Friday, 12 January 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... An Armenian Hero

Micki: An Armenian Hero

RFE/RL Report
Garegin Laments Hardship In Armenia
January 08, 2018

Catholicos Garegin (Karekin) II, the supreme head of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, called for more government action against poverty
and injustice in Armenia as he celebrated a Christmas mass at the
Echmiadzin cathedral on Saturday.

"Along with the achievements gained through the unshaken will and
dedication of our people, our country is still facing unemployment and
poverty," Garegin said in a homily read out during the service
attended by senior government officials.

"There is a need for continuing efforts to strengthen hope for the
future, faith in justice, and to overcome the social, economic, and
other challenges facing our national life," he added in an apparent
appeal to the Armenian government which he rarely criticizes in

A key member of the government, Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian,
participated in the liturgy as a ceremonial "godfather" of a large
cross with which Garegin blessed holy water inside vessels placed on
the ancient church's altar.

Garegin also deplored lingering hardship as well as wars and other
conflicts around the world. "In this time of defense of human rights,
the rights of people and nations are being violated," he said. "In our
days of dialogues, many people become subject to intolerance, hatred
on a religious basis, terrorism; and become victims of various kinds
of violence."

"Drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and other kinds of addictions, become
evil to societies and families: people addicted to these become unable
to properly organize their lives, some find themselves in despair and
commit suicide," he went on.

The Armenian Apostolic Church, to which the vast majority of Armenians
nominally belong, has traditionally marked Christmas on January 6.
Celebrations of the holiday start late on January 5 with Christmas Eve
candlelight services held in churches in and outside Armenia. Christmas
became a public holiday in the South Caucasus country after the
break-up of the Soviet Union.

In his latest Christmas message, Garegin urged the church faithful to
become "new souls free of sins." "By accepting in our hearts infant
Jesus, let us keep strong our faith and our pious path of life so that
we may always enjoy the care and endless love of God," he said.

Garegin decried attempts to "build a world without God" in June 2016
during a mass held in Echmiadzin in the presence of the visiting Pope
Francis. He said they are at the root of political, socioeconomic and
even environmental problems facing humanity.

In a joint declaration issued at the time, Francis and Garegin
similarly voiced concern at the declining role of religion and "the
crisis of the family" in many Christian nations. They also reaffirmed
their opposition to same-sex marriage.

JANUARY 5 TH , 2018 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ, Ձէզ եւ Մէզ մեծ Ավետիս, Christ is born and revealed among us Good tidings to all of us, Amen!

With the good tidings of Christ’s birth, today I greet you all, gathered together in this beautiful Armenian Church to celebrate the Theophany and Epiphany of our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ. This is a great joy for us, because as St. John the Evangelist says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The mystery of the incarnation, as an act of the expression of God’s infinite love towards mankind , is the beginning of reconciliation between mankind and God. Today, God became flesh; he came to this world and became one of us to help us to re-discover our likeness to God that human beings had lost because of their sins and transgressions. St. Athanasius the Great, a 4 th century Church Father, says: "God became man (flesh) so that men might become God."

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

How should we understand this theological message and how should we implement it into our own lives? The incarnation of our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ is what the Armenian hymn- writer calls a “great and wonderful mystery.” It is a simple account of the wonderful relationship between God and humanity. An old story helps us understand it better. It is said that once there was a flourishing monastery: the services were well attended and the congregation did not have any problems. However, things changed and everything started to go wrong. The abbot and the elderly started to think how to overcome the crisis and regain the former state of affairs. They started to pray and the abbot was advised to visit ancient monasteries of the East to pray with the holy monks and ask for their advice. The abbot made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and met a person who was known as a man of prayer and chastity. When the abbot entered the cell of the monk, he was asked, "Why have you come"? The abbot replied, "We are desperate as we have lost everything that we had and are afraid that our monastery will close". "I would like you to know the reason", the holy monk responded. “It is because of the sin of INDIFFERENCE.” The abbot asked about the meaning of the sin of indifference as it is not a capital sin. The holy man replied that the Messiah had come to his monastery in disguise and yet, they had chosen to ignore him. The holy man then closed his eyes and continued to pray. The abbot was upset but was not able to ask more questions and he returned home on journey spanning thousands of kilometres. While he travelled back, he thought about who this Messiah could be. Brother treasurer? No, he was too sinful. Perhaps brother master of ceremonies? No, he was too arrogant. Brother chef? No, he was too ugly. He returned and told the story to his fellow monks. After a while, everybody started to suspect that the other might be the Messiah in disguise. This fact helped them to treat each other with respect, love and compassion. Soon after, the monastery once again became a flourishing place of worship and prayer with many believers.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Despite the oddities of our time, God can reveal himself in any human being who bears his image and likeness. It is about our own relationships and how we treat each other. God has set an example by sending his only begotten son to the world. It was an act of love. God wants us to be happy and to gain the happiness that every human being is longing for; he is not indifferent to us and we should not be indifferent to him and through him to each other. According to the Gospel of Mathew , w hen Jesus was asked “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God w ith all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mt 22: 36 -39).

