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Surprising but welcome news indeed, of the Armenian Catholicos of Echmiadzin and the Patriarch of Constantinople consecrating Armenian holy chrism together.

http://news-nftu.blogspot.com/2008/10/ecumenical-consecration-of-holy-chrism.html
(The news site is identified with ROAC but the news reports in themselves seem fine)

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My friend,
The article did not say that.

From the article: "The ceremony consecrating the holy chrism in Echmiadzin, which is conducted by the Armenian Apostolic Church every seven years, was attended by representatives of twelve churches in particlular: Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Assyrian, Constantinople and Malabar.

"Under the canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church the blessing of chrism is maintained by right only to the Catholicos of all Armenians" In the sanctification, the Armenian Apostolic Church uses two relics: the right hand of Gregory the Illuminator and the holy spear pierced Jesus was crucified on the Cross of Christ.

"The right hand of the founder of the Armenian Apostolic Church - Gregory the Illuminator - during the consecration process was kept by Karekin II, and the other - the holy spear - by Bartholomew I."

Please re-read the article. A deeper read of the article tells us something quite different.

We must be very careful on how these celebrations are reported to the public, of which may be misunderstood and may actually set back true and lasting that we all desire.

One should note that the Ecumenical Patriarch was NOT wearing any vestments that would be required for any official liturgical act such as the consecration of Chrism.

Thank you for letting us know about this article. I am very pleased that these churches were in attendance.

Ray
www.theologyincolor.com [theologyincolor.com]

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Quote
"Under the canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church the blessing of chrism is maintained by right only to the Catholicos of all Armenians"

RAY:

To follow up on what you post, if this quote is taken literally, no one else who is present "consecrates" or "blesses" the chrism of the Armenian Church, regardless of who they are. The authority and the ability resides in one man's office. It wouldn't matter if the Popes of Rome and Alexandria were there together with the EP, the heads of all other Orthodox Churches--Byzantine and Oriental--and the entire Armenian hierarchy. The blessing comes from the man occupying the office of Catholicos.

BOB

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Thank you, Bob, for amplifying this point.

I do believe that it was indeed a "blessing" and great joy to have these hierarchs assemblied together for this consecration!

Ray

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RAY:

It's always a good sign for brethren to be together for important events in the lives of our still-divided Churches. It's also good not to let confusion reign when people get the wrong impression.

Certainly there would be Orthodox Christians upset if they were given the impression that the EP had a hand in consecrating chrism for a Church with which he and the rest of the Orthodox Church were not in communion. While we can wish for that day, it sin't here by a long shot.

OTOH, that portion about the Armenian Church's canons means that even if we were all in communion at some point in the future and the need to consecrate chrism for that particular Church came up it would still only be the Catholicos who was doing the consecrating--unless they changed their own particular canon law.

I think of the headline in the secular press about His All-Holiness "concelebrating" at a papal Mass at his last visit to Rome. Just because a man sits next to the Pope for the Liturgy fo the Word doesn't mean he is concelebrating. And for the untrained, his mandyas isn't a sign of his being vested to concelebrate even though it doesn't look like street clothes.

In Christ,

BOB

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Excellent point, Bob.

We cannot trust the media when it comes to matters of the Church or even politics.

We must ask those whom we trust to provide a truthful explanation.

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Bob,

When the foreign press reports on these events, the correct words are not often used to reflect our understanding of what had taken place. Case in point, look at the title of the article that I posted in the Church News section of the Forum: "Naples Archbishop handed over St. Januarius's relics to Alexy II". At first glance it looks like the Archbishop gave all of the relics of the saint to Patriarch Alexis, but it was only a portion of the relic. Maybe a better headline would say..."Naple's Archbishop presents St. Januarius's relic to Alexy II".

Now, concerning the article we are discussing, maybe the headline could have been worded: "Eastern Church Leaders Witness Holy Myrrh Consecration." That is a better reflection of the event.

There are alot of negative and unexpected things that can happen in the world or our little corner if you are only a headline reader. Bob, you are not one of them, and I trust that others here will resist the temptation to become one. In journalism school they teach you how to write a good headline to grab the reader's attention. The foreign press may not have that great command of how to translate into English.

Words have power.

For those who may not know this, but it is general rule within Orthodoxy that each primate of the self-governing church consecrate the chrism. The Catholicos of the Armenians is no different in this regard. There is never a "concelebration" of this liturgical act. In the Western tradition, consecration of the chrism is not reserved to the Pope of Rome alone, but shared by all of the bishops under his jurisdiction. But even then, the bishop does this alone and never is concelebrated.

What I find interesting is the unique practice of the Armenian Apostolic Church of consecrating the chrism with the relics of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, which are contained in a reliquary shaped in the form of an arm and hand. Can anyone here speak to the origin of this practice?

Again, I wish to thank AsianPilgrim for bringing this article to our attention.

