Friday, March 27, 2015

Lenten Journey - Heartbeat

Day #40 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Music: Lifebeats by Jethro Tull
Lenten Recipe 40: Jicama Salad

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lenten Journey - Outreach

Day #39 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Outreach
Lenten Recipe 39: Tropical Sweet Potatoes

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lenten Journey - The RSVP

Day #38 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The RSVP
Lenten Recipe 38: Peach Salsa

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lenten Journey - Emmaus

Day #37 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Emmaus
Lenten Recipe 37: Artichoke Risotto

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Lenten Journey - Bidding of Luck

Day #36 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Bidding of Luck
Lenten Recipe 36: Mutabbel

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lenten Journey - Ending with the Beginning

Day #35 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Ending with the Beginning.
Lenten Recipe 35: Roasted Eggplant with Cashews

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lenten Journey - Completion "LP"

Day #34 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Completion "LP"
Lenten Recipe 34: Red Bean Appetizer

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Lenten Journey - Thanksgiving

Day #33 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Thanksgiving.
Lenten Recipe 33: Grilled Red Pepper and Eggplant Sandwiches

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lenten Journey - Set Free

Day #32 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Set Free.
Lenten Recipe 32: Olivada

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lenten Journey - Confession

Day #31 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Confession
Lenten Recipe 31: Tomato and Bread Soup

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lenten Journey - Prayer of St. John Chysostom

Day #30 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Prayer of St. John Chysostom.
Lenten Recipe 30: Rice Desert with Cherries

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Lenten Journey - In Tears

Day #29 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Song: Orhnyal eh Asdvadz by Seminarians at Vazkenian Seminary
Lenten Recipe 29: Mediterranean Bean Salad

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lenten Journey - Der Voghormya - Lord Have Mercy

Day #28 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Der Voghormya - Lord Have Mercy.
Lenten Recipe 28: Broiled Lemon-garlic Mushrooms

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lenten Journey - Inclination, Elevation, Presentation

Day #27 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Inclination, Elevation, Presentation.
Lenten Recipe 27: Cold Linguine with Red Pepper, Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Lenten Journey - "Our Father"

Day #26 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The "Our Father"
Lenten Recipe 26: Cold Noodles in Spicy Sesame Sauce

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lenten Journey - Form & Function - Amen

Day #25 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Form & Function - Amen. Yev unt hokvoit koom.
Lenten Recipe 25: Curry Butternut Squash

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lenten Journey - Living in Christ

Day #24 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Living in Christ.
Lenten Recipe 24: "Berry Good Chili"

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lenten Journey - Asleep in Christ

Day #23 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Asleep in Christ.
Lenten Recipe 23: Roasted Red Pepper and Fresh Chickpea Pasta

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Epiclesis

Day #22 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The Epiclesis - The Body & Blood of Christ.
Lenten Recipe 22: Susty's Super Tofu Salad

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Grace of God

Day #21 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The Grace of God
Lenten Recipe 21: Lenten Cookies

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lenten Journey - Words of Institution

Day #20 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Words of Institution.
Lenten Recipe 20: Hot and Sour Soup

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Lenten Journey - Holy, Holy, Holy

Day #19 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Holy, Holy, Holy.
Lenten Recipe 19: Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lenten Journey - Mercy

Day #18 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Mercy
Lenten Recipe 18: Peach Cobbler

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Holy Kiss

Day #17 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Other music
Focused Vision
Vazkenian Seminarians, Lake Sevan
Lenten Recipe 17: Asian Noodles with Edamame

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Gifts Arrive

Day #16 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The gifts arrive.
Lenten Recipe 16: Cherry Walnut Chews

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Lenten Journey - Worthiness to Minister

Day #15 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Worthiness to minister.
Lenten Recipe 15: Suonomo (Cucumber Salad)

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lenten Journey - Entering the Eucharist

Day #14 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Entering the Eucharist.
Lenten Recipe 14: Hot and Sour Cabbage

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Anathema

Day #13 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



"As for us" - The anathema.
Lenten Recipe 13: Stir - Fried Asparagus

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Creed

Day #12 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The Creed. This is what we believe.
Lenten Recipe 12: Portobello-Seitan Hash

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lenten Journey - Scriptures as Bread

Day #11 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



On the Scriptural readings and hearings.
Lenten Recipe 11: Roasted Potato Fans!

