Strumica Diocese: News

A vigil in honour of St. Gregory Palamas ( 16.03.2009 )

"In thy wisdom thou hast put to death every lust of the flesh that is condemned to perish, and through asceticism thou hast brought thy soul to life, devoting all its powers to the contemplation of God." (Canon of the Saint)


This son of the divine and never-setting light, St. Gregory Palamas, truly real man of God and a good servant, minister of the Divine Misteries, having devoted himself to the most ascetic fits in his early youth, such as fasting and unceasing prayer, managed to overcome the intrigues of the demons and became a chosen vessel for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is not by chance that the Holy Church has dedicated the second week of the Great Lent to this great ascet and miracle worker. Overcomming relentlessly his weaknesses and restraining himself from every indulgement of the flesh, he was rewarded by God for these efforts and was chosen as a vessel of grace, protector of faith and preacher of the Divine Uncreated Light. Through his good example the Church advises us as a caring mother to acept the Holy Lent, to practise restraining, to strive towards good deeds because every our even the smallest effort would be awarded by God and we would be made worthy of the greatest gift – the gift of seeing Christ in our hearts.

This is exactly what the Gospel of the first week of the Holy Lent is about. Informing his good friend Nathanaile about Christ, Apostle Philip uses very simple words to convey the good news to this true Israelian without any wickedness, who was sincerely looking for God. To the question asked by Nathanaile: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” He simply says without any explanations:” Come and see!" You just come and see and His presence will prove to you everything. I cannot answer your questions, but His very presence is an answer you cannot refute. This is exactly what the Holy Church says to its children, calling to them with a motherly voice: Come and see! See the works of God. All you have to do is just approach with an open heart and God will reveal the truth in your hearts, since the truth is only in God.

The very next week we are revealed the meaning of faith through the Gospel about the healing of the paralysed. His relatives had such strong faith that God will heal the diseased and were trying in every possible way to reach God so that finally they opened the roof of the house in order to bring in the paralysed through it. Having seen their strong faith, our Lord immediately healed the diseased.

With these spiritual interpretations of the Gospel, the abbot of the Bigorsky monastery, Archimandrite Parthenios, inspired at the beginning of the night vigil the numerous faithful who came to the monastery of St. George, thus opening their hearts for spiritual contemplation and all night prayer in honour of St. Gregory Palamas," the mouth of theologians and home of Divine wisdom, a spiritual ocean of practice and contemplation…" These wonderful verses chanted in festive byzantine chants by the members of the byzantine ecclesiastical choir "St. John Harmosine" from Skopje, as well as by some students of the Seminary school, encreased even more the spiritual atmosphere of this communion of faithful gathered around Christ. Here in some misterious way was present even the saint himslef, pouring forth rivers of grace upon the present faithful. While singing in antiphones, these fervent psalts resembled a choir of angels, praising God continuously.

The very day of the saint was enriched with the arrival of the two Bishops, the Metropolitan of Debar – Kichevo Diocese, Mr. Timothy, who presided with the Divine Liturgy and the Metropolitan of Strumica Diocese, Mr. Naum.

Contemplating in his sermon after the Liturgy about the meaning of the Holy Lent in the struggle of the Church for the healing of its children from their spiritual and carnal diseases, Metropolitan Timothy emphasised: "The Great Lent is a period when the Holy Church requires our repentance and confession so that we can be cured from the spiritual disease, refered to as sin in the works of the Holy Fathers.The greatest enemy of the human kind through sin enters in the souls of people anxiety, distress and breakdown, constantly deadening our conscience. He creates distrust and hate among people, quarrels and wars among nations and countries… Therefore, the Holy Church with its great spiritual experience, most sincerely recomends to us the fasting, the prayer, Divine support through the grace of the Holy Spirit which we receive through the Holy Misteries, and especially the sincere repentance in tears for our sins, as well as the Holy Communion with the Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ."

By the prayers of St. Gregory Palamas, may our Lord listen to our prayers and grant us strenght and zeal so that we could spend the time of the Holy Lent in the greatest restraining, hoping that for our small effort and fit we would be made worthy of clensing our sins and meeting God in our hearts and finally and that at the end of the Lenten period we would ressurect together with Him, celebrating the Holy Pasha with great joy in our Lord.