Grace and Compassion. The Keystone of Spirituality

Posted on August. 3. 2020

“Compassion is the greatest form
of love humans have to offer.”
Rachel Joy Scott

By Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian

Last week I learned through the USA Armenian Life TV (via AMAGA Channel) that the fundraising campaign by Catholicos Karekin II and Archbishop Hovnan Derderian for the renovation of the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin are being conducted at a time when Armenia and the world is going through very trying times. Being a proud member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, I would like to voice my concerns about the timing and the grace and the compassion of the two fundraisers.
To put us on the same page, let me state that spirituality for me has to do with the spirit, not as in ghosts, but as in the essence of being human, one’s soul or one’s inner life. As such, I expect from our Armenian clergymen to uphold the highest standards of spirituality.
One way to exercise spirituality is to act within the confines of grace and compassion. Since words have different meanings, let me avoid ambiguity by stating what I mean by grace. Simply put, a polite and a thoughtful way of behaving by knowing the right time to act. As for compassion, if someone shows kindness, caring, love, and a willingness to help others in need, they are being altruistic, thoughtful, and decent.
As you well know, Armenia is currently facing belligerent and bellicose enemies from the East by Azerbaijan and from the West from Turkey. While our soldiers are bravely pushing back the inroads made by Azerbaijani armed forces, in the process we are losing precious lives of our men and women on the line. The virtue of grace dictates that it is a very inappropriate time to solicit for funds to renovate a place of worship when all the money should go into arming our men and woman to protect our Homeland.
When the world is wrestling with a deadly virus, and when next to the United States, Armenia is suffering the most from the attacks of this dangerous pandemic virus, people —especially our spiritual leaders— should be out in the front to help those who need the most help. Compassion requires all Armenians, especially our clergymen to show kindness, love, and caring toward the needy. And needy people we have in huge numbers right now in Armenia when the entire country is out of work.
Social-psychology has shown that when people are driven by egocentric ambitions, they tend to disregard the meaning of grace to do the right thing at the right time; they are only concerned how to ameliorate their material wellbeing.
When the Armenian people are required to stay home to avoid the spread of Covid-19, it is only natural to expect people, especially our spiritual leaders, to engage in compassionate acts rather than fundraising for their projects and pockets.
As a person fails to practice graceful acts, and when an individual disregards being compassionate, it shows lack of spirituality because the keystone, the essence of spirituality depends on the presence or absence of grace and compassion in one’s heart and acts. Since our two religious ladders mentioned above lack spirituality on account of not showing any grace or compassion, I am saddened to say that our beloved Armenian Orthodox Church is in dire need of reform in order to make us regain our faith in those in charge of our very holy Armenian shrines.
When all is said and done, we should all collaborate and cooperate in bringing the necessary changes to stop rampant corruption. As you know, no empire in the world could make us give up our church; likewise, no corrupt clergymen will mar the image of our ages-long place of worship.

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