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The main objective of this assignment is to fully examine the life of Simeon Stylites, his early calling, the pains and sufferings he endured in order to manifest the love he had in serving God and the significance of his sufferings in comparison to those experienced by the prophets who came before him. Put in a simpler way, the assignment will provide a basis over which to discuss the entire life of Simeon Stylites and the odds he beat in order to prove the mighty power of the Lord.
Simeon was born in the region of Nicopolis at a village called Sis. His parents had only two surviving sons his brother and him. While still young his parents baptized him according to the doctrines of the church. At his tender age, Mar Simeon liked to look after his parents flock while he practiced pummeling.2 He also liked to gather and burn storax without any particular reasons.1 although his parents were believers he had never heard of the scriptures since he was always at the mountains attending to flocks. Despite the fact that he had never known the lord, people who knew him said that he was compassionate and of good characters in the sense that he would literary keep food away from self to feed others. He was very strong and fast although he was somehow short and it’s perhaps for this reason that he usually was referred as an athlete of God.
A time came when both of his parents died and he was therefore made to leave the mountain fields and inherit his parents house and as he was still living in that house he noticed that members of his village were always going to the church every Sunday to worship God and as the Bible says that “God uses his mysterious ways to get man to him”, Simeon decided to pay the church a visit on a particular Sunday and he was so astonished and amazed with the epistles. He even made a vow to be collecting and buying storax from his fellow shepherds so that he could offer it to God saying “Let the sweet smell ascend to God who is in heaven”. A few days after his conversion, a vision was bestowed upon him while he was attending to his sheep. The man in the vision was glowing like lightning and his face shone like a ray of fire. He was there to encourage and give Simeon hope about his to-be role as a messenger of God. Simeon became more afraid of this revelations and he never got any guts to tell anyone about them except to those who served him. On another day he experienced another vision that portrayed a ladder placed on earth with its top in heaven. The ladder had three men standing on it, one on the top another in the middle and the last one at the bottom. The one on the top was Moses and was regarded as the most powerful prophet to have ever risen in Israel. Simeon was promised exaltation only if he succeeded in his work as a messenger of the Lord. The third vision happened while he was praying and this made him terrified but a man on a chariot encouraged him and asked him to remain brave so that he could serve the purpose for which he was intended to perform. The man on the chariot was Elijah who had been sent to Simeon by God as a way of preparing him into the mission he was about to commence.
From this three visions it’s clearly evident that the Lord had chosen Simeon as one of his prophets and He was determined enough to prepare His servant accordingly for the purpose of His manifestation to His people. God’s will was at work and every event that happened was directed towards the initiation of Mar Simeon into Prophet-hood. It’s wise to state that God was confident with Mar Simeon and that was the reason as to why He kept strengthening him with visions of long gone prophets who were successful in whatever God had commanded them to do. Another reason as to these visions was out of the fact that God wanted to promise Mar Simeon of great rewards if he finished his part of God’s intentions. He was to serve the poor and proclaim justice to those that were undergoing injustices, he was told by Elijah to look over all human kind: the crippled and brothers at the monk who dwelt in the hope of serving their Lord.
When God felt that his servant had been well prepared he ceased from providing supplementary visions to Simeon, this is because Mar Simeon was considered strengthened and encouraged by the three visions that he had earlier on experienced. He increased his mode of fasting and was seen praying openly during the day and at night. He meditated upon the Lord and was so much anxious about getting to know how he could lead his life so that he could gain the same rewards that Mar Elijah and Mar Moses possessed. He looked for solutions everywhere without discriminating the status of individuals in the society. He was so inquisitive about the scriptures and his persistent urge to learn proved that he was never going to quit serving the Lord at any time. He was perceived as being eager in getting to know the life styles of Mar Moses and Mar Elijah and he depicted this by his mode of fasting without limits, he always stood day and night for such long periods that it was perceived to be only possible through God’s intervention, he prayed all the time and made constant supplications to the almighty. Simeon endured all the handicaps and ashamed the devil through his confidence in Christ and God did not pass by him without rewarding him with a crown. He was a man perceived to be rich in God’s Holy spirit as depicted by the way he withstood the rupturing of his feet that came about as a result of his constant standing on the pillar and his tribulations got much worse when Satan decided to inflict him with boils that oozed pus and smelt so bad that it even made it impossible to draw near him. These sufferings can only be compared to the ones Job a servant of God went through. He lost his flesh and the vertebrae of his spine got dislocated through the constant supplications he made to God.
