On this day the church commemorates St. John of the Ladder. He is called this because he wrote a book on the human soul and journey called “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”, in which he compares this journey with a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. St. John was the abbot of the monastery of St. Catherine at the base of Mount Sinai where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush.
The monastery contains what is traditionally said to be the bush in which God appears to Moses and is one of the oldest still functioning monasteries in the world, being founded by
Emperor Justinian in 565 AD.
Saint John entered the monastery when he was sixteen years old. Having spent time learning to be a monk he felt called to greater solitude. He lived as a hermit in a cave at the base of Mt. Sinai. When he was about 75 years old, the monks of the monastery, knowing of his holiness and wisdom, asked him to become their Igumen or Abbot. At the request of the abbot of another monastery, in the early seventh century he wrote the book “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” showing a ladder of thirty rungs (referring to the thirty years Jesus spent before he began his public ministry). This book is one of the most important books in Christian history and is often read during Great Lent. In some Orthodox monasteries the Ladder is read during the monastic meal. In some places during Lent is read in Church on Lenten weekdays. Although this book was written for monastics, all Christians can benefit from its wisdom.