Sunday, January 27, 2008

Quick update

I haven't posted in a while because I have been feeling out of sorts.

I have still been going to church regularly, but it is a struggle to drag my butt there. I am not entirely happy with the church I have been going to, although I thought I had settled on it. I am going to try the other one again sometime soon.

I have been feeling lately like I am really a protestant at heart. Although the protestant revolution wasn't against the Orthodox Church, but the Roman Catholic church, I can really see why people would rebel.

I want the Armenian Church to work out for me; I really do. I put a high cultural value on it, and I had such a wonderful, positive experience at my old church that I want to recapture and have again.

There are a lot of issues going on for me with the church right now. A big part is that it is not social for me AT ALL. I had been warned about this before moving to Boston in general. A lot of people tend to grow up and stay in the area, so they have their own friends and aren't interested in making new ones, so they tend not to be welcoming and friendly to newcomers. (FYI, I know this isn't exclusive to this area; I have heard it's the case in other areas where you have a lot of long-time residents as well). Since I mostly run in academic circles, or other circles where everyone else has moved from somewhere else, I haven't experienced this anywhere else. Church is the one place where it's the case, and I am seeing it there. It just gets kind of tedious. A few people make an effort, but not many others, and no one my age makes an effort at all.

We will see. This isn't the only issue, but it is one of them. I am not giving up yet, but a change of environment may be necessary.

19 comments:

Myrthe said...

Anoushig, I just wanted to let you know that it's good to get a sign of life from you on your blog. I wish you success in your search for a church that fits you. :-)

Raffi said...

Hey, I just wanted to encourage you in your endeavor to write about your unique experiences, in your unique blog.

You're a protestant in the heart! Heheheheheh, that was somewhat amusing, but don't lose heart. You know that church is made up of people, and it's not only about the liturgy.

You should come to Lebanon perhaps and get to meet people here. They would show interest and sometimes more than interest and quickly become friends.

Best wishes to you :)

Keep your posts coming. I'd love to hear funny, happy and also sad stories.

Carried by Him said...

You say that you feel like you're protestant at heart, but in what way, if you don't mind me asking. The protestant religion is founded upon rebellion from the Catholic Church, not only for indulgences, but through time, they also discarded tradition and everything that makes up a church except for the Bible. By the way, most people don't know this, but after the problems with indulgences, the Catholic Church got rid of the indulgences and such and had some sort of council where they changed those things. But most protestants don't know about that for some reason. I think they don't know about it because they refuse to know about it. THey are set in their ways and don't want to go back to the church which they used to be a part of. Protestantism is a very dangerous thing. They claim that they follow the Bible and are Bible based, but their traditions are less biblical than the Orthodox and Catholics are. If you look at the Armenian Orthodox (Apostolic) Divine Liturgy, you will find that every single verse of it is from the Bible or is based upon scripture. The way the Liturgy is conducted, the clothing that is worn, the objects used during the Liturgy, the hymns sung are all Biblical. Protestantism is best known for teaching scripture that is taken out of context. Our church teaches it IN context. On top of that, there are many teachings that the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ handed down to presiding bishops and patriarchs and priests and such, which has been taught within our churches and other Orthodox Churches for the past 2000 years. None of those teachings (which are very biblical), exist in protestantism because the protestants only use the Bible and distrust everything that isn't literally put in the Bible.

If you are having problems with the church, then maybe you should talk to your priest about it. That's what they're there for-to give advice and such. After all, isn't it best to go to someone who knows a lot about this stuff?

Problems have always existed within churches, and running away from one church and joining another doesn't make it better. Every church has its problems. Once you get involved in any church, new or old, you will start to see them. Go ahead and visit the other church. I'm like you... I go to church and I don't have any friends there. I suppose the only way you can make friends is to make yourself available for friendship and to reach out to others. I have some friends in Boston who go to Armenian churches there, and while most of their friends are from their youth, they were still able to become friends with me a few years ago. No matter how many friends one may have, they still like meeting more. It's just that, there is a different way of approaching different people. Also, it takes time for people to feel comfortable with those whom they don't know. So be patient... there are plenty of bostonians who want to make new friends and would find you interesting, but it takes time.

If you aren't happy with something in your church, why don't you try and change it instead of leaving the problem unsolved? Try talking to people within the church about it... you'd be surprised at how many may feel the same way but have never voiced their opinion.

Jasmine

btdermer said...

