The Bigorski fraternity Mission of helping addicts and other socially –vulnerable individuals
Blessed are the merciful, for they will see mercy (Mathew 5,7)
The idea for the mission of caring for and rehabilitating addicts in the Bigorski Monastery, came about completely spontaniously, by Gods providence, when a larger number of addicts started to visit the monastery, looking for an assistance, solution and cure to their heavy disease. Touched by the sad and hopeless condition of these young people, the monastery Abbot, Fr. Parthenius took their arrival as a sign of God’s will and an obligation given directly by Him, and with all the love opened his compassionate heart and fatherly care and completely dedicated himself to the feat of their salvation and spiritual revival. He immediately reminded himself of the evangelical message: But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13,16), and Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins ( James 5,20).
Thus, for already twenty years now, the monastery cordeally opens its gates for these misfortunate young men, and the renowned Forerunner offers them his hand, giving all the victims of this horrible spiritual disease an opportunity to break the chains of sin and addiction which brought them to this miserable state. And not just that. These social renegades are being given a chance to regain their past dignity and their place at home and in the society, which they have lost in the course of their vicious and idle fruitless life.
Those who are determined and with a strong and unrelentless will to leave their former gloomy life behind and be born again in the love and joy of Christ, can begin their healing and spiritual rebirth at the monastery, once they have established contact with the Abbot of the Bigorski Monastery, Archimandrite Parthenius. They have to confirm to him their sincere wish and determination to stay as long as it is required of them ( up to six or twelve months, depending on the estimation of the spiritual father) and to avoid all the things which arouses them towards the previous sinful habits and desires. For their own good and for the good of the rest of the addicts being treated here, it’s forbidden to bring cigarettes or narcotics to the monastery, except with the previously obtained permission by the fathers of the monastery, and this goes only for the prescribed medication which would be needed in the process of detoxification. Right upon his arrival the addict attains his place in the community, shares with the brothers and all the guests the same conditions offered by the monastic life – accommodation, meals, communication with the more experienced convalescents for the purpose of faster and easier adjustment to the monastery ambiance and everyday life, as well as the love and parental care with spiritual advice from the Abbot and the other brothers. Later he is also given a privilege to commune and participate in the communion with the Holy Mysteries of Christ. But, on his part, he commits himself to unavoidably follow the established order – be obedient to the Abbot and the other brothers, regularly attend the Divine services and common meals, and certainly – to fulfill all the chores and tasks he would be assigned to (work in the kitchen, in the monastery garden and orchard, construction activities, up keeping the yard and the surroundings etc.). All of this is helping the convalescent to overcome the beginner’s physical and psychological crises, and on the long run reshapes and strengthens his character, opening room for spiritual progress. The treatment covers two stages: the first stage is mostly detoxification, lasts up to several days and if necessary, in this period the convalescent is given a certain dosage of medicaments for better coping with the physical crisis; the next stage is longer and covers all the essential steps for spiritual rebirth of the person. All the methods used in this stage are of spiritual nature: conversation on spiritual topics and counseling by the monks at the monastery, especially by the Abbot – Archimandrite Parthenius, getting familiar with the basic evangelical truths, – this is often the case since mostly these young men don’t have even the basic knowledge about their faith, reading spiritual literature, etc. Once they really get to know themselves and understand the fatality of their previous sinful life and passions, the next step is cleansing the soul through the Holy Sacraments of Repentance, Confession and Communion, and finally liberation from the chains of their addiction.