A sermon by his Eminence Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou. A sermon performed in the Divine Liturgy for the feast of St. John of Lampadistis. The speech was held at the celebration in the monastery that carries the name of this great Saint. St. Lampadistis Monastery in the community of Kalopanagiotis in the Metropolitan region of Morphou (04.10.2021).
It is my wish for all of you- that you may have many blessed years.
We celebrate and honour the Eternal memory of the late owners and renovators of this Holy Monastery.
A monastery, a place, a pilgrimage of 2000 years.
Saint Herakleidios in the first millennium and Saint John of Lampadistis in the second millennium.
And then in the later years of the Ottoman Empire in 1821 on the terrible day -the 9th of July. On this day the high priest from this village of Kalopanagiotis – the holy hieromartyr Lavrentios, bishop of Kyrenia was martyred in Nicosia.
He was slaughtered by the turks together with Archbishop Kyprianos and all the other hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries, lay people and other righteous people of that time who at first didn’t give much attention to the Ottoman rulers. Neither did they follow their orders, nor did they fall into fear.
Have we ever contemplated how all of these people were able to not bow down to these barbaric rulers, how they managed not to succumb to the emperors of that time.
So,what interest did Laurentius have then?
Laurentius, who according to my own calculations was born in 1750 at the time when Makridiakos was martyred in Morphou. In 1821 Laurentius was 71 years old. He could not say : “The Maratheftes (inhabitants of the Marathas valley of the mountain region of Troodos) normally spend 90 years to die, I have at least 20 more years ahead of me. So why should I bother to go testify now? The rulers will even make me an Aga too!“.
This is what he and everyone else were told by the Ottoman rulers. “We can make you a Pasha, an Aga and a Vizier. We will give you great power! And if you will be too ashamed to stay in Cyprus which is your homeland, we will send you to Constantinople, to Asia Minor to live in the great Sultans palace. We will give you money and whatever else you may desire!”.
And then Laurentius replied : “No! I do not betray my Christ!“.
Why? What interest did Laurentius have?
And what was the interest of Saint John of Lampadistis – can you even imagine – who in the age of 22 and not at 70, endured the completely unjust blindness caused by his notorious father in-law. He then came here to this monastery with his faithful servant, John, and practised asceticism for a few years. But he lived all his youth from 12 to 22 years in the blind darkness. And he was not born blind, this matters a-lot. Because to be blinded later in life – after you have seen the light, after you have gazed into the beauty of this world… this is truly a great martyrdom.
You all are considered witnesses, just like those I mentioned before, who gave their blood. That is why, if you look at his picture, he always holds the cross. Like all the martyrs do, whom the hagiographers usually paint holding the cross.
The first witness is the Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ who became fully human. He who on the Cross conquered our death, conquered our sin, conquered the devil himself. This was done for us to have what they all had before their eyes. All the saints and all the righteous people.
What did they have before their eyes that made them – the saints, the martyrs and the righteous prefer to testify? To suffer for the moment and to sacrifice their youth?
Many at an early age testified and gave their lives. Why this nonsense, they ask. They – as in todays United and tomorrows Disintegrated Europe.
Why? Because they had faith, let us pay attention to this, they had faith to the depths of their hearts and with all their being. They believed that apart from this visible life, there is also Eternal life. So, what are we communicating when we are receiving the Holy Communion. What do you hear; “ It is the Holy Communion in which the Servant of God is receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in remission of sins”. Let us not carry guilt for the sins that we have repented and confessed on our road towards Eternal life.
For this reason all the saints, the apostles, the hierarchs, the martyrs and the righteous were wise. Because they knew that a new life awaited them. A life which Christ inaugurated on the Cross and in the tomb, His Holy Sepulchre.
This new life awaits us all. If there is something that has weakened in our time, it is not just our faith as it has appeared in various trials. Both old and present…
After we have entered the church; we confess. Glory be to God- many do confess now. We receive the Holy Communion and we consider it a golden ticket when the spiritual father tells us : “Go and receive the Holy Communion”.
What is it that has weakened within us, the people of the 21st century.
My opinion is, I wish I am wrong and I repeat I wish I am wrong. What has weakened within us is our faith in the prospect of the eternal life. The belief that after my death, my body will enter the grave, but my soul it continues to live. My soul continues to live forever by the Grace of God and will never die. And my whole body , which will probably be eaten by the worms, will be resurrected in the Second Coming of the Lord.
Like it is written in the Creed (The Belief prayer): “ I expect the resurrection of the dead”. This body will be resurrected and united with my soul. And the whole Neophytos in the form it has now, and even younger as it was at the age of 33, will live in Glory. And when you hear the Glory of the Holy Trinity God, it is not just greatness, it is something deeper. Glory is the Light. We will live in the Holy Uncreated Light of the Holy Trinity.
Why is this Holy Uncreated Light so attractive that we want to be alive in it and sacrifice our well-being and our health if needed ; even sacrifice our lives if needed and become witnesses or saints or righteous?
