Macedonian Ecclesiastical and State Delegation Retrieves the Holy Fire from Jerusalem

“The Light of Christ enlightens all.”.

Countless and indescribable are the mercies of God with which He enlightens and illuminates every person in the world. Every day, we are showered with the graces of our Heavenly Father, and the greatest testament to His boundless love for mankind is, undoubtedly, the humiliation and suffering of His Son and Word for us, for each of His lost sheep. The Lord Jesus Christ, the radiance and the image of the Father’s glory, for our sake took on human flesh and suffered in it on the cross at Golgotha. But on the third day, He gloriously resurrected, resurrecting with Him the dead foreparents Adam and Eve and giving us all the priceless opportunity to resurrect with Him, provided we believe and love Him.

As a blessing and a reminder of His all-glorious and all-holy Resurrection from the dead, among other things, He left us the Holy Grace-Filled Fire, that Divine light and warmth which for centuries has glowed and been kindled in the Most Holy Tomb of the Lord on the Great and Holy Saturday. This unique sacred phenomenon represents a great blessing for Christians around the world. It has always been considered a great blessing for the Holy Jerusalem Fire from the empty Tomb of Christ to be distributed in the homes of the faithful, to enlighten the home iconostases and to warm the hearts with faith and love towards God. From ancient times, pilgrims in the Holy Land, among other blessings they brought from there, were, of course, the lanterns with the Holy Fire. With the development of technology and fast means of transport, in recent history, more Orthodox countries began to transfer this great Easter blessing to their lands, precisely on the eve of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ.

What represents immense joy and a special blessing from God this year is that for the first time in our history, the Holy Fire was brought directly from the Holy City by a state aircraft, by representatives of the Macedonian state and Church. This blessed opportunity was made possible by the reception of our Church into canonical and Eucharistic unity with the entire Orthodox ecumene, following the historic decision of His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Mr. Bartholomew on May 9, 2021. The flight was organized by the Government, with the approval of Prime Minister Mr. Dimitar Kovachevski and the support of the Minister of Defense, Ms. Slavjanka Petrovska. In fact, the Government has assisted in previous years for the Holy Fire to be brought into the country, but now it is the first time it has been taken by a state aircraft directly from Jerusalem.

The church-state delegation flew to the Holy Land with the blessing of His Beatitude, the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, Mr. Mr. Stefan, after requesting and receiving the blessing from His Beatitude, the Patriarch of Jerusalem Mr. Mr. Theophilos. Representatives from the state authority were: the Minister of Internal Affairs Mr. Oliver Spasovski, the Minister of Culture Ms. Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojchevska, the Director of KOVZRK Mr. Darijan Sotirovski, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Mr. Filip Tosevski, the acting ambassador to the state of Israel Mr. Maciej Kaczorowski, etc., while the church representation was led by the Metropolitan of Tetovo-Gostivar Mr. Joseph, accompanied by Archimandrites Kiril and Anatolij from the Sacred Bigorski Monastery.

Our church-state delegation attended the vigil of the Holy and Great Friday evening, when the Lamentations of Christ were sung before the Sacred Edicule, in which lies the Most Holy Tomb of the Lord, and, of course, today at the Ceremony of the Holy Fire at the same place, in the Church of the Resurrection. They were also received at a reception by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Mr. Mr. Theophilos. The Holy Grace-Filled Fire was solemnly welcomed this evening at the Skopje airport by church and state dignitaries and by numerous faithful.