I think we're asked to do alot:
a)See the "mystery" in a foreign-language liturgy without complaining (lest we be accused of wanting an "easy" worship experience);
b)Ignore the fact that our gender is not represented on the alter in worship (and just be happy that women now serve on parish councils);
c)Accept poor preaching by priests (because historically that hasn't been viewed as their role)
d)Understand that a lack of engagement around contemporary social issues comes with being part of an ethnic church
A warm church community can help us accept these things, form new relationships and maybe work for some change, but an unfriendly community on top of all that is just too much to handle. I gave up a long time ago. I hope the church leadership sees your post and reflects some.

Carried by Him said...

Have you ever visited an American church before? It doesn't matter what denomination or branch.. have you visited any and known people who are actively involved in it? I have. Did you know that people are still completely clueless about what goes on in their church services, even though the language used is what the people speak? Language does not solve the problem of ignorance of what happens during the Liturgy. I've been to liturgies in Arabic and I have no clue what they are saying, but I know exactly what's going on because all Divine Liturgies have the same fundamental parts. If you know what is going on during the Divine Liturgy and what your place is in the whole thing, then language wouldn't be such a problem. If you know what's going on, then you could go to one being done in Chinese and follow along just as well. Language is not the problem. It certainly helps, but that's not the ultimate problem. Lack of education and knowledge on waht happens during the Liturgy and what our part is... that's the problem. People think that you are supposed to go to our Badarak and just watch the show taking place in front of you on the stage. Everyone has a different role in the Divine Liturgy. Did you know that a priest cannot do a Divine Liturgy unless there are people in the pews? People in the pews are just as important as the people at the altar.

Of course our gender is not represented at the alter in worship. That's not our role. Men and women have different roles. Forgive me for being so outlandish, but it's the same thing to me as a man wanting to physically have a baby himself or something. Before you question why women aren't on the alter (which by the way, is only a protestant idea, which didn't exist and was never an issue before the Reformation), let me ask.. what's your or other women's motive in this? Is it because they want power or authority, becuase a truly pious and Christian woman would never think of doing such a thing, out of humility and out of contentment with where she is. Only those who are ordained are allowed to go on the "bem" to where the altar is. It doesn't matter whether you are male or female, nobody can go up there unless they are ordained.. or atleast, that's what the rules are.

What does it mean to be involved in the Badarak? What does it mean to participate in the Liturgy? If it means being on the "bem" by the altar, then I must tell you that assumption isn't true. Everyone thinks that the Church leaders are super powerful and stuff. With much power comes much responsibility. the priests and deacons do more service to the church than anyone else does, they aren't like presidents and congressmen who have an easy life and do very little but have a lot of power. What is the priesthood? What does it mean for a man to be a priest? I recommend that you read St. John Chrysostom's writings about the priesthood. He's a saint in the Armenian Church and in all of the other Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/John-Chrysostom-Priesthood-Vladimirs-Patristics/dp/0913836389

You talk about representation on the altar as though this is a show or an act we are putting on for the people in the pews. That's now what the Divine Liturgy is. Women are very well represented within the Divine Liturgy.. have you ever read the prayers that the priest reads silently while everyone is singing the sharagans? He is praying for everybody in the church most of the time. The Divine Liturgy is like an reanactment of the birth, last supper, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. When I say that it's a reanactment... it's not just a commemoration. If what we did during church services was JUST a commemoration then our church and all of the churches that have Divine Liturgies are dead churches. When we recieve the Holy Body and Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, it's not symbolic-it's real. The altar where the chalice and Eucharist stands throughout the Liturgy IS heaven on earth, for while the Liturgy is going on. This stuff isn't made up. Go look in the book of Exodus and you will see much of the symbolism and traditions within the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Indian, Greek, Antiochian, Russian and in many other Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

In order to understand why women don't go on the altar and other stuff about the Badarak, first you need to understand the Badarak and its role. What does it have to do with you and me? It's the only time during the week when we physically come close to God.

The poor preaching... we can't really blame the priests. It is traditional for priests to give the sermons. Deacons also have the privilage of doing so but most deacons that we have aren't real deacons... they don't do most of what a deacon does and only serve during the Badarak. There's so much more to being a deacon than just serving at the altar during the Badarak. There's community service and other cool stuff too. But back to sermons and such, we can't relaly blame the preists for their lousy sermons, even if they are lousy. Some priests are really gifted speakers. Some priests simply aren't. But you can still learn a lot from most priest's sermons, if you try hard enough. There's always something to learn. We don't know everything, and forget things a lot, so even if a sermon doesn't sound so fiery and make us feel excited, we can learn something.

