Holy Week in the Armenian Church. New Book to be Released on Thursday, March 19

A new book by V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Information Center, will be released at a book presentation and reception on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York. #AvakShapat

2015-03_AvakShapatCoverThe book is entitled, Աւագ Շաբաթ Avak Shapat: A Guide to the Holy Week Services of the Armenian Church. The book is being published by the Zohrab Information Center. Conceived as a textbook for clergy, seminarians, deacons, choir members and others charged with conducting the Holy Week services, the guide will be of use to anyone interested in the worship of the Armenian Church, from faithful practitioners to students and scholars of other traditions.

The liturgical tradition of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest and most magnificent in all of Christendom. The center of gravity of the Armenian Church’s liturgical year is undoubtedly Holy Week, the eight days preceding Easter. At no other time of the year is there such a concentration of poignant, ritually lavish, and theologically rich services in such a short period of time.

Yet with that exuberance comes complexity. The instructions for conducting these services are found in two books published centuries ago in Classical Armenian, which describe the services in a highly technical, abbreviated manner. As a result, conducting the Holy Week ceremonies properly, prayerfully and beautifully can be a challenge even for experienced clergy.

2015-03 FDFWith the meticulous eye of a teacher and scholar of Christian liturgy, Fr. Findikyan guides the reader through each Holy Week service, presenting the sequence of prayers, hymns, Scripture readings and rituals, and describing them in detail. The book also contains valuable glossaries of liturgical terms in Armenian and English, as well as separate indexes of liturgical and biblical references. As such, the book serves as a useful reference work on the worship tradition of the Armenian Church as a whole.

The March 19 presentation will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York. As he presents his book, Fr. Findikyan will lead a worshipper’s tour through the sequence and meaning of Holy Week in the Armenian Church, emphasizing the meaning of Jesus’ final days for us today. At the conclusion of his talk, copies of the new book will be available for sale.

The presentation is free and open to the public. A light Lenten meal will be served beginning at 6:30PM. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

2015-03 AvakShapatFlyer.001CLICK HERE to download a color flyer.

V. Rev. Fr. (Michael) Daniel Findikyan is a priest and vartabed of the Armenian Church. He has served as Director of the ZIC for two years. He is also Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and Visiting Professor of Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana). He is an internationally renowned authority on the theology and history of the worship tradition of the Armenian Church and of other eastern churches, and has published widely in this area. Read more about Fr. Daniel’s education, teaching, ministry and publications.

For more information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

#AvakShapat

Hidden Meanings of the Armenian Church’s Feasts and Fasts. Fr. Daniel Findikyan will Uncover Them on February 13.

The Armenian Church calendar is filled with mysteries and treasures.
The Armenian Church calendar is filled with mysteries and treasures.

RARE IS THE ARMENIAN who has never heard of Christmas or Easter.

But what about the Church’s less popular festivities? The Presentation of the Lord to the Temple (Տեառնընդառաջ / Dyaruntarach / Trndes), Ascension (Համբարձում / Hampartsoom), The Apparition of the Holy Cross (Երեւումն սրբոյ խաչին / Yerevoomn Srpo Khacheen), the Transfiguration of Christ (Պայծառակերպութիւն / Baydzaragerbootyoon / Vartavar), Lazarus Saturday (Ղազարու յարութիւնն / Ghazaroo Harootyoonun)?

Not to mention a whole series of other more obscure commemorations—The Ark of the Covenant (Տապանակն / Dabanagn), the Dedication of the Holy Cross (Նաւակատիք սրբոյ խաչին / Navagadeek Srpo Khacheen), the Commemoration of the Maccabees, New Sunday (Նոր կիրակի / Nor Geeragee)…

What Do They Mean?

What in the world are these festivities? What motivated the Armenians to set aside these annual holidays? What was their intended function, if any? And most important, do they serve any practical purpose for the betterment of our own lives and humanity today?

Living the Gospel of Christ—Year-by-Year

Fr. Daniel Findikyan is Director of the Zohrab Information Center and Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.
Fr. Daniel Findikyan is Director of the Zohrab Information Center and Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.

V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center and Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary will give an illustrated presentation on Hidden Meanings of the Armenian Church’s Feasts and Fasts at the Zohrab Center in New York on Thursday, February 13 at 7:00PM. The presentation is part of the Eastern Diocese’s “Living the Gospel of Christ” initiative this year.

