Armenian Apostolic Holy Church

Araratian Patriarchal Diocese


Do you have questions to the clergy? Please write to the e-mail address harc@qahana.am

Վերջին 20 հարցերը

I have read in the Holy Bible that whatever happens to the sinful may happen to the righteous, too. Why God does not keep the righteous away from misfortunes so that all human beings should be interested in striving for justice for being happy? And why often wicked people live long and happy harming the righteous and children?

Really, God does not discriminate between human beings. God is love only as “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mt 5:45). But who can consider himself righteous? Only God is righteous.

All human beings are sinful and the world where we live is not the Heavenly Kingdom. (In the Lord’s Prayer we ask for the coming of Heavenly Kingdom).
Justice for us is of two kinds: external and internal. External justice is the social justice which is relative justice conditioned by present civilization. Internal justice is absolute justice conditioned by existence of the Kingdom of God and God’s justice inside human being, that is - internal justice is conditioned by mutual relationship between God and human being, where in reality is the eternal happiness.

Keeping the righteous away from misfortunes and arousing interest in all human beings is not the mode of God’s action which would mean obliged safe life and human being would easily lose it as he really did in case of eternal life. Also it would arouse interest in people in choosing the kind, happiness about which the Lord speaks in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus. God’s mode of action is the way of Cross and Resurrection, by means of which human being’s salvation became possible, chance entered the world and each individual can realize his salvation and happiness upon his free choice thus joining the group of the righteous. Temporary life of the righteous, the saints gives us the lead not in the sense of safety, but in the s sense of participation in the victory of Resurrection by means of struggle.

What refers to longevity and happiness of the wicked, it should be noted that there is no kind person, only God is kind, and our temporary life is estimated not by human being’s longevity and prosperity, because as the Lord says, “… it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (He 9:27), but by the choice of God’s Will. Each individual, as long as he lives, has the choice of deserving absolution of sins by means of penitence and tasting the eternal life by means of receiving the Lord’s Flesh and Blood during the sacrament of Holy Communion.

With blessing, Fr. Mashtots Babayan

Is it a sin to consider this life no less important than heavenly life?

People live their earthly life in order to deserve their place in the heavenly life. If this life were not important God would not send us to the world. God created everything around us so that we should live and enjoy all earthly blessings. Can you to distinguish whether your right hand is important or the left, your heart is important or your lungs? If it is important for us to deserve the heavenly kingdom, then we should properly accord importance and appreciate the chance granted to us in order to achieve it by means of living correctly. And if we think that earthly life is not important, we will fail. It will turn out that we walk in the air and do not stand of the earth firmly. Try to look at the sum at least for one moment and then look around you. What will happen to you? For several seconds, maybe a minute, you will not see the objects around you. And if you are fascinated only by the heavenly life and ignore the earthly life you will resemble a blind and foolish person who thinks that there is no surrounding material world as he does not see it.
With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

In the thousand-year kingdom there will be people who won’t find their relatives. Won’t they grow sad? Is there memory?

It is known that we better remember the events that have occurred the day before than the events that have occurred ten years ago. Moving in the see the ship leaves traces which gradually disappear. Therefore, memory isn’t eternal and in the course of time many important things become unimportant. In the eternal life we will be in another reality. There will some recollections of this world and this life, as in the New Testament it is written, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col 3:1-2). We will find our true place, name and friendship in eternity.
With blessing, Bishop Sahak Mashalian

My teacher has passed unexpectedly, at the age of 65. She was not baptized, but she was going to be baptized sooner or later. What can I do for her?

Everybody hope for God’s mercifulness. It is necessary to order requiem service in the church on the days of remembrance of the dead. In the fifth century Yeghishe wrote a canon addressed to the priests in which he exhorted to pray for the alive (bearing in mind the relatives of those dead who had passed away without being baptized), as well as for the repose of the soul of the dead. This can be done periodically, as well as it is necessary to remember the dead in our prayers asking for God’s mercifulness.
In general, prayers for the dead are addressed to God, the Fair Judge, in the following wise words of the Armenian Apostolic Church hymn: “O Lord, judge us not according to Your justice, but forgive us our sins according to Your mercy.”
With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

We have taken earth from the tomb of the dead person, brought it home and poured in the flower-pot. Later we were told that earth taken from the tomb should not be kept at home. Can we take earth back to the tomb?

