1. The Holy Apostle Simeon He was the son of Cleopas, who was the brother of Joseph, the betrothed of the All-holy Mother of God. Seeing the miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Simeon believed, and was numbered among the Seventy Apostles. With great zeal and courage he preached the Gospel of Christ throughout Judea. When the iniquitous Jews killed James, the brother of the Lord and the first bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, by hurling him from the heights of the Temple and beating him over the head with a club, then this Simeon, a cousin of James, was appointed Bishop of Jerusalem. And Simeon, as the second bishop of the Holy City, governed the Church of God with wisdom and strength unto great old age. He was over a hundred years old when he suffered. His suffering was in this manner: During the reign of Emperor Trajan, a twofold persecution began in Palestine–against the descendants of David and against the Christians. Wicked men accused Simeon of being both. St. Simeon endured harsh torture and was finally crucified, as had been the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served on earth.

  2. The Venerable Stephen, Bishop Of Vladimir Stephen was a disciple of St. Theodosius of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. For a while, Stephen was Abbot of the Monastery of the Caves, and he labored much in the regulation and organization of the monastic life and in the adornment of churches. Then the devil incited malice among the monks against Stephen; not only did they remove him from the abbacy but they banished him from the monastery. But God, Who does not abandon the righteous under the humiliation of the unrighteous for long, directed the life of the Venerable Stephen so that he was elected as Bishop of Vladimir. As a hierarch of God, Stephen governed the Church until old age and reposed peacefully in the Lord in the year 1094 A.D.

  3. The Burning Of The Relics Of Saint Sava, Archbishop Of Serbia The body of St. Sava was buried in Mileševo Monastery. During the time of the Turkish tyranny, the Serbian people gathered around the relics of their saint to seek comfort and healing. Fearing that an insurrection against the Turks might arise from that place, Sinan Pasha of Belgrade ordered that the relics of St. Sava be brought to Belgrade and he burned them there on Vračar hill, on April 27, 1594 A.D. But with the burning of the relics of this saint, the demon-ridden Pasha did not burn the saint, who remains alive before the throne of God in the heavens and in the hearts of his people on earth.

  4. The Venerable John, The Confessor John was the Abbott of the Cathares Monastery. This monastery was established near Nicaea during the reign of Justin in the sixth century. Because of his veneration of icons and his defense of the veneration of icons, John suffered much at the hands of the Emperors Leo and Theophilus and died in exile, in about the year 832 A.D.

Hymn Of Praise The Holy Apostle Simeon Simeon, radiant with youth and strength, When he drew near to the gracious Teacher, Saw not a relative known to him according to the flesh But the unknown God in bodily form. And by this great light the entire world became dark to him. When he came to himself he parted with the world, And as a powerful eagle in lofty flight, He raised his spirit toward heaven and the heavenly world. Through Christ he recognized the goodness of God, Immortal life, immortal beauty. Through Christ he further recognized true Man. Thus he scorned the glory and the honor of this age, And as a honeybee he gave himself to labor, Not grieving over his youth, not grieving over his body, But fulfilling the Law of Christ unto the end, Becoming worthy of Paradise divine. And, crucified upon a Cross, the hundred-year-old elder Felt not the sting of death, For long ago he had resurrected in spirit; Now he waits to resurrect in glory in the body.

Reflection The true Faith must be persecuted in this world. The Savior Himself said this clearly and openly to His apostles. St. Apollinarius of Hierapolis, in writing against the Montanist heretics, says: “Let them tell us before God: who, out of all their prophets, beginning with Montanus and his wives, was persecuted by the Jews and killed by the ungodly? No one. Who from among them was taken away for the name of Christ and was crucified on the cross? Again, no one. Have any of the women ever been flogged or stoned in the Jewish synagogues? Never and nowhere.” The Orthodox saint is saying that the true Faith, on the other hand, must be persecuted in this world. Heresies are generally closer to the worldly and demonic spirit, and thus the world and the demons do not persecute their own. To be constantly persecuted–with brief intervals in between–is a characteristic of the Faith and the Orthodox Church. This persecution has existed, either from without or within–externally from unbelievers and internally from heretics–throughout all of history.

Contemplation Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

  1. How He commanded that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached in His name;
  2. How He commanded His disciples to await the Father’s promise of the power of the Holy Spirit from on high.

Homily on the persecution of the godly “We much through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). The Lord Jesus both prophesied this and proved it true by His own example. The apostles also said this and by their example they proved it. All the God- bearing Fathers of the Church, the confessors and the martyrs also said this and proved it by their example. Therefore, is there any need to doubt that it is through a narrow door that one enters the Kingdom of God? Should we hesitate for a moment as to whether we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God? No, there is no basis or justification for doubt. Can sheep live among the wolves and not be attacked by them? Can a candle burn amidst crosswinds and not be bent to and fro? Can a fruitful tree grow alongside the road and not be disturbed by passersby? Thus, the Church of pious souls cannot but be persecuted again and again–by heathens, by idolaters, by heretics, by apostates, by passions and vices, by sin and transgressions, by the world, and by demons. Thus, not one devout soul can remain without persecution, be it external or internal, until it is separated from the body and the world. Someone may take issue with this and try to prove something different, according to his own calculation and logic. But here neither the mind nor the logic of one man is of any avail. Thousands who were crucified speak otherwise, thousands who were burned alive cry out otherwise, thousands who were beheaded prove otherwise, and thousands who were drowned witness otherwise. O my brethren, the Christian Faith is mighty not only when it agrees with sensual reasoning and sensual logic, but when (and especially when) it contradicts sensual reasoning and sensual logic. Those who want to live a godly life will be persecuted. This the Apostle prophesied at the beginning of the Christian era, and twenty Christian centuries render a many-voiced echo to confirm the truth of the prophecy. O resurrected Lord, grant us light, that we may be pious to the end, and give us the strength to endure persecution to the end. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.