Easter within the Western Prelacy

On Sunday, April 12, 2020, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was celebrated within the Western Prelacy. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Easter and Holy Week services were conducted without the participation of faithful. All services were held at St. Garabed Church in Hollywood, presided by H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and with the participation of clergy members, and were live streamed on the Prelacy’s Facebook page, Asbarez Facebook page, Voice of America, USArmenia, and Horizon, with viewership surpassing 100,0000.

Easter Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the Prelate, who also delivered his Easter message. His Eminence stated that though the Church was devoid of faithful due to the Coronavirus, however, all were united in spirit to collectively celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. “Christ did not have servants, yet He was called Lord. He did not have university degrees, yet He was a teacher. He did not have an army of soldiers, yet rulers feared Him. He did not wage wars, yet He triumphed over the world. He was entombed, yet He rose from the dead and is with us today,” stated the Prelate. In these difficult circumstances we find ourselves in, the Prelate stressed that the Resurrection comes to remind us that we must always keep our faith strong and be encouraged by hope, adding that the Armenian people have endured countless trials and tribulations, however, we have overcome and persevered because of our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Jesus heartened His disciples by encouraging them to be of good cheer, for He overcame the world. Jesus gives us the same encouragement today, assuring us that we too will overcome our troubles, pains, illnesses, and crises,” stated His Eminence, and concluded by praying for the Lord to strengthen us all in faith, hope, and love, and grant healing and good health to all.

On Saturday, April 11, Easter Eve Divine Liturgy was celebrated by H.G. Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, who also delivered the sermon. Prior to Divine Liturgy, clergy members read from the prophecy of Daniel. In his sermon, the Vicar General stressed that the Resurrection is the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil. “There is not one person in this world who hasn’t encountered any challenges. Armed by the message of Christ’s Resurrection, we can overcome our challenges and allow the Light of Christ to lead us to the path of hope, to a new life, to Jesus Himself,” he said. The candle-lighting (Jrakalooyts) service was conducted at the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, during which the good tidings of Christ’s Resurrection was proclaimed with the singing of the hymn “Today He rose.”

On Friday, April 10, Good Friday service of the entombment of our Lord was conducted. Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian delivering the sermon, reflecting on Christ’s earthly mission and His taking on the sins of all mankind on His shoulders and shedding His blood on the Cross for the remission of those sins.

Thursday, April 9, Maundy Thursday, encompassed a number of poignant services. In the morning, Divine Liturgy commemorating the Last Supper was celebrated by Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian. In lieu of a sermon, the Prelate read an exhortation by St. Basil on the meaning of Holy Communion.

In the afternoon, a service commemorating the Washing of the Feet was held. Given that there were no faithful present for the service, the Prelate symbolically sprinkled holy water on 12 clergy and deacons. In his message, His Eminence gave a brief overview of the Washing of the Feet message and urged all to emulate Christ’s example of humility, love, and service, especially during this difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The vigil service commemorating the betrayal, arrest, and suffering of our Lord was held in the evening, during which clergy members read seven Gospel passages recounting the last days of Christ’s earthly mission. The Vicar General delivered the sermon, focusing on Christ’s healing miracles, and urged the faithful to come to Christ, to see the crucified Christ and proclaim the Cross as the only path to salvation.

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