There are two important lessons in the Biblical narrative of Jesus’s birth. When the wise men were seeking the place of the child, their faith led them with the help of the star of Bethlehem. But before finding Jesus they met king Herod asking him about the child who was born to be the King. Then they discovered Jesus as a child laying in the manger in a cave of shepherds. The first part of the narrative belongs to king Herod, which symbolises power and wealth, while the other one belongs to Jesus as a child, surrounded by family members, angels and shepherds. There are two contradicting stories: one of power, and the other of love, family, compassion and friendship. We also know that while the first one had a temporary advantage, the infant Jesus became victorious with the power of love.

We are starting our journey as Christians in the New Year and this is a journey of faith, love and hope. Let us pray to God to help us to see in each other the image of God who may visit us any time in disguise. Let us pray together that the heavenly graces and gifts of love of the Saviour’s Holy Nativity and Theophany increase in the world, leading all of humanity to the desired paths of goodness, justice and reconciliation, especially in the Middle East where children, unprotected women and the elderly are in need of peace and protection.

May you all be blessed by God’s grace and I pray to Jesus incarnate and beseech for the blessings of the Saviour, to renew us with the tiding of the Holy Nativity.

Blessed is Christ ’ s Revelation!, Armenia
Jan 5 2018
Expert: If such hot winter weather continues in Armenia for 10 more days, agriculture will suffer huge losses 

YEREVAN. – If such hot winter weather continues in the republic for ten more days, the consequences will be very negative for our agriculture.

“Agrarian-Peasant Union of Armenia” NGO Chairman Hrach Berberyan on Friday told the aforesaid to Armenian, as he reflected on the current unprecedented hot winter weather in the country.

“The only good phenomenon is that the difference in night and day temperatures is such that it doesn’t let the trees germinate,” added the agronomist.

In Berberyan’s words, however, autumn-sown areas could suffer the most damage now because they are not under snow to this day.

“If there is frost now, we will have a great loss of wheat harvest,” he added. “Vineyards likewise will be damaged a lot.”

But Hrach Berberyan expressed the hope that there will be cold winter weather in Armenia in mid-January, and therefore the country’s agriculture will not suffer great damage.
Jan 5 2017
Armenian Community in Jerusalem Shrinks, But Perseveres
Anush Babajanyan 
Late at night in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a small group of Armenians took their turn to clean the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified and buried.

They wiped the top of the tomb and refilled the oil lamps. The priests did it a bit perfunctorily, part of a daily routine, while the ritual visibly moved the pilgrims. Some were in tears.

There has been an “Armenian Quarter” in Jerusalem, covering about one-sixth of the territory of the Old City, for centuries. Armenians began settling in the city in the 4th century, after the official conversion to Christianity.

As a result of a painstaking agreement worked out centuries ago, when Jerusalem was under Ottoman control, Armenians share responsibility for maintaining some of the city's most sacred Christian sites. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Armenians clean inside the edicule, which encloses the tomb, and its surrounding area, several times a week.

In 1948, Armenians in Jerusalem numbered about 16,000. Today, that number has shrunk; estimates range from 700-1000, with a smaller community in Bethlehem.

Some in the community are concerned about the decline in their numbers. In addition to continuing unrest in Jerusalem, some Armenians feel they are less welcome in Jerusalem these days, despite their integral, centuries-long presence in the city. “We are not given international passports and are often mistreated – like other ethnic groups who are not Jewish,” one woman from the Armenian Quarter,who did not want to be identified, told .

This has implications for Armenians' role in maintaining Jerusalem’s sacred sites, as well: the community supports the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which in turn administers the Armenian Quarter. Some Armenians feel that their declining numbers, and their quarter's high value – a hub of tourism in the Old City – could lead to them losing ownership.

Today, though, in spite of their relatively small numbers, Armenians work to maintain their presence in Jerusalem. About 40 students, most of them from Armenia, study at the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. There are daily Armenian church services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and a steady stream of visiting pilgrims from Armenia and the diaspora. Centuries on, Jerusalem's central role in Armenian religious life remains constant.

Jackson Observer
Jan 6 2018
Armenia‘s Q3 GDP growth quickens to 3.5 pct yr/yr 

YEREVAN, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Armenia‘s gross domestic product grew by 3.5 percent in the third quarter of this year, official data showed on Thursday, better than the same period in 2016 when it contracted by 2.6 percent.

The Caucasus nation‘s economic growth slowed to 0.2 percent last year, falling well short of the government‘s original target of 2.2 percent.

This year‘s figures are better so far. GDP growth hit 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, outstripping a 4.4 percent rise in the same period a year earlier. The growth in the second quarter was 5.5 percent, up from 1.5 percent in the same period of 2016.

The country of 3.2 million depends heavily on aid and investment from former imperial master Russia, whose economic downturn has hit Armenian exports and remittances from Armenians working there.

The government expects the country‘s economy to grow by 3.2 percent this year, helped by lower borrowing costs and increased exports to Russia.

Armenian‘s Finance Minister Vardan Aramyan told Reuters in September the economy was set to grow by 4.3 percent this year.

The central bank said on Wednesday it had raised its forecast for GDP growth to 4.4-4.9 percent this year, up from an earlier estimate of 3.8-4.8 percent. (Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Alison Williams)

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