Archive for June, 2011

Sainthood vs. Martyrdom

June 23rd, 2011    |    No Comments »

By Melanie Panosian

This week’s feast days have me thinking about the saints and their stories.

We see that St. Hripsime and St. Gayane are saintly martyrs, whereas Gregory is a saint, but not a martyr.  So, what does it mean to be a saint?  And what does it mean to be a martyr?  Is there a difference between the two?  I’ve been thinking about these two words and their respective and/or collective meanings as they relate to the stories revolving around this week’s saints.

The saints Hripsime, Gayane, and Gregory all had something in common: they led lives of exceptional holiness—which is one dictionary definition of sainthood.  Saints are designated with that title after death: they represent a complete human life devoted to the service of God.  While they may aspire to lead lives of holiness, it takes others—notably the church—to designate them as saints.

Martyrs, on the other hand, are those who deliberately make sacrifices or suffer greatly, in order to advance a cause or strongly held belief.  “Martyr” comes from a Greek word meaning “witness,” a person who testifies to the truth; and in that sense, one could be a “witness” without losing one’s life.  But the Christian use of the term almost always involves an individual choosing to die, rather than deny their faith.

Saints do not necessarily choose to die, as the case of St. Gregory shows: certainly he suffered greatly in his lifetime, but he died a natural death in old age, living as a hermit.  It’s comforting, in a way, to know that being a saint doesn’t automatically mean enduring a terrible death.  You can be a saint, without being a martyr.

However, a question remains: Can you be a martyr without being a saint?  Obviously, Hripsime and Gayane were both.  But other people throughout history have chosen death in order to preserve their religious beliefs; can it automatically be said of all them that they lived holy lives?

What do you think?

"The Vision of Gregory the Illuminator", by Y. Tadevosian (1901)

Vemkar App Now Available For Android

June 8th, 2011    |    No Comments »

The popular iPhone app is now available in the Android Market!

It’s loaded with useful features: daily scripture readings, photo and video galleries, Armenian spiritual and folk music, a calendar of events, a directory of Diocesan parishes, a prayer request function, and much more. Log on to post a comment, share an image with friends, or read the latest news from the Eastern Diocese.

In Armenian, a “Vemkar” is the specially anointed stone that serves as a movable altar, which can be used for ritual functions in the absence of a permanent sanctuary. As a portable tablet, it allows the sacred power of the Armenian Church to be brought to people in even the most remote places. The Vemkar app places access to the Armenian Church in the palm of your hand.

Click here to download the app.

The Armenian Church in the palm of your hand.

Primate Leads Young Adult Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

June 2nd, 2011    |    No Comments »

On Wednesday, June 1, 34 youth leaders from parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese set out from Newark International Airport on a young adults’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Led by Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, the group will tour the Holy Land through June 10, tracing the footsteps of Jesus Christ through Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem.

Under the theme “Leadership in the Light of Our Lord,” the group will experience the great sites of Biblical history, while also becoming immersed in the sacred history of the Armenian people, who have endured for centuries in the Holy Land, led by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The trip has been made possible through the generosity of Mr. Aso Tavitian, who will be joining the young pilgrims for part of their journey.  The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian is assisting the Primate in leading the pilgrimage.

On June 1, 34 young adults from Diocesan parishes embarked on a 10-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.