Faq

Armenian Apostolic Holy Church

Araratian Patriarchal Diocese

Faq

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


Վերջին 20 հարցերը

If human being leaves for other countries where it is difficult to find food to be eaten during fasting periods can he be free from fasting? Does this concern to the sick or travelers?

Christians having certain health problems may completely or partially refuse of fasting after consulting with priest and physician. What refers travelers, they should keep fasting if they are healthy. If due to some circumstances they have stopped fasting, returning they should continue it.


With regards, Editorial Staff of the website www.qahana.am

What is necessary for abstinence?

Abstinence is voluntary, it is obligatory only with some reservations. If the faithful wishes to receive Holy Communion he should prepare himself by fasting and abstinence since morning and can drink only water. If the person wishing to receive Holy Communion is pregnant or has health problems, he/she may eat bread and drink water. In the remaining cases it is up to the faithful when and how long to keep fasting and abstinence. However, such decision should be agreed with the priest so that the faithful should know the sense of fasting and abstinence. Fasting or abstinence without prayer and spiritual nourishment is senseless.


With regards, Editorial Staff of the website www.qahana.am

How long is it necessary to fast in order to receive Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy celebrated on Sunday? Is drinking water allowed? Can one-year-old child receive Holy Communion without fasting?

In order to receive Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy celebrated on Sunday it is necessary to fast since morning. Drinking water is not forbidden, but it is desirable not to drink water.
According to the canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church children under the age of 14 have the right of receiving Holy Communion without fasting.


With regards, Editorial Staff of the website www.qahana.am

I am 21-year-old student. For three years I have kept all fasting days and weeks, and however, sometimes I have felt weakness. My mother thinks that maybe I should not keep all fasting days and weeks and maybe I should better keep only the period of Great Lent.

St. Isaiah the Hermit says: “Body is the soul/s servant, if you do not feed the body, it will not serve you.” It means that we should feed the body moderately. Strict fasting is a virtue proper to the monks only, but only those who repent can keep fasting under the strong control of the clergy. Monks also have their confessor and do not keep fasting independently. We should not forget that we live not for our own self but for our relatives. And if we grow weak it will be bad not only for us but for our relatives who we must take care. So we should keep fasting but moderately.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

In case of stopping fasting can I continue fasting? 

Yes, you can. Although it is preferable not to stop fasting, but if you done it, try to continue.


With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

My friend is not so pious, she even does not attend the church services and the Divine Liturgies, and nevertheless, she is about to keep the Great Lent. Is not it senseless?

Fasting pursues a certain goal dictated by the Holy Church. The sense of fasting is refusing of sins. If someone keeps fasting pursuing other goals he can do it at any other time as such behavior is not related to the Great Lent. The Holy Church considers all Sundays of the period of Great Lent special and has special exhortations in relation to each Sunday. Without following those exhortations and instructions fasting is senseless. All information concerning the Sundays of the period of Great Lent is available here:
http://www.qahana.am/?ln=am&page=holidays /


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

For many years I have kept fasting both physically and spiritually. I have eaten food only of vegetable origin, have gone to the church and have prayed. Now I have health problems and cannot keep fasting for more than three weeks. What should I do and especially which weeks I should keep fasting? 

It is necessary to be spiritually steadfast. Apostle St. Paul says: “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (See GA 3:3, 5:16-17). It is good for each Christian that each step and each deed on the way of salvation should be with priest’s blessing. The priest who can be your confessor will realize your problem and give good advice on how to keep fasting.
Those who are seek or undergoing a course of treatment and take medicine sometimes with the blessing of priest keeps only partial fasting or sometimes do not at all keep fasting.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

When the faithful can receive Holy Communion during the period of Great Lent?

During the period of Great Lent the faithful can receive Holy Communion only on the days of important church feasts when Divine Liturgy is celebrated with the altar curtains opened, for instance, on April 7, the feast of Annunciation to St. Mary, Commemoration Day of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Torments and Commitment to the Pit and on the feast of Palm Sunday celebrating the Triumphant Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, as well as on February 14, the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple, if the period of Great Lent starts earlier in the given year.


