Simon was one of the Twelve Great Apostles. He was born in Cana of Galilee. The Lord Jesus, with His mother and His disciples, came to his marriage feast. When the wine ran out, the Lord changed water into wine (St. John 2: 1-11). Witnessing this miracle, Simon the groom left his home, parents and bride and followed after Christ. Zealot means zealous. Simon was called the Zealot because of his great and fiery zeal for the Savior and His Gospel. After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, Simon went to preach the Gospel in Mauritania in Africa. Because he succeeded to convert many to the Faith of Christ, Simon was tortured and finally crucified, as was his Lord, Who prepared for him a wreath of glory in the immortal kingdom.
All three were brothers and the sons of Prince Vitalis in Southern Italy. They were men of nobility and strong in faith. Condemned for their faith in Christ they were led from one judge to another; from one torturer to another. They were taken to Sicily and were slain there during the reign of Emperor Licinius. Alphaeus' tongue was severed and having shed much blood, he died. Philadelphus was burned on an iron grate and Cyprinus in fire. Their incorrupt relics were discovered in 1517 A.D. The three brothers appeared to St. Euthalia (March 2).
Isidora lived in the fourth century and was a nun in a convent in Tabennisi. She pretended insanity in order to conceal her virtues and her mortification. Isidora performed the most menial tasks, fed on the leftovers on the dishes, served all and everyone and was despised by all and everyone. At that time, an angel of God revealed to the great ascetic Pitirim about Isidora's secret. Pitirim came to the convent and when he saw Isidora he bowed down to the ground before her. And so, she to him. Then the sisters informed Pitirim that she was insane. "All of you are insane" replied Pitirim, "and this one is greater before the Lord than I and all of you; I only pray that God will render to me that which is intended for her at the Dreadful Judgment!" Then the sisters became ashamed and begged both Pitirim and Isidora for forgiveness. From then on, everyone began to show respect for Isidora. And she, to escape the honors of men, fled the convent to a place unknown and died about the year 365 A.D.
Thais was a wealthy Christian maiden in Egypt. She decided not to enter into marriage and distributed her property to the monks of the desert. When she spent all of her possessions, she began to live a life of debauchery. Learning about this, the hermits begged Abba John Colovos to come to Alexandria and he did and began to weep before Thais. When she heard that the elder was crying because of her sins, she repented in an instant, left home and everything she owned and withdrew into the wilderness with the saint. One night while Thais was sleeping and while John stood at prayer, he saw where angels descended with a great light and took the soul of Thais. John learned that her instantaneous but warm repentance was more pleasing to God than the long years of external repentance of many hermits.
THE VENERABLE PITIRIM
In the desert, the ascetic Pitirim
Prays to God and asks himself:
In the world, is there anyone equal to me?
Then appeared, an angel of God,
Gently reproached Pitirim:
In thoughts, you magnify yourself O Elder
As though, in the world, there is no better!
Come, follow me, O Elder Pitirim,
Come, follow me to see the aged woman,
Isidora makes herself a "fool for Christ,"
To see her and then to be amazed:
She, from God her heart does not separate,
All her thoughts, to God, she binds,
And not like you, who, in the body, are here,
And thoughts, in the ends of the world!
And all of her mortifications that you see
That by shame, of the woman to be ashamed!
And the wisdom of God that you glorify
Which, in the weeds, nurses the roses!
In one of his prayers, St. Ephren the Syrian turns to God with these words: "Lord, in that awesome and dreadful day You will say to us sinners: `You men know very well what I have endured for you. What have you endured for me?' To that, what will I, a repentant, cunning, sinful and foul one respond? The martyrs will then point to their wounds of torture, the severed parts of their bodies and their forbearance to the end. The ascetics will point to their mortifications, prolonged fasts, long vigils, philantrophies, tears and their forbearance to the end. And I, slothful, sinful, lawless: to what will I point? Spare, O Lord! Spare, O Merciful One! Spare, O Lover of mankind!"
To contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:
About how the righteous endures ridicule because of the words of the Lord
"The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day" (Jeremiah 20:8).
Who are they who reproach the prophet of God, the bearer of God's word and the bearer of the power and wisdom of God? His people reproach him and say to him: you preach to us a steep path; even if it is from God, we cannot walk upon it because for us, it is too steep.
Who are they who reproach the trumpeter of the voice of the Lord when he sounds the alarm because of fire which smokes in the distance and draws closer to the city? The elders of the people reproach him and say to him: why do you not keep your mouth closed; for you it would be warmer and for us a clearer sky. That which seems to you is not a fire but it is fog from the mountain dew!
Who are they who still deride the man of God when he comes from God and proclaims the will of God? He is reproached by his wife and is derided by his brethren. They say to him: you abandon your work which feeds you and you follow after someone else's work which humiliates you.
"The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day." Thus the prophet could have said, so could the apostle, so the martyr, so every zealot of the word of the Lord and of the law of the Lord. Not one of them was frightened by reproach nor by derision, nor turned away from witnessing nor led from the road to wayward paths. The entire outside world reproached them and were sarcastic to them. But the Lord strengthened and made them inwardly joyful. The Lord overcame the world, and the saints of God overcame those who reproached and derided them.
O Lord All-good, strengthen us internally in our hearts so that the reproaches do not disturb nor the derisions, hinder us for the sake of Your Name.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.