Albanian Orthodox Church – 12/9/17
Divine Liturgy Presided by Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios –
“If we want to express our love and respect for St. Cosmas, let us imitate him in works of love as he encourages us in his spiritual teachings” –
Spiritual celebrations, as typical of our Orthodox Church, are full of majesty and splendor. A celebration of that kind took place on the 24 August, when the Orthodox people celebrate the memory of the beloved fortress of the Orthodox People, St. Kozma of Etolia, in the Monastery dedicated to him, where there is also his grave.
Many believers from Myzeqe and other areas of our country, as well as from Greece, filled the monastery premises on August 23rd to attend the worshipping services and the respective activities. On Wednesday evening the Vespers and the Blessing of the Five Breads services were performed, as well as the Great Apodeipnon (Compline), which were presided by the Metropolitan of Apollonia and Fier, His Grace Nikolla. Following, there were spiritual activities for the young people, but also for the other believers, which had on focus the life and the teachings of St. Cosmas. Also, the revitalizing work of our Orthodox Church in the recent decades was presented during these activities.
On Thursday, the Divine Liturgy was con-celebrated by Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios, the Metropolitan of Berat, His Grace Ignat; the Metropolitan of Gjirokastra, His Grace Dhimitri; the Metropolitan of Fier, His Grace Nikolla; the Metropolitan of Amantia, His Grace Nathanail, Bishop Asti of Bylis and other clerics from the area and Greece. Lots of believers filled the church, which this year was even more organized and decorated, especially its surroundings, and they faithfully prayed to St. Cosmas and asked him to intercede on their behalf. There were present also in the Liturgy the General Consul of Greece in Gjirokastra, Mr. V. Tolios, the elected Prefect of the Epirus area, Mr. A. Kahrimanis, the Dean of the Theological Faculty of the University of Thessaloniki, prof. M. Tritos.
After the liturgy, selected sections from the spiritual teachings of the saint were read by Archimandrite Cosma which preserve so much worth-reading even in the present time.
Archbishop Anastasios addressed the faithful with a warm sermon, focusing on the personality of Saint Cosmas, the essential points of his life and work, and encouraged the believers to worthily venerate the saint and try to put to practice his teachings which are in fact a testament to faith, compassion, love for God and men, and the rare commitment to faith. He highlighted one of the basic features of St Cosmas’ life: the fact that he abandoned the tranquility of his monastic life in Bitola in order to provide light to the Orthodox faithful – a light which was fading out in these lands under the shadow of Ottoman darkness. He compared this occurrence as similar to the tragedy of our Church in the last century when, proclaiming the country as atheist, the atheists wanted to bury the Christian faith forever. However now we experience the miracle of the rebuilding of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania in a period of 25 years. St. Cosmas, besides other sacrifices, gave also his life to proclaim faith in God teaching us thus that any Orthodox faithful, in order to be worthy of such a name, is obliged to proclaim his faith wherever he lives.
In honor of the memory of Saint Cosmas of Etolia, who is so well-known and beloved by the faithful, Archbishop Anastasios made possible since at an early time the complete reconstruction of the monastery and the restoration of the church as well as the construction of five other churches in honor of this saint. Almost every year, he enlightens the worship and spiritual activities with his presence, and conducts his own ierapostolic activity in our country following the steps of Saint Cosmas.
After the Divine Liturgy, the Litany of the Graceful Relics of St. Cosmas and of His Venerable Icon followed, while the present faithful had the opportunity to venerate the honorable relics.
In the premises of the Monastery a simple reception for friends and other believers coming from afar followed; and the youth groups of the Metropolis of Apollonia and Fier performed a short artistic program and talked about their experiences of the camps and catechism groups. Archbishop Anastasios congratulated and thanked them for their work, and spoke about his new ambitious projects, such as the construction of more schools and churches, and also of the new hydropower plant, which would add greater significance to the 25th anniversary of the canonical revival of our Church after the election and the appointment of Archbishop Anastasios in 1992.