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lenten Journey - The Jashoo Portion to Sourp Asdvadz

Day #10 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



The Jashoo Portion to Sourp Asdvadz.
Lenten Recipe 10: Red Cabbage Slaw

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lenten Journey - Descent Into Our World

Day #9 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Descent into our world.
Lenten Recipe 9: Stuffed Eggplants

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Lenten Journey - Behind the Curtain

Day #8 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Behind the curtain.
Lenten Recipe 8: Almond French Toast

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lenten Journey - Mystery

Day #7 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.



Mystery: Entering the Church.
Lenten Recipe 7: Mushroom Ragu

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lenten Journey - Fasting

Day #6 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.

The priest is fully vested, and here we remember one more means of physical preparation via fasting. We agreed earlier to look at the physical preparations first, before the spiritual and emotional preparations, for in fact the physical dimensions of anything are always easier to comprehend. We learned about each of the articles of the vestments which transforms the priest for the celebration of celebrations. Fasting is the bridge between the physical and emotional. While the abstinence from food is the outward expression of fasting, the appeal to discipline and strength of will are matters of the spirit and soul.

In our Lord’s life, there is a story where a young man is brought to Jesus to have a foul spirit exorcised from him. The boy’s father had appealed to the disciples who, though commissioned to be able to heal, were unable to do so. When Jesus removes the unclean spirit from the boy, the disciples ask him, “Why were we unable to cast out the demon?  To which Jesus responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9)
Prayer and fasting go hand and hand. Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” A pure heart is accented with the pure body, for in fact, the purpose of the Divine Liturgy is to come into the presence of God – to commune with God, to see God. Fasting is the key to that physical purity – to cleanse and purge the system from all impurity so that the Holy Sacrament is accepted in cleanliness.

Fasting also heightens our understanding of necessity. When we fast, in our hunger, we naturally think of our next meal – we look forward to satisfying our hunger. It is during these moments that we must ask ourselves what is truly essential for life. How important are those meals? We come to view in a different manner Christ’s words, that bread alone is not essential for life, but life finds meaning and fulfillment by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Matthew 4)  

Physical preparedness gives us a foundation on which our spiritual side, our soul must be ready for this Sacrament.

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord directs us to the spiritual preparedness for the Holy Eucharist. He says, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

This is the highest form of preparedness for the Divine Liturgy – to be at peace with our fellow human being. Yes, the vestments and fasting are essential, but our Lord sets apart this rule for the altar table as a necessity.

Earlier when I mentioned that emotional and spiritual preparedness were much more difficult to understand than the physical side of preparedness, I was alluding to this commandment. Wearing robes and even abstaining from food is not as difficult as this most important rule of preparation. Note that our Lord put the harmony between us humans as a higher priority than God! Again, he says, leave your gift at the altar – more important than God – go and reconcile with your brother or sister.


This first week of the Lenten Journey we walked the course of preparedness. While each article of the vestment set gave us a chance to reflect on various aspects of readiness, the most important lesson of all these days is the need to prepare the soul for the Holy Divine Liturgy. It is the reconciliation between us that is at the heart of the Liturgy. It is what St. John the Evangelist speaks of when he says, “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” It’s that simple and yet that difficult.



Fasting in preparation.
Lenten Recipe 6: Roasted Veggies

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Lenten Journey - Preparation of the Priest

Day #5 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.

On this fifth day of this Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy, we end the sessions on physical preparation by understanding the role of the robe, or shourjar. Thus far we have observed the transformation of the priest in the vestry of the church. He has donned new clothes, the very special vestments that are designated for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

As the name shourjar implies, is placed around the entire – shourj - body of priest. Here, he prays, “In your mercy, O Lord, clothe me with a radiant garment and fortify me against the influences of the evil one, that I may be worthy to glorify your glorious name.” As this final piece of the vestment set is worn by the priest the intention of the Liturgy is presented. Although the robe is ornamental, bright and colorful, the priest is reminded that it is not for his own glory that this sacrament is being celebrated but for the glory of God.

