Tbilisi, August 27, 2018
Saturday, August 25 marked the 55th anniversary of the consecration of His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia as a bishop, which the patriarch celebrated with a Divine Liturgy at Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, reports Sputnik-Georgia.
The 40th anniversary of his enthronement as the primate of the Georgian Church was also celebrated in December.
During his Sunday sermon the next day, Pat. Ilia, the most beloved and trusted man in Georgia, entreated the faithful’s prayer, and offered the moving story of how he came to personally know God.
“Yesterday marked 55 years from the day of my elevation to the episcopate. I am in need of your prayers. If not for your prayers, I would not have been able to overcome the trials that I have overcome,” the patriarch said.
He also touched upon the theme of man’s closeness to God, explaining how he came to experience it firsthand.
“Today I would like to tell you about the trial I overcame after studying at the theological academy. I had a question within me: What does closeness to God mean, and what does a man feel during this closeness? After the academy, His Holiness and Beatitude Ephraim II appointed me to pray in Samtavro Monastery in Mtskheta. Something amazing happened: Grace descended during the Gospel,” His Holiness shared.
As he explained, it was then that he felt close to God.
“There was some incomprehensible state, where I was as if detached from prayer. I didn’t see anyone. I felt closeness to God. The Liturgy went well from beginning to end, but this closeness with God was so sweet, sublime, and spiritually wounding, that when a monk came in at the end of the Liturgy, I came out of this state,” the patriarch added.
“But I should say,” Pat. Ilia continued, “that this vision was so extraordinary, the grace was so great, that I could neither talk nor take any food. My whole body felt this state. Perhaps you feel it; perhaps this has happened once or twice in your life,” the Catholicos-Patriarch concluded.
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