Lack of engagement in our church and the ethnic stuff.. that's a problem in every church. The ethnic stuff is a problem in every ethnic church, but that's not that big of a problem. Culture is like icing on the cake for our church. The problem is, it's all we tend to see in our church-lots and lots of icing.

You sound really bummed about a lot of things in our church. Dont' be discouraged. Only those who are seeking human perfection get discouraged. Seek perfection through Christ, and realize that everyone around you is a sinner, including yourself. There will always be problems, and that's okay. God's power is best manifested through weak people and weak churches. God doesn't take pleasure in how good everything is run in our churches, and our abilities. He takes pleasure in helping those who hope in Him and seek Him. Hope in God and He will help you and those all around you. If you continue to seek God, and pray for your church, God will help you. It looks like He already is. People start off complaining first, and then they start doing something about what they are unhappy with. Whatever you do, don't stay stuck in frustration and complaining and stuff.

I go to the Prelacy church in DC area. I can relate. My church is more hardcore Armenian than yours, I promise you. Your church is more active than mine is. You're in my prayers.

If you need some encouragement, check out these sermon website that has sermons done by Coptic priests. THe coptic and armenian churches are sister churches. So listen to their sermons and think of it as ours, almost. --the copts and the armenians have the same beliefs. their patriarch and ours are good friends. I have to go now though, but I'll finish this later. I said a lot of stuff that I probably shouldn't have said, but I'm sure you can sense a level of frustration in my voice.

www.orthodoxsermons.org

check out this eastern orthodox article too, that I came across about women in the church: http://www.stnina.org/journal/art/3.2.2

Jasmine

Anoushig said...

Jasmine, unfortunately, the priest is part of the problem at this particular church.

I totally agree that every church, in fact, every organization religious or secular, has its problems. I am hoping that by visiting another church in the area, I will feel more at home.

btdermer, I totally see where you are coming from. It is a lot to ask, although not burdensome at all at my old church. The good news about the contemporary social issues is that you are starting to see Armenian churches engage in these kinds of issues. Der Vasken of In His Shoes ministry in Glendale does a lot to encourage Armenians and the Armenian Church to get involved with issues like poverty, hunger, speaking out against Darfur, etc. I have also seen Armenian churches raise money for Habitat for Humanity, run toy drives for poor children at Christmas, etc., usually in addition to raising money for Armenian charities. So I think that this is starting to change.

I also hear you about the bad sermons. I have very seldom heard a really good sermon in an Armenian Church. I wish this would change too, as it is a change that doesn't require huge overhauls of policies, etc. Part of the issue, in addition to sermons not traditionally being part of the service, is that many priests are not native English speakers. At my old church, I could tell that the priest was an excellent and engaging speaker in Armenian, but his English wasn't good enough for this talent to translate. However, his messages were always good.

One thing that I would LOVE to see is sermons that tie in with the Bible reading of the day. You see this in pretty much every Protestant church every week. The sermon somehow relates to the Bible reading. It makes the Bible more real, more understandable.

I've spent a lot of time in Protestant churches; prior to attending Armenian church regularly, Protestant churches were were I went to church. I strongly disagree with the assertion that people who attend Protestant church don't understand what is happening.

I also disagree with the assertion that if you understand what is going on in the Divine Liturgy in one language, you will automatically understand what is going on in another language. Are you referring specifically to non-Armenian Orthodox services held in other languages (like Greek, Russian, etc.)? Because I could see that, but the structure of the Armenian Church service is not that different from the structures of Catholic Mass and Episcopal services- the parts are pretty much the same, for the most part. I was very familiar with the structure of those two services, but until I sat in Badarak with the brown Divine Liturgy book, I couldn't tell at all what was what. Once you know, then you can say, "Oh, Soorp Soorp Soorp is the Sanctus is the Holy Holy Holy" but without that guidance, I had no clue.

Carried by Him said...

Everyone blames the priest for everything. The priest is one person. He is not responsible for one's salvation. He can only guide people who are seeking it and be a sheperd of some sort. But the priest isn't the church and the church simply isn't the priest. If there is a problem in a church, it's the fault of everyone who attends it, including the priest. But the priest isn't the primary reason for problems in the church. Priests are often blamed for everything, because they are seen as having authority, yet at the same time, they are following the authority of the bishop. So often times, they get a lot of pressure from bishops and from the people. It isn't only his fault. If you want to see something happen, then do something about it. DOn't expect to walk into a church and see everything running your way or the way it's supposed to be.

