Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Discussion

The following is a brief talk you can give your students on the holy translators Sts. Sahag and Mesrob.  Written by Dn. Albert Keshgegian of the Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA, you can use the following to lead off a discussion on the holy translators.

Ask your students: What do you like to read the most? (Possible answers include comic books, sports pages in the paper, etc.)

Imaging what it would be like if you couldn't read!  A lot of fun, a lot of information would be missing from your life.  Now, imagine what it would be like for a whole country to not be able to read. 

That's the way it was for Armenians before the saints Sahag and Mesrob came along.  Armenians had the spoke Armenian language, but there was no alphabet, no letters to write it down.  So they could speak Armenian to each other, but when it came to writing something down, or reading from a book, they had to do it in another language.

St. Mesrob was a monk who saw how badly the Armenians needed their own alphabet so they could be stronger and stay together.  An alphabet would also help the church teach Armenians about God in their own language.  Tradition says that St. Mesrob was thinking about this problem in a cave when suddenly the hand of God appeared and wrote the alphabet in letters of fire on the wall of the cave.  It was that important!

After St. Mesrob discovered the alphabet, St. Sahag, who was Catholicos at the time, helped to translate books into Armenian and to open schools to teach people how to read and write in their own language.  Do you know what was the very first book they translated?  It was the Bible. 

Everyone was anxious to learn the new alphabet and to translate books and write new ones in Armenian.  So much was done during this time that it's called "The Golden Age" of Armenian writing, meaning that it was the best time ever.

Sts. Sahag and Mesrob gave the finest gift they could have given to the Armenian nation and to the church.  The alphabet they gave us and the books they gave us are a treasure.  Not a treasure like a chest of gold, but even better.  A treasure of reading and writing in our own language.  A treasure that's alive, that has kept the Armenian people together and the church strong for hundreds of years.

Why did Sts. Sahag and Mesrob do this?  You can tell they were smart men.  They could have gone into a business and made lots and lots of money and had very easy lives.  Instead they went into the priesthood, and spent their whole lives teaching and writing. 

The answer is in Luke 12:32-40.  If you spend your life making money, making treasure, for yourself, all that will happen is that a thief can come and steal it or something else can destroy it.  If you want real treasure, look for treasure in heaven where it will always be there for you.  That's what Sts. Sahag and Mesrob did.  They created a treasure, the alphabet and their writings, that can never be stolen or destroyed.  They created a treasure that lives on and on in every generation, helping to spread the Word of God among Armenians everywhere.

We have a choice, too, in what we will do with our lives.  We can choose to spend our time making treasure for ourselves on earth.  We might enjoy it for a few years, but we will certainly lose it.  Or we can work, like Sts. Sahag and Mesrob, for treasure that is in the church, treasure that is in heaven, where we will have it, and keep it, and enjoy it, forever.

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After reading the above to your students, here are some questions you can use in a discussion:

1. What does it mean to create a treasure in heaven?  What ways do you think you can build a treasure in heaven?

2. Do you think it is important for kids today to learn Armenian?  Is it hard to learn the Armenian alphabet?

3.  What is "The Golden Age"?  What made it happen?

Download St. Sahag Bookmark Activity (150 K PDF file)

Download St. Mesrob Alphabet Ornament Activity (150 K PDF file)

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