“I am among you as one who serves.” (Lk 22:27)

 

 
“I am among you as one who serves.” The family spirit of the Assumption, the joy of being together, comes from this: being the servant of all. “In my village my grandfather ran a mill. When the Assumptionist fathers would stop by our house to take a rest on their way.....”

So began a long interview which we held with Bishop Methodius (Stratiev) in February as he became conscious that the end of his life was drawing close.

We had gathered in Plovdiv on November 13, 2005, for the feast of our three martyrs and he concluded his homily by telling us that what he had said constituted his spiritual testament. After the liturgy, there was a festive meal and it was then that there was born the idea to meet in Sofia to hold this interview.

The last solemn occasion when we met together happened on his birthday, January 11, 2006, in the chapel of Exarchate in Sofia. He was 90 yeras old.

For the Bulgarian Assumption the disappearance of “Diado” Methodius creates a void that cannot be replaced. He was the “living memory” of Bulgarian Assumptionist history.

His death, which occurred approximately two years after that of Fr. Gorazd, deprives us of a witness who maintained the memory of a good part of the Bulgarian Assumptionist history of the last century.

Today, among the Bulgarian fathers still living, as witness to the Communist era, there remains only Fr. Hrabar, but his health is not very good and his role as guardian of memories is quite limited.

“Diado” Methodius was a spiritual man, impreganated with a concrete love of God and his fellow human beings.

During the interview that we conducted in February, he told that the most important moment of his journey was the two hours that he would spend in chapel before the Blessed Sacrament. He also recounted to us an episode full of meaning from that terrible time when he was tortured in prison.

One day, in order to require him to confess his guilt, they called one of his friends with whom he liked to play chess. Seeing his head bleeding and his chest black and blue from the beatings he had received, his friend said: “Look how you have been brought down. You look like Christ.” And he replied: “No! My sufferings are nothing compared with those of Christ.”

He astounded us with the serenity with which he spoke about his torturers.

Never a word of condemnation or of revolt.

Titular bishop from 1971 to1995, his contribution to the stability of the Catholic Church was extremely important, even after the fall of Communism.

He exercised his role as bishop and pastor by means of the formation of the people who had been entrusted to him. He left us numerous spiritual reflections which help us to maintain his memory among us

Blagodarim ti Diado Methodi. Pomogni ni ot nebeto da sledvame stapkite ti po patia na xristianskata givot.

We thank you, Fr. Methodius. From heaven help us to follow in your steps along the way of the Christian life.
 


The Plovdiv Community

 

HOME