Don't forget that thousands of priests, the monastic life as a whole, and the spirit of the church was destroyed during the Armenian genocide. The church never had time to recuperate after that because of 70 years of athiesm, during which the Soviets went around on a mission-to kill God and anything that has to do with Him. Of course they failed at kiling God, but they burned down thousands of our churches and murdered many of our priests, including the Catholicos-which resulted in us not having a Catholicos for more than 10 years. Now that those things are done with, the Armenian Orthodox Church is still in shambles. Why are you putting so many high expectations on a church that has had so many martyrs and so many evil things happen to it? I'm not saying that we should sit back and let the church become what it used to be, because we are apart of the church. If we want to see it go back to the way it used to... we are part of the body of Christ, so we are responsible, along with priests and everyone who is baptized in the church to help bring it back to the way it used to be. Don't expect the overworked clergy to do it all over night for you.

BE THE CHANGE THAT YOU WANT TO SEE WITHIN OUR CHURCHES. Change doesn't start with other people first. First it starts with you.

You said that you want to see the priests give Bible-based sermons? Just so you know, they already do that. They always give sermons based upon the gospel reading for that day, unless it's a feast day within the church-and even then they tie in the gospel reading for that day with the feast day.

Protestants don't have Divine Liturgies. That's why you will never see them lost during it, becuase all they do is sing songs and listen to a sermon for their church service. When I was talking about American churches, I meant Catholic or Orthodox Churches that do their liturgies in English and have mostly Americans attending.

I used to spend time in Protestant churches, prior to getting baptized in the Armenian Church, so I know what it's like and all. I did the whole protestant lifestyle and used to think like them too.

Again, you are focusing too much on details such as what every single word and hymn means instead of the big picture. What's going on at the altar throughout the Liturgy? Have you ever visited other Orthodox or Catholic Churches liturgies? I've been to a dozen of them and I know what's going on, even though it's not exactly the same. Our church Liturgy is very easy to pick up. It only takes four Sundays to get used to the hymns and notice the pattern of things done at the altar and all around you. It's not that complicated. I'm assuming that you've gone to more than four Divine Liturgies in the Armenian Church.

Carried by Him said...

The Importance of Being Ignorant
by Father Stephen


"I remember a talk given by Fr. Thomas Hopko last year in Dallas. In the course of some side remarks, he said that his son, Fr. John Hopko, had been asked what his dad was doing now that he was retired and no longer Dean of St. Vladimir’s. As reported by Fr. Tom, young Fr. Hopko said, “He’s going around the country talking to whomever will listen and telling them to remember that it’s really all about God.”

I liked the statement then and I like it now. It is all too easy to become occupied with one or another part of our life in the Church and without intention, discover that we’ve forgotten God. I think this happens all the time. Any other activity will do - even theology (or writing a blog). It is in light of such forgetfulness that I think it is important to remember that we are ignorant (of God) and that knowing God is really what everything is about. If we do not know God - then we know almost nothing.

Several years ago I had lunch with a friend and his son. His son was newly graduated from Law School - which has to be something like newly graduated from seminary. I was wearing my cassock, thus my identity as priest was obvious. My friend and his son were Roman Catholic. I can only assume that his son was a somewhat “progressive” Roman Catholic based on the conversation we had.

His first statement to me following introductions was: “Why doesn’t your Church ordain women to the priesthood?”

I was certainly caught off guard. It’s not that the question surprises me - it just surprises me when it’s the first thing someone asks me. I think my answer caught him off guard.

“You don’t know God,” I said. “Your question is actually a very deep question but I can’t begin to answer it if you don’t know God. If you want to know God, then we can talk about that.”

The conversation stopped shortly thereafter. He made no defense of himself (to his credit). I’m not sure why I said what I said (and I bore no animosity in saying it). But as I searched my heart for a proper answer, I realized that everything I wanted to say presumed a knowledge that I did not think the young man had (not book knowledge - but true knowledge of God). I still think this is required for a proper answer to that question.

