The beauty of the communal gathering in our beloved Savior, Lord Jesus Christ, continued to protect our souls with even greater power today. Our revered Metropolitan, His Eminence Timothy of Plaoshnik and Debar-Kichevo, joyfully joined the prayerful and celebratory assembly in honor of the memory of our holy father, St. Partenij Lampsakiski, the Miracle Worker, this morning. After the festive Morning Service, in which the prayers and thanksgiving of the numerous faithful were lifted up to Heaven together with the harmonious and moving psalmodies of our dear guests from the exceptional choir “Tropos” and the brothers from the Bigorski choir, followed the greatest church sacrament, the Divine Liturgy.
Our esteemed Metropolitan, as a gracious and generous host, out of respect for the First Throne Church and in accordance with established practice, entrusted the liturgical leadership to the esteemed hierarch from the First Throne Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Kiril of Imvros and Tenedos, who has been our special guest at the Bigorski Monastery for several days, as an official representative of His Divine All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Our beloved Elder, Bishop of Antania, Partenij, served together with both Metropolitans, and around the Holy Table, they prayed: Archimandrites Dositej Bigorski, Matej, and Heruvim from the Orthodox Church of Greece, the priests Mile Angeloski and Pavel Krcoski from the Debar-Kichevo diocese, Father Zlatko Pureovski from the Bregalnica diocese, and the brothers monastics and deacons from Bigorski. It was truly a wonderful liturgical synaxis in the love and glory of God!
And our venerable Metropolitan Timothy did not neglect to spiritually uplift our thoughts once again through his inspired word, dedicated to imitating Christ and St. Parthenius Lampsakos.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
Dear brothers and sisters,
Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to this sinful earth and took on human form, living among people in a holy and blameless way. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Through his holy life, he gave us an example to follow so that we may reject all impurities that attach themselves to our souls, as he himself says, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). He demonstrated love, humility, patience, gentleness, mercy, and other virtues of the heart, so that we can also act like him, to do what we see in him, or as he says, “Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). Therefore, the holy apostles call us to imitate his life, “To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Meanwhile, the Apostle Paul says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
This text is about the teachings of Jesus Christ and the example He set through His actions. He commanded us to learn from His example and lead a blameless life, as seen in a clear mirror. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
Every Christian is obligated to imitate Christ. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, did not call us to praise Him, as He stands far above any praise we could offer. All the heavenly powers praise Him. The sun does not need to prove its brightness. However, the holy Church wants to present to us His excellent nature, which should attract our hearts, and by loving and imitating Him, we can leave behind our old ways and follow Him with faith and love. We need to look at His divine goodness with faith and a pure heart and, as in a mirror, see ourselves and remove any vices that have attached themselves to our hearts and souls. This can only happen through repentance, by rejecting any evil intentions, and with His help, renewing ourselves as new people.
Examples of a sinful life test one’s faith once again. Bad examples are contagious. From everyday life, we know that when one sheep starts moving somewhere, the other sheep immediately follow it, without considering that they might get farther away and fall into danger, or even death. Similarly, many people act without thinking. They move based on their feelings, not their reason, and follow each other like sheep, without considering whether it is beneficial or harmful. We see such examples in every step we take in the world. One person starts to indulge in fame and celebration, drinking, throwing parties, and others are drawn to similar things. Others follow his example, but unfortunately, it leads to physical and even more so, spiritual ruin. This is the fruit of reckless behavior.
Every Christian is called to reconcile with God, but before that, one must reconcile with one’s neighbor – that’s what the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us. Christian love requires us to approach reconciliation with those whom we have offended, hurt, etc., according to our own desire. The voice of conscience calls us to reconcile if we want to receive peace.
