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March 30, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint John Climacus

On the thirtieth of this month, we commemorate our Venerable Father John the author of the Ladder.


You diligently ascended the ladder Father,
Shining with the virtues, you reached as far as the heavens.
On the thirtieth John rejoiced to be set free.

Our Venerable Father John lived during the reign of Emperor Justin II the Younger (565-574), nephew of Emperor Justinian. When he became sixteen years old, and received experience in general and external wisdom, then he offered himself to God as a most sacred sacrifice. Therefore he went up to Mount Sinai, and passed his life subject under an elder. When he attained nineteen years of age, he withdrew from his subjugation, and entered the arena of hesychia, far from the Kyriakon of the Skete at Sinai, about five miles away, at a place called Tholas. There the renowned man lived for forty entire years, daily inflamed with burning eros and the fire of love for God. He would eat from all the foods allowed to be eaten by monastics, yet he ate little. He ate from all these foods because, being discerning, all-wisely he struck at the horn of arrogance, which he thought would trouble him if he ate, as we are informed by the other monks.

How is it possible to narrate the streams of tears that ran from the eyes of this blessed man? He slept very little, as much as needed so that he would not harm his mind from extravagant vigilance. The entire path of his life was spent in perpetual and ever-flowing prayer, and incomparable eros towards God. Having therefore acquired every virtue, and entered a beautiful state, for this reason he was made worthy to receive from God great theoria, and the gift of foresight. Wherefore when his disciple fell asleep underneath a certain rock, which was about to fall on him and crush him, the Saint had foreknowledge of this through the Holy Spirit while sitting in his cell, and appeared in the dream of his disciple, waking him from sleep, and redeeming him from death. Having attained the pinnacle of virtue, and becoming Abbot of the Monastery at Mount Sinai, he departed this temporary life, and entered the eternal one. Before his death he wrote the all-wise book of the thirty divine and spiritual ascents, namely the rungs of the ladder, which is why it is called the Ladder.

Apolytikion in Plagal of Fourth Tone
With the streams of your tears, you cultivated the barrenness of the desert; and by your sighing, from the depths, you produced fruit a hundredfold in labours; and you became a luminary, shining with miracles upon the world, O John our Venerable Father. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the First Tone
As ever blooming fruits, you offer the teachings of your God-given book, O wise John, most blessed, while sweetening the hearts of all them that heed it with vigilance; for it is a ladder from the earth unto Heaven that confers glory on the souls that ascend it and honour you faithfully.

Like that lofty ladder which Jacob was reaching to the Heavens, even so, by your godly words, you have raised a ladder that brings all the faithful unto the heights of virtue, O blessed Father John.