Indeed, true knowledge of God, which we have in such little measure, is required before all things. Every other spiritual conversation must flow from that knowledge or it is a waste of breath. Orthodox theology utterly requires such experiential knowledge (this is pretty much the entire point of St. Gregory Palamas).

Not only does every conversation require this knowledge - our own salvation itself requires, even consists of this knowledge (John 17:3). Thus the importance of being ignorant. We cannot know what we need to know until we know and confess what we don’t know. And we will not know what we must know until we pursue it (Him) with all our heart.

God save us from all forms of false theology (which is every form of theology that is pursued apart from the knowledge of God, whether by Orthodox Christian, or his Pagan Counterpart).

The recognition of such ignorance should drive us to prayer - to every action the Church has given us with which to pursue such knowledge. It may even drive us to silence."

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/11/01/the-importance-of-being-ignorant/

Carried by Him said...

http://www.orthodox.net/articles/orthodox-mind.html

btdermer said...

Jasmine,
know that there were women deacons before the genocide. I have seen pictures.

In 1984, a woman was ordained to one of the sub-orders of deacons by the Archbishop at that time. When she moved to the Boston area, she received the cold shoulder.

Are you saying that Armenian women who have left the church to become ordained in other denominations are only on a power trip?

Anoushig said...

You said that you want to see the priests give Bible-based sermons? Just so you know, they already do that. They always give sermons based upon the gospel reading for that day, unless it's a feast day within the church-and even then they tie in the gospel reading for that day with the feast day.

Maybe the priests in your churches do this. Obviously I haven't visited every Armenian church, but in the ones that I have been to, I have never seen this (the feast day sermons, yes, though). Kudos to the ones who do, though. I think it's great.

Anoushig said...

Jasmine, thanks for all your comments. I always appreciate more information. :)

Carried by Him said...

there are such things as deaconesses, and they do exist in our church, but that's basically an order for women who stay celibate, i.e. nuns or sisters within our church. There's a book about that which was printed by st. nersess seminary. i know about that and such, but most people who complain about these things are just looking for any excuse out there to complain, and there are hardly any women who take interest in such things within our church. there used to be deaconesses in not only our church but in other oriental orthodox and eastern orthodox churches, but that disapeared from tradition within most churches because they weren't needed much. everyone thinks that a deaconess is a female deacon. deaconesses and deacons have completely different roles. i dont even think that deaconesses can go up onto the bem by the altar unless it is a deaconess within a women's monastery. deaconesses were known for helping the priests out with things such as baptisms and stuff, where it wouldn't be appropriate for a priest to see a woman naked or with not a lot of clothing on (traditionally, our church had children and adults fully immersed into the waters when baptized). there's some other stuff that deaconesses are known for doing but i'm not entirely sure. i've seen the black and white photos you are talking about, of deaconesses from maybe a century ago.

what's the big deal about going up there anyways? you make it sound like those who are in the pews have nothing to do with the badarak. like i said before, you can't have a badarak without people in the pews, because we need their prayers as well.

and yes, i think that a lot of women who want to be ordained, do it for the power. women in this country are like that. they think they have to prove how adequate they are in the men's world by having a men's job.

if a woman wants to become ordained so badly that they leave the church and go elsewhere to get ordained, then they are just power hungry. there are dozens of examples of saints within the church who were told to do things or to abstain from things they didn't agree with or wanted, and God would grant what they desire later on, because of their obedience to the leaders in the church. obedience is considered one of the greatest of virtues because when you are sacrificing what you want, you are sacrificing your will, and God greatly blesses those who do that. remember, it's about sacrificing your own will and doing the will of God and others. if you are disobeying and leaving the church to go about serving God and people on your own terms instead of God's, then I promise you that God won't be pleased with those sorts of women. It's about going about it His way and such. most people who seek such things are seeking it for themselves, and assume that God is okay with it becuase they are seeking Him. It's not about seeking and serving GOd our way though. that's exactly what protestantism is: serving God the way we want to. Well, if someone is helping out out with something, wouldn't you prefer they do it the way you want them to? that's why we go by what God wants and what the church wants.

contrary to what many think, ordination is not something someone does as a step after going to church for a long time. ordination is not just for men. if it were for all men and no women then you would see all men as ordained priests or bishops or whatever. only a small minority-like one out of every ten men have the calling to be a priest or serve at the alter in one way or another. so most men can't be ordained as something because God has called most of us to serve Him in other ways, like loving your family, feeding the poor, bringing others to church, etc.

Carried by Him said...

