Sunday His Beatitude Neophyte, Patriarch of Bulgaria, presided over the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church in Sofia.
According to mitropolia-sofia.org, concelebrants for the Divine Liturgy included:
- His Eminence Teodosie, Archbishop of Tomis,
- His Grace Gerasimos of Melnik, secretary of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church,
- His Grace Tikhon of Tiveriopolsk, Assistant Bishop to the Diocese of Sofia,
- Archimandrite Philip Vasiltsev, representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow in Bulgaria,
- Neluţu Oprea, representative of the Romanian Patriarchate in Bulgaria,
- An assembly of Romanian and Bulgarian priests and deacons.
The renowned Armonia Choir from Constanţa, Romania, gave the liturgical answers.
On the patronal feast of the Romanian Church in Sofia, the Archbishop of Tomis brought from Romania the holy relics of the Holy Martyrs from Dobrudja, Epictetus and Astion.
In his homily delivered June 4, Patriarch Neophyte spoke about the Descent of the Holy Spirit as the moment when the Church was established. He said that the reception of the Holy Spirit represents “the genuine foundation of our faith and hope, our belonging to Christ’s Church, the triumph over sin, death, and corruption. It opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.” The Bulgarian Patriarch noted that sin and death can be overcome in the Church and is acquired when we confess that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Patriarch Neophyte went on to say that the unity and consensus of the Holy Apostles and of the Mother of God represent a condition that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, remain in the Church of Christ. Only in this unity commanded by God and in a reasoning united with the Holy Spirit are we able to become one body and one community in Jesus Christ, a community of faith and hope, His Beatitude Patriarch Neophyte said concluding his speech.
There was an exchange of gifts between the two hierarchs. Patriarch Neophyte presented the Archbishop of Tomis with a set of engolpia with the image of Saint Clement of Ohrid. In his turn, Archbishop Teodosie presented the Bulgarian Patriarch with a set of hierarchal vestments and a photo album.
After the Divine Liturgy, the hierarchs officiated the special Pentecost Vespers, and His Eminence Teodosie read the first kneeling prayers.
Finally, the Archbishop of Tomis thanked His Beatitude Patriarch Neophyte for the festive concelebration and referred to the Romanian Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity saying that it shows the unity between the Romanian people and the Bulgarian people, as well as between the Romanian Church and the Bulgarian Church.
© Martin Mitov / Metropolis of Sofia