[quote=reen12]Dear Father Ambrose,
I was amazed that you were able to supply
Leao with…what?..four separate
sources on St. Simon Stylities. I found that
most courteous and helpful of you.
While I have difficulty looking to St. Simon
Stylities as a role model, I suppose the same
might be said of St. Benedict Joseph Labre,
in a certain sense, and I love and admire
Would you please tell me why you think that
St. Simon is so highly revered? I just don’t get it,
Father, and I would appreciate your insight
into the matter.
Well, first of all let’s remember that the cult of Saints is a very vital part of Orthodox life. So all the Saints are highly revered.
It reminds me of the poor seminarian who stuck up his hand to ask the teacher, a bishop, a question about the “Minor Prophets.” The bishop looked daggers at him: “Boy,” he said, “there are NO minor prophets!”
Apart from the oddity of their lives ( refer to my signature line ) the stylite Saints provide us with examples of heroic perseverance. This is an example for us sinners who often despair of our perseverance.
Do you know the story of Saint Mary of Egypt? A quite amazing example of a desert Mother and her perseverance and of the fight against the passions.
St. Mary, Holy Mother of Egypt
The memory of this holy mother of Africa is celebrated throughout the world. She was born in Alexandria in the 5th century, and from the time she was twelve years old, lived as a prostitute. One day, she saw a crowd of people heading for the docks and inquired of them their destination and purpose. Someone explained that they were sailing to Jersualem to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to venerate the true Cross.
Mary decided to accompany them and offered her body in exchange for passage. When she arrived at Jerusalem, she tried to enter the Church but something prevented her from entering. She tried several times without success. Soon she realized that it was because of her sinful life that she was denied entrance. Weeping, she came to her true repentance and promised God that if she were allowed to venerate the Holy Cross, she would leave her old ways behind and do as He willed. Mary was then able to enter the church. Afterwards, the Holy Spirit led her across the Jordan and into the desert, where she spent forty-seven years struggling against her passions and repenting of her former life.
A venerable African monk named Zosima found her in the desert and was told her story. He, in turn, recounted it to others. St. Mary died in 522 A.D. She is a model of deep change for all that see their need for God. The Church honours her on the 1st of April and especially on the 5th Sunday of Great Lent.
She is one of the most beloved Saints in the Orthodox world. Who of us can forget as we struggle with our own base passions that Saint Mary spent the nights of her first 17 years in the desert face down in the sand begging God to give her the grace not to return to her life as a prostitute. Such a long time to have to fight and struggle against the attraction of sin! Her life is read ceremonially in church during the Great Fast as a model of repentance and an inspiration for us all.
Holy Mother Mary, pray for us sinners.
Here she is in the desert beyond the Jordan receiving the Holy Mysteries from Saint Zosima