Simeon was not weary of giving supplications to God, most of his time he spent praying and his eyes were wasted out of lack of sleep and even with this condition he never failed to serve the Lord: his mind was always on fire for his Lord. It’s stated that his human body was with fellow human beings but that his mind was with spiritual beings. The reason as to why he was letting himself endure the pain and sufferings was out of the fact that he always aspired to experience afflictions while still on earth knowing very well that a time was to come when he will enjoy the fruit of his labor with Christ in heaven. He was always ready to suffer and persevered silently through his pains even when the devil decided to instill more suffering to his body he remained strong and steadfast. Mar Simeon stood in a pillar for forty years thus inflicting rapture on his feet that immediately passed to his belly and at this moment his attendants thought he was going to die out of the severe rapture of the belly since they proclaimed that it was worse as compared to the one on his feet. Despite this Mar Simeon stood on his ground and continued to pay tribute to the almighty God. During these forty years he lost his ability to see at three instances but he warned his disciples not to mention to anyone lest they get concerned about him.
He withstood the scorching heat of the sun during the summer and the immense cold during the winter but in all these he remained strong and emerged victorious. With all these endurance Satan went to God and asked for his permission so that he could deal with Mar Simeon the way he dealt with Job, while Mar Simeon was in prayers a sharp pain hit his left foot and it got into a boil that attracted worms. The smell produced to that effect made it even impossible for physicians to draw near and treat him.
News of this happening spread so fast so that bishops and priests went to persuade Mar Simeon to receive treatment but he dismissed them claiming that he had the love of God for whom he served. He knew that he was never of this world and that he was never going to put his trust to the mortals: he proclaimed that the healing of the Lord was sufficient for him since it’s only Him who had the authority and power to possess the world. He was never going to break the covenant he had made with his Master lest he die poor in spirits. He was determined to die in his handicap rather than breach the agreement he had vowed to his master.
He endured all these tribulations and suffering which can be compared to that of Daniel who was thrown into a den of lions but still managed to put trust in the Lord who in turn saved him from the earthly beasts. It’s somehow unexplainable why Mar Simeon Chose to stand on the pillar yet its logic to comprehend that God is omnipresent and a servant can serve God from any where. The simple answer to this rhetoric question was the fact that it had pleased the almighty God for Mar Simeon to serve him while still on the pillar and Mar Simeon understood this so well that he was never about to fault the will of the Father. God manifested himself through these pillars and at one time He sent an angel who came and taught Mar Simeon on how to supplicate while still on the pillar. At a second instance, the saint had decided to shift his worship to another pillar but the movement proved difficult until the Lord prescribed a suitable ground for the establishment of that pillar. These manifestations are significant in the sense that they depict God’s commitment with the life of the saint. He was so full of the Holy Spirit that his disciples always aspired for his blessings. They understood very well that he was a man of God and thus he was the only one who could speak words that came from the Lord himself 3.
He was given the responsibility to prophesize to people about God’s word and those people who followed and sought for his words were greatly rewarded but for those who refused to heed to his proclamations were made to suffer through punishments that God permitted Himself. When time for his departure came he blessed and gave authority to his disciples. Many mourned his death out of joy while others grieved. In conclusion it would wise to state that Mar Simeon was indeed God’s own instrument through which He manifested His wonders to the world so that He could bring man closer to Him.
- Robert Doran & Susan Ashbrook Harvey. The Lives of Simeon Stylites. Cistercian Publications
- Doran & Harvey, 125-135
- Doran & Harvey, 177-188
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