What words of gratitude can a human mouth express for Him who, through His holy Apostles, has given us spiritual fatherhood, saying, “He who hears you, hears Me,” and in our time, has given us a spiritually rich parent and guide to Himself? How can the heart express what it feels for the One who has made for it a throne of the Most High God? What words of gratitude can the children of his spiritual family weave for their father in Christ? How can children express their love to the father who has made human sons and daughters into children of God? Today, the hearts of monks rejoice, the souls of many faithful cry out. The Elder, that Christ-loving person, the priest who initiates us into the mysteries, our refuge who comforts and cares for us, is a witness to the crucifixion and resurrection love that God’s mercy brings to the earth. And it is not by chance that one of the greatest Elders of modern times and a teacher of monks, the blessed Archimandrite Emilianos of Simonopetra, said that heaven and earth are contained in the grace-filled person of the Elder, that eternity and heavenly bliss are found in him. The Elder is an oasis in the desert of this vain and fleeting world, his words abide in eternity, and his blessings are more precious than all the universe.
The name day of the Elder is a very special day for all of his children, especially for the monks, which is why our Holy Monastery celebrates with such joy and respect the name day of our Elder, Bishop Antaniski G. Partenij. For almost three decades, he has led us towards knowledge and love of God in a Christ-like manner. However, it’s not just the monks who rejoice in the Elder; there is also a huge multitude of his spiritual children who come from all sides like a river, to express their warmest love and unite their humble prayers and gratitude with their spiritual father, whose love and sacrifice made them happy in Christ.
The dignified and prayerful celebration of the memory of our Elder’s heavenly patron received the brightest decoration and the greatest blessing this year, through the presence and prayerful participation of the respected and dear Metropolitan of Imvros and Tenedos, Mr. Kiril. He greatly pleased us with his fatherly greeting and heartfelt wishes and blessings from His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. A particularly moving experience for those present was the touching and harmonious singing of the renowned choir “Tropos”, who traveled all the way from Athens to exalt the divine celebration through prayer and psalmody.
In recognition of the great love shown towards him, our Elder addressed everyone with a message of gratitude for the importance of community in God before the start of their evening prayer.
“Your Excellency, respected and holy Metropolitan of Imvros and Tenedos, Kiril,
Venerable, holy and honorable fathers,
Beloved brothers, sisters and children,
When the divine poet and prophet David exclaimed, “Sing to the Lord a new song; his praise is in the assembly of the godly” (Psalm 149:1), he foretold the gathering of those who are called by Christ’s name in the glory of the Lord. And the new song, according to the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, is that of those who have remained in the good and have progressed in it, and have consequently been rectified or made right by the Holy and Renewing Spirit. They are those who are already a new creation, who, through the commandments of love in the New Testament, have put on the new person and now sing a new song to the Lord.
Looking at all of you, with your noble and loving faces, I have no doubt that today’s gathering, led by our Father among the Saints, the wonder-worker and Bishop of Lampsakos, Parthenius, is exactly what the prophet described. Feel only the power of the Holy Spirit, which still gathers and renews, rejoices and sanctifies! What is that power, if not the grace of the Holy Spirit and the renewing Spirit?
Moreover, the mystery of the Church of God lies precisely in the assembly of the faithful. From ancient times, the spirit-bearing Fathers defined the Church as the Eucharistic gathering of believers around their bishop. But even bishops do not exist for themselves, but they too live in a communal framework, under the presidency of one. And the leaders of local Churches are not deprived of their collective conciliarity, but are united under the primacy of the first throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose helm, according to the canons and tradition, is held by the Archbishop of the New Rome – Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch. This is the inheritance that we have received from the Holy Councils of the Church of the East and from its God-illumined Fathers, and this is the ecclesiology that saves and sanctifies. Or, as the blessed and ever-mentioned Metropolitan of Pergamon, John Zizioulas, so eloquently and aptly put it:
“The Church is always a congregation, and in the congregation, there is always a first, a number one, one who presides. This does not mean the penetration of the worldly thought of democracy or monarchy in the Church. This is purely a theological category. It arises from faith in our Holy Trinity. From the beginning, the church tradition has had canons that relate to the following: in the Church, there is never primacy without a council, and there is never a council without primacy. The harmony between the one who presides and the Council is a gift from the Holy Spirit. This has been valid in our ecclesiology since the beginning.”
I thank my heavenly patron, St. Parthenius, especially for hearing my prayer and enriching his glory this year with the precious presence of our dear and beloved friend and brother in the Lord, His Eminence, the Metropolitan of Imvros and Tenedos, Mr. Kiril, who is visiting our Sacred Home with the blessing of His Divine Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and brought us his fatherly prayers and best wishes, for which I am deeply moved and infinitely grateful. I want to thank you again personally, holy bishop of Imvros and Tenedos, for the honor and joy with which you have honored me, accepting the invitation to come to us!
