The outburst of joy which followed the ceremony in Ohrid complemented the celebration of the Bigorski monastery, which welcomed back its Abbot and pastor, but this time as a bearer of Hierarchical dignity. The joyful looks of the brothers and sisters radiated with love before the solemn appearance of the Bishop of Antania Mr Parthenius, their beloved father, and now Bishop, while the church resounded with the emotional sounds of the ipodohi – the ceremony of welcoming a dignitary. Moved by the devotion and respect of his children monks, our beloved Elder modestly expressed his gratitude to them and to our Metropolitan Mr Timothy, for the trust which he was honoured with and reminded them of the sacred duty that God has bestowed on our monastic communities in His providence for the salvation of the faithful people:
” My dearest brothers and sisters, monks and nuns, once again, I warmly and sincerely thank you for all that you have done for me, the unworthy, making sure the act of ordination was a beneficial spiritual experience and joy for all. By doing so, you have shown again, with your deed, what we have learned together through common feat these past 25 years – that only through endeavouring in the love of Christ can we attain the gifts that God has promised us in the Gospel. Only then we would be recognized as His disciples and only then will we achieve what God wants from us. Today, in my introductory sermon, I briefly said that you, my dear monks, and nuns, are my everything here in this life. Everything I do and will do until the end of my earthly existence is only for the glory of God and for your salvation. This goes also for all of my spiritual children as well as the protégés who went through our monasteries and who were mentioned by me with tears in my eyes. They too are the offspring of our monastic communities. Therefore, I kindly ask you to keep safe our communities, to preserve the love among us, to preserve the obedience. Our monasteries are given sacred responsibility before God to continue on the path they have been following so far, but this time armed with even stronger prayer and greater feat. You should know that in a conversation with some Athonite spiritual elders, whom I called to invite to my ordination, they insisted just how important our monasteries are to the people and our Homeland and how much we should safeguard these holly communities. Let that be our motif to strive more eagerly in obedience and to walk more bravely on the path of salvation, spiritually growing these Christ-like communities which have already done so much for the evangelical mission in our country. Today I was amazed by the sight in and around St. Sophia Church. In spite the specific circumstances and all the virus prevention measures, you have witnessed just how many people took part in the ceremonious festivity, with how much love they responded to everything our monasteries have done so far. We must never forget that, because God is inviting us to even greater responsibility for the salvation of these people, He wants us to continue with our support for them, to sacrifice ourselves for their sake, making good deeds and showing them our Christian respect. May God increase our strength so that we could endure this heavy-duty till the end. Today I humbly insist on your prayers. I don’t consider myself worthy of the service God invited me to, but I pray to Him to give me strength and the spiritual support I need so that I could carry with dignity this cross He placed on my shoulders today, for His glory and for the benefit of the people and the Church.
I did not really expect you to surprise me again with such wonderful filial reception, considering all the effort you went through these past days. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, my dearest children.”
The loud exclamation of “Axios”, which resounded in the Bigorski Church, provided our Elder with the reply of our souls, faced with the new spiritual challenge which God placed on his path. The event was completed by the gift of our good friends from Serbia, who presented our Elder with an icon of the Holy Surdulian Martyrs with particles of their relics. With evident joy on his face, our Elder and Abbot, Bishop Parthenius expressed his sincere hope that just like St. Lazarus rose from his tomb after four days, so would the local Orthodox Churches come out of their shallow graves of nationalism in which they have been imprisoned.
Welcome home our beloved Bishop!