The answer to this is : because this Light and this Glory is full of information. So say the Saints who enjoy it even to this day.
There are Saints and there will always be the humble, the meek, the hidden people of God who tell us: “ It is a Light, full of information according to our deepest desires. There will never be a lack of this Light in the Eternal life. It will always be poured out constantly from God the Father, from God Jesus Christ and from God the Holy Spirit. The Father is Light, the Word of God is Light and the Holy Spirit is Light. The Holy Trinity -where the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are co- essential and inseparable.
So this glorious light and this information will be for those of us who claim Eternal life. So then, how is this Eternal life?
Saint John of Lampadistis preferred to remain blind rather than to go to a magician. He could go to a magician, like one of those who did magic on him. This other magician could say to him “Let me solve the magic curse that lies upon you”.
This also happens. To go from demon to demon seeking healing. But then he would have to give his eternal soul to satan.
But he said: “No, I will not go to the magicians, I will not give up my soul to satan. I rather stay blind. Even blinded I will go as a pilgrim to the place of Saint Heraclius”. That was the name of the place then.
And he came here and practiced asceticism. And he saw the Light during the few years he lived here. And the Lord Jesus Christ did show to him that He is the Holy Light, the immortal and Eternal Light.
A few days before his passing, his earthly eyes were opened. He saw a golden-winged eagle flying in the sky and he realised that this was a sign and a message. A message that said that his soul would leave the body and go up to the Eternal and the Glorious Light of Jesus Christ.
And so it happened, on such a day about 1000 years ago. His immortal soul ascended. From then until today Saint John participates in the Glory, in the Divine Light and in the information of this Light together with all the Saints. And then we say ; “I participate in the Uncreated Light”, in this Light full of information. So much information…
Even the youngest ones of today who work with computers and technology , what do they offer us ? Knowledge. Supposed knowledge…
Well this Uncreated Light is the only Light that will give us the knowledge of the Holy Trinity, the Joy of the Angels and the peace of the Holy Spirit. We will have opportunity to meet with Virgin Mary, first with the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and with all the Saints.
I often say: were the Saints wasting their interest on this Light ? Where they “stupid” for being able to live for how many years….100 and after ? The Saints were real merchants it is said in an idiom of St. Barbara; “perishables, you perished, but after you received the incorruptibles”. The Saints, therefore, had their interests in the Eternal.
We forgot this, because technology deceived us, it deceived us in the first place and in the second place we were deceived by the atheist writings of Europe. Like Papoulakos said; “weaving the shroud of the genus” this is what we suffered. We were filled with fears, sorrows, depressions and insecurities, because we think our life ends with our death. With this we were deceived.
Saint John, however, even in the darkness of his blindness at the age of 22, still managed to always see this Light that is full of information. Through this information in which we get to know all of the holy accompaniment.
As it is written in the Standing Hymn : Rejoice, star of the sanctuary. Enter the world of the great Sun; rejoice, Eden, I have opened the closed doors of Paradise. Rejoice, pillar of fire who leads the human being to Eternal Life.
Listen to what is so beautifully written about the Virgin Mary :
You are a star, my Mother Mary, that never will fade !
“Introducing to the world the Great Sun”. Who is this great Sun being introduced to the world, it is Christ.
“Rejoice Eden, I have opened”. Rejoice, Mary Mother of God for opening “the closed, Agni” the Paradise that was closed.
“Rejoice Pillar of Fire who leads the human being to Eternal Life”, rejoice you who lead the human race to the Eternal Life.
Here it is, all that I have talked about : “In the Eternal Life of Man”, from this I was inspired to create this sermon that you have heard. How much information a psalm can give us! Just by the two lyrics : “In the Eternal Life”, the life which Virgin Mary introduced to all of us through the birth of the Son of God – Jesus Christ.
I hope we have realised what is in our best interest ! To realise that a big family is waiting for us, a family that is constantly receiving the Holy Communion, just as we have received the Holy Communion so beautifully here today. And in the place of the psalm singers the angels are performing the psalmody. And in the place of the high priest is Christ himself. As it has been said in one of the prayers:
“Because you are the one who offers and you are the offering itself. You are the one who accepts the gifts and the one who shares”.
And where is the Holy Virgin Mary sitting when Christ is performing the Divine Liturgy of the Eucharist ?
Inside the Sanctuary, that is why you see the painting of The Holy Virgin Mary inside the Sanctuary – the Holy Altar.
So that’ s how the Holy Family is waiting for us. And not like how the Catholics think of the Family. Who put the Virgin Mary together with Joseph. This is not right and do not keep this icon in your shrine. The Holy Family is Christ “Plus all the Saints”, this is what awaits us. There we will get to meet St. John of Lampadistis in person.
May God claim for us to have this Light, this Knowledge, this Holy information, this Glory and this Family ! I wish it for all of you – and for you to wish it for us too!