SURB PATARAG

The Holy Liturgy
of the Armenian Church

Taste and see how good the LORD is!
Psalm 34:9

The Šarakan for clothing the Patarag celebrant of Xač'atur wardapet Taronec'i (XIII c.), which is an integral part of today's Patarag of the Armenian Church, describes it in an excellent way in the following words: “O deep mystery, incomprehensible , beginningless...". So it is, as the Armenians say, a Xorhurd (Greek secret, Greek mystery), an incomprehensible gift from the Three-One God to man. It is the center of church worship and thus the center, source and climax of human life in faith in Christ. Surb Patarag is the church service during which the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist takes place. It is the mystery in which believers enter into fellowship with the true body and blood of Jesus Christ through the bread and wine, or participate in the body and blood of Christ.

If Holy Baptism is the gateway to the gifts of the Kingdom of God and thus the first mystery for every Christian, then Holy Eucharist is the mystery in which Christians communion with their Redeemer, Jesus Christ, through Holy Communion unite After all, it is the greatest mystery of the Church. In all mysteries, the invisible divine gifts are poured out on the believer through visible form. However, in all mysteries, except for the Holy Eucharist, the visible matter of the mystery (in Baptism - water, in Confirmation - St. Myro) remains unchanged. In the Holy Eucharist, on the other hand, the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Only after Holy Communion has been received by the faithful in faith does it have an invisible effect on the recipient.

Out of: Diradur Sardaryan, Surb Patarag - The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An introduction

Taste and see how good the LORD is!
Psalm 34:9

The Šarakan for clothing the Patarag celebrant of Xač'atur wardapet Taronec'i (XIII c.), which is an integral part of today's Patarag of the Armenian Church, describes it in an excellent way in the following words: “O deep mystery, incomprehensible , beginningless...". So it is, as the Armenians say, a Xorhurd (Greek secret, Greek mystery), an incomprehensible gift from the Three-One God to man. It is the center of church worship and thus the center, source and climax of human life in faith in Christ. Surb Patarag is the church service during which the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist takes place. It is the mystery in which believers enter into fellowship with the true body and blood of Jesus Christ through the bread and wine, or participate in the body and blood of Christ.

If Holy Baptism is the gateway to the gifts of the Kingdom of God and thus the first mystery for every Christian, then Holy Eucharist is the mystery in which Christians communion with their Redeemer, Jesus Christ, through Holy Communion unite After all, it is the greatest mystery of the Church. In all mysteries, the invisible divine gifts are poured out on the believer through visible form. However, in all mysteries, except for the Holy Eucharist, the visible matter of the mystery (in Baptism - water, in Confirmation - St. Myro) remains unchanged. In the Holy Eucharist, on the other hand, the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Only after Holy Communion has been received by the faithful in faith does it have an invisible effect on the recipient.

Out of: Diradur Sardaryan, Surb Patarag - The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An introduction

Main parts of the Patarag

The celebrant must prepare for the celebration of the liturgy the day before after evening prayers. With the appropriate prayers, he prepares the host (the unleavened, unsalted bread). Through fasting and prayer he prepares himself for the sacrament of the liturgy.

Before morning devotions or before dressing in the vestments intended for the liturgy, the celebrant says aloud the confession of faith and sins of the Armenian Apostolic Church. After that, the dressing takes place in the sacristy with the help of a deacon, who accompanies him with prayers and intercessions.

With the singing of the hymn "O deep mystery" (from Khachatur of Taron, 13th century) the celebrant, accompanied by deacons, comes out of the sacristy and enters the vestibule of the altar. He washes his hands while speaking alternately with a deacon Psalm 26, and then he blesses the congregation. Again with a corresponding prayer he confesses his transgressions and at the same time asks the heavenly father that he grants the believers forgiveness through his love for mankind. The reading then follows Psalms 100 and 43. The celebrant says that Psalm 43 alternately with a deacon and climbs up to the altar together with the deacons. The curtain of the altar is drawn and the celebrant reads two prayers to the Holy Spirit written by St. Grigor Narekatzi (10th century) behind the altar curtain. Then the deacon brings him the gifts, the communion wafer and the wine. The celebrant first blesses the host (unleavened bread specially prepared for the liturgy) and places it on a small plate (arm. Մաղզմայ) placed on top of the chalice. Then he blesses the pure red wine and pours it into the goblet. He covers the chalice with the plate with a veil, worships it and asks for the action of the Holy Spirit. The altar curtain is raised and the incense begins.

Accompanied by the chorus of the hymn "Through Intercession" the celebrant comes down the altar steps on the right and in a solemn procession with all the deacons and acolytes, he incenses and blesses the faithful and makes the procession through the church. He then climbs the altar steps on the left to the altar. This part, too "Arrival in the World" is named symbolizes the incarnation of the Lord, his message on earth and his life among men.

From: S. Isakhanyan, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Etchmiadzin, 2012

After the celebrant ascends to the altar, he again praises the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is followed by the hymn for the appropriate occasion. Then the choir sings Dreimalheilig, in which the holy, strong and immortal Son of God is praised, who opened the gates of heaven for mankind through his incarnation, his message on earth, his crucifixion and resurrection.

Now is the time to listen carefully to Bible truths. The prescribed Old Testament and New Testament readings take place on the occasion of the day. The readings culminate in the solemn reading of the given text from the Gospels, through which the Son of God himself addresses the believers.

After the readings, the celebrant, the deacons, the acolytes and the congregation say the creed together. The basis of the Confession of the Christian Faith was written by the Church Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325. The Patriarch of Armenia, St. Aristakes, son of St. Gregory the Illuminator, also attended this council.

The creed ends with the reading of the excommunication by a deacon, in which the position of the Armenian Apostolic Church on the basic elements of the faith is again confirmed. It excommunicates all those who dare to deviate from the true faith through their false views. Then the celebrant reads the eulogy of the father of the faith of the Armenians, St. Gregory the Illuminator: “But we, we shall glorify him who was before all time, worshiping the holy Trinity and one Deity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever and ever. Amen."

After this prayer, only those who had prepared themselves through prayer and fasting, repentance, confession and penance remained in the Church in ancient times. They were allowed to approach the Lord and commune with the life-giving body and blood of the native. The others who had not yet been baptized and were doing penance had to leave the church and follow the rest of the liturgy in the courtyard of the church. For this reason the deacon says at this point: "Let none of the catechumens, none of the doubters, none of the penitents and the impure approach this Divine Mystery, but go out the door now and pray".

From: S. Isakhanyan, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Etchmiadzin, 2012

The celebrant, who up to this point in the liturgy had symbolized the sovereign glory and presence of Christ, removes his crown (bishops or the catholicos remove all episcopal regalia) and becomes the humble minister of the Divine Redeeming Sacrament. In a few moments the deacon will give him the chalice and the Lord himself will sit at the Holy Table. The sanctification and the hymn provided (depending on the occasion) follow, during which the deacon incenses the chalice containing the host and the red wine, carries it solemnly to the altar and hands it over to the celebrant. The celebrant also incenses the chalice, turns to the congregation and blesses them with the chalice and sign of the cross with the words "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord". He puts the cup on the altar. Following the example of the Lord at his last supper, and as a sign of purity, the celebrant washes his fingers as he will touch the body and blood of the Lord.

The greeting of peace follows this part. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so should you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35). This is what the Lord commands His followers and all Christians to do. The presence of the Lord at the Holy Table is an occasion for believers to engage with one another "Holy Kiss" greet, as a visible expression of their faith and mutual Christian love. The deacon invites the faithful to exchange the greeting of peace. During the chorus the song "Christ Has Appeared Among Us" sings, the deacon descends from the sanctuary and exchanges the greeting of peace with the senior minister or, in his absence, with another deacon or member of the congregation. In this way, the faithful pass on the greeting of peace to one another until all have received the Holy Greeting from the Holy Table. The greeter says: "Christ Has Appeared Among Us" and the recipient replies: "Blessed be the appearing of Christ".

Inspired by the mutual greeting and brought into communion by Christian love, the faithful join with the heavenly Seraphins and Cherubs and sing the hymn of praise "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Hosts". During the song, the celebrant at the altar says a silent prayer, remembering the redeeming message of Jesus Christ and his willing sacrifice on the cross.

