Touching Evening of Forgiveness

Our merciful God, who knows the human heart so well, understands how difficult it can be to say “I’m sorry” to our neighbor. We often find it easier to raise our eyes to the heavens, seeking forgiveness from the Good One, rather than to meet the gaze of our neighbor, in whose eyes pain may be hidden due to our actions, or condemnation may be present due to our mistakes. From our heart, we must humbly and sincerely approach them and say the much-needed “forgive me,” which drives away demons and calms passions. Therefore, He gives us a chance, at least once a year before we begin the Holy and self-purifying Fast, to meet eye to eye and, through a lovingly spoken “forgive me,” pour oil on the wounds we have caused and, at the same time, heal our own, offering our forgiveness without hypocrisy.

“The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise” – a detail from the iconostasis in the Bigorski Monastery

Remembering that this life is only a brief journey and that our loved ones are here today, but tomorrow, they may leave this journey to stand before God, a large crowd of faithful gathered at the Holy Monastery of Bigorski to seek forgiveness, first from the elder bishop Mr. Partenij, from the monk brothers, and then from each other, thus appealing to God for their own sins.

With a trembling heart of repentance, while the Bigorski temple was filled with the clear and penetrating voice of our bishop and abbot, who read the humble and penitent prayers that the Holy Church provided for this touching act of mutual forgiveness, those present wiped away their old debts through tears and prayerful sighs, making way for the long-awaited peace and love towards all.

This moving farewell evening reminds us once again of the great and indescribable love and mercy of God towards us. How much He would like all of us to live in peace with one another, how much our opening of our hearts to our neighbor means to Him. And when His children embrace sincerely and from the heart, and from one heart to another, the sweet consolation of forgiveness flows, then His joy is immeasurable and He pours out His grace and forgiveness on those hearts abundantly. Our beloved Elder was a witness to this, radiating with joy as he watched his children humbly bowing before one another, seeking forgiveness and spreading peace. First, he himself humbly asked forgiveness from everyone, gave us his fatherly blessings and instructions for fasting, and then, with a heart full of mercy, he captured for us the upcoming Paschal joy through his humble singing, making us long even more to prepare with compassion and forgiveness towards our neighbors for that triumphant touch with eternity. However, before that, we have to pass through this holy Lent, this desert of fasting, which is still overflowing with spiritual sources of water that flow into eternal life.

A good Lent!