With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

I am a student and usually eat at home only once during the day and once - in the canteen. Can I fast for 40 days during the summer holidays instead of the fasting during the 40-day period of Great Lent?

The sense of fasting is not in eating or not eating. It is not important how many times human being eats during the day. The sense of hunger is important as tolerating hunger human being gets used to temperance and restraint. Temperance and restraint are necessary especially for our spiritual life as we should be restrained not only in eating but also in speaking, sleeping. And it is here that Church helps us. So, it is necessary to keep fasting just during the period of Great Lent. You can refuse of the meals offered by the canteen and eat only once at home. And if there is no Lenten meal at home you can simply eat not much.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

My mother is 76-year-old and suffers from stomach ulcer, and however, she wishes to keep the Great Lent. Will it be admissible for God if fasting aggravates her health state?

It is necessary to consult her doctor. Anyway, in case of stomach ulcer it is necessary to follow a special diet which is already a kind of fasting. However, maybe on the background of treatment it will be possible to keep fasting in the way your mother prefers. 
With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

Is it possible to refuse only of meat during the period of Great Lent? Will it be considered proper fasting? What kind of prayers should be recited during the Great Lent? Are there such prayers in the page of prayers of your website?

The Great Lent is a period of penitence during which we refuse of all kinds of food of animal origin and keep fasting with the goal of getting used to refusing of sins. The sense of fasting is not in eating or not eating but in restraining ill passions.
During the period of Great Lent you can read penitence prayers and psalms in “Gandzasar” Prayer book (existing in Armenian only), prayers from the “Book of Lamentations” by St. Gregory of Narek, the "Powerful" Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian (all mentioned prayers are available in this website, “Powerful" Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian) and add to those prayers your sincere requests. Recite prayers not for the sake of reading but for feeling regret in your soul and being determined to refuse of sins.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

I got married a week ago and in fact presently it is the period of our honeymoon, but my wife says that connubial relations are forbidden during the period of Great Lent. Is it really so?

Really, it is so. During the period of Great Lent connubial relations are not encouraged. The 82nd Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul Shnork Galustyan writes the following about this: “Fasting and please are opposite phenomena and therefore it is impossible to imagine fasting accompanied by play, joy and dance” (see “Golden Chain of Sundays of the Great Lent of the Great Lent” by the late Patriarch, Archbishop Shnorhk Galustyan of Istanbul. Holy Etchmiadzin, 2008. P. 13). However, fasting is voluntary. Apostle St. Peter exhorts people to temperance and restraint (as temperance and restraint are necessary for spiritual life) and at the same time does not oblige them saying: “Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.” (1 Co 7:5-6). Not honeymoon is important, but respect and love towards each other is important. Do not scorn those feelings because of honeymoon. If you really love your wife it is correct to concede. However, your wife also can concede. Issues concerning fasting are settled down in the family on the basis of mutual agreement. If you cannot withstand, you can ask your wife not to keep fasting. In that case breaking fasting she will not sin.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

If I have not kept fasting from the beginning of the Great Lent can I start at any time?

Church Fathers instruct to keep fasting during the period of the Great Lent without any failure. However, if because of some reasons you have failed and have not kept fasting you can start now and your effort will be admitted by God.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

How is fasting stopped on the day of Mijink?

The 24th day or the fourth Wednesday of the period of Great Lent is called Mijink. It is not a church feast and fasting is not stopped that day, but is kept strictly. Respecting the national tradition on the day of Mijink we can bake unleavened cake and eat it without intention of fortune-telling.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

Is it permitted to eat fish during the period of Great Lent?

Fish is food of animal origin and that is why it is not permitted to eat fish during the period of Great Lent.


