(Video) Palm Sunday in the City of Debar

Palm Sunday. A day when with crowns of victory and joyful exclamations we celebrate the triumphant entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into the holy city of Jerusalem. A day when the King of Peace momentarily reigns in the City of Peace. It is a day when the triumph of goodness, of purity prevails. A day for the innocent and the pure-hearted. For us, the residents of the Debar-Reka region, today’s festival also glorifies the illustrious city of Debar. Today, it seemed transformed into a second Jerusalem, where with honor and glory, with tenderness and light, the King of kings graciously entered the Perpetual Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, that spiritual diamond of the Debar township, affectionately called “The Metropolitan” by the locals. Here, the Christian residents of Debar, along with our brothers of the Muslim faith, together with the brothers and sisters of our monastic community and many faithful from various places, gathered to welcome and internally receive the Resurrector of the Four-day Lazarus and the Liberator of human souls from the bonds of death with prayer and thanksgiving.

After yesterday’s vigil at Bigorski, today’s festive celebration began with the blessing of the palm branches by our beloved Elder, Bishop Parthenius of Antaniski, who with great joy and kindness distributed them as a blessing to the large assembly. The Divine Liturgy, which he officiated, was like a continuous hymn of jubilation in the hearts, incessantly uttering the cry: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The very air in the temple, fragrant with the scent of incense and flowers, was imbued with the blessing of the Most Holy and the joy of the forefathers. Undoubtedly, it was not only a celebration but also an invitation for every soul to delve deep within, to resonate with the upcoming Passion of Christ, and thereafter to rise with Him in His Resurrection. This divine inspiration was echoed by our beloved Elder in his sermon following the reading of the Holy Gospel.

At the conclusion of the holy service, Bishop Parthenius made a point to profoundly thank all who selflessly contributed to the renovation of the Debar church of the Mother of God. He seized this blessed opportunity to honor the chairman of the church board, Mr. Dushan Kazandziovski, with the monastic order of “The Forerunner”. In his address, the Elder highlighted:

“Beloved people of Debar,

Dear brothers, sisters, and children,

You are aware that last year, together with a few Orthodox Christians from the city, we began to renew this sacred and glorious Temple of the Queen Mother of God. We started with little, but this year we have accomplished much more. We restored the pillars, replaced the decayed beams of the church’s balcony, cleaned the entire church, and completely renewed the porch, which is now truly magnificent.

Two months ago, when we began to intensively restore and build, substantial funds arrived from our Christians across our beloved Macedonia.

In this renewal effort, the pious Mr. Dushan Kazandziovski from Debar, an honorable and respected man from an old Debar family, one of the few brave who remained living here, exerted significant effort. Sister Elisaveta from the Rajcica Monastery also worked hard in the renovation. Know that all who worked on the temple, every morning before 5 o’clock, came here, sometimes staying until midnight, just to finish the work on time.

Therefore, allow me, on this solemn occasion, by decision of the council of elders from the Bigorski Monastery, to bestow upon our beloved Dushan Kazandziovski the highest monastic honor – the order of ‘The Forerunner’, for his exceptional efforts, commitment, sacrifice, and love for this holy and everlasting temple. Undoubtedly, he tirelessly works and cares for the Church, and let me confess something personal – I have seen him shed tears when the church was failing, and I see him today again crying, but now from joy. This good man is respected by all the citizens of Debar. Whenever he passed through the Debar bazaar during this period, our dear fellow citizens, the honorable Albanians who understand what we are doing, contributed funds to help restore the Church, so Dushan always returned to the temple with monetary donations. Therefore, we pray that God may bless them too. Today at the Divine Liturgy, we prayed for all citizens of this city, regardless of their nationality or faith, because we are all beloved children of the Lord.”

The festive celebration of the Lord’s victorious entry into the Holy City was richly enhanced by the young vocal souls of the Kičevo choir “Metropolitan Kozma Prečistan,” its orchestra, and the students from the music school “Ilija Nikolovski-Luj” from Skopje. With great joy and love, they performed the appropriate Lazarus carols before Bishop Parthenius and the numerous attendees.