An angel in the body and a heavenly man. A dweller of the wilderness and a citizen of Heaven. Sent by God to prepare a worthy people, to make straight His paths, to call the nation to repentance. The greatest Saint of our Church – of course, after the Most Pure Mother of God whose holiness surpasses even the angelic hosts. About him, the mouth of the Savior said: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
Today, on January 7th (according to the old style), the Church of God celebrates the heavenly Synaxis of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John. This is the oldest feast for the Forerunner of God. God enlightened the Fathers of the Church and they determined the day following the Divine Theophany as a day to render worthy honor to him who laid his hand to baptize our Christ. The embodiment of Christ’s love and humaneness. A friend to sinners. A preacher and teacher of repentance. A flower of the desert. In whatever wilderness we find ourselves, whether in cities or in any corners, we always have with us – this we should know well – the Honorable John the Forerunner who accompanies us protectively. He is our best company and our most faithful companion on the path of repentance.
It is an understatement to say that our Holy Monastery, dedicated precisely to this giant of Christ, loves and always joyfully celebrates its heavenly patron. It simply breathes through him, lives with him, and dies for him. It is enough to mention the name of Saint John, for Bigorski to shine with joy from above. And today, on his all-glorious Synaxis, he has prepared for us another joy in the unity of the Church of Christ: in addition to the numerous faithful from us, he brought for glory a group of about twenty Orthodox from Berat, Albania, to celebrate with us his sacred and most glorious work and participation in God’s Economy for salvation. This blessed group of devout Christians, who made a great endeavor, despite the unfavorable weather conditions to arrive in time for the Holy Liturgy, was led by the reverent clergymen, the protopresbyter from the Metropolis of Berat, Father Joan Qako, presbyter Father Kristaq Subashi, and deacon Leonard Dedja. They, with the blessing of our beloved Elder, Bishop of Antania, Mr. Partenij, co-officiated the Divine Eucharist with our brother, Archimandrite Mr. Dositej.
Following the festive liturgy, there was a joyful communion in the spirit of Christ’s love and unity and an introduction of the guests to the monastery’s contents.
O greatest prophet – as the Son of God Himself called you – you who loosed the barren bonds of your parents; who showed men the Lord Christ; who baptized the Savior of the world in the River Jordan; who saw the heavens opened and heard the Father’s voice and saw the Holy Spirit descending upon the Son like a dove, hear our pain, loosen our spiritual barrenness, ignite the lamp of repentance in our souls, and enlighten us with the enlightenment from Divine revelation.