Virtue of Simplicity – Second Day of July
“Be simple as doves.” — St. Matt. 10:16.
Those who possess the virtue of simplicity make themselves loved even by those who are deceitful. — St. Vincent de Paul.
The simplicity of St. Phocas the Martyr was most admirable. He cultivated a little garden, not so much for his own use as to be able to give vegetables and fruit to travellers and pilgrims. He received with ravishing charity all who came to ask his hospitality. He was denounced to the president of the province as the friend and refuge of Christians. The president, who was a pagan, was enraged. He secretly sent some soldiers into Thrace with orders to find the saint and put him to death. They departed. One night they arrived at the house of Phocas. Not suspecting it was the house of the one they were seeking, they asked their supper and bed in a tone usual with soldiers. He assured them he had much pleasure in receiving them, and treated them to his best. His affable manners enchanted them. Charmed with his simplicity and frankness, they told him the object of their journey. “Do you know,” said they, “a certain Phocas among the Christians, who is their protector, and who gives them refuge? We are here, by order of the prefect of the empire, to find him and put him to death.” “I know him will,” replied the saint. “Go to your rest tranquilly, without seeking further. Tomorrow morning I will bring him to you; he will not escape you.” Depending upon him, they retired to rest, while he passed the night in prayer. At the break of day he sought his guests, who were to become his assassins, bestowing upon them every mark of cordiality. The soldiers reminded him of his promise. “Fear not that I will fail in my promise; I will find him for you.” “Let us go, then,” replied the soldiers. “It is not necessary to leave the house,” he said. “He is here; it is he who speaks to you. Yes, I am the Phocas you seek. Do with me as you please.” Their astonishment cannot be expressed, nor their confusion, on hearing these words; they wished he had fled during the night. Neither dared to puta hand upon their benefactor; they wished to leave him his life, and to say to the prefect they had sought for him but could not find him. “No,” said the saint, “One must never lie. You are to put me to death; execute the orders you have received. I do not fear death.” Finally he persuaded them. He placed his head in a position to be decapitated, and it was done.
Lord, he who walks with simplicity walks with confidence. Thou lovest those who are simple, Thou fillest them with Thy graces.