January 21, 2023

A Homily on the Sainthood of Saint Bessarion of Agathonos Before His First Feast


In the heart of winter, in the city of Lamia and the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos there, as well as in front of the Sacred and Incorrupt Relic of Saint Bessarion of Agathonos, which in the afternoon of June 20th was universally welcomed for the first and only time in the Cathedral of the Metropolis of Fthiotidos, a Multi-Hierarchical Panikhida (Service for the Repose of the Departed) was held, during which the Lamentations of the Saint were chanted.

The Service of the Epitaphios of Saint Bessarion was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Theologos of Serres and Nigrita, and was broadcast directly on Greek television, radio and the internet.

Metropolitan Symeon of Fthiotidos, in his address to the faithful, noted the following:

We were found worthy to praise tonight the gift of the love of Saint Bessarion to all the poor.

This gift of incorruptible love for all, of unconditional love, of indiscriminate love, of love even towards enemies was the composite of all the virtues of our Holy and God-bearing Father Bessarion of Agathonos.

There is no part of the land of Fthiotidos where the "beautiful feet" of Saint Bessarion did not step, "the evangelizers of peace, the evangelizer of good things."

There was no town and village, street, alley and path that Saint Bessarion did not walk, spreading love, protecting the weak, supporting the poor, comforting widows and orphans, feeding the hungry, restoring the broken, strengthening the sick, raising the fallen and sinners.

His whole sanctified life was a practical application of love, that love which "does not seek its own," but "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" and "never fails."

We praised with hymns this love today around the Revered Coffin, because it is precisely in this Coffin that this true love is found incorruptible.

For the sake of this incorruptible love, shepherds of love came today from the local Holy Metropolises to chant together!

For this incorruptible love, they clothed themselves in high-priestly vestments!

For this incorruptible love, the most-beloved, sweet-voiced and humble holy brothers joined their prayer with us today:

Theologos of Serres, Chrysostomos of Halkidos, Chrysostomos of Messenia, Athenagoras of Ilion, Acharnon and Petropolis, Kyrillos of Kifissia, Amarousiou, Oropus and Marathon, Panteleimon of Maroneia and Komotini, Hierotheos of Limnos and Agios Eustratios, Gregory of Peristeri, Nikephoros of Gortynos and Megalopolis, and Chrysostomos of Euripus.

This incorruptible love, which "constitutes the entire institution of the Church", I wish will always unite us and bring us together "brothers helping brothers," strong and powerful.

For this incorruptible love, I ask the bearer of the name of the Evangelist of love, His Eminence Metropolitan Theologos of Serres and Nigrita, to offer us tonight a word and a teaching of love.

His Eminence Metropolitan Theologos of Serres and Nigrita then spoke the following:

Rejoicing feet, we have all come from our humble provinces to offer the incense of our reverence to the new Saint of our Church. The one who really revives our hopes that God is with us in these dreary, bitter and wicked times.

It was March 2006, when our Church was seriously shaken by difficult, bitter and largely unjust situations, which had decided to make it the target of an unjust and endless war, it was then when Heaven spoke, in March 2006 and my minimal then Synodical Membership under the suffocating presidency of the late great Archbishop Christodoulos.

There came to the Synod the hopeful, the holy, the bright, the supportive news in those bitter days, that a monk, a humble monk up there in the Monastery of Agathonos in Lamia was found during his translation to be incorruptible, full of light, full of fragrance, full of God's grace, in the belief that God always takes care and the bitterness of those days changed, because indeed heaven spoke and heaven commanded and testified that he was a Saint.

In the consciousness of this people, who knew him, who received from his hands the blessings of God, spiritual and material blessings, because the merciful act is not limited only to its material dimension, the the merciful act of prayers, the merciful act of supplications is incomparably greater, the merciful act of Liturgies, the merciful act of fasts, the merciful act of immovable intercessions to God, whose treasurer is our Holy and God-bearing Church.

That is why I consider ourselves truly blessed and granted mercy, because what began then, in March 2006, today is completed and we stand with deep emotion before his Sacred Coffin and venerate and honor and pay the respect of our souls to him, who bears the sign of heaven, to him, who revived our hopes that God is with us, to him who comes in his quiet and humble way to assure us that the Church will always be the treasurer of grace, that the Orthodox Church, the One and Only Church of Christ will always be the factory of Holiness, that our Church bears this testimony to the world yesterday, today and until the end of the ages, that it exists to enrich heaven with Saints, that it exists to transform the world, to remove its bitterness, its ugliness and to bestow the symmetry and sightliness and beauty of Paradise.

Today we honor the Saint, our Holy Father Bessarion, who was a child of the Church. In it he was brought up, in it he met Christ, he wanted to serve it and dedicated his entire life for the sake of this Church, which means for the sake of Christ.

Today, as we venerate his Holy and Grace-filled and Fragrant Relic, we gain an experience of Resurrection as we see it defeat with the power of Christ the forces of decay and death and we can perceive what is new, that is, what is new that Christ brought to the world with His resurrection.

And the third thing that I would like to testify to your love is that today we really feel our hearts full of the light of Christ, full of certainty that Saints exist and will always exist until the end of the ages. Holiness is not a vision of yesterday, it did not concern that distant time, but it is an inheritance and a duty of all of us, to become Saints according to the commandment of our Lord "Be holy, as I am holy." This is the legacy, our struggle, not of yesterday but of today until the end of the ages.

All these great things, which give meaning to our lives, are taught to us by our Holy Father Bessarian with his quiet and loving life.

God has His concern, He has His affection. God is above the lives of all of us and covers us, as long as we want it, as long as we desire it, as long as we strive just as our Holy Father Bessarion instructs us.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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