These two wonderful men were martyred for the name of Christ during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. They were severely beaten and, after that, were burned on an iron grid, then tied to horses' tails and dragged over rocks and thorns. Thus, they were torn apart and gave up their holy souls to God. Their relics are buried in Pentapolis.
John is numbered among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. "Colobos" means 'small one' [dwarf] for he was of short stature. Together with his brother Daniel, he came to the Scete and with the greatest of zeal devoted himself to such asceticism that his brother Daniel had to urge him to moderation. John was a disciple of St. Pambo and later, the teacher of St. Arsenius the Great. His co-disciple with St. Pambo was St. Paisius the Great. Once, when he and Paisius conversed about what kind of asceticism to undertake, an angel of God appeared to them and ordered John to stay where he was to instruct others and Paisius to enter the wilderness and live as a hermit. In order to test John's obedience, St. Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick embedded in the ground until it turned green. Without hesitation and doubt, John watered this dry wood for three whole years, day in and day out until, indeed, by the power of God that wood became green and brought forth fruit. Pambo then gathered the fruit from this tree, brought it to church and distributed it among the brethren saying: "Draw near and taste of the fruit of obedience!" John Colobos had many disciples. Some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered into rest peacefully and took up habitation in the joy of his Lord.
Matrona was from Perga in Pamphylia. Matrona's marriage to Domitian, a nobleman of Constantinople, soon became unbearable to her and disguised in men's clothing she fled and, under the name of Babylas, entered the monastery of St. Bassian in Constantinople. Because her husband searched for her continuously, she was forced to move to many places: Emesa, Sinai, Jerusalem Beirut and finally returned to Constantinople. Matrona was tonsured a nun at age twenty-five and lived a life of asceticism for seventy-five years. In all, she lived a hundred years and as abbess of a convent in Constantinople, she died peacefully and took up habitation in the joy of her Lord in the year 492 A.D.
Euthymius and Neophytus were Serbs by birth and kinsmen of high-ranking aristocrats in Byzantium. Euthymius, at first, was a companion of St. Athanasius and the econom of his Lavra and, after that founder of the monastery Dochiarou. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 990 A.D. His nephew, Neophytus, succeeded his uncle as abbot of Dochiarou, increased the brotherhood and built a large church. He entered into rest at the beginning of the eleventh century.
Simeon was a gifted Constantinopolian. He had both a secular and spiritual education. He attained the rank of Imperial Logothete and was the first among the nobles at the imperial court but he lived a pure and blameless life as a true ascetic. He distinguished himself by great military bravery and stately wisdom and, for this, Emperor Leo the Wise greatly respected him and once sent him to Crete to negotiate a peace with the Arabs who, at that time, occupied this island. Successfully completing his mission, he returned to Constantinople and soon after withdrew from the world and worldly affairs. He wrote the lives of the saints and compiled 122 new biographies and corrected 539 biographies. He entered into rest around the year 960 A.D. and a fragrant and healing myrrh flowed from his body.
Theoctista was born on the island of Lesbos and was tonsured a nun at the age of seventeen. The savage Saracens attacked this island and enslaved all who fell into their hands including Theoctista and her sister. When the Saracens brought the slaves to the market place on the island of Paros, Theoctista escaped from the crowd and hid in an abandoned church in the middle of the island where she lived a life of asceticism for thirty-five years. She entered into rest in the year 881 A.D.
SAINT SIMEON METAPHRASTES [INTERPRETER]
Saint Simeon, called Metaphrastes,
God-given talent, dedicated to the Church,
Saints, he loved, companions of God,
And, their achievements, beautifully described,
Achievements of the spirit, achievements of the body,
Achievement of thoughts and achievement of deeds.
A true companion, of God's companions, was he,
Of all the men in the world, dearest to God, are they.
He loved those whom God also loves,
Through that, his love for God deepened.
Out of love for God, Simeon shone,
And, as a woven rug, wrote the "Lives,"
New generations, "on all four sides"
Their souls, with wonderful nobleness to nourish,
Looking at the examples of saintly nobility
Following the steps of the Fathers.
Among the saints, O wonderful, is our God,
O wonderful is the Lord - Creator of the angels.
After a long separation from his companion, Paisius John Colobos visited him and entered into a conversation with him. Each one asked the other what kind of virtue each of them had attained. Paisius said: "The sun never saw me eat." However, John Colobos said: "And, it never saw me angry." Instructing the brethren in the Scete, St. John used this story of a repentant human soul: "In one town, there lived a beautiful woman, a prostitute, who had many lovers. A certain prince suggested to this woman that he would take her as his wife if she promised him that she would live honorably and faithfully in marriage. She promised this and the prince took her to his court and married her. Learning of this, her former lovers decided somehow to bring her back to her former ways. However, they dared not face the prince but rather went around the back of the court and began to whistle. The woman heard the whistling and recognized it and quickly stopped her ears and hid in the inner chamber of the court and locked the door behind her. Thus, she was delivered from new temptations." St. John explained this story in the following manner: "the female prostitute is the soul; her lovers, are the passions; the prince is Christ; the inner chamber is the heavenly habitation; the lovers who whistle and entice are the demons. If the soul would constantly turn from its passions and flee to God, then the passions and the demons would be frightened and flee from it.
To contemplate the appearance of an angel to Paul by night in a tempest (Acts of the Apostles 27):
About saving grace
"For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:5,8).
Who can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace? That we are saved, not by our merits and works but rather by God's grace. Who can comprehend and acknowledge that? Only he can comprehend acknowledge that, who comprehended and who saw, on the one hand, the bottomless pit of death and corruption in which man was hurled by sin and, on the other hand, the height of honor and glory to which man is raised to the heavenly kingdom, in the immortal world, in the house of the living God - only such a one can comprehend and acknowledge that. A child was traveling by night and stumbling and falling from hole to hole, from pit to pit until finally it fell in a very deep pit from which, in no way by itself, it could come out. And, when the child gave itself over to the hands of fate and thought that its end was here, suddenly someone stood over the pit and lowered a long rope to the child and cried out to it to grab and hold firmly on the rope. This was the king's son who took the child, bathed him, clothed him and brought him to his court and placed him alongside himself. Was this child saved by his own deed? Never and by no means. His entire merit was that he grabbed for the end of the rope that was lowered to him and that he held on to the rope.. By what then was the child saved? By the mercy of the king's son. In God's relation toward men, this mercy is called "grace." "By grace you have been saved." The Apostle Paul repeats these words twice in a short span so that the faithful would know and remember them. Brethren, let us know and remember that we are saved through grace by the Lord Jesus Christ. We were in the jaws of death and were given life in the court of our God.
O, Lord Jesus Christ our Savior by You we are saved.
Give thanks for the gift of the Orthodox Faith
and the witness of monastics everywhere
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.