College students spent the day at the Seminary with
Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian and the seminarians for the
first ever St. Nersess Saturday
November 15, 2008
by Christopher S. Le
It is always a unique experience to be a part of the first of something, and the first “St. Nersess Saturday” proved to be not only unique, but also very fun. The size of the group that participated was not large, but every person who attended was able to bring their own unique perspective and eclectic personality out during the course of the session. The great people combined with the interesting discussion topics and pumpkin decorating made for a very exciting and engaging atmosphere.
Halloween: A Hallowed Holiday?
After the ice breaker, we engaged in the main part of the session, with a discussion about the true meaning of the Halloween holiday. We learned about its pagan roots, as well as the numerous occult rituals that individuals unknowingly invoke every Halloween. We also talked about ghosts and whether or not we believed that they existed in the living world. In addition to this, we also talked about what the Armenian Church believes about the subject of the existence of ghosts.
A relaxing day with friends at St. Nersess
Lazarus and the Rich Man
To conclude our discussion, we read a passage from the Bible discussing a rich man who lived the good life on Earth but ignored the pain and suffering of a beggar named Lazarus. When both the rich man and the beggar Lazarus died, Lazarus went to heaven and was taken into the bosom of Abraham, while the rich man was taken to hell. When the rich man asked of Abraham to be able to go back to Earth so he could warn his friends and family, Abraham told him that he could not and that even if he could it would do him no good.
One of the things we concluded from this passage was that it indicated a separation between Earth, Heaven, and Hell, which could not be bypassed by spirits (supporting a church belief that ghosts do not exist). We also interpreted the words of Abraham to mean that if one is blind on Earth to the word of God, to God’s prophets, and to their own faith, and even if the dead were able to come back and warn the living of their blindness they would still not believe and remain blind. Obviously, these interpretations have significant meanings for us as Christian Armenians, supporting a disbelief in the reality of the supernatural or occult, and affirming that we must find faith within ourselves, the Church, and the Word of God because no other institution can cast this blindness away.
After the discussion, we had a delicious lunch that was prepared for us by Yn. Paulette Doudoukjian and Zovig Ashjian. Then we carried on with a Pumpkin decorating contest! The theme was to decorate the pumpkins as creatively as possible, and to depict on them Christian symbols, stories, and figures of the Armenian Church.
All of the pumpkins turned out really well, and a few lucky people were able to win prizes in the end for winning the competition. After the prizes were awarded, we finished off the session by moving to the chapel and saying a short prayer in thanks for the time we spent together and to safeguard all of our journeys back home.
Nersess Saturdays for college students will be
a seasonal feature at 150 Stratton Road
What does pop culture have to say about Halloween and the occult? What does the Armenian Church have to say?
To sum up the first “St. Nersess Saturday,” I have to say that it went above and beyond what I had expected. Being a very busy graduate student, it was very nice to be able to take some time off and enjoy the simple pleasures of St. Nersess. The short time there was a great opportunity to recharge the batteries, meet wonderful new people and see old friends, as well as enjoy an enlightened discussion and fun activities. I can only hope that I will get the opportunity to participate in a St. Nersess Saturday again in the near future.