St. John of Egypt


A man who desired to be alone with God was to become one of the most famous hermits of his time. St. John of Egypt was born around 304. Not much is known about his childhood except that he learned the carpenter's trade. When he was twenty-five, John decided to leave the world for good to spend his life in prayer and sacrifice for God. He was one of the famous desert hermits of that time.

For ten years he was the disciple of an elderly, seasoned hermit. This holy man taught him the spiritual life. St. John called him his "spiritual father." After the older monk's death, St. John spent four or five years in various monasteries. He wanted to become familiar with the way monks pray and live. Finally, John found a cave high in the rocks. The area was quiet and protected from the desert sun and winds. He divided the cave into three parts: a living room, a work room and a little chapel. People in the area brought him food and other necessities. Many also came to seek his advice about important matters. Even Emperor Theodosius I asked his advice twice, in 388 and in 392.

Such well-known saints as Augustine and Jerome wrote about the holiness of St. John. When so many people came to visit him, some men became his disciples. They stayed in the area and built a hospice. They took care of the hospice so that more people could come to benefit from the wisdom of this hermit. St. John was able to prophesy future events. He could look into the souls of those who came to him. He could read their thoughts. When he applied blessed oil on those who had a physical illness, they were often cured.

Even when John became famous, he kept humble and did not lead an easy life. He never ate before sunset. When he did eat, his food was dried fruit and vegetables. He never ate meat or cooked or warm food. St. John believed that his self-sacrificing life would help him keep close to God. He died peacefully in 394 at the age of ninety.

How might I make room for solitude in my busy schedule?


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