Catholicosate of Cilicia
Antelias - Lebanon
On Sunday, December 22nd, 2019, the Armenian Church, Catholicosate of Cilicia, celebrated the feast of the Deacon and Protomartyr St. Stephen. Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, presided over by His Holiness Aram I, at St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Antelias.
Archbishop Shahan delivered the sermon, where he highlighted the importance of prayer in individual and community life. Talking about the life and mission of St. Stephen, who has dedicated his life to serve the needy, the Archbishop said that while being unjustly stoned, St Stephen has prayed that the Lord would receive his spirit and his killers be forgiven, and the gates of heaven have opened in front of him. Translating this in the present context, especially in light of the Lebanese current situation, Archbishop Shahan encouraged us to follow the example of the Protodeacon and help those in need, and the gates of Heaven will open in front of us.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the celebration of the feast continued at the Main Hall of the Catholicosate, organized by the deacons of the Armenian Theological Seminary. Deacon Krikor Arabatlian delivered the opening remarks, where he renewed his and his friends’ vows to serve the people. Nest, hymns were recited by the deacons and Deacon Nareg Philiguian read a passage from the Holy Bible dedicated to the feast.
Finally, His Holiness concluded the celebration with a pontifical message. He stressed the three main three qualities of St. Stephen: Love of God, commitment to a life of service and humility. The Catholicos underlined that being a disciple of Christ means following Him and his example and living by the values of the Christ. St. Stephen not only did love God but also dedicated his life to Him by serving Him, and serving the people through Him. His Holiness reminded the faithful that the material possessions are only valued when translated into serving the have nots, and concluded his message saying that today, we need St. Stephens in our lives.
The ceremony came into conclusion with “Cilicia” anthem and His Holiness blessing the deacons and the faithful.