With blessing, Fr. Shmavon Ghevondian

Why church altar curtains are closed and remain closed during the period of Great Lent and are opened during the Candlelight Divine Liturgy celebrated on the eve of the Feast of Holy Resurrection?

Church altar curtains are closed since the Eve of Great Lent or Great Barekendan. However, during the period of Great Lent curtains are opened on several occasions including the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple (Tiarn’ndaraj, or Candlemas as it is known in the West), Feast of Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, Commemoration of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s torments and commitment to the pit. The period of Great Lent ends with the commemoration of Raising of Lazarus. That is why on Saturday, in the evening, altar curtains are closed and thus the end of the period of Great Lent is announced. Following it the Holy Week starts. Till the evening of the Holy Thursday all prayers and rites are dedicated to the Coming of the Lord symbolizing the Triumphant Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday a Divine Liturgy is celebrated during which altar curtains are opened and the faithful can attend the Liturgy and receive Holy Communion. In the afternoon, during the night service, altar curtains are again closed and are finally opened only during the Candlelight Divine Liturgy celebrated on the eve of the Feast of Holy Resurrection. Closed curtains symbolize Christ’s tortures, Crucifixion, Death and Burial, destruction of hell and liberation of righteous souls and only with the good tiding of Christ’s raising from the dead the great glory of God is revealed to us.


With blessing, Fr. Shahe Hayrapetian

At what hours and on what days are the seven prayers recited during the period of Great Lent?

The Armenian Apostolic Church has nine services. During the period of Great Lent they are concentrated and offered in the morning, at 9.00 a.m. and in the evening, at 17.00 p.m. Simply the night service is joined to the morning service and the sunrise service, and peace service and rest service are joined to the evening service.
In the monasteries there was no need of joining church services. At 3.00 a.m. the night service (1) was offered, at 6.00 a.m. - the morning service (2), a 7.00 a.m. - the sunrise service (3), then the third hour service, the sixth hour service and the ninth hour service (4, 5, 6) after which Divine Liturgy was celebrated. Following the Liturgy there was a pause till the evening service (7), then the peace service (8). After the rest service (9) the monks went to bed.


With blessing, Fr. Shahe Hayrapetian

Is only black bread and water allowed during the last week of the Great Lent?

During the Holy Week, following the period of Great Lent, fasting conditions do not change. In that period also it is needed to avoid animal food (unless, of course, there will be special instructions by the confessor priest). In that period fervent prayer and frequent attendance at daily church services having special significance are necessary, too. Participation in Holy Week church services is important as by means of those services we share Our Lord Jesus Christ’s torments and become witnesses of his glorious Resurrection.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

I am aware that during fasting periods faithful do not receive Holy Communion as fasting periods are periods of penitence. However, during the fasting period preceding the Holy Christmas faithful are given Holy Communion. What is the reason for such difference?

In the past the Armenian Apostolic Church had three main fasting periods lasting fifty days preceding the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Transfiguration. However, in order people not to be tired of long-lasting fasting periods Pontiff St. Nerses the Great and his successors distributed the fasting periods preceding the feasts of Christmas and Transfiguration into parts and spread them during the whole year in the form of one-week lasting fasting periods.
During the fasting period preceding Christmas altar curtain is not closed in difference to the period of Great Lent. Therefore on January 1, when we celebrate a Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the New Year and on the Sunday during January 1-5 the faithful can receive Holy Communion.


With blessing, Fr. Smbat Sargsian

I am not married but I love a man whose wife has passed away, he has offspring. Is my love to him a sin against his dead wife? Can I be blessed in the church if we decide to marry?

You can marry him as you have the full right to happiness. Moreover, that marriage will grant you the chance of becoming the orphans’ mother. God will surely bless you if you live your life decent to true Christian. You have not sinned against the deceased woman who is in the heaven. Go to the church and get married according to the church sacrament of marriage and God will bless your life.
With regards, Editorial Staff of the website www.qahana.am

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