30 Mar Saint John Climacus, Abbot
Today is the feast day of Saint John Climacus. Ora pro nobis.
Saint John Climacus was also surnamed SCHOLASTICUS, and THE SINAITA. He was born doubtlessly in Syria, about 525, and died on Mount Sinai.
Saint John, was called Climacus because of a treatise he wrote called The Ladder (Climax) of Paradise. He made such progress in learning as a disciple of Saint Gregory Nazianzen that while still young, he was called the Scholastic. At the age of sixteen he turned from the brilliant future which lay before him, and retired to Mount Sinai, where he was placed under the direction of a holy monk named Martyrius.
Although his education and learning fitted him to live in an intellectual environment, he chose, while still young, to abandon the world for a life of solitude. After the death of Martyrius John, wishing to practise greater mortifications, withdrew to a hermitage at the foot of the mountain.
When John was about thirty-five years old, he withdrew into a deeper solitude, where he studied the lives and writings of the Saints and was raised to an unusual height of contemplation. There he remained for forty years, making, however, a visit to the solitaries of Egypt for his instruction and inspiration. The fame of his holiness and practical wisdom drew crowds around him for advice and consolation.
In the year 600, when he had reached the age of seventy-five, he was chosen as Abbot of Mount Sinai by a unanimous vote of the Sinai religious, who said they had placed the light upon its lampstand. On the day of his installation, six hundred pilgrims came to Saint Catherine's Monastery, and he performed all the offices of an excellent hotel-master; but at the hour of dinner, he could not be found to share the meal with them. For four years, said his biographer, a monk of the monastery of Raithe, he dwelt on the mountain of God, and drew from the splendid treasure of his heart priceless riches of doctrine which he poured forth with wondrous abundance and benediction. He was induced by a brother abbot to write the rules by which he had guided his life; and the book which he had already begun, The Ladder, detailing thirty degrees of advancement in the pursuit of perfection, has been prized in all ages for its wisdom, clearness, and unction.
At the end of that time, he retired again to his solitude, where he died the following year, as he had foretold.
St. John Climacus has left us two important works: the “Scala [Klimax] Paradisi”, from which his surname comes, composed at the request of John, Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situated on the shores of the Red Sea; and the “Liber ad Pastorem”. The “Scala”, which obtained an immense popularity and has made its author famous in the Church, is addressed to anchorites and cenobites, and treats of the means by which the highest degree of religious perfection may be attained.
Image: Thirteenth century icon of St. John Claimacus, to either side are Saint George and Saint Blaise (5)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff