A memorial service for the heroes who died in the 44-day Artsakh war

On September 27, by the hand of the Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan, a memorial service for the heroes who died in the 44-day Artsakh war was held at the Mother Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos in Stepanakert.

The ceremony was attended by the President of the Artsakh Republic Arayik Harutyunyan, President of the National Assembly Artur Tovmasyan, other state, public and political figures, military personnel, and believers.

His Holiness started his speech with the words of the great poet Hovhannes Tumanyan.

"But we go steadily

Under the blows of bad luck

Our eyes are always to the sky

To the light of our covenant."

then he continued:

“Dear Mr. President, dear statesmen, officers, soldiers, dear compatriots!

These words of the pan-Armenian poet seem to be a short formulation of the entire history of our people. Indeed, the Armenian people had a unique beginning in this world created by God, had a difficult and full of hardships path, but they continued to steadily follow the path to eternity.

Today, when we are all confronted with the memories of the forced and unequal war that struck Artsakh a year ago, we need to once again recall our age-old covenant: who are we as a nation, where are we from and where are we going?

We are the sons of Hayk and, like Hayk, we are called to a constant struggle with Evil. We have chosen Christ and we are walking along His path into Eternity. This is our sacred Testament.

Yes, the enemy managed to unjustly, using inhuman methods deprive us of a significant part of our sacred homeland, but did this put an end to our Covenant? Of course not, now it is even more consecrated with the blood of our fallen heroes. Perhaps there is no country in the world that is drenched in the blood of heroes as much as Artsakh. Our land is watered with blood more than water. It is both pain and pride at the same time. We have always loved and will love our land. Our land is meant to be only ours.

We served a liturgy for the remembrance of the souls of our martyrs for the Motherland. Each prayer offered up for them is very important, but their souls cannot find complete peace only in our prayers. As the apostle James says that Faith is dead without deeds, we will not be mistaken if we say that Prayer is also dead without deeds.

For example, what is the use of our praying if we continue to live in sin after prayer? What is the point in it if the prayer for the peace of the souls of our martyrs is fruitless if we do not console them with our work?

So what is the best respect and the best prayer for our brave martyrs? First of all, with our lives we must preserve what they have saved at the cost of their blood. After the war, we had another imperative: “It is important to be ready to die for your homeland, but it is much more important to be ready to live for it”. These words of Theodore Roosevelt are relevant to our reality today. This means that we have no moral right to leave our country for our safe and secure life. We must stay and live to make it safe and secure living here. The earth also has a soul, especially the earth consecrated with blood. Without a close connection with his native land, a person cannot find himself and his soul. Without our land and homeland, we will be like a grain of sand trapped in randomness in time and space. The second decree, about which the sound of the blood of our martyrs whispers in our ears, is that we must reconsider our path, rethink our personal and social life, and this rethinking will only become possible if we begin to love each other more if we start living a God-fearing and patriotic life. The Bible very clearly conveys to us in which case nations are subjected to calamities and wars. This happens when people turn away from God, lose their morality and virtue. Today we must have the courage to face our mistakes and sins in order to make the decision to follow the virtuous path, otherwise, all our prayers and commemorative events will be useless.

History shows that when Armenia finds itself in trouble, a spirit of sacrifice and courage awakens in its devoted children, many selflessly rush to the battlefield and perform heroic deeds. In the 44-day Artsakh war, we did not lack such dedication and heroism, but we did not get the desired end. After all, having heroic sons ready to die is not enough to sustain lasting victories. In our country there should be sons, heroically living in peaceful conditions, of which, unfortunately, we did not have so many, and in the end, we got what we got. Every Armenian, in whatever position he is, must subordinate his personal interests to the interests of the Motherland, live justly and virtuously. This will be real heroism and the best gift for our fallen soldiers. The most difficult victory is victory over yourself. If we can overcome ourselves, that is, overcome the evil desires within us, replace them with brotherly love and patriotism, then no enemy can disturb our peace, because only then God will be fully present in our life. And if God is with us, who can be against us? Actually, God never leaves us, it is we who move away from Him by our actions.

Today we raise our joint prayer to God for the speedy return of our captives, in the name of our sons, who are still covered with a heavy veil of obscurity. The pain and expectations of their relatives are inexpressible, but we have no choice but to believe in God's justice and mercy. We are consoled by the spiritual truth that those who suffered out of love for the Motherland and for their people receive the highest reward and blessed peace from God. This life is not eternal, therefore joys and sorrows are not eternal here. We wish a strong spirit to mothers who have lost their sons, so that they can fill their temporary life with the greatest love that their sons had, find warmth and peace through prayers and expect to meet their children in the eternal abode of God.

Therefore, dear present, let us turn to God, accept the outstretched Hand of the Lord, and follow the paths that He paved for us, so that we would be worthy to live our earthly life and be worthy of our Holy Martyrs in Heaven.

God bless the Armenian Artsakh ”.

At the end of the ceremony, those present marched to the Brotherhood Memorial in Stepanakert, laid flowers, and honored the memory of the victims of the war.

In all the churches of Artsakh, ceremonies were held to commemorate the dead.