Today, when we celebrate the memory of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, who is well reknown in the Church and often called as the “Apostle of Love”, our Elder and Abbot, Archimandrite Parthenius, was unanimously honoured with the most sublime and holy apostolic hierarchical title by the Holy Synod of the MOC – Ohrid Archbishopric.
This new obedience, this great cross of service to the faithful, the Holy Synod bestowed upon our Elder at the request of our much-respected and beloved Bishop, Metropolitan of Debar and Kichevo Mr Timothy, who requested him as a vicar Bishop of our deified diocese.
The new Bishop’s title to our Elder will be Bishop of Antania and Abbot of the Holy Bigorski Monastery. The roots of his episcopal title come from the ancient town Antania, whose location was at the present-day Chebren Monastery, which used to be an episcopal see in the late Roman era.
The pronouncing of our Elder for a Bishop is scheduled for July 11, on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and the ordination – the next day, on the day of the Apostles, at the Church of Saint Sophia in Ohrid.
For our holy Synodia, it is a great joy and blessing, that our beloved Elder is honoured to become a Bishop, in the year when our Monastery celebrates its millennial anniversary since its founding in the year 1020.
A few days ago, at the Monastic Synaxis, when the Elder announced his election for as a bishop to the brotherhood, among other spiritual matters, he once again emphasized his main purpose in life – the spiritual progress of the monastic community and the salvation of as many souls as possible.
„My dear children, you know well just how emotional I am regarding you, just how much each and every one of you means to me; because I have been growing you spiritually with great pain and patience, giving you new birth for monastic life and shedding a lot of spiritual blood in the process. Therefore, I will repeat to you again: You are all irreplaceable to me, precious. I need you because you are my children. Without you, I cannot and do not want to go on with this. We are interconnected through the ties of perfection — Christ’s love (see Colossians 3,14), united in one body, in a spiritual organism. You are my witnesses that your downfall was my downfall also; your sadness is my sadness, and your joy, even greater joy for me. Through the Divine grace and by the prayerful intercession of our Mother Theotokos and our protector St. John the Baptist, let it be so till the end! Nothing is more precious to me than my monks, nuns, and spiritual children. I would not leave you or replace you with anything in this life. For me, there is nothing more valuable, nor more desirable than this beautiful community we have. Even if our merciful Lord should honour me with the Heavenly Kingdom that I should go there without some of you, I tell you loud and clear: I will not go! We either go all together, no matter what some of you might be like, or I will not go either. I want you to always keep this in mind: just how much you mean to me and how much I love you. I cannot even imagine my life without you. That is why I am asking you to be careful and reasonable. To help me carry the cross with your prayers and your monastic feats. Because the Archiereus service means constant crucifixion for the spiritual flock of Christ. The unconsoled world sees great comfort in you, it sees you as Christ’s disciples. Let us not disappoint the souls thirsty for God. Because throughout the whole human history, the greatest comfort and enlightenment always came from the Church, especially from the monasteries… And do not anyone of you think that he is unimportant? Just remember the words of our Saviour that even a single human soul is more precious in His eyes than the entire world (see Matthew 16,26). You have seen me worried and sad every time I heard something bad happened to somebody, or that he has a problem or has fallen into sin, or God forbid, renounced Him. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? (2 Corinthians 11,29). How many times we have left the 99 sheep to go look for the lost one? How many lost souls have found their way, have improved in our monasteries, finding themselves and God!? We have striven so many times, bending our backs, pulling up — until the lost sheep is back to the flock again. This goes not just for the monks, but also for all the spiritual children in the world, which we should never leave without our Lord’s comfort. Just like I am always there for you, I am also there for my spiritual children, and that will never change. So, in this contemporary time, we are the ones, my children, to pray for our nation, to ask for mercy and salvation for everyone. In this 21 century, you are Christ’s Apostles. You are chosen to convey to the world the message that Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen…. (Mark 16,6). And how will you convey this message? By becoming spiritual witnesses of His glorious Resurrection, becoming, in a way, living gospels, through the feat of love and serving our neighbours. So, the heart of our mission, of our calling, our life, is the salvation of as many souls as possible. And the strength of this mission is you, my monks and the nuns, those new myrrh-bearing women who strive very hard. Soon, I am to become a Bishop, to accept the sacred Archiereus title, and for me, it means that I should work even harder, certainly, together with you, on the spiritual rebirth of people — we will listen to their confessions, hardships, sadness, share their joy, bringing them slowly towards the peaceful embrace of Christ’s comfort and love. Therefore, my children, I implore you as your spiritual father, to take this calling seriously, to be strong and ask God for graceful help, so that we could leave this world as worthy disciples of Christ. In which sense? By remaining in His love until the very end. Because loving Him, we would love each other more and overcome all the temptations…
And we, the last and most unworthy sons of our Elder and spiritual father, will answer with our hearts through the words of the great monastic teacher, the Venerable John of the Ladder:
The soul who for the sake of Christ has attached to the Elder with love and trust remains with him to the last drop of blood, especially if it has received healing of the spiritual wounds, according to the words of the one who said: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8, 38-39).
Dear beloved Father in Christ pray for us, that we fulfil these divine words in our monastic calling, that we may remain faithful in obedience, love, and service to the salvation of many. Because even though we have then a thousand instructors in Christ yet have we not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus you have begotten us through the Gospel (see 1. Cor. 4, 15).
May the prayers of our Most Holy Mother of God, of the Honourable Forerunner – Saint John the Baptist, of Saint Parthenius of Lampsacus; whose name you bear with dignity, and of all the Saints maybe with you!
Furthermore, we would like to express our immense gratitude to our beloved Metropolitan and Archpastor of our Diocese of Debar and Kichevo, Mr Timothy, as well as all the Hierarchs of the Holy Synod, who honoured today our Elder with this great dignity, for the glory of the Church of Christ!
May you serve the Holy Church for many years to come, dear Elder!