As a huge shield, the shourjar surrounds the priest with a special energy. This energy is beauty and strength combined. Often these two words are not used together in describing something. In fact we separate them as diametrically opposed to one another. Braun and beauty we say. Or even cruelly, we say beauty and the beast. Here, the shourjar shows us that there is beauty in strength and strength in beauty. Not only is one not exclusive of the other, but in fact a necessary component of one another. The shourjar is radiating as the top garment of the vestment set, and it radiates power over the forces of evil. There is nothing greater nor more powerful than complete beauty, which is an expression of goodness and love. Jesus was the Love and Goodness incarnate, and a testament to strength and power which changed the very foundation of our world – for in fact, the manifestation of that power and strength is in the goodness done through works.  

The lesson for today is that although the priest is standing with beautiful vestments, as a new man, before the altar and congregation, he is there as a servant, to serve something greater than himself. He has removed the old garments and donned a new set of vestments that set him apart from the world as a reminder that the journey is one that transcends the daily rituals of life. Ego has been placed in check. It is not about him, but about the one who is the author of him.


As we prepare ourselves for the journey that is still before us, let us contemplate own newness as we walk. Every article of clothing has a purpose and a mission. So too in our lives, every heartbeat, every eye blink, every muscle and organ of our body has a function and purpose that must be in sync with our feelings, thoughts and soul. We are called to meditate on our uniqueness, our beauty, our sense of wonder… each of us set apart from the other uniquely, only to come back together for the purpose to love one another. 



Preparation of the priest, the shoujar, beauty and strength.
Lenten Recipe 5: Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans!

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lenten Journey - Continuing on Physical Preparations and the Vestments

Day #4 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.

In physically preparing for the Divine Liturgy the priest dons a set of vestments, specifically designated for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Yesterday we were introduced to the tak crown, the white shabik shirt, and oorar or the stole. Today we will continue with the vesting process by understanding the role of the belt, the vagas, and the cuffs.

The belt, or godi, is placed around the shirt and the stole which is hanging from the priest’s neck. The priest recites, “May the girdle of faith encircle me round about my heart and my mind and quench vile thoughts out of them and may the power of Your grace abide in them at all time, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  As the belt circles his body, we are to understand the totality of commitment to the sacred celebration. Note that the physical attributes of the belt point to the spiritual union of heart and mind in the celebration. Our bodies are the vessels inside which the mind and soul of our being resides. To engage in the Divine we must be present with all of our faculties. The five physical sense of taste, smell, sight, sound and touch are highlighted with the experiences we feel through our heart and engage with our mind. The priest is completely committed at this point, and beckons that we give all of our selves to the celebration.

Next the priest places his hands through the bazbans, or cuffs, so that they cover his arms. He prays, “Give strength, O Lord, to my right and left hands and wash all my filthiness that I may be able to serve you in health of soul and body.” The arms and hands are the means by which the physical work of the church is accomplished. Here, the request for strength should be not be underplayed. Strength is endurance. Strength is patience. Strength is muscle. The Celebration of the Divine Liturgy is an action that has implications and consequences in the real world. Much like the gladiators of old, who would place cuffs on their forearms for protection and as a symbol of strength, the priest is reminded of the necessity to work for the victory, that is, success, of this Mystery known as the Divine Liturgy.

Now the priest well ready to celebrate, and so the next vestment is one which calls for focus. The vagas is placed around the back of the neck of the priest. It stands high and surrounds the back of his head. As the oorar reminded the priest of the yoke, or the burden placed around his neck, the vagas is a reminder of what are sometimes called “blinders” that we see around the eyes of the beasts of burden. While temptation is from all around, the vagas forces the priest’s attention to the celebration of the Liturgy, and the common cup at the center of the Holy Eucharist. In a moment of temptation if the priest’s attention is steered to the right or left, the blinders prevent him from looking further and readjust his attention to the work before him. This is a very special vestment that directs the senses to the essentials of the Liturgy and therefore the essentials of life.


