With great joy, the Bigorski Monastery, together with the gathered faithful believers, welcomed with dignity their Elder and Abbot, Archimandrite Parthenius, who today was unanimously elected as a new bishop by the Holy Hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the MOC-OA. On the occasion of the solemn welcome, the Elder addressed these fatherly words to us through tears:
My dear ones, I am so excited at this moment, not because of the Synodal decision of today to be ordained as a Bishop, but rather because I am touched by your love. I ask you to forgive me for not being able to say much right now because I cannot control my tears and emotions…
There is nothing greater than unconditional love, which seeks no benefit, requires no justice. Love, which is not pretentious, which is not flattering, but simply love for the sake of love, goodness for the sake of goodness. It is on these foundations of love, that our brotherhood and sisterhoods have been built on, as well as our relationship with all the spiritual children and visitors of the monastery. I consider this love as the greatest treasure. On my way here, I contemplated a lot about the fact that there is nothing more precious than to be loved unconditionally. To be loved as you are, to be respected for the sake of God. Not because you have some kind of title or you might be someone important in society, but simply because of who you are, being a divine creation. And the love and respect for you as a father is even more touching. I thank you, my most beloved children, for loving me in such a way – as a father. That means the most to me, because as a human, I have many weaknesses, but I truly give my best to love you as my children. You are my greatest treasure. You have proven that even today, with this wonderful reception you gave me, with this manifestation of your unconditional love. What else could bring me as much joy as your love did!? The love in Christ. It is not by chance that Apostle Paul says that love is the greatest of all. (1 Corinthians 13, 13).
Today with the decision of the Holy Synod, an immense cross was bestowed upon me, and it happened on the very day when we celebrate the Apostle of love, St. John the Theologian, who testified in his first Epistle that God is love (1 John 4,8). He was the Apostle who, being the beloved disciple, leaned on Christ’s shoulder at the Last Supper, and was endowed by Him with unutterable theology, thus being called the first “Theologian”. He made it evident where the real theology comes from: from the self-sacrificing love for God, which teaches us to love each other sincerely and unpretentiously. That same Apostle says elsewhere in his Epistle: If a man says, I love God and hated his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment has we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (1 John 4, 20 – 21).
My dear monks and nuns, my strength! My beloved spiritual children! I ask you to share and nourish this love on the foundations of which we have built our communities. Make it everlasting and all-encompassing. Pray that Lord protects us from hypocritical flattery because these things are inevitable. People with titles are often flattered, but still, true love is easy to recognize. I ask you all to pray that God gives us sincere love which brings peace to the human soul and builds us as godlike people in Christ.
Once again, I want to express my huge gratitude! Let me repeat here what I have told my brothers previously – that I am nothing without you…. Therefore, my dear children, monks, nuns and all you faithful, I ask you to always assist me in carrying this heavy cross and when I make a mistake, help me overcome in a better way my human weaknesses. Let us carry the crosses to one another so that in the end we could have a good outcome, justify ourselves before God and keep our conscience clean for the rest of our lives.
Forgive me, I speak from the bottom of my heart. I truly feel incapable to express my gratitude for your love. Simply, I am speechless… I make a bow to all of you, especially to our most respected shepherd and Bishop, the Metropolitan Timothy, whose Episcopal blessing, we constantly feel in our monasteries!
On Behalf of our monastic family, the Hieromonk Dositheus addressed the Elder:
Dear beloved Elder,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Please allow me to express on behalf of our brotherhood and sisterhood, our immense joy, inspired by the evangelical words, by the good tidings about the decision, that you have been found worthy to bear the episcopal title – which I think commensurate your spiritual growth.
At this moment, I recall the time when gave your wise and enlightened blessing to engrave in gold these words on the canopy, at the front gate of the monastery: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:26) The same words were exclaimed by the people when our Saviour Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, after Lazarus’ resurrection, six days before the Paschal Feast.
We humbly ask you to pray, Father, that we do not fail and resemble the bewildered crowd, which betrayed Jesus Christ, just a few days after his glorious entry to Jerusalem – and brought him to crucifixion. On the other hand, you know, that without Golgotha there is no Resurrection; that without the pain of carrying the cross, there is no joy of Resurrection. You know this because you truly live that way.
Brothers and sisters, let us all pray to the pre-eternal Council of the Holy Trinity, to guard and enlighten with His Divine Wisdom, our Elder and give him the strength, to bear the burden of the archiereic cross, and to honour him with the peace which He has promised to take His yoke upon themselves and patiently carry His light burden. (see Matthew 11:28-30).
Finally, on behalf of all of us, I would like to thank our esteemed Archbishop, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Debar and Kichevo Mr Timothy, and all the hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the MOC-Ohrid Archbishopric, who enlightened by the Holy Spirit, decided unanimously today to include Father Parthenius among Christ’s high priests.
May you serve the Holy Church for many years to come, dear Bishop!
Axios! Axios! Axios!