Welcome to our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and this ceremony of solemn remembrance as we mark the centenary of the Armenian martyrdom.
As we know, the great patriarchs and bishops of the Armenian Church joined Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sunday. And in our service tonight we join our prayers to theirs — as we remember what St. John Paul II and Pope Francis called “the first genocide of the 20th century.”1
Our service tonight is a profound witness to the communion of the Church. And we stand in solidarity with the proud people of Armenia and their descendants here in Los Angeles and around the world.
As we know, the Armenian people were among the first peoples to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, more than 1,700 years ago. And sadly, we also know that thousands of our brothers and sisters became martyrs for the name of Christ during the tragic events that happened 100 years ago.
So we pray tonight for the healing of memories and for the conversion of hearts. Let us also pray for peace and justice and an end to all violence in the world — especially violence and persecution that is motivated by religious or racial and ethnic hatreds.
As Pope Francis said in his message to the Armenian people: “May this sorrowful anniversary become for all an occasion of humble and sincere reflection, and may every heart be open to forgiveness, which is the source of peace and renewed hope.”2
We join the Pope Francis tonight in praying that the people of Armenia and Turkey may walk the path of peace. May all those who are enemies seek the path of reconciliation.
And we pray also tonight that God may lead all peoples to greater respect — for the sanctity of life, for the dignity of the human person, and for the rights to conscience and religious freedom.
In this season of the Resurrection, we recall the ancient faith of the Armenian people and their sufferings. May the blood of the many martyrs that we remember tonight become seeds that bear fruits of peace and a harvest of justice.
On this solemn occasion, we rejoice that that Pope Francis has given us a new Doctor of the Universal Church — the great Armenian monk and poet, St. Gregory of Narek. This is a beautiful sign of the faith of the Armenian people and the rich diversity that we have in the communion of saints.
St. Gregory should be here in one of these tapestries, don’t you think? So let us ask St. Gregory’s prayers for the Armenian nation and for her sons and daughters everywhere in the world.
And with St. Gregory, let us pray for the grace to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and to be witnesses of his Resurrection:
Let us pray in the words of St. Gregory:
Strengthen me, Lord, in my courageous labors
to fight the good fight.
Be my aid against human frailty.
Lighten the task of my repentance, for it has
only just begun. …
Help me to reach the destination I hope for.
Be my companion through the end of my journey.3
We trust in the mercy of God and his salvation, and we ask all things through our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified and now has risen from the dead.
We entrust all our hopes and prayers tonight to All Holy Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, Our Lady of the Angels. Welcome to you all.
1. Sept. 27, 2001.
2. Message to Armenians (April 12, 2015) http://www.news.va/en/new/message-of-pope-francis-to-armenians.
3. Prayer 85.