FDFCalendarFlyer.001“The Armenian Church’s calendar of feasts, fasts and commemorations is among the oldest in Christendom, and also one of the most elaborate,” said Fr. Findikyan. “Like the liturgical year in every Christian tradition, the Armenian Church’s distinctive annual cycle of holy days serves as a perpetual invitation to live and celebrate the Gospel of Christ—day by day and year by year.” He went on, “But to leverage this ancient Christian calendar for spiritual growth requires some guidance.”

Fr. Findikyan will guide his audience in that worthwhile endeavor. The presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

CLICK HERE to read more about Fr. Findikyan’s education, work and publications.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer. Contact the Zohrab Center for further information: zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

ZIC Receives Precious Collection of Armenian “Oratsooyts” Calendars

The Zohrab Information Center holds the largest collection of Armenian liturgical calendars in the Western Hemisphere.
The Zohrab Information Center now holds the largest and most expansive collection of Armenian liturgical calendars in the Western Hemisphere thanks to the recent donation by Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian.

The Zohrab Information Center’s library has been enriched by the donation of over 100 daily liturgical calendars from the personal library of Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian of Yonkers, New York. Known as Oratsooyts, the pocket-sized calendars are published by the major hierarchical centers of the Armenian Church and provide the dates and other information necessary for the proper celebration of the feasts and saints’ commemorations of the Armenian Church.

The Ashjian Collection contains Oratsooyts volumes printed by the holy sees of Etchmiadzin, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Antelias, as well as local church calendars issued by St. John the Baptism Armenian Cathedral in Paris, the Armenian Hospital of Istanbul, and others. Included as well are priceless  calendars published by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in Boston in the early years of the 20th century, before the Diocesan headquarters moved to New York.

A page from the 1948 Oratsooyts of Holy Etchmiadzin showing the entry for Sunday, June 20, the feast of the Discovery of the Jewel Box of Mary the Mother of God, and the third anniversary of the consecration of His Holiness Georg VI as Catholicos of All Armenians.
A page from the 1948 Oratsooyts of Holy Etchmiadzin showing the entry for Sunday, June 20, the feast of the Discovery of the Jewel Box of Mary the Mother of God, and the third anniversary of the consecration of His Holiness Georg VI as Catholicos of All Armenians.

The Armenian Church’s yearly festal cycle is highly variable. Not just Easter, but most saints’ commemorations and other feast days like Pentecost, Ascension, Palm Sunday, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, as well as the annual celebrations of the saints, change each year according to a complicated interplay of solar, lunar, and daily cycles. Major Armenian Church centers publish their Oratsooyts each year to designate the correct date for all of these festivities.

Why bother stockpiling decades-old liturgical calendars? The real value of old Oratsooyts booklets is not in the day-to-day details of church services in years gone by. The Oratsooyts also contains registers of active clergy, their current positions and ministries, details about local Armenian Church communities, and other priceless historical information.

Who was the director of the Printing Press of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin in 1959? Where and when was Archbishop Georg Arslanian born? The Oratsooyts is the source to consult.

Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian (R) speaks with ZIC Director Fr. Daniel Findikyan about his Oratsooyts collection.
Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian (R) speaks with ZIC Director Fr. Daniel Findikyan about his Oratsooyts collection.

Rev. Arten Ashjian is the most senior clergyman of the Armenian Church in North America and possibly the world. Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1919, he studied in the Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Sts. James in Jerusalem. Arriving in the United States at the invitation of then Primate Abp. Tiran Nersoyan (†1989), Fr. Arten continued his studies, earning graduate degrees from the General Theological Seminary in New York, and Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He and his gracious wife, Yeretzgin Mariam, have lovingly served numerous Armenian Church communities in North America during a long and distinguished ministry. He continues to officiate at Holy Cross Church of Armenia and St. Nersess Seminary in New York.

A genuine bibliophile, Fr. Arten is also one of the most prolific authors among the clergy of the Armenian Church in America. His numerous books, in Armenian and English, are housed in the Zohrab Center (enter Arten Ashjian and select author).

Fr. Arten’s collection of Oratsooyts’s enriches the Zohrab Center’s existing collection of this unique genre, which includes volumes as old as the mid-nineteenth century. The collection can be accessed via the Zohrab Center’s on-line catalog (enter ōrats’oyts’ or calendar and select subject).  The collection is also available for personal inspection and study by appointment.