That earth is only earth and has nothing to do with the dead person. We should not relate everything to religion. Those who advise you to take the earth back to the tomb are filled with heathen fears because it is just heathens who worship material and are dependent on material. We – Christians, accord importance to soul and spiritual communication with God. Be sure that you are not subjected to any danger independent on taking the earth back to the graveyard or not.
With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

Sometimes after visiting the graveyard additional incense or wood remains. Can we bring them back home or not?

Graveyard is the place where the remains of our dead relatives rest, whereas their souls are in the heaven. We often visit their tombs, burn incense and pray for the rest of their souls and that is important, whereas the remaining points are of organizational nature. There can be a small closet in the graveyard where incense, wood and basin could be kept so that they should not be taken home and later - to the graveyard each time. Otherwise those items could be brought home as there is nothing dangerous or evil in it. It is better not to give way to superstitions and lead a life decent to true Christian.
With regards, Editorial Staff of the website www.qahana.am

According to the canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church how should be celebrated the anniversary of death of dead Christian? Is only visiting the tomb of the dead person without ordering a requiem service, simply remembering the relatives that day inadmissible?

According to the canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church on the day following the burial, the seventh, fortieth days of death and the anniversary of death the priest performs a special service which is prayer recited for the peace of the dead person’s soul. The goal of visiting the deceased relatives’ tombs is not crying desperately, but praying for their immortal souls. Hence it is necessary to go to the graveyard together with the priest.
With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

Does the Feast of Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Easter) break the 40-day period following the death of the deceased person?

Certainly, no. You may count 40 days after the death of the deceased person and that day commemorate the 40-day period following the death.
With blessing, Fr. Shahe Hayrapetian

What to do if the 40-day period following the death of the deceased person coincides with the Feast of Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Easter)?

This year April 1 is the day of commemoration of the deceased. So, let that date become the 40th day following the death of the deceased person.
With blessing, Fr. Shahe Hayrapetian

My grandmother is seriously ill, she can pass away at every moment. I know that it is very important to repent before death, to receive forgiveness of sins, but my grandmother is hardly able to speak or to say something. What should I do in order my grandmother to spend her last days decent to true Christian and her soul to deserve the Heavenly Kingdom?

You should immediately turn to a priest so that he should come to your grandmother and give her the last communion which is very important for the soul’s salvation.
With regards, Editorial Staff of the website www.qahana.am

What is agony? What should be done if human being is in agony? What should be asked from our Lord Jesus Christ for a person in agony? Can people speak with dying person, pray loudly, try to give him water?

When human being is between life and death and his soul should be separated from his body, body is subjected to various physical torments. Soul can be separated from body also quietly. There are cases when human being is in agony for even a few weeks. In such cases physicians state that senses do not work, there is no vision, hearing, only breathing is preserved. Spiritual approach is needed to the state of souls’ separating from body. In the West attempts are made to reveal human attitude towards the incurable by means of applying euthanasia thus depriving human being from the providence of God Who is the master of life and death. In the late Middle Ages some chapters have been separated from the book of “Prayerbook of Lamentations” by St. Gregory of Narek and have been read by the clergy nearby the bed of person in agony. In those chapters soul’s journey to the sky, saints’ intercessions to God for the dead person, heavenly kingdom’s door’s being opened and the desire for God’s mercifulness and pitifulness are described. Certainly it is necessary to pray in such situation, and however, it is necessary to invite clergyman so that he should give the last communion to the dying person. Soul longs for Christ’s Flesh and Blood. As Jesus says in the Gospel according to John, “… I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God” (Jn 20:17).

With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Gevondian

My 89-year-old grandmother is ill already for one week and suffers from pains. Why does she suffer now if she has always been very kind and honest?

