We Thank You, Holy Bishop, for the Gift of Saint George!

Response of Abbess Kassiana of the Monastery of Saint George the Victorious in Rajčica, during the solemn reception of the venerable and miraculous Icon of the Great Martyr, on March 17/30, 2024, Year of Our Savior

Your Grace, Holy Bishop Antanisios, our beloved spiritual Father, Mr. Partenie,

Honored guards and musicians from the Army,

Our dear benefactress and builder, Miss Elena Pandeva,

Dear donor of this holy and miraculous icon, Mr. Ratko Kapushevski,

Beloved attendees, devotees of the glorious Christ’s Victor, Saint George the Great Martyr,

Truly, there are no words that could adequately describe the tremor in our hearts at this moment. Nor could there be found under the Sun a better opportunity than this, to pour out the gratitude that has been growing in our souls from the very beginning.

We are infinitely grateful to you, our most beloved Elder, we, your little children, for being embraced by the Victorious One, in this beautiful home which you, by His good pleasure, resurrected from the ruins. We thank you for your holy and life-giving prayers, for your strong Abraham-like faith that God can create a paradisiacal garden in the wilderness; that even in impossible conditions and in turbulent times, a fortress can rise, a bulwark of reconciliation, a palace of God’s peace, which will not only be a guardian of the primal faith and the sacred heritage and tradition but also a bridge for connection and a center of coexistence in this beautiful region of our shared Macedonia.

We thank the Queen Mother for deigning to take you from her Athos garden and transplant you here, to be our spiritual father and shepherd, so that many, who have long been misled by the unsustainable teachings of false prophets and leaders, stumbling in the darkness of their own godlessness, may find a beacon and a signpost towards God. We thank you because Saint George heard the prayer of your heart and interceded with the Lord for a holy refuge for us, a paradisiacal nook where the spirit of Athos breathes and the blessing of the holy ancestors resides. We thank you, holy Bishop, for taking upon yourself our burden and still self-sacrificingly and relentlessly carrying the heavy cross for all of us, for God, seeing your inexpressible sacrifice, multiplies the fruit for the spiritual benefit of all who come here.

With the monastic community here, once again, the words of Saint Paul, oft-repeated by you, are confirmed, that God chose the humble and weak of this world, so that in our weakness, His strength and miracles may be revealed. Through this paradisiacal garden of Saint George, our sisterhood, protected under your loving shield, with the strength that comes from the paternal blessing, and through the healing mercy of God that supplements our deficiencies, has many times overcome numerous weaknesses and sufferings. For this is the monastic endeavor – a ceaseless battlefield, surrounded by humility before the will of the Elder, self-denial to the point of pain and blood, from the effort in prayer for all and everything, after which only love always prevails.

Now our eldest sister Varvara, whom Saint George chose along with you to go through the hardships of unfavorable times and the war conflict, and under your paternal care to be built as the first pillar of this sisterhood, is immensely joyful, seeing your new sprouts, how devotedly and with love they serve Christ and His Victorious One. And we all rejoice, having been deemed worthy today to be participants in this solemn event of great Divine favor and mercy from the Great Martyr, to venerate this holy and miraculous Icon, for which our souls have long yearned. We believe that this sacred image arrived here as a response to your long-standing immense desire and great love for that Icon, with which you ignited our hearts and opened them to prayer towards our dear Saint George, to delight us with that great spiritual treasure. It means a lot to us that this gift and blessing come through your hand, Elder, our beloved and noble Bishop, for we are well aware of your commitment and fervent care for the preservation and resurrection, beautification, and care for many of God’s sanctuaries of the Church, strengthening the faith of our people. We know your part in the work that revives virtues in people’s souls: making them stronger in endeavor, more persistent in patience, grounded in virtues, and fiery in love, diamond-strong in hope, and in patience and meekness – humane and merciful, according to the image and likeness of our Savior.

The arrival of the icon in these turbulent times seals the hope that God is with us in the storms and mazes of today and the burden each era carries. God never leaves without comfort, without satisfaction. He allows the cross but directs it towards Resurrection. The human tongue is powerless to describe and speak of the great Divine mysteries and happenings, but instead, the heart most sensitively and finely recognizes and receives the actions of Divine energies and then, without words, understands God’s secrets, through which God leads us in our life. Exactly this our eyes see today, for which today’s great event by Divine mercy testifies.

From now on, this icon, alongside His Holy Relics, will be another support and comfort for this faithful people, a Sanctuary to which we will turn with prayer, beseeching the Saint to strengthen our humble prayers and present them before God, before Whom he has great boldness. For this, we are especially grateful to our generous donor, Mr. Ratko Kapushevski with his devout family, whose selfless assistance contributed to this Sanctuary being here today. With this donation, he has forever inscribed himself in the history of our age-old sanctuary, and remains forever in our hearts and prayers.

Our Most Holy God, in Whom, through Whom, and for Whom everything that exists is, through the prayers of His highly glorified servant Saint George the Victorious, may He keep you, our parent in Christ and the reviver and new creator of this Holy Monastery, in good health, grant you longevity, spiritual strength and zeal, so that we may witness even more such magnificent spiritual works pleasing to Him. May He also keep and bless our self-sacrificing donors, our helpers, the faithful who come here with reverence and fear of God, “those who commanded us, the unworthy, to pray for them” and finally, this sisterhood which you acquired with your spiritual blood; may it grow us in love and obedience, strengthen us in humility and patience, so that we, as co-struggers of the holy Great Martyr, whose sacred example we strive to faithfully emulate, may steadfastly keep the faith, testify Christ to every visitor, and show the way to salvation and the eternal joy in our Resurrected Lord.