In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. My beloved, today is the feast day of one of the great saints, Saint Gregory the Illuminator, Catholicos of Armenia, and the patron saint of Armenia (or in Armenian, “Soorp Grigor Lusavorich”).
He converted the king and nation of Armenia to Christianity in 301 AD, making Armenia the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion.
On this day, let us remember Saint Gregory, the Enlightener of Armenia, whose Apostolic Church, the wonderful archbishop, and his administrators (beloved brothers Greg and Pierre), have blessed our humble community to worship at this consecrated Church named after the holy Enlightener of Armenia. We are in their debt, and our humble prayers with all of them always. Saint Gregory the Illuminator, pray for us.
One of the most beautiful images has to be the Khor Virap monastery set against the immense beauty of the snowy Mount Ararat in Armenia. Khor Virap means “deep pit” in Armenian, and was where Saint Gregory was imprisoned in a deep dungeon for 13 years by the pagan king Trdat III. Saint Gregory endured and was steadfast as a soldier of Christ, and braved on to eventually convert king Trdat III and the nation of Armenia to Christianity.
Let us recall from LXX Psalm 129, of the call to our God, during our challenges and difficult ordeals. We may never, blessedly, face ordeals as colossal as the blessed Saint Gregory, and yet, we are called to holiness and an ever-closer walk towards God. In all challenges, let us remember that there is Divine reason in all things, and that God loves us, and through our challenges, we are called to recognizing His Divine signs along our paths.
An important lesson, as we fondly remember Saint Gregory the Illuminator, is that the blessed saint suffered for 13 long years, and yet, upon his release, he did not bear hatred against king Trdat III, but shared the love of Christ instead. Likewise, as we read from Daniel 9:9-10, we are to remember that our God has infinite mercy and love for us, and that we are to imitate God Incarnate, our Christ, in following His ways, His laws, and His love for others, whatever condition they may be in. It is no easy task to love another, and especially if we consider another person an “enemy”. But yet, as Saint Gregory has shown us in history, love for one another, even “enemies”, is a sure sign of a closeness to the nature of Christ, and close to God.
The Gospel of Saint Matthew 24:42-47, showed us that one of the hallmarks of a faithful Christian is one who is mindful of the ways of our Lord and Christ Jesus. The story of a good servant faithful in his service to his Lord, is very dependent on whether the tasks are dutifully done with love, or the house fallen to shambles before the Lord returns. Too often, in our blessed times when life seems like a bed of roses, the pure indulgence of material comfort and enjoyment will blind us to our spiritual journey. Likewise, in our desperate times of great suffering, it may be easy to forget the love and mercy of our God. Being mindful of our Lord and God always, is what separates us as faithful pilgrims of Christ, to merely having the label of a Christian.
Apostle Saint Paul also taught us, in his first letter to the Corinthians in 16:13-14, to be mindful of our journey as pilgrims of Christ. He asked us to be firm in our faith, be brave to stand up for that faith, and be strong against all that may assail against our faith. But above all things, Saint Paul reminded us, we must do things in love.
Lastly, let us not forget Saint Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6:18, to pray unceasingly, which is the greatest manifestation of our being mindful of our God. Let us in any moment of our life, whether it is a calm moment, a busy moment, or even a moment of despair and danger, to pray, the Prayer of the Heart, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Let us pray the thanksgiving prayer:
It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.
O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Psalm 129 (LXX)
St Matthew 24:42-47
1 Corinthians 16:13-24