On the eve of Great Lent, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian presided over Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon at Holy Martyrs Church in Encino. During the February 23 service, the Prelate blessed cross-pins and presented them to thirty scouts who will begin the Homenetmen “St. Mesrob Mashdots” religious curriculum, upon successful completion of which they will be awarded the special religious emblem.
Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archpriest Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian, with Rev. Movses Shannakian assisting in the service. Among the faithful in attendance were representatives of the Homenetmen Regional Executive and Scouting Council, Armenian Relief Society Western Region, and members of the local ARS “Anahid” and “Lori” chapters.
Also on this day, requiem prayers were offered in all Prelacy Churches for ARS members and sponsors, as well as for victims of the Battle of Marash and heroes of the battle.
The Prelate first greeted and blessed the scouts and urged them to utilize the knowledge they will gain over the next few months to become an example to the new generation.
Next, Prelate Mardirossian expounded on the day’s Gospel, reading from Matthew 6:1-21, which gives valuable guidelines for our Lenten journey; doing good to please God, praying, fasting to be seen only by God, and laying up treasures in heaven. He stressed the importance of living our lives to be seen as faithful and worthy in the eyes of God rather than to receive honor and praise from our fellow man, adding that we must use our graces and blessings to do good for others, especially those in need, not for attention but to please God and to bring fulfillment to our souls. The Prelate stated that prayer is direct communication with God and when we pray we must do so not by mouth alone, but with heart and soul. On fasting, he stressed that it is not merely a physical act but that disciplining the body is the first step to disciplining the spirit, adding that all of these, doing good, praying, and fasting must be done not for show but for God’s eyes only.
The Prelate also highlighted the importance of having a heart filled with love and forgiveness during Great Lent, especially forgiving all those who have wronged and hurt us. Thus, he wished for the period of Great Lent to be a time when we regulate our physical, moral, spiritual, mental, and emotional selves according to God’s standards and to be rewarded by Him alone, reminding all to focus on laying up treasures in heaven, for worldly treasures laid up for man are temporary and subject to be destroyed by moth and rust, and in the words of Christ, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Finally, speaking on the special requiem prayers offered in Prelacy Churches on that day, the Prelate lauded the God-pleasing humanitarian service of the ARS, blessed the memory of all departed members and commended the current members. Referring to the requiem for Marash massacre victims and self-defense heroes, the Prelate noted that, throughout our history of genocide and massacres, we have persevered by the faith and example of our forefathers.
At the conclusion of the sermon, as the choir sang the hymn “On this day the heavenly rejoiced,” scouts gathered at the nave where the Prelate blessed and presented the cross-pins and also blessed the scouts.
The Divine Liturgy continued, at the conclusion of which requiem service was held.
Thereafter, Prelate Mardirossian headed to “Avedissian” Hall in a procession where he conducted the blessing of madagh, prepared by the ARS “Anahid” and “Lori” chapters in memory of their departed peers. The service concluded with the singing of the ARS anthem and the Armenian national anthem.