|Died||March 649 (aged 69–70)|
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholic Church |
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Feast||30 March, Fourth Sunday of Great Lent|
|Attributes||Clothed as a monk, sometimes with an Abbot's paterissa (crozier), sometimes holding a copy of his Ladder|
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|Eastern Orthodox Church|
John Climacus (Greek : Ἰωάννης τῆς Κλίμακος; Latin : Ioannes Climacus), also known as John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites, was a 6th–7th-century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai. He is revered as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.
There is almost no information about John's life. There is in existence an ancient Vita (life) of the saint by a monk named Daniel of Raithu monastery. Daniel, though claiming to be a contemporary, admits to no knowledge of John's origins—any detail on John's birth is the result of much later speculation, and is confined to references in the Menologion. The Vita is generally unhelpful for establishing dates of any kind. Formerly scholarship, on the basis of John's entry in the Menologion, had placed him in the latter 6th century. That view was challenged by J. C. Guy and others, and consensus (such as there is) has shifted to a 7th century provenance.[ citation needed ] If Daniel's Vita is trustworthy (there is nothing against which to judge its accuracy), then John came to the Vatos Monastery at Mount Sinai, now Saint Catherine's Monastery, and became a novice when he was about 16 years old. He was taught about the spiritual life by the elder monk Martyrius. After the death of Martyrius, John, wishing to practice greater asceticism, withdrew to a hermitage at the foot of the mountain. In this isolation he lived for some twenty years, constantly studying the lives of the saints and thus becoming one of the most learned Church Fathers.
In the meantime, this tradition has been proven to be historically implausible.The artful rhetorical figures in his writings, as well as philosophical forms of thought indicate a solid academic education, as was customary for a profession in administration and law during his epoch. Such training could not be acquired in Sinai.
In addition, biographical observations indicate that he probably lived by the sea, probably in Gaza, and apparently practiced law there. It was only after his wife's death, in his early forties, that he entered the Sinai Monastery. These findings also explain the horizon and the literary quality of his writings, which have a clear philosophical background. The legend of his renunciation of the world at the age of 16 is based on the motive of portraying him as untouched by secular education, as is found in other biographies of saints. Their roots in theological and philosophical educational traditions are deliberately blurred.
When he was about sixty-five years of age, the monks of Sinai persuaded him to become their Igumen. He acquitted himself of his functions as abbot with the greatest wisdom, and his reputation spread so far that, according to the Vita, Pope Gregory the Great wrote to recommend himself to his prayers, and sent him a sum of money for the hospital of Sinai, in which the pilgrims were wont to lodge.
Of John's literary output we know only the Κλῖμαξ (Latin : Scala Paradisi) or Ladder of Divine Ascent , composed in the early seventh century at the request of John, Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situated on the shores of the Red Sea, and a shorter work To the Pastor (Latin: Liber ad Pastorem), most likely a sort of appendix to the Ladder. It is in the Ladder' that we hear of the ascetic practice of carrying a small notebook to record the thoughts of the monk during contemplation.
The Ladder describes how to raise one's soul and body to God through the acquisition of ascetic virtues. Climacus uses the analogy of Jacob's Ladder as the framework for his spiritual teaching. Each chapter is referred to as a "step", and deals with a separate spiritual subject. There are thirty Steps of the ladder, which correspond to the age of Jesus at his baptism and the beginning of his earthly ministry. Within the general framework of a 'ladder', Climacus' book falls into three sections. The first seven Steps concern general virtues necessary for the ascetic life, while the next nineteen (Steps 8–26) give instruction on overcoming vices and building their corresponding virtues. The final four Steps concern the higher virtues toward which the ascetic life aims. The final rung of the ladder—beyond prayer (προσευχή), stillness (ἡσυχία), and even dispassion (ἀπάθεια)—is love (ἀγάπη).
Originally written simply for the monks of a neighboring monastery, the Ladder swiftly became one of the most widely read and much-beloved books of Byzantine spirituality. This book is one of the most widely read among Orthodox Christians, especially during the season of Great Lent which immediately precedes Pascha (Easter). It is often read in the trapeza (refectory) in Orthodox monasteries, and in some places it is read in church as part of the Daily Office on Lenten weekdays, being prescribed in the Triodion.
