Historical co-celebration of Liturgy at Golgotha in Jerusalem

Truly holy and most festive is this redemptive night, and the brightest of all, announcing the light-bearing day of the Resurrection; in it, the incarnated eternal Light blazed forth from the grave.

Many o Lord My God are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered! These psalm words of Prophet David were exclaimed today by our lips with festive joy, because our Lord created a great deed of mercy towards us, honouring us not only to venerate but also to celebrate Divine Liturgy on the hill of Golgotha – the very place where our Crucified Lord from the Cross embraced the whole world in His loving hands. Here He shed His most pure and life-giving blood, endowing humankind with His forgiveness and redemption.

This great honour was preceded by the meeting between our beloved Elder and Abbot of the Holy Bigorski Monastery, the Bishop of Antania Mr Parthenius and His Beatitude, the Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilus, at the Seat of the Church of Sion, right next to the Holy Tomb of Christ. Namely, with the blessing of our beloved Archbishop Mr Stephen and our most respected and holy Bishop, His High Reverence Metropolitan Timothy, our Elder Parthenius together with several of his brothers been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for several days now, visiting the “City of our great Heavenly Emperor and God – Jerusalem”. Yesterday he made an official visit to the Holy Patriarch, conveying to him the written fraternal address of our respected Archbishop, asking for permission to take part in the liturgical celebrations at the holy places. The Primate of the Jerusalem Church gave his blessing openly and with great joy, expressing his pleasure for the fact that the Ohrid Archbishopric is already accepted in the canonical and liturgical unity with the entire Orthodox ecumene, as a result of the decision of His All-holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his Holy Synod, dating from May 9th this year, and the reconciliation with the fraternal Orthodox Church of Serbia.

Among the many graceful benefits of these events and the wise and ecclesiologically right attitude of our Holy Archbishop Stephen and our Holy Synod towards the First-Throned Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was the liturgical celebration of our Elder, Bishop Parthenius and our brothers: Archimandrite Dositeos, the hieromonks Cyril and Anatolius, as well as the canonarch Averkios at the vigil of the previous night at the holy chapel of Golgotha in the church of the Resurrection. By the blessing of our host, the Holy Patriarch, the service was co-celebrated with the Archbishop of Madaba Mr Aristovulos, from the Jerusalem Patriarchate, and with several priests from Greece, Jerusalem and Romania.

This holy event is truly historical because this is the first time in the more recent history of the Ohrid Archbishopric, to have its Bishop and clergy co-celebrating in the church of the most glorious Resurrection of Christ in the Holy City of peace. It is a huge and precious blessing for all of its members.

The emotions experienced by the faithful when they stand before God at the awesome Golgotha are undoubtedly personal for everyone. They are so powerful and touching, cannot be expressed with human words. The prayers, the repentance, the tears and the serene joy… all that man offers from himself at the very place where our Lord Jesus Christ sighed: “It is done! And when He put his head down, He gave His spirit (John 19,30).

Remember us, dear Lord, from Thy Holy Cross and honour us, the meagre and sinful, with the words spoken to the reasonable thief, crucified together with Tee at Golgotha: I tell thee, today they will be together with Me in Heaven (Luc. 23,43).