Christ is risen from the dead!
He trampled down death by death.
And by his resurrection he granted us life.
Glory to Him forever!
Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց։
Մահուամբ զմահ կոխեաց.
Եւ յարութեամբն իւրով մեզ զկեանս պարգեւեաց։
Նմա փառք յաւիտեանս.
The Zohrab Information Center wishes all of our friends the joy and love of Jesus Christ our God, risen, alive and among us today!
Ձեզի եւ միզի մեծ աւետիս. Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց։
The following meditation on Jesus’ crucifixion is by Catholicos Khrimian Hayrig. It has been translated from his book Յիսուսի վերջին շաբաթ. Խաչի ճառ [Jesus' Last Week: The Discourse on the Cross], published in Constantinople in 1894.
Lord, now you have been lifted up. You said, “When I am lifted up I will draw the whole world to myself” [John 12:32].Lord, I am startled by that inconceivable, impossible miracle. I don’t know how you intend to draw everyone to yourself. Your hands are tied. Your feet are nailed. In a little while you will die and be powerless, and people will carry you to the tomb thinking that you are no different than the dead of this world. Is it really possible for you to draw the world to yourself from the Cross and the Tomb?
Yet I know and I understand, Jesus. What you are saying is clear and profound. Your all-reaching, all-powerful hand is alive and powerful even in death. And you will not draw humanity to yourself by force of the sword like the rulers who reign over this world.
Instead, you will draw them close by your infinite love. By the self-sacrifice of the Cross you will draw them close. By your blameless blood you will draw them close. By your gentle yoke you will draw them close. By your boundless forgiveness you will draw them close. By the liberal proclamation of your Good News you will draw them close.
From this world you will draw living believers close. You will go down to the tomb and from the earth you will draw the dead close. Going farther to the inner prison you will draw the captive spirits close. From the temples of idolatry you will draw the unbelievers close.
And you will deliver them all to the new praetorium, your church, gathering every single person into one flock, bringing them all together under your staff, O Good Shepherd!
On the Thursday before Easter (Աւագ Հինգշաբթի) the Armenian Church commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus, when he established the mystery of his abiding presence among God’s people through Holy Communion of his living Body and Blood in the Divine Liturgy.
Jesus, today you sat down with your hungry farmhands gathered around you. With every step you took, you plowed with them the rocky, hardened land of Israel. You were a plowman and a sower of seed and they were your courageous tillers. You sowed fistfuls of the seed of the Word of Life. You, true vine, planted your orchard at the summit of Golgotha.
Behold! Taking into your hands a cup of the fruit of the vine and a loaf of the bread of Good News, you bless. You give thanks. You break. And you say, “Take, eat, believe. That bread appears to be mere bread. But it is really and truly my Body. It is life. It is not the manna from the desert that your fathers ate in their faulty faith and then died. Instead, you, their faithful children, with your resolute faith, eat this Bread of Life and live forever! And drink this cup filled with joy and jubilation. It really is my blood, which I will spill on the Cross, breaking the cup of my body.”
For three years you proclaimed unceasingly, “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven.” Obstinate ones did not want to understand this mystical message of yours. Perplexed, they became indignant and murmured, “How can he give us his body to eat?”
Yet today, behold! You unveil in plain sight the mystery of Communion. Blessing ordinary bread and wine, you sanctify them and with your hands you distribute them, saying, “Here you are! This is my Body and my Blood.”
Lord, we believe that through the example of the Bread, you join your life with our life. You fuse your immortality with our mortality, so that through your life, humanity’s life may be immortalized. That is why you constantly repeated, “Truly, truly, I say to you: If you do not eat the Body of the Son of Man or drink his Blood, you have no life in you.” Yes, Lord, your Body is real food and your Blood is real drink. Blessed are they who eat this meal with faith.
Catholicos Mkrtich I Khrimian (1820-1907), popularly and lovingly referred to as Khrimian Hayrig, is surely one of the greatest leaders of the Armenian Church in modern times. Passionately concerned for the welfare of the Armenians in the waning days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, he is best remembered as an outspoken advocate for the right of self-determination for his people. To that end he led the Armenian delegation at the Conference of Berlin in 1878. The blessed Catholicos was also–perhaps even more so–a devout and inspired preacher and a man of resolute Christian faith and fervent prayer. This excerpt is translated from his book Յիսուսի վերջին շաբաթ. Խաչի ճառ [Jesus' Final Week: Discourse on the Cross], published in Constantinople in 1894. A precious copy of this book is housed in the ZIC collection.
Six students from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ visited the Zohrab Center yesterday as part of the requirements for a theology course.
The students were accompanied by their teacher, Dr. Susan Graham, Associate Professor of Theology at St. Peter’s. Dr. Graham’s course, entitled Pilgrimage in the City, explores the phenomenon of pilgrimage—travel undertaken to a meaningful destination for religious or sacred purposes—in Christian history, theology and spirituality. The students’ visit to the Zohrab Center and St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral qualified as a pilgrimage destination in its own right, but also afforded the “pilgrims” the opportunity to deepen their appreciation for the unique role of pilgrimage in the history and spirituality of the Armenian Church.
ZIC Director Fr. Daniel Findikyan gave a brief survey of the centrality of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a cherished destination for Armenian pilgrims since at least the fourth century. He also spoke about the revival of pilgrimage, especially among young people, to sacred shrines within the Republic of Armenia today.
The Zohrab Center recently received a dozen early issues of the Armenian periodical Zvartnots. The journal of literature and art was published intermittently in Paris from 1929 to 1964. The precious issues were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Sylvia of Boyajian of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
The Zohrab Center is the only library in the United States to hold these issues.
Zvartnots contains original poems, short stories, essays, literary criticism and articles on aspects of Armenian arts and music by Armenian authors. As well, the reader will discover Armenian translations of noted non-Armenian authors of the day. Among the contributors were some of the giants of twentieth century Armenian literature and art including Vahan Tekeyan, Arshag Chobanyan, Hagop Oshagan, Yeghishe Charents, Shahan Shanhur, Shavarsh Nartuni, Nvart Kalpakian, Nigoghos Sarafian, Gurgen Mahari,and a host of mysterious pen-names.
Alongside marvelous poems and short literary pieces, the inaugural issue features an Armenian translation of an essay by the Austrian philosopher and novelist Stefan Zweig; an article on pre-Christian Armenian architecture by the great historian of architecture Toros Toromanian; and a tribute to Franz Schubert on the hundredth anniversary of his death by a very young Ara Bartevian, who would later become a well-known musician, composer and choral conductor.
Indeed, in the preface to the first issue of Zvartnots, the editor, Hrant Paluian, stresses that the new journal would be “the refuge for those young people who have been held captive to the aged caretakers of our literature.” True to the secularism of the moment, he continues sardonically:
The residents of Zvartnots, with angelic innocence, have been purified of political passions, partisan enmities and ridiculous heresies. They have been purged of religious and moral prejudices. They believe only in Armenian literature and art.
The word Zvartnots derives from the Armenian zvartunk, literally, “vigilant ones,” the angels who serve God joyfully and tirelessly, and who serve as models of the Christian life. The name was given to the famous seventh-century round church in Etchmiadzin, the ruins of which can be seen today.
The Zohrab Center’s new issues of this marvelous testament to Armenian intellectual vitality between the World Wars in Europe have been added to the ZIC online catalogue. Anyone interested in perusing them is welcome to visit the Center or to contact the staff for questions and further assistance.