The final article of the vestment set is the robe or shourjar, which we will learn about tomorrow. For today let us focus on the belt, the cuffs and the vagas, as three reminders of commitment. Our devotion must be circular, like the belt, with no signs of beginning or end, encircling our entire being through body, soul and mind. Our faith must be fortified by strength, as the cuffs provide, so that we understand that the purpose of our faith is to do - to share, love and work for the betterment of life.  Our life must be focused, as the vagas directs us, to concentrate on the matters at hand. And if, by the temptation of the moment we should wonder, may we be reminded of the awesome beauty of the life that is in front of us. 



Continuing on physical preparations and the vestments - the belt, the cuffs and the vagas, calling for commitment, strength and focus.
Lenten Recipe 4: Spinach Salad with Passionfruit Dressing and Maple-Glazed Almonds

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lenten Journey - Physical Preparations and the Vestments

Day #3 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.

On this 3rd Day of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy we continue on the theme of preparation, by examining the vestments and vesting process of the priest. The priest as well as each participant of the Divine Liturgy must prepare her or himself spiritually, emotionally and physically, for such an awesome experience as the one expressed in the Divine Liturgy. Physical preparation is the easiest to comprehend.

In the vestry of the church, the priest takes offers a prayer request as he dons each piece of his vestment. He begins from the top, by placing the crown on his head and praying, “Put, O Lord, upon my head the helmet of salvation to fight against the powers of the enemy, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Often, the crown is considered a sign of royalty, in this case, the prayer likens it to a helmet in preparation against the forces of evil. The challenges in life are remembered, that life is one defined by responsibilities to love and proclaim the light of Christ. The obstacles to do so are many. The helmet is a reminder of that struggle to love, even when the obstacles persist and even when his love is misunderstood or even rejected.

Next the priest wears the white robe by praying, “Clothe me, O Lord, with the garment of salvation and with a robe of gladness, and gird me with the vestment of salvation.” Note here, that the physical robe is not merely defined by its color of purity, but by a condition of gladness. The joy of salvation transcends time, not to be understood only in terms of a time to come, but as a living expression within the heart of the priest.

The stole is next placed over the neck of the priest as he prays, “Clothe my neck, O Lord, with righteousness and cleanse my heart from all filthiness of sin.” Here we remember Christ’s words, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. “In fact, the High Priest himself, Christ, demands that we take the yoke, symbolic of the burdens attached to life, with the gentle reminder that in meekness and in purity of heart, we are able to endure and overcome our difficulties and challenges.

The deacon, wears a similar stole, but only partially on his or her shoulder. It refers to the same yoke of Christ.


It is here that we break for this 3rd day of the Lenten Journey, with a mediation on that yoke. From the vestments we have discussed thus far, we understand that the spiritual warfare of the Christian is a challenge to love. Often, we merely think of the Christian experience and struggle as a challenge to abstain from certain types of behavior. In fact, the Christian understanding of struggle is quite the opposite – it is one of engaging in the good, by loving, sharing of the self through humility and meekness. The Christian is called to do, not to abstain, that is, to take on the yoke, the burden offered by Christ, to love unceasingly, even against the odds and obstacles. It is the higher challenge that defines us in our faith and certainly in our life. Today we mediate on the transformation process thus far expressed by the crown, the robe and the stole – the fight to love, to do so with joy and to understand the awesome responsibility that comes with it. Tomorrow we continue on this spiritual journey and continue examining the other vestments.



Physical Preparations and the vestments - the crown, the robe, the stole and the demand to love.
Lenten Recipe 3: Spicy Peanut Noodles

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Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lenten Journey - Preparations

Day #2 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.

It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Perhaps a more proper translation of this thought offered by Lao Tzu is that The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet. No matter how we say it, the journey into the Divine Liturgy, and therefore into the Divine, begins with a step of the foot, but that foot must be ready – socks and shoes, muscles and even callouses, to travel the road ahead.

Preparation for the Divine Liturgy is essential. A soul who is present and ready for this Divine Mystery must prepare itself, as must the minister who will be celebrate the Liturgy. Both the priest and the participant enter to the sanctuary putting off their worldly garments and understand that there is a sacredness to the space they enter. The physical structure of the church is most often the place where this sacrament is celebrated. It has been consecrated, that is, it has been set aside for the purpose of this sacred work, just as the priest, the minister of the sacrament, is consecrated and ordained for this celebration. He is man, not God. He stands humbly before the presence of God. As you can imagine, there can be no ego present at this moment, and so begins the stripping of the trappings of the world.

