March 22, 2015 -
“ST. JOHN CLIMACUS: THE PRIDE OF ASCETICS”
When we think of Lent, the disciplines of prayer and fasting immediately come to mind. It is no wonder, then, that the Church annually dedicates the Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast to the memory of a saint who lived a life of true asceticism: ST. JOHN CLIMACUS.
Very little is actually known about the life of this saintly man. He is thought to have been devoted to monasticism, spending the majority of his years at the famous Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. Although he rose to the rank of abbot, St. John treasured the solitude of his simple cell, where he wrote extensively.
St. John is best remembered for his book entitled: “THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT.” The Greek word for ladder is “KLIMAKOS”, which explains the term that forever will be associated with the saint’s name. In this spiritual masterpiece, John compares our journey from sinfulness to perfection with climbing a ladder. The 30 chapters of his book illustrate the great degree of difficulty involved with this “climb”, for as John points out, many sins must be conquered and virtues perfected before our goal can be reached. This accent, Climacus warns, will not be an easy one, and many will fall from the “ladder”, succumbing to the temptation of the pleasures and passions of this world.
St. John Climacus died in 649 A.D. Truly he will be remembered as a “guiding star of abstinence”, as he is described in the Kontakion hymn for this Sunday.