On the evening of Monday, February 13, 2017, over a thousand faithful gathered at St. Mary Church in Glendale to participate in the celebration of the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord to the Temple.
The festivities began with evening service presided by H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and with the participation of Prelacy clergy. Among the faithful in attendance were Executive Council Chair Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian, Vice-Chair Mr. Garo Eshgian, parish board members, Homenetmen Western Region Executive members, scouting leaders, and young scouts. Eve of the feast service followed, with hymns for the occasion sung while the Prelate circled the church in a procession blessing the faithful and children in particular. The Blessing of the Four Corners of the World was then conducted.
The Prelate then delivered his message on the meaning of the Feast, which he stated is a celebration of Christ as the Light of the world, Who came to this earth for our redemption and salvation, and Who was presented to the temple to present us to His Heavenly Father. His Eminence went over the account of the Presentation of our Lord, as told in the Bible; how Joseph and Mary in keeping with custom took the Baby Jesus to the temple forty days after His birth where they were greeted by Simeon and the Prophetess Anna, the former of whom was inspired by the Holy Spirit to go the temple on that day as it was promised to him that he would not die without seeing the Savior. And indeed when he carried the Child he blessed God, for his eyes had seen His salvation. Centuries later, with this same faith and devotion, Armenian parents bring their children to church on this occasion to present them for blessing before God and receive His grace, said the Prelate.
Noting that the name of the feast in Armenian, Dyarnentarach, means to go forward toward the Lord, His Eminence stressed the need to dedicate our lives to God, to go forward to meet the Lord, which requires us to prepare ourselves in our hearts, minds, and souls so that He may dwell within us and illuminate us with His Light. Finally, the Prelate spoke of the popular tradition associated with the Feast, the lighting of the bonfire, clarifying that the fire symbolizes Christ’s Light and the warmth of His love, and prayed for His eternal Light to radiate throughout the homes of His faithful and for the Holy Spirit to fill us all.
Thereafter, faithful drew near to light their candles from the Prelate’s candle lit from the altar symbolizing the light of Christ and parents presented their children to the priests for blessing before the altar.
The festivities continued in the church courtyard where the traditional bonfire was lit around which patriotic and national songs dedicated to St. Vartanants were sung and members of the Urmia Compatriotic Union dance group and choir presented a cultural program. The celebration concluded with the Homenetmen anthem, “Cilicia,” and the Armenian national anthem.
The annual dinner bringing together the Prelate, clergy, and Homenetmen leaders and scouts followed at “Armenak Der Bedrossian” Hall, hosted by the parish Board of Trustees. The program began with Homenetmen Western Regional Executive member Mr. Ardashes Kazarians awarding ranks to a number of scouts. The Prelate blessed the tables, after which Archpriest Fr. Vazken Atmajian delivered welcoming remarks. Remarks were also conveyed by Mr. Kazarians and scouting leader Sharlene Guzelian, who thanked the Prelate and parish for their hospitality, while Executive Council Vice-Chair Mr. Garo Eshgian conveyed his greetings and reminisced about his days in Homenetmen.
The Prelate commended Homenetmen’s vital mission and urged the youth to always remain faithful to their oath to serve our church, homeland, and people. Citing from Matthew 13:12, “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him,” His Eminence congratulated the scouts who were elevated in rank and invited all the scouts to stay true to Homenetmen’s motto of “Elevate yourself and others with you” and serve with devotion, sincerity, with a sense of responsibility and regard. The Prelate gifted mementos of crosses and 20th anniversary Pontifical visit commemorative booklets to the scouts, and closed the evening with the benediction.