The writer Irina Monac: Living Icons from Larnaca, Cyprus. Do strongly believe there is God

My whole live I toiled. Children were my work at home and at my job, and all of them had to be taught and understood. Meanwhile there came illnesses which, in time, loosened or left. This is the life of simple people. They work as hard as they can and overcome the hardships. Like the Romanian poet G. Coşbuc said: „Life is a battle, so fight for it, / With love for it and ardour.”

candela_icoanaNow I feel inside me a burning desire to heal my ailing soul. This illness of my soul is felt in my weakened heart, who is about to break. I’ve never been outside Romania before. I want to leave and from the entire world I chose the Land of Cyprus: a small place surrounded by large waters and much faith. For this journey, settled for the second week of the Easter lent, I received financial assistance because God works through good people.

I fly to Larnaca, to the miracles-making Icon of Virgin Mary from Agios Monastery of Saint Neofitos. Romanian monk Siluan, the soul of this monastery, tells everybody that Saint Neofitos performs godly miracles if you have a pure soul and you search for his cave in the rock of the monastery. He also says that this place heals any illness of the body and mends a disquieted soul.

By plane, the villages, the cities and the countries are quickly left behind. From above, Cyprus is a big rock emerged from the big sea and surrounded by waters. I arrive at this monastery surrounded by water to heal my ailing soul. The air, the view, God’s power, the power of the saints are all sublime here. You feel them how they envelop your body and grasp you. I have always believed in God and I avoided Judah’s temptations. Here and now I feel His divine presence and his power the most.

Here even the semantron which calls you to the sermons held by priests and many monks is gentile. The sounds from the melodious semantron reverberate from the stone of the monastery and the echo disappears over the water of the sea. I approach Father Siluan, who no matter how tired he is, has a kind look, a bright face and a good word for everybody: „Father, I can’t see the abbot. Where is he?” „He is away to mend his health”. The holy abbot is special and more gentle than everything you see around, it’s a loss not to see him and hear his teachings.

Deep in my thoughts, I watch the cave of Saint Neofitos and I wonder: If the monks from this monastery are so special; if the abbot is a soul apart, then how was Saint Neofitos, how was his speech, and what image of the soul he had when, alone in his cave, he was praying for us, the sinners in the world? My thoughts were questions for the good father. And he said: „All these you can comprehend if you imagine an angel or a baby cooing. He was kind and good like them, and as white as a dove heading towards the sky”.

After the sermon which touched my soul, I linger around alone in the church of stone. The lights from most of the candles lit by people are still burning as a divine fire. I make my way shyly to the Icon of Virgin Mary with the Child. I look at it with bitter tears in my eyes and I bemoan. She looks at me from above giving me hope for the future. The icon, very old and of a living beauty, is cracked on the right side all the way. Saint Neofitos stands on its right defending it.

Weeping quietly for help, I see the Icon of Saint John the Baptizer with his head in his hands on the other side of the altar. He stands too shy and sad, near the Holy Icon of Jesus Christ and they both seem to wonder sorely: “If we came down among people now, would they excruciate us and kill us again?”

I answer in my mind that yes, any time they descended on earth, the people would excruciate and kill them. I also tell them that the hard and cruel passions would multiply because the world became evil. Brothers still betray each other, the same as when Judah came out of the twelve apostles and sold Jesus for 30 coins of silver and Jesus suffered hard passions due to the betrayal. The Evil betrayed, sold and crushed the Good. And nowadays, like always, hatred, betrayal, perjury, theft and other evils prevail.

In between tears I look at the very old Icon of Jesus and I see the marks of strikes with a sharp iron on his chest and I wonder:”How much hatred can somebody have to hit the icon with Jesus? Wasn’t enough that they have excruciated Him for 7 days? That they wipped Him fiercely, cut Him, stung Him with thorns, so that the blood was spilling from His torn body? That they crucified Him with iron nails driven hard with the hammer so they crushed the His holy bones of Godly feet and hands? Wasn’t enough that they have killed Him once? Why did they have to hit the face on the icon?”

I see tears in Jesus’s eyes and looking at the unique icon of the Baptizer, which is also scratched, it seems I can hear: “Any time we descended among the people, they would excruciate and kill us. They would kill us because we are the truth and life. And the people don’t like the truth, only Judah’s life full of riches. They will have his fate”. I think for myself: I came here far from home to heal my ailing soul. Now, thinking and feeling intensely, I understood that that the sufferings of Jesus, of Saint John the Baptizer, of Virgin Mary, were so heavy that there is no comparison between their suffering and the suffering of my soul.

Now I have a different vision of life and I cherish the eternity of the soul, and I don’t make much of the earthly and passing things. Eminescu wrote: “The wave passes as a wave, / You should be impassible to everything”. Now I am hopeful regarding the future of the soul after the body joins the great majority and when the time comes I’ll leave this world of Babylon with an open soul. And I leave this monastery with regrets and sorrow tears in my chest looking back and hoping that someday I may come back to see again the truth and life. These are represented by the saint icons: the Icon of Jesus, of Virgin Mary with the Saint Child in Her arms and that of Saint John the Baptizer. These living icons are unique and with a great power in the monastery.

I would like to smell again the air, the water and the rock of Cyprus, the country of banks where the rich people of the world and of my country deposit their money in secrets accounts, for their children. They deposit a lot of money stolen from us in Judah’s account.

I say to Father Siluan: “Father, won’t you come home to Romania?” He answers me with a gentle and angelic voice: “Now, this is my home, which is very dear to me. And for me the divine calling is the most powerful in this world. And in the silence of the monastery and beside Virgin Mary, I bemoan painfully the passions and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and together with Saint John the Baptizer and Saint Neofitos I pray for a better world. You should also pray always”.

You should also pray and be good and merciful, and for your own good, “Do strongly believe there is God”, would be the words of Irina Monac, the writer, together with the student Teodora Homorozeanu.

Larnaca, Cipru, 1st March 2015

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