Catholic Armenia

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                                   Armenian Catholic Liturgy                                                                                .

The Armenian Rite is one of the more ancient liturgies of the Catholic Church. it has its origins from the ancient Syriac and Cappadocian Liturgical rites which are considered to be the father churches of the Armenian church.

Armenia was said to have been first evangelized by the Apostles Bartholomew and Jude Thaddeus who converted a few Armenians during the first century and established a small and persecuted Armenian church within an overwhelmingly pagan nation in Lesser Armenia which was comprised of Edessa. The apostles managed to convert king Abgar of Edessa who died a couple of years after his baptism and had his realm restored to paganism by his pagan son Ananias. Both apostles were later martyred for the faith in the vicinity of Armenia.

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The next chapter for the church in Armenia began with a son of a nobleman whose father was killed for being seen as a political enemy by the king and was taken by his caretakers to Cappadocia in the roman empire to be brought up as a devout Catholic by the priest Phirmilianos  who educated him in the Catholic faith. Legend has it that he ventured off to evangelize his homeland but was immediately imprisoned by the king for 12 years in a pit where he remained until king Tiridates went insane after suffering a major loss in a war with the roman empire. Gregory was released from his imprisonment in 297 and was brought forth to cure the king’s ailment, which he did accomplish immediately after baptizing Tiridates III. The King then made the Catholic faith the state religion and from then on Armenia became known as the first Catholic nation with Georgia and Ethiopia following suit.

 

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St. Mesrob creating Armenian alphabet. 

After the conversion of the state, Armenia became a nominally Catholic nation with the liturgical language of the church being Syriac and Greek. It would not be until 405 AD when St Mesrob, an ordained priest-monk(vardapet), created a writing system for the Armenian language when the mass was finally translated to the vernacular. Afterwards, the last vestiges of paganism were wiped out of the kingdom and the church produced many saints such as St. Sahag.

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Bishop Michael with Fr. Anthony before the Liturgy on Theophany.

 

 

 

 

How to confess in the Byzantine Rite

With head uncovered, approach the priest.
Facing the icon of Christ or, if one is not available, the Gospel book and the cross:

Cross yourself twice.

Kiss the Gospel book and the cross.

Cross yourself a third time.

Penitent: I, a sinner, confess to Almighty God, the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity; to the Immaculate Virgin, the Mother of God, to Saint N. my patron saint, to all the Saints, and to you, my spiritual father, all my sins:

Here list all your sins.

Penitent: For these sins, and for all my sins which I cannot remember, I am truly sorry because I have offended God who is good.
I sincerely repent and I promise, with the help of God, to better my way of life.

And so, I ask you, my spiritual father, for saving penance and absolution.

(If you are not already doing so, kneel.)
Prayer of Absolution
The priest may place his epitrachelion (stole) over your head and will make the sign of the cross on your head.

Priest: May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and mercies of His love for us, pardon you, my child, N., all your faults, and I, an unworthy priest, by His authority given me, pardon and absolve you of all your sins, in the name of the ✚Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
After the priest has spoken to you and given absolution,
get up and cross yourself twice;

kiss the Gospel book and cross;

cross yourself a third time and bow.

Then turn toward the priest, bow to him, saying, “Thank you, Father,”
kiss the end of the epitrachelion (stole) which he is wearing,

and go to your place.

There, kneel down, say your penance, and thank God in your own words for His great mercy.
Then, go in peace.

 Another Short Form of Confession in the Byzantine Churches

(For those who are familiar with the Roman Catholic rite)

Penitent: Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been [how long] since my last confession.
Here confess your sins.
Receive any counsel or penance offered.
Crossing yourself after each declaration, say:
Penitent: God, be merciful to me, a sinner. ✚
Penitent: God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. ✚
Penitent: I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord. ✚
The priest then says the prayer of absolution.

 – Text adapted with appreciation from The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship by the Met. Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Ottawa, 2004).