God is merciful. Do not stop praying God for your grandmother’s health. We cannot so why are those pains, tortures, temptations. Each of us should have comprehension of life – God’s grace, by means of which we will be able to face temptations. Kindness and honesty are lasting values which no one can take away from us. They are human being’s decorations which decorate the human soul like pearls.
With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

My mother, of blessed memory, was a very kind woman. However, it is already for 20 years that just when she comes in my or my brothers’ dreams one of the members of our family gets ill although we are not inclined to it. I never tell my family members that I have seen my mother in my dream and nevertheless, the dream is always realized. How to explain that such a kind woman can bring illness by means of appearing in the dream?

First of all it should be mentioned that the above-mentioned phenomenon is of personal, subjective nature and hardly can it be related to the person of your dead mother. We often get ill and it is related to the sick rate. How to explain the phenomenon when many people associate with the person having influenza, but only few people get ill? According to that logic the human being gets ill if there is genetic predisposition to the given disease.

What refers to dead relatives, in difference to us they do not have the power to change anything in this world. Whereas we, relying on God’s boundless pitifulness, can alleviate their state by means of prayer, according to the words of St. Gregory of Tatev, we may the debts of our dead relatives.  For that goal there is the Repose of Souls service conducted by the clergy either in the church or in the graveyard during the burial ceremony, on the next day following the burial ceremony, on special dates such as 7th and 40th day after the death, anniversary of death, memorial days following the major church feasts, etc.

It is necessary to order Repose of Souls service for your dead mother and each time while praying either at home or in the church to remember her in your prayer so that both her state and your conscience should be alleviated.

With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

Does God punish the human being during his earthly life?

It is the human being that punishes himself. When the human being has a guilty conscience, it is the beginning of the hell. When the human being’s inner world is not calm, quiet, he begins to think of the evil, to make mistakes, Satan dwells in the human being. That is already the presence of the hell in the world.

With blessing, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian

Why do the Armenian Christians always kiss the cross?

Cross is the symbol of the victory of Christianity. Apostle St. Peter says, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Ga 6:14). We kiss the cross as the expression of our respect and love towards Christ. It is not casual that we are considered to be a nation worshipping the cross. Our love towards the cross is displayed in the cross-stone art.

With blessing, Rev. Fr. Shnorhk Sarkissian

While making the sign of cross should we move the right hand from the right to the left or vice versa? How should we make the sign of cross in the right way?

While making the sign of cross Armenians move the right hand from the right to the left, whereas Russians and Greeks do the contrary. While making the sign of cross Armenians pray and do the following corresponding movements: for the sake of the Father (the right hand is moved to the forehead), the Son (the right hand is moved down to the chest), the Spirit (the right hand is moved to the left) Holy (the right hand is moved to the right), Amen (the right hand with the opened palm is put on the chest).
Russians pray in the following way: for the sake of the Father (the right hand is moved to the forehead), the Son (the right hand is moved down to the chest), the Holy (the right hand is moved to the right) Spirit (the right hand is moved to the left), Amen (the right hand with the opened palm is put on the chest).

So, while saying the word “Spirit” Armenians and Russians move the right hand to the left, that is – to the heart, which is considered the “dwelling of the soul.” So, there is no essential difference, simply adherents of each Church make the sign of cross as it is accepted in the given Church to do. 

With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

What do the following words mean: “That is my cross and I must bear it till the end.” How to bear the cross? What expects to the person who bears his cross?

Saying “one’s cross” we mean difficulties and grave situations which face the human being during his life and which human being is able to overcome. Human being should not avoid of difficulties but he should sustain as it is by means of suffering that human being knows and gets close to God. This life is nothing else but a chance of knowing God.
With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

Are natural calamities deeds of Satan or the Holy Spirit?

The reason for natural calamities is human being. Before sinning human being always ignores his crimes whereas only he is guilty for his misfortunes and neither Satan nor the Holy Spirit of God.
With blessing, Father Smbat Sargsian

Why Almighty God did not spare one of His most beloved nations and did not prevent the Genocide of our nation?

There are no more or less beloved nations for God. Let’s remember the history of Christianity. God incarnated. He didn’t sin but He was crucified. Innocent blood was shed. It was His mission.