Because the Divine Liturgy is such an awesome and sacred ceremony, the participant goes through a series of physical, spiritual and emotional preparatory activities. Let us begin with the physical preparation, because by far, it is the easiest to comprehend.

In the vestry of the church the priest engages in a transformative process. The Divine Liturgy begins with the reciting of Psalm 132, “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness; and let your saints shout for joy.” As we hear, the first utterances are in the spirit of a festival – shouting for joy! In fact, the Divine Liturgy is a celebration. In that spirit, the Priest offers his first prayer of the day before transforming himself with the physical robes and vestments of the day. As we listen to it, place yourself in that spirit of joy and understanding. It is the First Step of our journey:
O Jesus Christ our Lord who are clothed with light as with a garment, you did appear upon earth in unspeakable humility and walked with men and women.

[As you grant me permission to be vested for this service] make me, your unprofitable servant, also worthy at this hour to approach the spiritual service of your glory, so that I may divest myself of all ungodliness which is a garment of defilement, and that I may be adorned with your light. Cast away my wickedness from me and shake me out of my transgressions that I may be made worthy of the light prepared by you in the world to come.

 Grant me to enter with priestly glory upon the ministry of your holy things. Christ, you did bear the sins of all, for you are the holiness of our souls and upon you, befits glory, dominion and honor.

In saying this prayer, we take the first step of preparation. We will continue tomorrow by introducing the vestments that prepare us physically to celebrate with joy, the Divine Liturgy.



Today: Preparations - taking the first step before vesting.
Lenten Recipe 2: Mushroom Fried Rice

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Lenten Journey - Into the Divine Liturgy

Day #1 of a 40 day series of broadcasts by Fr. Vazken Movsesian

Jesus is the name of Love, says St. Nersess Shnorhali, and it is from this proclamation that we begin our Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy. Love is the one thing in life that crosses over ethnic, gender, socio-economic, geographic, and other differences  that divide the world and humanity. It is the most powerful and yet most delicate energy known to humankind. It is said that it can move mountains, yet untamed it can destroy the strongest heart.

We often speak of the mystical and spiritual dimensions of life, understanding that there is more to life than the temporal trappings – that which we sense, whether through feelings, taste, smell, vocal and audible utterings. This dimension of life, that which is beyond our physical understanding, we assign to God, to Energy, to the Universe or in one word, the Divine. However or in what manner we try to describe it, we come to a point where our limited faculties are unable to comprehend the vastness of the Divine.

Within Orthodoxy we appeal to sacraments, that is, the outward and comprehendible means by which the incomprehensible is delivered to us. Of the 7 known Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, is the one which is most accessible to us all. Our first day of this Journey begins with an acceptance that the Divine Realm is accessible to us, that the Divine Liturgy has a design and purpose to bring us closer to the Energy which surrounds us and at the same time is within us.


Take some time on this first of 40 days, to accept the fullness and depth of the Divine. Accept that this journey is not one that is marked by steps, but one which is made up of connections, between your physical being and the spirit and emotions that define life. Put preconceptions to one side and open yourself to the wonder that is, the Divine Liturgy.



Part of the expanding vision of the In His Shoes Mission. Visit our website for more information. www.InHisShoes.org
Music by Torkom Saraydarian "A Touch of Heart"
Lenten Recipe 1: "Cream" of Asparagus Soup

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension: Full Authority and No Wounds

Road to Healing: Day #Easter +40

Today is the day of Ascension. It’s the celebration of healing. I never understood it the way I do today.

The celebration of Ascension is 40 days after Easter. Whereas Easter celebrates victory, this feast celebrates the upward movement and healing momentum after the resurrection.
It’s interesting that the Christian story does not end with Resurrection.  

The Crucifixion is the ultimate story of betrayal, hurt, pain, suffering and loss. Following the Crucifixion, we find ourselves at the Empty Tomb – a place from which we can look at the Cross and call that day, “Good” Friday. In the context of Resurrection the Crucifixion is done. It’s over. The pain and suffering are finished, conquered and defeated. But the wounds are still there. And that’s why the Christian story does not end with Resurrection.

