SCRIPTURE COMMENTARY #23
And the child grew and was strengthened in spirit: and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel. (Luke 1:80)
HOLY YOUTH: John spent his youth leading a hermit's life in the desert, till he was thirty years old. Far from the turmoil of the world, he served God with prayer, fasting and contemplation, and grew daily in grace and virtue. Great fortitude was required to lead such a severe and self-denying life for so many years, and therefore the Evangelist says about him that he was "strengthened in spirit." His angelic and innocent youth prepared John for being a worthy preacher of penance and precursor of the Redeemer. O, how lovely a thing is youth passed in innocence!
[From 'A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture' by Bishop Knecht, D.D.]
(1899 Douay-Rheims Bible)