An icon known by the same title, Ladder of Divine Ascent, depicts a ladder extending from earth to heaven.Several monks are depicted climbing a ladder; at the top is Jesus, prepared to receive them into Heaven. Also shown are angels helping the climbers, and demons attempting to shoot with arrows or drag down the climbers, no matter how high up the ladder they may be. Most versions of the icon show at least one person falling. Often, in the lower right corner John Climacus himself is shown, gesturing towards the ladder, with rows of monastics behind him.
Saint John's feast day is March 30 in both the East and West. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Catholic Churches additionally commemorate him on the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent. Many churches are dedicated to him in Russia, including a church and belltower in the Moscow Kremlin. John Climacus was also known as "Scholasticus," but he is not to be confused with John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople.
Several translations into English have been made, including one by Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Boston, 1978). This volume contains the Life of St. John by Daniel, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, and To the Pastor, and provides footnotes explaining many of the concepts and terminology used from an Orthodox perspective, as well as a General Index.
Hesychasm is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Based on Jesus's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that "whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you", hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God.
Monasticism, or monkhood, is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions as well as in other faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. In other religions monasticism is criticized and not practiced, as in Islam and Zoroastrianism, or plays a marginal role, as in modern Judaism. Women pursuing a monastic life are generally called nuns, religious or sisters or rarely, Canonesses, while monastic men are called monks, friars or brothers.
A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, and may also serve as an oratory, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community. These may include a hospice, a school, and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge, or a brewery.
The Philokalia is "a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters" of the Eastern Orthodox Church mystical hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in "the practice of the contemplative life". The collection was compiled in the 18th century by Nicodemus the Hagiorite and Macarius of Corinth based on the codices 472, 605, 476, 628 and 629 from the library of monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos.
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.
Jacob's Ladder is a ladder leading to heaven that was featured in a dream the biblical Patriarch Jacob had during his flight from his brother Esau in the Book of Genesis.
Christian monasticism is the devotional practice of Christians who live ascetic and typically cloistered lives that are dedicated to Christian worship. It began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules and, in modern times, the Canon law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic living. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms monks (men) and nuns (women). The word monk originated from the Greek μοναχός, itself from μόνος meaning 'alone'.
John Cassian, also known as John the Ascetic and John Cassian the Roman, was a Christian monk and theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern churches for his mystical writings. Cassian is noted for his role in bringing the ideas and practices of Christian monasticism to the early medieval West.
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Basilian monks are Catholic monks who follow the rule of Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea (330–379). The term Basilian is typically used only in the Catholic Church to distinguish Greek Catholic monks from other forms of monastic life in the Catholic Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, as all monks follow the Rule of Saint Basil, they do not distinguish themselves as "Basilian".
Symeon the New Theologian was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet who was the last of three saints canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church and given the title of "Theologian". "Theologian" was not applied to Symeon in the modern academic sense of theological study; the title was designed only to recognize someone who spoke from personal experience of the vision of God. One of his principal teachings was that humans could and should experience theoria.
Saint Nilus the Elder of Sinai was one of the many disciples and stalwart defenders of St. John Chrysostom.
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Saint Euthymius the Great was an abbot in Palestine. He is venerated in both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
The Ladder of Divine Ascent, or Ladder of Paradise, is an important ascetical treatise for monasticism in Eastern Christianity written by John Climacus in ca. AD 600 at the request of John, Abbot of Raithu, a monastery located on the shores of the Red Sea.
Saint Chariton the Confessor was a Christian saint. His remembrance day is September 28.
The Ladder of Divine Ascent is a late 12th century icon at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.
Prayer has been an essential part of Christianity since its earliest days. As the Middle Ages began, the monastic traditions of both Western and Eastern Christianity moved beyond vocal prayer to Christian meditation. These progressions resulted in two distinct and different meditative practices: Lectio Divina in the West and hesychasm in the East. Hesychasm involves the repetition of the Jesus Prayer, but Lectio Divina uses different Scripture passages at different times and although a passage may be repeated a few times, Lectio Divina is not repetitive in nature.
Prelest, also known as: spiritual delusion, spiritual deception, delusion, illusion, is a Orthodox Christian term referring to, according to Holy Fathers of Orthodox Church, a false spiritual state, a spiritual illness, "a wounding of human nature by falsehood".
Romylos of Vidin Bulgarian: Ромил Бдински), also known as Romylos of Ravanica, Romil Svetogorac, Romil Svetogorski Serbian: Ромил Раванички; 14th century) was a Bulgarian cleric, a disciple of Gregory of Sinai. He is regarded as part of both Bulgarian and Serbian literary opus.
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