A week or two following the Resurrection, one of the Disciples of Christ, Thomas, asks to feel the wounds of Christ. The holes in his hands where the nails were driven in were still open, as was the gouge in his side.  Resurrection was a victory over death, but the wounds were still open and had not healed.

At the Ascension, Jesus proclaims “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He ascends to Heaven in full authority. It is to the state of perfection that he ascends. The wounds have been healed!

This is the feast of Ascension – the celebration of healing. It is the celebration of leaving the wounds behind and finding the completeness of life.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Destination

Road to Healing – Lenten Journey 2014
Day 40:
Play Now: 

They woke me up to take my vitals. I had been through the routine for the last couple of days, but today
it was different. First the polite bow by the nurse, “How are you feeling, sir? Any pain?” Then they fumble around the IV tubes, cuff your arm. As your blood pressure is being taken, the nurse puts the plastic tip of the thermometer in your ear and one by one the readings are recorded. Temperature. Blood Pressure. Pulse. All systems are fine.

“I have some pain.”

“Just press the button, sir.”

You press the button and slowly you enter into a comfort zone. But today I was okay without the mix of narcotics into my drip. Even more, I knew that as some point I needed to wean myself off of the drugs. Let no one be fooled it’s tempting because it’s quick and effective. But today it’s over. I’m not pressing that button. I’m out of here.

I hear a voice, “Do you want to be healed?”

Yes! I do. No one else can make that decision but me. I want to be complete. I want to be whole.

Yes! I do... I am.

*

It was forty days ago that we took our first steps on this journey together, on the Road to Healing. We’ve encountered ideas, thoughts, faith, strength and courage along the way. We’ve explored love, God, strength from within and without as antidotes to our disease and despair. And while every journey traveled on the plane of this Earth has a beginning and an end, we understand that our journey has been one of ascent. We are traveling upward, with no boundaries to the heights we can achieve.

In the Gospel of John we read the story of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. They were close friends of Jesus who lived in the town of Bethany. The scripture says that Jesus loved them dearly. The young man Lazarus fell ill and died.

Jesus rounded up the disciples and began the trip to Bethany. While still on the road to Bethany, Martha ran out to greet him. She has complete faith in the power of Christ. “Lord,” she says, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”

Jesus assures her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha knows that for sure. She says, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus replies, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

At this point, Jesus asks for a confirmation to his words, “Do you believe this?”

Martha replies, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

A few moments later, near the tomb, Jesus has the same conversation with Lazarus’ other sister Mary. And she confirms her faith as well.

The miracle takes place. After four days in the tomb, Jesus pulls Lazarus out to full life and full recovery! Needless to say, the people are astonished and the details of this story are distributed throughout the land.

This story is often called the Resurrection of Lazarus. What I propose to you that this is more about Martha and Mary than about Lazarus. True, their brother received the miracle of life, but both Martha and Mary were transformed at that moment of healing. They confessed a faith in a future event, “… he will rise on the last day.” Jesus, with his presence and his words, transformed time itself. No longer is resurrection a thing of the past, but in the immediate present, the here and now, the eternal “I AM” the Resurrection and the Life!

On this 40th Day on the Road to Healing I offer the primer. It is the code which opens the rest of the treasures of faith in all of Armodoxy. It is found in the 29th verse of a hymn written by St. Nersess Shnorhali. He writes, “The Name of Love is Jesus.” Herein lies the truth we have been searching – Love is the resurrection and the life! Believe in Love and you conquer illness, disease, despair, heartbreak and even death. It is transforming and liberating. It is offered to you, not as a final destination on this Road to Healing, but on your path towards ascent to the heavenly dimensions of Faith, Hope and Love.

*
Hi this is Fr. Vazken. I trust and hope that this Lenten Season was a spiritually uplifting one for you on the Road to Healing. I invite you to get involved in further explorations of faith as we explore Christ and the Blessings in our Life. Join us on Epostle.net, the voice of Armodoxy where you’ll find a special series for the Holy Week in front of us. Also, I’ll be sharing some post-surgery insight with you. Stay tune.