Today we celebrate St. Parthenius Lampsakos. This servant of God lived his life in the image of Jesus Christ and was blessed to multiply his flock in great numbers. It is said that when he took on the position of archbishop, he found only eighteen believers, but when he departed this world, there were only eighteen non-believers left. Let us also follow the example of Jesus Christ and St. Partenij Lampsakiski, by rejecting all malice and wickedness and multiplying our virtues. In this way, we will receive grace from the Holy Spirit, walk on the true path of Christ, and pray for the salvation of our souls.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Bishop Antaniski Partenij, Vicar of Our Humility and Abbot of this holy dwelling, on his name day and wish him successful leadership in the spiritual life of this community. May this affirmation of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric prosper this holy dwelling and secure salvation for his soul and the souls of his entrusted flock.
The moment at the end of the Holy Liturgy was particularly touching, when the esteemed Metropolitan Kiril expressed his personal respect to our bishop, as well as the respect and blessings from the Ecumenical Patriarch of our jurisdiction, Metropolitan Timotej. Specifically, the holy bishop of Imvros and Tenedos presented our hierarch with a silver medallion, crafted in honor of the 30th anniversary of His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s patriarchate. On this occasion, he expressed the following words filled with brotherly love and honor:
“Your Eminence, the esteemed pastoral leader of this holy diocese, Mr. Timotej,
Respected fathers, dear brothers and sisters,
We have all gathered here today to celebrate the feast day of St. Parthenius, the Bishop of Lampsakos, and to offer our congratulations to the celebrant, His Grace the Reverend Abbot Mr. Partenij, on his name day. Some of us have come from nearby, others from a little further away. I am honored to come from Constantinople, from the venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Mother of Churches. And I come to convey the good wishes, love, and blessings of our Ecumenical Patriarch, first to Archbishop Mr. Stefan, then to the wise, beloved, and honorable Metropolitan Mr. Timotej, and of course, to the one celebrating – His Grace Mr. Partenij. The unity of the Church is a blessing from God, and in that great mystery of the Church, the joy of one becomes the joy of all.
Personally, I thank His Holiness for sending me here as his representative, but I also thank the holy hierarch Mr. Timotej, who, with his canonical permission, has given us the opportunity to serve in his diocese and monastery today.
His Grace Mr. Timotej is a significant and wise Metropolitan. He is a man who works with humility and honesty, and he is the one who promotes the unity and canonical order of the Church. That is why we are happy today to be together here with clergy and laity from the Ohrid Archdiocese, as well as brothers and friends from Greece and other places. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank His Eminence. He is one of the hierarchs respected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With the opportunity to gather today, I would like to ask for permission to present him with a silver medallion issued by the Patriarchate on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s enthronement. And I would like to wish Your Eminence a healthy and long pastoral ministry and to be the strongest link between the Patriarchate and the Ohrid Archdiocese. Your Eminence, thank you very much. Worthy!”
Once again, our esteemed Metropolitan, Timotej, expressed his gratitude and testified to the love of Christ, extending his thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew:
“Your Eminence, it is an honor for me on this great day, when we celebrate Saint Parthenius Lampsakos, to serve the Holy Divine Liturgy together and to partake from one chalice, one cup, and to be one in the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus Christ said that you will be recognized as my disciples if you have love among yourselves. Love is best shown in communal worship, that is, with the common Eucharist. The Apostle Paul, in his letter, says that even if we speak in the tongues of angels and let our bodies burn, if we do not have love, we will be like a clanging cymbal. In other words, we will be nothing. And there is no need to burn our bodies or suffer, because we have shown love. I pray to the Lord God that the love we manifested today will be lasting and eternal.
I take this opportunity, on behalf of the brother co-servants today and on my own behalf, on behalf of the vicar hierarch and all the faithful present today, to thank you for your kind words, but also to express my gratitude to His Holiness, the Patriarch Bartholomew, the Primate Hierarch of the Holy Orthodox Church. I express my gratitude once again for the gift, which I will keep as a souvenir that will remind me of this Liturgy, but also of the wonderful moments we had during the first hierarchal co-service at the Liturgy of the Holy Pentecost in Constantinople. We are looking forward to His Holiness’ visit to Ohrid and the long-awaited moment when the Macedonian people will receive the Tomos from the Ecumenical Patriarch.”