Interview with father Nerses Fsryan to

According to the calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the year is divided into holidays and fast days. Most of the 158 fast days are short one-day fasts (on Wednesdays and Fridays in memory of the betrayal and suffering of Jesus Christ) and daily fasts, and the most popular and long fast is the Great Lent or Forty Day Fast. This year Lent began on February 15th. The period of Great Lent precedes the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and lasts 48 days.

"Aparaj" talked with Father Nerses Asryan, pastor of the Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God in Stepanakert, about Great Lent, the role of the church and other issues in the current situation. He noted that Great Lent is a period of deep repentance, a spiritual journey that gradually prepares the believer for spiritual purification until the feast of the Holy Resurrection.

“Three weeks before Lent, the First Lent begins, and we begin the year with repentance. The First Lent is important, which begins with the sacrament of repentance of the person, that is, the sacrament of repentance of the first people - Adam and Eve, leading to the repentance of the Ninevites. In the Bible, in the book of the prophet Jonah, there is a story of the Ninevites, when God decides that Nineveh must be destroyed and the prophet Jonah sends with a clear message: in three days the city will be destroyed. “People repent of their sins. An exceptional event takes place when God changes his mind, having mercy on the penitent city,” the pastor said, considering Great Lent, established by Gregory the Illuminator, a kind of key to salvation. According to him, now everyone blames each other, swears, mocks, and repentance shows the way to salvation.

Each Sunday of Great Lent has its own sacrament, there are 7 Sundays in total, from True Shrovetide to the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. “Basically, there are four signs or spiritual paths that show in practice how a believer should be cleansed and restored. These are fasting, repentance, mercy and prayer. “These four are inseparable from each other. Using them together, a believer can really achieve a certain degree of spiritual purification, restore his spiritual inner world and, to some extent, come closer to God,” he said.

Regarding the issue of how to get out of this situation, Father Nerses Asryan believes that something does not happen to us that is not rooted in us. “This situation would not have reached such a tragic stage if our problems were not so acute and we would first be able to properly use these thirty years, not to miss this unique opportunity. There is a story in the Old Testament where God brings the Jews out of Egyptian captivity, brings them to the Promised Land through the wilderness with signs, wonders and blows inflicted on the Egyptians. Then they send out scouts to see the land that God promised them.

All the scouts, except for two, return in horror and say that this is the country of giants, it is impossible to win, and that they have no chance of capturing the country. Here the cup of God's patience is filled. God through numerous miracles leads people to the Promised Land. But this is not enough for people to come out of the era of slavery, they constantly remember with joy that, in Egypt, they sat around cauldrons full of meat and lived a quiet, peaceful life in slavery. God says that it is necessary to walk in the deserts for 40 years, until the generation of slaves dies and a new generation of freedom comes,” the father quotes a story from the Old Testament and connects it with the current situation, noting what “in our country now, too, has begun desert period.

“According to the sacrament of Great Lent, we were in paradise, but did not feel its value and were expelled from there. Now we are on a more difficult path, in which it is necessary to correct errors. First of all, we need to get rid of all this bile in us. We see what is happening. There are internal demarcations, divisions: political, social, religious. And our people seem to be more concerned about other problems than the blows that are inflicted on them. We must understand that whether you associate the salvation of your country with the north, west, south or any other place, none of them is valid, if you yourself do not love your country, your statehood, your compatriot, you do not unite around common concerns ”, says Father Nerses. Speaking about uniting around the spiritual, in this fragmented, desperate state, Father Nerses Asryan notes that this is a necessity. “Looking at the public speeches of various responsible persons, we can say that the most pro-state, the most adequate are the speeches and appeals of the Catholicos of All Armenians. It is not necessary for a clergyman to hold any public office. On the contrary, I think that the Church should always remain above it. At such a height, one must be able to unite everyone, and not sink to the level of a position. The highest position is spiritual power, because it is connected with the hearts of people. "People voluntarily accept this power, they see in it the door to eternity."

Our Church is unique in that it has taken on a dual mission: the salvation of its spiritual flock not only for eternal life, but also the task of preserving the nation in this world, which the Church once carried out at different stages of life.

However, according to the father, the clergyman is a bird whose wings have been cut off; at best, it can walk, but cannot fly. Believers and the people give wings to the clergy.

Father Nerses Asryan noticed a new movement of believers to the Church after the war. Communicating with thousands of people, he is convinced that in many cases the existing problems are best seen by the clergyman. "Society can be conditionally divided into two parts, one part sees all this tragedy, endures it, and for the other part, it seems that nothing happened, if there are no explosions at the moment, the news calms down a bit, they move on to natural, everyday life. It is difficult to say how these two parts of society can be connected. It is clear that people strive to live well, to achieve prosperity, but you need to correctly calculate your capabilities, your position, your priorities in order to understand what problem needs to be solved in the first place, and then move on to a secondary one,” says the priest.

According to him, our priority, the biggest omission was education, from school to public education. The second priority is military security. “If today we had a patriotic society that lives by values ​​and is fully aware of the seriousness of the moment, then such a society could not be deceived either by populist words or false patriotic, military-patriotic pathos. And an educated society would not have been subjected to such deceptions, everything would not have taken such easy,” says Father Nerses.