things, but on God alone.

“And hope does not put us to shame,” he continued, quoting St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. “Our source of hope is our resurrected Lord, who is always by the side of the one who relies on him, to grant strength by his example. Christ exhorts us to look into the eyes of death and not be afraid, because he has already overcome the world, conquered death, and defeated the prince of this world.”

Reflecting on his time as a chaplain to soldiers, Bishop Vrtanes added, “This was the conviction in the hearts of our soldiers and officers: that by their faith, regardless of the outcome of the war, they would have the status of victors.”

To conclude the service, Catholicos Karekin II led a prayer for the wellbeing of the Republic of Armenia. He prayed for the peaceful repose of the heroes martyred in the Artsakh war, and for the return of Armenian soldiers who are still prisoners of war and missing in action. In a ceremony afterwards at the Mother See’s Georgian Seminary, His Holiness awarded a number of officers and servicemen with the “St. Nerses Shnorhali” medal.

Click on the links to read more in Armenian, and to watch a short video about the proceedings.

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