The fourth installment of St. Nersess Seminary's Armenian Spirituality Series has just been released: Prayers of Catholicos Simeon Yerevants'i.
An on-going project of the St. Nersess faculty, the Armenian Spirituality Series aims to make available in English translation prayers, sermons and spiritual reflections by the great saints and teachers of the Armenian Church.
"Our hope is that our people who do not have access to this rich spiritual tradition in the original language, will nevertheless be nourished by the great insights of our church fathers," said Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Seminary dean.
The current volume is dedicated to a great reformer of the Armenian Church. Catholicos Simeon Yerevants'i'sPrayerbook was the first volume to be printed by the newly-established Etchmiadzin press in 1772. It was reprinted by the same press in 2003 for the 1700th anniversary of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral's consecration. In celebration of that anniversary, the faculty of St. Nersess provided a full translation of the Prayerbookinto English for its editor, the V. Rev. Fr. Sahag Shakarian, as a gesture of support and appreciation for his work towards making the entire body of Catholicos Simeon's writings available to the Armenian faithful. The excerpts which comprise the new booklet are taken from that complete translation.
Simeon was a man of deep personal piety, and it was the book of his own prayers on behalf of the Armenian people and church that he chose as the maiden volume for his newly established printing press. In his introduction to it, he says that prayer was for him both a spiritual means of relaxation and an absolute necessity. Prayer, Simeon tells us, opens the door to God's miraculous work in the world. And, most wonderful of all, prayer can be practiced by anyone. There is no need for one to be a spiritual athlete in order to pray. In fact, quite the contrary is true.
"Here you have a medicine that is easy to find, simple, applicable to everything, and always readily available; to which there is no impediment and no difficulty," the Catholicos writes in his introduction.
Sickness, sin, need, sorrow, joy, thanksgiving can all be brought to God in prayer; prayer is a way of "seeking God's company" in any situation.
The new volume contains a selection of Simeon's simple, yet articulate and moving prayers, including: A Prayer for the Morning Hour; A Prayer in the Evening at the Hour of Sleep; Prayer for All Those at Rest and Especially for Our Families and Benefactors; Prayer for Our Enemies and for Those Who Wish Us Ill; Thanks to God for His Special Benefits to Our Armenian Nation; Prayer to the Most Holy Mary, Bearer of God; and Prayer to the Heavenly Hosts.
Dr. Roberta Ervine, Associate Professor of Armenian Studies, has written the introduction to the prayers, which describes the historical context in which Catholicos Simeon led the Armenian Church, and for which he wrote these prayers.
The booklet has been donated in loving memory of Mary (Sahaganoush) Der Bedrosian (May 4, 1915 - March 31, 1998) by her family.
The booklets are available by request by contacting the Seminary. Donations will be gratefully accepted.
The booklet is also available for download from the St. Nersess Learning Center of the Seminary's website.