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Photo: Armenian Monastery by Christaphor Movsesian (2013)
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Trust

Road to Healing – Lenten Journey 2014
Day 39:
Play Now: 
No doubt many of you have passed by an art gallery with a quick glance in and then continued to walk.
Art either talks to you or it doesn’t. When I walk past a gallery, curiosity is the first lure that gets me to glance at the work in the window. And then, there’s a quick assessment. Do I like what I see or not? I’m a sucker for the surrealists, so even a small Salvador Dali in the corner will get me to walk through the door. But once I’m in I’m pretty quick on deciding whether I’m going to spend some time looking at the pieces or not. My attention span is pretty short in general and even shorter when I don’t get the artwork. I know this is an age issue. When you’re younger you can find more time to look, evaluate and even pretend you understand some of the stuff. But at this point in my life, I know what I like and if I don’t, I don’t mean any disrespect but I just walk away. I’m usually not critical of the artwork, realizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but on a few occasions I have mumbled under my breath a question or two about the validity of the work as “art.”

There is one gallery, though, that I have never been able to pass without stopping by for a look. I’d venture to say that many of you share my same experience. It happens every time I look out that large window that extends to the edge of my peripheral vision and captures the sunset. And though I’ve seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of sunsets, I never tire of casting a look and letting my imagination be pulled down the horizon as it marks the end of the day.

Sometimes I’m lucky, especially at the beach. Clouds will cover parts of the Sun, making for streamers that rise to the heavens. Other times it combines with the atmosphere to produce colors so unique and subtly different from the standard chart of colors. Have you ever noticed, you can never capture a sunset exactly on film or on canvas? You can come close to mimicking the colors, but never an exact copy. Each sunset is a beautiful combination of fire, clouds, atmosphere and the hand of God. Different shapes and diffusions decorate this artwork from the master of all eternity.

Each sunset points to the inevitable truth of our life, namely that time moves forward and we are called to value each moment in that movement. As the sun moves on its path below the horizon, we realize that the moment and the day will never come back. Enjoy the moment for what it is. And as your mind goes for the ride below the horizon your imagination is called upon to dream of tomorrow.

From the sunset we understand that the past is completely guaranteed. No question about it: it happened. The present is happening; you are given a chance to enjoy as brief as it may be. And the future? It’s completely and totally unknown. You can plan, work, sweat, toil and struggle for a bright future, but at some point you have to take it on faith that tomorrow will arrive and trust that you will be a part of it.

A healthy lifestyle has this basic trust component built into it. Without this trust, there is no life.

There is no guarantee that the Sun will rise tomorrow morning, but if each night you went to bed with the fear that it would not, you’d cease to function. Your time and energy would be consumed with unnecessary worry. Because the Sun has a strong track record, that is, every day of your life it has risen, and you have on good authority that it has done so for last several million years; you therefore assign a high level of trust to it. Not so with your illness though. Health – physical, emotional, mental – has let you down, so you’ve assigned a lower level of trustworthiness to it.

Today is the day to move trust in your health up a few notches. We trust that there will be new sunrise tomorrow morning and with that we put our head on the pillow. What does it take to believe the same about life? Part of the healing process is to believe and trust in yourself and the life that has been created around you. All around you is the fingerprint – the artwork – of God. Your only response to it is to trust that your life is adorned and decorated by God.

These past few weeks we have been on the Road to Healing and have tossed around many ideas. The lessons of each day are all predicated on trust. Just as a new sunrise tomorrow morning is unquestionable, so too the healthiness of your life must be trusted.

Here is a prayer of healing from the Armenian Church,
Lord our God, take away the pain and heal the sickness of your people. Grant them all complete health by the sign of your all-triumphant cross, by which you took away the frailty of the human race and condemned the adversary of our life and salvation. You are our life and salvation, O Merciful God. You alone are able to forgive sins and to drive pain and sickness out of us. And you know how to cure our afflictions. O Giver of good gifts, give your creatures the gift of your abundant mercy, each according to their needs. Let us always glorify and praise the all holy Trinity, Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

I look forward to meeting with you tomorrow as we continue on the Road to Healing.

