Thank you for being who you are, Your Holiness!

Toast by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Ohrid Mr. Mr. Stephen (On Monday of the Holy Spirit, 13.06.2022, during the lunch with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Constantinople)

Your Holiness,

Brothers and you who have been chosen for this table of love,

Both[1] joy and sorrow simultaneously fill our hearts. Joy, because “we have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit”, here, in the centre of the Orthodox Church. Sorrow, because after so many beautiful days, we have to leave your wonderful presence this afternoon.

Coming here, we travelled with different feelings: of impatience, of longing, hope, of fear, uncertainty, hesitation and so on. But now, we have left all that in here, we let it slide through the Golden Horn into the Bosporus, for the waves to take it far away. And we are leaving with true joy, with longing for the Church, with love for the unity, with admiration for the Mother Church of Constantinople, which has wise knowledge as how to protect the testimony that the Councils and Tradition have entrusted it with, and thus to do good to all of us. This is where we drew courage from, as well as spiritual strengthening, enlightenment; we have drank from that source of love for the Church – the love that you shine with, Your Holiness; we gathered strength from the City and were fortified by the Holy Spirit.

And now, Your Holiness, we are going back to the same places we came from, to Ohrid which shines with antiquity and closeness to the Great Church, we are going back to our Fatherland, the dioceses of which were a territory of this consecrated Church less than a century ago. However, even if it were not so, we firmly believe that you would have treated and welcomed us with the same care and the same love, because the Mother Church knows only of love and caress.

I would like to, once again, express my warmest gratitude to you for everything you have done! For the Patriarchal and Synodal Act, which highlights the very good experience of the Church and its centuries; for the hospitality, though we feel not as guests, because we are in the paternal home of all the Orthodox; for your care, for your nobility, for your ethos, for your efforts…

Thank you for being who you are, Your Holiness, and for the fact that you silently teach us all about the most redemptive thing – the complete dedication to God! With the same enthusiasm and the feelings of the first Christians, with prayer and liturgical life, we keep our steadfast gaze upon your most holy face. Moreover, in likeness of what the apostle says:… And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2,42)[2].

We thank you in the name of all the holy members of our Synod and, of course, we invite you to come visit us in Ohrid and in our God-blessed land, so that you could feel as well our Abraham’s hospitality and see our complete dedication in action. Thus, there as well, we would be able to show all our gratitude to you and to the Mother Church!

Many years to come!

[1] На здравицата на ручекот од последниот ден од посетата на Константинопол, 13. 06. 2022 г.

[2] Дела 2, 24