Forty Martyrs Church of Orange County Name-Day Celebration

 

In accordance with the Armenian liturgical calendar, Saturday, March 29, 2014, was the Feast of the Forty Martyrs, the feast commemorating the steadfast faith, remarkable courage, and ultimate sacrifice of the forty young men who gave their lives for our Christian faith.  The feast is also the name-day celebration of Forty Martyrs Church in Orange County, and so, on Sunday, March 30, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, celebrated Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and conducted blessing of madagh on this occasion.  Parish Pastor Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian assisted at the altar.

Prior to the Lord’s Prayer, Fr. Karekin welcomed the Prelate and thanked him for conducting the day’s services.  He also called attention to the new screens placed inside the church on which the Divine Liturgy would be displayed in both Armenian and English so that the faithful can follow the service more easily. He then invited His Eminence to deliver his sermon.

The theme of the Prelate’s sermon was the bold statement by the forty martyrs, “We are Christians, and we worship Christ, our Lord.”  His Eminence highlighted the virtues of the forty martyrs, and tying in the message of the day’s reading, the Parable of the Unjust Judge, presented an inspiring message of unwavering faith and prayer.

Though the forty young men were soldiers of the Roman army, His Eminence noted they were first and foremost soldiers of Christ, whose ultimate loyalty and love was to their Heavenly King, our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whom they willingly gave their lives because the fate of their physical bodies was not important to them, rather that their souls would be with God in His eternal kingdom.  Furthermore, throughout their imprisonment, torture, and impending death, they remained strong in their faith and unafraid, praying and placing their trust in the Lord, for they believed that Christ defeated sin and death with His blood and so, although they would die physically, they would live eternally.

The Prelate then spoke of the Parable of the Unjust Judge, which is the reading for the fifth Sunday of Lent, in which we read of an uncompassionate judge who eventually agrees to offer justice to a poor widow for the sole reason that she is so persistent in her demands.  The story demonstrates the valuable lesson of never giving up, of being persistent and perseverant in prayer, and trusting that our Lord will provide according to our needs.  “In the perfect example of the forty martyrs, in the message of parable of the persistent widow, and in the words of the Apostle Paul, let us “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks,” advised the Prelate.

His Eminence invited the faithful to partake in the madagh thanksgiving service which would follow Divine Liturgy, and to join in prayer during the requiem service for the souls of the deceased, remembering especially a beloved young member of the community, Hovig Akmakjian, who tragically lost his life forty days before.

 In conclusion, the Prelate gave special attention to the situation in Kessab, stating that “Der Voghormya” prayers were offered the Sunday before in Prelacy Churches and that on that day, prayers would again be offered and there would also be a special collection plate to raise funds for the essential needs of the refugee population.  “At this time, our Kessab compatriots are in desperate need of everyday necessities, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, and medical supplies,” stated the Prelate, and urged the faithful “to contribute to this fundraising effort and give any financial support they can to help alleviate the plight of the Kessab Armenians who are enduring unimaginable hardship,” to continue to pray for the conflict in Syria to come to an end before claiming even more innocent lives and causing further devastation, and for peace to be restored to the region, so that the Syrian people, and the Syrian-Armenian community, can begin the grueling task of rebuilding their lives.

The service came to a close with the requiem, after which the Prelate was led in a procession to “Gugasian” Hall for the blessing of the madagh, which was prepared by the parish Ladies Guild.

Following the blessing of madagh, the Prelate blessed the tables, and the service came to a close with “Cilicia” and the Armenian national anthem.  During the serving of the madagh, Fr. Karekin again expressed gratitude to the Prelate for presiding over the name-day celebration and wished him a safe trip as His Eminence would be traveling to Lebanon later that day to participate in the Catholicosate General Assembly in Antelias.  Fr. Karekin thanked the sponsors for their support and commended Ladies Guild members for their continued hard work.

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