In general, Crucifixion of Christ, Genocide of Armenians and Jews and many other tragedies are the result of lack of love. Besides, everything should be reviewed within the frames of the historical period of time, as there is no nation in the world whose innocent bled wasn’t ever shed. Generally, history balances everything. If a nation is persecuted in any time, after several centuries the historical truth is reestablished. For instance, the Negroes were slaves in America. Whereas presently the President of the USA is a Negro. The Jews, who have survived genocide, presently have their powerful state and sources of influence throughout the world. Some of the reasons of the Armenian Genocide were absence of statehood, national program. However, the goal of the Turks – to annihilate Armenians completely, wasn’t realized. The Armenian nation wasn’t exterminated as the result of Genocide. Presently we have independent state and Diaspora. Presently we are claimers. 
Continuous course of history demands repayment and we are called to pursue that goal. God’s interference always balances the sides of history.

With blessing, Rev. Fr. Ghevond Hovhannesian

My question concerns the Armenian Genocide. In the Holy Bible Jesus did not abolish the law granted to the prophets who were born before Christ. Jesus says: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17). It means that Armenians have the right to fulfill the law “… An eye for an eye…” (Mt 5:38) and it will not be considered a sin, but also it would not be of any use?

Sawing the seeds of His new teaching - the teaching of love, Christ gradually prepared His listeners. He did the same during the Sermon on the Mount. He spoke about the beatitudes not calling for concrete actions. But it was something new for Jews and already then they could doubt Christ in opposing the law. And before His new wonderful laws were written down Christ reputed some mistrustful points: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17).

His teaching did not abolish the previous law, but filled and made it more perfect. There are three truths in the above mentioned words of Christ
1. He really fulfilled the law (See Mt 3:15, Jn 8:46, 14:30).
2. He fulfilled the law instead of us as whoever does not fulfill even one point of the law, is sinful before the entire law. And that is why the Lord, fulfilling the entire law, granted us perfection.  (See Ro 10:4; 8:3-4; 3:31): The goal of the law was making the human being righteous, but it failed, therefore Jesus Himself served to that law establishing the order of being justified by means of faith. Therefore, we fulfill the law believing that Christ fulfilled it.
3. The words “… You shall not murder… But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mt 5:21-22) do not mean that He abolished the divine commandment, but He made it more perfect and established it. Who is not burnt with anger will not dare to kill anyone. And who restrains anger will not certainly loosen hands. In the same way it is spoken about fornication, etc.

And what refers to the words “… An eye for an eye…” (Mt 5:38), Christ fulfilled them on the cross. For instance, if someone puts out my eye, I should do the same to him/her. Whereas during the Sermon on the Mount Christ teaches us: “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Mt 5:39). And to the person who put out my eye He would say: “Your eye should be put out, but dying on the cross I have undertaken your sin and you won’t be punished if you repent and ask for forgiveness and absolution.”

So, in the Sermon on the Mount we see how God gradually elevates the human being to perfection. As if run all through from “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Mt 5:3) to “… turn the other cheek to him also.” (Mt. 5: 39), “Love Your Enemies” (Mt 5:43). “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mt 5:48). See how perfect is the teaching of Christ.

And what refers to genocide and revenge which “is not a sin, but also it will not be of any use,” I would like to mention that we - Armenians are the sons of resurrection and love. And the problem is our perfection. Perfection is the love both towards the intimates and God. Enemies have slapped on the right cheek, we have turned the other to them. They have envied us, but we have built cities and palaces for them. They have betrayed us, but we have remained loyal. They have wished to separate us from Christ but we have answered them that Christianity is not a garment, it is our skin which cannot be changed. And if we have taken arms, our goal has been not revenge, but obeying the divine commandment: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn 15:13), that is - for the sake of faith, family and motherland.

Hence, forgiving and loving the Turks does not mean forgetting our pain, but also it does not mean that we should have that pain in our hearts during our entire life and be filled with anger each time meeting them. In that case our hatred will kill our own selves. As a Christian nation we must pray for our Church and enemies of our faith so that they should keep away from evil. And if they do not repent, we should reprimand them, demand recognition of genocide instead of blessing them.

With blessing, Rev. Fr. Ghevond Hovhannesian

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