"You said that you want to see the priests give Bible-based sermons? Just so you know, they already do that. They always give sermons based upon the gospel reading for that day, unless it's a feast day within the church-and even then they tie in the gospel reading for that day with the feast day.

Maybe the priests in your churches do this. Obviously I haven't visited every Armenian church, but in the ones that I have been to, I have never seen this (the feast day sermons, yes, though). Kudos to the ones who do, though. I think it's great."

I've visited many Armenian Churches within this country and all of the ones I have visited and the ones that my friends are active in, in other states have priests that give sermons based upon the gospel reading for the day. Those are the rules in our church. It's not something that my preist is nice for doing. It's something that all of our priests do. You aren't supposed to talk about other things during that time. does your priest do the sermons in armenian? do you understand and speak armenian to understand him? i'd be curious to hear these sermons that you say have nothing to do with scripture. what does he talk about then? where do you live in boston? I know of a few armenian churches offhand that do what i'm talking about, in Watertown and in other places around there, because either i know the priests personally or i know their kids. i've visited their churches for badaraks. my godfather's getting baptized as a preist in st. stephen's armenian church in watertown on the weekend of feb. 16-17 and i'm going for the ceremony. the priest of that church is his father,Der Antranig. he was born here, so he has a boston accent and loves the red socks and is your typical american but with armenian blood and is an armenian priest. check out that church if you want. he does everything bilingual or in English, because he's like us... born here.

i'm glad you like what i write and dont find it all to be aggrivating. sorry if i come off as a jerk when writing some of the stuff i write. i'm not very good at talking about this stuff with people. i'm one of those who spends all their time trying to learn more about our church-taking in more and more information, but then when the time comes for me to explain it to people... well in short, I am a terrible teacher. this stuff all makes sense to me because i've gone from reading about protestantism first and then catholicism and then eastern orhtodoxy, and then oriental orthodoxy (which is what our church is). so i know a lot of random bits of info about this stuff and it all makes sense to me. Everything i know about our church has a lot of information built up behind it that led me to understand what i understand now about our church. that's why i left that article by father stephen. that's how i feel soemtimes when people ask about things, because all the stuff i know is based upon previous knowledge that i learned first, so for me to explain things quickly in short is very difficult. most things within our church has a lot behind it. there are no quick pamphlet of easy answers i can give. there's a lot of theology and stuff behind everything done within our church services and everything so it's hard to quickly explain. i try my best though. i know how it feels to not know anything and not find anyone to explain this stuff to them. i'm still in that same position... but don't give up on our church. it's a little behind on the times becuase of the genocide and soviet union athiesm and stuff... things will improve with time. we just need to stop comparing them so much to the protestants. the protestants haven't gone through a genocide recently. they've had a few hundred years of not so much violence towards their churches, while we have had the most and the worst happen to our tiny church and nation within the past 90 years. i promise you, the priests feel the same way you do about some of the things you wish to see changed... many of them coming from armenia and other places came from churches that were much, much more involved and active. so it's tough on them too. i get the feeling sometimes that they need some encouragement, because most people put the blame on them and if I were them, I would have quit by now because of how much people expect from them and how everyone's always mad at the priests. the priests can't do everything. they need help from us, but don't always ask.

Anoushig said...

I hate to even bring this up, but I wonder if it's a Prelacy/Diocese difference? I have never been to a Prelacy church, only the Diocese churches. I don't really have a compelling reason for that, but that's the way it's been. That could be why we are seeing such a difference.

Unfortunately, I do not speak Armenian. I am taking lessons. Most churches that I have been to do the sermons in English and Armenian, but not always (sometimes they just do Armenian).

Carried by Him said...

"I hate to even bring this up, but I wonder if it's a Prelacy/Diocese difference? I have never been to a Prelacy church, only the Diocese churches. I don't really have a compelling reason for that, but that's the way it's been. That could be why we are seeing such a difference.

