21 July / 3 August
These two young men left their homes and kinsfol - Simeon his old mother and John his wife, and were made monks in the community of St Gerasim, at the hands of Abbot Nikon. They went off into the desert, where they spent many years in the strictest asceticism. They mortified their bodies with this ascesis until they were like two pieces of dry wood. One day, Simeon said to John that, at God's command, he must leave the desert and return to the company of men, there to serve God. John gave him this advice: 'Keep your heart from all that you see in the world. Whatever there may be that touches your hand, let it not take hold of your heart. When food passes your lips, let not your heart be sweetened by it. If your feet have to move, let there be peace within you. Whatever you do outwardly, let your mind remain tranquil. Pray for me, that God may not part us from each other in the world to come.' Holy Simeon accepted his friend's advice, embraced him and then left the desert and went among men, to teach them through folly and turn them to the Christian faith. He made himself appear mad to men, but his heart was a temple of the Holy Spirit, a temple of unceasing prayer. He had abundant gifts from God, having discernment into all men's secrets, both close at hand and afar off, and healed men of evil spirits and other infirmities. Dancing through the streets like a mad- man, he drew near to people and whispered their sins in their ears, calling them to repentance. He appeared to sinners in dreams, reprimanding them for their sins and calling them also to repentance. Thus St Simeon appeared in a dream to a pagan actor, Bali, who publicly mocked the holy things of the Christians. He rebuked him and threatened him, and Bali repented and became a good Christian. A dissolute youth went out of his mind with lust. Seeing him, St Simeon, feigning madness, struck him a blow on the face, and said: 'Do not commit adultery!' At that moment, the unclean spirit left the young man and he was healed.