• Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan

POON PAREKENTAN - ԲՈՒՆ ԲԱՐԵԿԵՆԴԱՆ



Today, we celebrate Poon Parekentan. The term Parekentan means vitality, the good life. As a church, we enter into the longest season of fasting known as the Great Lent; and thereby, the Sunday before this great feast we remember the Good Life as known in paradise.


In the Armenian Christian Tradition, feasts and celebrations center on the principles taught in the Holy Scriptures to remember and to recall, and to bring the past to the forefronts of our mind to aid us in our holy living. Falling at the beginning of the season of the Great Lent, Poon Parekentan is the feast that stirs our memory of the past good life when we were abiding in His paradise. In this recollection of the Good Life, the Great Lent is an exercise of reentering into this Garden.


The Parekentan is the exemplary joyous life of the human being, as enjoyed by Adam and Eve in Paradise. In the gardens of this Paradise, the human being was permitted to enjoy from all the fruits of the trees in the garden, with the exception of the fruits of the tree designated as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; this was deemed as the first God-given commandment to the human being for the observance.


The day after Poon Parekentan, that is tomorrow, Monday, marks the first day of the Great Lent which lasts for 40 days until the week where we remember the resurrection of Lazarus. After that week begins Avak Shabat – The Holy Week.


The 40 days of Great Lent constitutes a spiritual preparation that mirrors our Lord Jesus Christ’s 40 days of isolation in the desert. The Gospel of Luke tells us how after His baptism, “ Jesus, was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nor drank nothing during those days.” Luke 4:1-3.


Even today, there are those who fast for 40 days, by drinking water only. However, most Christians who observe the Great Lent enter a fast that is better understood to be a “vegan fast,” in which they eat only plant-based food, abstaining from all animal products. Further, during Lent, Christians abstain not only from certain foods, but also from habits of sin, which include gossip and empty chatter, deceitful language, cursing, and other acts of sins. Sin is defined as missing the mark at which humanity aims in their work on earth, commissioned by God for His creation. He made us in His image and likeness; hence, our aim is to represent Him in our being and doing.


Just as illness affects the human body, in the same way, sin affects the human soul. Indeed, it is not the fasting that heals the person. It is God who is our Healer. However, fasting, prayer, and mercy (almsgiving), the three pillars of Lent, are the preparations for the human soul to recognize and accept the healing from God.


The work of salvation during this period is a journey of the human soul towards Zadeek-Easter. Our aim and goal are to meet the resurrected Jesus Christ, which brings about union with God. Our Heavenly Father is always waiting for us with open arms. Therefore, allow this question to arise within you for your consideration: “Do you desire to return to Him?” If yes, then the Great Lent shows the path that paves a return to God through sincere contrition, repentance, supplications, fasting, and forgiveness.


Friends, I wish each of you a prosperous and fruitful spiritual journey during this Great Lent. May this journey be one of spiritual renewal for each and one of us where we are cleansed of our sins and brilliantly shining with God’s light. We then welcome the dawn of Easter and meet our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we give eternal praises. Amen.

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