Ray



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Originally Posted by 70x7
What I find interesting is the unique practice of the Armenian Apostolic Church of consecrating the chrism with the relics of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, which are contained in a reliquary shaped in the form of an arm and hand. Can anyone here speak to the origin of this practice?

Ray,

I'm hopeful that our brother, Subdeacon Ghazar, will see this thread and offer some added background (as far as I know, Bill is the only Armenian Orthodox member active in our community), but I'll offer what I can.

Tradition has it that the blessing of Holy Muron (or Myron) has been performed by the Catholicos every seven years since first done by Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who baptized the Armenian king in the 3rd century and converted his people. The reliquary used by the present-day Catholicos was fashioned to hold the right hand and arm of Saint Gregory after the Saint's repose and it has been used to stir and bless the Chrism by each and every Catholicos since that time.

The Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, the two Armenian Patriarchs, and all the Armenian Primates, together with most - if not all - of the Armenian bishops gather once every 7 years to be present at Holy Etchmiadzin - the See of the Supreme Catholicos - for the blessing. As is the case in many of our own patriarchal Churches, the Primates then return to their own Sees with Holy Myron and distribute it to the bishops subordinate to them.

CNEWA did a piece on this about 10 years back, you can read it here [cnewa.org]. There's a link at the end to another piece in the same issue which includes portions of the prayer by St Gregory of Narek that is recited during the ceremonies.

There's also a detailed description of the 40 day preparatory period here [jdemirdjian.com]. It includes pictures of the Myron from Holy Etchmiadzin being added to the Myron at Antelias in Lebanon, the site of the See of the Catholicos of Cilicia.

Many years,

Neil


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Neil,
Thank you for your reply and the links.

On a search, I found the following links from the Armenian Church describing the events of that day.

http://66.208.37.78/index.jsp?sid=3&nid=1132&y=2008&m=8&d=28
http://66.208.37.78/index.jsp?sid=3&nid=1133&y=2008&m=8&d=28
http://www.armenianchurch.ca/Images/news/20080222J1.jpg

In an unrelated event, the following article describes the ordination of priests by the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. It is very detailed, and mentions the use of the chrism in the ordination. It is fascinating!
http://www.lraper.org/main.aspx?Action=DisplayNews&NewsCode=N000000832&Lang=ENG

Ray


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Originally Posted by 70x7
Bob,

When the foreign press reports on these events, the correct words are not often used to reflect our understanding of what had taken place. Case in point, look at the title of the article that I posted in the Church News section of the Forum: "Naples Archbishop handed over St. Januarius's relics to Alexy II". At first glance it looks like the Archbishop gave all of the relics of the saint to Patriarch Alexis, but it was only a portion of the relic. Maybe a better headline would say..."Naple's Archbishop presents St. Januarius's relic to Alexy II".

Now, concerning the article we are discussing, maybe the headline could have been worded: "Eastern Church Leaders Witness Holy Myrrh Consecration." That is a better reflection of the event.

There are alot of negative and unexpected things that can happen in the world or our little corner if you are only a headline reader. Bob, you are not one of them, and I trust that others here will resist the temptation to become one. In journalism school they teach you how to write a good headline to grab the reader's attention. The foreign press may not have that great command of how to translate into English.

Words have power.

For those who may not know this, but it is general rule within Orthodoxy that each primate of the self-governing church consecrate the chrism. The Catholicos of the Armenians is no different in this regard. There is never a "concelebration" of this liturgical act. In the Western tradition, consecration of the chrism is not reserved to the Pope of Rome alone, but shared by all of the bishops under his jurisdiction. But even then, the bishop does this alone and never is concelebrated.

What I find interesting is the unique practice of the Armenian Apostolic Church of consecrating the chrism with the relics of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, which are contained in a reliquary shaped in the form of an arm and hand. Can anyone here speak to the origin of this practice?

Again, I wish to thank AsianPilgrim for bringing this article to our attention.

Ray

Thank you, and sorry for the misleading headline.

The report, though, notes that the Holy Spear was carried by Patriarch Bartholomew during the rite of consecration. I realize that that does not mean that the Patriarch "concelebrated" the consecration of the chrism, but it was, nevertheless, a striking image and concession. Or am I missing something?

I hope that, within my lifetime, the two great bodies of Orthodox will reunite. In my humble opinion, only when they have reunited can there be any real hope of Catholic-Orthodox reunion.

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Ray,

I have to admit that I'm a bit embarressed that I didn't think to look to the website of Holy Ecthmiadzin for material, because it's a superb source that I've used often.

Thank you for those links, particularly the beautiful and detailed description of the ordination.

Pilgrim,

No, I don't think that you are missing something. While His All-Holiness witnessed rather than participated in the consecration, I agree with you that there was great symbolism in his being permitted/asked to carry or hold the Holy Spear. The Armenian Church is noted for its strong commitment to ecumenism, even among the Oriental Churches - which, overall, are noted for their openness toward the other Apostolic Churches.

Many years,

Neil


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Lots of Pictures [malankaraorthodoxchurch.in]!! What a beautiful event!


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