Unfortunately, I do not speak Armenian. I am taking lessons. Most churches that I have been to do the sermons in English and Armenian, but not always (sometimes they just do Armenian). "

There is no difference between the Prelacy and the Diocese. My family attends both. The split occurred in the 1930's because of politics and some armenians not wanting to be tied with the SOviet Union and such, so the Prelacy is under the cilician Catholicos-Aram I and the Diocese is under the Etchmiatzin Catholicos-Karakin II. I have friends in both churches, so it's not a big deal. there is no belief difference. we've had 2 catholicoi since the 1400s though. don't ask me why we have that... i still don't understand that. the late catholicos Karakin I was known to have made an effort to make the church more united, but then he died and his plans were never carried out.

the prelacy and the diocese are the same church. they are just split politically. i've attended churches for badarak in the diocese and prelacy and the sermon thing is done the same-according to the gospel reading for the day. i converse with people from both sides... i don't know of any difference in understanding in our church, because i go to the prelacy church...

culturally speaking, the diocese churches seem to attract more of the americanized armenians and the prelacy has more of the hardcore armenians... but even that differs from state to state, and from church to church. in my area, the armenians are hardcore. but boston area and most of Massachusetts is pretty liberal and more americanized compared to where I live. you're lucky that you have a choice of so many churches!

yea some priests do sermons in english and armenian, and some just do it in armenian-like my priest. i speak eastern armenian and my priest is from syria. most eastern armenians and western armenian speakers don't understand each other, but i understand western armenian, for the most part... but my priest speaks armenian very well and therefore, uses big words that there is no way that I would understand! i don't know... i try my best to listen and i always learn something new. it's always according to the gospel reading for the day... i remember people asking him to do a sermon about something in our church and he said he isn't allowed to because he can't talk about whatever he wants... he has to do a sermon based upon the reading for the day.

Michael said...

I want to wish you a Happy Easter and encourage you to let us know how you are doing.

I hope things are "working out" for you in the church.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading your thoughtful blog. First, you can give the Armenian Protestant church a try. There's one in Belmont. One thing in my opinion the Protestants are better on is the centrality of the text and meaning of the Bible itself. In contrast to the Apostolic church where it's a venerated symbol and object that they lift and kiss and gild and drape in satin and lace.

Second, if you haven't tried, consider the Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham. Lots of mixed families and couples, so lots of English, and open, friendly clergy and congregation. If they take your number, trust me, they'll call you. There's no stigma to not knowing Armenian, there you'd be in the majority (though they do have classes). The Der Hyr (whose license plate, btw, is "der hyr," how cool is that?) and Yeretzkin are just amazing, very warm and open. He explains everything, and makes the rituals as participatory as he can in order to break down the barrier you've noticed that can really build up between the alter and the pews in the Armenian church. You never know what to expect. One day I went in to church late and he was actually vesting in front of everyone and explaining all the different garments and how he puts them on and what they mean. It's an Armenian Church parish that really has some life in it.

Carried by Him said...

The problem with the Armenian Protestant Church in Belmont is that really dumb things down. It's enlightening for the first few weeks and then it gets boring after awhile because you don't learn anything new or whatever. I know of many who have left that church for the Armenian Orthodox (Apostolic) Church because their church services consist of nothing more than a sermon and some "I love Jesus" songs. It's a dead service.

The Armenian Orthodox Church is a living church becuase everything that happens during the Liturgy is actually happening. Do you have any idea how many angels and saints come in to pray and worship God with us during the Liturgy? Tons. Unlike the Armenian Protestant services, the Armenian Orthodox services are full of purpose and meaning. Attending a Divine Liturgy in the Armenian Orthodox Church gives a person the opportunity to physically be with Christ through Holy Communion, (Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. John 6:53-56). The Liturgy, and other things within the Armenian Orthodox Church are not commemorations. They actually happen. If they didn't, then we have no business doing those sorts of things. Holy Week is a good example of this: we are not commemorating something that took place 2,000 years ago. During Holy Week, we are given the opportunity to walk with Jesus to Golgotha and die to this world, and be rid of our passions and sins and start all over again with Him. Nobody can go to the foot of the Holy Cross and come back as the same person. Nobody can. Our Lord Jesus Christ's Passion and Resurrection change us every time we glance at Him on the Cross. Why do we keep talking about Judas every year during Holy Week? Why does he matter anymore? He doesn't matter anymore. He's just one person. We aren't commemorating his presence or anything. When we speak of Judas during Holy Week, we are speaking of ourselves, because we have all betrayed Jesus the way Judas has with a kiss, favouring sin and death over life with our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity for us to remember how we have betrayed our first Love for our own pleasures and desires and to crucify our sins with our Lord Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

We don't do commemorations or reenactments of past events. the Armenian Orthodox Church is a living Church, just as it was 2,000 years ago because it was and always will be Christ's precious bride who He was crucified and resurrected for.