Here, together with us, are our sincere and beloved friends and dear brothers in Christ, Archimandrites Father Matej and Father Heruvim, who have already become our regular co-prayer and co-liturgical celebrants during the celebrations in our Home.
With sincere gratitude for the honor they bestowed upon us, I greet and bless the members of the renowned Eastern Orthodox Church choir from Athens, “Tropos,” led by their choir director, Mr. Konstantin Angelidis. The beauty of their psalmody is a true adornment to our celebration.
I thank all of you, brothers, sisters, and children in the Lord, for always having me in your prayers and love, and for always being here, in our joys, but also in our sorrows and concerns. It is an indescribable joy to see your faces, where evangelical love is depicted. I embrace you all in prayer and wish you the blessings and prayers of today’s saint, Saint Parthenius Lampsak.
Tomorrow morning, we expect the arrival of our revered Metropolitan of Plaoshnik and Debar-Kichevo, His Eminence Mr. Timotej, who has been our good and monastic-loving shepherd since the very beginning.
Thank you once again, and happy holiday to everyone!”
No gift is enough to cover the unattainable paternal love, but nonetheless, the grateful children, monks, and nuns from the Holy Monasteries sincerely brought him the modest testimony of their filial fidelity. On their behalf, the monastery’s steward, Brother Archimandrite Dositej, addressed our beloved Elder:
Dear Your Eminence, our beloved bishop Kiril,
Respected Elder and Igumen of Partenij, Bishop of Antanisky,
Your Venerables, our dear fathers Matej and Heruvim,
Respected Mr. Konstantin Angelidis, the leader of the “Tropos” choir, and esteemed choir members,
Respected brothers and sisters, monks and nuns,
Today we have once again gathered to honor the memory of the miracle worker, Saint Parthenius of Lampsak, in prayer, and also to celebrate the name day of our own saintly Elder, Bishop Parthenius. This year marks the 28th year that he has celebrated his heavenly patron of the same name. Nearly three decades have passed since he began his pastoral work as an elder and igumen in this holy sanctuary of the Precursor, and those years have been filled with numerous works and achievements for the glory of God. He has accomplished great and lofty things, with constant prayers and heartfelt yearnings, and of course, has endured significant trials, which, by God’s grace and strength, he has overcome for the good of us all.
The period from the last century until today will remain particularly memorable in history because great and joyful events happened during this time. Of course, the biggest event was the granting of the Act for Liturgical and Canonical Unity of our Church by His Divine All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew, which brought Easter joy and resurrection. Soon after, there were other recognitions from several other Orthodox Churches, so our glorious Ohrid Archbishopric found its place under the sun. The historical and great significance was the joint service of our primate, His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan, and our dear hierarchs of the Holy Synod with His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew in the Patriarchal Church of St. George the Victorious in Constantinople. Reconciliation and joint service with the hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in Serbia in the spirit of Christ’s teaching on unity were also very significant. Such development of church events surpasses all the grief and sufferings, whether personal or collective.
The Ohrid Archbishopric, after 255 years since its abolition, had the opportunity to once again serve shoulder to shoulder with all the local Orthodox Churches, and we also received the honor and dignity – which, of course, entails a great responsibility – to serve at the Tomb of Christ, and with the Jerusalem Patriarch and at the Terrible Golgotha, on the very day of the Exaltation of the Cross, when Bishop Partenij, as the representative hierarch of our Church, was honored to carry the Precious and Life-Giving Cross on his head.
He recalled the temptations and sorrows that inevitably follow great joy and grace for some people, who unfortunately could not see and recognize the great historical moments and understand that everything is in Glory to God and, above all, in joy, for the first Archbishop of the Ohrid Archbishopric and our benefactor – Saint Jovan Debranin Bigorski, for the holy clergy and the faithful people of our holiest Church.
We pray to the Lord to enlighten and comfort everyone, and our holy father Patriarch Lampskiski to intercede for all of us! We humbly beseech His Eminence Metropolitan Kiril of Imvros and Tenedos, who, as he said yesterday, lives near Lampsk, to pray to Saint Partenij Lampskiski for our Elder.
Beloved Elder and Bishop, happy name day and many years filled with blessings!
To our beloved spiritual father in Christ, Elder, Abbot, and Bishop Partenij, we warmly congratulate him on his name day, wishing him a long and God-pleasing life, filled with health, spiritual strength, and joy. We wholeheartedly shout out, “Many years, our holy Bishop! Always worthy!”.