At this point the most contemplative climax of the liturgy is reached. The atmosphere in the church is like that of the last supper of the Lord. In awe, the celebrant opens the chalice, takes the Host in his hands, blesses it and lifts it aloft in view of the congregation, and speaks the redeeming words of the Lord: “Take and eat, this is my body, divided for you and for many for the remission and forgiveness of sins”. Then he takes the chalice with the wine, blesses it with the sign of the cross, lifts it up and speaks the redeeming words: "Drink of it, everyone, this is my blood of the new covenant, which was shed for you and for many for the remission and forgiveness of sins".

By repeating the words of the Lord, the celebrant dedicates the host and wine to the faithful, a symbolic expression of the body and blood of Christ, absolving us from guilt. Through the prayers and songs that follow, the faithful express their gratitude to each of the three Persons of the Trinity. during the song "Son of god" is sounded, the celebrant reverently opens the chalice again and the deacon administers incense. He blesses the offerings and asks the Heavenly Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit, to transform the host and wine into the body and blood of his only begotten Son. He blesses the host and the wine separately three times each, then he blesses the host and the wine together three times. "Blessing this bread and wine, make them truly the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, transforming them through your Holy Spirit." After that he continues: "With that, may this be an acquittal, remission and forgiveness of sins for all of us who draw near."

with the song "Lord, have mercy" ask the faithful for God's love and mercy, for peace in the world, for healing for the sick and rest for the dead, for well-being, help and protection for the Armenian people. Then the choir sings the song "Christ is sacrificed and divided among us, Hallelujah..." and the deacon invites the faithful to communion with the words "Come in reverence and faith, and in holiness receive the sacrament...".

The received host must not be chewed, it is swallowed. The Armenian Church exhorts its faithful to attend the liturgy regularly and take the opportunity to ask the Lord's mercy in repentance and reverence and to partake of the Lord's Supper.

At the end of the liturgy, the Armenian Church distributes blessed bread to those who, for whatever reason, did not partake of the Lord's Supper. This is probably an early Christian custom, reminiscent of the love meal (agape) of the early Christian community. The custom of distributing blessed bread (Greek Antidoron, Poor Մաս) is also characteristic of other Orthodox Churches.

From: S. Isakhanyan, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Etchmiadzin, 2012

After the Last Supper, the altar curtain is drawn. The celebrant takes the remaining portions of the host, rinses and dries the chalice while saying a silent prayer of thanksgiving. He puts the crown back on and puts on his liturgical vestments. Praising God, the choir sings with grateful hearts on behalf of the faithful: “We are filled with your goodness, Lord, through the nourishment of your body and blood. Glory be to you in the highest, who feeds us..." and "We thank you, Lord, that you have fed us from your immortal table, dividing us your body and your blood for the salvation of the world and our lives".

The altar curtain opens. The celebrant says the prayer of John Chrysostom, gr. "Goldmouth" (4th century) "Lord, who blesses those who praise you..." and takes the Gospel in his hands, bows, kisses the Holy Table and descends from the altar with the deacon and the other acolytes. Meanwhile, the choir sings the hymn: "Blessed be the name of the Lord, now unto eternity..."

In the sanctuary, the celebrant reads the text from the Gospel according to John 1:1-14, says the prayer "Protect Us" and places believers under the protection of God's only begotten Son. The chorus follows: “I will always praise the Lord. In every hour his praise will be in my mouth." The celebrant, or the senior minister present, blesses and dismisses the congregation in peace, saying: “Be blessed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Go in peace and the Lord be with you all. Amen".

From: S. Isakhanyan, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Etchmiadzin, 2012

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

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The Holy Eucharist is one of the mysteries of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is seen as the mystery of salvation for the believer. What does it mean to commune with the risen Christ? Can this mystery change someone's life? How should one prepare for this mystery? Bishop Vardan Navasaryan answers these and other questions in this film. 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

Sakrament der Heiligen Liturgie
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Das Mysterium der Heiligen Liturgie
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Einführung in Surb Patarag
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PATARAG TO KOMITAS

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PATARAG AFTER EKMALYAN

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