Saint John the Hut-dweller
On this day we remember deeds and exploits of our Father among the Saints, Saint John, surnamed the Hut-dweller.
Is it possible for us today to relate to these fathers from so long ago?
About the Saint:
The Monk John the Hut-Dweller was the son of rich and illustrious parents living in Constantinople during the V Century, and he received a fine education. He loved to read spiritual books, and having perceived the vanity of secular life, he preferred “rather than the broad path one that was narrow and infirm and extremely rigorous”. Having persuaded his parents to give him a Gospel, he set out secretly to Bithynia. At the monastery “Unceasing Vigilance” he received monastic tonsure. The young monk began to exercise the ascetic life with zeal, astonishing his brethren with unceasing prayer, humble obedience, strict abstinence and perseverance at work.
After six years he began to undergo temptations: thoughts about his parents, about their love and fondness, about their sorrow — all this began to overtake the young ascetic.
Saint John disclosed his situation to the abbot and he asked to be released from the monastery, and he besought the brethren not to forget him in their prayers, hoping that by their prayers he would with the help of God, both see his parents and overcome the snares of the devil. The abbot gave him his blessing.
Saint John returned to Constantinople in the clothes of a beggar, and known to no one. He settled at the gates of his parental home. The parents sent him food from their table, for the sake of Christ. For three years, oppressed and insulted, he lived in a tent (hut), enduring cold and frost, unceasingly conversing with the Lord and the holy Angels. Always with him was the Gospel, given him by his parents, and from which he unceasingly gathered out sayings of life eternal. Before his death the Lord appeared in a vision to the monk, revealing that the end of his sorrows was approaching and that after three days he would be taken up into the Heavenly Kingdom.
Only then did the saint show his parents the Gospel, which they had given him shortly before he had left his parental home. The parents recognised their son. With tears of joy they hugged him simultaneously with tears of sorrow, in that he had endured privation for so long at the very gates of his parental home. Saint John gave final instructions to his parents to bury him on the spot where stood his tent, and to put in the grave the beggar’s rags that he wore during life.
The saint died in the mid V Century, when he was not yet 25 years of age. On the place of his burial the parents built a church to God and alongside it an house of hospitality for strangers.
What possibly can we learn from a fifth century hermit – PLENTY!
Consider the following in the life of Saint John:
- He recognized the vanity of this world and that only Christ is eternal
- The joys of this life can not possibly measure up to the joys stored up for the righteous in Heaven
- He sought the Lord with unceasing prayer, humble obedience, strict abstinence and perseverance at work
- Even the Saints undergo temptations, perhaps even more terrifying than most can imagine
These are things that each one of us can relate to. One can assert that this day is far more vane and corrupt than the age of the Saint. Saint John recognized the delights of this world are fleeting. Don’t we see this when around us there are incredible expressions of wealth and self-promotion? Death is the equalizer – the rich will not secure their wealth in the age-to-come and the poor will not suffer need and deprivation. Prince and Pauper are the same in the grave!
Many of us work hard in our occupations and we are rewarded for our hard work, loyalty to the company philosophy, and ability to be team-players. How does this differ from the prayerful diligence taught us by the fathers – perseverance in our prayers, obedience to the Church and our Spiritual Father, abstinence ftom those things that are harmful both physically and spiritually, and finally diligence in our labors. Do we seek to climb the corporate ladder or the “ladder of divine ascent”, which leads us to Christ?
So we can truly learn something in this life of Saint John. Through the passing of time, some things are unchanging – sin is still sin and virtue is still virtue. We would do well to contemplate carefully the lives of the Saints and learn to emulate them in our daily lives.
O holy Saint John ever entreat the Lord in behalf.