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Photo: Sunset over San Francisco (c)2005 Fr. Vazken Movsesian
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Power

Road to Healing – Lenten Journey 2014
Day 38:
Play Now: 

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Our first parish was in a town called Cupertino about 50 miles south of San Francisco, an area that was developing its identity as Silicon Valley as we were developing our identity as a family. All of our children were born here.

A pastor’s family is always blessed with having so many aunts and uncles. The kind people of the parish and our family engaged in what I call reciprocal-adoption. It was a special time in our life, and very rich with “family” especially considering that both my and my wife’s parents, brothers, sisters and their children all live well over 400 miles away in Southern California.

My brother found every opportunity he could to come and visit with us and his nephews. He’d take the 1 hour airplane trip up the coast and we’d be on the receiving end to pick him up at San Jose Airport. Many times we’d get there a bit early and park our car at the end of the runway and watch the planes take off and land. We’d do it for the boys but I think it was obvious who got the most excitement out of these excursions. And then, when that big Southwest airplane rumbled the air above us and landed down aways, I’d point to it and tell the kids, “There’s Uncle Haig! Let’s go pick him up.” We’d drive over to the terminal in time to watch him come off the plane.

After the weekend – or sometimes we’d be lucky and get him a bit longer – we’d take Uncle Haig to the airport. This time we’d walk him all the way to the gate (yes, this is a bit of pre-9/11 history), say our good-byes and watch the plane back out. San Jose Airport was perfect for plane watching. We’d get in the car and go to the end of the runway. As the plane took off from the tarmac to the sky we’d wave, “Bye Uncle Haig!”

Now when the kids were very small, when we’d get home they’d be playing in the yard and their sharp senses would spot a plane high up in the sky. They would get so happy and excited as they pointed to the small object in the sky, “Look dad. Look mom. There’s Uncle Haig.”

In response to their cuteness, we’d play along with an assuring, “There he goes… wave to him…”

At various times – perhaps days or even weeks later – between visits, our kids would spot a plane say with the same enthusiasm as moments after the flight took off, “There’s Uncle Haig.” And with their little hands they’d wave to the plane high up in the sky.

It was on one of his visits that my brother figured out that our children thought that he was in a perpetual state of flight! They would say goodbye to their uncle at the airport… He’d get on the plane… then the next time they’d see him he’d be coming off the plane. For all they knew, he was always in flight until the next time they’d see him, once again coming off the plane. Think of it in terms of a 3 or 4 year old. Without the knowledge that planes land elsewhere to deliver and pick up passengers, you would assume the flight has a circular route, beginning and ending with you. Why would you think otherwise? As we mature, our world view changes and our understanding of the world develops as we connect the dots between events, places, people and feelings. And soon we, as did my kids, have a new understanding. Uncle Haig got on a plane to come to see us… he lives somewhere else… he needs to return to that somewhere else… and we look forward to his next visit.*

As much as you don’t want your children to grow up with a skewed perception of reality, there is something to be said about the naiveté and innocence of their primal understandings of life.

Francis Bacon has said, “Knowledge is power.” Now it remains for us to understand what that power is. As we are moving forward on this Road to Healing, we have matured in many ways. Through our meditations and prayers, we have connected dots between our illnesses, their causes and our control (or lack of control) over the variety of factors in the healing process. But understanding doesn’t necessarily mean control over events. Rather, it means reconciliation and control over our self.

Understanding that the plane doesn’t stay up in the sky forever, doesn’t mean we control the flight nor do we have the power to alter its properties. The power is in our ability to reconcile and take control of our self.

Here is a prayer for this day of our journey. It is an ancient Armenian blessing, appealing to the Holy Cross along with a simple meditation: The Cross of Christ can be understood or misunderstood. Its understanding does not change reality, but brings reconciliation and control over our lives.

Keep us in peace, O Christ our God, under the protection of your holy and precious cross; save us from our enemies, visible and invisible, and count us worthy to glorify you with thanksgiving, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

I look forward to meeting with you again tomorrow on the Road to Healing.

*Disclaimer: Space and time were not altered, skewed or changed as a result this blog.

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Photo: Plane Cloud by Sona Smith (2014)
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