Today, March 30, the Catholic Church celebrates one of the greatest spiritual teachers in history: Saint John Climacus (Saint John ‘of the Ladder’), a Christian monk who lived between the s. VI and the first half of the s. VII. Climaco is the author of the famous spiritual treatise “Escale del Paraiso” or “Stairway to Paradise”, a book that became popular during the Middle Ages and continues to be a source of inspiration and spiritual enrichment today.
to reach the sky
Although Saint John Climacus is also known as John the Scholastic or John the Sinaite, the name with which he is most remembered in popular Christian culture is ‘Clímachus’ in direct allusion to his famous work (‘Scale of paradise’ ). The name ‘Clímaco’ is the transliteration of the Greek ‘Klímakos’, ‘ladder’ or, literally, ‘of the ladder’; hence some call him ‘John of the ladder’.
Today, the most famous work of San Juan is published in Spanish with less literal titles, but which still facilitate a first approximation to the meaning of the text, such as ‘Spiritual Staircase’, ‘Spiritual Scale’ or ‘The Holy Scale’. In it three successive phases are distinguished that the soul must go through to reach perfection in love (beatitude): the first is the rupture with the world in order to return to the state of evangelical childhood; the second is constituted by the spiritual combat against the passions; and the third consists of the state of Christian perfection. Consequently, it is an ascending, gradual path, whose sole purpose is the perfection of charity, which is achieved in the full and eternal encounter with God.
A monk in Sinai
It is believed that John was born in Palestine around the year 575. There are not many details about his childhood and youth; Nor has it been possible to establish a certain chronology of his life. However, in general terms, it is known that he lived in Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, at a time when it was in frank decline due to the barbarian invasions and the consequent loss of territory.
From a very young age he was educated by reading Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Basil. At the age of 16, he decided to become a monk and left for Mount Sinai (Egypt), where one of the most influential monasteries in Christianity was located.
According to the writings of the monk Daniel de Raito, condensed in a “Life” (biography) of Climaco, the saint had Abbot Martirio, head of the monastery of Mount Sinai, as his teacher, and after four years of preparation with him, he was admitted definitive way.
God is in the silence
When he turned twenty he began a new kind of life, more withdrawn and quiet. It was the beginning of her stage as a hermit. She moved to a grotto located at the foot of a mountain, located eight kilometers from what is today the monastery of Santa Catalina (Mount Sinai). Since then she has dedicated herself, for forty years, to reading and meditating on the Bible, to constant prayer and to manual work. Thus he became one of the greatest connoisseurs of Holy Scripture and one of the wisest souls in the East, to whom countless people turned for advice.
In the epilogue of his life he was elected abbot of the monastery of Mount Sinai by the monks who inhabited it. In those years he dedicated himself to writing various texts, among which is precisely the “Holy Stairs”, thinking about what the life of every monk in search of perfection in love should be.
Saint John Climacus died around the year 650.
If you want to know more about this distinguished spiritual teacher and his work, we recommend you read this article from the Catholic Encyclopedia: https://ec.aciprensa.com/wiki/San_Juan_Clímaco
To download ‘La santa escala’ (Book in pdf): https://www.aciprensa.com/Docum/La%20_Santa_Escala.pdf