ENCINO—On Sunday, Oct. 26, the Holy Martyrs Church of Encino was filled beyond capacity as the community had come together for the 51st anniversary of the consecration of the Church, which was celebrated with Episcopal Divine Liturgy and blessing of madagh. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian conducted the services and delivered his message to the parish community. Among the faithful in attendance were Executive Council Chair Vahe Hovaguimian, delegates, community representatives, Sunday School and Ferrahian 8th grade students.
The Prelate thanked the Lord for the day and extended his greetings to the gathering of church, school, and organizational members, congratulating them on the special occasion and wishing them many more anniversary celebrations to come. His Eminence reminded them that the church is a body of believers and the altar is the light radiating faith, hope, and love to the community. He noted that requiem prayers would be offered later in the service in memory of all departed church servants, adding, “Let their faith and pledge of service inspire you all today”.
Next the Prelate turned this attention to the day’s feast, the Discovery of the Holy Cross, the message of which, he stated, is summarized beautifully by the words of the feast’s hymn, “Source of Life (Genats Payd), un-concealable treasure which the Jews attempted to conceal, revealed by the Empress; let us worship”. His Eminence gave some background information on the feast, explaining that the Cross was discovered in the year 326 by the efforts of the Empress Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. The excavation led to the discovery of three Crosses, and it was only when a recently deceased young man came to life on one of them, that it was revealed as the True Cross.
With the True Cross, said the Prelate, what was formerly a symbol of death was transformed into the symbol of life, and all who believed lived a new and enlightened life. Citing from the day’s Scripture reading, he reiterated that there are those for whom the preaching of the Cross is foolishness, but to us believers he said, it is the power of God. People today strive to meet societal standards for success and well-being. They are plagued by worry and fears and seek comfort in worldly things. We must seek the comfort of the eternal kingdom instead, said the Prelate, because our lives become enriched when we enrich our souls. Addressing the parents specifically, he recognized the great sacrifices they make to provide a good life for their children, but he urged them to place as much effort on the spiritual nourishment of their children.
“Today, let us be renewed by the message of the Cross as the path to salvation. Let us surrender our troubles and place our utmost faith and trust in the power of the Cross. Let us be renewed also in our adherence to our religious and national values and guide our children to develop into good Christians and Armenians and our capable leaders of tomorrow”, advised the Prelate, and concluded by calling on all to embrace the responsibilities entrusted to each one of them as children of the Armenian church and nation and to serve for the progress of both in the with the vision of “the church builders, laborers, and all who served and now rest in the heavenly abode”.
Later in the service, on behalf of the parish community, Rev. Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian expressed gratitude to the Prelate for presiding over the celebration, thanked all of the day’s sponsors for their donations in memory of loved ones, and thanked the Ladies Guild for preparing the madagh.
Following the requiem service, the Prelate was escorted by a procession through the courtyard, where Homenetmen scouts were standing at attention, to Avedissian Hall for the blessing of madagh. The Prelate delivered the benediction, and the day’s celebration came to a close with Cilicia and the Armenian National Anthem.