As the worldwide Armenian Church enters Great Lent, His Holiness Karekin II has issued a call to devote this season of spiritual life to self-examination and repentance.
The Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians offered his counsel in a message inaugurating Lent, which began on February 15, 2021.
Acknowledging the “pain in our souls over the tragedy of war that has befallen us,” and citing the internal tensions affecting public life in Armenia and elsewhere, Catholicos Karekin II offers repentance as a pathway that lifts individuals and nations alike to a deeper awareness of God’s presence.
Read an English translation below. For the original Armenian version, click here.
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The Message of H.H. Karekin II on Great Lent
Dear Pious Faithful:
Great Lent has begun. We enter this period with the pain in our souls over the tragedy of war that has befallen us.
Many of our children died heroically in the war over Artsakh, for our right to live freely and independently. We lost a significant part of the land of Artsakh.
These tragic events were due, in part, to a rejection of Christ-like love; to a lack of unity internally, and lack of vigilance against external threats to security; to the weakening of our zeal to be united around national values.
This special season of our spiritual life calls us to go through self-examination with feelings of repentance and penitence: to reflect on our errors, and correct our shortcomings. We must attend to the apostle’s message: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—namely Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20).
Indeed, repentance is the path from weakness to purification: the way in which a person is purified, consecrated, to rise from a fall and move towards perfection. Sincere and heartfelt repentance spreads the mercy of the Lord among the lives of the faithful people, keeping us away from the temptations of evil.
St. John Chrysostom taught that repentance in accordance with God’s benevolence would pour out heavenly mercy, comfort, and grace. In the life of a nation, the source of heavenly blessings and goodness is opened through universal repentance and penitence, as God promises in the Bible: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Thus, may we enter this period of Great Lent with penitence and repentance, for the purification of our souls and our lives. May we walk in a manner pleasing to God.
With this consciousness and God’s support, we can find the spiritual strength to overcome the tensions affecting public life in our country; we can face the fundamental problems and challenges that have arisen, and continue the course of our productive, faithful life.
We extend our heartfelt prayer to the Most High God to bestow His graces on our Armenian nation. We ask Him to grant the consolation of the Holy Spirit to every grieving soul, and to spread His mercy and guidance on our homeland and our people around the world.
Under the benevolent gaze of God, may the good wishes of our people come true with the support of the Lord: to rise from tribulation and difficulty to the summit of victory and success, for the sake of strengthening our state, and for the welfare of our nation.
May the love of our Savior Jesus Christ be with all of us. Amen.