Imperial name, imperial priesthood, imperial dignity: Saint Basil the Great. The memory of the righteous is praised, especially the memory of such a fiery pillar of the Church of Christ, who with his prayers strengthens the Christians. The Lord revealed to Saint Ephrem the Syrian, even during his life on earth, in a vision of Saint Basil the Great, that he is like a fiery pillar rising to the heavens. He is called “Great” because of the greatness of his spirit and his great role in preserving piety and orthodoxy.
The Incarnate Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, today, on the eighth day, was circumcised in the flesh, thus fulfilling the Old Testament law; he circumcises the bodily passions and weaknesses in human nature that arose after the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Although He is the perfect God and perfect Man, having no need for such a thing, out of love for His most beloved creation, He accepts the ultimate humiliation: birth in a manger, circumcision of the body, and soon baptism in the Jordan River by the hand of Saint John the Baptist.
This day left a particularly strong mark in the history of the Monastery because another historic service was held, in this case with the Bishop of Crete. Specifically, our beloved Elder and Igumen, Bishop Mr. Partenij, served alongside the Very Reverend Metropolitan of Arkalohori, Kasteli, and Vianno, Mr. Andrej, who came with his entourage, Archimandrite Philotej and Hieromonk Andrej, with the blessing of the Holy Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Bartholomew, and conveyed his greetings and blessings. At the end of the Holy Liturgy, he addressed the numerous faithful with blessings and good wishes for the New Year of the Lord.
“Your Grace, Bishop Antaniski, Brother Partenije, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you once again for the hospitality shown to us in this holy monastery, as well as for your co-celebration with this chosen brotherhood. I would like to convey my thanks to His Eminence Metropolitan Timotej of Debar-Kichevo, whom we visited yesterday and who received us with special honor, expressing his blessings and joy that we are guests in his diocese.
I wish for all of us to have a good and blessed year. The Comforter and Christ are for all, for all Orthodox Christians, throughout the ecumenical and the entire world. Everything else is human everyday life, but above human everyday life, which changes and passes away, there is the mystery of the grace of the Triune God; there is the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who renews, fulfills, sanctifies, and revitalizes the hearts of all Orthodox Christians.
I wish you a beautiful year, a year of peace, reconciliation, mutual respect, and acceptance of the other who has a different religion, different origin, different position, different skin color. For Christ tells us that love is the key, and whoever abides in Christ abides in love. Christ came to bring peace to the whole world, but that peace begins with reconciliation in the heart of each and every one of us Orthodox Christians.
I thank Brother Partenije once again and look forward to welcoming him, along with his honorable synod, as guests in Arkalohori.”
Responding to the love of His Eminence, the Metropolitan, our Elder, Bishop Partenij, stated:
“I warmly thank His Eminence, the Metropolitan of Arkalochori from Crete, Mr. Andrej, who kindly accepted our request to spend a few days with us and visit our monastery with the honorable fathers, Archimandrite Philotej and Hieromonk Andrej. Today, by the grace of God, we have crowned their stay with this holy Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, when we, according to the old calendar, celebrate the Circumcision of the Lord, the memory of Saint Basil, and the New Year. Bishop Andrej is also a professor of Church history at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and has written several books and articles about the Archbishopric of Ohrid. What is most interesting and for which we should be especially grateful is that he scientifically and canonically connects our present-day renewed Church with the glorious history of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, clearly demonstrating its rich continuity. Thus, we can say that today we were joined by a dedicated connoisseur and great friend of the holy Archbishopric of Ohrid.
I wish you a beautiful and blessed year, with strong health, much joy, and prayers, especially for the Church, since it is precisely she who leads us all towards salvation and brings us to eternity. Therefore, the calendar, the counting of years, months, and days, is a human affair. God, on the other hand, is beyond and above time. Therefore, our goal is to unite with the Eternal, so that we too may become eternal. This opportunity to rise above time and to be in eternity was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, through His crucifixion and resurrection. Therefore, the Church is essential and necessary in our lives, since in it are hidden the treasures of eternity. Let our prayers be directed towards the swift conclusion of the entire process of recognizing our holy Church, so that it may receive a Tome from the First Throne Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, just as all other Churches have received their autocephaly. Many happy years to all!”
After the liturgical communion and Eucharist, and after the festive table, the festive Vasilopita with a coin was blessed and distributed in the solemn hall of the Bigorski Monastery in an atmosphere of great joy. Among those present were the Minister of Defense, Ms. Slavjanka Petrovska, and the Mayor of the Center Municipality, Mr. Goran Gerasimovski, who donated a large number of packages for children and food for the Monastery, for which we deeply thank him.